Back to Gregory Mantle
Beyond Humiliation: The Way of the Cross
The Risen Life
“Dying together” with Jesus,
This is the end of strife
“Buried together” with Jesus,
This is the gate of life
“Quickened together” with Jesus,
By the touch of God’s mighty breath;
“Risen together” with Jesus;
Where is thy sting, O Death?
“Living together” with Jesus,
Walking this earth with God;
Telling Him all we are doing,
Casting on Him every load.
Living His life for others,
Seeking alone His will,
Resting beneath His shadow,
With a heart ever glad and still.
“Seated together” with Jesus,
In the “heavenly place” of love;
Love, unequaled — unending,
In the heart of the Father above.
“Seated together” with Jesus,
To live out the love of God,
And so win this world unloving,
By His love so deep and so broad.
— Bessie Porter
The Cross of Christ, as St. Paul preached I it, contains all the elements of moral regeneration and of spiritual life. He never gloried in the Cross as a narrow technicality, but as illustrating, and, we might even say incarnating the length and breadth, and depth and height of the love of God. To the apostle, the Cross of Christ started from the Incarnation on the one side, and led up to the Ascension and Enthronement on the other.
“If we have become united with Him by the likeness of His death, we shall be also by the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. vi. 5). According to the completeness of our union with Him in the one, will be the completeness of our union with Him in the other. Unbelief repudiates what Christ has done; for, as Dr. Pﬂeiderer says: “The objective reconciliation effected in Christ’s death can after all beneﬁt actually, in their own personal consciousness, only those who know and acknowledge it, and feel themselves in their solidarity with Christ to be so much one with Him as to be able to appropriate inwardly His death and celestial life, and to live over again His life and death; those only, in a word, who truly believe in Christ.” Paul’s faith fully endorsed all that Christ had done ‘as His representative. He had joined His Saviour on the Cross, he had gone down with Him into the grave, and because He had come forth from the tomb Paul had come forth too, for “in this appropriation of the death and rising of the Lord Jesus there are three stages, corresponding to the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Eastertide. Christ died for our sins; He was buried; He rose again the third day:’ so, by consequence, ‘I am cruciﬁed with Christ; no longer do I live; Christ liveth in me.’ “ [Findlay, Galations, p. 159]
Burial is the seal and certiﬁcate of death. Christ’s interment in the rock-hewn sepulcher gave conclusive evidence of the reality of His death. His enemies said, “That is the end of another deception,” while His friends said, “We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel.” The phrase “buried with Christ” denotes, then, the absoluteness of our death with Him, as a man who passes away is said to be dead and buried. The relatives and friends of a Hindu convert to Christianity, in order to show how completely they had cast him off, actually celebrated his funeral, and treated him, after this open display of his death, as if he really no longer existed.
The reckoning of faith which results in identiﬁcation with Christ in His death may be at ﬁrst a secret and only known to God and ourselves, but it cannot remain a secret. The average Roman of the period when this letter was written was accustomed to the amphitheater. He became, by the law of association, brutalized and ferocious to the last degree. Coming under the power of Christ, he died to the degradation and cruelty of the amphitheater, and because the fashions of the age were such that no follower of Christ could consent to them, he became dead to society, and of necessity the secret was soon out that he had joined the ranks of the despised Nazarene. He was as much dead and buried to these things as if his body had been laid in the grave.
Just as we have all known what it is to turn away at last from the grave-side where the body of some loved one has been laid to rest; just as we have lingered to take the last look at the cofﬁn, and have then come away with tear-dimmed eyes, feeling all was over, so they who are really dead and buried with Christ think of that old natural self as having been wrapped in its winding-sheet, and buried in the dark grave with Christ’s burial. The old habits, the old besetments, the old sins are, by a faith that knows nothing of intermittency, completely past and gone. So Tersteegen sings:
“Dead and cruciﬁed with Thee, passed beyond my doom;
Sin and law for ever silenced in Thy tomb.
“Passed beyond the mighty curse, dead, from sin set free;
Not for Thee earth’s joy and music, not for me.”
