in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
heaven. "This is life eternal," we read, "to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I. HOPE AND LIFE ARE HERE CONNECTED. It was not so in paganism. Men lost hope. They lived in and for the present day, and when tired of life committed suicide. Hope, such as the great Christian hope, brightens all human duties and joys. Life is real and earnest, all through the years. Age does not dim the brightness of the eye of the soul. So we are saved by hope" - saved from ennui, disheartenment, and misery. We find Paul rejoicing in hope and patient in tribulation because of the life within, that was hid with Christ in God.
II. SERVICE IS ASSOCIATED WITH ETERNAL LIFE. Paul is a servant of God, and that service is quickened by faith and sustained by hope. The Christian teacher sees not only man in his fall and misery, but he sees the ideal man in him - one who may be re-created in Christ Jesus. The desert blossoms as the rose, as hope cheers the sower who plants the immortal seed of the kingdom in human hearts. The measure of our life is the measure of
(1) the cheerfulness and
(2) the continuance of our service.
And what hope! It includes glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. W.M.S.
In hope of eternal life
Homilist.I. IT IS AN ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN PROMISE. It is God's premise, and God cannot lie.
II. IT IS AN INFINITELY RICH PROMISE. "Eternal life," i.e., eternal well-being.
III. IT IS A VERY OLD PROMISE. "Before the world began."
Homilist.I. IT IS GLORIOUS IN ITS OBJECT. "Eternal life" — a life of eternal goodness.
II. IT IS DIVINE IN ITS FOUNDATION.
(Homilist.)I. A GLORIOUS PROSPECT — "Eternal life."
III. AN OLD-STANDING PROMISE — "Before the world began."
(F. Wagstaff.)I. THE GENERAL DOCTRINE.
1. God, he tells us, who cannot lie, made a certain promise before the world began. Not, observe, formed a purpose merely. We know well, indeed, from many a scripture, that He formed a purpose. But the apostle says that He did more, — that He made a promise — and to this belongs the special character under which he presents the adorable God here, "God that cannot lie." But to whom was the promise made? It could only be to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. It was "eternal life" of which God, before the world began, made promise. The Son of God could not receive such a promise for Himself. He could receive it only as the predestined Mediator — the Head and Surety of a people "given to Him by the Father," to be in time redeemed by Him, and eternally saved.
3. And thus does there arise a third momentous truth, namely, that this promise could be made to Christ only on a certain condition — only on supposition, and in respect of His whole future obedience unto death in behalf of His people.
II. A HOPE unspeakably glorious and stable in its character.
1. Its glory. "Hope of eternal life." I cannot tell what this is. "It doth not yet appear," etc. This, at least, we know, that the "eternal life" shall have in it the expansion to the full of all the faculties and affections of the renewed nature; the perfect harmony of those faculties and affections both among themselves and with the will of the adorable God; the end of the last remnants of sin; all tears forever dried up; body and soul reunited in a holy, deathless companionship, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity!
2. Its immovable stability.(1) First, the apostle says that it is built on the "promise of God who cannot lie." Ah, if that is not security enough, then farewell, at least, to all possible security in the universe!(2) Nor is this a promise of God merely — one among many; it is, in a sort, the promise, the promise pre-eminently, of Jehovah, as the words intimate, "eternal life which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." So we read, "This is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life." And again and again we read of "eternal life," as of the grand central blessing — "I give unto My sheep eternal life." "Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." "Whoso eateth My flesh, etc., hath eternal life."(3) Again, the promise which this hope is built on was made by God "before the world began." See the immovable stability which lies here. For this world is one of ceaseless fluctuations, vicissitudes. Had the promise arisen amidst the changes and emergencies of time, then, one of them having begotten it, another might peradventure have made a final end of it. But it was anterior to them all — made in full foresight of them all — made an eternity before them all. And thus none of them can in any wise affect its stability.(4) The promise this hope is built on is, as we have seen, the promise of a covenant — a promise made only on express and determinate conditions. And own that these have been to the uttermost fulfilled, it has become matter of justice no less than truth — of rectitude, as well as faithfulness. Concluding inferences: —
1. See the absolute security of the ransomed Church of God, and each living member of it.
2. Remember those words in Romans, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed." That is to say, there is an open entrance for all of us, sinners, into the whole inviolable security of this covenant of promise, by faith alone, without the deeds of the law — "it is of faith, that it might be by grace."
3. I end with the "hope" (daughter of the faith) — the undying hope — the "hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." What a hope this for storms and tempests — "anchor of the soul" indeed, "sure and steadfast"! What a hope for afflictions, to sustain under them; for duties, to carry through them; for death and the grave, to give the victory over them!
