and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS PERSON. This is the initiatory step. We must first recognize him to be our own God and Savior, and One who is to be altogether longed for. Nathanael thus knew him (John 1:49), and St. Peter (Matthew 16:16).
II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION. This is a step beyond the simple knowledge of his person. It can be found only in our own spiritual experience when we recognize his power in the victory which he wins in us over the power of sin. St. Peter did not learn the power of Christ's resurrection until he had received the Holy Ghost.
III. THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS. When we have experienced the power of his resurrection we begin to find that his sufferings are ours and ours are his. We begin to feel something of that keenest of all his sufferings, the misery of the presence and the power of sin. At the same time, we find that, by a certain law of reciprocity, our own sufferings are no longer exclusively our own, but that he is bearing them with us and for us,
IV. BY THESE STAGES WE ARE MADE CONFORMABLE TO HIS DEATH. His death was an entire death unto sin; by our thus dwelling in him and he in us we also die unto sin.
V. THUS DYING UNTO SIN WE ATTAIN TO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD; i.e. not merely to the extension of life after physical death, but to the complete resurrection, which is the entire victory over every form of death, natural or spiritual. - V.W.H.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead
I. THE BENEFIT TO BE OBTAINED BY CHRIST. How is this a privilege since there is a resurrection of the wicked? (Acts 24:15). But theirs is one to condemnation (John 5:29), and so a fall rather than a rising. Therefore the faithful are only called the Children of the Resurrection (Luke 20:36). The word here is not ἀνάστασις, but ἐξανάστασις, to express the full and blessed resurrection that no evil shall follow (Luke 14:14).
II. THE SUBMISSION OF A SELF-DENYING BELIEVER TO USE ANY MEANS TO OBTAIN IT. The words seem to express a doubtfulness, but indeed they do not (2 Corinthians 5:1), for there is no uncertainty in God's promise. Why doth he then thus express himself?
1. To intimate the difficulty, thereby to quicken his desire and diligence.
2. To express the variety of the means by which God bringeth His people to glory (ver. 10).
3. To set forth his full submission (Luke 14:26).
4. His unwearied diligence and earnest endeavour to obtain this happiness, whatever it cost him.
5. The value of this benefit, and his vehement desire to attain it.
(T. Manton, D. D.)The doctrine here taught is that the blessedness of the saints at the resurrection is so great that we should be content to use any means and run any hazards to attain it.
I. WHAT IS THE HAPPINESS OF THE SAINTS IN THAT DAY.
1. Our personal inherent blessedness is glory revealed in us (Romans 8:18).(1) The body hath its felicity.(a) Because the man cannot be happy till the body be raised again. The soul alone doth not constitute human nature.(b) It is agreeable to the wisdom and goodness of God that the body which had its share in the work should share the reward.(c) The estate of those who die will not be worse than that of those who are only changed at Christ's coming, or there would be a disparity.(d) In the heavenly state there are objects which can only be discerned by the bodily senses — the human nature of Christ, e.g.(e) As Christ was taken to heaven bodily, so shall we, for we bear the image of the heavenly one (ver. 21; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44).(2) For the happiness of the soul. We shall be satisfied with the vision of God and transformed Into HIS likeness (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
2. Adherent privileges.(1) Justification: We have that now by faith; then we shall have our absolution from the Judge's mouth.(2) Adoption. We have that light now (John 1:12) — then the full fruition thereof (Romans 8:23).(3) Redemption. That day is called "the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30), because then we are completely delivered from all misery, both of soul and body (Ephesians 1:14).
II. THE MEANS WHEREBY GOD BRINGETH US THITHER.
1. The way of our holiness and the active part of our obedience.(1) Dying to sin (Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8).(2) Living to God. The spiritual life is heaven begun (2 Peter 3:14; Luke 21:36; Acts 24:15-16).
III. THE REASON WHY, RATHER THAN FAIL, WE MUST SUBMIT TO ANY MEANS WHICH GOD HATH APPOINTED.
1. From the absolute dominion and prerogative of God, both to make laws and to put us on what trials He pleaseth to appoint.
2. From the goodness and suitableness of His laws.(1) There is wisdom in them.(2) We have no reason to be discouraged, for Divine help is assured (2 Timothy 4:17-18).(3) The Divine comfort is to be had (1 Peter 4:14; Romans 5:5).
3. The great difficulty lieth not in a respect of the end, but the means; and so the trial of our sincerity must be rather looked for there.
4. The hope propounded will bear this submission. Immortal happiness is most durable, and endless misery most terrible; the world is vanity, heaven real.
(T. Manton, D. D.)I. THERE IS A HAPPY ESTATE HEREAFTER WHICH BEGINS WITH THE RESURRECTION. More happy than that which Adam lost or from which the angels fell.
II. THE BEGINNING OF THIS HAPPY ESTATE IS AT THE RESURRECTION.
1. All good shall be perfected.
2. All evil cease.
3. Body as well as soul, perfected being, shall enjoy the fulness of the one and immunity from the other.
IV. IT IS HARD TO COME TO HEAVEN BECAUSE OF THIS DIVINE ORDER.
1. Away then with all idle and secure thoughts of sparing ourselves. We must come to health by physic.
2. In all crosses let us not look into the state we are in so much as that we are going to. We are going to a palace and should not be dejected because of the narrowness of the way (Hebrews 12:21).
3. Labour for a right esteem of the things of this world. They are momentary and fading:
4. Labour to strengthen our graces.(1) Faith to assure us that we are God's children, and have heaven laid up for us.(2) Hope which makes us cheer fully endure in expectation of what faith believes.(3) Love to Christ which made Paul desire to be with Him which was best of all (Philippians 1:23).
