Christ's Resurrection and Our Newness of Life
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, March 29th, 1891, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."Romans 6:4.
HAVE AFORETIME preached upon the whole verse,* so that this morning I shall take the liberty to dwell chiefly upon the latter part of it"Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Christ has burst the gates of hell;
Death in vain forbids him rise,
Christ hath open'd paradise."
II. Let me introduce you to our second point, which is thisTHE PARALLEL IN OUR EXPERIENCE IS ALSO FULL OF GLORY. When the time of love had fully come, we also rose as to our spirits; that "like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Partakers of his death, we are also partakers of his resurrection. This body of ours will have its share in that blessing of adoption in due time. As yet, it remains subject to pain, and weakness, and death; for it is as the apostle puts it, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness." The spirit has its resurrection even now; but we are "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." At the second coming of the Lord the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living shall be changed. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit, inasmuch as we are spiritually risen from the dead; and the rest will follow in due course.
It is a blessed thing that we should be made alive in Christ. As many of you as have believed in the Lord Jesus have been raised from among the dead. You were once without faith and without feeling. You had no sense of sin; you had no desire after holiness; you had no confidence in Christ; you had no love for the Father: but "you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." You live now even as Jesus lived when he was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Why should the Lord of life have raised you from your death? Multitudes around you are still dead. You could not have made yourselves alive; for it is clear that the dead cannot rise by their own power. You were like the dry bones of Ezekiel's valley, without even the form or the moisture of life. You were more difficult to quicken than your Savior's body; for "he saw no corruption," but you were corrupt of heart. Ah, how much you saw of corruption! In you hath Jehovah repeated the miracle which he performed on his beloved Son.
Remember that quickening is a needful part of the process of sanctification. Sanctification, in its operation upon our character, consists of three things. First, we die unto sin. A wondrous death! By this Jesus strikes at the heart of evil. The death of Christ makes us die to sin. After this comes burial. We are buried with Christ, and of this burial baptism is the type and token. Covered up to be forgotten, we are to sin as a dead shepherd to his flock. As the sheep pass over the dead shepherd's grave, or even feed thereon, and yet he regardeth them not, so our old sins and habits come about us, but we, as dead men, know them no more. We are buried to them. To complete our actual sanctification we receive heavenly quickening. "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." Yea, we do live in him, and by him, for "he that believeth in him hath everlasting life." I trust you know what this means. Have you been thus dead, thus buried with Christ? Are you now thus quickened in the likeness of his resurrection? This is your joyful privilege, if you are indeed believers in Christ, and joined unto the Lord in one spirit.
Being thus quickened you are partakers of a new life. You are not like Lazarus, who, when he was raised from the dead, had the same life restored to him. True, you have that same life about you. Alas, that you should have it! for it will be your burden and plague. But your true life has come to you by your being born again from above. "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life." The Holy Ghost hath wrought in us a higher life than nature possessed. " We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." We have received "a living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever." In this there is a striking display of the glory of God. As in the resurrection of Christ we see all the glorious attributes of God, so is there in every believer's spiritual quickening a manifestation of the divine presence. I know not how much there is of God in the regeneration of each new-born soul; but I know this, that God likens it to a new creation, and to the resurrection; and therefore we may be sure that it is one of the highest displays of diving power. We talk of conversion, but how lightly do we estimate the full meaning of conversion! Know ye not that regeneration is one of the greatest miracles that God himself can perform? To be begotten again unto a lively hope is a mass of wonders. We who aforetime lay under spiritual death, have become possessors of a heavenly life; who shall fully comprehend this? This is a miracle indeed; and we ourselves are the subjects of it. Surely, we do not think highly enough of the notable deed which has been wrought upon our impotent selves. Lazarus raised from the dead was the object of wonder to everybody. The Jews came to Bethany, not to see Jesus only, but to see Lazarus, who was raised from the dead. What must Lazarus have thought of being thus brought back from the land of darkness to visit again the haunts of men? Lazarus must have felt himself a strange and singular man; even his sisters, Mary and Martha, could not understand his experience. Christian man, you have felt what you can never tell; you have received what you can never explain, you possess a secret something which can never be set forth in words. God help you to show it by your life!
