Present Privileges and Future Prospects
James Smith, 1865
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2
1. Our present privileges.To be the object of another's love, is one of the greatest privileges we can enjoy; especially if he who loves us is great, good, or glorious. Now it is the privilege of every believer to be beloved of God. Father, Son, and Spirit, love him; did love him from all eternity, do love him through all time, will love him when time shall be no more. What a thought--The infinite and eternal God loves me! Loves me infinitely. Loves me as He loves Jesus, his only-begotten Son. O Holy Spirit, unfold this love to me, shed it abroad in my heart, and make it a feast of fat things unto my soul!
But the believer is not only beloved of God, he is beloved of all that are godlike. The apostle calls all the saints beloved. He loves them all, and he exhorts each to love the whole, and the whole to love each other. If I am a saint, every saint who knows me will love me; and love me just in proportion as he drinks into the mind of God, and I resemble Jesus. The believer may say, "Every saint in heaven loves me, and will one day show that love to me; every saint on earth has in his heart the principle of love to me, which only needs to be called out by circumstances, or his knowledge of me."
"Now we are the children of God." We adopted into His family, regenerated by his Spirit, acknowledged at his throne. Adoption is an act of grace without us; regeneration is a work of grace within us.
Adoption was purposed in eternity--but revealed in time, and will be fully manifested when time shall be no more.
Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit, quickening us from a death in sin, and conveying a divine nature to our souls. So that being adopted into God's family, we receive the nature and spirit of His children, whereby we learn to know, love, confide in, and obey our Father.
Acknowledgment, is at the throne of grace, where our God receives our petitions, accepts our persons, imparts the Spirit of adoption, and owns us as his. When born again, the desire to be the Lord's, springs up; this desire is expressed in prayer; the prayer is accepted and approved of God; and by his Word and Spirit, he assures us of his love, and our filial relationship to Him. O blessed privilege, to be the child, the son of God, to be enabled to call God my Father, and to be acknowledged by Him at his throne when I do so!
"NOW are we the children of God." Yes, now, while we are so poor, so sinful, so despised, so persecuted, so tempted. Now, while the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things that we would. Now, while we find a law in our members, warring against the law of our minds; and at times bringing us into subjection to the law of sin that is in our members. Now, while fears harass us, doubts torment us, Providence tries us, Satan worries us--and we are ready to exclaim, "All these things are against me!"
Tried believer, your trials, your troubles, your darkness, your doubts, your fears, your misgivings--do not affect your sonship! You are now the child of God, though under discipline and training, being prepared perhaps for usefulness on earth, certainly for glory in the presence of your Father and your God. Every believer, whatever may be the state of his mind, or his outward circumstances--is now a child of God; for we "are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," Galatians 3:26. Such are our present privileges; but the apostle sets before us, also,
2. Our future prospects.These are partly known and partly unknown. "What we will be--has not yet been made known." We cannot fathom the greatness of the glory that shall be put upon us; we only know that the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. We are now like the sun behind the cloud, obscured or concealed; but the cloud will be dispersed, and we shall shine forth in power, beauty, and splendor, of which at present we have no conception! There is a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, in reserve for us! We cannot fathom the glorious use that will be made of us; we only know that Jesus will come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all those who believe; and that we shall serve God day and night in his heavenly temple. But as to the exact nature of our employments, or the glory that God will get by us in the future state--we cannot imagine at present. We cannot fathom the profound joys that will be imparted to us, when we shall drink of the river of His pleasures. There will be a depth, a purity, a power in those joys, such as we have no adequate idea of at present. The glory we shall wear will be so great, the employment in which we shall serve will be so spiritual, and the joys we shall realize will be so profound--that we know not what we shall be.
But we do know, that Jesus will come again. He will appear for us, and appear to us; as He said, He will come and receive us unto Himself. We shall then see Him in all His glory, in His Father's glory, with all the holy angels with Him! Not only so--but "when Christ who is our life shall appear--then shall we also appear with Him in glory!" Seeing Him as He is--we shall be made like Him. Spiritual views of Jesus are always transforming. We shall be like Him in the holiness of His nature--all sins, all corruption, all defilement, will be separated from us. We shall be like Him in the happiness He enjoys, perfectly and perpetually satisfied. We shall be like Him in the glory that He wears, for He has given this glory to us, and will put it upon us; as He said to His Father, "The glory that You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one as we are." As the Head is--the members will be; pure, peaceful, and perfect. As the Bridegroom is--the bride will be; all glorious within, and magnificent without.
Now, the desire for it--is begotten in our hearts by the Holy Spirit; the promise of it--is given to us in His holy Word; and we possess the pledge of it in our hearts, by the indwelling of the Comforter; for He is the pledge of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to God's glorious praise.
Are such our privileges now? and are such our prospects in future? then let us,
Live hopefully, as Paul lived; even "in hope of eternal life", which God who cannot lie, promised before the world began." This hope will save us from much gloom, from slavish fear, and from black despair; therefore let us live expecting the hope that is laid up for us in heaven, of which we have heard in the Word of the truth of the gospel.
Let us walk wisely. Wisely toward them that are without, even when they hate, despise, and persecute us. They know us not. They cannot sympathize with us--but they may be won by us.
Let us walk worthily, or befitting the dignity put upon us, and the glory anticipated by us; even as the apostle exhorts, "Walk worthy of God, who has called you to His kingdom and glory;" or His glorious kingdom.
Let us work assiduously. Jesus says, "Son, go work today." Only today, during our brief stay here, our short life. The night comes, and the glorious morning of that never-ending day, when our "sun shall no more go down, neither shall our moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning shall be ended." Now we may work for Jesus--who labored and suffered for us. Now we may work for God--who of His own good pleasure has given us the kingdom us. Now we may work for saints--who are to share with us in the eternal inheritance us. Now we may work for sinners--who, through our instrumentality, may be warned of danger, won to God, and be made fit also to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
Brethren, "let us not sleep as do others--but let us watch and be sober;" and seeing we "look for such things, let us be diligent, that we may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless." O glorious, animating, consecrating thought--we shall be like Jesus, for we shall see Him as He is, and be forever with Him! Holy Spirit, keep this glorious prospect daily before our minds, to stimulate, preserve, and consecrate us!