Sermon 3286. The Fear of Death
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 1912,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 25, 1866.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through deathHe might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were alltheir lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:14,15.
[Another Sermon by Mr. Spurgeon, upon verse 14, is No. 166, Volume 4, in The New Park Street Pulpit, "The Destroyer Destroyed:"]
BEFORE speaking upon the main subject of the text, I cannot help drawing your attention to those two words, "the children."Hear that sweet expression again, for it is one of the choicest descriptions of the saints, "the children." "You are all thechildren of God by faith in Christ Jesus." What a wonderful influence the children have in the house! How many of the arrangementsare made especially with a view to them! How much of the wear and tear of life to their parents is for their sakes! And wemay truly say, concerning our Father in Heaven, that His plans, His arrangements, His actions, His gifts are very emphaticallyfor the children! He uses all things in this great house of His for the education of the children-and when their educationshall be finished-He will clear all these things away just as the builder takes down the scaffolding around the house whenit is complete.
This name of "the children" is such a blessed one, it seems to indicate a simple, sweet and gracious character. "Be not childrenin understanding," but in all else be-
"Humble, teachable and mild,
Like unto a little child."
I. But this is only by the by-the main theme on which I am going to speak is the fear of death And, first, I observe thatTHE FEAR OF DEATH IS NATURAL TO MAN AS A SINNER. So long as there was no sin in the world, there was no death and no fearof death, but as soon as sin entered, God said to Adam, "Dust you are and unto dust shall you return." The echo of these wordsstill rings throughout the world and Adam's children, as sinners, fear death, but this is rather a blessing to them than otherwise.To most unconverted men, the fear of death has often been made to subserve the highest purpose of Divine Mercy. Many a manwould, at least outwardly, have been more guilty than he is if the fear of death had not, to some extent, held him in check.The knell from the old church tower has often spoken to those who other preachers could not reach-and an open grave has hadan eloquent voice which has been more alarming than the polished sentences of the golden-mouthed orator.
It is well that there should be such a thing as the fear of death in the world! But for it, sinners would be more outrageouslywicked than they already are. This earth would soon become like Sodom and Gomorrah if men were not restrained by the fearthat they must soon depart this life. No doubt, too, the fear of death answers very wise and important purposes in the economyof humanity. If men were in peril, they would probably give themselves up without making any strenuous exertions for theirpreservation if there were not an indefinable dread of death which creeps over them and makes them put forth what strengththey have in order, if possible, to prolong their lives. Being afraid to die, they tug, toil, labor and strive so as to putoff the dreaded day as long as they can! Even Satan spoke the truth when he said, "All
that a man has will he give for his life." Our streets might be crowded with idlers who would starve rather than work if thefear of death did not drive them unwillingly to their labors!
Certainly the fear of death has often been the means of preventing the crime of suicide. You know how Shakespeare representsHamlet as talking of a man making his quietus with a bare bodkin-
"But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of" No doubt it has often been the case that this "dread of something after death" hasprevented men from rushing into the presence of their Maker red-handed with their own blood! The fear of death, though itselfpart of the punishment of sin, is a wise and beneficent arrangement in the commonwealth of humanity.
II. But, secondly, while the fear of death is natural to the sinner, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO THE SAINT. For all the purposesof which I have spoken, the fear of death is not necessary to a Christian. He does not need it to restrain him from sin, forhe hates sin with a perfect hatred. Other checks, of far greater importance here, in the hand of Infinite Love, restrain theChristian from going into sin. Nor does he need the fear or death to keep him from suicide-why should he have any desire tocommit that terrible crime? Christians have, even here, joy and peace through believing and though their best portion is inthe world to come, yet even now it may be said of them, "Happy are you, O Israel: who is like unto you, O people saved bythe Lord?" The clanking fetters of the fear of death are not intended for God's freemen to wear! Let the slave of sin andSatan wear them if they will restrain them from suicide and other evils, but the true born child of God needs no such checkas this. He lives the life of faith upon the Son of God and the love of Christ so graciously constrains him that it both holdshim back from sin and urges him on to duty.
