“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
The gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ is a mystery hidden from the unregenerate man, hidden from every unbeliever, but revealed by his Spirit to his saints — “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” There are three things revealed in this text.
First, all the riches promised, proclaimed, and presented to sinners in the gospel are in Christ. The riches of the gospel are spiritual riches. They are called, “The riches of the glory of this mystery,” because the glory of the gospel is, in great measure, to be seen in the riches of grace it holds in store for sinners who trust Christ.
What are these riches? They are the rich truths of grace, compared to gold, silver, and precious stones, by which God builds his holy temple (1 Cor. 3:11-16). They are the rich truths of the gospel: sovereign election, substitutionary redemption, almighty, irresistible, saving grace, and the infallible preservation of God’s saints in grace. The riches Paul speaks of are the rich treasures of grace laid up for sinners in Christ. In Christ there are immense and infinite treasures of grace laid up in store for God’s elect (John 1:16; Eph. 1:3; Col. 2:9-10). All the promises of God, relating to this life and to the life to come, are in Christ yea and amen, sure and infallible. In Christ we have free justification (Rom. 3:24-26), absolute pardon (Eph. 1:7), complete reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17), eternal adoption (1 John 3:1-2), and eternal life (Rom. 3:23).
Second, Christ is also the glory of the gospel. Read Colossians 1:27 again. — “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ.” The gospel is the revelation of the glory of God; and the glory of God is Christ. We see the glory of God in the face of Christ. That is to say, by faith in Christ every believer sees that which was revealed to Moses I Exodus 34: God’s glorious, sovereign goodness and inflexible justice in the exercise of his saving grace in Christ (Isa. 45:20). God’s glory is known and revealed only in Christ, the incarnate God, the sinner’s Substitute (John 1:18; 17:3; 2 Cor. 4:6).
Third, The believer’s hope of glory is Christ. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We live in hope of immortality and eternal life in heavenly glory. The basis, foundation, and ground of our hope is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That is the subject of this chapter. The glory which the saints will have with Christ will be the enjoyment of him forever in heaven. This hope of glory in which we live is brought to light by the gospel.
Christ is our hope of glory. “Glory itself is in his hands. The gift of it is with him and through him. He has made way by his sufferings and death for the enjoyment of it, and is now preparing it for us by his presence and intercession. His grace makes us worthy of it. His righteousness gives us title to it. And his Spirit is the earnest of it” (John Gill).
The hope of glory which we have in Christ is built upon Christ himself alone. It is a hope founded upon his blood, righteousness, intercession, and grace. Here are ten facts revealed in the Scriptures which assure us that our hope of glory is a good, well-grounded, and sure hope. We hope to go to heaven when we die. But more, we hope for immortality and eternal life in glory with Christ because...
1. God has promised eternal life and glory to his elect.
It is written, “The Lord will give grace and glory” (Psa. 84:11). God promises to godly men and women not only spiritual life that now is, but also eternal life which is to come (1 Tim. 4:8). This promise of eternal life, life with Christ forever in glory, is the principle, all-encompassing promise of the gospel. It is the center of all the promises of God. Indeed, all other blessings of grace terminate in this — “This is the promise that he promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25). It is a promise made by God, who cannot lie, before the world began (Tit. 1:2). This is a promise that can be depended upon. It is sure and certain. When this life is over God’s saints shall enter into eternal life in glory. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried,” when he has been proved by the trials and afflictions of life in this world, “he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). And the crown of life is the “crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5:4).
2. The glory of eternal life in heaven is a glory that God has prepared for his elect.
It is a glory unseen, unheard of, and inconceivable to the minds of men and women in this world. But it is a glory prepared by God for them that love him (1 Cor. 2:9). This preparation of eternal happiness was made for us before the world began.
Heaven is a kingdom prepared for God’s elect from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34). It was prepared in the counsels and purposes of God, which cannot be defeated, frustrated, or made void by any means. And this kingdom of glory shall, most assuredly, be given to those men and women for whom it was prepared by God (Matt. 20:23). It will not be given to any but those for whom it was prepared. It cannot be purchased, earned, won, or in anyway merited by the works of men. But it shall be given freely to those for whom God prepared it.
3. God’s elect in this world are men and women he has prepared unto glory (Rom. 9:23).
Not only has God promised and prepared a kingdom of glory for his elect, but his elect are “vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Every work of God’s grace is a preparatory work by which he prepares his people to enter into and enjoy everlasting glory.
God prepared us unto glory in sovereign predestination, having ordained us unto eternal life. At God’s appointed “time of love” (Ezek. 16:8), those who were ordained unto eternal life are given grace to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and effectually caused to come to him in faith by the Spirit of grace (Acts 13:48; Psa. 65:4).
Those whom God has ordained to eternal life and caused to believe on Christ shall most assuredly enjoy that life in eternity to which they were ordained from eternity. The means of bringing God’s elect into eternal life in glory as well as eternal life itself has been infallibly fixed by God’s decree (2 Thess. 2:13-14).
“God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” not from the beginning of your repentance, faith, and conversion, but from the beginning of time, from eternity. All who now believe, and all who ever shall believe were chosen by God to salvation before the world began.
The means by which God determined to save us is plainly revealed. “Through sanctification of the Spirit” — Regeneration. “And belief of the truth” — Faith in Christ. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel” — The preaching of the gospel.
That salvation and eternal life to which we have been elected, predestinated, and called is eternal glory – “To the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We shall obtain that very same glory which Christ has entered into and now possesses. He has it in his hands to give to God’s elect (John 17:2). He declares that it is ours (John 17:5, 20). We have been predestinated to it (Rom. 8:29). And we shall have it (Rom. 8:28-31).
Here is a marvelous, golden chain of grace which cannot be broken. It begins in predestination and ends in glorification. — “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified!”
4. The hope of glory arises from the covenant of grace ordered in all things and sure (2 Sam. 23:5).
The covenant of grace includes among its many blessings an everlasting inheritance of happiness and glory, and assures every believer of its possession (Eph. 1:10-14). It is called a covenant of grace, because it arises from and is founded upon the pure, free grace of God in Christ and is filled with all the blessings of grace. In the Scriptures it is called the covenant of peace (Ezek. 37:26), because it has for its end the restoration of sinners to God in peace and reconciliation by Christ (Mal. 2:5). And it is called the covenant of life for the same reason. It finds its full accomplishment in eternal life in glory.
It is a covenant ordered in all things and sure. Everything necessary for our spiritual and eternal welfare was provided and secured by our God in this covenant before the world was made (Eph. 1:3-9). The blessings of the covenant are all that is involved in our salvation. It comprehends and secures everything respecting our spiritual happiness in this world and in the world to come.
This covenant of grace is all our desire. There is nothing good, nothing desirable for our souls’ everlasting happiness and glory, that is not provided and secured in the covenant. The hope of glory in which we now live arises from the covenant of grace made between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit before the world began.
5. The suretyship engagements and performances of Christ as our Covenant Head and Representative assure us that our hope of glory is not vain.
All that God promised and pledged to his elect in the covenant was made sure to us by Christ, the Surety of the covenant (Heb. 7:22-25). Christ became a Surety for his people in the covenant of grace. As such, he pledged himself not only to bring the blessings of grace to us in time, but also to bring us to glory in eternity. He pledged not only that he would bring us to himself in faith and into the fold of his church upon earth, but also to set us before his Father’s face in heaven (John 10:16).
As Judah became surety for Benjamin (Gen. 43:9), promising to bring him and set him before the face of his father, Jacob, or bear the blame forever, so Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, became Surety for God’s elect and promised to bring them everyone to glory at last.
As our great Surety, Christ looked upon himself as being under obligation to do everything required by the law and justice and mercy and grace of God to bring us home to God in heaven. He became responsible to God for our everlasting salvation. Therefore, in the fullness of time, he came into the world to remove our sins, establish righteousness for us, and open the way before us unto God. He came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He came to give us a more excellent and abundant life than Adam had in innocence, or the angels have in heaven. He came to give us a life of glory with himself.
Christ our Surety is “the hope of glory.” He is the Captain of our salvation. As such, he will bring many sons to glory and present them to the Father, saying, “Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me” (Heb. 2:10-13). This is what the Apostle means when he says, “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him!”
6. We are further assured of the hope of glory by Christ’s entrance into glory as our Forerunner (Heb. 6:20).
After his resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ ascended up into heaven and entered into glory, not for himself, but for us, as the Head and Representative of God’s elect, for whom he suffered, bled, and died upon the cursed tree. He entered into heaven as our Forerunner, took possession of it in our name, and now appears in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24). Our Redeemer’s representation of us in glory is so real a representation and so absolutely secures our entrance into glory with him that we are said to be already seated together with him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).