In this parallel of our history with the story of Christ, in our being spiritually raised from the dead, we have a pre-eminent security for future perfection. "He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." If he raised us up when we were dead in sin, will he not keep us alive now that we live unto him? If he called us out of our graves when we were under the bondage of death, will he not preserve us now by the life of him that dieth no more? If the life of God has really been infused into us, who shall destroy it? Hath not our Master said, "I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand"? He would not have given us this life unless he had intended to bring it to perfection. As surely as you live by the Father, you live as Jesus does, beyond the range of further death. "Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Do you tremblingly ask me. "May I not go back unto sin." Listen to this. It is written in the covenant, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." The life which is in you springeth up unto eternal life. You shall surely behold his face whose life is already within your breast. What a blessed thing is this! I cannot declare to you the measureless glory of God which I perceive in this quickening of souls unto God; and yet that which I perceive is the bare fringe of the glory. He might have left us to our corruptions, and then at last he would have said, "Bury my dead out of my sight. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." But instead thereof, in his free love he has come in the person of his dear Son and died for us that we might die in him, and he has quickened his Son that we should live in him. Soon he will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Wondrous grace! "He that sitteth on the throne saith, Behold, I make all things new"; and never is he to our hearts more truly on the throne than in this new creation of which we are this day the happy subjects.
And, justified by grace,
We shall appear in glory too,
And see our Father's face.
If I gave you only those two things to dwell upon, you might, by God's blessing, find a good Sabbath's meal in them. God sanctify this teaching to all our hearts!
III. But now I want your special attention while I notice, in the third place, that THE LIFE THEN GIVEN IS EMPHATICALLY NEW. Read our text: "Like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father"I expected that we should then read, "even so we also should be raised by the glory of the Father"; but it is not so. Paul sometimes takes great leaps of thought. It is in his mind that we are raised together with Christ; but his thought has gone further, even to the activity which comes of life; and we read, "that we also should walk in newness of life." As much as to say, "I need not tell you that you have been quickened as Christ was; but since you have been made alive, you must show it by your walk and conduct." But he reminds us that this life has much newness about it.
"Newness of life"what does it mean? It means this. When we are born again, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christwhich things take place at the same timewe receive a life which we never before possessed. We begin to feel, to think, and to act as we never did before. The new life is something foreign to our fallen nature: an exotic, a plant of another clime. The carnal mind knows nothing of spiritual things. The man who is not born again cannot understand what the new birth means. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and the carnal man is all abroad in reference to them. In your quickening you received a light which had never before shone in your bosoma life that came not from men, neither by men. It is not a development of something which was hidden in our constitution; it is not the evolution of a principle which really exists, only it is hampered and hindered. No: it is not written, "You hath he fostered, who had the germs of dormant life"; but, "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." You had no life, you had nothing out of which life could come. Fostered you might have been; but all the fostering possible would only have developed your corrupt nature, and caused the evil within to grow at a greater rate. No seeds of eternal life lie buried in the dunghill of fallen nature. Eternal life is the gift of God.
This novel life is new in its principles. The old life at its very best only said, "I must do right that I may win a reward." Wage-earning is the principle of the old legal life when it tries to be obedient. Now you are moved by gratitude, and not by a mercenary motive. I hear you sing
With love intense I burn:
Chosen of him ere time began,
I choose him in return.
Now, you serve not as a hired servant, but as a loving child. Grace reigns. The love of Christ constraineth you. It is your joy to obey out of love, and not from slavish fear.
This life is swayed by new motives. You live now to please God; aforetime you lived to please yourself, or to please your neighbors. Once you lived for what you could get for yourself; you lived for the passing pleasures of a fleeting life; but now you have launched upon eternal seas. Eternity holds your treasures; eternity excites your efforts; eternity elevates your desires. You live as seeing him who is invisible, and your conduct is controlled, not by the judgment of fallible men, but by the rule of the heart-searching God.
Your new life has new objects. You aim higher; yea, you aim at the highest of all; for you live for the glory of God, and seek that your light may so shine, that men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." The will of God has now become your law. You count yourself only happy as you may fulfill his purposes, honor his name, and extend his kingdom.
Your inner life has made you conscious of new emotions. You feel now as you were not wont to feel. Your fears are new, your hopes are new; your sorrows are new, and your joys are new. If you were to meet your old self you would not wish to strike up an acquaintance with him, but would rather walk on the other side of the street. When I meet my former self I always quarrel with him, and he with me. I grieve to confess that I find another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and seeking to bring me again into captivity. Behold, all things are new to us. One said to me, when I asked her what kind of change she had undergone"Either the world is quite altered, or else I am." Yes, friends, the light is changed, because our eyes are opened to it. We feel the very opposite of what we felt by nature.
Now are we cheered by new hopes: we have a hope of immortality; a hope so glorious, that it causes us to purify ourselves in preparation for its realization. We wait for the glorious appearing of our Lord. We look for new heavens and a new earth. We have a lively hope which defies death.
Now have we new possessions. We used to wonder what the Christian meant when he spoke of "possessing all things." We know now. God has made us "rich in faith", and he has given us greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. When the Lord lifts up his countenance upon us, we no longer cry for corn and wine and oil. Though flocks die, and crops fail, our estate is entailed; our bread shall be given us, and our waters shall be sure. Instead of groaning that life is not worth having, we bless God for our being, because our well-being in Christ. Behold the desert now rejoices and blossoms as the rose. Where we heard only the hooting of the owl and the cry of the dragon, we hear music as of a song which has just begun, which is every moment swelling and increasing, and shall soon burst into a thunder of hallelujahs which shall never end. We are happy creatures now. Once we were doleful enough, save when we were in our cups and inflamed with a delirious mirth; but now we have peace like a river, and a secret joy which no man taketh from us. We drink of a well which none can dry up: we have bread to eat that the world knows not of. Truly our fellowship is with the Father; and this, even to ourselves, is so vast a joy that it overwhelms us. When we are nearest to God, and are absorbed in him, we cannot comprehend our own delight.
We have come into a new world altogether; a world far more grand than that which nature reveals. I often compare myself to a chick, which aforetime was imprisoned in the dark, narrow, and uncomfortable prison of its natural shell. In that condition I neither knew myself, nor aught that was about me, but was in a chaos, as one unborn. Do I not remember when the shell was broken and I came out into the open? Then, like a young bird, I was weak and strange, and full of wonderment at the life into which I had come. How strange was it to my soul to have the Godhead consciously perceived, and Christ and his redemption blessedly enjoyed! That young life begins to feel its wings and try them a little. It also moves with trembling footsteps, essaying a new walk. It sees things it never dreamed of when shut up in the darkness. The new-born soul beholds "new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." That text has come true to some of us: "Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." It is a wonderful thing, this new life. I beg to press home the inquiry, Do you know it? Do you enjoy it? Do not boast that you are being educated. Educate the old life as you will, it will remain natural, and cannot become spiritual. You have been, you say, religious from your childhood. Be it so; but even to you I must say, "Ye must be born again." There must be a passing from death unto life.
Does all I am talking about seem to be a confused maze? So far it will do you good to know that you do not understand the things of God. To know that you are a stranger to the inward life may be a blessing to you. It may be that a prayer will spring up in your heart, "Lord, implant in me this life." The Lord and giver of life is willing to bestow it. It is to be had through Jesus; for to "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." May you be born this very day into this newness of life!
IV. I must close, though the subject is sweetly absorbing, and one would like to go further into it. Our fourth point is thisTHE WALK WHICH COMES OUT OF THIS LIFE IS NEW. You were dead, but you have been raised from among the dead, and now you walk in "newness of life."
The new life that God gives us is exceedingly active. I have never read that we are to lie down and sleep in the newness of life. It is true I have met with persons who professed to have been saved, and therefore they took matters easily, and made themselves religiously comfortable in idleness. I greatly question whether you have new life if you do not walk. God's children are not of a sluggish race. There is vigor and fervency about them. They cannot sleep, as do others. The new life is akin to the life of angels, and angels do not spend the day in slumber or sloth. I never heard of sluggish angels. They are as flames of fire. The new life in a Christian is quick, energetic, forceful. The new life produces a holy walk as soon as it is created. If you have been born unto God, you have cast off your lethargy, and are ready to run the race set before you. You may happen to be dull and sleepy occasionally through disease; but you will not choose this. When in spiritual health, you will glow with divine ardor, and burn with holy fervency, delighting yourself in serving the Lord.
This activity of life induces progress. If we are really quickened, we are to walk in newness of life: that is to say, we shall move on. We are not to take the goose-step in newness of life; but to march on, going from strength to strength. We are not at the end yet; we must advance. All that we have already attained is to lead on to the yet beyond. It is true we have the new life in us, but we have not yet obtained everything: we must climb higher, and go further. The new life grows.
This walk is to be in newness of life. We are not to act or grow in the energy of the old life, but in newness of life. The conduct of a Christian is in newness of life: and therefore others cannot understand him because he acts so differently from themselves. But, alas, all professors are not of this sort! I see a Christian man coming back one evening from a place of questionable amusement. Did he go there in newness of life? The old man used to go in that direction. When a man is doubtfully honest, and has made a bargain which will not bear the light; is that done in newness of life? When an employer grinds down the workman to the last farthing; is that done in the newness of life? Surely, you will see what I am aiming at. Brethren, have done with the things of the flesh. Put off the old man. If Christ has quickened you, walk in newness of life. Say to the old man, "Down with you, sir! I have done with walking in your way."
Let the new man come to the front, and do you follow his guidance. Say in your soul, "O life of God within me, be thou supreme. Take thou the upper hand, and let every thought be captive to thy power." Let us not live in oldness of spiritual death, but in newness of spiritual life. What a change is wrought by the perception and possession of better things! Dr. Chalmers, in his Exposition of Romans, pictures a man engaged with full and earnest ambition on some humble walk of retail merchandise. He cares about petty things, and makes great account of his little stock-taking. His hopes and fears range within his circumscribed trading; and he aspires to nothing more than to reach a few shillings a week to retire upon. But a splendid property is willed to him, or he is introduced into a sublime walk of high and honorable adventure. Henceforth everything is made new. The man's cares, hopes, habits, tastes, desires, are all new. His expenditure alters; his valuation of money alters; his fear about the state of the stock disappears; his joy in the prospect of a small competency is no more before his eyes. He has risen to a different level altogether. New conditions have silently changed all things. The whole man is built on a bigger scale: his house, his table, his garments, his company, and his speech, are all of another sort. In the same way the Lord, by all that he has done for us, and in us, has changed everything. No point is unaffected. Newness of life affects our manhood from head to foot. The Lord has made us rich in himself, by the gift of Jesus, and by the work of his Spirit, and he would not have us grieving and fretting about the little matters which once were so exceedingly great to us. "After all these things do the Gentiles seek." Let us have higher cares and diviner aspirations. Let us seek to live the life of heaven on earth. We are called unto righteousness; let us not follow after mammon. We are new creatures; may the Lord renew us day by day! Let us quit the old; for the time we have spent in it may well suffice. Now to a nobler destiny our soul aspires.
The Christian life should be one of joyful vivacity. We cannot always be what we should like to be, especially if we have a sluggish liver or an aching head; but I would now speak of our normal condition. The Christian man, living in newness of life, should find life fresh about him. Our inner man is renewed day by day. A healthy Christian is one of the liveliest creatures on earth. When he is at work you may hear him sing. He cannot help it; do not blame him for a little noise. Let him sing, and laugh till he cries. Sometimes he cannot help it; he will burst if his soul may not have vent. When he begins to talk about his Lord his eyes flash fire. Some people hint that he is out of his mind; but those who know best assure us that he was never before so sane as now. Of course, the world thinks religion is such poor stuff that nobody could grow excited about it. To my mind, cold religion is the nastiest dish ever brought to table. True godliness is served up hot. Newness of life means a soul aglow with love to God, and therefore earnest, zealous, happy. Let the believing man have space for his larger life, swing for his grander joy. Nay, do not gag him; let him sing his new song. If any man out of heaven has a right to be happy, it is the man who lives in newness of life. Come, beloved, I want you to go home to-day with the resolve that the newness of life shall be more apparent in your walk. Do not live the old life over again. Why should you? What good would come of it?
Come, my soul, if Christ has raised thee from the dead, do not live after the fashion of the dark grave which thou hast quitted. I am not so enamoured of the sepulcher as to return to it. Walk after the fashion of the new life, and it will conduct thee to God from whence it came. Live a God-like life; let the divine in thee sit on the throne, and tread the animal beneath its feet. It is easier said than done", cries one. That depends upon the life within. Life is full of power. I have seen an iron bar bent by the growth of a tree. Have you never heard of great paving-stones being lifted by fungi, which had pushed up beneath them? Life is a mighty thing, especially the divine life. If you choose to contract your souls by a sort of spiritual tight-lacing, or if you choose to bend yourselves down in a sorrow which never looks up, you may hinder your life and its walk; but give your life full scope, and what a walk you may have! Yield yourselves fully to God, and you shall see what you shall see. There is a happiness to be enjoyed by truly whole-hearted believers which some even of God's own children would think to be impossible.
Let me finish by a picture, which will show you what I mean by whole-heartedness. I have seen boys bathing in a river in the morning. One of them has just dipped his toes in the water, and he cries out, as he shivers, "Oh, it's so cold!" Another has gone in up to his ankles, and he also declares that it is fearfully chilly. But see! another runs to the bank, and takes a header. He rises all in a glow. All his blood is circulating, and he cries "Delicious! What a beautiful morning! I am all in a glow. The water is splendid!" That is the boy for enjoying a bath! You Christian people who are paddling about in the shallows of religion, and just dipping your toes into ityou stand shivering in the cold air of the world which you are afraid to leave. Oh, that you would plunge into the river of life! How it would brace you! What tone it would give you! In for it, young man! In for it! Be a Christian, out and out. Serve the Lord with your whole being. Give yourself wholly to him who bought you with his blood. Plunge into the sacred flood by grace, and you will exclaim
My God, to find thee so!
Thy face to see, thy voice to hear,
And all thy love to know."
May we thus walk in newness of life! Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMONMatthew 28; Romans 6:1-14.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"307, 309, 318.