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)ἐξανάστασις) of the saints: —
II. Is an object of Christian ambition — requiring faith — consecration — effort.
III. WILL AMPLY REPAY EVERY SACRIFICE — of self-gratification — earthly advantage — life.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
I. WHAT IS THAT ENTIRE SATISFACTION AND CLIMAX FOR WHICH THE TEXT TEACHES US TO LONG AND LABOUR. Immortality as an idea was not unknown to the pagans, but the resurrection is the almost exclusive doctrine of Scripture.
1. That resurrection will be simultaneous, and the judgment of all will immediately succeed it.
2. Yet it is not unnatural that this common event should sometimes be specially regarded and personally applied. In the language of Paul to the Corinthians it is argued in the case of believers from their union with Christ. He mentions not the wicked who shall rise for different reasons. They could never wish to attain the resurrection. The first resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:15) is shared by the dead over those who have never died, and that of Revelation 20:6, is of souls.
3. St. Paul desired but a share in the general resurrection, attended as that event would be to him and all the people of God with consequences of surpassing happiness and glory.
4. Yet searching the experience of present Christians we do not find this hope ardently cherished. Thousands are contented with the salvation and glorification of the soul; this is to be deplored as the slight of a matchless good. Apart from the resurrection man is incomplete.
II. WHAT ARE THE SCRIPTURAL REPRESENTATIONS OF ITS ACCOMPANIMENTS AND CONSEQUENCES.
1. The mutual recognition of saints in heaven. Is violence to be done to memory, and can love be changed? Can a spirit made perfect be wanting in sympathies which so much purified it from imperfection?
2. The happiness of our future condition is made chiefly to depend on our resemblance to Christ.
3. There the saints shall be fully acknowledged. They who here were unknown and hated shall there shine forth as the sun.
4. Christians shall be glorified with their Master.
5. We therefore find the righteous in Scripture earnestly seeking and exultantly hailing this resurrection. Why? Because —(1) It is the triumph of Christ.(2) The full redemption of the believer.(3) The restitution of our entire nature.(4) Purposes will then be indicated which our present mixed being has not hitherto revealed, for both mind and body; the latter will then be a perfect instrument for the soul.(5) A congeniality will be established between the risen saints and the materialism of their glorious abode.(6) In the reintegration of our manhood shall be displayed the most perfect spectacle of the beauty of holiness.(7) There will be endless progression.
III. WHAT ARE THE DETERMINATIONS BY WHICH IT IS TO BE WON. The manner or method supposes far higher means than those we can command. The "power of the resurrection" alone secures our confidence. The "means," however, in this connection, refer not to the causative but the moral; to the influence of present character and conduct on this event. We often mark the influence of former conduct on our present condition; and so we exist and act for all the future of our immortality.
1. What prayer, then, should we devote to this attainment?
2. What anticipation should familiarize it?
3. What preparation should facilitate it? "Mortify therefore your members."
4. What counterpart should we exhibit of it.
(R. W. Hamilton, D. D.)I. PAUL'S AIM. How can that future rising be attained at all by man's effort in time?
1. Paul has been speaking of a spiritual fellowship with Christ's sufferings and death and rising, and then as a direct result he passes to this, from which we infer that the resurrection in the future is the result of man's spiritual life in the present. Men fancy that the future glory of the risen Christian is by a kind of miracle suddenly added beyond the grave. Paul regards it as a glory daily growing now, to be manifested then. It is an outgrowth of fellowship with Christ, and its blessedness will be greater or less according to the perfection of that fellowship.
2. In what manner was this Christian life a constant attainment of the resurrection? The "power of Christ's resurrection" is the influence in the soul which renders its life a gradual growth towards the rising glory of man.(1) The risen Christ is the pledge of a risen life. Christ did not rise merely to prove our immortality; if that were all its meaning it would only deepen man's fear. We do not want immortality unless we know that our life, throwing off its sins, shall rise upwards to God. Rising to God Christ showed that man is accepted by the Father, rising in the human, He showed how, through Him, human life should rise into life Divine.(2) The rising of Christ is a power to elevate life. We have fellowship not with the past, but with the living Jesus: we are moulded by the power not only of a dying Saviour, but of the living friend. He carries our sympathies upwards with Himself to God and the spiritual world.(3) Hence arises the gradual attainment of the resurrection, every experience of our risen life makes us feel the necessity of the future; yet every experience is an actual attaining of that future.
II. PAUL'S ENDEAVOUR. The necessity of this agonizing endeavour arises from two facts.
1. The difficulty of accomplishing it. This is so —(1) Because our souls are subject to the influences of three great worlds.(a) By its fascinations this old earth appeals to our hearts, and seems by many arms to bind us to itself as our home.(b) The dark world of unbelief and indifference awakening the carnal nature renders the Christian life an inevitable struggle.(c) At the same time through the love of God and the Cross of Christ heaven is attracting the soul.(2) Because of the incessant and dominant power of our easily besetting sin. This power arises largely in that every man thinks his own weakness small and insignificant.(3) And then listen to Paul after his high attainments telling us that he has to keep his body under lest he should be a castaway.
2. The glory of its attainment. You know how this raised Paul to exertion. He moved onwards to eternity under the constant influence of its attraction. Alas! how feebly we feel this as a motive for endeavour. We lash ourselves into exertion by fear, when we might be so cheered into it by sweet hope as to become unconscious of toil.
(E. L. Hull, B. A.)
(E. L. Hull, B. A.)
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