“Dead, the sinner past and gone, not the sin alone;
Living, where Thou art in glory on the throne.”
And now let us dwell on some of the features of this risen life. It introduces us into a new world; “it puts an end to all our former opinions, notions, and tempers; it opens new senses in us, and makes us see high to be low, and low to be high; wisdom to be foolishness, and foolishness wisdom; it makes prosperity and adversity, praise and dispraise, to be equally nothing.”
This risen life is marked by perpetuity. There are animals which hibernate, and for all practical purposes are dead for a season: for a season they abandon their haunts and habits, but when the warmth of spring penetrates their burying-place, there is a revival of their old instincts. So there are those whose death is so unreal, that the. abandonment of sin is only temporary, and while they think themselves dead, the soul of sin lives on underneath the lethargic surface, and when the cause of its insensibility has passed away, returns with strengthened life to all its old habits and ways. Such was not the death and risen life of Jesus. This may mean, and to unwavering faith will mean the entrance into an experience where there need be no relapses into sin. The death that He died, He died unto sin once for all; but the life that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Even so, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ” (Rom. vi. 10, 11). Let us emphasize that once for all. There should be no relapses into the realm of death. Sin is the tomb of the soul, and if we have risen, let us be sure we do not return to it. There must be no periodic visits to the sepulcher; we must die unto sin once for all, and as Jesus never returned to the sepulcher after He left it, so let us resolve in the power of the Holy Spirit never to return; so that it may be said of us with regard to the old associations, habits, and indulgences, as it was said of our Lord, “He is not here, He is risen.”
Again, this risen life is marked by activity. We are to be, as the risen Jesus was, “alive for God.” The words point to a life of which God is the only aim. A life which in every thought, word and act is for God. To be alive for anyone is to be keenly devoted to the advancement of that one’s interests. The tradesman does not simply want as assistants those who will keep their hands out of his till, but those who are so alive for him as to make his interests their own.
The deviation of a ship’s compass from the true magnetic meridian is caused by the near presence of iron. This disturbing inﬂuence must be neutralized or the compass becomes worthless. The deviation of the soul from its God-ward course is caused by the presence of sin, and so long as we remain unbelieving concerning our cruciﬁxion with Christ, we shall be alive to its power and therefore not truly alive for God. There are disturbing forces at work in the unsanctiﬁed soul which prevent the hearing of God’s voice and the doing of God’s will.
When Paul was charged by the Corinthians with caprice and ﬁckleness (2 Cor. i.), he denied the charge on the ground that he was a spiritual Christian. “The things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the ﬂesh that with me there should be the yea, yea, and the nay, nay?” Paul’s inner being was once like an undisciplined mob, the voices of self-interest, ambition, and of policy being all heard in turn, but it was not so now. He claims to be “established in Christ, and to be “anointed,” which “means freedom from all selﬁsh and personal wishes, deliverance from those passions whose name is legion, and power to sit at the feet of Jesus clothed and in our right mind! A man who is free from the manifold motives of self-will moves like the sun — steady, majestic, with no variableness, neither shadow of turning. His course can be calculated. Paul claimed that because he was in Christ he could not be tricky, or maneuver, or do underhand things.”
Fullness of life will certainly result in activity and intensity. The man who is really united to Jesus has his own life destroyed out of him and the life of Christ communicated to him. The life which Christ reproduces in us cannot be idle, unsympathetic, cold, parsimonious, or seclusive from men’s joys and sorrows. That life will unfold itself, where there is nothing to hinder it, as naturally as the vine produces grapes. “I confess,” says Madame Guyon, “I do not understand the resurrection state of certain Christians who profess to have attained it, and who yet remain all their lives powerless and destitute: for here the soul takes up a true life. The actions of a raised man are the actions of life; and if the soul remains lifeless, I say that it may be dead or buried but not risen. A risen soul should be able to perform without difﬁculty all the actions which it has performed in the past, only they would be done in God. Those who believe themselves to be risen with Christ, and who are nevertheless stunted. in their spiritual growth and incapable of devotion — I say, they do not possess a resurrection life, for there everything is restored to the soul a hundred-fold.”
