Sharing Christ's Life
Published on Thursday, April 9th, 1914.
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
On Lord's-day Evening, December 1st, 1867.
"Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also."John 14:19.
HIS WAS, and is, the mark of the true believer, that he see Jesus. When Jesus was here among men, the world saw him in a certain sense, but yet in truth it did not see him at all. The world's eye saw the outside of Christthe flesh of the man Christ, but the true Christ the ungodly eye could not discern. They could not perceive those wonderful attributes of character, those delightful graces and charms, which made up the true spiritual Christ. They saw but the husk, and not the kernel; they saw the quartz of the golden nugget, but not the pure gold which that quartz contained. They saw but the external man; the real, spiritual Christ they could not see. But unto as many as God had chosen, Christ manifested himself as he did not unto the world. There were some to whom he said, "The world seeth me not, but ye see me." Some there were whose eyes were anointed with the heavenly eye-salve, so that they saw in the "the man Christ Jesus," the God, the glorious Saviour, the King of kings, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
And wears his priesthood still."
That very Christ, who did once as a babe lie upon his mother's breast, and who afterwards trod the waves of Gennesaret: who, after his resurrection, ate apiece of broiled fish and of honeycombthat very Christ is now before the eternal throne. In very soul and body the man Christ Jesus is there. He lives.
He lives a real life. We are so very apt to mystify and becloud everything, and to suppose that Christ lives by his influence only, or lives by his Spirit. Brethren, he lives, the very man that died, as surely as he bled upon the tree, and in his own_proper person, from five actual wounds poured out the warm life-torrents of his heart, so surely does he actually live at this present moment in the midst of unnumbered hearts that sound his praisethe delightful object of the vision of the myriads of spirits who continually adore him. He actually lives; he really and truly lives, as he lived here below.
He lives, also, activelynot in some wondrous sleep of quiet and sacred repose. He is as busy now as he was when here. He proposed to himself when he went away a certain work. "I go to prepare a place for you," said he. He is preparing that place for us still. He intercedes, also, daily for his people. Oh! if your faith is strong enough, even now you can see him distinctly standing before the throne of God, pleading his glorious merits. I think I see him now as clearly as ever the Jews saw Aaron when he stood with his breast-plate on before the mercy-seat, for remember, the Jew never did see Aaron at all there, for the curtain was dropped, and Aaron was within the veil, and therefore, the Jew could only see him in his fancy. But I say I see him as clearly as that, for I see my Lord, not by fancy, but by faith. There, where the veil is rent, so that he is not hidden from my soul's gaze. I see him with my name and yours upon his breast, pleading before God.
Why, gaze awhile and you may think you see him now. Just as the Jew saw Aaron, waving the censer, standing between the living and the dead, and staying the plague, even so is Christ standing at this hour between the living and the dead, and so moving the whole Deity to spare the guilty yet a little longer, whilst he makes intercession for them that they may live. And then comes his higher intercession for them that they may live. And then comes his higher intercession for his elect, of whom he says, "I pray for them; I pray not for the world." He lives, then, an actual life, of which you and I reap the daily fruits. Not a life of slumber and stillness, but an active, busy life, by which he continually dispenses gifts to us.
For this reason it is well to remind you, that, therefore, Jesus can only lives as a man in one place. When we speak of Christ being found in every assembly of his people, we understand that of his presence in his Godhead and by his Holy Spirit, who rules on earth in this dispensation of the Spirit. But the man Christ can be but in one place, and he is now at the right hand of the Majesty on high. It is absurd, it is horrible both to faith and to reason, to say the Christ's body is eaten, and that his blood is drunk in tens of thousands of places wherever priests choose to offer what they call "the mass." A "mass" of profanity, indeed, it is! Our Lord Jesus Christ, as to his real, positive, corporeal presence, is not here. As to his flesh and his blood, he is not, and cannot be, here. He will be here one day, when he shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the trump of the archangel and the voice of God, but in his real person, he is now where his saints arebefore the throne, whence by-and-bye he will descend. Meanwhile, his spiritual presence is our joy and our gladness, but his corporeal presencea doctrine which our faith grasps and lays hold ofhis corporeal presence is before the throne of God, and there he lives in proper flesh and blood as the Son of Man.
