For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
I. THE FIRST ADAM REGARDED AS A RACE HEAD, OR REPRESENTATIVE. Show how the race is bound up in him. Whether or not he be the actual race father, this is certain, "God has made of one blood all nations to dwell upon the earth," and the blood is Adam's, the type is Adam's, the whole bodily and mental functions are precisely Adam's, and God is pleased to deal with the race through this Adam, making him the race's test man, and laying the race under the burdens that were laid upon him. If we force the idea of our individuality into an undue strength, we shall resist the idea that any man can carry us with him so as to win for us blessing or woe; but if we duly estimate the solidarity of the human race, and what this involves for the good of the race, we shall be willing to accept the idea, and the consequences, of this mediation or representation. The standing of humanity before God is settled by the standing of Adam. The disabilities of humanity come as the disabilities of Adam, the consequences of his failure. It may even be that what we call death, as distinguished from simple change and passing, is due to Adam's fall. And our very character may be said to be deteriorated through Adam's triumphant wilfulness. We do not say that our relations with the first Adam are limited to these representative ones, but we do say that these are the prominent relations, and those which enable us to apprehend the similar relations of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. THE SECOND ADAM REGARDED AS A RACE HEAD, OR REPRESENTATIVE. Observe that the first Adam was directly born of God, not of any previous human being; and so, we are taught, was the Lord Jesus, though his full kinship with our humanity is brought home to us by his having a human mother. He, then, is a fitting new Race Head, and God is pleased to deal with him in our name, and his dealings with him cover, carry, and include us, as those for whom he stands. Work out:
1. How Christ stood for us as penitent sinners, and won for us full pardon.
2. How Christ presented, in our name, perfect obedience, and won for us full acceptance.
3. How Christ asked for us life eternal, and gained the unspeakable gift. He is himself the type and the model of the new human race, the race that hates sin, and loves righteousness, and seeks God; and every one of us who makes Christ stand for him thereby pledges himself that he will give himself no rest until he is in everything just what Christ represents him to be. And so "in Christ shall all be made alive." - R.T.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
I. THE ANTECEDENT PROBABILITY OF SUCH A REMEDY, INDICATED BY FAMILIAR ANALOGIES. It is God's manner to make all things largely self-remedial when attacked by disorder. The bush that is bent, as soon as it is let go springs up suddenly by an elastic force within. Cut it down and it will set to new growths. Every animal body has a distinct self-medicating force in its own nature, called by physiologists the vis medicatrix. The same is true of all defections of character, the man must repair his losses by a process of recovery undertaken by himself; the whole world toiling at his vices and dishonors could not repair one of them. The same is true of society. What, then, shall we expect when humanity is broken by sin, but that if God organises redemption, He will do it in a way to have it appear as a redemption from within, executed in a sense by man?
II. WE NOT ONLY WANT A SUPERNATURAL SALVATION (for nothing less than that can possibly regenerate the fall of nature), BUT IN ORDER TO HAVE ANY STEADY FAITH IN IT WE MUST HAVE IT WROUGHT INTO NATURE AND MADE TO BE, AS IT WERE. ONE OF ITS OWN STOCK POWERS. Note the eagerness that turns such multitudes of our time after the doctrine of progress.
1. Yet there is no fiction more baseless than a strictly natural progress, for after the fact of sin the progress of the race must be (as we see it is) from bad to worse. We want a salvation that is to us all that this doctrine of progress pretends to be, and God gives us to see the general humanity so penetrated with the supernatural by Christ living in it, as to be, in a sense, working out redemption from within itself.
2. Meantime, if it were possible to restore the fall of our race by any kind of wholly external agency, supposing no concurrent struggles operating from within, it would reduce our character and grade of insignificance to a virtual nullity. But the Saviour being or becoming man, the salvation dignifies and raises man even before he receives it.
III. SINCE IT IS CONTINUALLY ASSUMED IN SCRIPTURE THAT WE FALL AS A CORPORATE WHOLE, WE NATURALLY LOOK FOR SOME RECUPERATIVE GRACE TO RE ENTERED INTO THE RACE, BY WHICH SO GREAT A DISADVANTAGE MAY BE REPAID OR OVERCOME, True, we are not born of Christ physiologically. The correspondence must not be understood to hold in any but a general and qualified way. Let it be enough that as Adam is our head physiologically, so is Christ our head by the head influences He inaugurates. Good souls have a power to get into the race by collateral propagations of their goodness, when bad souls have almost no such power at all. They have a destiny of headship, becoming Adams in the sublime fatherhood of their power. And so it is, illustrating the Divine by the human, that the incarnate Word of God's eternity, coming into birth and living and dying as a man, fills the race with new possibilities and powers, starts resurgent activities, and overtops the sin abounding with a grace that so much more abounds.