There ought to be no room for the objection that this life of perfect union with ‘a risen Saviour leads to an introspective and largely meditative life. It is difﬁcult to detect anything that is introspective in the lives of George Fox and John Wesley, for example, after they had entered into resurrection-life. Their lives were ﬁlled with holy, self-forgetful activities. Like their Master they were anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, and they went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed with the devil, for God was with them (Acts x. 38). This risen life is not the imitation of a splendid model but the indwelling of a living Person. The Christlife is only the outward development of the Christ nature; the life manifesting itself after its kind. Personal and abiding union with Him makes it as easy for the believer to do Christlike works as for the branch to bear the luscious fruit when it is in unhindered fellowship with the vine. “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from Me ye can do nothing” John xv. 5). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father” (John xiv. 12).
This risen life is characterized by newness. In everything which is really of God there is a singular freshness and novelty. We are raised with Jesus that we may walk henceforth in “newness of life,” and “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. v. 17). God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, and this newness of life is the crowning joy of union with the risen Jesus. We blunder when we make the mystic grave the goal; for we are the children of the resurrection, and the goal is life so unspeakably energizing, fresh, free, and joyous, as that words fail to describe its blessedness. This new life is so heavenly in its character, that it makes its possessor responsive to everything with which it has afﬁnity, both in heaven and earth. Who can enjoy the sounds and sights of this fair world — which are but “the drapery of the robe in which the Invisible has clothed Himself” — like the man who is living in the perpetual enjoyment of God’s fresh life? Having been brought into perfect harmony with God, he appreciates everything in its true and divine relation — all in God, and God in all. He sings as only a child of the resurrection can sing:—
“Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green,
Something lives in every hue,
Christless eyes have never seen
Birds with gladder songs o’erﬂow,
Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.”
The risen life is once more a hidden life. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. iii. 3). “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. vi. 17). “ I am not ashamed to say that I believe there Is an experience of union with the Lord which is rightly characterized as pantheistic, in which God has met all the needs of the soul, and has becomes the indwelling power of the human spirit; that the man who is thus united to God moves as God moves, and acts as the Lord wills him to act in the body and in the circumstances in which he is placed. Christ can be all in all in the nineteenth century as well as in the ﬁrst, and we do not need to think Him less than He wishes to be to those who trust in Him.” [J. Rendel Harris, Union With God, p. 142]
It was from this fact that the early disciples derived much of their strength and courage. Thus Paul wrote: “Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you: for which cause we faint not: for though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. iv. 14, 16). The calm of God’s presence had settled down upon the man who wrote these words, and in nothing was he terriﬁed by his adversaries; living his life “within the veil,” he knew that in the very perfection of opposition (see Rom. viii. 35.37) he would be more than conqueror through Him who loved him. The adversaries might rage, the storms might beat, the kings of the earth might set them. selves against the Lord’s anointed ones, but though the circumference was a whirl the center was at rest, and the secret was a life hidden with Christ, where no sharp arrow from the enemy’s bow could penetrate, and where there was consequent “quietness and conﬁdence for ever” (Isa. xxxii. 17).
In one of the Perthshire valleys there is a tree which sprang up on the rocky side of a little brook, where there was no kindly soil in which it could spread its roots, or by which it could be nourished. For a long time it was stunted and unhealthy, but at length, by what may be called a wonderful vegetable instinct, it sent a ﬁber out across a narrow sheep-bridge which was close beside it. Then ﬁxing itself in the rich loam on the opposite bank of the streamlet, it began to draw sap and sustenance, and speedily became vigorous. What that tiny bridge was to the tree, the resurrection of Jesus is to the believer. If the roots of our life are in our Risen Lord, we shall not be stunted and unhealthy, as they must ever be who seek to ﬁnd nourishment for their spiritual life in the unkindly soil of the world. “Thus saith the Lord, Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh ﬂesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord: for he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit parched places in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose trust the Lord is: for he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. xvii. 5-8).
