A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, April 5, 1863, by Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God. Likewise consider yourselves also to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ro 6:8-11)
1. The apostles never travelled far from the simple facts of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and second advent. These things, of which they were the witnesses, constituted the staple of all their discourses. Newton has very properly said that the two pillars of our religion are, the work of Christ for us, and his work in us by the Holy Spirit. If you want to find the apostles, you will surely discover them standing between these two pillars; they are either discoursing upon the effect of the passion in our justification, or its equally delightful consequence in our death to the world and our newness of life. What a rebuke this should be to those in modern times who are always straining after novelties. There may be much of the Athenian spirit among congregations, but that should be no excuse for its being tolerated among ministers; we, of all men, should be the last to spend our time in seeking something new. Our business, my brethren, is the old labour of apostolic tongues, to declare that Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever. We are mirrors reflecting the transactions of Calvary, telescopes revealing the distant glories of an exalted Redeemer. The nearer we keep to the cross, the nearer, I think, we keep to our true vocation. When the Lord shall be pleased to restore to his Church once more a fervent love for Christ, and when once again we shall have a ministry that is not only flavoured with Christ, but of which Jesus constitutes the sum and substance, then the Churches shall revive — then the set time to favour Zion shall come. The goodly cedar which was planted by the rivers of old, and stretched out her branches far and wide, has become in these modern days like a tree dwarfed by Chinese art; it is planted by the rivers as before, but it does not flourish, only let God the Holy Spirit give to us once again the bold and clear preaching of Christ crucified in all simplicity and earnestness, and the dwarf shall swell into a forest giant, each expanding bud shall burst into foliage, and the cedar shall tower aloft again, until the birds of the air shall lodge in its branches. I need offer you no apology, then, for preaching on those matters which engrossed all the time of the apostles, and which shall shower unnumbered blessings on generations yet to come.
The Glorious Gospel
2. I. THE FACTS REFERRED TO IN THESE FOUR VERSES CONSTITUTE THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL WHICH WE PREACH.
3. 1. The first fact here very clearly indicated is that Jesus died. He who was divine, and therefore immortal, bowed his head to death. He whose human nature was allied to the omnipotence of his divine nature, was pleased to voluntarily submit himself to the sword of death. He who was pure and perfect, and therefore did not deserve death, which is the wages of sin, nevertheless condescended for our sake to yield himself up to die. This is the second note in the Gospel scale. The first note is incarnation, Jesus Christ became a man; angels thought this worthy of their songs, and made the heavens ring with midnight melodies. The second note is this, I say, that, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. He died as a sacrifice. I think, after many lambs from the flocks of men had poured out their blood at the foot of the altar, it was a strange spectacle to see God’s Lamb brought to that same altar to be sacrificed. He is without spot or blemish, or any such thing. He is the firstling of the flock; he is the only one of the Great Master; a very royal, heavenly lamb. Such a Lamb had never been seen before. He is the Lamb who is worshipped in heaven, and who is to be adored world without end. Will that sacred head condescend to feel the axe? Will that glorious victim really be slain? Is it possible that God’s Lamb will actually submit to die? He does so without a struggle; he is dumb before the slaughter; he gives up the warm blood of his heart to the hand of the executioner, so that he might expiate the wrath of God. Proclaim it! Let heaven ring with music, and let hell be filled with confusion! Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, the Lamb of Jehovah’s Passover, died. His hands were pierced; and his heart was broken; to prove how surely the spear had struck the mark, the vital fluid flowed in a double flood, even to the ground: — Jesus died. If there were any doubt about this, there would be a doubt about your salvation and mine. If there were any reason to question this fact, then we might question the possibility of salvation. But Jesus died, and sin is put away. The sacrifice smokes to heaven; Jehovah smells a sweet savour, and is pleased through Christ the victim to accept the prayers, the offerings, and his people.