Brethren and sisters, listen to a brief sketch of the biography of Christ's life in glory. When the holy women and godly men wrapped him in spices, and laid him in the tomb, Jesus was dead. There for parts of three days and nights he tarried. He saw no corruption, but yet he was in the place of corruption. No worm could assail that holy thing which no sin had tainted, and yet he laid in the place where death seemed sovereign. A while he slept, and the Church mourned, but blessed was the day when, at the first rosy dawn of the light, the Saviour rose.
Then could he say, "I live." His body, instinct with life, rose from its slumber, and began at once to put off the grave-clothes. He unwound the winding-sheets and the fine white linen, and laid them carefully down, and left them there, for you and me, that we might have our bed well sheeted when we come to lie in it at the last.
As for the napkin, he unwound it, and laid it by itself, as though that were for us who are living, to wipe our eyes when our dear ones are taken away, since we have no cause to sorrow as they do who have no hope. And when this was done, an angel rolled away the stone, and forth came the Saviourglorious, no doubt, but so much like other men that Mary "supposed him to have been the gardener," so that there could have been no very supernatural slendour surrounding his person. He revealed himself to many of his disciplessometimes to as many as five hundred at once. He ate with them; he drank with them; he was a man among men with them, till, when forty days had passed, he gathered them all at Olivet, the mountain from which he had so often addressed them, and took his final leave. While he was blessing them, his hands outstretched in benediction, a cloud received him out of their sight. And since then he hath sat down at the right hand of God, expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. He is tarrying there yet a little while longer. When the fulness of time shall comeif I may go on with his biographyhe will come again. "This same Jesus," said the angels, "which is taken up from you heaven, shall so come in a like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." He will, therefore, come in proper person a second time, without a sin offering, unto salvation. Then will he gather his saints together who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Then shall they reign with him. Then shall the earth be covered with his glory. All nations shall bow before him, and all people shall call him blessed. And then shall come the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and God shall be all in all. But Christ shall still live, for he hath received a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, without beginning of days, or end of yearsa priest for ever. When suns and moons shall grow dim with age, and the round world shall all dissolve, like the morning hoar-frost, and time shall be rolled up like a vesture, and all the ages shall have been trodden out like sparks beneath the foot of the Eternal God, then shall Jesus Christ live on still, world without end. Thus have we spoken concerning Christ as living. But now, in the next place:
II.LIFE IS PROMISED TO CHRIST'S PEOPLE.
This does not mean their natural existence. That they have received from Adam, and, through their sin, it has become a curse to them, rather than a blessing. Should they remain unpardoned, the fact of continued existence will become to them the dreadful of calamities, since it must be an existence in God's holy abhorrence of sin for ever; driven from every glimpse or hope of forgiveness.
The life which comes to us through Christ is of this sortI trust you know it in your own heartsit is life spiritual, given to us in regeneration. When the Holy Spirit quickens a dead soul, that dead soul then receives the life of Christ. No man is alive unto God spiritually, except through Christ. Because Christ lives, we live. When a dead soul gets into living contact with the living Saviour by the power of the Spirit, then it is that spiritual life begins. The very first evidence of spiritual life is trusting in Jesus, which shows that s the first symptom is alliance to Christ, the cause of the life must be somewhere here, namely, union with Christ. One of the very first outward signs is prayerprayer to Christ, and that, again, rises from the fact that Christ gives us of his life, and then that life goes back again to him. Brethren, if you seek the life of other souls, and desire to see them brought to God, preach Christ to them. Do you not see, "Because I live, ye shall live"? Then no sinner ever will live spiritually apart from Christ. Though you and I cannot quicken them, yet we can preach the gospel to them, and faith cometh by hearing, and where faith is, there life is. It is no use trying to raise the dead by preaching the law to them. That is only covering them up fairly with a lie in their right hand; but preach of dying love and of rising power, to tell of pardons bought with blood, and to declare that Christ died a substitute for sinnersthis is the hopeful way of bringing life to the dead. IT is by such instrumentality that souls are brought to life eternal. Because Christ is alive, his elect in due time receive spiritual life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and, although once they were dead in sin, they begin to live unto righteousness.
Further, this spiritual life is preserved in us by Christ still living. "Because I continue to live, ye shall continue to live also." The text clearly means that: it bears that paraphrase. Oh! dear friends! when we once get spiritual life into us, what a thousand enemies there are who try to put it out! Many and many a time has it seemed to go hard with my soul as to whether I really had a spark of life within my spirit. Temptation after temptation have I endured until it appeared as if I must yield my hold on Christ and give up my hope. There has been conflict upon conflict, and struggle upon struggle, until at last the enemy has got his foot upon the neck, and my whole being has trembled, and had it not been for Christ's promise, "Because I live, ye shall live also," it might have gone harder with me, and I might have despaired, and given up all hope, and laid down to die. The assurance, then, that the spiritual life of the Christian must be maintained because Christ lives, was the only power to get me the victory. Let it teach us, then, this practical lesson. Whenever our spiritual life is very weak, and we want it to grow stronger, let us get to the living Christ for the supply of his strength. When you feel you are ready to die spiritually, go to the Saviour for revived life. The text is like a hand that points us to the storehouse. You who are in the desert, there is a secret spring under your feet, and you know not where it is; this is the mysterious finger which points you to the spot. Contemplate Christ; believe in Christ; draw yourselves by faith nearer and nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and so shall your life receive a divine impetus which it has not known for many a day. "Because I live, ye shall live also."
And further, brethren, we get from Christ an educated life. Any man may be spiritually alive, and yet he may not know much about the higher life. There is in spiritual life a scale of degree. One man is just alive unto God; another man may bee vigorous; another may be rapturously consecrated. I hope you and I will anxiously desire to get the highest form of spiritual life that is known. We do not wish to beggars in the kingdom of Christ, but, if we can, to take our place in the House of Peers, to be princes through Jesus Christ. We need not be poor; Christ is willing to enrich us. We are not straitened in him; we are straitened in ourselves. Now, Christ gives the promise, "Because I live," saith he, "the highest life, far above all principalities and powers, ye shall live also this higher life with me." You may have it; you may obtain it, but brethren, if you want to get it, never go to Moses for it; never go to yourselves for it. Do not seek to school yourselves by rules, and regulations, and resolutions, or by a morbid asceticism, such as some men delight in; but go the living Saviour, and in the living liberty which you will enjoy in communion with him, your soul will take unto itself wings, and mount into a clearer atmosphere: your spirit will be braced to a higher degree of robust devotion: you will draw nearer to heaven, because you have got nearer to Christ, who is the Lord of heaven. "Because I live, ye shall have life: ye shall have that life continued, and ye shall have that life yet more abundantly: I am come, not only that ye may have life, but more abundantly." There are your Master's words; plead them before your Master's throne.
And now, brethren, we will go a little further. We will suppose that you are well acquainted with these forms of life, and now there comes a jerk, as it were. You are travelling along the iron road of th railway, and there comes a sudden jerk, and you stop. What is it? It is the thought of death. Well, but Jesus tells us here that that is of no consequence. It is an item in the great world of life that to you who are in him is scarcely worth consideration, because the text over-rides that, and swallows it up, as it is written "death is swallowed up in victory": it is made as though it did not exist. "Because I live, ye shall live also." Your continued life of happiness, of holiness, of spirituality, of consecration, and of obediencewhich, indeed is your only life worth havingis guaranteed to you in the text. Death cannot interfere with it, not even by the space of a single secondnay,. I tell you not even by the space of the ticking of a clock. What, a Christian die? "Because I live, ye shall live also," is never suspended. There is not time for it to be suspended in. Do you know what death really is? Does it take long to die? I have heard of men who have been said to be weeks in dying. Not so; they were weeks living; the dying occupied no space; that was done at once, and immediately. And so with the believer. To him death is so slight a jerk that he still keeps on upon the same line. He still lives, only there is this difference, that it is as though the railway had hitherto been running through a tunnel, and he now comes out of it into the open plain. His life below was the train in the tunnel, but when he dies, as we call it, there is a jerk, and then it comes right out of the tunnel into the fair, open, champaign country of heaven, where all is clear and bright, where all the birds are singing, and the darkness is over, and the mist and fogs are gone, and his soul is for ever blessed. "Because I live a life that cannot be suspended," Christ seems to say, "ye shall live also." At the bottom of every man's heart there is, I suppose, a fear of ceasing to be. Some infidels seem to find comfort in the thought of being annihilated, but that thought is, perhaps, the most abhorrent that ever crossed the human mind. There is a something which makes us hope we are, and shrink with loathing from the idea of being annihilated. Now, at that point comes in our text, and it says, "What! Annihilated! You who believe in Jesus cannot be: you shall live also, live with that higher life which you have receiveda life of beauty, a life of excellence, of holiness, and of God-likeness: that new life implanted within you shall never be suspended." Nay, never by the space of a single tick, for "Because I live, ye shall live also."