But though the fear of death is not necessary to Christians and the Grace of God has been manifested in giving Christ to deliverthem from it, yet it is true that some of them are still subject to bondage through this wholly unnecessary fear! They notonly fear death, but they fear it to such an extent that it brings them into bondage. It is not merely a dark cloud that passesover them and is soon gone, but it abides with them-they are, "All their lifetime subject to bondage" through the fear ofdeath! They shall not perish, neither shall any pluck them out of Christ's hands, but they have not that restful assuranceof safety which Christ's sheep ought to enjoy. I am sorry to say that I know some who profess to have been Christians foryears, but who still, at times at any rate, are in bondage through fear of death. I do not speak of this as a phenomenon,or an experience that is uncommon-I wish it were, but I am obliged to say that there are very many whom one must judge tobe the children of God-who are frequently, if not always, in a state of despondency, doubt and dread through this fear ofdeath which seems to rest upon them like a pall.
Many of these persons have been so long in this sad state that they have almost come to believe that it is impossible forthem to escape from it. There is such a thing as sitting so long on the cold stone of despair that you and the stone almostseem to be one. There is such a thing as wearing the yoke of despondency until that yoke and your shoulders become so closelyunited that you cannot take it off. Just as valor fights till its sword grows to its hand, so despair burdens you till itgrows into your spirit. I would not roughly tear it out, but if I might kindly perform an act of spiritual surgery, I wouldbe glad to be made the instrument through which the Master would perform His blessed work of delivering those who are in bondagethrough fear of death!
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, there is no need that you should be afraid to die! It is even possible for you tolook upon death as your best friend! You may yet come to be familiar with the shroud, the mattock, the grave-and find thecemetery to be no place of gloom and may even rejoice in the prospect of death and-
"Long for evening to undress
That you may rest with God." According to our text, it appears that in order to remove this fear of death from His people,our Lord Jesus Christ became Man- "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise sharedin the same." And as flesh and blood have about them the element of mortality, the flesh and blood of Christ partook of thesame character. It is true that in Him was no sin, but in all other respects His flesh was like ours and, therefore, was liable
to death even as ours is. Now, the very fact that Jesus Christ became Man should remove from us the fear of anything whichis incidental to humanity because it was incidental to Christ as well as to ourselves-
"He takes us through no darker rooms
Than He went through before."
"Fear not," said Caesar, to the trembling boatman, "you carry Caesar and all his fortunes." And, in like manner, standingin the vessel of our mortality, Christ says to us, "Fear not, you carry Christ and all His fortunes; you are partakers offlesh and blood and He Himself likewise shared in the same." If one had to be a soldier on the field of battle, it might bea very great assistance to one's courage to stand side by side with the hero of a thousand fights who had always been victorious!If tonight you had to journey along some dark and lonely road and an angel came from Heaven to walk beside you-and you werequite sure that it was an angel-I should think you would be altogether free from fear! With such a companion you might evenwish that the way were still more dangerous so that you might have the delightful experience of passing through it unharmedunder the care of such a glorious protector!
But you have a better Protector than any angel could be, even the Lord of the angels, your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,so what cause have you for fear? He will be with you all through life. He will be with you when you are called to die andthe pledge of that is that He is a partaker of that very flesh and blood which will bring you down to death. But we not onlyknow that Jesus partook of flesh and blood-we have this further comfort-Jesus did actually die. The Cross of Calvary was awitness to no phantom grief, no sham expiring. The Roman soldier with his spear pierced Christ's side and so proved the factof His death. He went through the valley; He ascended the mountain on the other side and He, in due time, went up into Heaven-andall this He did as the Representative of His people! Whatever Christ did, He did for His whole Church and for each one who,believing in Him, is a member of that Church! So, if you are a Believer, you died in Christ and you rise in Christ. Christdied, you, too, must die. As Christ rose, you, too, must rise. What Christ has done, He has done for you in such a way thatyou, also, do it-
"As Christ the Savor rose, So shall His followers must."
Their is further cause for comfort in the fact that, through death, Christ destroyed the devil The persons who always interpretthe word, "destroy," as meaning, "annihilate," would do me a very great favor if they could really prove to me that JesusChrist annihilated the devil! I have very mournful proof in my own experience that he is not annihilated and many of you,also, know that "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." Alas, the devil isstill alive, but his power in this world has received its death blow! Jesus Christ has trodden on the old serpent's head and,to the Christian, in the matter of death, the devil is completely destroyed, for he that believes in Christ shall never die!Death seemed to be all black and evil, like Satan, himself, seething into which he had put his most venomous sting! But now,to Believers in Jesus, death is an angel from our Father in Heaven calling us home to Him-not a black angel, striking terrorin our heart-but one who is exceedingly bright and fair, coming to bid us fly away to realms of light and love!