4. Nor did he die as a victim only. He died as a substitute. We were drawn as soldiers for the great warfare, and we could not go, for we were feeble, and should have fallen in the battle, and have left our bones to be devoured by the dogs of hell. But he, the mighty Son of God, became the substitute for us; entered the battlefield; sustained the first charge of the adversary in the wilderness; three times he repulsed the grim fiend and all his host, striking his assailants with the sword of the Spirit, until the enemy fled, and angels waited upon the weary Victor. The conflict was not over, the enemy had only retired to forge fresh artillery and recruit his scattered forces for a yet more terrible fray. For three years the great Substitute kept the field against continual onslaughts from the advance guard of the enemy, remaining conqueror in every skirmish. No adversary dared to show his face, or if he shot an arrow at him from a distance, our Substitute caught the arrow on his shield, and laughed his foes to scorn. Demons were cast out of many who were possessed; whole legions of them were compelled to find refuge in a herd of swine; and Lucifer himself fell like lightning from the heaven of his power. At last the time came when hell had gathered up all its forces, and now also the hour had come when Christ, as our Substitute, must carry his obedience to the utmost length; he must be obedient to death. He has been a substitute up until now; will he now throw down his vicarious character? Will he now renounce our responsibilities, and declare that we may stand for ourselves? Not he. He undertook, and must go through. Sweating great drops of blood, he nevertheless does not flinch from the dread assault. Wounded in hands and in feet he still maintained his ground, and though, for the sake of obedience, he bowed his head to die, yet in that dying he slew death, put his foot upon the dragon’s neck, crushed the head of the old serpent, and beat our adversaries as small as the dust of the threshingfloor. Yes, the blessed Substitute has died. I say if there were a question about this, then we might have to die, but inasmuch as he died for us, the believer shall not die. The debt is discharged to the utmost farthing; the account is cleared; the balance is struck; the scales of justice turn in our favour; God’s sword is sheathed for ever, and the blood of Christ has sealed it in its scabbard. We are free, for Christ was bound; we live, for Jesus died.
5. Dying thus as a sacrifice and as a substitute, it is a comfort to us to know that he also died as Mediator between God and man. There was a great gulf fixed, so that if we wished to pass to God we could not, neither could he pass to us if he would condescend to do so. There was no way of filling up this gulf, unless there should be found one who, like the old Roman, Curtius,1 would leap into it. Jesus comes, arrayed in his pontifical garments, wearing the breastplate, bearing the ephod, a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek: his kingly character is not forgotten, for his head is adorned with a glittering crown, and over his shoulders he bears the prophet’s mantle. How shall I describe the matchless glories of the prophet king, the royal priest? Will he throw himself into the chasm? He will. Into the grave he plunges, the abyss is closed! The gulf is bridged, and God can have communion with man! I see before me the heavy veil which shields from mortal eyes the place where God’s glory shines. No man may touch that veil or he must die. Is there any man found who can tear it? — that man may approach the mercy seat. Oh that the veil which parts our souls from him who dwells between the cherubims could be torn throughout its utmost length! Strong archangel, would you dare to tear it? Should you attempt the work, your immortality would be forfeited, and you must expire. But Jesus comes, the King Immortal, Invisible, he tears the veil from top to bottom with his strong hands, and now men draw near with confidence, for when Jesus died a living way was opened. Sing, oh heavens, and rejoice oh earth! There is now no wall of partition, for Christ has dashed it down! Christ has taken away the gates of death, posts and bars, and all, and like another Samson carried them upon his shoulders far away. This, then, is one of the great notes of the Gospel, the fact that Jesus died. Oh! you who wish to be saved, believe that Jesus died; believe that the Son of God expired; trust that death to save you, and you are saved. It is no great mystery; it needs no learned words, no polished phrases; Jesus died; the sacrifice smokes; the Substitute bleeds; the Mediator fills up the gap; Jesus dies; believe and live.
