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Resurrected Things

Resurrected Things poster

“Not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection.” —Hebrews 11:35

All nature is full of resurrected things. It would seem as if our northern lands God in His providence has brought together both the spiritual and the natural springtime that the world like an open book might speak to us of the deeper mysteries of the new creation where every blade of grass and every bursting bud and every blossom seems to whisper to us again, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake shall keep it unto life eternal.” The vast wheat fields of the western plains that are covering the land with a carpet of verdure and within a few weeks will be white unto harvest, are all resurrected things. At the root of every plant you will find a mouldering seed that was buried last September and now has risen hundredfold fullness. The falling leaves, which a few months ago we watched fluttering to their grave while Mother Nature buried them in tints of crimson and gold, have all come back again or are on the way as every plant and hillside are growing green with the new life of spring. The beautiful Easter lilies, the exquisite narcissus, the splendid tulip, the fragrant hyacinth, each has burst from a bulb that was buried in the autumn soil and has gone through the winter’s snow. The butterfly that soon will be basking in the spring sunshine has come out of the coffin that you will find in the form of a cocoon on the garden walk, and if it could speak, it would tell us the same story that all nature dies and lives again.

The very forces of our industrial life are resurrected things. The mighty Olympic is speeding across the ocean by resurrection power. The force that impels it has come from the buried forests of ancient geological ages, which were entombed in the strata of the earth and burned into coal, which is now being consumed in the hold of that mighty steamer and throbbing forth the forces of steam and electric power. So our very liberties, our successes and prosperity as a nation—all these things have blossomed and fruited from soldiers’ graves and from the sacrifices of pioneers who gave their lives that all men might be free. Yes, the advantages that you enjoy, your education, your position in life have come to you largely through the sacrifices of parents that lived, and toiled, and died that you might have things they never could enjoy. Indeed, our own successes, our own triumphs, our own progress in life all come to us through the sacrifices we ourselves have made through the giving up of ease, and indulgence, and selfish pleasure as we bury our lives in toil and sacrifice that we might reap the harvest again in the future successes. So it is true that life forevermore is fed by death, “and that a rose may breathe its breath something must die.” This story of the resurrection is the oldest story in the universe. We are walking today on the fossil tombs of ages gone, even as the islands of the Pacific are built upon the coral foundations made by the little insects who died to provide a foundation for those beautiful shores. Yes, God has written deep and high his marvelous truth, this first principle of redemption—death and resurrection.

Of course, the Bible is full of resurrected things. The first promise of redemption came out of dark, hopeless disaster. The very name of Eve, the living one, was given as an expression and a figure of a new life that was to come to her through her suffering seed, whose bruised heel was to bring the victory over the great destroyer. When two thousand years of human history had passed, there came again a decree of destruction, and God swept all men off the face of the earth, and out of that flood there came the germ of a new world, a single family resurrected, and a new race established, and the new covenant, and the rainbow with its glorious pledge that God would not again destroy the earth by a flood of water. When God selected the Patriarch, Abraham, to be the father of all that should believe, He taught him this very secret that was to be the keynote of the whole story of the coming redemption by taking his beloved Isaac, and bringing him to the very jaws of death on the altar of Moriah, and then resurrecting him and giving back his life to his father as a new life, as a resurrected life. For we are told that we received him from the dead as by a figure, and thus Isaac became the fore type of that coming One who was to be sacrificed on the altar of Calvary by the Father’s love for this lost world.

Again when God would found a great nation, He chose Moses by the same resurrection touch. His mother laid him down in the little ark of bullrushes in the Nile as one that had died and was buried from her arms. And then God took him back again and called him to be the leader of that nation and to stand before the world as the type of the One that should be raised up like unto him, the great Deliverer of the coming ages.

Again, when God was about to establish the kingdom under David, He called a similar leader, the prophet Samuel. It was by a similar sacrifice his mother gave him up in the little cot in Shiloh. All his boyhood years she loaned him to the Lord, as by a living death she surrendered her darling child. Out from that sacrifice God chose the first of the prophets, the founder of the prophetic school; and out of this came the reformation under Samuel, and the line of David himself, and the kingdom of Israel.

And then in the fullness of time God sent the supreme and final example and object lesson of this marvelous principle of the death-born life, His own beloved Son. Before He came, John the Baptist, His forerunner, had just one message of preparation, and that was baptism. And what is baptism? Baptism is just death and resurrection. Baptism is burial and renewal of life as from the grave. And John went unto the people, and the one word he proclaimed was, You are so truly lost there is no hope for you but in the death and resurrection by the One that is coming after me. He must first Himself be an example of death and resurrection, and then He is coming to lead you through the same pathway into life and glory. And Jesus was baptized of John in the Jordan as a figure of His own death and resurrection. As He went down into the waters, it was the rehearsal of Calvary. As He came up on the shore, while the heavens opened above Him, and the Father cried, “My beloved Son,” it was the foreshadowing of the resurrection morning. In due time He went down Himself into all the depths of death, and tasted death for every man on the cruel cross and in the lonely tomb and in the regions of the dead. Then He went up to the highest heavens, the Prince of Life, the One that liveth and was dead and is alive forevermore. The one message of Christ, and the one message of His apostles is the cross and the resurrection, the life that came out of death through the Master, and the life that must be death-born for all the followers of the Lamb.

