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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 77 - 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 - The Advent, the Resurrection and the Glory Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


It is of resurrection that this whole chapter speaks. It begins with the risen Christ, and it ends with the risen church: "Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming." "Pre-eminence" in all things belongs to Him; conformity to Him in that preeminence belongs to his saints: "We are a kind of first fruits of His creatures" (James 1:18).

Resurrection, then, is our hope. Not merely a happy immortality for the soul; but resurrection,—the "redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). The cross has purchased resurrection for us; so that our "flesh rests in hope." The Lord's coming, not death, is our terminus or goal; for death is our enemy, Christ is our friend; death is loss, resurrection is gain.

Christ is risen! This is the announcement of the fact on which our faith rests. A risen Christ is our Redeemer. It is to the fullness of a risen Christ that we go in our emptiness and sin. A risen Christ is the sum of our gospel, good news to the dead in sin.

We shall arise! This is the sure word of prophecy on which our hope rests. Our vile bodies shall be changed. This corruptible shall put on incorruption.

But, says our passage, "every one in his own order" (rank, or troop, a military expression); Christ the Captain, and each troop or regiment marching after their Captain; Christ the first-fruits, and then a long interval, already eighteen hundred years, and then they who are Christ's at His coming. Then after another interval, during which He is putting down all enemies, and consummating the kingdom, He shall present that kingdom to the Father in its perfection, having had all His enemies put under His feet. Of these enemies the last is death; and death shall then be swallowed up in this glorious victory of the great Captain, our risen Lord. For it is He who has overcome; and having overcome, points us to victory over the world and death. The first interval is the period from Christ's resurrection to His second coming. The second interval is His millennial reign, during which He brings all things into subjection. At the close of this reign, He presents the perfected kingdom to the Father, just as He presents to Himself the church without spot or wrinkle. All enemies shall be put under Him, and the victory which completes the whole will be that over death, the last enemy. Yet even then, when the Son shall have reached the highest point of dominion and glory, even then he shall retain that subjection to the Father which, as God-man, He exhibited on earth, as when He said, "My Father is greater than I,"[13] while also saying, "I and my Father are one." Thus the Son of God is not divested of His royalty, but rather confirmed in it; He does not put off His crown when He presents the kingdom to the Father, but wears it for ever, as King of the universe, King of kings through all eternity; and yet while wearing it, making more fully manifest than ever has been done hitherto, that God is all in all. The completion of the work of Christ in the perfected kingdom hereafter, will be the full and glorious exhibition of Godhead to the universe. The man Christ Jesus as head over all things in heaven and in earth, instead of obscuring, will illustrate Godhead glory. He will be the eternal Mediator, the eternal channel of communication between Creator and creature, the everlasting link between heaven and earth, the security to redeemed creation that it shall never again fall or come under the curse, and the security to Godhead that the divine glory shall never again be eclipsed by sin or evil of any kind whatever.

Looking over this passage, we gather out of it such truths as the following:

I. Christ's resurrection. The apostle throughout the chapter lays great stress on this. Christ's death was not the completion of the good news. The cross was not the whole of that gospel which was preached by the apostles. He rose again! With this message the apostles went forth to Jew and Gentile. This was the summing up of the glad tidings; it was the filling up of the revelation of God's free love.

II. The resurrection of His saints. He took them up to His cross with Him; He took them down to His grave with Him; and He brought them up again along with Himself. His resurrection was virtually theirs, though separated by an interval of time. They shall arise, because He arose. It is to this that we look forward; not to death and the grave; but beyond these, to resurrection. We shall arise; this is our hope. Each particle of precious dust shall come up again and take on glory. This corruptible shall put on incorruption. This vile body shall be changed.

III. The Lord's coming. "They that are Christ's at His coming." He shall come again; that same Jesus who departed. To this very earth He shall come. He shall come for His own. He shall come as the Resurrection and the Life; He shall come as the last Adam, the quickening Spirit; He shall come in His glory; He shall come to make all things new.

IV. The kingdom. He comes not only to raise His saints, but also to destroy His enemies. He comes with the iron rod to break kings in pieces as a potter's vessel; to smite Antichrist; to avenge the blood of saints; to have all things put under His feet; to take and wear the crown; to perfect the kingdom.

V. The death of death. This is the last of His enemies. It was the first (next to Satan), and has devoured the bodies of His saints for thousands of years; it has come, as the king of terrors, to each son of Adam. And He reserves its destruction to the last. He holds it up to view as His great enemy, and then, along with the grave, casts it into the lake of fire.

VI. The glory of the Son. This millennial reign, of which the apostle speaks, is the day of His glory. He has been glorified in heaven; He shall then be glorified on earth,—glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe. To Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess.

VII. The glory of Godhead. "That God may be all in all." How this is to be, we know not. But it is to be in connection with Christ, the King, and His perfected kingdom; in connection with His work, and reign, and glory. It is through Him that God shall be glorified as "all in all."

Man of God, Is your eye on these things? Does the prospect gladden and influence you? Are you of one mind with God in regard to them; adopting His views, falling in with His plans, and recognizing His purpose, both in regard to the present and the future of our world? Or are you carried away with human ideas of "progress," self-regeneration, and self-enlightenment; dazzled with theories of "advanced politics" and "developed liberalism," from which all reference to the glory of Christ has been eliminated; won over into admiration of man's intellect, or philosophy, or statesmanship, as if these would suffice for the counteraction of Satan's subleties, or the repression of human sin,—as if by these, earth's rebel kingdoms could be rightly ruled, without the Bible, and without that "Spirit of counsel and of might"(Isaiah 11:2), who alone can give wisdom for righteous legislation and holy government.