IV. CONSIDER NOW SOME OF THE SCRIPTURE EVIDENCE OF THE SUBJECT. It declares the the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. The woman's whole posterity, including Christ, shall do it, God being always present in the struggle. Here and there the hidden method is departed from, and God does something for or upon our humanity and not through it, but nothing works like a power that does not work by man. When Christ comes, perfect in all Divinity, He gets into the common family register as man, and puts the struggle on as being a struggle of race. And when He is gone a gospel is born, and, though there seems nothing here but the same humanity there was before, it is a very different fight as respects the power of it. Observe how even Holy Scripture is written by man, bearing in every book the stamp of the particular mind in whose personal conception it was shaped. And the gospel of Christ is to be preached by human ministers, and the disciples are to be newer incarnations of Christ, and, in a sense, by their gifts, prayers, and sufferings, vehicles, also, of the Spirit. "Ye are the light of the world." Conclusion:
1. We have, then, a very significant presumption raised, that when any breakage or damage occurs in any legitimate institution of the world, God has put in somewhere some kind of self-remedial force to mend it.
2. Note the immense responsibility thrown upon Christ's followers. Christ lays it on them to be gospellers with Him, and to really believe is to come into the great life-struggle of Jesus.
3. Lift up your heads, O ye drooping ones! Christ is in the world. He is about us, within us, going through all things, moving onward in all. Leaven does not make a noise when it works, and yet it works. No river runs to the sea more certainly or steadily than the great salvation by man runs to conquest and a kingdom.
4. Observe the beautiful delicacy of God in His plan of salvation. He makes it not a salvation for man only, but contrives to make it, as far as possible, a salvation by man. True, it is all by Christ, and yet it is by the Christ within — the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And so, instead of making His mercy a mere pity that kills respect, He makes it a power that lifts into character and everlasting manhood. And when we shall go home to be with Christ, what shall we do but confess in lowliest homage — "Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood"; raising our finale, also, to sing, in the glorified majesty of our feeling, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God."
(H. Bushnell, D.D.)
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made aliveConsider —
I. THE POINTS OF RESEMBLANCE between these two beings as traced out in different parts of Scripture.
1. Adam was the immediate creation of God. He had no other father — neither had Christ's human nature.
2. In the perfect beauty of holiness was Adam created. And of Christ we are told that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled."
3. The crown of dominion over the earth and the creatures was set upon the head of Adam; but this is more fully verified in the exalted humanity of Christ (Hebrews 2:8, 9).
4. Adam was transported from the part of the earth where he was created to Eden; Christ ascended from the world to the heavenly Paradise.
II. THE POINTS OF DISSIMILARITY between them. There is between them the distance of humanity and deity. Christ was able to vivify His own body. He was made a "quickening spirit"; but Adam "was made a living soul" only.
III. THE RELATION IN WHICH THESE PERSONAGES. STAND TO HUMAN BEINGS, and the manner in which it is formed. To Adam all stand related by a natural connection — our bond with Christ is a bond of faith.
IV. THE CONSEQUENCES ACCRUING TO US FROM THIS RELATION.
1. The baneful effects of our connection with Adam.
2. The benefits which come to us from our bond with Christ.
(J. Leifchild, D.D.)Romans 5:12-21 he connects the results of Christ's redemption with the sin which brought death into the world and all our woe.
I. Throughout the Scriptures CHRIST IS SET FORTH AS THE CREATIVE WORD AND WISDOM OF GOD. Without Him was not anything made that was made. By Him, "the Quickening Spirit," Adam was made in His image, after His similitude. Adam, by his trespass, defaced that Divine image; but he did not altogether obliterate it. He brought evil and death into our nature; but there was still in that nature some remnant of its original beauty and goodness. And to this day our nature is a compound in which good and evil are strangely blended; the good of God, the evil of ourselves. In every child we see some bad, some good tendencies. Whence do they derive that goodness? From Christ, the Creative Word. All in himself and in us that Adam could not, or did not, wholly spoil, is a remnant of man's original endowment; it is the work and gift of Christ. And therefore it is that the better man, the better self, in us speaks with an authority which the worse self never claims.
