Purposes of the
title of this meditation marks its limitation, and indicates its scope.
is no attempt at defense of the statement of the New Testament that
Word was made flesh." That is taken for granted as true.
here is no attempt to explain the method of the Holy Mystery. That is
recognized as Mystery: a fact revealed which is yet beyond human
scope is that of considering in broad outline the plain teaching of the
Testament as to the purposes of the Incarnation.
final limitation is that of its brevity. If, however, it serve to
deeper sense of the wonder of the great central fact of our common
thus to inspire further meditation, its object will be gained.
whole teaching of Holy Scripture places the Incarnation at the center
methods of God with a sinning race.
that Incarnation everything moved until its accomplishment, finding
fulfillment and explanation. The messages of the prophets and seers and
songs of the psalmists trembled with more or less certainty toward the
music which announced the coming of Christ. All the results also of
partial and broken messages of the past led toward the Incarnation.
is equally true that from that Incarnation all subsequent movements
proceeded, depending upon it for direction and dynamic. The Gospel
all concerned with the coming of Christ, with His mission and His
letters of the New Testament have all to do with the fact of the
and its correlated doctrines and duties. The last book of the Bible is
the true title of which is The Unveiling of the Christ.
only the actual messages which have been bound up in this one Divine
but all the results issuing from them, are finally results issuing from
self-same coming of Christ. It is surely important, therefore, that we
understand its purposes in the economy of God.
is a fourfold statement of purpose declared in the New Testament: the
to reveal the Father; the purpose to put away sin; the purpose to
works of the devil; and the purpose to establish by another advent the
of God in the world.
was in conflict with all that was contrary to the purposes of God in
individual, social, national, and racial life. There is a sense in
we have said this we have stated the whole meaning of His coming. His
revelation of the Father was toward this end; His putting away of sin
of this very process; and His second advent will be for the complete
overthrow of all the works of the devil.
man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the
the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18).
that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).
latter is Christ's own statement of truth in this regard, and is
by simplicity and sublimity. Among all the things Jesus said concerning
relationship to the Father, none is more comprehensive, inclusive,
last hours of Jesus with His disciples were passing away. He was
them, and four times over they interrupted him. Philip said, "Lord,
us the Father, and it sufficeth us". Philip's interruption was due, in
first place, to a conviction of Christ's relation in some way to the
had been so long with Jesus as to become familiar in some senses with
His line of
thought. In all probability Philip was asking that there should be
him and the little group of disciples some such wonderful thing as they
read of in the past of their people's history; as when the elders once
the mountain and saw God; or when the prophet saw the Lord sitting upon
throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple; or when
saw God in fire, and wheels; in majesty and glory.
cannot read the answer of Jesus to that request without feeling that He
divested Himself, of set purpose, of anything that approached
diction, and dropped into the common speech of friend to friend,
as, - looking
back into the face of Philip, who was voicing, though he little knew
great anguish of the human heart, the great hunger of the human soul,
"Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip?
that hath seen me hath seen the Father". That claim has been vindicated
the passing of the centuries.
Revelation to the Race
will, therefore, consider first, what this revelation of God has meant
race; and secondly, what it has meant to the individual.
then, what conception of God had the race before Christ came?
Taking the Hebrew thought of God, let me put
the whole truth as I see it into one comprehensive statement. Prior to
Incarnation there had been a growing intellectual apprehension of truth
concerning God, accompanied by a diminishing moral result. It is
study the Old Testament without seeing that there gradually broke
mists a clearer light concerning God. The fact of the unity of God; the
the might of God; the fact of the holiness of God; the fact of the
of God; these things men had come to see through the process of the
side by side with this growing intellectual apprehension of God there
diminishing moral result, for it is impossible to read the story of the
Hebrew people without seeing how they waxed worse and worse in all
moral. The moral life of Abraham was far purer than life in the time of
kings. Life in the early time of the kings was far purer than the
which the prophets ultimately described. In proportion as men grew in
intellectual conception of God, it seemed increasingly unthinkable that
could be interested in their every-day life. Morality became something
intimate relationship to Him, and therefore something that mattered far
of the great Gentile world, as it then was, and as it still is, save
message of the Evangel has reached it. We have had such remarkable
Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius; men speaking many true things, flashing
light, but notwithstanding these things a perpetual failure in morals
uniform degradation of religion has been universal. The failure has
due to a lack of final knowledge concerning God.
last there came the song of the angels, and the birth of the Son of
through Whose Incarnation and ministry there came to men a new
included in His teaching and manifestation all the essential things
had learned in the long ages of the past He did not deny the truth of
of God; He re-emphasized it. He did not deny the might of God; He
and manifested it in many a gentle touch of infinite power, He did not
holiness of God; He insisted upon it in teaching and life, and at last
mystery of dying. He did not deny the beneficence of God; He changed
word beneficence into the word throbbing with the infinite heart of
Deity - Love.
