1 Corinthians 15:47-49
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.…
The great hindrance to our reception of the full power of these words lies in the difficulty of realising them as a present experience. We fancy that death is the great magician. Paul contemplated the change as actually begun. We were once merely natural men, and knew nothing of the higher spiritual world. Then quickened by the grace of God in Christ we became spiritual. Thus because the quickening Spirit of Christ is forming His image in us now, the earthly shall perish, and we shall wear the image of the heavenly. Just as the flowers which open beneath the summer sunshine are folded in the dark buds which are beaten and tossed in the winter winds; just as the strength of will, the fire of feeling, etc., of a man are hidden in the child, so the heavenly life is within us now, and because it is there it is possible for us to reach the full formed image of the heavenly.
I. THE GREAT AIM OF CHRISTIAN ASPIRATION — "to bear the image," etc. This is one of the deepest longings of the soul. We yearn for rest, for service, for happiness; but there is a deeper longing; we want to be holier, heavenlier men. This is also the all-embracing Christian aim. Every prayer for light, blessedness, strength, is gathered up and centred in the aim to be like Christ. Observe His image has three great features.
1. Divine vision — the spiritual insight that realises the presence of God and the unseen world. It is true that we cannot see God and the radiance of eternity with the bodily eye; but were we like Christ, we should apprehend them through the sympathies of the soul.
2. Divine love. We admit the feebleness of our love to God, yet in many ways we aspire after a deeper love. What means our perpetual unrest, our constant effort after the unattained, etc., but the yearning after that love of God which alone can fill us, our longing after the image of Christ who realised it fully.
3. Divine power.
II. THE HINDRANCE TO ITS ATTAINMENT. "The image of the earthy," i.e., the body of corruption whose tendency is —
1. To limit aspiration to the earthy.
2. To become an aid to the sin of the soul.Conclusion:
1. Our aspirations must be earnest and real. What we sincerely aspire to be we may become.
2. Our endeavour must be practical. Meditation alone will do but little.
3. God will aid us by the discipline of life. Many strokes may be needed; but as the form of immortal loveliness lies concealed in the block of stone, and is being moulded stroke by stroke by the sculptor's genius, so the heavenly form in man is being developed by the Eternal Sculptor, who by His discipline is unveiling in us the image of His Son.
(E. L. Hull, B.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.