6. 2. But Jesus rises: this is no small part of the Gospel. He dies; they lay him in the new sepulchre; they embalm his body in spices; his adversaries are careful that his body shall not be stolen away; the stone, the seal, the watch, all prove their vigilance. Aha! Aha! What are you doing, men? Can you imprison immortality in the tomb? The fiends of hell, too, I do not doubt, watched the sepulchre, wondering what it all could mean. But the third day comes, and with it the messenger from heaven. He touches the stone; it rolls away; he sits upon it, as if he would defy the whole universe to roll that stone back again. Jesus awakens, as a mighty man from his slumber; unwraps the napkin from his head and lays it by itself; unwinds the grave clothes in which love had wrapped him, and puts them by themselves; for he had abundant leisure; he was in no haste; he was not about to escape like a felon who breaks out the prison, but like one whose time of jail deliverance has come, and lawfully and leisurely leaves his cell; he steps to the upper air, bright, shining, glorious, and fair. He lives. He died once, but he rose again from the dead. There is no need for us to enlarge here. We only pause to remark that this is one of the most jubilant notes in the whole gospel scale; for see, brethren, the rich mysteries, which, like the many seeds of the pomegranate, are all enclosed in the golden apple of resurrection. Death is overcome. There is found a man who by his own power was able to struggle with death, and hurl him down. The grave is opened; there is found a man able to dash back its bolts and to rifle its treasures; and thus, brethren, having delivered himself, he is able also to deliver others. Sin, too, was obviously forgiven. Christ was in prison as a hostage, kept there as a surety; now that he is permitted to go free, it is a declaration on God’s behalf that he has nothing against us; our Substitute is discharged; we are discharged. He who undertook to pay our debt is allowed to go free; we go free in him. “He rose again for our justification.” Indeed more, inasmuch as he rises from the dead, he gives us a pledge that hell is conquered. This was the great aim of hell to keep Christ beneath its heel. “You shall bruise his heel.” They had gotten the heel of Christ, his mortal flesh beneath their power, but that bruised heel came forth unwounded; Christ sustained no injury by his dying; he was as glorious, even in his human nature, as he was before he died. “You will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you allow your Holy One to see corruption.” Beloved, in this we will triumph, that hell is worsted; Satan is put to confusion, and all his hosts are fallen before Emmanuel. Sinner, believe this; it is the Gospel of your salvation. Believe that Jesus of Nazareth rose again from the dead, and trust him, trust him to save your soul. Because he broke the gates of the grave, trust him to bear your sins, to justify your person, to quicken your spirit, and to raise your dead body, and truly, truly, I say to you, you shall be saved.
Jesus Is Now Living
7. 3. We now strike a third note, without which the gospel would not be complete. Inasmuch as Jesus died, he is now living. He does not, after forty days, return to the grave; he departs from earth, but it is by another way. From the top of Olivet he ascends until a cloud receives him out of their sight. And now to this very day he lives. There at his Father’s right hand he sits, bright like a sun; clothed in majesty; the joy of all the glorified spirits; his Father’s intense delight. There he sits, Lord of Providence; the keys of heaven, and earth, and hell swing on his belt. There he sits, waiting for the hour when his enemies shall be made his footstool. I think I see him, too, as he lives to intercede. He stretches out his wounded hands, points to his breastplate bearing the names of his people, and for Zion’s sake he does not hold his peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake he does not rest day or night, but always pleads — “Oh God! bless your heritage; gather together your scattered ones; I will that they whom you have given to me be with me where I am.” Believer, this is a cluster of camphire for you, a bundle of myrrh — be exceedingly comforted.
He lives! the great Redeemer lives!
What joy the blest assurance gives!
Trembling penitent, let a living Saviour cheer you. Exercise faith in him who only has immortality. He lives to hear your prayer; cry to him, he lives to present that prayer before his Father’s face. Put yourself in his hands; he lives to gather together those whom he bought with his blood, to make those the people of his flock who were once the people of his purchase. Sinner, do you believe this as a matter of fact? If so, rest your soul on it, and make it yours as a matter of confidence, and then you are saved.
Jesus Lives For Ever
8. 4. One more note, and our gospel song need not rise higher. Jesus died; he rose; he lives; and he lives for ever. He lives for ever. He shall not die again. “Death has no more dominion over him.” Ages shall follow ages, but his raven locks shall never be blanched with years. “You have the dew of your youth.” Disease may visit the world and fill the graves, but no disease or plague can touch the immortal Saviour. The shock of the last catastrophe shall shake both heaven and earth, until the stars shall fall like withered fig leaves from the tree, but nothing shall move the unchanging Saviour. He lives for ever. There is no possibility that he should be overcome by a new death.
