Between Grace and Glory
Below is an excerpt from a sermon on Titus 2:11-14 delivered by Charles Spurgeon on April 4, 1886 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England. This portion makes for wonderful reflection on the coming of Christ, even as we anticipate His return.
“First of all, the Apostle in this text describes our position. The people of God stand between two appearances. In the 11th verse he tells us, “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” And then he says, in the 13th verse, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
We live in an age which is an interval between the two appearings of the Lord from Heaven. Believers in Jesus are shut off from the old economy by the first coming of our Lord. The times of man’s ignorance God winked at, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent.
We are divided from the past by a wall of light upon whose forefront we read the words, Bethlehem, Gethsemane and Calvary. We date (our calendars) from the birth of the Virgin’s Son … All the rest of time is before Christ and is marked off from the Christian era. Bethlehem’s manger is our beginning. The chief landmark in all time to us is the wondrous life of Him who is the Light of the world! We look to the appearing of the grace of God in the form of the lowly one of Nazareth, for our trust is there. We confide in Him who was made flesh and dwelt among us, so that men beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth …
Brothers and Sisters, we look forward to a second appearing! Our outlook for the close of this present era is another appearing—an appearing of glory rather than of grace. After our Master rose from the brow of Olivet, His disciples remained for a while in mute astonishment. But soon an angelic messenger reminded them of prophecy and promise by saying, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven.”
We believe that our Lord, in the fullness of time, will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel and the voice of God …
See, then, … we are compassed about, behind and before with the appearings of our Lord. Behind us is our trust. Before us is our hope. Behind us is the Son of God in humiliation. Before us is the great God, our Savior, in His glory.
To use an ecclesiastical term, we stand between two Epiphanies—the first is the manifestation of the Son of God in human flesh in dishonor and weakness. The second is the manifestation of the same Son of God in all His power and glory! In what a position, then, do the saints stand! They have an era all to themselves which begins and ends with the Lord’s appearing!
… Paul calls it, “this present world.” This marks its fleeting nature. It is present, but it is scarcely future, for the Lord may come so soon and thus end it all. It is present, now, but it will not be present long. It is but a little time and He who will come shall come and will not tarry.
… Going from one manifestation to another, we are as birds migrating on the wing from one region to another—there is no rest for us by the way. We are to keep ourselves as loose as we can from this country through which we make our pilgrimage, for we are strangers and foreigners and here we have no continuing city.
We hurry through this Vanity Fair—before us lies the Celestial City and the coming of the Lord who is the King thereof! As voyagers cross the Atlantic and so pass from shore to shore, so do we speed over the waves of this ever-changing world to the Glory Land of the bright appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Already I have given to you, in this description of our position, the very best argument for a holy life. If it is so, my Brothers and Sisters, that you are not of the world, even as Jesus is not of the world. If this is so, that before you blazes the supernatural splendor of the Second Advent and behind you burns the everlasting light of the Redeemer’s first appearing, what manner of people ought you to be?
If, indeed, you are but journeying through this present world, allow not your hearts to be defiled with its sins! Learn not the manner of speech of these aliens through whose country you are passing! “… Come you out from among them and be you separate, touch not the unclean thing,” for the Lord has said, “I will be a Father unto you and you shall be My sons and daughters.”
... Two manifestations of God shine upon you. Like a wall of fire, the Lord’s appearings are round about you—there ought to be a special glory of holiness in the midst. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” That is the position of the righteous according to my text—and it furnishes a loud call to holiness.”
As we celebrate His first Advent, with every “Merry Christmas!” may we anticipate “Behold, He comes!”
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Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight