What Do I Wait For?
by James Smith, 1860
This question was proposed by David — and may very well be proposed by us. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have already received much. Our heavenly Father has sent the Spirit of adoption into our hearts — he has given us many exceeding great and precious promises — he has wrought faith in our hearts — and he has given us a good hope through grace. But we expect much more, and are brought to wait for much more; though sometimes, when we look upon what God has already given us — we are overwhelmed with a sense of the Lord's great goodness, and are ready to cry out, "And now, Lord — WHAT do I wait for?" Psalm 39:7.
Well, we are waiting for our great change, which will begin at death, and be completed at the resurrection. We expect to be made perfectly holy, perfectly healthy, and perfectly happy. We expect soon to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord — and we expect too, that he will change our vile body, and fashion it like unto his own glorious body. O what a change will that be, to be made exactly like Jesus, in body, soul, and spirit! This we expect, and therefore wait for it, as the perfecting of our salvation. Like Jacob, when he was dying, so may we say, "I have waited for your salvation, O Lord." This is what Peter calls the end of our faith, "receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of our souls." And as we wait for it, we are kept unto it, as it is written, "Kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time."
Thus we wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, when the perfect likeness of Jesus will be stamped upon us, and we shall belike him, seeing him as he is.
We wait also for the coming of Jesus, and all the saints with him. Like the Corinthians, we are "waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Like the Thessalonians, we are turned to God, "to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come." This is the blessed hope, the glorious expectation of the Church of God.
Jesus is coming! He is coming in glory. He is coming to gather his people, and complete his work of salvation. We therefore wait for this rest, for there remains a rest unto the people of God. Then we shall cease from all toil, be free from all suffering, and take possession of the inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that never fades away.
Then our graces will be perfected, and our characters completed, and we shall be filled with knowledge, love, peace, joy, and purity. And then we shall fully understand the meaning of Paul, "Now we see through a glass darkly — but then face to face; now I know in part — but then shall I know even as also I am known."
We wait also for the close, felt, uninterrupted, and perfect union of Christ and his people, with each other, and the Father. Who beside him who uttered them, can fathom the depth of meaning in those glorious words, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world!" John 17:20-24
We wait for the enjoyment of the beatific vision, for the pure in heart shall see God; and then shall we possess the kingdom, and enjoy all that God has prepared for those who love him. Truly the best is all ahead of us, and the prospect should cheer, animate, and embolden us, under all our sufferings, sorrows, and labors here below. None of these things are seen by us — they are objects of faith and hope at present; but as we hope for that we see not, therefore with patience do we wait for it. This is our proper posture, waiting as servants for their master, or as the espoused bride for her bridegroom.
We wait — but HOW do we wait? We ought to wait in faith, believing the reality and certainty of these things. We should also wait with patience, doing and suffering the will of God, whatever it may be. We wait praying to be made fit to enjoy the glorious object of our hope; mourning over our failures in duty, and undue attachment to earthly things; and fearing, lest a promise being left us, any of us should seem to come short of it. We should wait in profound humility, until the Lord's time comes; watching for the first intimations of the master's approach; longing for the period to arrive, and daily preparing for this honored event. With the loins girt, with the lamp burning, with the heart longing, and with the eye watching — should we wait for the objects of our hope.
But if the Lord's people are waiting for such great, grand, and glorious things — for what are others waiting? Sinner! unconverted man! unconverted woman! What are you waiting for? You are only waiting for death to arrest you, and cast you into prison — for the judge to come to try you at his bar — then you will hear your awful sentence, then will end all your pleasures, then will you be driven from the presence of God, then will you taste, feel, and know what hopeless despair, endless torments, and the just wrath of an insulted God means!
Think, O think of those terrible words which will be pronounced in your hearing, if you die outside of Christ, "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Everlasting fire! Everlasting fire prepared for God's chief enemy and his accomplices! For this to be your doom, your doom forever, how dreadful! Ponder, ponder the terrific questions, "Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Will this be your lot? Will this be your doom? If you die in sin, it must. Repent, therefore, believe in Jesus, and so escape the wrath that is to come!