23. Like Christ: In The Likeness Of His Resurrection.
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we should be also in the likeness of His resurrection, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of His Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."óRom. 6:5, 4.
On the likeness of His death there follows necessarily the likeness of His resurrection. To speak alone of the likeness of His death, of bearing the cross, and of self-denial, gives a one-sided view of following Christ. It is only the power of His resurrection that gives us strength to go on from that likeness of His death as what we receive at once by faith, to that conformity to His death which comes as the growth of the inner life. Being dead with Christ refers more to the death of the old life to sin and the world which we abandon; risen with Christ refers to the new life through which the Holy Spirit expels the old. To the Christian who earnestly desires to walk as Christ did, the knowledge of this likeness of His resurrection is indispensable. Let us see if we do not here get the answer to the question as to where we shall find strength to live in the world as Christ did.
We have already seen how our Lordís life before His death was a life of weakness. As our Surety, sin had great power over Him It had also power over His disciples, so that He could not give them the Holy Spirit, or do for them what He wished. But with the resurrection all was changed. Raised by the Almighty power of God, His resurrection life was full of the power of eternity. He had not only conquered death and sin for Himself but for His disciples, so that He could from the first day make them partakers of His Spirit, of His joy, and of His heavenly power.
When the Lord Jesus now makes us partakers of His life, then it is not the life that He had before His death, but the resurrection life that He won through death. A life in which sin is already made an end of and put away, a life that has already conquered hell and the devil, the world and the flesh, a life of Divine power in human nature, This is the life that likeness to His resurrection gives us: "In that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Ye also likewise, reckon yourselves alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Oh that through the Holy Spirit God might reveal to us the glory of the life in the likeness of Christís resurrection! In it we find the secret of power for a life of conformity to Him.
To most Christians this is a mystery, and therefore their life is full of sin and weakness and defeat. They believe in Christís resurrection as the sufficient proof of their justification. They think that He had to rise again, to continue His work in heaven as Mediator. But that He rose again, in order that His glorious resurrection life might now be the very power of their daily life, of this they have no idea. Hence their hopelessness when they hear of following Jesus fully, and being, perfectly conformed to His image. They cannot imagine how it can be required of a sinner, that he should in all things act as Christ would have done. They do not know Christ in the power of His resurrection, or the mighty power with which His life now works in those, who are willing to count all things but loss for His sake (Phil. 3:8; Eph. 1:19, 20). Come, all ye who are weary of a life unlike Jesus, and long to walk always in His footsteps, who begin to see that there is in the Scriptures a better life for you than you have hitherto known, come and let me try to show you the unspeakable treasure that is yours, in your likeness to Christ in His resurrection. Let me ask three questions.
The first is: Are you ready to surrender your life to the rule of Jesus and His resurrection life? I doubt not that the contemplation of Christís example has convinced you of sin in more than one point. In seeking your own will and leory instead of Godís, in ambition and pride and selfishness and want of love towards man, you have seen how far you are from the obedience and humility and love of Jesus. And now it is the question, whether in view of all these things, in which you have acknowledged sin, you are willing to say: If Jesus will take possession of my life, then I resign all right or wish ever in the least to have or to do my own will. I give my life with all I have and am entirely to Him, always to do what He through His Word and Spirit commands me. If He will live and rule in me, I promise unbounded and hearty obedience.
For such a surrender faith is needed; therefore the second question is: Are you prepared to believe that Jesus will take possession of the life entrusted to Him, and that He will rule and keep it? When the believer entrusts his entire spiritual and temporal life completely to Christ, then he learns to understand aright Paulís words: "I am dead; I live no more: Christ liveth in me." Dead with Christ and risen again, the living Christ in His resurrection life takes possession of and rules my new life. The resurrection life is not a thing that I may have if I can undertake to keep it: No, just this is what I cannot do. But blessed be God! JESUS CHRIST himself is the resurrection and the life, is the resurrection life. He Himself will from day to day and hour to hour see to it and ensure that I live as oil who is risen with Him. He does it through that Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of His risen life. The Holy Spirit is in us, and will, if we trust Jesus for it, maintain within us every moment the presence and power of the risen Lord. We need not fear, that we never can succeed in leading such a holy life as becomes those who are temples of the living God. We are indeed not able. But it is not required of us. The living Jesus, who is the resurrection, has shown His power over all our enemies; He Himself, who so loves us, He will work it in us. He gives us the Holy Spirit as our power, and He will perform His work in us with Divine faithfulness, if we will only trust Him; Christ Himself is our life.