No more the bloody spear,
The cross and nails no more;
For hell itself shakes at his name,
And all the heavens adore.
Would it not be a strange doctrine indeed if any man should dream that the Son of God would again offer his life for a sacrifice? He dies no more. This, too, reveals another part of our precious gospel, for now it is certain, since he lives for ever, that no foes can overcome him. He has so routed his enemies and driven his foes off the battlefield, that they will never dare to attack him again. This proves, too, that his people’s eternal life is certain. Let Jesus die, and his people die. Let Christ leave heaven, and, oh you glorified ones! you must all vacate your thrones, and leave your crowns without heads to wear them, and your harps untouched by fingers that shall awaken them to harmony. He lives for ever. Oh! seed of Abraham, you are saved with an everlasting salvation by the sure mercies of David. Your standing in earth and heaven has been confirmed eternally. God is honoured, saints are comforted, and sinners are cheered, for “he is able also to save those to the uttermost who come to God by him, seeing he always lives to make intercession for them.”
9. Now I wish that your faith might be able to firmly rest on one of these four anchor holds. Jesus died, poor trembler; if he died and took your griefs, will his atonement not save you? Rest here. Millions of souls have rested on nothing but Jesus’ death, and this is a granite foundation; no storms of hell can shake it. Get a good grip on his cross; hold it, and it will hold you. You cannot depend on his death and be deceived. Try it; taste and see, and you shall find that the Lord is good, and that no one can trust a dying Saviour without being with him in Paradise. But if this does not suffice you, he rose again. Firmly grasp this. He is proven to be victor over your sin and over your adversary; can you not, therefore, depend upon him? Doubtless there have been thousands of saints who have found the richest consolation from the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead. He rose again for our justification. Sinner, hang onto that. Having risen he lives. He is not a dead Saviour, a dead sacrifice. He must be able to hear our plea and to present his own. Depend on a living Saviour; depend on him now. He lives for ever, and therefore it is not too late for him to save you. If you cry to him he will hear your prayer, even though it is in life’s last moment, for he lives for ever. Though the end of the earth had come, and you were the last man living, still he ever lives to intercede before his Father’s face. Oh! do not gad about to find any other hope! Here are four great stones for you; build your hope on these; you cannot find firmer foundations — he dies, he rises, he lives, he lives for ever. I tell you, soul, this is my only hope, and although I lean on it with all my weight it does not bend. This is the hope of all God’s people, and they rest contented in it. I beseech you, now come and rest on it. May the Spirit of God bring many of you to Christ. We have no other gospel. You thought it was a hard thing, a scholarly thing, a matter that the college must teach you, that the university must give you. It is no such matter for learning and scholarship. Your little child knows it, and your child may be saved by it. You without education, you who can scarcely read in the book, you can comprehend this. He dies; there is the cross. He rises; there is the open tomb. He lives; there is the pleading Saviour. He lives for ever; there is the perpetual merit. Depend on him! Put your soul in his hand and you are saved.
10. If I have brought you under the first point of my discourse to a sufficient height; you can now take another step, and mount to something higher; I do not mean higher concerning real value, but higher as a matter of knowledge, because it follows upon the fact as a matter of experience.
