The Hope of Glory
July 28th, 1957 @ 7:30 PM
THE HOPE OF GLORY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-28-57 7:30 p.m.
Now, in our Bible let us turn to the first chapter of Colossians, and we’re going to read together the passage: the first chapter of Colossians – about three-fourths of the way through your New Testament – the first chapter of Colossians. Let’s begin at the twenty-first verse and read to the end of the chapter, and the text is the twenty-third and the twenty-eighth verses. The first chapter of Colossians, the twenty-first verse: we’ll read to the end of the chapter. Now, do we have it? Colossians 1:21 – all right, together:
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled
In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight–
If you continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven, whereof I, Paul, am made a minister;
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for His body’s sake, which is the church,
Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God,
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily.
And this is the text:"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27]; and then the twenty-third verse: "And be not moved away from the hope of the gospel" [Colossians 1:23] – the hope of glory, the hope of the gospel. Paul says that the gospel – the message of Christ, this age, this dispensation, the church, the age of grace – is a mystery that was hid through all of the ages past and has only been revealed to His saints of today [Colossians 1:26]. All of this was hidden away from the eyes of the old prophets and the old seers. Even the chosen people of God only saw it through the smoke of their sacrifices and in the pattern and the veil of their types and ceremonies, but it was revealed in the plan and purpose of God in Christ Jesus [Hebrews 10:1-14]: "to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27].
Do you wonder when reading that text which one of these is the antecedent of which? Is it the riches, or is it the glory, or is it the mystery in Christ? Which? Well, it’s all three. I couldn’t pick out which one. "The riches of the glory of this mystery,which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27].
Maybe it is the mystery that is in Christ. "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" [1 Timothy 3:16].
Or it could be the glory. "For the Word was made flesh . . . and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father" [John 1:14].
Or it could be the riches of Christ."Preaching the unsearchable riches of God in Christ Jesus" [Ephesians 3:8], or in this next chapter, "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" [Colossians 2:9].
But the essence of the great mystery of God is found in Christ Jesus, our Lord, the Husband of His church [1 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23], the Bridegroom of the bride [Mark 2:18-20; John 3:26-30; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-9], our blessed Lord incarnate, in human flesh, dwelling a Man among men.God in our midst is a mystery beyond controversy: the Infinite has become an Infant [Matthew 1:20-23], the Ancient of Days [Daniel 7:13-14] has become a Child [Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:35; Philippians 2:5-7], and the Author of all [John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17]ever-blessedness is a "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" [Isaiah 53:3] – Christ in us, in our midst.
And the Lord in His people. In your heart when you open the door, there God comes in and that’s the Lord in us [Revelation 3:20] – the Lord weeping through our eyes, the Lord speaking through our lips, working with our hands, walking with our feet, the Lord feeling with our hearts, the Lord praying and interceding through our prayers and tears. Christ in you: the riches and the glory and the mystery of God in our midst [Colossians 1:27]. And the presence of the Lord in our hearts, in our homes, in our houses, in our churches, in this pulpit, in this preacher – insofar as the preacher gives himself as the echo and the voice of the Lord – that is the very gospel message of salvation itself. And what a difference does He make.
How big is the sun? Oh, so great and so large; and yet the sun will come in any little chink, any little crack, any little place, and remake a room or a cell, scattering light abroad. So it is with the Lord in us: so great, so high, so holy, so lifted up, our Lord God [Isaiah 6:1-3], and yet, in the feeblest faith, in the smallest, narrowest opening, there the Lord will come in [Matthew 17:20]. And what a difference does He make – like sowing a garden filled with weeds, filling it with seed of a flower, and the flower crowds out all the weeds, or like a mother going into the room of her boy at school, and there on the wall all kinds of lewd, nude pin-up pictures; and when the mother came back she brought a picture of the Lord Jesus and put it there in the boy’s room. When she came the next time, all the lewd, nude pictures were gone, and she asked the boy, and he said, "They just – they just didn’t seem right with the picture of the Lord." That’s Christ in us, the hope of glory [Colossians 1:27]: the riches, and the glory, and the mystery which is Christ in us.
Now, just as soon and as short as one gives his heart to the Lord, there is an attack of Satan, and that’s the reason Paul made his appeal: "Continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel [Colossians 1:23] . . . Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27].
"Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel" [Colossians 1:23]. You don’t win your war when you go down this aisle, give your hand to the pastor: "And I’ve given my heart to Jesus, and I want to be baptized." You’ve just started to fight. Every inch of that road that lies ahead of you is filled with foemen and every step you take is contested. There are pitched battles and there are skirmishes every day along all the way.
