Death and Life in Christ
Delivered on Sunday Morning, April 5th, 1863, by the
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."Romans 6:8-11.
HE apostles never traveled 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 ever 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 labor of apostolic tongues, to declare that Jesus, who is the same yesterday to-day and for ever. We are mirrors reflecting the transactions of Calvary, telex scopes manifesting 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 to 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 shall the Churches revivethen shall the set time to favor Zion 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 aforetime, 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 the branches thereof. 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.
What joy the blest assurance gives!"
Trembling penitent, let a living Savior cheer thee. Exercise faith in him who only hath immortality. He lives to hear thy 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, dost thou believe this as a matter of fact? If so, rest thy soul on it, and make it shine as a matter of confidence, and then thou art saved.
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 hath no more dominion over him." Ages shall follow ages, but his raven locks shall never be blanched with years. "Thou hast the dew of thy youth." Disease may visit the world and fill the graves, but no disease or plague can touch the immortal Savior. 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 Savior. He lives for ever. There is no possibility that he should be overcome by a new death.
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 a sacrifice. He dieth 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 battle-field, that they will never venture to attack him again. This proves, too, that his people's eternal life is sure. Let Jesus die, and his people die. Let Christ leave heaven, and, O ye glorified ones! ye must all vacate your thrones, and leave your crowns without heads to wear them, and your harps untouched by fingers that shall wake them to harmony. He lives for ever. Oh! seed of Abraham, ye are saved with an everlasting salvation by the sure mercies of David. Your standing in earth and heaven has been confirmed eternally. God is honored, saints are comforted, and sinners are cheered, for "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
Now I would to God that on one of these four anchor-holds your faith might be able to get rest. Jesus died, poor trembler; if he died and took thy griefs, will not his atonement save thee? Rest here. Milhons 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 handhold 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 none can trust a dying Savior without being with him in Paradise. But if this suffice you not, he rose again. Fasten upon this. He is proved 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 on that. Having risen he lives. He is not a dead Savior, a dead sacrifice. He must be able to hear our plea and to present his own. Depend on a living Savior; depend on him now. He lives for ever, and therefore it is not too late for him to save you. If thou criest to him he will hear thy prayer, even though it be in life's last moment, for he lives for ever. Though the ends of the earth were come, and you were the last man, yet he ever lives to intercede before his Father's face. Oh! gad not about to find any other hope! Here are four great stones for you; build your hope on these; you cannot want surer foundationshe dies, he rises, he lives, he lives for ever. I tell thee, Soul, this is my only hope, and though I lean thereon with all my weight it bends not. This is the hope of all God's people, and they abide contented in it. Do thou, I pray thee, 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 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 that can scarce 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 Savior. He lives for ever; there is the perpetual merit. Depend on him! Put your soul in his hand and you are saved.
If I have brought you under the first head of my discourse to a sufficient height; you can now take another step, and mount to something higher; I do not mean higher as to real value, but higher as a matter of knowledge, because it follows upon the fact as a matter of experience.
II. The great facts mentioned in our text represent THE GLORIOUS WORK WHICH EVERY BELIEVER FEELS WITHIN HIM.
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 be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Well, then, it seems that 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 of a dead debtor, and although I be a debtor to the law, yet since I am dead, the law cannot claim anything of me, nor can sin infiict any punisliment upon me. He that is dead, as says the preceding verse, is freed from sin; being dead to sin we are free from all its jurisdiction; we fear not its curse; we defy its power. The true believer in the day when he first came to Christ died to sin as to 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 though it still survives to vex us, yet its reigning power is destroyed. From the day of our new birth, if we be 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 skillful enchantments; it might warble sweetest music, but the dead ear is not to be moved by melodies. Keep thy bitter sweets, O 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 untrutliful, 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
The vain delights of earth to share;
Thy wounds, Emmanuel all forbid
That I should seek my pleasures there.
It was the sight of thy 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 so 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 that are dead to the world now-a-days? 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 savor of Christ in it than that of the open sinner? I find many who are conformed to this world, and who show but little renewing of their minds. Oh! how slight is the difference now-a-days between the Church and the world! We ought to be, in a spiritual sense, evermore Dissentersdissenting 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 without the camp, bearing Christ's reproach. Do some of you recollect the day when you died to the world? Your friends thought you were mad. They said you knew nothing of life, so your ungodly friends put you in the sepulclive, 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 everybody. The seal is put upon you; they call you by some opprobrious epithet, and so 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 mean 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 be dead with Christ you shall also live with him.