He did more. That which men had imperfectly expressed in song and
came to state - "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" - not
not Jehovah, not Adonai; none of the great names of the past, although
them are suggestive. In and through Him that truth of the Fatherhood
means a great deal more than we sometimes imagine. It is not merely a
tenderness; it is also a term of law and discipline. But fatherhood
supremely that if the child have wandered away, the father will suffer
everything to save and bring it home again. Within the realm of
religion this truth emerged, that the one God, mighty, holy,
beneficent, is the
Father who will sacrifice Himself to save the child. There man found
of contact, in infinite love which never abandons him, never leaves
is the truth which, coming into revealed religion, saved it from being
apprehension, minus moral dynamic, and sent running through all human
rivers of cleansing, renewal, regeneration.
Christ comes to people who have never had direct revelation, He comes
all as fulfillment of all that in their thought and scheme is true. He
moreover, for the correction of all that in their thought and scheme is
All the underlying consciousness of humanity concerning God is touched
answered and lifted into the supreme consciousness whenever God is seen
Christ. All the gleams of light which have been flashing across the
consciousness of humanity merge into the essential light when He is
comes not to contradict the essential truth of Buddhism, but to fulfill
comes not to rob the Chinaman of his regard for parents, as taught by
Confucius, but to fulfill it, and to lift him upon that regard into
the One great Father, God. He comes always to fulfill. Wherever He has
wherever He has been presented; wherever men low or high in the
scale, have seen God in Christ, their hands have opened and they have
their fetishes, and their idols, and have yielded themselves to Him. If
world has not come to God through Him, it is because the world has not
Him; and if the world has not yet seen Him, the blame is upon the
wide issues of the manifestation of God in Christ are the union of
apprehension and moral improvement, and the relation of religion to
life. In no
system of religion in the world has there come to men the idea of God
unites religion with morals, save in this revelation of God in Jesus
Revelation to the
the effect of the manifestation in relation to the individual In
we cannot do better than by taking Philip, the man to whom Christ
Philip's request, "Show us the Father and it sufficeth us", Jesus
said, "Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know met
Philip?" The evident sense of the question is, You have seen enough of
Philip, if you have really seen Me, to have found what you are asking
for - a
vision of God.
then had Philip seen? What revelations of Deity had come to this man
thought he had not seen and did not understand? We will adhere to what
Scripture tells of what Philip had seen.
the story is in John. Philip is referred to by Matthew Mark, and Luke,
among the number of the apostles but in no other way. John tells of
occasions when Philip is seen in union with Christ. Philip was the
Jesus called to follow Him; not the first man to follow Him. There were
two who preceded Philip, going after Christ in consequence of the
John. But Philip was the first man to whom Christ used that great
calling men which has become so precious in the passing of the
centuries - "Follow me." What happened? "Philip findeth Nathanael,
and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and
prophets, wrote." That was the first thing that Philip had seen in
according to his own confession: One Who embodied all the ideals of
find Philip next in the sixth chapter, when the multitudes were about
and they were hungry. Philip, who considered it impossible to feed the
multitude, now sees Someone Who in a mysterious way had resource enough
satisfy human hunger. Philip then listened while in matchless discourse
lifted the thought from material hunger to spiritual need and declared,
am the bread of life". So that the second vision Philip had of Jesus,
according to the record, was a vision of Him, full of resource and able
satisfy hunger, both material and spiritual.
next see Philip in the twelfth chapter. The Greeks coming to him said,
"Sir, we would see Jesus." Philip found his way with Andrew to Jesus,
and asked Him to see the Greeks. Philip saw by what then took place
Man had intimate relation with the Father, and that there was perfect
between them, no conflict, no controversy. He saw, moreover, that upon
basis of that communion with His Father, and that perfect harmony, His
changed from the tones of sorrow to those of triumph, - "Now is the
of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I,
if I be
lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself." That was
Philip's third vision of Jesus. It was the vision of One acting in
accord with God, bending to the sorrow that surged upon His soul, in
through it He might accomplish human redemption.
now come back to the last scene. Philip said, "Show us the Father and
sufficeth us". Gathering up all the things of the past, Christ looked
the face of Philip and replied, "Have I been so long time with you, and
dost thou not know me, Philip?" No, Philip had not seen these things.
were there to be seen, and by and by, the infinite work of Christ being
accomplished, and the glory of Pentecost having dawned upon the world,
saw it all; saw the meaning of the things he had seen, and had never
things he had looked upon, and had never understood.
found that having seen Jesus he had actually seen the Father; that when
looked upon One Who embodied in His own personality all the facts of
righteousness; Who was able to satisfy all the hunger of humanity; Who
cooperation with God was sent to share the sorrows of humanity in order
men to Himself and to save them; he had seen God.
manifestation wins the submission of the reason; appeals to the love of
heart; demands the surrender of the will. Here is the value of the
as revelation of God.
us recall our thoughts for a moment from the particular application in
of Philip, and think what this means to us. Is it true that this
wins the submission of our reason, appeals to the love of our heart,
surrender of our will?
to refuse God in Christ is to violate at some essential point our own
To refuse we must violate reason, which is captured by the revelation;
must crush the emotion, which springs in our heart in the presence of
revelation; or we must decline to submit our will to the demands which
manifestation makes. God grant that we may rather look into His face
"My Lord and my God"! So shall we find our rest, and our hearts will
be satisfied. It shall suffice, as we see the Father in Christ.
know that he was manifested to take away sins; and in him is no sin" (1
this text we get nearer to an understanding of the purpose of the
as it touches our human need. The simple and all-inclusive theme which
suggests is, first, that the purpose of the Incarnation was the taking
sins; and secondly, that the process of accomplishment is that of the
then, we will take the purpose as declared, "He was manifested to take
away sins". In order to understand this, we must take the terms in all
their simplicity, and be very careful to find what they really mean.
intended by this word "sins"? The sum total of all lawless acts. The
thought is incomprehensible as to numbers when we think of the race,
but let us
remember that in the midst of that which overwhelms us in our thinking
own actual sins.
"Sins" - missing
of the mark, whether wilful missing, or missing through ignorance, does
present matter. The word includes all those thoughts and words and
which we have missed the mark of the Divine purpose and the Divine
things which stand between man and God, so that man becomes afraid of
those things which stand between man and his fellowmen, so that man
afraid of his fellowman, knowing that he has wronged him in some
those things which stand between man and his own success. Call them
you will; call them by any name you please; so that you understand the
intention of the word.
phrase "to take away" is a statement of result, not a declaration of
process. The Hebrew equivalent of the word "take away" is found in
that familiar story of the scapegoat. It was provided that this animal
be driven away to the wilderness "unto a solitary land". This suggested
that sins should be lifted from one and placed upon another, and by
carried away out of experience, out of consciousness. That is the
signification of this declaration, "He was manifested to bear
sins" - to lift sins. He was manifested in order that He might come
relationship with human life, and passing underneath the load of human
lift them, take them away.
this is the most glorious Gospel that man has ever heard; or it is the
delusion to which man has ever listened. In the heart of every man and
there is a consciousness of sin. No one of us would be prepared to say,
never deliberately done the thing I knew I ought not to do. That is
consciousness of sin. We may affect to excuse it. We may be ready to
to the reason for it, and the issue of it; but if we could, we would
We may profess to have turned our back upon these evangelical truths,
we know we have sinned and we wish we had not.
for a moment from that outer fringe of men and women, who are somewhat
about the matter, to the souls who are in agony concerning it; who know
sin and loathe it; who carry the consciousness of wrongs done in past
a perpetual burden upon their souls; who hate the memory of their own
sins, - to
such, a declaration like this is the most cruel word, or the kindest,
be uttered. Cruel, if it be false; kind indeed, with the kindness of
of God, if it be true. If it be true that He was manifested somehow, in
mystery that we shall never perfectly understand, in order to get
sins, my sins, my thought of impurity, my words of bitterness, my
and lift them and bear them away - that is the one Evangel I long for
all. More valuable to me, a sinner, than anything else that He can do
in order that this great purpose of the Incarnation, as declared, may
powerfully and better understood, let us reverently turn to the
the process which we have in this particular text, "He was manifested
take away sins". Who was the Person? It is perfectly evident that John
here, as always, has his eye fixed upon the Man of Nazareth; and yet it
equally evident that he is looking through Jesus of Nazareth to God.
the meaning of his word "manifested" here. He is the Word made flesh.
He is flesh, but He is the Word. He is Someone that John had
appreciated by the
senses, and yet He is Someone Whom John knew preeminently by the Spirit.
that after he makes the affirmation, "He was manifested to take away
sins," he adds this great word, "In Him is no sin"; or,
"Missing of the mark was not in Him". The One in Whom there was no
missing of the mark was manifested for the express purpose of lifting,
away, making not to be, the missing of the mark of others.
was manifested" - and in the name of God let us not read into the
"He" anything small or narrow. If we do, we shall at once be driven
into the place of having to deny the declaration that He can take away
He was man as I am man merely, then though He be perfect and sinless,
take away sins. If into the "He" we will read all that John evidently
meant according to the testimony of his own writing, we shall begin to
of the stupendous idea, and something of the possibility at least of
the declaration that "He was manifested to take away sins."
the manifestation and sins, as to man. The terms of the final promise
Incarnation were, "Thou shalt call His name JESUS; for it is he that
save his people from their sins." When the songs to which the shepherds
listened were heard, what said they? "There is born to you this day a
Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." The promise of the Incarnation was
of the coming of One to lift sins.
His life and ministry the words of Jesus were words revealing the
sin; words calculated to rebuke sin and to bring men away from sin. The
of Jesus - and by works I mean miracles and signs and wonders - were
overtaking the results of sin. The miracles of Jesus were not
their effect upon men; they were always restorations of the unnatural
natural positions. When He cured disease it was the restoration of man
normal physical condition. He was taking away the results of sin.
come now to the final thing in this manifestation - the process of the
in that solemn and lonely and unapproachable hour of the cross is the
fulfillment of the word of the herald on the banks of the Jordan,
the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" That phrase,
"The Lamb of God," could have but one significance in the ears of the
men who heard it. This was the voice of a Hebrew prophet speaking to
and when he spoke of the Lamb taking away sins, they had no alternative
than to think of the long line of symbolical sacrifices which had been
and which they had been taught shadowed forth some great mystery of
purpose whereby sin might be dealt with. So in the hour of His death we
the ultimate meaning of that great word. Whereas by manifestation, from
to last, He is for evermore dealing with sins and with sin, lifting,
correcting, arresting, by gleams of light suggesting to men the deepest
of His mission; it is when we come to the hour of His unutterable
and deep darkness, and passion-baptism, that we have that part of the
manifestation in which we see, as nowhere else, and as never before,
meaning of this text, "He was manifested to take away sins".
let us take one step further. The manifestation and sins, as to God.
manifested One was God. If that be once seen, then we shall for
back upon that Man of Nazareth in His birth, His life, His cross, as
manifestation. The whole fact cannot be seen, but the whole fact is
the point of visibility by the way of Incarnation. If indeed this One
God manifested, then remember this, the whole measure of humanity is in
and infinitely more than the whole measure of humanity. Beyond the
of creation, God is. All creation, heaven and earth, suns and stars and
systems, angels and archangels, principalities and powers, the
hierarchies of whom
we hear, but cannot perfectly explain their nature or their order, all
are in Him; but He is infinitely beyond them all.
begin to wonder. In amazement I begin to believe in the possibility of
the burden of my sin. The cross, like everything else, was
the cross of Jesus there was the working out into visibility of eternal
Love and light were wrought out into visibility by the cross. Love and
the presence of the conditions of sin became sorrow - and became joy!
cross I see the sorrow of God, and in the cross I see the joy of God,
"it pleased the Lord to bruise him." In the cross I see the love of
God working out through passion and power for the redemption of man. In
cross I see the light of God refusing to make any terms with iniquity
and evil. The cross is the historic revelation of the abiding facts
heart of God. The measure of the cross is God. If all the measure of
is in God and He is more, and the measure of the cross is God, then the
of the cross wraps humanity about, so that no one individual is outside
meaning and its power. He Who was manifested is God. He can gather into
eternal life all the race as to its sorrow and as to its sin, and bear
remember this, It was not by the eternal facts that sins were taken
by the manifestation of those facts. This text does not affirm, and
there is no
text that begins to affirm, that He before He was manifested, takes
There is a sense in which that is true; but "He was manifested to take
away sins". The passion revealed in the cross was indeed the passion of
God, but the passion of God became dynamic in human life when it became
manifest through human form, in the perfection of a life, and the
mystery of a
will is the factor always to be dealt with, and whereas the sin of man
gathered into the consciousness of God, and created the sorrow of God
very beginning, it is only when that fact of the sorrow of Godhead is
out into visibility by manifestation, that the will of man can ever be
or ever constrained to the position of trust and obedience which is
for his practical and effectual restoration to righteousness. Wherever
yields himself, trusting - that is the condition - his sins are taken
it be declared that God might have wrought this self-same deliverance
suffering, our answer is that the man who says so knows nothing about
and suffering are co-existent. The moment there is sin, there is
moment there is sin and suffering in a human being it is in God
"The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world." From the
moment when man in his sin became a child of sorrow, the sorrow was
felt in heaven.
man who is burdened with a sense of sin I would ask to contemplate the
manifested. There is not one of us of whom it is not true that we live
and have our being in God. God is infinitely more than I am; infinitely
than the whole human race from its first to its last If infinitely
all my life is in Him. If in the mystery of Incarnation there became
the truth that He, God, lifted sin, then I can trust. If that be the
of the rock, then I can say as never before -
"Rock of Ages, cleft
was manifested, and by that manifestation I see wrought out the
of the passion of God which we speak of as the atonement.
Let me hide myself in
this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works
devil" (1 John 3:8).
can be no question as to the One to Whom John referred when he said,
Son of God." In all the writings of John it is evident that his eyes
fixed upon the man Jesus. Occasionally he does not even name Him; does
refer to Him by a personal pronoun, but indicates Him by a word you can
use when you are looking at an object or a person. For instance, "That
which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands
handled". Upon another occasion he said, "He that saith he abideth in
him, ought himself also to walk even as he walked." It is always the
method of expression of a man who is looking at a Person. For evermore
actual human Person of Christ was present to the mind of John as he
intimate he had been with Him we all know. One of the most tender and
things in all the story of the life of Jesus is the story of John's
love for Him. The other disciples loved Him, but their love was of a
tone and quality from that of John. John must get close to Him, and lay
head upon His bosom. Yet if I said no more, I would not have uttered
truth. If John, the mystic, the lover, laid his head upon the human
the Man of Nazareth, he heard the beating of the heart of God. If he
hand upon Jesus when he talked to Him, he knew that beneath the warm
the human flesh there beat the mystic majesty of Deity. "That which our
hands handled, concerning the Word of life." He is perfectly conscious
the flesh, but supremely conscious of the mystic Word veiled in flesh
shining through it. He is perfectly conscious of the human, and thereby
Deity. So that when John comes to write of this One, he speaks of Him
"the Son of God." He remembers the warmth of His bosom, the
gentleness of His touch, the love-lit glory of His eyes, but He is "the
Son of God."
word "manifested" presupposes existence prior to manifestation. In
the Man of Nazareth there was manifestation of One Who had existed long
the Man of Nazareth.
enemy is described here as the devil. We read that he is a murderer, a
betrayer; the fountain-head of sin, the lawless one. The work of the
is destruction of life. The work of the liar is the extinguishing of
work of the betrayer is the violation of love. The work of the
the breaking of the law. These are the works of the devil.
is a murderer. This consists fundamentally in the destruction of life
highest level, which is the spiritual. Alienation from God is the
It is also death on the level of the mental. Vision which fails to
is practical blindness. On the physical plane, all disease and all pain
ultimately results of sin, and are among the works of the devil. These
all lie within the realm of his work as murderer, destroyer of human
is more. He is the liar, and to him is due the extinguishing of light,
men blunder along the way. All ignorance, all despair, all wandering
trackless deserts of life, are due to extinction of spiritual light in
of man. All ignorance is the result of the clouding of man's vision of
is life eternal," age-abiding life. high life, deep life, broad life,
life, comprehensive life, "that they should know thee the only true
and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." The proportion in
man knows God is the proportion in which he sees clearly to the heart
things. By and by, when the redemptive work of Christ has been
man, and in the world, we shall find that all ignorance is banished,
has found his way into light. But the liar, the one who brings
made his works far spread o'er all the face of humanity, and all
resultant despair, and all wandering aimlessly in every realm of life,
to the work of the one whom Jesus designated a liar from the beginning.
the violation of love, as a work of the devil, is seen supremely in the
entered into the heart of Judas, and made him the betrayer. All the
find in the world today, and all the jealousy, and all the cruelty, are
works of the devil.
he is the supreme sinner. Sin is lawlessness, which does not mean the
of being without law, but the condition of being against law, breaking
that all wrong done to God in His world, all wrong done by man to man,
wrong done by man to himself, are works of the devil.
summarize then: death, darkness, hatred, find them where you will, are
Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.
the beginning we saw Him as a soul in conflict with all these things,
that was an indication of the program and a prophecy of the purpose.
Incarnation was not merely the birth of a little child in whom we were
the secret of childhood, and in whom presently we were to see the
manhood. All that is true; but it was the happening in the course of
events, of that one thing through which God Himself is able to destroy
works of the devil.
What "Destroy" Means
destroy." It is a word which means to dissolve, to loosen. It is the
same word as is used in the Apocalypse about loosing us from our sins;
you will be more graphic, it is the word used in the Acts of the
you read that the ship was broken to pieces; loosed, dissolved, that
been a consistent whole, was broken up and scattered and wrecked.
word "destroyed" may be perfectly correct, but let us understand it.
He was manifested to do a work in human history the result of which
that the works of the devil should lose their consistency. The cohesive
that makes them appear stable until this moment, He came to loosen and
dissolve. He was manifested to destroy death by the gift of life. He
manifested to destroy darkness by the gift of light. He was manifested
destroy hatred by the gift of love. He was manifested to destroy
the gift of law. He was manifested to loosen, to break up, to destroy
negatives which spoil, by the bringing of the positive that remakes and
was manifested to destroy the works of the devil as to death, by the
life. This means first spiritual life, which is fellowship with God. It
also mental life, the vision of the open secret. Not yet perfectly do
understand, but already the trusting soul, utterly devoid of education,
more in the wind at eventide, and sees more in the blossoming of the
than any merely scientific man can do.
who sees has the true intellectual vision which Christ has bestowed in
of life. "This is life eternal, that they should know thee the only
God." The gift of life was to destroy death, and the man who has His
of life laughs in the face of death, laughs triumphantly. I believe
that there was
laughter in the apostle's tone when he said, "O death, where is thy
sting?" As though he had said, what hast thou done with thy victory? I
trembled in thy presence once, O rider upon the pale horse; but now I
thy face, for thy paleness has become the glistening white of an angel
light. So He destroys the works of the devil by giving the gift of life
to darkness. This is intimately associated with the thing already said.
gift of light always comes out of life. If there be death, then there
vision. If there be life, there is light. Light means knowledge and
guidance, so that there is no more wandering aimlessly. By bringing
human life and into the world He has destroyed the works of the devil.
to hatred. He destroyed hatred by His gift of love. Benevolence - and I
using the word idly as we often do; I am using it in all its rich,
gracious meaning - benevolence, well-willing, self-abnegation, kindness
apostle's sense of the word when writing to the Galatians he gives
one of the qualities of love, the specific doing of small things out of
love. All these things are things by which the works of the devil are
destroyed. Hatred, avarice, jealousy, selfishness, are destroyed by
abroad love which is the warmth of life, as light is its illumination.
things He destroys the works of the devil.
to lawlessness. This He destroys by the gift of law; passion for the
God, service to our fellowmen; the finding of self in the great
the finding of self in the perfect freedom because I have become the
of the infinite Lord of love.
centuries ago the Son of God was manifested, and during those centuries
lives of hundreds, thousands, He has destroyed the works of the devil,
death by the gift of life; cast darkness out by the incoming light;
selfishness of avarice and jealousy into love, joy, peace,
kindness, goodness. He has taken hold of lawless men and made them into
willing, glad bond-servants of God. So has He destroyed the works of
Historic Meaning of
not forget the meaning of the Incarnation historically. It was the
human history by One Who snatched the scepter from the usurper. It was
intrusion of forces into human history which dissolved the consistency
works of the devil and caused them to break and fail. "How long, O
how long?" is the cry of the heart of the saint today. Yet let us take
heart as we look back and know that the victorious force has operated
nineteen centuries, and always toward consummation. Still, the works of
devil are manifest; the works of the flesh are manifest. Yes, but the
the Spirit of life which has come through the advent of Christ is also
manifest. All over the world today on many a branch of the vine of the
planting, the rich clusters of fruit are to be found. All, so far, is
preliminary. It is twilight only. High noon has not arrived; but it is
twilight, and the noon must come.
the Incarnation was the coming of the Stronger than the strong man
destroy the works of the devil in my own life. Are the works of the
darkness, hatred, and rebellion - the master forces of your being? Then
you the Evangel. I tell you of One manifested to destroy all such
works. I tell
you not merely as a theory, but as having the testimony of history
the truth of the announcement of this text.
forces of this Christ have operated, and are operating; and the things
were formerly established are loosened, and are falling to decay. He
manifested to destroy the works of the devil. If you are in the grip of
of evil; if you realize that in your life His works are the things of
then I pray you, turn with full purpose of heart to the One manifested
ago, Who in all the power of His gracious victory, will destroy in you
works of the devil, and set you free.
also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a
time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation"
are all conscious that nothing is perfect; that the things which Christ
do are not yet done; that the works of the devil are not yet finally
that sins are not yet experimentally taken away; that in the spiritual
consciousness of the race, God is not yet perfectly known. "Now we see
yet all things subjected to Him." The victory does not seem to be won.
is impossible to read the story of the Incarnation, and to believe in
to follow the history of the centuries that have followed upon that
without feeling in one's deepest heart that something more is needed,
Incarnation was preparatory, and that the consummation of its meaning
be brought about by another coming, as per human history as was the
... shall appear a second time." There is no escape, other than by
casuistry, from the simple meaning of those words. The first idea
them is that of an actual personal advent of Jesus yet to be. To
statement like this and to attempt to make application of it in any
the way in which a little child would understand it, is to be driven,
almost inclined to say, to dishonesty with the simplicity of the
declaration. There may be diversities of interpretations as to how He
come, and when He will come; whether He will come to usher in a
to crown it; but the fact of His actual coming is beyond question.
in all his writings is conscious of this truth of the second advent. In
them he does not dwell upon it at such great length, or with such
in others, for the simple reason that it is not the specific subject
he is dealing. In the Thessalonian letters we have most clearly set
Paul's teaching concerning this matter. In the very center of the first
we have a passage which declares in unmistakable language that "the
himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the
archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise
then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be
caught up in
the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with
writing to those who were in affliction said, "Be ye also patient;
establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand."
with equal clearness said to the early disciples, "Be sober and set
hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the
who leaned upon his Master's bosom, and who wrote the most wonderful of
mystic words concerning Him, said, "We know that, if he shall be
manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.
one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is
said to those to whom he wrote, "Ye, beloved, building up yourselves on
your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in
of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal
New Testament writer presents this truth as part of the common
Belief in the personal actual second advent of Jesus gave the bloom to
primitive Christianity, and constituted the power of the early
laugh in the face of death, and to overcome all forces that were
There is nothing more necessary in our day than a new declaration of
fact of Christian faith. Think what it would mean if the whole church
lifted her face toward the east and waited for the morning; waited as
would have her wait - not star-gazing, and almanac examining, but with
for service, and lamps burning; waited as she served. If the whole
church were so waiting, she would cast off her worldliness and
all other things which hinder her march to conquest.
text does more than affirm the fact of the second advent. In a somewhat
remarkable way, it declares the meaning thereof, "Christ... shall
second time, apart from sin." To rightly understand this, we must look
upon it as putting the second advent into contrast with the first. That
the writer most evidently means, for the context declares that He was
manifested in the consummation of the ages to bear sins. He now says
"Christ... shall appear a second time apart from sin." All the things
of the first advent were necessary to the second; but all the things of
second will be different from the things of the first.