Satan seeks to drag the trembler away from his Refuge and from the Rock of Ages [Ephesians 6:12]. As earnestly as he tries to keep you away from God, after you come to God, that earnestly does he try to drag you down and away [1 Peter 5:8]. When our Lord Jesus was tempted of Satan in the wilderness and after forty days Jesus overcame him [Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13], the Bible says: "And then Satan left Him for a season" [Luke 4:13]. That is, he came back again. He always comes back! He always will. "From the days of John the Baptist until now," the Lord said, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" [Matthew 11:12]. This is a warfare, and we put on a uniform [2 Timothy 2:3]. It’s a pilgrimage, and there are dragons, and there are giants, and there are sleuths, and despots, and there’s everything along the way of the Christian pilgrimage until the trumpet sound on the other side. "Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel" [Colossians 1:23].
Now, Satan makes an attack on one who’s given his heart to the Lord. He makes a philosophical attack. He dazzles us through some brain, through some intellect, usually through some teacher or some professor. He comes to us and he says, "Oh, this thing of being a Christian, of giving your heart to the Lord – that might have been good for Paul, and it might have been good for Silas, and that might have been good for Cromwell [Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1658], and it might have been good for our pilgrim fathers but not for us today who live in the hour and the great achievement of rock ‘n’ roll and calypso. It doesn’t fit today." That’s what he says. That’s what he says.
Well, you know what you want to do when he comes to you and he makes fun or ridicules or mocks your faith in the Lord? You say to him, "Having seen the sun, I am not dazzled by a glowworm." Then, when you read his books and when you read his quarterlies and when you read his essays and when you read his speeches and all that he says about the Christian faith and seeks to take us away from the hope we have in Christ, well you just think in your heart, "Now that’s just what he says; that’s just what he thinks. That’s just what he knows."
I daresay, if a horse could write a book, he would say in that book, "You know," says this horse as he writes, "you know, charcoal broiled steaks, and barbecued chicken, and homemade ice cream, and apple pie, and all of those things are no good to eat at all. They’re just not fit for food." That’s what he’d say. But we’d say to the horse, "Well then, you just go back to your hay and your oats."
That’s what we say to these who philosophically try to dazzle us with their worldly wisdom and all of those things by which they woo us away from the simple faith in the Lord [2 Corinthians 11:3]. You see, we have no more sense than just to believe the Book, and we have no other persuasion than just to trust the Lord Jesus, and we’re children in that. Stay children in that.
[Jesus] said to be converted, "[Unless you] become as a little child, you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven" [from Matthew 18:3; Luke 18:17]. And when a man tries to dazzle you with his brain, or with his intellect, or with those other things that he says, just say, "That’s what he knows, but I know different. I have the Lord in my heart. I’ve felt Him touch my soul. I have spoken to Him in prayer, and I have felt His Word answer in my heart."
Then there’s another attack that Satan says. He comes to us, and he makes a soteriological attack. Now, nobody here among these kids would know what a soteriological attack – well, there’s a little simple Greek word, soter. That means "salvation, savior" – soter. So a soteriological attack is this: Satan comes up to you and he says, "Now, you’re not really saved; you’re not really saved. You know it says here in the Book that if you’ll trust God, Christ will save you forever, but He won’t do that. You have no assurance of that. You still may fall into hell. You still may fall into the abyss. You don’t have eternal life."
Well then, what do you do? The great God in heaven says – you listen to Him – He says: "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish" [John 10:28]. He says – listen to Him – He says: "And they shall never be condemned." [Luke 6:27] He says – listen to Him – He says, "He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" [John 11:26]. The immutable counsel of God and the pledged honor of the Almighty is back of that promise, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" [John 11:26].
And God so loved us, He gave Jesus to die for us that any one of us that trust in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life [John 3:16]. The immutable God, the counsels of God that can never be deflected or turned, are back of that promise. And the same about Jesus who was "the same yesterday, and today, and forever" [Hebrews 13:8]: when I trust in Christ, when I believe Him, I have eternal life, and that’s forever and forever and forever [Hebrews 7:25].
Somebody asked another fellow, "Of what persuasion are you?" And he replied, "I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor power . . . nor any other creation, shall be able to separate me from God in Christ Jesus my Lord" [from Romans 8:38-39]. That’s it. When I trust Christ, I have a life that is eternal and neverending; and I can never perish – not as long as God lives.
