And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:…
I. SOME EVIDENCES OF THE GLORIOUS TRUTH, THAT CHRIST IS HE WHO LIVES FOR EVERMORE. I cannot refer you to the light of nature for a proof of this point. Reason, indeed, teaches us that as God was the maker of all things, He must be from everlasting to everlasting, but with respect to Christ's eternal continuance as man, or even with respect to His becoming man at first, it affords us no light. This is a mystery of godliness, made known by revelation only.
1. Scriptural representations of Christ show plainly that He liveth for evermore. When we would prove that man is a frail creature, we ask the question, What is flesh? And for an answer, we repeat Isaiah's representation, "All flesh is grass," etc. Now, compare these representations of men in general with the designations of the Man Christ Jesus, and you will see a striking contrast. What creature more durable than the sun? What is more immovable than a rock? And was not this the very metaphor which Christ used when speaking of Himself as God-man?
2. The types of Scripture import that He lives for evermore. I will mention only two, Moses' burning bush, and Melchisedec.
3. The testimony of God, recorded in Scripture, shows that Jesus lives for ever. First, hear the testimony of the Father, "The Lord said unto my Lord," etc. Hear next the testimony of the Son. "Thou wilt show Me the path of life," etc. Hear also the testimony of the Holy Ghost. It was He who dwelt in the prophets, "testifying of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." And what do these prophets, as directed by Him, say? One, speaking of Christ, expresses himself, "He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it Him, even length of days for ever and ever"; and another tells us, that "of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end."
4. Scripture doctrines evince the glorious truth that Christ lives for evermore. There is what is called the analogy of faith; now, the truth of which we speak is not only agreeable to this analogy but essential to it. For instance, according to Scripture, our Lord Jesus is the trustee of the new covenant. Yes, "He hath received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." H so, must He not live that He may distribute these gifts? Another doctrine of Scripture is, that Christ shall be the judge of the world. But how could Christ judge the world if it were not that He shall live to the end of days? And, then, how could He say, "come" to the righteous, and "depart" to the wicked, unless He were to live thereafter, even through a glorious eternity?
II. THE IMPORT OF CHRIST'S LIVING FOR EVERMORE.
1. It denotes that Christ shall eternally exist. This is the lowest sense of the words. What is death but a dissolution of the human frame? but Christ's humanity shall never cease to be. The body which was crucified He still retains, and shall do so for ever.
2. Christ shall be everlastingly happy. In the days of Christ's flesh, His afflictions were singular. If His trials were singular on earth, His pleasures in heaven are surpassing.
3. Jesus shall be eternally honoured.
4. Christ shall be everlastingly active. This seems to be the idea conveyed by the term life. Do you inquire wherein is Christ active? In reply, shall I direct your attention to His constant preservation of millions of beings, for "by Him all things consist?" I choose rather to point you to His deeds of grace. Behold Him in heaven — there "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." But His exertions are not confined to the abodes of bliss. It is Jesus "who executeth judgment for the oppressed," etc. But how long shall Jesus thus live and be active? In His humbled state, not above thirty-three years had elapsed, when He said of His work, "It is finished"; but rejoice, O Christians, His heavenly business shall never cease. "The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations."
III. IN WHAT DIFFERENT CHARACTERS CHRIST SHALL LIVE FOR EVER.
1. He shall live for ever as the glorious representative of God.
2. He shall live for ever as our gracious intercessor.
3. He shall live for ever as our spiritual King.
IV. THE ENDS OF CHRIST'S LIVING FOR EVERMORE.
1. Hereby glory is brought to God. Ask you for a proof of God's justice in punishing? I point you to the Cross, and say, "Behold, the Surety of sinners died." But do you seek an evidence of retributive justice in rewarding? I direct your attention to the throne, and cry, "Behold, He lives for evermore."
2. Hereby a reward is given to Christ. He still remembers Gethsemane and Calvary, but He sees of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied. Oh, what must that satisfaction be, in the mind of the glorified Jesus!
3. Hereby believers are comforted. Does Christ live for evermore? Our justification must be permanent. Our sanctification is made certain. Does Jesus live for evermore? It secures support in the performance of every duty. Though we are feeble, He is strong; though we are depressed, it is He that raiseth up.
4. Hereby the inhabitants of heaven are transported. A gracious visit from Christ made a desert lightsome to Moses; the valley of the shadow of death comfortable to David; a fiery furnace easy to the three children. Oh, then, what will it be for ever with the Lord in heaven!
Parallel VersesKJV: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: