Sermon 2016. Jesus Affirmed To Be Alive
DELIVERED ON LORD'S DAY MORNING, APRIL 1, 1888,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: but had certain questionsagainst him of their own superstition and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Acts 25:18,19.
FESTUS is giving to King Agrippa a brief account of the matter between Paul and the Jews. It may not be a very accurate account.For Festus did not profess to understand the business. He was a Roman governor newly come to Judea. He had no acquaintancewhatever with Jewish Scriptures nor with Jewish laws. He is, therefore, merely giving to King Agrippa a rough and ready outlineof the affair as it struck him. He had never thought it worth his special attention but he was a little puzzled how he shouldrepresent the matter to Caesar, to whom Paul had appealed.
Festus is represented by our translators as calling the Jewish religion a "superstition." I hardly think he would have usedso harsh a term before Agrippa who professed to be of the Jewish faith. But yet, as he probably knew that Agrippa's religiondid not lie very deep and was the mere appendage of a man of fashion, Festus was not very particular about the word whichhe used. And he lighted upon one which may mean "superstition" as the Authorized Version has it, or "religion" as the RevisedVersion has it.
"Well, well," he seems to say to Agrippa, "I do not know much about it. I supposed, when the Jews brought this man beforeme, that he would be charged with a breach of the Roman Law and I was prepared, of course, to deal with the prisoner. Butwhen I listened to their accusation and found that there was nothing in it but some disputes about their religion, I hardlyknew what to say. Their controversy is important to them, I dare say. But it can be of no consequence either to you or tome, for it turned very much upon a person of the name of Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive."
I want you to notice that, rough and ready as this description is, and neither full nor deep, yet on the surface we see thatin the controversy we have the same condition of things as we usually see in such conflicts. On the one side Paul's opponentsfought with the weapons of "certain questions," and on the other hand he defended himself with a bold affirmation. This isthe old story of speculation against dogmatism. It is always the way-the adversaries of the Cross of Christ assert nothingbut they question everything. They will not lay down a basis nor define their opinions. If they would do this, we might soondemolish their fabrics of falsehood. But all that they propound is "certain questions."
On the other hand, those who are witnesses for the Lord Jesus have little care about questions, speculations and the boastedoutcome of cultured thought. They affirm certain definite facts-they affirm these to be a Revelation from God and there theystand. Brethren, it is, at least, a hopeful token when we are on the side of the affirmation. As to that side which is abundantonly in questions, what can be the practical value of its contentions? Can ten thousand questions ease a guilty conscience?Can a myriad of speculations yield comfort for the dying hour? Are we helped forward in true holiness or even converted tothe way of life by questions?
Let us take hold upon the Truths of God which are surely revealed, the things which we have tasted and handled and verified.And, holding these intelligently and heartily, let us resolve to hold them to the end. Let us accept that which has come tous by Revelation of the Holy Spirit and let us stand firmly there, as Paul did when he affirmed that Jesus was alive. Letus plainly declare definite Truths of God of which we are not ashamed-Truths which are often disputed but can never be disproved.
Another thing is very noticeable in this somewhat flippant account of the whole affair by Festus-namely that he noticed thatthe Jews raised certain questions about opinions, superstitious or religious. But Paul made a statement concerning a Person.Paul was seen with half an eye to be the more conscientious and the more religious of the two. But still his religion resolveditself into attachment to a Person-"one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Brethren, the hinge
of the controversy must ever turn upon our Lord, His Divine nature, the authority of His teaching and especially the meaningof His death and resurrection.
Did He die as a sacrifice for sin according to Old Testament prophecy? Did He justify many by bearing their iniquities? DidHe, or did He not? The side which Paul takes is that which magnifies Jesus. He finds his chief treasure in the Person of theSavior. May the Spirit of God lead us more and more to contend for Jesus who is not only the Author and Finisher of our faithbut the sum and substance of it! Son of God and yet Son of Man. Eternal, yet born into this world. Our Sacrifice and yet ourProphet, Priest and King. Bearer of our sorrow and fountain of our joy. Sacrifice for our transgression and yet source ofour righteousness. Jesus Christ is our All in All!
God forbid that we should glory, save in His Cross, for we preach Christ crucified. God forbid that we should ever despairof His triumph, for we affirm that He is alive, able to save unto the uttermost those that come unto God by Him. Oh, for adeeper love to our Lord, Himself, loving doctrine, precept and ordinance for His dear sake-rejoicing most of all that He lives-sincebecause He lives we shall live, also. May even the blindest observer of our lives be forced to see that Jesus holds the mostprominent place in them and that the battle of our existence is for Jesus, our living Lord!
