The Spirit's Work in Glorifying Christ
by J. K. POPHAM
Preached At Galeed Chapel, Brighton, on Lord's day evening February 15th, 1920
When an architect is about to erect a building he makes provision in his plans for the foundation. He makes provision according to the building he is to erect. If it be but a cottage, a footing will do; if it be a large building the foundation must be according to it. And further, he will consider the nature of the soil on which the building is to be erected. If it be sandy and if the sand be deep, then the foundations must go down. The architect is supposed to be wise, he is supposed to be sufficient for his work. When God will build, and He will, wise wonderful Architect that He is, He makes provision for the foundation and has respect to the nature of the building and of the soil, and He digs deep and reaches the rock before He begins to build. When it pleased God to begin with some of us what did He do? Did He make us rejoice in Christ before we mourned over self? Did we feel glad before He made us sorry? No the text is a very beautiful one, but it has a connection, a context. Go back to the eighth verse on which I made some remarks this morning: "He shall convince of sin." He digs, He finds sand, mud, mire; but He digs, He digs down, He convinces of sin; shows the sinner his nature, shows him his wickedness, his deceitfulness, his lust, his corruption. He alarms him by some thunder of the law. He alarms him by some views given to him of God, of the character of God with whom he has to do. He alarms him by giving him some sense of the evil desert of sin, that it deserves punishment; some view of hell; some view of divine justice; some sense of the power of God who after He hath killed the body hath power to cast into hell. And this work, so painful, so alarming, is necessary; it is like digging the foundation. As if the architect has gone to the site and found the nature of the soil and has said: "Well, we must go down very deep." God, looking at a sinner says, "I must dig deep." It may take years in His sovereignty, it may take years to do it. A little here, a little there, an alarm today, and something tomorrow. A sight of sin, and the eye is held to it till the sinner feels as if he can scarcely live under the sight. Then perhaps a relapse into a carelessness till God comes again and sends some alarm of war in his conscience, and then again he cries out: "What shall I do? Eternity is coming, I am hastening to it, what shall I do? I am wrong and fear I never shall be right, God be merciful to me a sinner." That sinner little thinks what God is doing. What digging, preparing, turning away, casting out, God is doing in order that there may be laid well the Foundation Stone, the tried stone, the precious corner stone. And later the sinner says: "How can I bless God enough for taking such pains with me, convincing me by degrees, and by degrees leading me to a sense of my ruined state? How can I thank Him enough, although I don't know the day when I became concerned? Though I don't know the means by which the work was started, yet now I could but believe it was God's beginning. It has been God's work and I, often distraught, often careless, often wounded, and often seeming to get slightly healed, I am brought now to feel there is one blessed Foundation Stone laid in my heart, that is Jesus Christ. Well dear friends, it may be God's great pleasure toward us, I hope it will be, to lead us to value conviction of sin. May we never undervalue trouble of soul, our own soul; may we never undervalue that digging, that painful alarm that God may be pleased to give us to make us aware of our desperate state by sin, by the fall, by our practice, and by the law of God.
Now the context says still further that the Spirit shall convince of sin because of unbelief. Do you think that Israel with all his idolatrous departures from God, setting up the basest of men to be priests and so forth, ever committed one sin in all the years of its history, black history indeed for the most part - ever committed one sin equal to this, the utter rejection and hatred of Jesus Christ? No, I believe that was the sin of that nation. In type this sin was committed by Israel in the wilderness when they loathed the light food which God daily gave to them from heaven; for that manna was a type of the Bread of life that came down from God. And do people commit this sin today? Christ came to His own nation, and His own nation received Him not, but can people commit this sin today? Let me answer the question by a question. Is it a part of the Bible revelation that God sent His only begotten Son into this world? Yes. And can there be this revelation of God and men trample it under foot and say Christ is not what the Bible declares Him to be; that He is not the absolute and only Saviour that the Bible says He is; that He was not born as the Bible says He was; that His sacrifice was not vicarious as the Bible declares it to have been; that He is not in heaven with His own blood, the only Redeemer and Saviour, as the Bible says He is? Can, I say, men do such and such things with respect to Jesus Christ and be guiltless? No, and they will be convinced of it one day. Blessed be God, some are convinced of it savingly! O what mercy to see that our pride, our indifference, our rejection of the blessed Son of God is our sin! What a mercy to confess and forsake it!
And the Spirit convinces of righteousness "because I go to My Father and ye see Me no more." They said He had a devil, that He was mad, that He cast out devils by the prince of devils, that He blasphemed because He said He was the Son of God and God was His Father. They said that He was a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. They said all these things about this glorious Person. But He said: "The Spirit shall show men that it is otherwise. My resurrection, My ascension to My Father shall prove that I was, that I am the Son of God and the sent of God, and that My righteousness, the righteousness I wrought out is the only robe for justification; the only covering that a sinner can have to stand him in good stead, to present him as a just person before the presence of My glory."
"Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The prince of this world was cast out and conquered when Jesus said, "It is finished," and when He arose and ascended into heaven, then He led captivity captive and receive gifts for men; then the prince of this was cast out. Christ saw Him as lightning fall from heaven. There were other things which Christ had to say to His disciples, but which because they were of a spiritual kind, of a kingdom which as yet they little understood, He would not say them now, but afterwards His Spirit should say them to them: "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come." (John 16:12,13)
He will guide you into all truth. He will open your eyes to see and your ears to hear the things which now you are too carnal to bear. He will do it, for He shall not speak of Himself. He shall not come as if on a completely separate mission, separate from Myself and from My Father; He shall not speak of Himself. He shall not speak with the concurrence of My Father and Myself. He shall come in the fulfilment of a common end, with My Father and Myself and He the Spirit, all of Us. One end, one covenant to open, one mercy to give, one life to impart, one justification to bring, one salvation to work, one heaven to give to those who deserve hell. He shall not speak of Himself; He shall not come on a mission of His own without My Father and Myself; but whatsoever He shall speak, and speak He shall in My name, that you shall hear, and He will show you things to come. Mercies, good things to come and sufferings to come and heaven to come. He shall show you all these things.
And then come the words which I have read for a text: "He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you." The Person of the Holy Ghost is as necessary for salvation as is the Person of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Ghost in sinners is as necessary for salvation as was the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Person of the Spirit, the Person of the Holy Ghost and His blessed work, are absolute necessities, even as are the Person and the work of Christ. And the end of His work the text declares; what He is to do, what He shall do the text opens. He is to speak not of Himself, but of another; He is to speak of Christ, He is to glorify Him, set Him up, and receive of things which are Christ's and show them to the wondering eyes of sinners.
Let us look as enabled for a short time at this great matter, the glorifying of Christ in sinners' hearts; for this is what is intended: "And show it unto you." Give you, My disciples, who now while I am with you are unable to bear all that is to be brought to you later; He shall do it, He shall glorify Me.
First of all, He shall glorify Christ in His great work of redemption. The name Redeemer is full of meaning. It is full of liberty, it is full of peace, it is full of heaven, and this is to be made known. Men who are slaves to sin and in bondage to the law of God, are to be redeemed, and by Christ they were redeemed, but they know it not. Indeed, by nature they often are ignorant of their bondage and are quite ready to say with the Jews: "Are we in bondage? We never were in bondage." Among the fiercest of all the controversies in religion that have been waged and carried on for generations, this is one of the greatest, namely the liberty of man. Men will have it that they are free. They will have it that there is no bondage about them, and that no one can coerce them, nothing can coerce; that they are free in all they do. Free in their tongues: "Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?" (Ps. 12:4) This is our claim, but it is a foolish claim, a false claim; we have no ground at all. Because we are free to come into this chapel this evening, or not to do, according to the choice of our minds, it does not follow that we are free to do good, and to choose good, and to choose God, and to choose what is right. We are slaves, my friends; we are slaves to sin, and God loved some of us. O that it might be made known! He has loved us as we hope, so well, so eternally, as to come and to be our Redeemer. And to be our Redeemer meant this, that He must take our place, our precise place, come exactly into our condition, not of inherent sin, but of imputed sin, and also our place in respect of punishment and death and curse.
And the Spirit glorifies this work of Christ. He sets it high as God said to Moses, "Make a serpent of brass and set it on a pole," (Num. 21:8) there in that wilderness, that arid dangerous place, with men bitten, poisoned, dying. Lift it up, that these dying men looking on it may find a cure. So He will have this gracious One, Jesus Christ, lifted up high above all others, above all men, all remedies. All things shall be beneath Him and He shall be just one alone lifted up in the gospel and in the ministry that the eyes of poor sinners, poor dying creatures shall, as drawn toward Him, see Him and see Him to be the remedy. Not one remedy of many, but the only remedy; not one of many Redeemers, but the only Redeemer. Ah, Christ shall have no peer in this business, no co-operator, no partner in this business! And O when a sinner, sensible of his position and condition, has given to him a sight of this Christ, this Redeemer, having accomplished the whole work on the cross, having said, "It is finished," that sinner looks with wonder and sees everything in Christ that he stands in need of. All that liberty he pants for; that redemption he longs to feel; that peace of conscience he has panted after; that justification he has prayed for; he sees all to be in this Person, in this work. As if he should say: "Now the cross, I see it, the cross is all that I need." The Spirit lifts Him up. O that He would help me to do it properly! He lifts Him up. He says by Paul there shall be no glorying; no flesh shall glory in the presence of the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:29) "Let him that glorieth," He says by Jeremiah, "glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercises righteousness and lovingkindness and mercy in the earth; for in these things do I delight, saith the Lord." (Jer. 9:24)
"He shall glorify Me, He shall receive." The Father gave mercy and life to Christ for His children; gave a revelation to Christ as to what He should speak and what He should do, and now having spoken that and done that, He goes to heaven, and before He goes He says to His disciples: "Now My Spirit whom I will send, the Holy Ghost whom My Father will send, He in the covenant, He in His turn shall receive of Mine. I receive these things from My Father as the Surety. Now My Spirit shall receive them from Me and he shall show them to you." O what a Revealer the Holy Ghost is! You might attain to considerable knowledge in the Scripture by careful reading; you might obtain a considerable degree of notion respecting this Redeemer; you might have some natural rational conviction that what you read in the Scripture of Him is true, and you might make a profession of Him; you might be baptized in His name, and be destitute of this revealing that the Spirit here is to give of Jesus Christ, and all your attainment be just nothing as to profit, just nothing. But O if this divine Person, this glorious Holy Ghost, is pleased to bring and set before you, a mourning sinner, a convinced sinner, the Lord's death, you will see it then and feel it in a light and a life that no natural man can enter into!
"He shall glorify Christ" as the Mediator. There is one God, holy, holy, holy; one God, terrible to sinners, dreadful in His justice, awful in His majesty, unapproachable in His holiness. One God inflexible in His justice; one God eternally awful in His threatenings against sinners. One God omnipotent, able to kill the body and cast the soul into hell. There is one God; yes and we here have to do with Him. We must stand before Him. But what if we are alone? What if we have no Mediator? What if God should come in His naked justice to us, and arraign us and read out our indictment, our sins, open the book written of our life and should read out to our ears what we have done, and no Mediator? O, what has the thought been to some here? No Mediator! I, a poor wretch, to stand before that gaze, that wondrous gaze of God; that pure penetrating eye of God. Now when the Holy Spirit comes to such a sinner and shows him a Mediator, "there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus," (1 Tim. 2:5) that brings hope, that attracts the soul, that seems to the eye of faith to cover the case completely. Here is a sinner, unable to bear God's glory; here between that glory of God and the sinner is the Man Christ Jesus, and this sets Him up. O this makes Him wonderful and beautiful to the sinner! This is one of the ways the Spirit glorifies Christ, magnifies Him before the soul, magnifies His great office of Mediator, so that faith sees all the protection, all the advocacy, all the prevailing arguments that a Mediator can use. He sees the Mediator thus and that proves one of the sweetest attractions, one of the most powerful manifestations a sinner can have. At this part of his experience it is like a new life coming into his heart, a new light into his understanding, and a new feeling of attraction to God. Instead of repulsion there is attraction; a drawing invincible it is. Not a harsh compulsion, but a sweet drawing, and this is that that Christ speaks of when He says: "Every man that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto Me." (John 6:45) And how does a man hear and learn of the Father? Why, by the Spirit whom the Father sends in the name of Christ; by the Spirit whom Christ sends. "Whom my friends, no sinner who gets such a sight of Christ shall sink into hell. Christ is between that sinner and the Father; Christ is between that sinner and hell. He may not believe it for a time, but he will really experience it. "He shall glorify Me."