II. BUT IT IS NOT AS CREATOR ALONE THAT CHRIST SAVES US AND GIVES US LIFE: IT IS ALSO AS REDEEMER, the "Second Man, the Lord from heaven," who took our flesh and dwelt among us. Whatever our view of "original sin," we all admit that the sins of the father do affect the very nature of his children; and that therefore, if by transgression our first parents fell from their purity, it may very well be that we are the worse for their transgression. But it is not equally easy to see how the redemption of Jesus should have a similar effect on us before we believe on Him. Yet a little consideration may suffice to show us that whatever Christ does must affect the whole human race in the same way in which it is affected by Adam's sin. For what gave Adam his power over us and the renditions of our life? Simply the fact that he was our father; in the subordinate sense, our maker. Like begets like. God begot Adam in His likeness; Adam begot men in his likeness. As he transgressed, we suffer for his transgression. But who made Adam? Christ, the Creative Word, that afterwards took flesh and became man. If, then, whatever Adam did affects us, simply because we descend from him, will not whatever Christ — from whom also we descend — does, affect us? and affect us by so much the more as Christ is greater than Adam? If we can conceive that Christ, the Living and Creative Word, should have perished, should not we all have perished in Him? And if He, our Maker, assumes our nature, and renders a perfect obedience, must we not all be the better for His obedience? As well might the sun move from its place without influencing, in every part, the whole solar system, as the eternal Christ descend to earth, and dwell a Man among men, without sending a vital influence through the whole of humanity.
III. BUT HOW ARE ALL MEN THE BETTER FOR THE GRACE OF CHRIST? Death, moral and physical, was the consequence of Adam's transgression. Had he become only what he had made himself, he would have sunk irremediably into evil. Had we in our nature only that which, in the strictest sense, we derive from him, we should be only evil. That he did not, that we do not, become the mere bondslaves of evil, is all of "grace"; it is because we derive from Christ other and better qualities than we inherit from Adam, because Adam derived from Christ other and better qualities than those which he superinduced upon his nature. As we have seen, even before we believe in Christ we have a better and a worse self contending in us for the mastery. Consider the children you know. Nay, consider the very worst man you know. Is there not a double nature in him? Has not even he a better self? Does he not know that it is the better, and that it should be supreme? This is the benefit all men derive from the redemption of Christ, that they have "the Christ" in them, just as the harm they inherit from Adam is that they have "the Adam" in them. But for the grace of Christ they would never have had that "better self," of which they are conscious even when they wrong it by sinning against it. Conclusion: Perhaps it may be objected, "But Adam was the first man. Christ did not come into the world for four thousand years after sin was in the world." It might be enough to reply that Christ was in the world before Adam, or how could He have made Adam? that He has never left the world: that He was in Adam as a spirit of righteousness and truth after the Fall, and in all who lived before the Advent: for how else could He have taught them what they knew of the spiritual and eternal world? how else could they have striven against His Spirit? how else could they have tempted Christ (1 Corinthians 10:9). How else could all the fathers drink of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:1-4; cf. Hebrews 11:26). But this objection springs from our purely human way of regarding things. We are in time, and judge events by the measures of time. We are so made that we can only conceive of events locally and in succession — i.e., within the limitations of time and space. But these limitations do not restrain the Inhabitant of Eternity. There is no before and after with Him. If the eternal Christ had been the last man on the earth, none the less His redemption would have passed in its effects through all the eras of time, and have moulded the destinies of all generations. We indeed cannot tell how; but neither can we comprehend the mere conception of eternity: how, then, can we hope to comprehend Him who sits above all of time, or to calculate the issues of His redeeming work?
2. Again, it may be asked, "But if all men are to live in Christ as all men die in Adam, does not the parallel involve the ultimate recovery of the whole human race? No; both the Adam and the Christ are in us: the Adam with his "offence," the Christ with His "grace"; the Adam with his "disobedience," the Christ with His "gift of righteousness." And we have to choose between them. Yielding to the Adam, we die; but if we yield to the Christ, we shall "never die," but "reign in life" through Him. If we are not obliged to yield to Adam's sin, why should we be obliged to yield to Christ's grace?
(S. Cox, D.D.)1. A friend we love, how distinct and individual seems to us all he says and does! And his most marked peculiarities become dear to us simply because they are his and his only.
