1 Corinthians 15: 24-28.—“Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him, that God may be all in all.”
This will be the grand conclusion of the great drama of the world's history, and of Christ's redemption. There will come a day—the glory is such we can form no conception of it, the mystery is so deep we can not realize it, but there is a day coming, when the Son shall deliver up the Kingdom that the Father gave Him, and that He won with His blood, and that He hath established and perfected from the throne of His glory. “He shall deliver up the Kingdom unto the Father.” The Son Himself shall be subject also unto the Father, “that God may be all in all.” I cannot understand it—the ever blessed Son equal with God, from eternity, and through eternity; the ever blessed Son on the throne shall be subject unto the Father; and in some way utterly beyond our comprehension, it shall then be made manifest, as never before, that God is all in all. It is this that Christ has been working for; it is this that He is working for to-day in us; it is this that He thought it worth while to give His blood for; it is this that His heart is longing for in each of us; this is the very essence and glory of Christianity, “that God may be all in all.” And now, if this is what fills the heart of Christ; if this expresses the one end of the work of Christ, then, if I want to have the spirit of Christ in me, the motto of my life must be: Everything made subject, and swallowed up in Him, “that God may be all in all.” What a triumph it would be if the Church were fighting really with that banner floating over her! What a life ours could be if that were really our banner! To serve God fully, wholly, only, to have Him all in all! How it would ennoble, and enlarge, and stimulate our whole being! I am working, I am fighting, “that God may be all in all;" that the day of glory may be hastened. I am praying, and the Holy Spirit makes His wrestling in me with unutterable longing, “that God may be all in all.” Would that we Christians realized in connection with what a grand cause we are working and praying; that we had some conception of what a Kingdom we are partakers of, and what a manifestation of God we are preparing for. To illustrate what a grand thing it is to belong to the Kingdom of God, and to the glorious Church of Christ on earth, John McNeill tells how when he was a boy twelve years of age, working on a railway line and earning the grand wages of six shillings a week, he used to go home to his mother and sisters, who thought no end of their little Johnnie, and delight them by telling of the position he had. He would say with great pride, “Oh, our company—it has so many thousands of pounds passing through its hands every year; it carries so many hundreds of thousands of passengers every year; and it has so many miles of railway, and so many engines and carriages; and so many thousands in its employ!” And the mother and the sisters had great pride in him, because he was a partner in such an important business. Christians, if we would only rouse ourselves to believe that we belong to the Kingdom that Christ is preparing to deliver up to the Father, that God may be all in all, how the glory would fill our hearts, and expel everything mean, and low, and earthly! How we should be borne along in this blessed faith! I am living for this: that Christ may have the Kingdom to deliver to the Father. I am living for this, and I will one day see Him made subject to the Father, and then God all in all. I am living for Him, and I shall be there not only as a witness, but I will have a part in it all. The Kingdom delivered up, the Son made subject, and God all in all! I shall have a part in it, and in adoring worship share the glory and the blessedness.
Let us take this home to our hearts, that it may rule in our lives—this one thought, this one faith, this one aim, this one joy: Christ lived, and died, and reigns; I live and die and in His power I reign; only for this one thing, “that God may be all in all.” Let it possess our whole heart, and life. How can we do this? It is a serious question, to which I wish to give you a few simple answers. And I say, first of all: Allow God to take His place in your heart and life. Luther often said to people, when they came troubling him about difficulties, “Do let God be God.” Oh, give God His place. And what is that place? “That God may be all in all.” Let God be all in all every day, from morning to evening. God to rule and I to obey. Ah, the blessedness of saying, “God and I!” What a privilege that I have such a partner! God first, and then I! And yet there might be secret self-exaltation in associating God with myself. And I find in the Bible a more precious word still. It is, “God and not I.” It is not, “God first, and I second;” God is all, and I am nothing. Paul said, “I labored more abundantly than they all; though I be nothing.” Let us try to give God His place—begin in our closet, in our worship, in our prayer. The power of prayer depends almost entirely upon our apprehension of who it is with whom I speak. It is of the greatest consequence, if we have but half an hour in which to pray, that we take time to get a sight of this great God, in His power, in His love, in His nearness, just waiting to bless us. This is of far more consequence than spending the whole half hour in pouring out numberless petitions, and pleading numberless promises. The great thing is to feel that we are putting our supplications into the bosom of omnipotent Love. Before and above everything, let us take time ere we pray to realize the glory and presence of God. Give God His place in every prayer. I say, allow God to have His place. I can not give God His place upon the throne—in a certain sense I can, and I ought to try. The great thing, however, is for me to feel that I can not realize what that place is, but God will increasingly reveal Himself and the place He holds. How do I know anything about the sun? Because the sun shines, and in its light I see what the sun is. The sun is its own evidence. No philosopher could have told me about the sun if the sun did not shine. No power of meditation and thought can grasp the presence of God. Be quiet, and trusting, and resting, and the everlasting God will shine into your heart, and will reveal Himself. And then, just as naturally as I enjoy the light of the sun, and as naturally as I look upon the pages of a book knowing that I can see the letters because the light shines; just as naturally will God reveal Himself to the waiting soul, and make His presence a reality. God will take His place as God in the presence of His child, so that absolutely and actually the chief thing in the child's heart shall be: “God is here, God makes Himself known.” Beloved, is not this what you long for—that God shall take a place that He has never had; and that God shall come to you in a nearness that you have never felt yet; and, above all, that God shall come to you in an abiding and unbroken fellowship? God is able to take His place before you all the day. I repeat what I have referred to before, because God has taught me a lesson by it: As God made the light of the sun so soft, and sweet, and bright, and universal, and unceasing, that it never costs me a minute's trouble to enjoy it; even so, and far more real than the light shining upon me, the nearness of my God can be revealed to me as my abiding portion. Let us all pray “that God may be all in all,” in our everyday life.