Further, brethren, our text is such a wide on that we have a hold of the fact that we are to continue to live as to our spirits and our souls. The text beneath its sheltering wings, like a hen gathering her brood, gathers many precious truths, and the next one is that this very body of ours is to live, too. It must take its time for that. It must abide in the earth, whereon it has dwelt. It is so decreed that there it should lie, unless Christ should come before that time. But concerning this very body, there is no decree of annihilation. It will smoulder away. It may be taken up by the spade of the careless sexton, and scattered to the winds of heaven may all the atoms of the body be. But there is a life-germ within it which no human power can destroy, and over which the divine eye perpetually watches; and when that mysterious and long-expects sound of the angelic trump shall ring o'er land and sea, through heaven and earth, and the graves shall all be opened, then shall my soul find my body yet againfashioned after a more beautiful form; more fit for the spirit than aforetime; more elastic; altogether free from weakness; no longer such as shall be subject to pain, to sickness, to accident, to decay, to ultimate corruption; but a spiritual body, raised in power, in glory, and in immortality; not raised in the likeness of the first Adam in the garden, but in the likeness of the second Adam in the everlasting Paradise of God. Courage, my eyes, courage! Ye shall be closed for a while, but ye shall not be so for ever, for ye, even ye, shall strike the strings of those celestial harps that pour forth his praise. Courage, all ye members of my body, which have been sanctified to be members of Christ, and made to be parts of the Holy Spirit's temple! Ye shall all take your part in the grand triumphal entry of Christ, when he shall descend to take possession of his kingdom. "Though worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall behold for myself, and not another." So go to thy bed in the earth, poor body, and sleep there awhile. Bathe thyself like her who bathed herself in spices to make herself ready for the King, so go and get thyself prepared to meet thy Lord. Put off thy word-day dress, and put on thy Sabbath garments, thy bridal array, and then shalt thou come to the King and see him in his beauty, and crown him with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the days of his espousals. Yea, because he lives in the body which he bore, his body shall live again, also.
And so, beloved, the text amounts to this, that in body and soul, the Christian shall be immortal, like his Master. When our reign on earthwhether it shall last a thousand years, or a thousand ages(we know not what the Word of God intends)but when that glorified state on earth, which I do most assuredly believe in, shall be over, and it shall be said:
Sheathed his sword because 'tis done";
when the drama of the mediatorial reign shall all be closed, and we shall dwell under the immediate sovereignty of God once again, then, beloved, every believer shall be with Christ, eternally glorified, for here stand the irrevocable decree and the divine mandate of creation's Lord, who is also the redeeming Lamb, "Because I live, ye shall live also." Reel, ye pillars of earth! Be shaken, ye arches of the starry heavens! Pass away, O Time, and you ye rolling worlds, dissolve into your native nothingness! But the believer must live on, because Jesus lives, and until the Lord's Christ can bow his head, till he who hath immortality can expire, till God himself can cease to be, no soul that believed in Jesus can lose the life incorruptible which God's own Spirit hath put within it.
I want to sing, brethren, rather than to talk with you. These are words and thoughts fit for some ancient bard, or for the spirit of some inspired prophet sent from heaven. I do but lisp where even seraphs might find their loudest songs fail in the them. Let your hearts mount! Let your souls exult! Let your spirits be glad! Do you
That you may rest with God,"
and enter into his heaven? Long for the evening of death, when your toil shall be over, and the hour of your bliss shall have come. I shall have no time, I fear, for the third and last point, and, therefore, must only give a few hints of what I would have said.
III. THIS LIFE IS LINKED WITH CHRIST'S LIFE.
Immortal, all glorious, promised to true believers, it is bound up with the life of our immortal Lord. Why is this? First, because Christ leads a justified life. I scarcely know how to express my meaning. You understand that so long as Jesus was here he lay under the charge of our sins. Whilst he was in the world, his Father had made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all. But when he died, his death discharged all the liabilities of his elect. The handwriting of ordinances that was against us was then taken away. When he went to Calvary as our Surety, the sins of all his people were his debts: he had taken them upon himself. But when he rose from the dead in the garden that first Easter morning he had no debts of ours: he had no longer any substitutional engagement or liability. All the debts which he had taken upon himself as our Redeemer he had fully and completely discharged. No officer can arrest a man for debt who has none, and Christ now lives, therefore, as a justified person. And,. brethren, no officer of justice can arrest any of the people for whom Christ paid their debts. How, then, shall death have any dominion over those whose debts are all discharged? How shall they be laid in prison for whom Christ was laid in prison? How shall they suffer death, which is the penalty of sin, for whom Christ has already suffered all the penalties which just ice could have demanded? Because he lives the life of one who has discharged the debts of his people, they must, in justice, live.