2. And yet, if we go home with him, counter-discoveries greet us on every side. We see in his father whence came that look in the eyes, and in his mother that turn of the mouth, that shade of colour in the hair, and his voice in his young brother. But is he any the less a distinct character?
3. How deep our searching might go if we penetrated the hidden ground of our friend's life. And science could take up his mannerisms, and show us their exact parallel not only in the locality where he was born, but in the ancient homes of the English in the far north. Nor is it his body only into which these multitudinous influences have entered, but into his character and mind. We are using the stored experiences of bygone generations, and cannot throw off the domination of their hidden forces, for they lie at the most secret places of our souls. Old faces, long buried, look out of our eyes; voices from out of forgotten and unknown graves speak through our lips. Yet nothing of all this burdens us; we are ourselves; we miss nothing of our free manhood. We all of us live one life. Out of the same earth we grow, like plants out of a common soil, and each of us puts out our own colour, and shape, and scent. And it is by this unity of race that we effect a combined advance; civilisation is only possible, because the genius of each generation can be retained and transmitted.
4. But, then, we cannot accept the gains of heredity and refuse the losses. And why, then, are we perplexed, if, by this same habitual law, we all in Adam die? We men form one body; and to prohibit poison, once introduced, from spreading over the whole, would be done only at the cost of forbidding that body to perform its functions, at the cost of wrecking its structural life. Let Adam once have sinned, and we, who are in Adam, have the seeds of sin within us. Our freedom is all the more free when it acts under the uplifting pressure of a splendid inheritance; nor is it at all sensible of any diminution because its sin bears witness to the miserable story of a guilty stock.
5. "In Adam all die." Yes! but hidden in this very mystery is the possibility of a redemption. The transmission that makes for the corruption of all, can be turned to the needs and uses of the regeneration. God converts the conditions of the curse into the very instruments of the blessing. In Adam, it is true, all would die; but, then, in Christ, all may be made alive. So, in the Beloved Son, man becomes new-begotten of God.
6. And now let us measure His task. His virtue must imbed itself by roots as deep and strong as those by which sin has dug its dire fangs into the inherited flesh. It must pervade and embrace the entire bulk of fallen and human nature. Everything that is ours He must make His. And ours, now, was a life bound down under a curse, smitten with the blight of sorrow. Yet He became ours; wholly human, wholly knit into our common fate, implicated with us in all our woe. And yet, lo! He has brought with Him into our burdened days the new vitality. The entire movement in which we had found ourselves held is reversed.
7. As that old sin spread out its baneful influence, ring upon ring, circle upon circle, so this new life issues out over the whole, in circle after circle, in ring upon ring. There is the outermost ring of that dim heathen world which has been brought nigh, in the Risen Christ, to the Father. And they, even they, amid ugly and foul confusions, are not insensible to that strange stirring which is the movement within them of the resurrection — a movement blind yet prophetic — prompting them to deeds which Christ will yet own as His at the Last Day. And within that ring is the ring of a civilisation that, for all its miserable stains, has yet this mark of Christ upon it; it can never lose its hope — a hope that has in it always the power of a recovery. We cannot despair, though the Lord delayeth His coming. And within that ring is the ring of those who cling to Christ. The Lord knows them that are His, and He showers down favour upon them as they look up to Him. And within this ring, again, its very heart and core, is Christ's living Church. Christ's love beats like a great heart, pulse upon pulse, expelling that slow death which has crept over the body of humanity. And, thus, "in Christ, all are made alive." You and I, we are none the less free, because in Adam we all died; and then in Christ, in some strange recovery, achieved for and by God, we all were made alive. Just as we won the free exercise of our English name out of the very necessities which had made us English; so, out of our very bond to Christ, we win the energy to become free friends of Christ. Out of His action we are made free, and the more He does for us, the more we are enabled to do for ourselves. You are free this very minute to rise and follow Christ.
8. But such high freedom cannot but be perilous. It is not yours to choose whether you will rise with Christ or no. All rise with Him; all through Him are dragged through the darkness of the grave, and will stand before the judgment of God. As we must have died in Adam, so we must rise in Christ. And what is it, then, that strikes chill as fear upon our hearts? Can it, indeed, be that the freedom regained in Christ can itself be turned against the name of Him who inspires it? Yet this can be. We shall rise; but where will that order be in which we shall have placed ourselves? What if our approach to God be as the nearing of a great heat that scorches and kills? Holiness is as a fire to sin.