"The conies," the Book of Proverbs says, "the conies are but a feeble folk, but they build their houses in the rocks" [Proverbs 30:26]. I heard Billy Graham [1918- ] about three Saturday nights ago say that he saw a picture of a terrific storm on the North Carolina coast, and he looked at the picture and it was titled Peace. Looking at the storm that was furiously raging and the waves beating high on the rocks, he wondered howin the fury of that galeone could entitle it Peace. And he said he looked at it more closely, and there in those rocks was a little birdwith his head under his wing, sound asleep. Peace. Peace. That’s it. That’s it.
Spurgeon [Charles Haddon Spurgeon 1834-1892] said that in southern France while he was there, he saw some hunters outwith their guns trained up to the sky, and there were two great eagles soaring and soaring up in the blue of the sky. And he said those hunters shot at those eagles, and their guns didn’t halfway go up to those great soaring birds in the blue of the sky.
Satan can’t reach us. He can’t touch us [Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6]. He may worry us to death; he may attack us; he may fill us with all kinds of doubts; he may make us stumble; he may pull us down, but he can never damn our souls and he can never take us away from eternal life [John 10:28-30; Romans 8:33-39].
We have that by the immutable, unchangeable promise of the living God,and there are two reasons for it. One is this: we are saved by the elective purposes of the Lord. It’s God that has chosen us, not that we have chosen Him [John 15:16]. Listen to the Word of the Lord: "God – that the purpose of God according to the election might stand, not of works but of Him that calleth" [Romans 9:11]. God saves a man if he’s savedor he’s never saved.
According to the election, God calls us unto salvation. "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I’ll have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" [Romans 9:15-16]. You’re not a Christian because you’re prettier than somebody else or better than somebody else or more lovely than somebody else. And God didn’t choose you over somebody else because you were better. God chose you in His elective purposes [Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13], and I cannot enter into them.
Why did God choose me? I don’t know. Why wasn’t I born in a black skin and live over there as a Hottentot in Africa? I do not know. God gave me this. Why wasn’t I born a hundred years ago and die before I ever heard the name of Christ living way over there in the interior of Tibet? I do not know. It’s in the elective purposes of God,and the elective purposes of God brought you to this hour and gave you an open heart and quickened your soul and you came to Jesus by faith, all of which is a gift of God in the elective calling and purpose of God into which I cannot enter. But God has chosen and no man and no devil and no Satan can unchoose it.
A man’s not regenerated and then a year later he’s re-regenerated, then a little later than that he’s re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-regenerated and over and over again re-re-re-re-re-re-regenerated [Hebrews 6:4-9]. You are regenerated one time [Hebrews 10:14]. You’re not born again and the next year you’re born again and then the next year you’re born, born, born, born, born again, and again and again, and the next year and after that. No, sir! You’re regenerated one time. You’re born again one time, and the elective purpose of God standeth unchangeable and immutable forever. And we’re chosen in God in Christ Jesus [Ephesians 1:4], and He doesn’t take back His gift [Romans 11:29].
And the second reason why you’re not lost after you’ve given your heart to Christ is we are saved, not by us, but we’re saved by the atoning mercies of Jesus. Heaven is too precious a thing for a man to work for. Heaven is too holy a thing for a man to buy. It is a free gift of God [Romans 6:23]. It is ours by trust, by faith, by receiving it as a gift from God [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We are the pearl of price that a man went and purchased [Matthew 13:45-46]. That doesn’t mean we purchase it. No man buys his salvation. That means the Lord Jesus Christ purchased the pearl of price [Revelation 5:9], and the pearl of price is you. He has in this world His jewels, and someday He’s coming to steal them away when He returns, as He says, "as a thief in the night" [1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15].
He purchased you [1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23]: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27]. If I am lost, Christ loses His glory. I lose, I know, and you lose if you’re lost, but Christ also loses. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27]. And if we are lost, we lose of course, but the greatest loss is to Him for He promised and He’s spoken His word and the best efforts of God have been made and have failed and have fallen to the ground. You’re not going to be lost. He says He keeps us forever, and that’s our great expectation [John 10:28-30; Hebrews 10:14], and that is our holy, holy purpose in this life that someday we can see Jesus.