The Glorious Work
11. II. The great facts mentioned in our text represent THE GLORIOUS WORK WHICH EVERY BELIEVER FEELS WITHIN HIM.
12. In the text we see death, resurrection, life, and life eternal. You observe that the Apostle only mentions these to show our share in them. I will read the text again — “Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died to sin once; but in that he lives, he lives to God. Likewise consider yourselves also to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
13. Well, then, it seems that just as Christ was, so we also are dead. We are dead to sin because sin can no more condemn us. All the sins which God’s people have ever committed dare not accuse, much less can they condemn those for whom Jesus died. Sin can curse an unbeliever, but it has no power so much as to mutter half a curse against a man in Christ. I cannot claim a debt from a dead debtor, and although I am a debtor to the law, yet since I am dead, the law cannot claim anything from me, nor can sin inflict any punishment upon me. He who is dead, as the preceding verse says, is freed from sin; being dead to sin we are free from all its jurisdiction; we do not fear its curse; we defy its power. The true believer in the day when he first came to Christ died to sin concerning its power. Sin had been sitting on a high throne in his heart, but faith pulled the tyrant down and rolled him in the dust, and although it still survives to vex us, yet its reigning power is destroyed. From the day of our new birth, if we are indeed true Christians, we have been dead to all sin’s pleasures. Madame Bubble can no longer bewitch us. The varnish and gilt have been worn off from the palaces of sin. We defy sin’s most skilful enchantments; it might warble sweetest music, but the dead ear is not to be moved by melodies. Keep your bitter sweets, oh earth, for those who know no better delicacies; our mouths find no flavour in your dainties. We are dead to sin’s bribes. We curse the gold that would have bought us to be untruthful, and abhor the comforts which might have been the reward of iniquity. We are dead to its threatenings, too. When sin curses us, we are as little moved by its curses as by its promises. A believer is mortified and dead to the world. He can sing with Cowper —
I thirst, but not as once I did
The vain delights of earth to share;
Your wounds, Emmanuel all forbid
That I should seek my pleasures there.
It was the sight of your dear cross
First wean’d my soul from earthly things;
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings.
I am compelled, however, to say that this mortification is not complete. We are not as dead to the world as we should be. Instead of saying here what the Christian is, I think I may rather say what he should be, for where am I to look for men who are dead to the world nowadays? I see professing Christians quite as fond of riches; I see them almost as fond of gaiety and vanity. Do I not see those who wear the name of Jesus whose dress is as full of vanity as that of the worldling; whose conversation has no more savour of Christ in it than that of the open sinner? I find many who are conformed to this world, and who show very little renewing of their minds. Oh! how slight is the difference nowadays between the Church and the world! We ought to be, in a spiritual sense, for evermore Dissenters — dissenting from the world, standing out and protesting against it. We must be to the world’s final day Nonconformists, not conforming to its ways and vanities, but walking outside the camp, bearing Christ’s reproach. Do some of you remember the day when you died to the world? Your friends thought you were mad. They said you knew nothing about life, so your ungodly friends put you in the sepulchre, and others of them rolled a great stone against you. They from that day put a ban upon you. You are not asked out now where you once were. The seal is put upon you; they call you by some opprobrious epithet, and as far as the world is concerned, you are like the dead Christ; you are put into your grave, and shut out from the world’s life. They do not want you any more at their merry makings, you would spoil the party; you have now become such a Methodist, such a lowly hypocrite, as they put it, that they have buried you out of sight, and rolled back the stone, and sealed it, and set watchers at the door to keep you there. Well, and what a blessed thing that is, for if you are dead with Christ you shall also live with him.
14. If we are thus dead with Christ, let us see that we live with him. It is a poor thing to be dead to the world unless we are alive to God. Death is a negative, and a negative in the world is of no great use by itself. A Protestant is less than a nobody if he only protests against a wrong; we want a proclaimer, one who proclaims the truth as well as protests against error. And so, if we are dead to sin we must have, also, the life of Christ, and I trust, beloved, we know, and it is not a matter of theory for us — I trust we know that in us there is a new life to which we were once strangers. To our body and our soul, a spirit has been added, a spark of spiritual life. Just as Jesus had a new life after death, so we have a new life after death, by which I trust we rise from the grave. But we must prove it. Jesus proved his resurrection by infallible signs. You and I, too, must prove to all men that we have risen out of the grave of sin. Perhaps our friends did not know us when we first rose from the dead. Like Mary, they mistook us for someone else. They said, “What! Is this William who used to be such a hectoring, proud, ill humoured, domineering fellow? Can he put up with our jokes and jeers so patiently?” They supposed us to be someone else, and they were not far from the mark, for we were new creatures in Christ Jesus. We talked with some of our friends, and they found our conversation so different from what it used to be that it made their hearts burn within them, just as Jesus Christ’s disciples did when they went to Emmaus. But they did not know our secret; they were strangers to our new life. Do you remember, Christians, how you first revealed yourselves to your brethren, the Church? In the breaking of bread they first knew you. That night when the right hand of fellowship was given to you the new life was publicly recognised, and they said — “Come in you blessed of the Lord, why do you stand outside?” I trust, in resurrection life you desire to prove to all men that this is not the common life you lived before, a life which made you serve the flesh and its lusts; but that you are living now with higher aims, and purer intentions, by a more heavenly rule, and with the prospect of a more divine result. Just as we have been dead with Christ, dear brethren, so I hope we have also, in our measure, learned to live with him.