Tauler beautifully says: “As a lodestone draws the iron after itself, so doth Christ draw all hearts after Himself which have once been touched by Him; and as when the iron is impregnated with the energy of the lodestone that has touched it, it follows the stone uphill although that is contrary to its nature, and cannot rest in its own proper place, but strives to rise above itself on high; so all the souls which have been touched by this lodestone, Christ, can neither be chained down by joy nor grief, but are ever rising up to God, out of themselves. They forget their own nature, and follow after the touch of God, and follow it the more easily and directly the more they are touched by God’s ﬁnger.”
True resurrection life is an unchanging life. The Aaronic priesthood was marked, as the writer to the Hebrews tells us, by intermittency and change. “They indeed have been made priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: but He, because He abideth for ever, hath His priesthood unchangeable. Wherefore also He is able to save completely them that draw near unto God through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. vii. 23.25). The whole system was marked by change, weakness, and death. It could not affect anything that was abiding and permanent, much less that was eternal. And the inner life of the worshipper corresponded to the system; it was marked by ﬂuctuation and decay. There was excuse for an intermittent spiritual life then, there is none now, because our Priest “ever liveth.” The life He lives is one of irresistible strength and energy, and is indissoluble and indestructible in its character. It is a life that withstands victoriously the wear of time, the convulsions wrought by the progress of knowledge, and the severest assaults of hostile criticism. Just as the life in the power of which He ministers is unchangeable, so the life He ministers to all who are in perfect union with Him is a life that is unchangeable too. And because there is never a moment when His priestly action, His watchful care, His loving sympathy and succor, His working in us the power of an endless life are not in full operation, we may abide for ever in the life-currents which ﬂow from the throne of our Risen Lord through the power of the Holy Ghost, who is sent forth from the Father to be the bearer of this unchanging and abundant life to every soul that wills to receive it.
There comes to us, if we will but appropriate it, moment by moment, through the indwelling of Christ’s other Self, heavenly life, heavenly peace, heavenly joy, heavenly victory:
“All the life of heaven above,
All the life of glorious love;
for “the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The intermittency which may have marked and marred our lives in the past, need therefore be our experience no more, and will be no more ours while “we walk in the light as He is in the light,” and practically recognize the truth, “All my fresh springs are in Thee.”
It follows from all that has been said that this risen life is characterized, lastly, by complete and constant victory. “Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over Him” (Rom. vi. 9). The death of Christ meant the conquest of the world, the ﬂesh, and the devil. “He was cruciﬁed through weakness, yet He liveth through the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him through the power of God toward you” (2 Cor. xiii. 4). Christ’s human body came at last to an end of all its capacities and resources, and He died of mortal weakness. We see Him bearing the burden of the world’s sin, despised and rejected, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; surrounded by taunting foes, scourged, buffeted, spit upon, bound upon the Cross of shame, then dying of a broken heart. “He was cruciﬁed through weakness, but He liveth through the power of God.”
When Paul wants a concrete illustration of this power, he turns to the tomb of Jesus, and tells us that the ﬂood-tide of resurrection power which invaded that lifeless form, that irresistible vital force which swept through that cold clay and renovated it until it was instinct with resurrection-life and beauty in every part, is the power which is to usward who believe (Eph. i. 19, 20). And when, like that worn and exhausted body, our native powers are brought by the withering breath of the Holy Spirit to utter collapse, we are in the place where we may begin to live by the power of God; where He Who lifted Jesus out of the grave, out of the earth, into heaven, and then to the throne of God in heaven, will raise us up also with Him. The power that effected the one miracle is quite equal to the accomplishment of the other (Col. ii. 12).
The victory of the head carries with it the victory of the body. By virtue of our union with Christ we are placed under the inﬂuence of an ascending power by which we are drawn higher and higher. Just as when a man, lying upon the ground, gets up and stands upright, his upright posture draws up with it all his limbs, so in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, the risen Head, necessarily draws up all the mystical members. The subordination also of every force, whether hostile or friendly, carries also with it present victory and exaltation for every member of the true Church, “which is His body, the fulness of Him that ﬁlleth all in all” (Eph. i. 19-23).