The Glory of His Heavenly Kingdom
H. A. Tickner, Muswell Hill
We have considered, all too briefly, the superlative majesty of Christ in His earthly kingdom. In the conclusion of our studies, let us now bring to heart and mind some of the matchless splendours of Christ in His heavenly kingdom.
What wonder must have entered into the hearts of the disciples as they listened to the Emmaus discourse, Luke 24. Afterwards, with opened eyes, v. 31, and with opened understanding, v. 45, the fuller import of their Master's words broke upon them, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?", v. 26.
What joy for the people of God today to meditate upon the glories that rightly belong to Christ, and to know that throughout countless ages the redeemed will share in the joy of the One "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God", Heb. 12. 2. As the divine Teacher unfolds the word written by the prophet and psalmist, Luke 24. 44, and as our understanding is touched by divine illumination, we behold in Scripture the succession of glory after glory that followed the dark and fearsome path-that the Beloved trod. Let us share some of these glories.
The Glory of His Resurrection. It has been said that the subject of the resurrection stands second to none "in the grandeur of its character, in the immensity of its results, and in the glory with which it encircles the Person and work of the Redeemer". Indeed, it is a doctrine which authenticates the truth, and develops the beauty of all others in the Bible.
For Christ, it was the consummation of His glorious triumph. Instead of the seeming victory of hell and sin, death and the grave, with the "Sun of righteousness" setting in darkness, the mighty and illustrious Conqueror arose. From die emptied sepulchre, He burst forth in surpassing glory. The character of His own resurrection lies in marked contrast with that of those whom He had raised from the dead (the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and His friend Lazarus of Bethany — already dead four days). Truly these were marvellous acts, but they are recorded with but little astonishment by the Gospel writers, and without a passing reference in any of the Epistles. Theirs was a return to the life that death had interrupted, to the common paths and routines, to await the call of death once again. But for Christ, His resurrection was the beginning of a new life, under altogether new conditions, a Glorified Humanity, not bound by the restrictions of shut doors, John 20. 19, by gravitation, Acts 1. 9, and by the common frailties of a human life that knew weariness, hunger and poverty.
The Glory of His Ascension and Exaltation. The display of glory of the triumphant Victor upon heaven's throne is the outcome of the "working of his (God's) mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places", Eph. 1. 19-21. This for evermore brings to the Father's heart a full satisfaction of all that the Son wrought at Calvary, resulting in the Beloved One being "crowned with glory and honour", Heb. 2. 9, and being made "both Lord and Christ", Act. 2. 36.
The strength of the glory of the Man at God's right hand lies in the fact that in heaven to Him alone has been committed "power", Rev. 4. 11; 5. 12. Yet this power is that which He delights to delegate to His church for the demonstrations of witness on earth, "ye shall receive power", Acts 1. 8. It is instructive to note that, in each of these references, the Greek word translated power is dunamis. In its different meanings in the N.T. text, are embraced the areas of might and ability that are made available in Him to His church.
In His public activity, He entered into a service for His God and for mankind that was indeed of a unique moral grandeur, demanding the power to display mature wisdom, strength and righteousness in His very character as God's Servant. With His resurrection and ascension into heaven, this service is invested in a glorified humanity, with an extension — an expansion — an exaltation of power, that sets Him (and none else) "far above all", Eph. 1. 21. His sovereignty is real and effective over all worlds (seen and unseen), not merely the pomp and circumstance of supreme authority. Rather, as "Lord of all" He is well able to govern and control not only all the immense forces of the material universe, but the more awful forces of the moral and spiritual universe.
Such is the glory at God's right hand of the One who, having descended to become Man, retains His humanity in ascending to the heights of eternal splendour, Eph. 4. 10. What infinite mystery is this! "Received up into glory", 1 Tim. 3. 16; "exalted and extolled, and ... very high", Isa. 52. 13. Thus the promise of the Father stood pledged to the exaltation of His Son, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied", 53. 11.
The Glory of His Ministry. In the
human pathway of Jesus, in the glories of His compassion and care, there shone out a ministry that was full "of grace and truth", John 1. 14. John testified, "we beheld his glory" in all the beauties of His movements and manners amongst men, in all the benefits of His miracles upon them, and in all the boundless majesty of His message to them.
In the elevated heights of His exalted humanity, there has now been given to Him "a more excellent ministry", Heb. 8. 6, a ministry that is:
(a) Glorious in the continuing intercession of "an unchangeable priesthood" which is Christ's alone, "seeing he ever liveth", 7. 24-25. What a suitable High Priest He is to bring His saints into the Holiest of all!