Remember, Christian, "the sting of death is sin," but that has been destroyed for you. And remember, too, "the strength ofsin is the Law," but that has been fulfilled for you! Rejoice, therefore, that both are gone so far as you are concerned-andthat your greatest causes for fear are entirely removed!
III. Now let us spend a few minutes in thinking of THOSE THINGS CONNECTED WITH DEATH WHICH USUALLY CAUSE DREAD.
I borrow the list of them from a popular commentator. There are some things connected with death which even the best of mennaturally fear and the first is the death-pang. It is generally supposed that there is exquisite pain associated with theact of death, but I am persuaded that this is mistaken and that there is no pain whatever in dying-the pain is in living.The man who has a long sickness previous to his departure must not lay the pain he has to endure at the door of death, forthe pain afflicts the living, not the dying. If life would but give way, death would inflict no pain. The departure out oflife is, one would judge, the cessation of pain, the ending of the strife. But if we take the popular view for granted-thatdeath involves some extraordinary pain-then Jesus Christ partook flesh and blood, died and destroyed the devil, so far aswe who believe in Him are concerned, in order that we might not have any fear of this pain.
He says to each one of us, "My child, whatever pain there may be about your death, I have endured it with an emphasis. I died,not as you probably will, on your bed, but upon a Cross. Instead of sympathizing friends around Me, I had mocking foes. Insteadof soft pillows, I had cruel thorns-and tearing nails instead of cooling draughts and sustaining cordials. Men gave Me vinegarto drink mingled with gall. I died under far more trying circumstances than can possibly surround your deathbed, so now, Mychild, are you now willing to do at your Fathers' bidding what I have done? The cup passed not from Me, I drained it to thedregs-why, then, should it pass from you-why should you wish it to pass from you?"
I have sometimes seen a mother, when her child has had medicine to take which it could not bear, sip of the cup and then say,"Drink it, my child, it is for your good and it is not so bad as you think. Mother has tasted it herself." And then the littleone, not always with cheerfulness, but still with submission, drinks it up. "So Jesus brings us the cup and says to each one,"Drink, My child. I drank of this cup, so why should you fear to drink of it? There can be nothing deadly in it, for it hasnot destroyed Me. It has been to Me a gain and it shall be a gain, also, to you, for it shall take you from your humiliationto your Glory even as it took Me."
But to some others this may not be their particular phase of death that they dread. They fear the darkness and gloom whichsometimes attend departed out of this life. There are different ways of taking down the earthly atonement. There are certainforms of disease which seem rather to increase the sufferer's joy than to diminish it, while there are others which so affectthe brain and the whole nervous system that depression is a melancholy symptom of the disease. Some are constitutionally sonervous that they are afraid that when they come face to face with death they will be easily vanquished. But many of us musthave noticed that the very people who are most depressed in anticipation of trouble are frequently those who bear it bestwhen it does come! So it may be with you, my poor nervous Friend. My observation warrants me in remarking that the most ofChristians, when they die, are either in a deep calm or else triumphant in an ecstasy of delight.
But if it should not be so with you, if gloom surrounds your spirit, yet remember that Jesus Christ became a partaker of fleshand blood in order to deliver you from the dread of death. It is flesh and blood that fear the gloom. It is flesh and bloodthat shrink from the despondency-and Jesus Christ passed through that experience when He said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful,even unto death"-and later, when He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" You cannot possibly have such gloomsurrounding you as He had to pass through! He went down deeper than you will ever have to go and you will always have Hisalmighty arm to sustain you! Besides, the remembrance that Christ suffered for you, that He has destroyed Satan' s power overyou and that He has opened the gates of Resurrection and of Glory for you should take away from you all the gloom that youdread! You are making the mistake of looking at that part of death which belongs to this world. I pray that the Holy Spiritmay anoint your eyes with Heavenly eye salve so that you may see that death is but the gate of Life, the porch to Paradiseand may no longer fear to enter the portals through which you shall pass into the Presence of your Lord who went that waybefore you!