1. We assume that human nature is sinful. The degree of this sinfulness, I care nothing about. Look wherever you may and you will find the trace and evidence of deep depravity.
2. Note also that there is no sin without a sinner. Sin is not a vague, weird, devil-like shadow, which no one can grasp and define; it is a palpable fact. Whenever you find it, you find it in the shape of a deed done by some doer.
3. Human nature in its rudiments is precisely what it has always been; the world in the aggregate is just what it was a thousand years ago. We flush to the same wicked passions to-day that flamed in the lusts of our fathers. The old Adam still lives, sins, dies. If you demand proof, I point to your gaols, to your gallows, to yourselves.
4. There are those who do not resist temptation; some because they have never been successful in their resistance, and hence despair has entered into their souls. When Satan has threaded the very fibres of hope out of man, he has won a triumph indeed. The gambler that can take another's money, and feel no compunction, illustrates how thoroughly sin can get the mastery of a human being. Such people are dead in trespasses and sins. You run a pin into your body and you scream because it is a live body. And so, while conscience is alive, the thrust of a wicked thought through it causes exquisite torture. But when one can lie, and steal, and be drunken — when these barbed iniquities can be driven day by day into the very centre of a man's life, and conscience receives the stab without a spasm — then is it dead. Hence, sin is moral suicide. This is what men mean by the phrase: "He has no conscience."
5. All sin is a sin against God. He stands embodied in every creation that He has made. Sin is an electric current, and it matters not along what wire the shock of it is delivered, it finally enters His breast. Do you wonder that He is quick to interpret the insult? Does not a mother resent any injury done to her child? Whoever sins against himself sins against God. For all that makes us to differ from the beasts of the field is the Divinity within us.
6. We can never know how evil sin is, because we cannot measure the evil it works. And this because we cannot know how sublime are the possibilities in the nature which it destroys. He who without cause breaks a bud from a stem, has done a deed the evil of which we can measure. He has destroyed a rose. But he who murders a child has done a deed the sin of which we cannot measure; for we cannot tell how much good that child might have done. Much less can you measure the evil which sin works when it destroys a soul. For none, save God, knows what are the possibilities of a soul. In front of all our sinfulness stands the great fact, staring us in the face, that we cannot keep it to ourselves. For whatever makes me worse, makes all worse who intimately know me. Nor is there any knowing where sin ends. The Bible says that parental transgressions lap over five generations. The tide of human life flows on still turbid and dark; and even the filter of Christianity seems incapable of purifying the unsightly stream. We have done nothing evil that is not to-day as chemically potent to darken the purity of the world, as on that day and at that hour when the sinful deed, or word, or imagination dropped, like a black globule, into it. The young vulture, once having broken its chain, or overflown the wire, returns no more. So it is with sin. Once out of our reach it is for ever beyond our control.
(W. H. H. Murray.)1. At the root of all higher life in man is a protest against his living a lower life. This protest we call conscience. Without it, men would be devils at birth. Within you all is this root of holiness. If you do evil, it condemns; if you do well, it applauds. Christ means the Anointed, the Consecrated, the Kingly One. Whatever, therefore, is kingly and consecrated in you, He represents. He is, as it were, your best self. Your higher life, therefore, is Divine. So far as you live in it you live in God. And out of this thought comes great hope for many. For there be many, I feel, that live in God and know it not.
2. Now the glory of the whole world is the glory of the life that is in it. A landscape in which there is no green, growthful thing, a level stretch of sea without ripple or current, a house in which no life stirs, a human face, set, colourless, rigid in all its lines — there is no glory in all these. Wherever you look, your eyes instinctively search for life. If you find it not, your soul instinctively draws back within itself. Death is universal horror. Life demands life. It lives on companionships. These are to it what sunshine and moisture are to plants. Only in this connection do we apprehend that fine eulogy of Christ, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."
3. Now all life is not the same life. There is the life of beast, of bird, of man. Beyond we come to the life of angels, of spirits; and over all we find the Great Spirit, in whom all life is, and out of whom all life comes. God. In man you find the indwelling life graded as to quality and use. There is body-life, mind-life and soul-life. And the qualities and expressions of the last are finer than the qualities and expressions of the others. Now the life which we have in Christ is the life of the finest qualities in us. It is the life contained in those faculties and powers which are not only immortal, but which are adapted in their nature for the finest uses.