“That God may be all in all,” I must not only allow Him to take His place, but secondly, I must accept His will in everything. I must accept His will in every providence. Whether it be a Judas that betrays, or whether it be a Pilate in his indifference, who gives me up to the enemy; whatever the trouble, or temptation, or vexation, or worry, that comes, I must see God in it, and accept it as God's will to me. Trouble of any sort that comes to me is God's will for me. It is not God's will that men should do the wrong, but it is God's will that they should be in circumstances of trial. There is never a trial that comes to us but it is God's will for us, and if we learn to see God in it, then we bid it welcome.
Suppose away in South Africa there is a woman whose husband has gone on a long journey into the interior. He is to be away for months from all posts. The wife is anxious to receive news. In weeks she has had no letter or tidings from him. One day, as she stands in her door, there comes a great, savage Kafir. He is frightful in appearance, and carries his spears and shield. The woman is alarmed and rushes into the house and closes the door. He comes and knocks at the door, and she is in terror. She sends her servant, who comes back and says, “The man says he must see you.” She goes, all affrighted. He takes out an old newspaper. He has come a month's journey on foot from her husband, and inside the dirty newspaper is a letter from her husband, telling her of his welfare. How that wife delights in that letter! She forgets the face that has terrified her. And now as weeks are passing away again, how she begins to long for that ugly Kafir messenger! After long waiting he comes again, and this time she rushes out to meet him because he is the messenger that comes from her beloved husband, and she knows that with all his repelling exterior, he is the bearer of a message of love. Beloved, have you learned to look at tribulation, and vexation, and disappointment, as the dark, savage-looking messenger with a spear in his hand, that comes straight from Jesus? Have you learned to say, “There is never a trouble, and never a hurt by which my heart is touched or even pierced, but it comes from Jesus, and brings a message of love?” Will you not learn to say from to-day, “Welcome every trial, for it comes from God?” If you want God to be all in all, you must see and meet God in every providence. Oh, learn to accept God's will in everything! Come learn to say of every trial, without exception, “It is my Father who sent it. I accept it as His messenger,” and nothing in earth or hell can separate you from God.
If God is to be all in all in your heart and life, I say not only, Allow Him to take His place, and accept all His will, but, thirdly, Trust in His power. Dear friends, it is “God who worketh to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” It is “the God of peace,” according to another passage, “who perfects you in every good thing to do His will, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight.” You complain of weakness, of feebleness, of emptiness. Never mind; that is what you are made for—to be an emptied vessel, in which God can put His fullness and His strength. Do learn the lesson. I know it is not easy. Long after Paul had been an apostle, the Lord Jesus had to come in a very special way to teach him to say, “I do gladly glory in my infirmities.” Paul was in danger of being exalted, owing to the revelations from Heaven, and Jesus sent him a thorn in the flesh—yes, Jesus sent it—a messenger of Satan—to buffet him. Paul prayed, and struggled, and wanted to get rid of it. And Jesus came to him, and said, “It is my doing that you may not be free from that. You need it. I will bless you wonderfully in it.” Paul's life was changed from that moment in this one respect, and he said, “I never knew it so before, from henceforth I glory in my infirmities; for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Do you indeed desire God to be all in all? Learn to glory in your weakness. Take time to say every day as you bow before God, “The almighty power of God that works in the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the flowers, is working in me. It is as sure as that I live. The almighty power of God is working in me. I only need to get down, and be quiet; I need to be more submissive, and surrendered to His will; I need to be more trustful, and to allow God to do with me what He will.” Give God His way with you, and let God work, and He will work mightily. The deepest quietness has often been proved to be the inspiration for the highest action. It has been seen in the experience of many of God's saints, and it is just the experience we need,—that in the quietness of surrender and faith, God's working has been made manifest.