15. But now, remember, Christ lives for ever, and so do we. Christ being raised from the dead, dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. The fourteenth verse is wonderfully similar — “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.” Sin made us die once in Adam, but we are not to be slain by it again. If Christ could die now, we could die, but since Christ can never die again, so the believer can never again go back to his old sin. He dies to sin no more; he lives, and sin has no more dominion over him. Oh! this is a delightful theme! I do not know how to express the joy my own heart feels at the sense of security arising from the fact that Christ dies no more. Death has no more dominion over him; and sin has no more dominion over me, if I am in Christ. Suppose, my brethren, suppose for a moment that Christ could die again. Bring out your funeral music! Let the muffled drums beat the Death March! Let the heavens be clothed in sackcloth, and let the verdant earth be robed in blackness, for the atonement, earth’s great hope, is incomplete! Christ must die again. The adversaries we thought were routed have gathered their strength again. Death is not dead; the grave is not open; there will be no resurrection! The saints tremble; even in heaven they fear and quake; the crowns upon glorified heads are trembling; the hearts that have been overflowing with eternal bliss are filled with anxiety, for the throne of Christ is empty; angels suspend their songs; the howlings of hell have silenced the shouts of heaven: the fiends are holding high holiday, and they shriek for very joy — “Jesus dies again! Jesus dies again! Prepare your arrows! Empty your quivers! Come up, you legions of hell! The famous conqueror must fight, and bleed, and die again, and we shall overcome him yet!” God is dishonoured, the foundations of heaven are removed, and the eternal throne quivers with the shock of Christ subjected to a second death! Is it blasphemy to suppose the case? Yet, my brethren, it would be equally blasphemous to suppose a true believer going back again to his old lusts and dying again by sin, for that would be to suppose that the atonement was incomplete. I can prove that it involves the very same things; it supposes an unfinished sacrifice, for if the sacrifice is finished, then those for whom it was offered must be saved. It supposes hell to be triumphant — Christ had bought the soul, and the Spirit had renewed it, but the devil wipes away the blood of Christ, expels the Spirit of the living God, and gains for himself the victory. A saint perish! Then God’s promise is not true, and Christ’s word is false — “I give to my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish”; then the foundations are removed; eternal justice is a name, and the divine honesty is suspected; the purposes of God are frustrated, and the crown of sovereignty rolls in the mire. Weep angels! Be astonished, oh heavens! Rock, oh you hills with earthquake! and hell come up and hold riot! for God himself has ceased to be God, since his people perish! “Because I live you shall live also” is a divine necessity, and if dominion can ever be had by sin over a believer again, then, notice that, death can again have dominion over Christ; but that is impossible; therefore rejoice and be glad, you servants of God.