4. Life which is simply continued existence, is a low order of life. There is a life, the result of which is a curse. A bird which should lose its bird instincts and become swinish, would offer to our gaze a spectacle abhorrent to that sense in us which interprets the eternal fitness of things. And so when the man forgets that he is a spirit, when he deserts heaven and makes his home in the earth, offers a spectacle abhorrent to every instinct of justice and propriety.
5. Now, there is no denying that the earthly tendency is in us all. Neither is there any denying that the heavenly impulse is in all who allow it to dwell in them. Man is not an empty vase. He is filled, inwardly, with soul-life capacities. And in these capacities are seed-like qualities which need only Divine quickening to germinate to holiness. The best recognition of this native nobility in man is seen in the incarnation. I thus swing myself up to God's standpoint and looking down upon the reckless of earth, exclaim: "What a pity that such a creation should misdemean himself in that style!" When I see one engaged in brave battle with some appetite, breasting up against some passion, or striving against unfortunate circumstances to better himself, I say "The original impulse to virtue has not wholly left the race yet." My angels are not in the sky, but in the bosoms of men and women striving to be better. God is born in some men, and He groweth with their growth. The patience, the courage, the abhorrence of evil, the shrinking from coarseness, the innate love of pure things which are in the Divine nature, are in them.
6. Now this Divine element in human nature, this something in man which is finer than man, had perfect expression in Jesus. It was the moral perfection of the human being, Jesus, that made Him worthy to be called Christ. The title was descriptive of the man.
7. Pattern your lives after the model presented for your guidance and your inspiration in the character of this matchless being. In Him, standing here, behold the union of both worlds; the humanity of earth inspired with the divinity of the skies. Do you wonder that such a being should say, "The kingdom of God is within you"? Nay! For He felt that the foundations of that kingdom were laid in the capacities of His own bosom. As David said touching the Father, so we can say touching our Elder Brother, "I shall be content when I awake in Thy likeness." Let the dead within you hear the voice to-day which calls it from its grave, and let it come forth and stand ready for action in the front rank of your purposes and. endeavours. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." Every man must make his own world, as Jesus made His. And all who live upon the earth who would be like Him, must live above it.
8. This must be observed also, that whoever comes into that way of living which Christ had, comes into it first by the way of positive resolution. And this resolution is his own. It is conduct which makes character. And you can make your conduct whatever you please. Now he who continues in good conduct, continues in Christ (John 15:4, 6). The man who ceases to practise the actual virtues that Christ practised, is a withered man, morally.
(W. H. H. Murray.)1. All which our Lord has is ours, if we are indeed His. As Man, He received gifts, that He might give them to men. As Man, He received the Holy Spirit, that He might again dwell in man, and clothe us with the holiness which we lost in Adam. For our sakes He sanctified Himself, that we also might be sanctified by the truth. His shame is our glory; His blood our ransom; His wounded side our hiding-place from our own sins and Satan's wrath; His death our life. And what, then, should His life be? What but the sealing to us of all which He had wrought for us? What but the bursting of the bars of our prison-house, the opening of the kingdom of heaven?
2. All this is to us "in Christ." "In Christ shall all be made alive." We shall live then, not only as having our souls restored to our bodies, and souls and bodies living on in the presence of Almighty God. There is a higher blessedness yet in store, viz., to live on "in Christ." For that implies Christ's living on in us. For we can only dwell in God by His dwelling in us. To dwell in God is not to dwell on God only. He takes us out of our state of nature, in which we were, fallen, estranged, in a far country, out of and away from Him and takes us up into Himself.
3. This is the great difference between us and the brute creation. They are not capable of the presence of God. He made them; He extendeth His providence over them. Yet their spirit goeth downwards to the earth, not upwards to the God who gave it. This is also the great difference between us and those who lived under the Old Testament. Closer is the nearness of God to those who will receive Him, than when He walked with Adam in Paradise, or seemed to sit with Abraham, or to speak to Moses face to face, or when the angel in whom His presence was, wrestled with Jacob, or when One, in the form of a Son of Man, was with the three children in the fire; yea, nearer yet, than when, in the flesh, His disciples did eat and drink with Him. For all this nearness was still outward only. Such nearness had Judas also, who kissed Him. Such nearness shall they plead to whom He shall say, "I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity."
4. The Christian's nearness He hath told, "We will come unto Him, and make our abode with Him," in holiness, peace, bliss, cleansing love. It is not a presence to be seen, heard, felt by our bodily senses; yet nearer still, because when the bodily senses fail the inward eye sees a light brighter than all earthly joy; the inward ear bears His voice; the inmost soul feels the thrill of His touch; the "heart of hearts" tastes the sweetness of the love of the presence of its Lord and its God. The Everlasting Son dwelleth not as He doth in the material heavens, nor as He sanctified this house of God, nor as He did in the tabernacle, but united with the soul, and, in substance, dwelling in her, as He did personally in the man Christ Jesus.
5. This then, as it is the special mystery of the gospel, so is it of the Resurrection — to be "in Christ." This is our justification, sanctification, redemption, in Him; this our hope for those who are departed before us, that they are "fallen asleep in Him"; are dead, but in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16); this is our hope in the day of judgment, that we "may be found in Him"; this our perfecting (Colossians 1:28), this our endless life (ver. 22), this is the consummation of all things (Ephesians 1:10). Through Christ's resurrection we have a new principle of life in us. The Spirit, which dwelt in Him "without measure," He has imparted to us His members, that it may sanctify us, spiritualise our very bodies here, keep in us the true life, if we forfeit it not, and so, through that Spirit, shall our dust again be quickened, and we be raised at the last day to life (Romans 8:9).
6. The Spirit not only "cometh upon those who are Christ's, as of old, but is within them, (Romans 8:9, 10). And if the Spirit abide in us, how should not the body, so lived in, have life? (Romans 8:11). The resurrection, then, of our Lord is not only a pledge of our own; it is our own, if we be His. His body is a pattern of what is in store for ours, since we, if His, are a part of it. Conclusion: Since these things are so, we may well stand in awe of our very selves and of the majesty bestowed upon our frail nature (chap. 1 Corinthians 3:16). Grieve not" away "the Holy Spirit of God." For if the evil spirit find the dwelling-place whence he was cast out "empty," "he will take to himself seven spirits more wicked than himself, and will re-enter and dwell there." Let us then, as we would hope at the last day to "rise to life," and not to "shame and everlasting contempt," seek, and watch, and pray, to rise with our risen Lord now.
(E. B. Pusey, D.D.)
I. IS THE GREAT PUBLIC MANIFESTATION OF HIS AUTHORITY OVER PHYSICAL DECAY AND DEATH. This it is by being His own personal conquest of that power as it had been exercised upon Himself: a characteristic which separates it from all other instances of similar miraculous restorations. All others, in whatsoever age of the world, had been raised by a power from without: He alone by Himself. The power that revived all, stands self-revived.
II. BEING A SELF-RESURRECTION, STANDS ALONE AS A MONUMENT OF HIS INHERENT POWER OF LIFE. There seems a sort of progressive scale of the other resurrections noted in the gospel history. The daughter of Jairus was raised before she was conveyed from her chamber; the son of the widow of Nain was being carried out to burial; Lazarus had been four days in his grave. Neither were self-raised; Christ was self-raised.
III. WAS THE RESULT OF A POWER THAT DID NOT CEASE AT HIS DEPARTURE FROM THE WORLD. The whole Church is the monument of its existence and its exercise; it is built upon His resurrection. For there is a spiritual resurrection and there is a physical resurrection. The latter was wrought by Christ when on earth, as a visible symbol of the other, and a proof of His power to effect it. His own resurrection from the dead mysteriously exemplified both: the general resurrection of the just at the consummation of all things shall again and for ever combine them. The resurrection of Christ, once performed in act, is immortal in energy; He rises again in every new-born child of God.
IV. SHOULD PROMPT THE DESIRE FOR THE FINAL CONSUMMATION OF HIS WORK, THE RESTORATION OF AN IMMORTAL BODY TO AN IMMORTAL SOUL. "In Christ shall all be made alive." All men are to be made alive spiritually and physically. Behold! we stand alone in creation; earth, sea, and sky can show nothing so awful as we are! The rooted bills shall flee before the fiery glance of the Almighty Judge; the mountains shall become dust, the ocean a vapour; the very stars of heaven shall fall as the fig-tree casts her untimely fruit! Yea, heaven and earth shall pass away, but the humblest, poorest, lowliest among us is born for undying life. Amid all the terrors of dissolving nature, the band of immortals shall stand before their Judge.