Fourthly: If God is to be all in all, sacrifice everything for His kingdom and glory. “That God may be all in all.” This is such a noble, glorious, holy aim that Christ said, “For this I will give my life. For this I will give my all, even to the death of the cross. For this I will give myself.” If it was worth that to Christ, is it worth less to you? If one had asked Jesus of Nazareth, “What is it Thou hast a body for; what is to Thee the highest use of the body?” He would have said, “The use and the glory of my body is that I can give it a sacrifice to God. That is every thing.” What is the use of having a mind; and what is the use of having money; and what is the use of having children? That I can give them to God; for God must be all in all in everything. I pray God that He may give us such a sight of His kingdom, and His glory, that everything else may disappear. Then, if you had ten thousand lives, you would say, “This is the beauty and the worth of life, 'that God may be all in all' to me, and that I may prove to men that God is more than everything, that life is only worth living as it is given to God to fill.” Do let us sacrifice everything for His kingdom and glory. Begin to live day by day with the prayer, “My God, I am given up to Thee. Be Thou my all in all.” You say, “Am I able to realize that?” Yes, in this way: Let the Holy Spirit dwell in you; let the Holy Spirit burn in you as a fire, and burn in you with unutterable groanings, crying unto God, Himself to reveal His presence and His will in you. In the eighth of Romans, Paul spoke about the groanings of the whole creation. And what is the whole creation groaning for? For the redemption, the glorious liberty of the children of God. And I am persuaded that was what Paul meant when he spoke of the groanings of the Holy Spirit—the unutterable groanings for the coming time of glory when God should be all in all. Christians, sacrifice your time; sacrifice your interests; sacrifice your heart's best powers in praying, and desiring, and crying that “God may be all in all.”
And lastly: if God is to be all in all, wait continually on Him all the day. My first point had reference to giving God His place; but I want to bring this out more pointedly in conclusion. Wait continually on God all the day. If you are to do that, you must live always in His presence. That is what we have been redeemed for. Do we not read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Let us draw near within the veil, through the blood, where the high priest is?” The holy place in which we are to live in the heavens is the immediate presence of God. The abiding presence of God is certainly the heritage of every child of God, as that the sun shines. The Father never hides His face from His child. Sin hides it, and unbelief hides it, but the Father lets His love shine all the day on the face of His children. The sun is shining day and night. Your sun shall never go down. Begin to seek for this. Come and live in the presence of God. There is indeed an abiding place in His presence, in the secret of His pavilion, of which some one has sung very beautifully:
With me, wheresoe'er I wander,
That great Presence goes;
That unutterable gladness,
Everywhere, the blessed stillness
Of that Holy Place;
Stillness of the love that worships,
Dumb before His face.
This is the portion of those to whom the prayer is granted—“One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after; that I may dwell all my days in the house of the Lord; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” “In the secret of His pavilion He hideth me.” God Himself will take you up, and will keep you there, so that all your work shall be done in God. Beloved, wait continually upon God. You can not do this unless you are in His presence. You must live in His presence. Then the blessed habit of waiting upon God will be learned. The real difficulty of getting to the point of real waiting upon God, is because most Christians have not sought to realize the nearness of God, and to give God the first place. But let us strive after this, let us trust God to give it to us by His grace, let us wait on God all the day. “My eyes,” says one, “are ever towards Thee.” Wait upon God for guidance, and God, if you wait much upon Him, will lead you up into new power for His service, into new gladness in His fellowship. He will lead you out into a larger trust in Him; He will prepare you to expect new things from Him. Beloved, there is no knowing what God will do for a man who is utterly given up to Him. Praise His name! Let each one of us say, “May my life be to live and die, to labor and to pray continually for this one thing: that in me, and around me, and in the church; that throughout the world 'God may be all in all.'“ A little seed is the beginning of a great tree. A mustard seed becomes a tree in which the birds of the air can nestle. That great day of which the text speaks, when Christ Himself shall be subject to the Father, and deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, and God shall be all in all—that is the great tree of the Kingdom of God reaching its perfect consummation and glory. Oh, let us take the seed of that glory into our hearts, and let us bow in lowly surrender and submission, and say, “Amen, Lord; this be my one thought. This be my life—to speak and to work, to pray and to exist only that others may be brought to know Him too. This be my life—to yield myself to the unutterable yearnings of the Holy Spirit, that I may not rest, but ever keep my eye on that day—the day of glory, when in very deed God shall be all in all.”
God help every one of us. God help us all to yield ourselves to Him, and to Christ, and to make it our every-day life; for His name's sake. Amen.