What does the Resurrection of Christ mean?
...Above all, first of all, and through all, we are to remember the risen Christ. we cannot forget, if we listen to the Spirit's voice, as He speaks to us in the Word. Too often we want to forget His Word. Like the little girl in the following incident, we cannot forget:
"Little Bertha climbed up in the chair and reached the shelf over the grate. 'Careful! Bertha!' said her mother; 'what are you trying to do?' 'I'm trying to put my mite box 'hind the clock,' answered the wee girl. 'But why do you put it there? You can't see it if you do.' 'Don't want to see it any more,' and Bertha gave the tiny red house a push which sent it out of sight. then she got down and stood beside her mother, with hands clasped behind her, and a frown on her face. 'Now, what makes my girlie look so naughty?' asked mamma. ' 'Cause I don't want to give one sent of my dime that Aunt Laura gave me. The box says: 'Suffer little chil'ens to come unto Me,' and thata means give a cent. Now I can't see box a' tall.'
But Bertha could not forget. She walked around a long while with the silver dime held in one small fist, but at night she got it turned into pennies, and poked one into the box.
'Then you didn't forget?' said mamma. Bertha held her head on one side, and smiled a little as she replied: 'The old clock wouldn't let me. It's been saying 'Suffer little chil'ens' all day. Didn't you hear it?'
The old clock of God's Word will ever remind us, if we will but listen to it, of the risen Christ. Remind us of Him in the cleansing of His sanctifying touch, in the searching of His holy gaze, in the thrill of His inspiring love, in the tenderness of His sympathetic heart, in the skill of His guiding hand, in the service of His willing feet, in the influence of His holy Word, in the sufficiency of His almighty grace, and in the beauty of His fascinating person.
The Believer's Salvation. Dean Church, in referring to the resurrection of Christ as a historical fact, as the basis of the believer's salvation, says: 'The Christian Church is founded on a definite historic fact: that Jesus Christ, who was crucified, rose from the dead; and coming from such an Author, it comes to us, bringing with it the Bible...A so-called Christianity, ignoring or playing with Christ's Resurrection, and using the Bible as a sort of Homer, may satisfy a class of clever and cultivated persons...But it is well, in so serious a matter, not to confuse things. This new religion may borrow from Christianity as it may borrow from Plato, or from Buddhism, or Confucianism, or even Islam. But it is not Christianity...A Christianity which tells us to think of Christ doing good, but to forget and put out of sight Christ risen from the dead, is not true to life. It is as delusive to the conscience and the soul as it is illogical to reason.'
On the other hand, since Christ is risen from the dead we may say, that that fact is conclusive to the faith of the believer; for it puts him in touch with the living Christ, who gives life to the soul, cleansing to the conscience, peace to the heart, satisfaction to the spirit, rest to the mind, soul to love, reality to faith, zest to service, aim to life, and certainty to hope.
Perhaps there is no clearer passage of Scripture, in which the resurrection of Christ and the salvation of the believer are associated, than Romes x. 9, l0, where we read: 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteous; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'
The gospel is seen in this verse objectively and subjectively.
Objectively salvation is traced up to God who raised Christ from the dead. the faith of the believer is directed to the Lord Jesus as the One who makes known who God is, what He is, and what He can do. As the atmosphere irradiates the glory of the sun, so Christ manifests the glory of God; hence, behind Christ and all He did is found God Himself, even as the foliage of the tree proclaims the rootage of the roots.
The late Professor C.S. Harrington, held in such high esteem for his deep spiritual attainments, as well as for his thorough scholarship, wrote near the close of his life: 'The faith that makes men righteous is the faith that fastens simply and trustingly on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only all-sufficient, atoning Saviour. It is that faith in Jesus that blots out our transgressions, makes our record clear. It is Jesus that gives spiritual life. It is He that continues it. This faith merges the believer's life into the life of Christ. It dares not, it wishes not, a moment's separation. It knows no historic past; it deals only in the present tenses. It echoes Paul's prayer: 'Let me be found in Him.' I cannot tell the process; I cannot explain the power by which the black coal is transformed into the gleaming diamond; how much less can I tell how, by the mystery of the new birth, the lost, dead soul lives by the merit of Jesus. I cannot tell how the living tree gets its flower and fruit from the dead substance in which it is rooted, and on which it feeds; how much less can I tell how the wounds, the blood, the death of Christ gies life to the soul dead in trespasses and sins, and clothes it with the fruitage of hiliness.' Enough for the believer that the black past is blotted out, without troubling himself as to how it has been accomplished, other than this - it is through the death and resurrection of Christ.
How different man-made gospels are from the gospel of God's grace. The gospel of socialism says: "Improve the man's surroundings, make his environment more favourable, and you will make the man.' the gospel of god says: ' Let God infuse into you Divine life and love, and then you will have power to improve your surroundings, because you will be improved.'
The gospel of morality bids us 'be good. Follow a lofty ideal.' Its preachment is, 'The true grandeur of humanity.' This is nothing else than merely whitewashing the sinner, and not washing him white. The veneer of morality can never take the place of faith in Jesus Christ, which leads to the spirituality of life and thought. The gospel does this, for it cleanses that which is within; the consequence is, the life without corresponds.
The gospel of rationalism has a wrong centre to begin with, hence every step which leads to the circumference of the life is wrong too; for where self is on the throne of the heart, it is like a drop of poison in a glass of sparkling water, it contaminates the whole. The gospel of christ puts Christ on the throne of the heart, and makes every member of the man's being a glad vassal of the will of God.
The gospel of ritualism makes much of outward show and religious trappings; too often it is occupied with the shell of the nut, and gives to the poor sinner husks instead of bread. The gospel, like Christ, ever feeds the hungry multitude. The one is the worship of the golden calf to the sensuous delight of the creature; while the other is the feeding upon the fatted calf of the Father's providing love, to the satisfaction of the Father and the repentant prodigal.
The gospel ever directs our thought to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The one thing which at once impresses the reader of the gospels is, that direct appeal to the Lord Jesus always brought direct aid. In every case mentioned in the gospels where blessing came to people, it was obtained when they got their eyes fixed on Christ. The same is true to-day, for no soul ever yet cried to Him but was answered. Southey puts it well when he says:
They who lay these four things before the Lord have always found their nothingness is met by God's great Something - Christ, their wants by His infinite supply, their sins by His cleansing blood, and their contrition by His appreciative love.
'Confess Jesus as Lord.' To confess Jesus as Lord means to submit to His sway, and to acknowledge His rule. There are many instances in the gospel where men recognized His Lordship by speaking to Him as Lord; and whenever they did this, He put their affirmation to the test; thus, when a man said, 'Lord, I will follow Thee,' and asked if he might first bid them farewell at home, Christ reminded him that he was not fit to follow Him if he looked back. those who put Christ first do not put any other thing between themselves and Him. A similar thing was said to the man who wanted first to bury his father before he followed Christ. To his 'Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.'
Christ's imperative reply was: 'Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.' Christ claims the first place, the whole heart, and the entire sway; for He knows if He is not crowned Lord of all. Those who crown Christ Lord of all say, with Mephibosheth, 'Let Him take all' (II Sam. xix. 30); and they are glad that all should be under His sway, that He may make every whit utter His glory (Psalm xxix.9).
Shakespeare makes Portia say to her waiting maid:
Whereupon Nerissa replies:
The maid reminds her mistress:
As she calls attention to the happy 'mean' which satisfies, without the surfeiting of plenty, or the gnawing of penury, so the believer can think of the satisfying portion which he finds in Christ, and know that satisfaction and happiness are seated in the mean of Christ's resurrection.