He shall glorify My power. "No man can pluck them, that is My sheep, out of My hand." (John 10:28) A man can pluck you from your notions; he can pluck your Calvinism from your judgment. The devil can pluck your morality from you and he can ruin you in many ways, if permitted. But if you be a weak creature committing yourself by prayer and supplication in the Spirit into the hands, that is the care and protection of Christ, who shall pluck you thence? And the Spirit lifts this poor creature up. You say, it may be very often some of you say to the Lord: "Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe;" (Ps. 119:117) Lord keep me in this hour of danger. Perhaps some man rises up against you, perhaps some violent temptation seizes you, perhaps some trying providence is a danger to you in your sense of the matter, and you are ready to be plucked up, cast down, thrown down, destroyed; and O if the Spirit should let you see, give you to see the Lord God omnipotent reigning; the Man Christ Jesus with all power and authority given to Him in heaven and in earth; to see how He can restrain the wrath of man, how He rules devils, how He sits upon the floods, how He rules the raging of the sea when the waves thereof lift themselves, how He binds the floods from overflowing, how He can control that providence, rule that man, chain that devil, guide you through that difficulty, order that circumstance so that the hell that you now fear shall turn to your good and the glory of God; and that all this power is in Jesus Christ; that will glorify Him. It will set Him up higher than man, higher than devils; set Him up in your affections where God the Father has set Him; "above all principalities and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but in the world to come." (Eph. 1:21) All things are under His control. Then says a sinner, "I will now commit my body, my soul, my family, my circumstances; I will commit my way, and my troubles into His gracious hand. The Spirit glorifies omnipotence, sets it before faith. Who can pluck the sinner from omnipotence, an omnipotent God keeping? "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Pet. 1:5)kept. We say sometimes, "Myself I cannot save, myself I cannot keep; but strength in Thee I fain would have, whose eyelids never sleep." Here is the sovereign Protector, the mighty, Almighty Jesus. Here is the One who is sent of the Father to preserve alive His children in the wilderness. What if you have to go to some sort of person? If the God of Joseph is with you as He was with Joseph, all will be well. So when He is seen thus, there is no object intervening as it were between you and this uplifted One, this omnipotent Christ.
He will glorify His fullness. The fullness of Christ means eternal life, everlasting righteousness, free forgiveness, perseverance to the end, grace to keep, grace to comfort, peace to console, strength to preserve you, pure life to keep you from the corruption of your nature, power to keep you from the devil, to keep the devil from you, power to bless you in your troubles, fullness to supply you in all your needs, and give you glory afterwards. The fullness of Christ means all that and infinitely more. May He pardon such a poor word about it. The fullness of Christ is celebrated in one of our hymns:
And there is a redundance in Him. We read of plenteous redemption. There is plenty of everything; and faith sees it, and it lifts Him up. The wife can never say she is poor while her husband has wealth, and the sinner can never properly say he is poor while Jesus is wealthy, has all this fullness, and this mercy, all this goodness; and the Spirit lifts all this up. "He shall glorify Me," and He shall say to a sinner, "Fear not. O fear not your emptiness, fear not your lacks, here is a fullness to supply you!" You may say, "But I have no religion." Christ has plenty to give. You may say, "I have no grace." Christ has plenty to give: "He giveth more grace." You may say, "I have no consistency, I am afraid my inconsistencies will provoke the Lord one of these days to come out against me." Christ has perfection to impute and to impart. Not to excuse wrong in us. He will give reproofs which will show us that. But He has plenty, plenty of everything. The Spirit glorifies Him in His fullness and this mighty strengthens faith, in those in whom it is created, to go to Him. "Large petitions with thee bring." Why? O, says the hymn: "Thou art coming to a King. Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring; for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much."