I know other Believers who do not so much dread the pain as they do the mystery associated with death The handwriting uponthe wall troubled Belshazzar, not only because of the appearance of the fingers that wrote the message, but also because noone could interpret the writing until Daniel came. It was the mystery that terrified the impious monarch! When traveling amongthe Alps in a dense mist, we have seemed to see vast lakes without a shore, crags that appeared like the battlement of Heavenand awful depths that thrilled us with horror! Yet much of that mystery was only caused by the mist, for, when we journeyedthe same way on a bright morning, the great lake proved to be only a little pond! The mighty battlement was a crag that achild could climb and the vast depths that had made us shudder with terror were gentle slopes which we could have descendedwith ease.
It is the mysteriousness of death that alarms you. That the soul should be divorced from the body to which it has been solong united is something that startles you. Yes, but as the light dissipates the terrors of the mountains, so the fact thatJesus Christ has brought life and immortality to light will scatter all your gloom! There is no "undiscovered country" toyou, Christian, for your Master has returned from the land of Death-Shade and He has told you all you need to know concerningit! He has come back to tell you that, for you, there is no such thing as death! Everything that constitutes death has beenabrogated so far as you are concerned and your portion is to be everlasting life! If you would only believe
all that is revealed in the Word concerning believers in Jesus, the mystery associated with death would no longer alarm andterrify you.
There are some Christians who are afraid of the grave. I must say that I like the thought of sleeping in the cemetery, withgreen grass and flowers and shrubs growing all around-and winding walks upon the rising ground far away from the busy city!I say I like the thought of all that, yet, when I stand by an open grave, as I so often do, and see the cold clods of clayand think of the chill and silence of the night, the cemetery appears in another light! But, after all, what does it matterwhere the poor body is laid? If it could lie in state, surrounded with light and music, you know that very soon even the chiefmourner would have to say, "Bury my dead out of my sight!" When we think of those who are sleeping in Jesus-I speak, of course,only of their bodies-it does seem appropriate that they should be wrapped in their white robes, as men are when they go totheir beds, and lovingly committed to the care of mother earth from which they sprang. I do not think there is any need tobe troubled about all this-much of it is mere sentimentalism and certainly, as far as Christians are concerned-when we rememberthat the blessed body of Jesus was laid in the tomb, we are quite content in that matter to be even as He was.
I am afraid that I have not hit the center of the target even yet, for some of "the children" are afraid of the JudgementSeat of God. Does this remark surprise you? It ought to do so, for it ought to be impossiblefor a child of God to trembleat the thought of meeting his Father anywhere! Why is it that some of us are thus afraid? It is, Beloved, because they havea dark suspicion that they are not reallyin Christ, not reallysaved-and this indicates a greater evil than the dread of death-whileit also point out the remedy for that evil. If I have the Divine Assurance that I am washed from every sin and that, clothedin the righteousness of Christ, I am without spot, or wrinkle, or any such things, how can I give way to fear? It is the dreadfuldoubt, the doubt whether it is so, that causes the dread of death and ofjudgment! It is unbeliefthat is at the bottom of it!
If we would take such Scriptures as these-"He that believes on the Son has everlasting life." "By Him all that believe arejustified from all things." "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"- and if we reallytrusted in the Savior of whom they speak, we would have no fear of either death or judgement, but would cry with the Apostle,"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ thatdied, yes, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." No doubtthere are some professing Christians who oughtto be afraid of death-there are some members of Christian Churches who oughttodread the Judgement Seat! There are deacons and elders and ministers who oughtto tremble at the thought of the world to comebecause their profession of Christianity is a mere profession without any real work of the Spirit of God at the back of it!
When you have doubts about your eternal state, do not say that they come from the devil! It may be that the Spirit of Godis striving with you to bring you to see the hollowness of all the religion in which you have put your confidence! Never beafraid of self-examination, but obey the Apostolic injunction, "Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves."Better still, pray David's prayer, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there isany wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Those who have only a name to live, but who are spiritually dead.Those who talk about believing, but who have not believed. Those who talk about regeneration, but who have not been born againhave good cause to be afraid of death! If that is your condition, Friend, I pray that you may become still more afraid ofdeath and that God's gracious Spirit may make you so afraid of it that you may turn from it and fly to Him who, by carryingaway your sin, shall also take away from you the fear of death.