(C. J. Brown, D. D.)I. Every faithful teacher must conceive it to be his duty TO DRAW MEN'S HEARTS FROM THINGS BELOW TO THE CONTEMPLATION OF THINGS OF AN HIGHER STRAIN, and from seeking the things tending to a temporal, unto such as belong to life eternal.
1. This was the aim of all the men of God, whose faithfulness the Scriptures hath recommended unto our imitation. All that pedagogy during the law was only to train men unto Christ, and to salvation by Him.
2. All other professions further men in their earthly estates, some employed about the health of the body, some about the maintaining of men's outward rights, some about the framing of tender minds in human disciplines and sciences; all which further our fellowship and society among men; only this, of all other professions, furthereth men in their heavenly estate, and fitteth them, yea maketh up for them their fellowship with God (Ephesians 4:11, 12).
3. Hereby men lay a sure groundwork of profiting men in godliness, for this expectation and desire of life eternal once wrought in the heart, it easily bringeth men to the denial of themselves, both in bearing the cross for Christ, as Moses esteemed highly of the rebuke of Christ — for he had respect unto the recompense of reward — as also in stripping themselves of profits, pleasures, advancements, friends, father, wife, children, liberty, yea, of life itself.
II. TRUE FAITH NEVER GOES ALONE, BUT, as a queen, IS ATTENDED WITH MANY OTHER GRACES, as knowledge, love, fear of God; among which hope here mentioned not only adorneth and beautifieth, but strengtheneth and fortifieth the believer, and as a helmet of salvation, causeth the Christian soldier to hold out in repentance and obedience.
1. The original of it. It is a gift of God and obtained by prayer as faith also is, whence the apostle prayeth that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ would give the Ephesians to know what the hope is of his calling.
2. The subjects in whom it is. The saints, for as the practise of believers before Christ to wait for His first coming in humility, as we read of Simeon, Hannah, and many others, so now believers as constantly wait for his second coming and the comforts of it (Revelation 22:17).
3. The object of this hope. Things to come, and, namely, after the resurrection, life eternal. In which regard the apostle calleth it a hope laid up in heaven, which is all one with that in the text, hope of life eternal, unto which it lifteth up the heart and affections. Where the excellency of the grace may be conceived from the excellency of the object; it is not conversant about momentary and fleeting matters, nor insisteth in things below, but about durable and eternal things to come; and not only comforteth the soul here below on earth, but crowneth it hereafter in heaven.
4. It is added in the description that this grace of hope doth firmly and not waveringly expect this eminent object, and this it doth, both because it is grounded not upon man's merit, power, or promises, but upon the most firm promise of God, as also in that the Holy Ghost, who first worketh it, doth also nourish it, yea, and so sealeth it up unto the heart as it can never make ashamed; it may, indeed, be tossed and shaken with many kinds of temptations, yet in the patient attending upon the Lord it holdeth out and faileth not.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)I. WHAT IS THAT ETERNAL LIFE which is the object of faith and expectation? Complete deliverance from all evil, and the positive and perfect enjoyment of all good forever.
II. WHY DO WE RELIEVE IN IT?
1. God has promised it.
2. Christ has actually taken possession of it.
3. The Holy Spirit, given to them that believe, is expressly said to be the earnest and first fruits of eternal life.
4. The real Christian has an undoubted and undeceiving foretaste of this blessedness.
III. THE INFLUENCE WHICH OUR RELIEF OF THIS GREAT TRUTH SHOULD HAVE UPON OUR SPIRIT AND CONDUCT.
1. It should influence us to a due consideration of, and a diligent preparation for, the eternity to which we are destined.
2. It should influence us to a decided consecration of ourselves to that blessed Master whose service on earth is connected with so great and so substantial a reward in heaven.
3. It should induce us to a cheerful renunciation of the world as our portion.
4. It should influence us to cheerful and patient suffering under all the ills which can possibly crowd upon us in the present state of existence.
5. It should influence us to indefatigable diligence in seeking the salvation of the human soul.
6. Lastly, what comfort may not this subject inspire in the prospect of our departure hence, our descent into the cold grave, and our introduction into that state, of which we have feebly enunciated the reality.
(G. Clayton, M. A.)
God, that cannot lie
I. THE TRUTH OF THE TEXT.
1. God is not subject to those infirmities which lead us into falsehood. You and I are such that we can know in the heart, and yet with the tongue deny; but God is one and indivisible; God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all; with Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
2. The scriptural idea of God forbids that He should lie. The very word "God" comprehendeth everything which is good and great. Admit the lie, and to us at once there would be nothing but the black darkness of atheism forever. I could neither love, worship, nor obey a lying God.