Secondly, Christ lives a representative life. He is no longer Christ for himself. As the Member of Parliament represents a town, so Jesus Christ represents all the people who are in him, and as long as he lives they live. He is their Covenant Head. As long as Adam stands, his race shall stand; when Adam falls, the human race falls. While, therefore, Christ lives, the Christly ones, who are in him, live through his representation.
In the next place, Christ lives a perfect life. Perhaps you do no see how this is a link between his living and your living, but it is, because we are a part of Christ. According to the Word of Scripture, every believer is a member of Christ's body. Now, a man who lives perfectly has not lost his finger, of his arm, or his hand. A man may be alive with many of his limbs taken away, but you can scarcely call him a perfect-living man. But I cannot imagine a maimed Christ. I have never been able to conceive in my soul, of Christ lacking any of his members. Such a thing was never seen on earth. The barbarous cruelty of the Jews could not effect that, and, by the Providence of God, Pilate's officers were not permitted to cause such a thing. "Not a bone of him shall be broken," was the ancient prophecy. They brake the legs of the first and second thief, but when they came to the matchless Lord they saw he was already dead, so they brake not his legs. Even in his earthly body, which was the type of his spiritual body, he must suffer no maiming injury. Therefore, my brethren, because Christ lives as a perfect Christ, everyone that is one with him must live also.
Then, fourthly, Christ lives a blessed lifea life of perfect blessedness, and, therefore, we must live also. "Why?" say you. Why, look you: there is a mother here. She is alive: she is in good health, but she is not perfectly happy, for she is a Rachel weeping for her children, and will not be comforted, because they are not. Time will heal her wounds, it is true: for the most affectionate heart cannot be always mourning; but our Lord Jesus Christ in that infinitely affectionate heart of his would not only mourn over one of his children if lost, but he would mourn for ever over it. I cannot conceive of Christ being happy and losing one of his dear children. I cannot conceive Christ to be personally blessed, and yet on of the members of his own person cast into the "outer darkness." Because he lives in perfect happiness, I conceive that all who are dear to him will be round about him. It shall not be said that he lost one of them, nor shall one of the family be missing, but:
Shall meet around the throne,
To bless the conduct of his grace,
And make his wonders known."
And, lastly, Christ leads a triumphant life, and, therefore, ye shall live also. You say again, "How is that?" Why, brethren, the triumph of Christ concerns us. This is the triumph of Christ, "Of all those whom thou hast given me, I have lost none" Now, suppose there to be heard a whisper from the infernal pit, "aha! Aha! Thou liest! There is one here whom the Father gave thee, but who thou didst lose"why, Christ would never be able to speak again by way of triumph! He could never boast any more. Then might he put down his crown. If it were but to happen in that one case, at any rate, the enemy would have got the advantage over him, and he would hot have been the Conqueror all along the line. But, glory be to God! he who trod the winepress with none for his assistant, came forth out of the crimson conflict, having smitten all his foes, and won a complete victory. There shall not be in the whole campaign a single point over which Satan shall be able to boast.
Christ has brought many sons to glory as the Captain of their salvation, and never yet has he failed, and he never shall in any point, neither the least nor the greatest, neither the strongest nor the weakest. This is essential, dear friends. It is essential to the acclamations of heaven, that every soul that believes in Jesus should live for ever. It is essential to the everlasting harmony and to the joy of Christ throughout Eternity, that all who trust in him should be preserved and kept safe, even until the end. Therefore, says the text, "Because I live, ye shall live also."
So I leave this truth with you, only praying that those who have no part in this matter may seek Christ at this very time, and be led by the Spirit to cry mightily to him, and his promise is, "They that seek me early shall find me." Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found, call ye upon him whilst he is near."
God bless you, for Christ's sake. Amen.