We will give more consideration this morning to the words of Festus than he gave to them himself. May the Spirit of God giveus a blessing while we review this superficial utterance of an utterly worldly man! Seen in its true light, it may be instructiveto us.
First, let us observe that true Gospel preaching is full of Jesus. Paul spoke so much of Him that an irreligious heathen magistrateperceived that he spoke of "one Jesus." Secondly, note that Gospel preaching makes much of the resurrection. For this is impliedin what Festus says of Paul's affirmation. And, thirdly, Gospel preaching affirms that Jesus who died is alive. The greatcontention was concerning "one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive."
I. To begin with-TRUE GOSPEL PREACHING IS FULL OF JESUS. Jesus is the most notable figure in Christian testimony. The ApostlePaul, whom we may regard as a model in preaching, exercised a ministry which was always full of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Following the historical connection of the verse before us, we note that he preached "Jesus to multitudes unknown." Fes-tusevidently knew not Jesus, for he speaks of Him as "one Jesus." He mentions the name as belonging to some obscure individualof whom he knew nothing and cared less. The great ones of the earth know nothing of the King of kings. Beloved, to this daythis is the wonder of wonders, that the incarnate God is not known. The world which He made knows Him not. He came at firstto His own nation, who had been studying the prophecies concerning Him. Even to the jots and tittles had they studied thoseprophecies and yet, when He came, who was the clear fulfillment of them all, they knew Him not. For had they known Him, theywould not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
When He was born into the world, there was no room for Him in the inn, where there is room for everybody. No palace gave welcometo the more than royal child. He was of the house and lineage of David but they did not perceive in Him the answer to theirquestion, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" His birth is the starting point of the age. And yet it was almost unanimouslyignored by those who wielded the recording pen of history. His was the most extraordinary life that ever passed before mortaleyes. And yet how little notice was taken of it! Beyond Palestine it seems not even to have awakened curiosity. He died andthen to the people most concerned in Him He became "one Jesus, which was dead."
The new Roman procurator and myriads like he, well informed upon other matters, hardly knew His name, and only mentioned halfof it when they spoke of "one Jesus, which was dead." Brethren, this is why we must keep on preaching Jesus Christ-becauseHe is still so little known. The masses of this city are as ignorant of Jesus as Festus was. You can never have a congregationin any of our places of worship and feel sure that they all know Jesus. If you gather in the outsiders from the street youmay be sure that the story of Jesus will be news to them. We call this a Christian country. But it would be very difficultto prove that it is so. If we took certain lines of observation as to the moral and religious conduct of our fellow men, weshould logically arrive at the conclusion that we live in a heathen, rather than in a Christian, city.
Still the world knows Him not. As a sun He shines on all eyes and yet men do not see Him. As an atmosphere He surrounds alllife and yet men do not perceive Him. Let this sad fact constrain us to fill our teaching with Christ. As Gideon's fleecedripped with dew, so let us saturate our ministry with Christ. Be it ours truthfully to say, "We preach Christ crucified."We do this always and evermore. Not by accident but by continual design. Paul preached Jesus, who was despised by many. Thelanguage of Festus is not only that of ignorance but in a measure that of contempt. He speaks of "one Jesus, which was dead."Jesus is evidently nothing to Festus and Festus does not imagine that Jesus is very much to King Agrippa. Probably he wasquite right-Jesus was nobody among the rank and fashion and culture of the period.
Behold the unlearned of the day, if you speak to them of the great Sacrifice and the wondrous atonement made by blood, theyscarcely hearken to you, for such high things are not for them-they are so hardly pressed with daily labor and slender paythat they cannot think of sin and sacrifice and salvation. But they ask, "What has the poor working man to do with religion?"Alas, that this folly should be so prevalent! Then you turn to the learned and hope that here, at any rate, due attentionwill be given to the great marvel of reconciling love. Alas, it is not so. To these more educated ones the doctrine of theCross is foolishness. They ask for something new. Something more philosophical. Substitution and sacrifice?-they will havenone of them.