His first advent sin was revealed. His own cross was the place where
deep hatred of the human heart expressed itself most diabolically in
heaven and earth and hell.
was also revelation of darkness as contrary to light. "Men loved the
darkness rather than the light," was the supreme wail of the heart of
presence in the world was, moreover, revelation of spiritual death as
to life. In the perpetual attempt of men to materialize His work, the
of His own disciples as well as of all the rest, and their absolute
appreciate the spiritual teaching He gave, we see what spiritual death
His first advent He not only revealed sin, but bore it. In the words,
"Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many," the
reference is not merely to the final movement of the cross. The word
"offered" is used in reference to God's action in giving Him. It
would be perfectly correct interpretation to supply the word
"offered" by the word "gave;" the word which we have in John's
Gospel, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son." Let us put that word here - "Christ also, having been once given
to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time." All through His
life He was putting Himself underneath sin in order to take it away. He
its limitations throughout the whole of His life. In poverty, in
loneliness, He lived: and all these things are limitations resulting
When Jesus Christ entered into the flesh, He entered into the
follow upon sin, and He bore sin in His own consciousness through all
years; not poverty only, but sorrow in all forms, and loneliness. All
sorrows of the human heart were upon His heart until He uttered that
unspeakable cry, "My God, my God, why 4hast Thou forsaken Me?"
finally dealt with sin, and destroyed it at its very root at His first
His second advent is to be that of victory. He will come again; not to
but to wealth. He will come again; not to sorrow, but with all joy. He
come again; not in loneliness, but to gather about Him all trusting
have looked and served and waited. All in His first advent of sorrow
loneliness, of poverty and of sin, will be absent from the second. The
was for atonement; the second will be for administration. He came,
into human nature, and taking hold of it, to deal with sin and put it
has taken sin away, and He will come again to set up that kingdom, the
foundations of which He laid in His first coming.
text declares the purpose of the advent: "It is appointed unto men once
die, and after this cometh judgment; so Christ also, having been once
to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin,
that wait for him, unto salvation." A similarity is suggested. "It is
appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment." Over
against that dual appointment stands, "So Christ also, having been once
offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart
to them that wait for him, unto salvation."
is a strange differentiation in the ending of the two declarations. We
expect that it would be written to complete the comparison, thus, it is
appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment; so
having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a
apart from sin, unto judgment. That would seem to be a balanced
the writer does not so write. This very difference unfolds the meanings
first and second advents. It is appointed to men to die, - He was
the sins of many. After death judgment, - He is coming again unto
the first advent negated the death appointed unto men, the second
turn the judgment into salvation.
is appointed unto men once to die." It is often somewhat carelessly
affirmed that men must die. While admitting the truth of this statement
inquire, why must they die? Science can no more account for death than
account for life. It has never yet been able to say why men die. How
yes; why they die, no! I will tell you why. Death is the wage of sin.
will admit that death comes by the breaking of certain laws, but
use some other word than the word sin. "It is appointed unto men once
die," by the fiat of God Almighty because they are sinners, and no man
escape that fiat.
He was offered by God to bear the sins of many. That was the answer of
first advent to man's appointment to death.
death there is another appointment, that of judgment. Who shall appeal
the absolute justice of that appointment?
"shall appear a second time, apart from sin unto salvation." To those
who have heard the message of the first advent and have believed it,
trusted in His great work, and have found shelter in the mystery of His
manifestation and bearing of sin - to such, salvation takes the place
judgment, But to the man who will not shelter beneath that first advent
atoning value - judgment abides. All the things begun by His first
consummated by the second.
His second advent there will be complete salvation for the individual
righteousness, sanctification, redemption. We believed, and were saved.
believe, and are being saved. We believe and we shall be saved. The
movement will come when He comes.
who have fallen on sleep are safe with God, and He will bring them with
when He comes. They are not yet perfected, "God having provided some
better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made
perfect." They are at rest, and consciously at rest. They are "absent
from the body... at home with the Lord," but they are not yet
they are waiting. We are waiting in the midst of earth's struggle -
heaven's light and joy, for the second advent. Heaven is waiting for
is waiting for it. Hell is waiting for it. The universe is waiting for
coming will be to those who wait for Him. Who are those who wait for
"Ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to
wait for his Son from heaven." The first thing is the turning from
Have we done that? The second thing is serving the living God. Are we
that? Then because we have turned from idols, and are serving Him, we
waiting. That is the waiting the New Testament enjoins, and to those
His second advent will mean salvation. "Christ shall appear."
Article "The Purposes of the Incarnation" by Dr. G.
Campbell Morgan was first published in The Fundamentals,