The Forgotten Resurrection!
It is exceedingly commonplace to hear talk of the "Cross", the "Cross-centered Life", the "Passion" (aka Mel Gibson) etc etc. Quite often C H Spurgeon is used as a historical backup for this perspective as he took a cross-centered perspective in much of his famous expository preaching.
It is my deep concern that to emphasise the Cross to the neglect of the Resurrection leads to an imbalance in our view of the finished work of Christ and may have devastating effects including legalism, negativism and a poor eschatology. Indeed Christ did die, and yes we must never forget that, but He ROSE AGAIN! Not only that He ascended to glory and is seated at the right hand of the Father from where the Holy Spirit was poured out "as coronation oil" as Ern Baxter called it.
The neglect of the resurrection is not a new error. The same Spurgeon himself knew this and said the following:
"The resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the righteous is a doctrine which we believe, but which we too seldom preach or care to read about ... when I turned to Dr. Owen's works, which are a most invaluable storehouse of divine knowledge, containing much that is valuable on almost every subject; I could find, even there, scarcely more than the slightest mention of the resurrection.
It has been set down as a well known truth, and therefore has never been discussed. Heresies have not risen up respecting it; it would almost have been a mercy if there had been, for whenever a truth is contested by heretics, the orthodox fight strongly for it, and the pulpit resounds with it every day. I am persuaded, however, that there is much power in this doctrine" - NPSP Sermon 66 - Feb 17th - 1856
I found the following sermon in the Metropolitan Tabernacle tomes and it seems to me to be a powerful reminder that yes, Spurgeon saw all from the Cross, yet he did not forget that Christ rose as will we and it is a powerful doctrine that should not and must not be forgotten. As before I have reproduced the headings and pertinent quotes but included the reference so any interested can find the volume and read the whole thing.
Christ's Resurrection and Our Newness of Life.
Sermon 2197 - Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, March 29th, 1891 - At the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Text: "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."—Romans 6:4.
1. The Resurrection of our Lord was attended with glory.
- In itself it was a great marvel.
- The resurrection of our Lord is glorious in contrast with His humiliation.
"The blaze of resurrection lights up the whole length of the Valley of the Shadow. His death wears no dishonor on its brow, for his rising again hath set a diadem thereon. We celebrate Gethsemane and Calvary, and find no bitterness in all their grief, because death is swallowed up in the victory of resurrection".
- His resurrection is glorious in it's effects.
"What a glory there is in our Lord's resurrection, when we further remember that he ever liveth to make intercession for us, and, therefore, he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him! The fullness of salvation comes to us because he has risen from the dead, and is now making intercession for the transgressors. O brethren, the resurrection of Jesus is bright as the sun with glory! Faith in it thrills our hearts. Well might each line of our hymn end with a Hallelujah. When we say one to another, "The Lord is risen indeed", we feel like singing all the time, for now our faith is not vain, we are not in our sins, and those who have fallen asleep have not perished".
- Our Lord's resurrection was glorious as to it's cause.
"If you ask where God's glory most is seen, I will not point to creation, nor to providence, but to the raising of Jesus from the dead".
- That resurrection is glorious, because of its sequel in reference to our Lord.
2. The Parallel in our experience is also full of glory.
- It is a blessed thing that we should be made alive in Christ.
- Quickening is a needful part of the process of sanctification.
- You are partakers of a new life.
- We have a pre-eminent security for future perfection.
3. The Life that is given is emphatically new.
- A life which we never before possessed.
- New in it's principles.
- Swayed by new motives.
- New objects.
- New emotions.
- New hopes.
"We have a hope of immortality; a hope so glorious, that it causes us to purify ourselves in preparation for its realization. We wait for the glorious appearing of our Lord. We look for new heavens and a new earth. We have a lively hope which defies death".
- New possessions.
- We have come into a new world altogether.
4. The Walk which comes out of this life is new.
- The new life that God gives us is exceedingly active.
"God's children are not of a sluggish race. There is vigor and fervency about them. They cannot sleep, as do others. The new life is akin to the life of angels, and angels do not spend the day in slumber or sloth. I never heard of sluggish angels. They are as flames of fire. The new life in a Christian is quick, energetic, forceful.
The new life produces a holy walk as soon as it is created. If you have been born unto God, you have cast off your lethargy, and are ready to run the race set before you. You may happen to be dull and sleepy occasionally through disease; but you will not choose this. When in spiritual health, you will glow with divine ardor, and burn with holy fervency, delighting yourself in serving the Lord".
- This activity of life induces progress.
"It is true we have the new life in us, but we have not yet obtained everything: we must climb higher, and go further. The new life grows".
- This walk is to be in newness of life.
"Let us have higher cares and diviner aspirations. Let us seek to live the life of heaven on earth. We are called unto righteousness; let us not follow after mammon. We are new creatures; may the Lord renew us day by day! Let us quit the old; for the time we have spent in it may well suffice. Now to a nobler destiny our soul aspires!".
- A life of joyful vivacity.
"The Christian man, living in newness of life, should find life fresh about him. Our inner man is renewed day by day. A healthy Christian is one of the liveliest creatures on earth. When he is at work you may hear him sing. He cannot help it; do not blame him for a little noise. Let him sing, and laugh till he cries. Sometimes he cannot help it; he will burst if his soul may not have vent. When he begins to talk about his Lord his eyes flash fire.
Some people hint that he is out of his mind; but those who know best assure us that he was never before so sane as now. Of course, the world thinks religion is such poor stuff that nobody could grow excited about it.
To my mind, cold religion is the nastiest dish ever brought to table. True godliness is served up hot. Newness of life means a soul aglow with love to God, and therefore earnest, zealous, happy. Let the believing man have space for his larger life, swing for his grander joy. Nay, do not gag him; let him sing his new song. If any man out of heaven has a right to be happy, it is the man who lives in newness of life. Come, beloved, I want you to go home to-day with the resolve that the newness of life shall be more apparent in your walk. Do not live the old life over again. Why should you? What good would come of it?"
Let me finish by a picture, which will show you what I mean by whole-heartedness. I have seen boys bathing in a river in the morning. One of them has just dipped his toes in the water, and he cries out, as he shivers, "Oh, it's so cold!" Another has gone in up to his ankles, and he also declares that it is fearfully chilly. But see! another runs to the bank, and takes a header. He rises all in a glow. All his blood is circulating, and he cries "Delicious! What a beautiful morning! I am all in a glow. The water is splendid!" That is the boy for enjoying a bath! You Christian people who are paddling about in the shallows of religion, and just dipping your toes into it—you stand shivering in the cold air of the world which you are afraid to leave. Oh, that you would plunge into the river of life! How it would brace you! What tone it would give you! In for it, young man! In for it!
Be a Christian, out and out. Serve the Lord with your whole being. Give yourself wholly to him who bought you with his blood. Plunge into the sacred flood by grace, and you will exclaim—
Oh, this is life! Oh, this is joy,My God, to find thee so!Thy face to see, thy voice to hear,And all thy love to know."
May we thus walk in newness of life! Amen.