"He shall glorify the faithfulness of Christ. "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee," (Heb. 13:5) is His word. There is one thing we shall never be able to do as God teaches us, namely this, we shall never be able to say to the Lord we have been faithful to Him as we should have been. We are called "treacherous dealers." "I knew thee," said the Lord, "that thou wouldest deal very treacherously;" (Isa. 48:8; 21:2; 24:16) and cannot, have not some of you, some of us many and many a time, had to go in secret and mourn and confess the treacherous dealings of our hearts to God? O but there is a faithful One who says to a faithless sinner, "I will never leave thee!" Thou hast cast thyself upon Me, I will never cast thee off; thou hast professed that thou hast no hope but in Me, I will never disappoint that hope; thou hast come poor and lost, I will never, never leave thee to ruin." And He is faithful, He is as good as His word, my friends, and better than our expectations, better than all we can think of Him. In this particular as in others, He is better than we can think. He has no disposition to give up His word. It is His character, that He cannot lie. He has no reason in circumstances to give up His word, to forego His promise. We may be quite honest in making a promise and quite sincere in desiring to make it good; but there may be reasons, there may be circumstances over which we can have no control, to prevent our fulfilling that we have said we will do. But there is no reason in our circumstances why God should not fulfil His word to us. O but my sins! Did He not know them? "I knew thee that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, I knew it." "But since in love I took thee in, My promise I'll fulfil. I will never leave thee. I will guide thee with Mine eye, and afterwards receive thee to glory. I will sustain thee, I will hold thee up with the right hand of My righteousness." O what a promising God some of us have, blessed be His name! And now in a world of faithlessness, and a world of faithless people, a poor church that can never boast of consistency, a poor sinner who says, "Lord I have been faithless through all," there is One lifted up high above all, and this is His name: "the Faithful Witness, the Faithful God." This is His promise: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Does it fit, my friends? But these circumstances? He knows them all. They are as much at His bidding as is the storm. Therefore it is one of the Spirit's blessed works in men to glorify the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and this He is to show and shall show it unto you; let you see it by faith, that it shall not be a matter of speculation with you, but of faith, faith in the bleeding Lamb, faith in Him whose name is Faithful.
And lastly, He shall glorify My glory, He shall set My glory up. It shall be seen how glorious I am, and He shall so show it to His children that they shall enter into what the Apostle Paul says in the Corinthians: "We all with open face beholding as in glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18) What an amazement it is to a sinner when he gets a view of the glory of Christ, of His Person, of His work, of His love, of His precious atonement, of His divine righteousness! He gets a view of it. He does not think about it simply, he really sees it. It is set before his eyes as that that God has shown to him, he sees it, and it has an effect upon him. It puts His own image upon him. Not that he sees himself having this glory so as to boast and be proud, but it comes upon his soul and God sees it there. God sees in His children often what they see not in themselves. They see this glory. But also they see that which they are to go and inherit one day: "Partner of My throne shall be." Partner of Christ's throne. O, frequently conquered sinner, think of it! Partner of the throne of the Conqueror, the King of kings and Lord of lords! And this is set before the eyes of poor believers who feel themselves such unbelievers as to be oppressed often and distressed. He shall receive of Mine. All these infinite mercies, blessings, favours, which Jesus Christ is full of, His Spirit shall take and open and show to sinners, demonstrate them; set them before a man with clearness so that though he may know but little, He can say: "Now I do just know that. I have seen the Lord; I have seen His redeeming work, it has fitted me as a captive; I have seen the fountain of His merit, it has fitted me as a guilty creature; I have seen his goodness, it has fitted me as one utterly bad and wicked. It is not speculation, it is a knowledge, a blessed knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives of Jesus Christ. May the Lord give it to us for His great name's sake.
Now dear friends in conclusion, let me press this on your notice, that there is no one in heaven or in earth can effectually convince us of sin but the Spirit, it being His work, His appointed work; and there is no one in heaven and in earth who can glorify Jesus Christ in the heart of a sinner, but that Spirit whose appointed work it is to do it. And therefore may we who are convinced of sin, who need a Saviour, be led to cry mightily to this Holy Ghost that He would condescend to lift up Christ that we may view Him. That the poison of sin, the arrows of the Almighty, the workings of indwelling corruption may be seen, all of them, to be under the hand of this Redeemer, this sufficient, this wondrous, the glorious Redeemer. May the Lord bless you, my friends, and grant that whatever you lack you may not lack this. Amen.