The story of the league ofjustice with Divine Grace-the reconcilement of holiness with mercy-is beneath their notice. Theyare too cultured to believe the common faith, too wise to accept that which God has revealed unto babes. Beloved Brethren,it should never cause us doubt when we see many despising our Lord, for this is nothing new, and nothing unexpected. Did Hetell us that if we preached in His name all men would receive us? No, He warned us that the contrary result would follow.
Did not His Apostles assure us that the offense of the Cross had not ceased? Is not Christ crucified a stumbling block andfoolishness to carnal men? If all men had received our message with a ready gratitude, we might have questioned the Truthof Scripture. But inasmuch as they fight against it, we may see in this an argument for its truth since we were told of oldthat "the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God-for they are foolishness unto him."
Gospel preaching is also full of Jesus Christ in this respect-we do not conceal His death. Festus notes that the conflictwas concerning "one Jesus, which was dead." The Jews said He was dead and Paul also confessed that He was dead-there was nodisagreement between them over that matter. Hear, then, the debate. "What? Did your Leader die?" "Yes-He was crucified." "Didyou not say He was Divine?" "Yes." "Yet is He dead?" "It is even so." "Yet you spoke of His leading you on to victory?" "Sowe did." "Yet He is dead?" "Yes, He died at Calvary." "How, then, can your boasting stand?" "We believe that by His deathHe has gained the victory and accomplished His great purpose."
"But how did He die?" He died the death of a felon upon a gibbet. His enemies nailed Him to a Cross and put Him to a deathwhich was reserved for slaves. We confess this. Yes, we glory in it! We tell you, too, that He not only died that which wasa penal death externally but He actually and truly died such a death. "He was made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursedis everyone that hangs on a tree." Isaiah said of Him, "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all," and again, "He wasnumbered with the transgressors and He bare the sin of many." His death was the equivalent to that penal death which was ourjust desert.
Hear how He cries-"Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by? Behold, and see if there is any sorrow like unto My sorrow,which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord has afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger." We glory that our Lord Jesus wasput to death as bearing the sin of many. This we hold and teach. Not defending it, nor apologizing for it. But affirming itwith all boldness, with the desire that we may be understood. If any object to this teaching, we do not therefore concealit. We expected that it would be objectionable. We desire more and more to obtrude this Truth of Substitution whenever wepreach and to make it the head and front of our Gospel.
As the brazen serpent was lifted up upon the pole and was by no means concealed, even so would we set forth plainly the sufferingsand death of our Lord Jesus, that sinners may look to Him and live. This is the hope of men-the sacrifice of Jesus proclaimedwith great plainness of speech. Jesus is to be believed in as the sin-bearing Lamb of God. Believed in as dying the deathof the Cross, that we might live through Him. That only is Gospel preaching which has this for its subject and spirit. A ChristlessGospel is a useless Gospel. Our sermons should be so perfumed with Jesus that never should a congregation gather and separatewithout perceiving a savor of Christ.
Even people who are not saved by it should yet be made to know that we preach Christ crucified. In such a case, we have doneour work successfully, even if souls are not saved. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ as well in them that perishas in them that are saved, if we have exalted the Lord Jesus and borne witness to His power to save.
Beloved, I would have you further note that true Gospel preaching will be full of Jesus as He is revealed in the Old Testament.Our Apostle, when he spoke before King Agrippa, went on to declare that he had said "none other things than those which theProphets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer and that He should be the first that should rise from thedead and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles." Evidently it was this astounding statement about Jesus havingrisen from the dead and being yet alive that was uppermost in the mind of Festus, so that when Paul re-asserted it, he criedwith a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself; much learning does make you mad."
The learning he referred to was his study of the ancient books of the Jews, the writings of Moses and the Prophets. Paul'steaching paid as much deference to the ancient Scriptures as did that of the Jewish rabbis who were opposed to him-no, invery truth-Paul paid a far more real homage to the Bible than they did. As for us, the Old Testament is prized by us as muchas the New. We do not preach Jesus as a fresh arrival, the inventor of a new religion, the founder of a novel way of salvation.No. We preach the Messiah of the Old Testament, whose Gospel is set forth in the types and in the teachings of Moses and theProphets-"Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today, and forever."
Do not imagine that the religion of Abraham was one thing and ours another-ours is but the continuation of that Gospel whichwas revealed to all the faithful from the days of righteous Abel until now. All who have spoken in the name of God have bornewitness to the same Truth. If you would see a suffering Savior I need not refer you to the Gospels but in the twenty-secondPsalm behold the full-length portrait of Messiah in His agony. Hear him cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Markhow they part His garments among them and cast lots upon His vesture after they have pierced His hands and His feet!