7. The prayers and preparations of Christ for the future glory of his people assure us of the hope of glory.
Our Savior has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). He says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” — abiding houses of wealth, places filled with peace, joy, and happiness. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” If heavenly glory were nothing but a dream and vain delusion, I would have told you. I would not deceive you with a false hope. “I go to prepare a place for you.”
Our all-glorious Savior has gone to heaven, the Father’s house, to prepare a place for us, his beloved friends. Yes, heavenly glory is a kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world by the purpose and decree of God. Yet, it required another, fresh preparation by the bodily presence, blood atonement, and gracious intercession of Christ. Christ is in heaven preparing a place for chosen sinners. This is his particular business in heaven. He is preparing a place for us!
One great part of that preparation is our Savior’s intercession to God on our behalf. Christ, our great High Priest, is making intercession to God on behalf of his elect, redeemed people. He is praying for the salvation of those who yet believe not (Heb. 7:25), the non-imputation of sin to his erring people (1 John 2:1-2), the spiritual unity of his church (John 17:21), the preservation of his elect (John 17:15), and the eternal happiness of his saints in heaven (John 17:24).
When our place in heaven is perfectly prepared for us and we for it, Christ will come to take us home to glory (John 14:3). — “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Sickness is the voice of our Beloved calling us home. Death is the car he sends to take us home. Our departed brothers and sisters in Christ, our friends and companions in the kingdom of God are already there, at home with Christ in the Father’s house.
8. The hope of glory is born in our souls by the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul admonished Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life,” to look for it, expect it, anticipate it, and believe that he would enter into it at last. The basis for his admonition was, “whereunto thou art also called” (1 Tim. 6:12).
Like Timothy, every believer has been called to eternal life and glory in Christ. Therefore, we are exhorted to “walk worthy of God, who hath called (us) unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12). And we are assured that “the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Pet. 5:10) will bring us safely home to glory at last. Those whom he has called, he will also glorify. We are called to glory. And we shall enter glory by the grace of God.
9. The hope of glory which we have in Christ is a good and lively hope, because we have the earnest of the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14).
The Holy Spirit has been given to us in regeneration as the earnest, the down payment, the first installment, of our inheritance in glory. We are sealed by him until the day of our full redemption and entrance into everlasting glory. As surely as God has given us his Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance, in regeneration, he will also give us the fullness of our inheritance in Christ in glorification. The Holy Spirit, and eternal life by his grace and power, is a well of living water in the hearts of God’s saints springing up into everlasting life in glory (John 4:14).
10. The hope of glory which we have in Christ fills the believer’s heart with desires for glory with Christ (Psa. 27:4).
In this tabernacle of flesh we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with the perfection of everlasting glory in the presence of Christ, that mortality might be swallowed up of life (2 Cor. 5:1-4). As we begin to apprehend the glory that awaits us, we desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better than anything we can experience in this world (Phil. 1:23). We choose rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord than to go on in this weak and sinful frame of flesh (2 Cor. 5:8).
Those who die in faith, die in happiness, knowing that they are going to a city whose Builder and Maker is God (Heb. 11:3). They are confident, with David, that as God has guided them in life with his counsel, he will at the end of life receive them up to glory (Psa. 73:24). — “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1).
How many saints, and even martyrs, have cried, as they were about to leave this world, “Glory! Glory! Glory!” as if they had seen it and were leaving this world to go to it. The infidels of this world think such men and women to be enthusiastic dreamers. But the believer looks with envy upon his departing friends, because we have within us the hope of glory to which they are have gone.
The believer’s “hope of glory” is a matter of unquestionable fact, plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. Believers, as soon as they depart from this world, are immediately with Christ in glory. Those who die in Christ are truly blessed of God, from the moment of their death and forever. “The angels stand around their dying beds waiting to do their office; and as soon as the soul is separated from the body, escort it through the regions of the air to heavenly bliss” (John Gill). Lazarus, as soon as he died, was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom (Lk. 16:22). The penitent thief, on the day that he died by Christ’s side, was carried with Christ into Paradise (Lk. 23:43). Every believer who has died in faith is now in heaven. And you and I, if we are born of God, if we live by faith in Christ, as soon as we die, shall be with Christ in glory!