3. God is too wise to lie. Falsehood is the expedient of a fool.
4. And the lie is the method of the little and the mean. You know that a great man does not lie; a good man can never be false. Put goodness and greatness together, and a lie is altogether incongruous to the character. Now God is too great to need the lie, and too good to wish to do such a thing; both His greatness and His goodness repel the thought.
5. What motive could God have for lying? When a man lies it is that he may gain something, but "the cattle on a thousand hills" are God's, and all the beasts of the forest, and all the flocks of the meadows. Mines of inexhaustible riches are His, and treasures of infinite power and wisdom. He cannot gain aught by untruth, for "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof"; wherefore, then, should He lie?
6. Moreover, we may add to all this the experience of men with regard to God. It has been evident enough in all ages that God cannot lie.
II. THE BREADTH OF MEANING IN THE TEXT. When we are told in Scripture that God cannot lie, there is usually associated with the idea the thought of immutability. As for instance — "He is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent." We understand by it, not only that He cannot say what is untrue, but that having said something which is true He never changes from it, and does not by any possibility alter His purpose or retract His word. This is very consolatory to the Christian, that whatever God has said in the Divine purpose is never changed. The decrees of God were not written upon sand, but upon the eternal brass of His unchangeable nature. There is no shadow of a lie upon anything which God thinks, or speaks, or does. He cannot lie in His prophecies. How solemnly true have they been! Ask the wastes of Nineveh; turn to the mounds of Babylon; let the traveller speak concerning Idumea and Petra. Has God's curse been an idle word? No, not in one single case. As God is true in His prophecies, so is He faithful to His promises. His threatenings are true also. Ah! sinner, thou mayst go on in thy ways for many a day, but thy sin shall find thee out at the last.
III. HOW WE OUGHT TO ACT TOWARDS GOD IF IT BE TRUE THAT HE IS A "GOD THAT CANNOT LIE."
1. If it be so that God cannot lie, then it must be the natural duty of all His creatures to believe Him. if I doubt God, as far as I am able I rob Him of His honour; I am, in fact, living an open traitor and a sworn rebel against God, upon whom I heap the daily insult of daring to doubt Him.
2. If we were absolutely sure that there lived on earth a person who could not lie, bow would you treat him? Well, I think you would cultivate his acquaintance.
3. If we knew a man who could not lie, we should believe him, methinks, without an oath. To say "He has promised and will perform; He has said that whosoever believeth in Christ is not condemned; I do believe in Christ, and therefore I am not condemned," this is genuine faith.
4. Again, if we knew a man who could not lie, we should believe him in the teeth of fifty witnesses the other way. Why, we should say, "they may say what they will, but they can lie." This shows us that we ought to believe God in the teeth of every contradiction. Even if outward providence should come to you, and say that God has forsaken you, that is only one; and even if fifty trials should all say that God has forsaken you, yet, as God says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," which will you take — the one promise of God who cannot lie, or the fifty outward providences which you cannot interpret?
5. If a man were introduced to us, and we were certain that he could not lie, we should believe everything he said, however incredible it might appear to us at first sight to be. It does seem very incredible at first sight that God should take a sinner, full of sin, and forgive all his iniquities in one moment, simply and only upon the ground of the sinner believing in Christ. But supposing it should seem too good to be true, yet, since you have it upon the testimony of One who "cannot lie," I pray you believe it.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)Lessons: —
1. If God cannot lie, then whatsoever His ministers promise or threaten from Him, and out of His Word, is above all exception; seeing He hath spoken it, who cannot lie, deceive, or be deceived; which should stir up every man to give glory unto God (as Abraham did) by sealing to His truth — that is, by believing and applying unto his own soul every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, for whosoever thus receiveth His testimony hath sealed that God is true, than which no greater glory can be given unto Him. Whereas not to believe Him on His Word is as high a dishonour as any man can cast upon Him, for it is to give God the lie; he that believeth not hath made Him a liar, which in manners and civility we could not offer to our equal, and which even a mean man would scorn to put up at our hands.
2. Seeing God cannot lie let every one of us labour to express this virtue of God — first, and especially the minister in his place, seeing he speaketh from God; nay, God speaketh by him, he must therefore deliver true sayings worthy of all men to be received, that he may say in his own heart that which Paul spake of himself, "I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not," and justify that of His doctrine which Paul did of his writings, "the things which now I write unto you, behold I witness before God that I lie not."
(T. Taylor, D. D.)I. AN ARGUMENT FOR TRUST. God, in all views of His character, may be safely trusted. He is wise, mighty, good, and faithful.
II. AN ARGUMENT FOR TRUTH. God, who cannot lie Himself, hates lying in others. Be truthful, for God cannot be deceived. (J. Edmond, D.D.)
Promised before the world began
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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