No Evangelist, even though he were an eyewitness, could have drawn the picture more accurately. Read also the fifty-thirdof Isaiah. Where can you find a better description of the Messiah's sufferings than when you see Him cut off out of the landof the living, stricken for the transgression of His people? Beloved, the New Testament is the key to the Old, but the lockis not superseded by the key-no, it is made more useful. We have not received a new religion-we worship the God of Abraham,of Isaac and of Jacob-for He is the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our Gospel has threads of many colors in it-both the Old and New Testaments are set forth in it to the glory of the one Christwho is the sole Revelation of God. Every Gospel sermon should set forth Jesus scripturally. For it is not the Christ of fancybut the Christ of fact that saves the souls of men. Let me add that where the Gospel is faithfully preached the reproach ofChrist will not be shunned by the preacher. Read in the fifth verse of the twenty-fourth of Acts how Paul won this reproach.His adversaries said-"We have found this man a pestilent fellow and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout theworld and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."
This was the reputation of Paul. Well did Mr. Whitefield say, "There is no going to Heaven as a minister except in a fool'scap and a fool's coat." There is no hope of preaching Christ faithfully without being called by disrespectful titles, regardedas a fool and reckoned among the vulgar and ignorant. Some kind of ugly name will always be appended to the preacher of thetrue Gospel. Brethren, expect it and accept it! Bid farewell to a quiet life, if you resolve to be true to Jesus. Nothingexcites such animosity as the preaching of Jesus. The carnal mind rages at the Cross of Christ. That which would be to menthe greatest comfort and the greatest joy if they were in their right minds is their direst hate because sin has pervertedtheir judgments.
Do not, I beseech you, imagine that it is possible, fairly and squarely, to preach Jesus Christ and His Gospel without raisingopposition. I know a minister of whom one said, "He is a truly good man and nobody ever says a word against him." Upon enquiryI heard a judicious person say, "He preaches no error but he avoids the obnoxious side of the Truth of God. What he preachesis true enough, no doubt, but it is not easy to say what it is. Nine out of ten of his hearers could not say what his preciseopinion may be, but he has a fine flow of words. Those who do know what he is preaching about usually say that, "take it forgranted, there is nothing in it."
Of course nobody opposes an indistinct, colorless, please-everybody Gospel-it is not worth anything. But speak clearly anddistinctly the doctrine of the great Sacrifice and you will bring upon your head a shower of opposition-you will be "a pestilentfellow" and "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." Gospel preaching does not cry, "Peace, peace," where there is nopeace. But it is the sword which the Lord Jesus came to send upon the earth.
Once more-Jesus Christ must be preached in the Gospel as the sum and substance of it all. For we note concerning Paul, inthis connection, that whoever might be his hearer, his theme was the same-he preached Jesus. If he speaks to Felix, he doesnot only preach to him of "righteousness, temperance and judgment to come," as some remind us-but in the twenty-fourth verseof the twenty-fourth chapter we are told that, "after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess,he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ."
The faith in Christ was the first thing that Paul preached and then he "reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgmentto come." The foundation of Christian morality is Christ Himself. And though we do preach moral duties most earnestly andpress them home upon the conscience, yet first of all we preach the faith of Jesus Christ. When Paul spoke to Festus in thetwenty-sixth chapter at the twenty-third verse, he told him that, "Christ should suffer and that He should be the first thatshould rise from the dead." It was this that made Festus cry out, because he was amazed at this strange Truth of God concerningJesus.
So was it with Agrippa. Agrippa is forced to feel that Paul is preaching Christ, for he cries, "You almost persuaded me tobe a Christian." Paul did not merely persuade him to justice and righteousness but he pressed him to yield himself to Christ.Indeed the whole of Paul's address goes to prove the power and glory of the Jesus by whom Paul had been called to be an Apostle.
Now, Beloved, as I resolve, God helping me, in my preaching to preach to you nothing else save Jesus Christ, so I beseechyou, in your schools, in your families, in your public ministries of any and every kind, begin and end with Jesus, who wasdead and is alive. Declare His blessed name and proclaim the glory of His Cross! God forbid that you should place anythingin front of your testimony save Jesus crucified! Your Gospel is a golden frame, let Jesus be the portrait which is hung upin it.
