‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ Colossians 3:4
Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 2:28–3:3
Christ will appear. The text speaks of it as a fact to be taken for granted. ‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear.’ It is not a matter of question in the Christian church whether Christ will appear or not. Has not Christ appeared once? Yes, after a certain sort. I remember reading a quaint expression of some old divine, that the book of Revelation might quite as well be called an obvelation, for it was rather a hiding than a revealing of things to come. So, when Jesus came it was hardly a revealing, it was a hiding of our Lord. It is true that he was ‘manifest in the flesh,’ but it is equally true that the flesh shrouded and concealed his glory. The first manifestation was very partial; it was Christ seen through a glass, Christ in the mist of grief, and the cloud of humiliation. Christ is yet to appear in the strong sense of the word ‘appearing;’ he is to come out and shine forth. He is to leave the robes of scorn and shame behind, and to come in the glory of the Father and all his holy angels with him. This is the constant teaching of the word of God, and the constant hope of the church, that Christ will appear. A thousand questions at once suggest themselves: How will Christ appear? When will Christ appear? Where will Christ appear? and so on. What God answers we may enquire, but some of our questions are mere impertinence. How will Christ appear? I believe Christ will appear in person. Whenever I think of the second coming, I never can tolerate the idea of a spiritual coming. That always seems to me to be the most transparent folly that can possibly be put together; Christ cannot come spiritually, because he is always here: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’
For meditation: Review Christ’s three appearances—past (Hebrews 9:26), present (Hebrews 9:24), prospective (Hebrews 9:28). We will not require any spokesmen to inform us of his second coming (Matthew 24:23–27); every eye will see him (Revelation 1:7).
Sermon no. 617
26 February (1865)