But as for you, dearly Beloved, who are really in Christ Jesus, you ought not to have any fear of death. There is no condemnationfor you, for Christ has borne, on your behalf, all the punishment that was due to your sins! The sword of Justice has no terrorsfor you, for it was plunged in the heart of Jesus on purpose that He might die in your place. You need not fear the possibilityof being cast away from Christ, for you are members of His body, of His death and of His blood! And unless He were to dismemberHimself, He could not cast away any who are thus vitally united to Him. Let the thought that He became a partaker of fleshand blood, died to put away your sin and to destroy your great adversary, the devil, be a quietus to all your fears of death!
It may not be long before some of us will have our faith tested in our dying hour. The preacher may be called away or youmay receive the summons first. It would be well if we were all so familiar with death that we could say as one old
saint did, "Dying? Why, I have died daily for the last 20 years, so I am not afraid to die, now!" Or, as another said, "Idip my foot in Jordan's stream every morning before I take my breakfast, so I shall not be afraid to go down into the streamwhenever my Lord bids me enter it." May that be your experience and mine, Beloved, and then we shall have no fear of death!
I have told you before of that godly woman who fell asleep in Jesus one night and on her table were found these lines-
Since Jesus is mine, I'll not fear undressing, But gladly put off this garment of clay! To die in the Lord is a Covenant blessing,Since Jesus to Glory through death led the way."
May we all have like precious faith, for Jesus sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-32.
Verses 1, 2. Moreover, brethren, Ideclare unto you the Gospel which Ipreached unto you, which also you have received and whereinyou stand. By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what Ipreached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. Bywhich the Apostle means, unless they had a false faith, a merely notional faith or, he may also mean, "Unless what I havepreached unto you should have been a fable and, therefore, you will have exercised your faith upon nothing real, and so itwould have been in vain."
3. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I, also, received, The preacher of Christ must not make new doctrines!He is not to be his own teacher. He is first to receive the Truth of God and then to deliver it. The Christian minister takesthe lamp out of the hands of God and then passes it on to the hands of his people. Think not that any originality is neededin the pulpit! All that is required is that the herald should faithfully deliver his Master's message just as his Master givesit to him. "I delivered unto you first of all that which I, also, received."
3, 4. How that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the thirdday according to the Scriptures. There are many passages in the Old Testament which describe the Messiah as dying for sinners,especially the chapter of Isaiah's prophecy. There are others that speak of Him as being buried, yet not corrupting in thetomb. These were facts which the Apostle had received upon the testimony of others; now comes the great fact of the Resurrection.
5-8. And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; ofwhom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of allthe Apostle and last of all He was seen of me, also, as of one born out of due time. [See Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit,No. 2663, Volume 433-" A Leap Year Sermon." ] The Apostle does not attempt to defend the doctrine of the Resurrection by anargument fetched from reason, but he proves it by undoubted evidence. If I had to prove that there existed such a tree asthe cedar, I should not use logical arguments further than this-I produce a certain number of men who have seen a cedar andthe thing is proved by their testimony. If the evidence of honest men is not accepted, then there is an end, not only to Christianity,but to all the sciences-and you and I must wander forever in a maze of doubts. Now, of all the facts recorded in history,there is not one which is better attested than the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The men who testified that they had seenthe risen Christ evidently had no selfish reason for doing so. What is the result of their testimony? They were cast intoprison! They were stoned! They were sawn asunder, simply for believing the evidence of their own senses, and testifying whatthey knew to be true! It is clear that they would have had no interest in publishing this fact if it had not been true-theirinterest would have lain quite the other way. Besides, it was not as if only a few had seen Him, but over 500 brethren atonce beheld Him. For 40 days He was gazed upon by different persons and the feat is proved beyond all doubt.
9. For I am the least of the Apostles and am not meet to be called an Apostle because Ipersecuted the Church of God. "Godhas forgiven me," said a good man once, "but I shall never forgive myself." So was it with the Apostle Paul. He knew thatGod had forgiven him and honored him by making him an Apostle, but he could not forgive himself and, no
doubt, the tears gushed from his eyes when he wrote these words, "I am not meet to be called an Apostle because I persecutedthe Church of God."
10. But by the Grace of God I am what I am: and His Grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantlythan they all: yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me. [See Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 2833, Volume 499-"Lessons on Divine Glory."] In what humble tones Paul speaks! He will not deny what Divine Grace has done in him and by him,but he will ascribe it all to God. Brothers and Sisters, you are not to shut your eyes to the gracious change which God'sHoly Spirit has worked in you! You may speak of it and speak of it often, but always guard against taking any of the honorto yourselves-and be especially careful to put the crown upon the right head.