II. Secondly-GOSPEL PREACHING AFFIRMS THE RESURRECTION. Please notice that Paul did not argue the
resurrection but affirmed it. He did not prove it philosophically but he affirmed that Jesus rose from the dead because such-and-suchpersons saw Him alive after He had risen. He did not merely say that it was probable, that it was possible, that it was reasonable-butthat it was so-for witnesses proved it. Two saw Him, eleven saw Him, four hundred saw Him. He dealt with the resurrectionas common-sense persons deal with any other fact of history.
He quoted his authorities and affirmed that it was so. His witnesses were honest and true men who dared to go to prison andeven to die on account of their statements. They had nothing whatever to gain and everything to lose by their testimonies.They stated that Jesus, whom they knew to have been dead, had risen again and had given clear proofs that He was alive. Thiscornerstone of our faith is sure and upon the certainty of it we build our faith.
Paul asserted that the Savior had the pre-eminence in resurrection and, "that He should be the first that should rise fromthe dead." Several persons rose from the dead before our Savior but not in the sense which Paul intended. Those mentionedin the Old Testament were quickened for a time but they died after all and saw corruption. They lived anew but they livednot evermore, as Jesus does. A miracle was worked but it gave them only a temporary prolongation of life. They went back tothe grave again in due time. Whether it was the child of the woman in the Old Testament, or the brother of Mary and Marthain the New, they were not so raised from the dead as to have attained to immortality.
But our Savior finally rose from the dead and rose from the dead by His own power. He was the first fruits of the resurrectionharvest. He was the first sheaf of that wheat which will one day be gathered in bulk-He was the first fruits to be presentedunto the Lord to sanctify the whole. Jesus is the pattern, the proof, the pledge, the earnest, the guarantee of the resurrectionof all the rest. This Paul asserted and declared as a Revelation of God. From this he inferred the general resurrection. Hesays in another place that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen and the whole faith of the Gospelfalls to the ground.
To you and to me this is full of comfort-the dead must rise. Our beloved ones have been taken from us but they shall comeagain from the land of the enemy. We have a glorious hope concerning our own bodies. "I know that my Redeemer lives: and thoughafter my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." We shall rise, for Jesus has risen. This is the constantassertion of Scripture. There would be no proof of the resurrection of the dead if Jesus had not risen. But as He has risenfrom the dead, our resurrection is secured. Now has death lost its sting-the grave may receive us but it cannot retain us,since Jesus has burst its bars.
Moreover, Paul-and he, I say, is a model among Gospel preachers-teaches us to preach in our Gospel all the sweet inferenceswhich flow from the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Here they are: He rose from the dead and therefore His sacrificehas been accepted. God has brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of theEverlasting Covenant. The work He has done has pleased the Father and therefore He has brought Him back from among the dead.His acceptance is ours-we are "accepted in the Beloved."
Next, Jesus Himself is clear. He had, as our sponsor, become our hostage. Sin was laid on Him and He was laid in the grave.But now the sinner's surety is as clear as the sinner himself-for the Lord Jesus is released from the prison of the tomb.He was delivered for our offenses but He rose again for our justification. Now, also, we live unto God. Our Lord Jesus diedunto sin once. But in that He lives, He lives unto God-so is it with us. This is our joy-His work is accepted, His bearingof our curse is finished, life in us is made manifest.
And now, Beloved, we see in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that He is Divine. He is "declared to be the Sonof God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." So says Paul in the first chapterof his Epistle to the Romans. Jesus raised Himself from the dead by His own will. "I have power to lay down My life," saidHe, "and I have power to take it again." Who could possess and exercise such a power but a Divine Being?
I must repeat what I have said already, that from the resurrection of our Lord we draw the comfortable inference of the resurrectionunto eternal life of all who are in Christ. We said farewell, a little while ago, to him whom we loved so well but we shallsee the honored one again. We laid our sister in the grave with many tears. Oh, how we miss her! But we shall meet her againwhen the trumpet shall sound. We preserve a long list of departed ones, of which we scarcely dare to think, for tears drownour eyes. Yet will we refrain from weeping, for as the dew of herbs causes them to spring up again, so the rising again ofour Lord restores to us the beloved ones who have fallen asleep. The broken circle of our fellowship shall be renewed, forJesus, its center, has risen again.
III. But now, alas for me! I have scant time for the point which I wanted most fully to discuss-GOSPEL PREACHING AFFIRMS THATJESUS IS ALIVE. We do not preach to you a dead Christ but one who is able to save to the uttermost, seeing He ever lives.
