Christ the Hope of Humanity

Eph. 1:9-10]---'Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.'

Let us pass by the many philosophical and historical and theological problems that are suggested by the text, and fasten upon the fundamental statement that is found in the last clause---the statement that in this fullness of time God has summed up all things in Christ.

All serious-minded people are profoundly impressed with a sense of solemnity at the present condition of the world. Events have converged to a common crisis. Something has happened that has brought all the world to a standstill. There is a consciousness among all sorts of people that we have reached the end of a period, that we stand at the dawn of a new and apocalyptic day of the Lord. Nobody knows quite how it is going to come to pass. Nobody can gauge exactly the immediate issues or present conditions, but there is a feeling everywhere that a long stretch has been accomplished, that a new epoch is about to begin. Looking at life from whatever standpoint we choose, judging the conditions of the world by any ordinary standard, we see that men are conscious of a crisis, a challenge, a future that is incalculable but must of necessity be filled with momentous things.

We have come to the hour of crisis. There is one direction in which that fact is demonstrated. Organizations that for the last forty years have been trying to save the world without God, and especially without Christ, have come to the end of the day. Indeed, this is the midnight hour of the world. The midnight hour is the end of the day, but not yet the beginning of the new one. It does not belong to yesterday. It does not belong to tomorrow. At the end of the day you find the resources of the world are locked up. If ever you have been stranded at midnight you know about it. In the morning or afternoon it does not matter, but at midnight nobody is within reach or within sight. So it is the midnight hour of the world. The world is just a stranded pilgrim at the end of the day, homeless and shelterless. Men have come at the end of the day to the point of disillusionment and disappointment and a sense of need and of hunger. We have seen them in the last fifty years setting off with a flourish of trumpets and waving of banners to save the world without Christ. At the end of the day they have come back with nothing to show but exploded theories and disappointing experiments.

What were some of these experiments? They were going to save the world by sanitation. We all believe in sanitation. There is not a town in America that is not a disgrace to our twenty first century civilization. We need to rebuild America. Thirty-five or forty years ago we started out to do it. A very distinguished Free Churchman wrote a couple of letters to an important weekly religious paper on 'The Coming Revival.' He said that in the coming revival we should not send into the slum an evangelist carrying a hymn-book and quoting John 3:16. The writer, pouring out some of the rough speaking sentences of which he was a master, urged that that was folly; it was not the evangelist who was wanted, it was the sanitary engineer. Well, the plumber has been and has come back. He has come back at the end of the day, and what does he say regarding the effort to save the world by sanitation? Let the Medical Officers of Health make reply. He says they have nothing to show but disappointment and failure. Seeking the explanation, he says they have failed because they have not taken sufficient account of what he calls the psychic element of the sanitation problem. This simply means that there is a soul in the sewer and there is a spiritual element at the root of the problem of the slum. So they come back knowing they must re-adjust their theories and their program, and the conclusion of the whole matter is that the plumber says, "I can do nothing until you have sent the evangelist."

They were going to save the world by better economic conditions. Everybody believes that economic conditions need to be re-adjusted, if not revolutionized. We have come to the end of the day, and even the Labor Party leaders---or the best among them---are asking the leaders of the Churches, Why have we failed, and what is the explanation of our disappointment in the last thirty or forty years? The daily Press, and the magazine literature, and all the leading thinkers and teachers of the day have come to the conclusion that nobody can do anything for the world as it is except Jesus Christ. That is not the Christian man's conclusion; it has been his faith all along. It is the conviction of the world.

There is no hope for civilization unless Jesus Christ can be brought to bear in His moral and spiritual power upon the condition of the world. We have been fighting to end war, and we have been fighting ever since. It won't need many more wars to bring to an end all civilization. If Jesus does not save the world, nobody else can. That is not simply the conviction of preachers; it is the deliberate and reasoned conclusion of the publicists, and the philosophers, and the scientist, and the politicians and the reformers. Our answer to the world in its challenge is that Christ is the Savior of the world; that there is no other name under heaven whereby the world can be saved.

Men say to us, What authority have you for saying that Jesus Christ is equal to every problem of the midnight hour? Our answer is the answer of the text. God has summed up all things in Christ. That is the biggest statement in the Bible concerning Christ. It is the final claim made for Him. The word 'summed up' is the common word for 'totality.' Five and four are nine, and three are twelve, and eight are twenty. The twenty includes the five, and the four, and the three and the eight, and sums them all up. That is what Jesus Christ does for the world. He sums them all up. He brings them all into one. They are all included in Him, and completed in Him, and consummated in Him. Now Jesus Christ is the only Person who ever lived for whom such a claim has been made. We speak of a man summing up a movement, or summing up a period, or even summing up a dispensation, but no man ever lived of whom it was seriously claimed that he summed up all things.

We may begin to apply to that statement all kinds of tests. Let us mention a few important ones concerning this crisis and the mater of our own personal salvation and the philosophy of our own life.

Jesus sums up all truth. We have been greatly interested in truth in the last forty years. We have been exploring its origins, tracing its processes, and, to the astonishment of some people, truth has been found in unexpected places. There is truth in false religions, and truth in false philosophies---truth everywhere. So they come back to tell us we claimed too much for Jesus, and to much for our religion. What is claimed for Jesus is that in Him is the consummation of truth. He is not a teacher among many. He is the truth. All light comes from the sun, whether we get it out of the sky or out of a coal-pit. Jesus did not say He was a light; He said He was the light. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The teaching of Jesus Christ has been before the world for two thousand years, and He has yet to be convicted of the first error. He never made any mistakes. The people who have interpreted Him have made plenty. He was the only man who ever lived who never said 'perhaps,' never balanced probabilities. Jesus Christ is God's last word. He is never a back number. Never out of date. When we have solved our last problem He will still be ahead of us. At the midnight hour of the world all sorts and conditions of men are at the door of the Church asking for the Christian interpretation of life. The men whose brains are best worth trusting tell us there is no answer but in Jesus. There is no problem in the world that would not be solved were it in His hands.

He sums up all humanity. That is why He is the only Savior of the world. He is not simply Prophet and Messiah, He is the Son of Man. He is not only the representative man, He is the all-inclusive, universal Man. Each man who comes to Jesus---what does he find? He finds himself. That is the supreme discovery. A man never finds himself until He comes to Jesus. He finds himself in Him because he is in Him, and when he is complete and perfected at last and stands before the throne his perfection will still be in Him.

He sums up all saving and redeeming grace. When we find our salvation, not because of what we think or believe about Him, but because we find Him. All sorts of people come to Jesus. He is the Savior of sinners without adjectives. He is the Savior the world needs.

In Christ, timothy.


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