And now comes the third question: are you ready to use this resurrection life for the purpose for which God gave it Him, and gives it to you, as a power of blessing to the lost? All desires after the resurrection life will fail, if we are only seeking our own perfection and happiness. God raised up and exalted Jesus to give repentance and remission of sins. He ever lives to pray for sinners. Yield yourself to receive His resurrection life with the same aim. Give yourself wholly to working and praying for the perishing: then will you become a fit vessel and instrument in which the resurrection life can dwell and work out its glorious purposes.
Brother! thy calling is to live like Christ. To this end thou hast already been made one with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. The only question is now, whether thou art desirous after the full experience of His resurrection life, whether thou art willing to surrender thy whole life that He Himself may manifest resurrection power in every part of it. I pray thee, do not draw back. Offer thyself unreservedly to Him, with all thy weakness and unfaithfulness. Believe that as His resurrection was a wonder above all thought and expectation, so He as the Risen One will still work in thee exceeding abundantly above all thou couldst think or desire.
What a difference there was in the life of the disciples before Jesusí death and after His resurrection! Then all was weakness and fear, self and sin: with the resurrection all was power and joy, life and love, and glory. Just as great will the change be, when a believer, who has known Jesusí resurrection only as the ground of his justification, but has not known of the likeness of His resurrection, discovers how the Risen One will Himself be his life, and in very deed take on Himself the responsibility for the whole of that life. Oh, brother, who hast not yet experienced this, who art troubled and weary because thou art called to walk like Christ, and canst not do it, come and taste the blessedness of giving thy whole life to the Risen Saviour in the assurance that He will live it for thee.
O Lord! my soul adores Thee as the Prince of life! On the cross Thou didst conquer each one of my enemies, the devil, the flesh, the world, and sin. As Conquerer thou didst rise to manifest and maintain the power of Thy risen life in Thy people. Thou hast made them one with Thyself in the likeness of Thy resurrection; now Thou wilt live in them, and show forth in their earthly life the power of Thy heavenly life.
Praised be Thy name for this wonderful grace. Blessed Lord, I come at Thy invitation to offer and surrender to Thee my life, with all it implies. Too long have I striven in my own strength to live like Thee, and not succeeded. The more I sought to walk like Thee, the deeper was my disappointment. I have heard of Thy disciples who tell how blessed it is to cast all care and responsibility for their life on Thee. Lord, I am risen with Thee, one with Thee in the likeness of Thy resurrection; come and take me entirely for Thy own, and be Thou my life.
Above all, I beseech Thee, O my Risen Lord, reveal Thyself to me, as Thou didst to Thy first disciples, in the power of Thy resurrection. It was not enough that after Thy resurrection Thou didst appear to Thy disciples; they knew Thee not till Thou didst make Thyself known. Lord Jesus! I do believe in Thee; be pleased, O be pleased to make thyself known to me as my Life. It is Thy work; Thou alone canst do it. I trust Thee for it. And so shall my resurrection life be, like Thine own, a continual source of light and blessing to all who are needing Thee. Amen.
I add here an extract from Marshall On Sanctification, in which the reality of our being partakers with Jesus of the very nature in which He lived and died and rose again, is very clearly put.
I have often regretted that the somewhat antiquated style of this writer, and the introduction of questions not of immediate interest to the soul seeking the path of holiness, prevents his book from being as well known as it deserves to be. It is on all hands acknowledged to be the one standard work on the subject. It has been given him by Godís Spirit with wonderful simplicity to set forth the great truth that holiness is a new life, a new nature, prepared for us in Christ Jesus, and that therefore every step in the pathway of holiness, whether in the use of the means of grace or in obeying Godís commands, must be one of faith. I have thought that an abridgment of the work in which all that is essential is provided in the authorís own words, would supply a real want, and might be a blessing to many. I have prepared such an abridgment, which has been issued by the publishers of the present work, under the title of The Highway of Holiness.
"The end of Christís incarnation, death, and resurrection was to prepare and form an holy nature and frame for us in Himself, to be communicated to us by union and fellowship with Him; and not to enable us to produce in ourselves the first original of such an holy nature by our own endeavours.
"1. By His incarnation there was a man created in a new holy frame, after the holiness of the first Adamís frame had been marred and abolished by the first transgression; and this new frame was far more excellent than ever the first Adamís was, because man was really joined to God by a close, inseparable union of the divine and human nature in one personóChrist; so that these natures had communion each with other in their actings, and Christ was able to act in His human nature by power proper to the divine nature, wherein He was one God with the Father.
"Why was it that Christ set up the fallen nature of man in such a wonderful frame of holiness, in bringing it to live and act by communion with God living and acting in it? One great end was, that He might this excellent frame to His seed that should by His Spirit be born of Him and be in Him as the quickening Spirit; that, as we have borne the image the earthly man, so we might also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Cor. 15:45, 49), in holiness here and in glory hereafter. Thus He was born Emmanuel, God with us; because the fulness of the Godhead with all holiness did first dwell in Him bodily, even in His human nature, that we might be filled with that fulness in Him (Matt. 1:23; Col. 2:9, 10). Thus He came down from heaven as living bread, that, as He liveth by the Father, so those that eat Him may live by Him (John 6:51, 57); by the same life of God in them that was first in Him.
"2. By His death He freed Himself from the guilt of our sins imputed to Him, and from all that innocent weakness of human nature which He had borne for a time for our sakes. And, by freeing Himself, He prepared a freedom for us from our whole natural condition; which is both weak as His was, and also polluted with our guilt and sinful corruption. Thus the corrupt natural state which is called in Scripture the "old man" was crucified together with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed. And it is destroyed in us, not by any wounds which we ourselves can give it, but by our partaking of that freedom from , and death unto it, that is already wrought out for us by the death of Christ; as is signified by our baptism, wherein we are buried with Christ by the application of His death to us (Rom. 6:2, 3, 4, 10, 11).
"God "sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, for sin (or "by a sacrifice for sin," as in the margin) condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit" (Rom. 8:3, 4). Observe here, that though Christ died that we might be justified by the righteousness of God and of faith, not by our own righteousness, which is of the law (Rom. 10:4Ė6; Phil. 3:9), yet He died also, that the righteousness of the law and by walking after His Spririt, as those that are in Christ (Rom. 8:4). He is resembled in His death to a corn of wheat dying in the earth that it may propagate its own nature by bringing forth much fruit (John 12:24): to the passover that was slain, that a feast might be kept upon it; and to br broken that it may be nourishment to those that eat it (1 Cor. 5:7, 8, and 11:24); to the rock smitten that water might gush out of it for us to drink (1 Cor. 10:4).
"He died that He might make of Jew and Gentile one new man in Himself (Eph. 2:15); and that He might see His seed, i.e. such as derive their holy nature from Him. (Isa. 53:10). Let these Scriptures be well observed, and they will sufficiently evidence that Christ died, not that we might be able to form an holy nature in ourselves, but that we might receive one nady prepared and formed in Christ for us, by union and fellowship with Him.
"3. By His resurrection He took possession of spiritual life for us, as now fully procured for us, and made to be our right and property by the merit of His death, and therefore we are said to be quickened together with Christ. His resurrection was our resurrection to the life of holiness, as as fall was our fall into spiritual death. And we are not ourselves the first makers and formers of our new holy nature, any more than of our original corruption, but both are formed ready for us to partake of them. And, by union with Christ, we partake of that spiritual life that He took possession of for us at His resurrection, and thereby we are enabled to bring forth the fruit of it; as the Scripture showeth by the similitude of a marriage union, Rom. 7:4: ĎWe are married to Him that is raised from the dead that we might bring forth fruit unto God.í "