Jesus died, Jesus rose again, Jesus is now alive. Paul knew that Jesus lived, for He had spoken to him out of Heaven. Paulhad both seen and heard the Lord Jesus and thus he had been turned from a persecutor into an Apostle. We do not need to seeJesus, nor to hear His voice, for we are well satisfied with the witness of a man so true as Paul, in whom a change so remarkablewas worked by what he saw. His entire being was transformed by what he saw and heard-assuredly he was no deceiver and he wasnot the sort of person to have been deceived.
Jesus Christ is then alive, for Paul saw Him. No, not only once did he see Him but on several other occasions. He saw theLord when he was in the temple in a trance and heard Him say, "Depart, for I will send you far hence unto the Gentiles" (Acts 22:17-21). Even when he lay in prison in Jerusalem the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testifiedof Me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also at Rome." Jesus had thus spoken to Paul, once, twice and many times. Andso He was to him most assuredly alive. Ah, dear Friends, if the Lord Jesus has had gracious dealings with any of us and wehave had Him revealed within us, we also shall affirm that He is alive.
Beloved, receiving the witness of our Apostle and remembering many other infallible proofs which we have not time to mention,we also believe that Jesus, who was dead, is alive. What follows from this? Why, first, He is alive to bestow the Holy Spirit.Many blessings come from our Lord's death but the Holy Spirit was an early gift of His resurrection life-especially was itthe outcome of His ascended life. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the ascension gift of our living Lord. When we think of Hisresurrection life, we couple with it the outpouring of the Spirit of God.
Oh, that this same Spirit would work among us more manifestly just now! And why not? He is with us because Jesus lives. NoSpirit of life could proceed from a dead Christ. Jesus, if He were not alive, could not send the Comforter to us. The lifeand light and liberty of the Spirit are with us, because Jesus lives. Beloved, do you think the times are dark and dreary?Be not afraid-while Jesus lives the Holy Spirit is always obtainable-the Holy Spirit is always ready to work in and with us.What more do we want? Error will fall and the Truth of God will be established by the Holy Spirit. This is our battle-axeand weapon of war. O living Christ, we praise and bless Your name. For out of You shall come abundance of life and power throughYour Spirit!
Jesus is alive. Dwell on that thought. He is alive, to claim Heaven for His redeemed. He has gone up before us to occupy ourinheritance for us. When He first put His feet within the golden gate He took possession of eternal glory for every soul thatHe represents. He is our forerunner and representative. Brethren, Heaven is yours, Heaven is mine, because Jesus is, "theMan in possession," on our behalf. That pierced hand has taken hold of eternal bliss on the behalf of those for whom He shedHis blood.
Jesus is also in Heaven making preparation for our coming. What has to be done to make Heaven ready I am sure I do not know,though I have often tried to guess. But Jesus says, "I go to prepare a place for you." Heaven, when we get there, will proveto be the exact place for us. It has taken Jesus all these years to make it ready for us. He that with a Word made earth fitfor created man, did not with a Word make Heaven fit for His regenerated but went to Heaven Himself as a living Christ tosee everything set in order for them. I think I hear Him say, "This will not do for My Beloved. There is something yet needed.These fruits are not quite mellow enough, these flowers are not full-blown enough for My Beloved, whom I desire to entertainto the utmost of their capacity." Jesus is living-living on purpose to keep Heaven for us and make it in all respects readyfor us.
Furthermore, lay hold of this thought-that Jesus is alive to intercede for us. I am most rich, Beloved, when I have your prayers.If I might have a part in the prayers of all the saints on earth I would not envy a Kaiser his dominions. Yet what are allthe prayers of saints compared with the prayers of the King of saints? When He prays-He of the pierced hands and feet- whenHe prays whom the Father loves so well-who has such deservings of Jehovah for His obedience unto death, even the
death of the Cross? What a prevalence must dwell in His intercession! We trust not in a dumb, dead Christ, who could not speakfor us but we rest in an Advocate whose eloquent pleadings before the Throne of God can never be denied.
Observe also that our Lord lives to rule all things on our behalf. His enemies put Him to an ignominious death but the Fatherhas delivered all things into His hands. He whom they spat upon wears majesty in His face. The despised and rejected of menhas all power in Heaven and in earth. Jesus lives to control all events and overrule them for the highest purposes of DivineGrace. Trust in Him for His kingdom cannot fail, neither can anything go amiss while He is to the front. Paul affirmed thatHe was alive. And alive He is in the fullest sense, so that nothing escapes His government. Hallelujah!