(b) Glorious in its sympathetic understanding of all His people's ways; their tears and sorrows, their pains and heartaches, their doubts and fears, their fearful onslaughts against evil and darkness. Not an area of our lives is unseen and unknown by Him; by reason of all that He has "suffered being tempted", He is well able to succour (lit., able to help), Heb. 2.18. What a comfort of glory and grace is found here for the troubled pilgrim as he travels home!
(c) Glorious in its capacity to gather together the worship and devotion of His saints. In all the virtue and value of Calvary's work, He lifts it to His Father's throne. How precious is such ministry, as He, the Risen Head of the church, moves amongst the assembled guests gathered to Him alone at His table. Here He delights to draw each fragrant remembrance, each contribution of praise, from redeemed and devoted hearts, adding the sweet perfume of His own grace and loveliness and presenting it to His Father and our Father. How well the psalmist has written, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me", Psa. 50. 23.
The Glory Manifested in the Church. "I am glorified in them", John 17. 10. Here the reflected glory of Christ in His church is clearly and emphatically stated in the sublime prayer of John 17. This glory is bound up in the amazing unity of the throne, "all mine are thine, and thine are mine", and "the glory which thou hast given me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one", vv. 10, 22. Christ is glorified in being the Head of all blessing to His people. How great is the need today for the church to embrace the rich treasures of the glorious truth that it has "pleased the Father" to constitute the Son "head of.. .the church", so that in Him all fulness should dwell, Col. 1. 18, 19. Thus the commencement of the church is the beginning of an endless revenue of glory for Christ, rendered in the unceasing praises of those called "out of darkness into his marvellous light", 1 Pet. 2. 9, and in believers' lives as they follow in the footsteps of the great apostle. On the Damascus road he was called and changed by the revelation of the Risen Christ, and then he was commissioned to preach and to stand back to see others glorifying God in him, Gal. 1. 16, 24. Then the consecration of the church is a continuing means of glory from the Body to the Head. This is marked out in its members with the display of progressing practical holiness, by the subjugation of the mind, the will, the affections, the desires, yes, the whole soul of a man, through the productive work of the Holy Spirit, bringing that soul into the fulness of the salvation and sovereignty of Jesus Christ. What need is there today to feel the heart vibrations from the throne of heaven, and to obey the imperative commands of Romans 12. 1-2. This will result in the companionship of the church in worship and walk, which bring gladness and glory to Him, and He alone is:
(a) Exalted, believed, adored and loved in the responses of true worship from redeemed hearts that yearn for the sweet intimacy of His presence, Luke 24. 28-32."
(b) The recognized Companion of the daily walk, in contrast to the restricted sight of the disciples on the Emmaus Road, v. 16. This results in a fulness of pleasure for the One who has promised "lo, I am with you always", Matt. 28. 20, and as they, His companions, "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing", Col. 1. 10.
The consummation of the Church will bring the unending climax of all that which Christ suffered in Humanity for the Church that He so loved unto death. Not only will she behold His unsurpassing glories as she sees "him as he is", but she will "be like him", 1 John 3. 2, will appear with him in glory, Col. 3. 4; will be identified with Him, Rev. 3. 12, and will be a reflector of the "exceeding riches of his grace", Eph. 2. 7.
May the anticipation of all that lies ahead, assured for the saints of God by the One "that is able to keep ... and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy", Jude 24, inspire us so to live and move towards the fulfilment of Christ's anticipation. This endless joy will be His for evermore, as, with His redeemed bride, He the divine Bridegroom will enter into the untold bliss of an eternity, resounding with the song of glory to Him, "Thou art worthy", Rev. 5. 9.
O blessed Lord of glory,
How could'st Thou love us so! Thy love must be most precious
To bear such depths of woe; We only understand it
As by Thy Spirit taught, For Lord, Thy love exceedeth
Beyond our utmost thought.
And when in yonder glory
We see Thee face to face, We still will then be learning
The riches of Thy grace; The half has not been told us,
But, Oh what joy awaits The soul of them that love Him,
Beyond these pearly gates.
Then shall Thy praise like thunder
Resound from shore to shore, Whilst we Thy saints will wonder,
Thy glories still explore. Our songs of praise and worship
To God and to the Lamb, We'll sing through endless ages,
Amen, Amen, Amen.