It is not death merely, but it is life out of death. It is not the crucifix with the bleeding Saviour. It is the empty tomb and the glorified Master. It is not the shame and humiliation of weakness, the Ecce Homo worshipped by the dead church, the type of a dead ecclesiasticism. Oh, no! But it is the open grave and the Easter morning, and the Lord alive forevermore, for He who did die rose again, and having died once, He dieth no more, but hath brought life and immortality to light for Himself and for us through the Gospel.

It is not going far to add that if resurrected things are found in nature and found in the Bible, we may expect to find them also in our Christian life, for it is a resurrection life like the Master’s.

What are some of these resurrected things, dear friends, that God wants to make real to you and me?

  1. Our Salvation. I wonder if we clearly understand how complete our salvation is. So many people have an idea that it is just a reprieve, and that the sentence is merely suspended as long as we behave ourselves and that the verdict may come back and sentence yet meet us. Have you understood what the Master meant when He said, “It is finished”? Have you understood what the Holy Spirit said when He uttered those words, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus”? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. How have I escaped from the penalty of my sin? Has God just drawn a line through the record or erased it and left a mark where the inscription was? Is that all? Oh, no. Here is the secret of it. “He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification.” What is justification? Why, it is making a man as just and as right as if he had never sinned. And the apostle gives us the secret again when he says, “He that is dead is freed from sin.” The reason I am saved is because I am dead. I am not the man who sinned. That man is dead. That man has been judged. That man was identified with Christ on the cross and paid the penalty, and when Christ died, he died. “For if one died for all, then all died.” “Reckon yourselves, therefore, to be dead indeed unto sin.” And so the sinner is dead and gone, and you are not that sinner. You are to reckon by a process as sure as a sum in addition, that “having died with Christ” you die nor more, “death hath no more dominion over you.” The man that lives in you now is another man, a man that came out of the heart of Jesus, a man that was born out of heaven, a man that came from above. And, therefore, you are justified because you are dead and risen again. O beloved, that is the meaning of the atonement. That is the glory of the Gospel. That is the completeness of our salvation. Have you a salvation that can look in the face of God and can say,

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress,
Fearless with these bright garments on,
I’ll face the splendors of Thy throne.”

  1. Our Spiritual Life. We not only need to be delivered from our past debts, from the old bills, liabilities, and accounts that have made us bankrupt and that were bringing down upon us the judgment of God, but we also need a life that will carry us through. We need to have a new dispensation, a new spirit, a new nature, a quickened life. And so we read again, “I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Your new life is not trying to make the old man good. The only thing to do with him is to bury him. He is past improving. He never can be reformed. Get him out of sight and out of consciousness. Then get a new Christ life in you, and it will live itself just for the joy of living. It will be sweet because He is sweet, and pure because He is pure. It is not trying, but trusting. It is letting your light so shine that it will be as natural as breathing and as easy as it is for the grapevine to bear grapes, for “if ye abide in Me and I in you, ye shall bring forth much fruit.” Is it not a delightful salvation? Is it not a glorious life?
  2. The Overcoming Of Our Natural Life. We may be delivered from our sins; we may be saved from our sinful acts and habits, and yet we may be thoroughly natural still and not deeply spiritual. We may not yet have received the divine touch which lifts every human affection and every human attribute to a higher and diviner plane. Let me explain this by a very simple figure. You know that natural peaches are not any good. They are worthless: they are almonds, mostly stones. A natural apple is a hawthorn. There are lots of thorns and there is a form of fruit, but it is very little good. Develop it a little, and you call it a crab. Grafting takes the natural peach and makes it a luscious peach fit for the market. It takes the hawthorn berry fruit and makes it a splendid pippin. That is what God wants to do with your life and mine. He wants to graft them into Christ until we shall not have our natural way of looking at people and things, but the divine. The natural way is “Love thy neighbor as thyself”; but the divine is “Love…as I have loved you.” The natural way is to treat him as he deserves; the divine way is treat him as I treated you in the exercise of my grace. The natural way is forgive him if he makes good; the divine way is forgive him until seventy times seven. God had to take Abraham’s Isaac and make him God’s Isaac. Abraham loved Isaac as his own son, but when he gave him up and got him back, he loved him as God’s son. When you cling to your husband, and children, and friends, and fortunes, and say, They are mine, they ensnare you and become idols to you. But when you give them to God, and every affection is grafted into the spirit of Christ, God looks after these things because they are His property, and you enter into His everlasting rest. And so God wants us to have a resurrected life, grafted into the Spirit and sweetness of Christ.
  3. Resurrected Trials. Then we want to have our trials resurrected, the hard things that come to us, and rasp us, and sting us, until they shall become sweetness and patience and the joy that the world can neither give nor take away. You have heard, I dare say, of that Englishman who was told by his physician that in a few days he would be totally blind. He went to the girl he loved and told her. The doctor said, If you have a friend on Earth that you want to see before the shadows fall, go quickly. He went to this girl that he so fondly loved, and he told her that he was growing blind. And she said, “If you are becoming blind, I don’t want you. I am not going to tie my life to a blind man.” He went away with a broken heart, but at last at the feet of Jesus he sang that exquisite hymn, “O love, that will not let me go,” There was a love that would let him go, but out of that he rose to the love that never fails, and he became afterwards the sweet singer and the holy teacher of tens of thousands of his fellow Christians, because he had a resurrected sorrow, and he could sing:

“I lay in dust life’s glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.”

We have our trials. Are we going to get above them or under them? Are we going to touch them with the resurrection, or are they going to submerge us? That is the meaning of Easter. It has taught us that One has gone above everything, and we can go above them too. Shall we in the power of His resurrection have victory over worry, care, evil, and sorrow, and rejoice evermore?

  1. Then again, we want to have our voluntary sacrifices resurrected, transfigured, and glorified. God does not compel you to let things go, but He lets you. David did not order his men to go down to the well of Bethlehem and at the risk of their lives bring him water. They went for love. And all along the way there are things we can let go and lay down in the spirit of the cross, and out of them God will bring our crowns, our eternal jewels of recompense and reward. That mother that sacrifices her life for her boy that he may be to the world what she could never be, passes down to the grave obscure and unknown; but that life that came out of her sacrifice becomes perhaps a blessing to all mankind. That sweet girl who stays at home and lets her brother go to college, and waits on the old people, and stands aside, and becomes a blessed old maid for Jesus, O beloved, what a resurrection she is going to have here, and what a recompense by and by. Thank God, the church is full of them, and they are going to shine as the stars forever and ever.

Our work must be crucified and resurrected work. We must often see it go down into apparent discouragement and even failure, and believe in the God of the resurrection that can bring it up and give back the fullness of the harvest as He has done ten thousand times. Our gifts and sacrifices for the Gospel must often seem to be lost and we wait long for the returns. But, oh, some day like the Swedish queen who had given her jewels to build a hospital for fallen girls, as she came back and saw the shining faces of these same women, she burst into tears and said, “Thank God, I have my jewels.” Shall we invest our treasures in His holy hands and some day let Him return it a thousandfold.

And then our hopes are eternal hopes, resurrection hopes. “Good-bye,” said a little lad as he fondled the hand that the doctor had just cut off. “I’ll get you back in the resurrection.” Yes, we have said good-bye to many things. Thank God we shall get them back in the resurrection. They are safe in His holy keeping, and when He comes, He will bring them with Him.

I remember the first time that death touched my childish home. I was a lad of eight or nine when my little sister grew ill. They made me step softly, and they looked so solemn, and the house was so still. The next morning they let me go in on tiptoe to look upon that still face, and kiss those cold lips, and oh, how I shuddered as to my heart there came the first thrill of death. I remember that funeral service, and how my dear old father himself gave out the hymn and sang with broken voice that sweet old Scottish paraphrase that I learned by heart from that moment and that gave me my first conception of His love.

“The saints of God, from death set free,
With joy shall mount on high;
The heavenly host with praises loud
Shall meet them in the sky.
Together to their Father’s house
With joyful hearts they go,
And dwell forever with the Lord
Beyond the reach of woe.”

And I can still see that sweet old face and hear that broken tone as he sang on,

“A few short years of evil past,
We reach that happy shore,
Where death-divided friends at last,
Shall meet to part no more.”

And from that moment there rose a new hope in my poor dark soul. Many and many an evening and Sunday afternoon I stole to the little green hill where the only thing I had ever lost was waiting for His coming, and I just thanked God for the hope of the resurrection and the Lord’s appearing. More than sixty years have passed since then, and the dear father and mother are mouldering in the dust; half my own household have joined them and so many of my best beloved have gone, but, oh, what would I take for the blessed hope for the coming of the Lord and the resurrection morning?

Beloved, what does it mean to you? What does it matter about everything else if that is sure? What shall the harvest be? What is coming to you after all the winters are over and all the Easters are past? What is coming out of this old wreck of the world?