"Ah," you say, "you have now put Him far away from us by reason of His adorable majesty." Then let me bring Him near to you.He is not only alive Godward, that the Father may delight in Him but alive towards you, that He may have the fellowship ofkinship with you. He is touched with a feeling of your infirmities. He sympathizes with all your griefs, even as a lovinghusband shares the pangs and sorrows of his spouse. He is most near to you, for He is one with you. We may not think of ourLord as One whose shadow flitted over the historic page and left a faint photographic trace. But He lives as truly in thepresent as in the past.
He is not Jesus of the mist but of this day's light. He is the same in heart, the same in tenderness, the same in living feelingand union as ever He was. Did you ever reflect that something of Christ remained on earth and was not taken to Heaven? I meanthose drops of blood which fell from Him in Gethsemane and that other stream which gushed from His pierced heart on Calvary.I see that his heart's essence is with us still. It was after death that His heart poured forth for us its treasure of waterand blood. And now, long after death His whole heart is as truly ours as it was when He bare our sins in His own body on thetree.
O child of God, I would have you further remember that Jesus is still alive to commune with you. You bend not over His corpsebut you sit at His feet. Carnal men would think me dreaming if I were to tell of our spiritual relationship with our livingLord. Still does He speak to our hearts. Pearls may not be cast before swine, nor the love secrets of our souls declared inthe streets. But we have been conscious at times of influences other than those which are natural and common. Jesus has madeHimself known to us-He has stood behind us and His shadow has fallen over us. He has manifested Himself to us as He does notto the world.
Many a time has He cast a spell over us and bathed us in mystic influence. We have been raised from the valley of weepingto the mountains of joy by a Word from Himself laid home to the heart. You know what I mean. Jesus does not forget us. Hehas not allowed a great gulf to open between us and Himself. He is still the loving, living, active Jesus to us and with us.How I wish that every child of God here who is in trouble would go at once with that trouble to the living Christ! Oh, thatevery sinner who is crushed beneath his load of sin would bow at once before the living Christ, whose voice speaks pardon!
You cannot perceive Jesus but He is present where His Gospel is preached. Eyes cannot see Him, nor hands touch Him but Heis visible and tangible to faith. Bow before Him. I know you have often thought, "If, instead of seeing Mr. Spurgeon on theplatform, I could see Jesus, I would confess my sin to Him and ask His pardon." I pray you do so even though you see Him not,for He sees you. Gladly would I cease to be seen of you that your hearts might see my Lord, for He is here. Bow before Him,confess to Him and trust Him.
"Oh," cries a loving one, "if Jesus were visibly here, I would take Him home with me and entertain Him." Do so, I pray you,though you do not see Him. Constrain Him to abide with you. Treat the Lord Jesus, not as a phantom but as a real Christ. Paulaffirmed that He was alive-believe Paul's affirmation and speak to the living Jesus. I will give you a text, "Whom havingnot seen, you love." You cannot love a dead person as a dead person. You may love the memory of the dead. But if you lovethem, you regard them as living. Love is for life. It cannot dwell with death. We have not seen Jesus but we love Him andthis proves that to our hearts He lives.
Let us view Him in the light of life at this very hour. I beseech my Lord Jesus to let me personally realize His august Presence.My Lord, are You really here? Hear, then, my prayer-I beseech You, enable me to serve You with my whole being and to countreproach for Your sake to be greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. Will you not, my Beloved, each one of you, thinkof your Lord as with you at this moment? Behold Him and speak to Him in the silence of your hearts. Will you now renew yourdedication vow and be the Lord's forever?
Oh that our Lord would now appear! Oh that His silver trumpets would ring out while yet I speak to you! Oh that His feet wouldonce more touch this earth! The second coming of our living Lord is the ultimatum of our faith. He is alive and as surelyas He lives, He will open wide the golden gate and come again to take His people up to be with Him forever. Has He not
said, "I will come again and receive you unto Myself"? They that have been faithful to Him in this evil generation, throughthe dark as well as through the light and have followed at His heels through mire and slough-these shall partake of His glory.
"These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Who is on the side of the living Christ at this hour? Let him comeout and boldly say so. Hold not back lest you be found traitors. Confess your Lord, take up your cross and by God's gracebe the living servants of the living Jesus. Amen.