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“Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass
away.”—LUKE XXI. 33.
I THINK there are few calling themselves Christians who would deny that every word of Christ deserves most attentive consideration. Few would actually gainsay the truth or importance of anything that dropped from the lips of Him who came down from heaven, and who spake as never man spake. If we assume his name at all, we profess to accept him as the Mediator between God and us, and one who therefore spoke not of himself, and alone, as it were, but who had a commandment given him of the Father, what he should say, and what he should speak.
But is there not such a thing as practically making Christ's words of no account? Is there not such a thing as hearing or reading them without regard to the instruction to be gained from them, or without being influenced in heart and life by their admitted truth? Certainly, numbers of those who bear among men the name of Christ, treat even his most solemn words in this manner. They do not heartily grasp their truth, or reduce his precepts into practice. And if any of his sayings be at first sight somewhat difficult --if the meaning be not just upon the very surface, they never dream of giving it a second thought, but let truths of the utmost moment slip by them unheeded. Hearing the sayings of Christ, but not doing them, they are building their house upon the sand, and when the time of trial comes, they meet a fearful downfal. Careless about the great doctrines which concern the soul and man's destinies for eternity, in most matters of religion they are swayed by the opinions of those around them, and liable to embrace any error or delusion which may be propounded with an appearance of authority.
Brethren, if I am addressing here any who are treating the words of Christ in this way,--not really using them as light for your soul's guidance, and food for your spiritual sustenance, content perhaps now and then to listen to the word with the outward ear, I ask you what possible difference is there between your usage of the word of life, and that of the hearers who, according to our Lord's parable, received the word, and then immediately suffered the Devil to take it out of their heart? Now it may, under grace, be a profitable subject
, for us all to consider, first, The truth of Christ's words; then, Their importance; next, The fatal consequences of neglecting them; and lastly, The blessed effects of keeping them. Now, as to the truth of his words, our Lord himself uses a very strong expression in the text, when he says that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but that his words shall not pass away.”
But is there not something startling to the ear in the declaration, that “heaven shall pass away"? We may readily admit the fact that the earth, the theatre of man's sin, shall one day be dissolved; but that heaven also shall pass away,—does not this seem like the death-knell of the believer's hopes ? Does our Lord indeed mean to assert, that the very place which he has gone to prepare for his redeemed, -where they are to be with him, and to behold his glory,—where the throne of God himself and of the Lamb shall be,--that this heaven shall pass away, and come to an end ? No; what he here speaks of are the lower or visible heavens, the region of the air --where, in fact, we are told, the rulers of darkness have their present habitation. Not only shall the earth, and the works that are therein be burned up, but these lower heavens also, to which we can lift up our eyes, shall vanish away like smoke. Both the heavens and the earth, which are now, shall flee away before the face of Him who shall sit on the great white throne. But there is above and beyond all these, the heaven of heavens, the most holy place, that which is designated as “the third heaven,” by the apostle Paul, to which he was once himself caught up, whether in the body, or out of the body, God knoweth,--a paradise where he heard unspeakable words. And it is from this dwellingplace of God that there shall descend the new heavens, and the new earth, which he has promised to create, and wherein shall dwell righteousness.
Now, our Lord is expressing the everlasting, unalterable truth of his words, when he says that these lower heavens and the earth shall pass away, but that his words, like himself, shall remain. It is as though he said,--.“ All these things which you see with your eyes, or handle with your hands, which seem so firm and stable and enduring -- these shall all utterly come to an end for evermore. But every word that I have spoken, every prediction I have uttered, every promise I have made, every warning I have
urged, shall all stand fast and firm, to the joy of my people, and to the confusion of the ungodly, when the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and sun and moon have ceased to shine.”
There is a calm sublimity in the enunciation of this statement, which of itself would indicate the speaker to be the Son of God. But while Jesus bore record of himself, the Father also, who sent him, bore witness of him. Twice did a voice from heaven attest that this was the Messenger of the Covenant. The works also which the Father gave him to finish, the same mighty works which he actually did, bore witness of him that the Father had sent him. Now, He whom God sent spake the words of God, and the truth of Jesus' words consists in this,--that they are the revelation of God himself. It is one of the very names or titles of Him who dwelt among us, -“ The Word of God.”
The Scripture records a singular act of God's condescension, where it is written, that he spoke with Moses face to face, and as a man talketh unto his friend. That prophet, however, when he had fulfilled his course, passed away, and was gathered to his fathers. But a Teacher was to come from God, greater than Moses, yet after his similitude ;-One of whom Moses himself and