If we be 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 unto 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 be 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 to usI trust we know that in us there is a new life to which we were strangers once. To our body and our soul there has been superadded a spirit, a spark of spiritual life. Just as Jesus had a new life after death, so have we a new life after death, wherewith 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 somebody else. They said, "What! Is this Wilham 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 he somebody 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 when they went to Emmaus. But they did not know our secret; they were strangers to our new life. Do you recollect, Christians, how you first revealed yourselves unto 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 openly recognized, and they said"Come in thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without?" 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 the lusts thereof; but that you are living now with higher aims, and purer intentions, by a more heavenly rule, and with the prospect of a diviner result. As we have been dead with Christ, dear brethren, I hope we have also, in our measure, learned to live with him.
But now, remember, Christ lives for ever, and so do we. Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. The fourteenth verse is wonderfully similar"Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye 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 hath no more dominion over him. Oh! this is a delightful theme! I know not how to express the joy my own heart feels at the sense of security arising from the fact that Christ dies no more. Death hath no more dominion over him; and sin hath no more dominion over me, if I be 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 Dead 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 sliviek for very joy"Jesus dies again! Jesus dies again! Prepare your arrows! Empty your Quivers! Come up, Ye legions of hell! The famous conqueror must fight, and bleed, and die again, and we shall overcome him yet!" God is dishonored, 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 were equal blasphemy to suppose a true believer going back again to his old lusts and dying again by sin, for that were to suppose that the atonement were incomplete. I can prove that it involves the very same things; it supposes an unfinished sacrifice, for if the sacrifice be finished, then those for whom it was offered must be saved. It supposes hell triumphantChrist 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 gets to himself the victory. A saint perish! Then God's promise is not true, and Christ's word is false"I give unto 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, O heavens! Rock, O ye 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 ye shall live also" is a divine necessity, and if dominion can ever be had by sin over a believer again, then, mark you, death can again have dominion over Christ; but that is impossible; therefore rejoice and be glad, ye servants of God.
You will notice, that as they live, so, like Jesus Christ, they live unto God. This completes the parallel. "In that he liveth he liveth unto God." So do we. The forty days which Christ spent on earth he lived unto God, comforting his saints, manifesting his person, giving forth gospel precepts. For the few days we have to live here on earth we must live to comfort the saints, to set forth Christ, and to preach the gospel to every creature. And now that Christ has ascended he lives unto God; what does that mean? He lives, my brethren, to manifest 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 the whole of the divine attributes in him. Christian, you are to live unto God; God is to be seen in you; you are to show forth the divine bowels of compassion, longsuffering, tenderness, kindness, patience; you are to manifest God; living unto God. Christ lives unto 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 unto God, delighting himself in God. The immeasurable joy of Christ in his Father no tongue can tell. Live in the same way, Christian. Delight thyself in the Lord! Be blessed; be happy; rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Our Redeemer lives unto God, that is he lives in constant fellowship with God. Cannot you 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.
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 partah! 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 that have known something of this, I pray you struggle after more. Ask the Lord to mortify you altogether, to fill you with the divine life, and to help you to persevere unto the end. Pray that you may live unto God and unto God alone.
III. Having brought you thus far, there is only one other step to take, and then we have done; let us notice that the facts of which we have spoken are PLEDGES OF THE GLORY WHICH IS TO BE REVEALED IN US.
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.
Our flesh to see the dust,
Yet as the Lord our Savior 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 season, and to you it will not appear 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 out of 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, though 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 re-married 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 unto Christ for ever and ever. I shall come again to this flesh, no longer flesh that can decay, no longer bones that acheI shall come back to these eyes and these ears, all made channels of new delight. Say not this is a materialistic view of the matter. We are at least one-half material, and so long as there is material about 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 a prisoner, and therefore no worm can keep us back, no grave, no tomb can destroy our hope. Having 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! Be 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
Dawn on these realms of woe and sin."
We may well cry to him to bid his chariots hasten and bring the joyous season! He comes, he comes, believer! Rejoice with joy unspeakable! Thou hast but a little time to wait, and when thou hast fallen asleep thou shalt leap
To realms of everlasting day;"
With God eternally shut in,
Shalt be for ever blest!"
May the Lord add his blessing, for Jesu's sake. Amen.