11, 12. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He rose fromthe dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?For Christ was the pattern Man to all His people.He is their Representative. Whatever He did, He did for them and whatever was worked in Him shall be surely worked in them.So if Christ rose from the dead, then all who are members of His mystical body must rise, too, for when the Head comes outof the grave, you cannot retain the members in it! Prove that Christ rose and you prove that His people rise, for they areone with Him.
13. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. [See Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 2287,Volume38- "If There Is No Resurrection,"] Yet it is proved by hundreds of credible witnesses that Christ is risen, therefore thereis a resurrection.
14. And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. This Truth of God is the keystoneof the arch-put this away and the whole tumbles down! It is upon this that the whole Christian system rests. If the Resurrectionof Christ is a mere myth and not a positive matter of fact, preaching and faith are equally vain.
15. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raisednot up, if it is so that the dead rise not.The Apostle puts the matter strongly, yet not too strongly. He seems to say, "Youknow me to be an honest and truthful man, having no selfish motive in what I declare unto you. But if Christ did not risefrom the dead, I have testified to you a gross falsehood and led you to put your trust in an imposture." So he stakes hisown personal character upon the fact of Christ's Resurrection.
16. 17. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ is not raised, your faith is vain; you are yetin your sins. Yet they knew that they were not in their sins, for they had the witness within then that their sins had beenpardoned. They knew that sin had no more dominion over them, for they had been made to walk in holiness before the Lord. "Therefore,"says Paul, "Christ must have risen, for if He had not risen, you would have remained sinners as you once were."
18. Then they, also, which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. A supposition against which both Nature and Grace revolt!
19, 20. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead,and become the first fruits of them that depart As they always brought into the Jewish tabernacle and temple, a portion ofthe harvest which indicated that the harvest was begun, so Christ's going up to Heaven was the taking of the first sheaf intoGod's great garner-and all the rest must follow.
21, 22. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam, all die, even so in Christshall all be made alive. Not that all shall be saved, but all will be raised from the dead! Or else the passage means thatas all who were in the first Adam died as the result of Adam's sin, so all who are in the Second Adam, that is, Christ, shalllive as the result of His righteousness. The question is, Are we in the Second Adam? Faith is that which unites us to Christ.If we are trusting in Him by a living faith, then His rising from the dead ensures our rising from the dead. And if not, itis true that we shall rise, but it will be to shame and everlasting contempt.
23-28. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then comesthe end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and allauthority and power For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet The last enemy that shall be destroyed isdeath. For He has put all things under His feet But when He says all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is accepted,who did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son Himself also be subjectunto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all This is a very difficult
passage, but I suppose the meaning is this-Jesus Christ, in order to remedy the great mischief of sin, was appointed to amediatorial kingdom over all worlds and that kingdom will continue until all His enemies shall be destroyed and sin shallbe trod under His feet. Then Christ-as Mediator, mark you, not as Lord-shall deliver up His mediatorial kingdom to His Fatherand there shall be heard that great shout, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigns!" Christ asGod, as one of the Persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, will still be as glorious as ever, but His mediatorialreign will thenbe over, seeing that He has accomplished all its purposes.
29. Otherwise what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized forthe dead?'This is another most difficult passage and many meanings have been given to it, but I think the most likely to becorrect is this-As soon as a member of the early Christian Church was given up to the lion or to be burned, another convertwould step forward and say, Let me take his name and place." Though it was almost certain that they, also, would soon be putto death, there were always found persons bold enough to come forward to be baptized-to take the place of the dead. "Now,"says the Apostle, "what advantage is there in this if the dead rise not ?"
30. And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? Why were the Apostles always subjecting themselves to cruel persecution?
31. I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I did daily. [See Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No.828, Volume 14-" Dying Daily."] He was so hunted about everywhere that there was not a day in which he felt secure of hislife, so he asks, "Why should I endure this if there is no world to come ?"
32. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me, if the dead rise not?It isquite possible that Paul was thrown to the lions in the theater at Ephesus and that he fought with them and came off a conqueror."But why," he asks, "did I try to save my life for future labor and for future suffering if the dead rise not?" 32. Let useat and drink; for tomorrow we die. This is the best philosophy in the world if there is no life to come. So Paul has provedhis point right well by every argument that he has used.