16. You will notice, that just as they live, so, like Jesus Christ, they live to God. This completes the parallel. “In that he lives he lives to God.” So do we. The forty days which Christ spent on earth he lived to God, comforting his saints, revealing his person, proclaiming gospel precepts. For the few days we have to live here on earth we must live to comfort the saints, to proclaim Christ, and to preach the gospel to every creature. And now that Christ has ascended he lives to God; what does that mean? He lives, my brethren, to reveal the divine character. Christ is the permanent revelation of an invisible God. We look at Christ and we see justice, truth, power, love; we see all of the divine attributes in him. Christian, you are to live to God; God is to be seen in you; you are to proclaim the divine heart of compassion, longsuffering, tenderness, kindness, patience; you are to reveal God; living to God. Christ lives to God, for he completes the divine purpose by pleading for his people, by carrying on his people’s work above. You are to live for the same, by preaching, that sinners may hear and that the elect may live; by teaching that the chosen may be saved; teaching by your life, by your actions, that God’s glory may be known, and that his decrees may be fulfilled. Jesus lives to God, delighting himself in God. No tongue can tell the immeasurable joy of Christ in his Father. Live in the same way, Christian. Delight yourself in the Lord! Be blessed; be happy; rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Our Redeemer lives to God, that is he lives in constant fellowship with God. Can you not do so too by the Holy Spirit? You are dead to sin; see to it that you live for ever in fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
17. Now I have been talking riddles to some of you. How many of you understand these things? If any are troubled because they understood the first part and they do trust in Christ’s death, but they do not understand the second part — ah! beloved, you shall comprehend one of these days; if you are resting on Christ’s death, that death shall yet be made mighty in you. But you who have known something about this, I urge you to struggle for more. Ask the Lord to mortify you altogether, to fill you with the divine life, and to help you to persevere to the end. Pray that you may live to God and to God alone.
Pledges of the Glory
18. III. Having brought you thus far, there is only one other step to take, and then we are done; let us notice that the facts of which we have spoken are PLEDGES OF THE GLORY WHICH IS TO BE REVEALED IN US.
19. Christ died. Possibly we shall die. Perhaps we shall not; we may be alive and remain at the coming of the Son of man; but it may be we shall die. I do not think we should be so certain of death as some Christians are, because the Lord’s coming is much more certain than our dying. Our dying is not certain, for he may come before we die. However, suppose we shall die: Christ rose, and so shall we.
What though our inbred sins require
Our flesh to see the dust,
Yet as the Lord our Saviour rose,
So all his followers must.
Do not, my brethren, think of the cemetery with tears, nor meditate upon the coffin and the shroud with gloomy thoughts. You only sojourn there for a little while, and to you it will not appear to be even a moment. Your body will sleep, and if men sleep all through a long night it only seems an hour to them, a very short moment. The sleeping time is forgotten, and to your sleeping body it will seem no time at all, while to your glorified soul it will not seem long because you will be so full of joy that a whole eternity of that joy would not be too long. But you shall rise again. I do not think we get enough joy from the thought our resurrection. It will probably be our happiest moment, or rather the beginning of the happiest life that we shall ever know. Heaven is not the happiest place. Heaven at present is happy, but it is not the perfection of happiness, because there is only the soul there, although the soul is full of pleasure; but the heaven that is to be when body and soul will both be there surpasses all thought. Resurrection will be our marriage day. Body and soul have been separated, and they shall meet again to be remarried with a golden ring, no more to be divorced, but as one indissolubly united body to go up to the great altar of immortality, and there to be espoused to Christ for ever and ever. I shall come again to this flesh, no longer flesh that can decay, no longer bones that ache — I shall come back to these eyes and these ears, all made channels of new delight. Do not say this is a materialistic view of the matter. We are at least one half material, and as long as there is material substance in us we must always expect joy that shall not only give spiritual but even material delight to us. This body shall rise again. “Can these dry bones live?” is the question of the unbeliever. “They must live,” is the answer of faith. Oh! let us expect our end with joy, and our resurrection with transport. Jesus was not detained as a prisoner, and therefore no worm can keep us back, no grave, no tomb can destroy our hope. Having risen he lives, and we shall rise to live for ever. Anticipate, my brethren, that happy day. No sin, no sorrow, no care, no decay, no approaching dissolution! He lives for ever in God: so shall you and I; close to the Eternal; swallowed up in his brightness, glorified in his glory, overflowing with his love! I think at the very prospect we may well say —
Oh! long expected day begin,
Dawn on these realms of woe and sin.
We may well cry to him to bid his chariots hasten and bring the joyous time! He comes, he comes, believer! Rejoice with joy unspeakable! You have only a little time to wait, and when you have fallen asleep you shall leap
From beds of dust and silent clay,
To realms of everlasting day;
Far from a world of grief and sin
With God eternally shut in,
Shall be for ever blest!
May the Lord add his blessing, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.