(W. Archer Butler, M.A.)
I. THE RESULTS OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION TO US. It is a pledge of the resurrection of all who share in His humanity.
1. Why does this result take place? (ver. 22). Do not understand the apostle as if he merely said, "If you sin as Adam sinned, you will die as Adam died." This was mere Pelagianism, and is expressly condemned in the article on Original Sin. According to the Scriptures we inherit the first man's nature, and that nature has in it the mortal, not the immortal. And yet there are in all of us two natures, that of the animal and that of the Spirit, an Adam and a Christ. St. Paul explains himself: "The first man was of the earth, earthy"; and again, "The first man Adam was made a living soul."(1) Recollect that the term "a living soul" means a mere natural man endowed with intellectual powers, with passions, and with those appetites which belong to us in common with the animals. In this our immortality does not reside; and it is from fixing our attention on the decay of these that doubt of our immortality begins. It is a dismal and appalling thing to witness the slow failure of living powers; as life goes on to watch the eye losing its lustre, and the cheek its roundness; to see the limbs becoming feeble and worn; to perceive the memory wander, and the features no longer bright with the light of expression; to mark the mind relax its grasp; and to ask the dreary question — Are these things immortal? You cannot but disbelieve, if you rest your hope of immortality on their endurance. Now the simple reply is, that the extinction of these powers is no proof against immortality, because they are not the seat of the immortal. They belong to the animal — to the organs of our intercourse with the visible world. Therefore it is not in what we inherit from Adam the man, but in what we hold from Christ the Spirit, that our immortality resides.(2) Nay more, the growth of the Christ within us is in exact proportion to the decay of the Adam. "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." And this evidence of our immortality is perpetually before us. It is no strange thing to see the spirit ripening in exact proportion to the decay of the body. Many an aged one there is who loses one by one all his physical powers, and yet the spiritual in him is mightiest at the last.
2. When will this result take place? (vers. 23, etc.) Note —(1) That the resurrection cannot be till the kingdom is complete.(2) That certain hindrances at present prevent the perfect operation of God in our souls. We are the victims of physical and moral evil, and till this is put down for ever, the completeness of the individual cannot be; for we are bound up with the universe. Talk of the perfect happiness of any unit man while the race still mourns and while the spiritual kingdom is incomplete! No, the golden close is yet to come, and the blessing of the individual parts can only be with the blessing of the whole. And so the apostle speaks of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain together until now, "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."(3) That the mediatorial kingdom of Christ shall be superseded by an immediate one; therefore the present form in which God has revealed Himself is only temporary. When the object of the present kingdom of Christ has been attained in the conquest of evil, there will be no longer need of a mediator. Then God will be known immediately. Then, when the last hindrance, the last enemy, is removed, we shall see Him face to face, know Him even as we are known, awake up satisfied in His likeness, and be transformed into pure recipients of the Divine glory. That will be the resurrection.
II. CORROBORATIVE PROOFS. These are two in number, and both are argumenta ad hominem. They are not proofs valid to all men, but cogent only to Christians.
1. When baptized, Christians made a profession of a belief in a resurrection, and St. Paul asks them here, "What, then, was the meaning of their profession? Why were they baptized into the faith of a resurrection, if there were none?" (ver. 29).
2. "Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?"(1) If the future life were no Christian doctrine, then the whole apostolic life — nay, the whole Christian life, were a monstrous and senseless folly.(2) And again, Christian life, not merely apostolic devotedness, is "a grand impertinence." "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die," and if this life be all, we defy you to disprove the wisdom of such reasoning. How many of the myriads of the human race would do right, for the sake of right, if they were only to live fifty years, and then die for evermore? Go to the sensualist, and tell him that a noble life is better than a base one, even for that time, and he will answer: "I like pleasure better than virtue: you can do as you please; for me, I will wisely enjoy any time. It is merely a matter of taste. By taking away my hope of a resurrection you have dwarfed good and evil, and shortened their consequences. if I am only to live sixty or seventy years, there is no eternal right or wrong. By destroying the thought of immortality I have lost the sense of the infinitude of evil, and the eternal nature of good."(3) Besides, with our hopes of immortality gone, the value of humanity ceases, and people become not worth living for. We have not got a motive strong enough to keep us from sin. Christianity is to redeem from evil: it loses its power if the idea of immortal life be taken away.
(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)
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