"And be not moved away from the hope of the gospel [Colossians 1:23] . . . The riches and the glory and the mystery . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27]. Our hope is centered in Him: in His hands, in His omnipotence, in the all authority by which God hath made Him Head and Ruler of earth and of heaven [Ephesians 1:22], of things in the sea, of things in hell, of things now and tomorrow and forever [Revelation 5:13, 22:12-13]. He is to be our Lord and our King; and our blessed hope is to see Jesus Himself someday and to live in His presence someday even as Paul said:"This blessed hope, this blessed hope, the appearing of our glorious God and Savior Christ Jesus" [Titus 2:13]. "Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel" [Colossians 1:23].
Peter said that in the last days some shall come scoffing, walking after their lust and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? [2 Peter 3:3-4] You’re never going to see Jesus," they say. "You’re never going to look into His face. When you die, you die. You go back to a cloud. You were a cloud; you would be one again. There’s no future. There’s no hope. There’s no heaven. There’s no immortality. You’re never going to see Jesus again." That’s what the scoffer says.
Oh, listen to the word of the great old patriarch Job:
I know that my Redeemer liveth . . .
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God,
Whom I shall see for myself . . . and not another.
[Job 19: 25-27]
And listen to the word of the apostle Paul:
And they who sleep in Jesus shall rise first.
Then shall we meet them in the air to be forever with the Lord.
[from1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]
And listen to Paul again:
For we shall all be changed –
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.
[from1 Corinthians 15:51-52]
"Be not moved away from that blessed hope" [Colossians 1:23]. That is our destiny, and that’s the longing of our lives. When we come to the end of the way and life is past and the sands of time have rolled from us and we come to old age and to death,and then is that all? Is the grave and the dark and the tragedy and the sorrow and the night – is that the destiny of a man? No. No! Our destiny is to be a child of God, a son of heaven, and to live in the presence of our Lord Jesus forever and forever and that’s going to be the heaven. That is what Paul writes here. That is the riches and the glory and the mystery: it is Christ [Colossians 1:27]. It is He that we want to see.
When the prodigal came back home [Luke 15:11-32], it was the father’s love that made home glad and happy for that boy coming home [Luke 15:20]. Were it not for that, there would have been no taste in the food [Luke 15:23]; there would have been no sparkle in the ring [Luke 15:22]; there would have been no fitness in the shoes [Luke 15:22]; there would have been no beauty in the robe [Luke 15:22]. It was coming home that made the prodigal glad and home glad.
And that’s the way it is with us. We’re going to be with the Lord, and that’s our future and that’s our destiny [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17] – not to live with a worm, not to turn back to the clod, not to face an interminable eternal night but the glory and the light and the hope of God in a heaven that Jesus has gone to prepare for us [John 14:2-3]. The riches and the glory and the mysteryin Christ in you, the hope of glory [Colossians 1:27]. "Be not moved away from that hope of the gospel" [Colossians 1:23].
Now while we sing our song tonight, while we make this appeal, in this balcony around, down these stairwells, somebody coming in faith to the Lord, will you stand by me? And in this great press of people on the lower floor, somebody you, giving your heart to the Lord, come down here and give your hand to the pastor: "Pastor, I give you my hand.I’ve given my heart in faith to the Lord." A family of you coming into the church, or one somebody you, as God shall say the word and lead the way, into the aisle and down here to the front, will you come while we stand and while we sing?
THE HOPE OF GLORY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. The gospel a mystery hid through the ages, now manifest to the saints(Colossians 1:23, 27, Ephesians 3:1-11)
B. The essence of it is Christ (1 Timothy 3:16, John 1:14, Hebrews 1:3, Ephesians 3:8, Colossians 2:9)
II. God in our midst a mystery beyond controversy
A. The Incarnation
B. Christ in us, the manifestation of God
C. In our hearts, homes, churches, the preacher
III. The attack of Satan
A. The reason for Paul’s appeal(Colossians 1:23, Luke 4:13, Matthew 11:12)
B. He makes a philosophical attack(Luke 18:17)
C. He makes a soteriological attack
1. Our assurance(John 3:18, 10:27-28, 11:26, Luke 6:27)
2. God has solemnly pledged(John 3:16)
a. He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8, Romans 8:38, Proverbs 30:26)
3. The ground of our hope
a. We are saved by the elective purposes of God(Romans 9:11-16)
b. We are by the merit of Christ(Matthew 13:45-46)
4. If Christ loses us, He loses His glory
D. He makes an eschatological attack
1. In the last days there will be scoffers(2 Peter 3:1-13)
2. Our hope and destiny(Job 19:25-27, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
3. The ultimate answer to all our hopes, dreams, hungering(Luke 15:11-32)