WHAT it is for Christ to manifest Himself
Christ's manifestation of Himself unto those who love Him, Thomas Vincent
"He who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him." John 14:21
We read in Luke 4:22, "All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips." Never did such gracious and sweet words drop from the lips of any man who ever lived, as those from the lips of Christ when He was here upon the earth; and of all Christ's words, those which He spoke to His disciples in His last sermon, before His last suffering, in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John, are superlatively sweet, and none more sweet in this sermon than the words of my text read unto you, "He who loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him." In the former part of the verse, we have the character of one who truly loves Christ, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me." In the latter part of the verse, which is my text, we have the privilege of one who truly loves Christ; and that is in three promises which Christ makes unto him:
(1) he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father;
(2) and I will love him;
(3) and will manifest Myself to him.
It is the last of these promises, which I shall speak unto, by way of appendix unto my treatise of the love which true Christians have, and ought to have, to Christ—and that is the promise of Christ's manifesting Himself unto such as love Him. And the doctrine is this: Christ will manifest Himself unto such as love Him.
In handling this point, I shall show:
(1) what it is for Christ to manifest Himself;
(2) that Christ will manifest Himself to those who love Him;
(3) how Christ manifests Himself unto such;
(4) when Christ manifests Himself unto such;
(5) where Christ manifests Himself unto such as love Him;
(6) lastly, make some application.
1. WHAT it is for Christ to manifest Himself.
(1) Christ manifests Himself—when He makes a clearer revelation unto His disciples of the excellency of His person; when He further unveils Himself and lets forth some beams and rays with greater luster and brightness, to reveal more of the radiance and transcendence of His soul-ravishing beauty unto them, of which they had but a dimmer light and darker apprehensions before. And this is done when Christ more fully imparts the Spirit of wisdom and revelation unto them. Upon this account, the Apostle prayed on behalf of the believing Ephesians that the Lord would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to enlighten their understandings in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:16-18. They had the Spirit and some knowledge of Christ before—but he prays that God would give them a fuller measure of the Spirit to make a clearer discovery of Christ—that the eyes of their understandings might be more and more enlightened unto a more spiritual discerning of the surpassing beauty and excellency in Christ's person, in the knowledge of whom the most enlightened Christians are capable of further growth unto the end of their life. Hence that exhortation of the Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 3:18, "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
(2) Christ manifests Himself when He makes a deep impression and gives a sweet sense to His disciples, of His presence. Christ is never really absent from those who love Him—but He may seem to be so sometimes. They may apprehend Him to be afar off. He may, and often does, withdraw the sense of His presence, Song of Solomon 5:6, "I opened to my beloved—but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone!" Christ manifests Himself when He draws near to His people, and makes them feel that He is near; giving them a sweet sense of His presence through the powerful breathings of His Spirit upon them, whereby their hearts are quickened, enlarged, and drawn forth towards Himself, and their graces excited unto powerful exercise.
(3) And, chiefly, Christ manifests Himself when He makes revelation of His love unto those who love Him; when He gives them to see not only the beauty of His face—but also the smiles of His face; when He gives them to behold the amiableness of His countenance; when He sheds abroad the sense of His love into their hearts, giving them a full persuasion of His special love unto them, and also a sweet sense thereof.
Thus Christ sometimes looks and speaks kindly unto His people; and this sweet language is not spoken to the bodily ear—but inwardly by His Spirit to their souls when He says to the soul, "I am your salvation and your Savior! I have loved you with an everlasting love, and My love is unchangeable. The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed—but My loving-kindness shall never depart and be removed from you. I have given Myself for you, and I have given Myself to you, and I will never repent of this gift. I have chosen you for Myself, called and joined you unto Myself, and I will never repent of this choice, nor allow you to be disjointed from Me forever. I have you upon My heart and keep you in My hand—and no powers of earth or hell shall be able to pluck you from there! I have given you My grace, and I will show you My glory! Before long, I will appear in the world and receive you to Myself that, where I am, there you may be also. Dry up, then, your tears! Clear up your countenance, banish your fears, droop no longer, despond no more—but be of good cheer! Your sins are forgiven! Your name is written in My book, which
none can blot out. You have a true love for Me, and My Father Himself loves you, and I love you with a most endeared love, and therefore, do not question or doubt My love any more!"
Thus Christ manifests Himself and His love, sometimes, unto drooping desponding souls.