The Fruits of Christ’s Resurrection

 •  34 min. read  •  grade level: 10
John 12:20-2420And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:20‑24); Hebrews 2:6-156But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:6‑15)
We were considering together last week the great fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from among the dead, simply and almost exclusively as fact, without touching much, if at all, on the consequences and fruits which flow from His resurrection. We were occupied mainly in looking at it as the great basis and foundation not only of the manifestation of the glory of His Person, declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from amongst the dead, but as the public testimony which God was pleased to give through it to the full efficacy of all that Christ undertook to do.
And now this evening I propose that we should look, not at all (for it would be impossible in the course of an evening to look at all the mighty consequences of His resurrection), but at some of the consequences or fruits of it, both as regards God’s glory and the blessing of all that are His own.
And, first, mark this, that up to the moment of His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ, both in that beautiful, wonderful life of fragrance and frankincense before God which His life as a man down here upon earth was, and in His precious death on that cross, and all that was involved in it, was alone, even up to the moment of His taking His place publicly as the risen Man upon earth, God calling attention to the fact of His resurrection and to all that was connected with it; He was the solitary Man; His life was entirely a lonely life, beautiful, unique, and there were none with Him. True, He chose and called His disciples that they should be with Him, but they never accompanied Him really. He was solitary beyond all thought. He brought none to His own stand-point. He walked alone through this world. That is what peculiarly marked the path of the blessed One. He was unique in the testimony of that beautiful life; but there was no other to be found on earth but Himself. It was not that He did not feel for misery and distress, and that He did not enter into everything in His path as He met it. He did as none else could; but still there He was alone. And I need not say that in His death He was still more alone. There He entered into a solitude deeper than any heart could conceive. I speak now specially of that one transcendent moment when He was forsaken of God on that cross; never was there a solitude like that solitude. All through His blessed life, He was here, as far as men were concerned, apart from all; still, there was the companionship and sustainment of His Father. You remember those words, they are touching words, too, coming from His lips: “The hour is coming, and now is, when ye shall be scattered every one to his own, and shall leave me alone, and yet I am not alone, but the Father is with me.”
But, beloved, on that cross where He undertook to meet the judgment of a holy God due to sin, where He exposed Himself to all the full consequences of the divine judgment because of sin, where He drank that dreadful cup, taking it from His Father’s hand, where He met the whole of God’s righteous, holy claims, and where He allowed the sword of divine justice to be sheathed in His own heart, so to speak, there He entered into a solitude indescribable by human lips: He was alone as no one ever was alone, He drank that dreadful cup, He went down there under death alone. And when that blessed body was placed in the tomb, when it was enshrined in a sepulcher that never covered man’s corruption (for God reserved for the body of Jesus that special, peculiar honor), there He was alone.
And, in the very earliest moments of His resurrection, He is so in the moments, for instance, that are set forth in type and figure in that magnificent twenty-third chapter of Leviticus which speaks of the wave-sheaf, that sheaf of firstfruits which was waved before Jehovah in its own magnificent perfections, no offering for sin accompanying it, but the full complement of all sweet savor offerings with it; there was the burnt-offering and the meat-offering–-the offering that spoke of perfection in life, and the offering that spoke of perfection in life given up—but no sin-offering. Why? Because Christ could be presented in His own Person in all the spotlessness and holiness and perfection of it before God, and He was. But when you look at Lev. 23, and see that sheaf of the first-fruits of the harvest of Canaan, that which grew in that land and belonged to that land, when that was reaped by Israel, they were to take that on the morrow after the Sabbath, on the eighth day, on the first day of the week, and they were to wave that, in its own beauteous perfection, before Jehovah; there, beloved brethren, was solitariness as well.
In the first moments, so to speak, of His resurrection as the firstfruits, He was there in all His solitary blessedness, in all the perfection of that which belonged to Himself peculiarly. And that it is which gives such sweetness and preciousness to the soul when read as the type of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not be under any misunderstanding as to this, for it involved all that was to follow, it was the pledge, the security, the pattern, the sample, of what was to follow; but there was a blessedness about that sheaf that belonged to itself, there was no offering needed there, but the burnt-offering and the meat-offering with their fragrance—life and life given up in their two-fold perfection, all waved before Jehovah.
But that ended the solitariness of Jesus; He is alone no more. And that is why I refer you to that beautiful chapter, John 12, where He gives utterance to it in very touching words. Everything was ready for the glory of the kingdom, as it were. Israel for the moment received Him, the Gentiles come up and want to see Him, just what will come out at the coming day. The Spirit of God gives you a beautiful picture of the coming glory in all this: Israel and the Gentiles, and Christ the Center. Whether it was but for the time being a feeble acceptation by His own people, as it was historically, or whether it was the curiosity of the Greeks that came up to worship at the feast that wanted to see this wonderful One, the kingdom in its glories and all its constituent parts passed before the eyes of the blessed Lord there. Mark the words: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone” {John 12:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)}.
Now that is just what we have been looking at, He was alone—He remained alone, alone His perfection, alone in His blessedness, alone all the preciousness of what He was in His own Person to God in all His life; but now, mark, “if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
And there, beloved, is the first thing that itself is with the fruit of His resurrection. And it is a wonderful truth for our hearts to be occupied with, that the Lord gives utterance in those words to that which in grace He has made us to be, as part of the effects of His precious death—we are the fruit of it, we are part of that fruit, we have sprung, so to speak, as to our new history, our new origin from Christ risen, as to the new start that God in His wonderful grace has given us, it sprang out of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is a completely new thing that is begun in that risen Man, as such, we have sprung from that death. That death closed the door upon everything that went before. That death wound up and finished the history of all that had passed, there before, whether under trial, whether tested by God, whatever it was, death judicially closed the history of that thing before God. But here, now, we are in company with a fresh thing, new thing. And what an amazing reality for our souls to take in! Think of the dignity of the place God in His wonderful grace, and in virtue of redemption, has set us in; that you and I, beloved brethren, in virtue of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ associated with Him in His death, associated with Him in all the marvelous blessedness of that death, should be now united to Him—we are one with Him. For if I speak of our being quickened together with Christ, raised up together, and seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, as we see it in Eph. 2, it brings in both union and new creation. It is an entirely new thing, a new history; but it is fruit of His death, and that is what, through grace, we who believe in His blessed name are, even fruit of His death. We have sprung from that one only corn of wheat—I say it with reverence—that one grain as it were in God’s granary, that alone could produce this new wonderful harvest to God’s glory.
Well, now, in keeping precisely with that are the words prophetically applied to Him in Heb. 2:1111For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11). The Spirit of God says, “Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.”
—how? There is one company before God; if you like to express it in that way, there is one lump, as it were, before God. How? that is the point. By Christ coming down and taking part with us in the old order of existence?
Never! That would be to degrade Christ. And that is exactly what that doctrine, union in incarnation does; it degrades Christ, because it associates Christ with sinful men, it associates Christ, in all His perfections, with men in all their sins and wickedness, and distance from God. No; Christ by His precious death ends for ever, judicially before God, the history of that man that Moses in the school-house could not subjugate, the man that the law could not curb, for that restriction only brought him out into open light in all his lawlessness; the cross ends judicially that history for ever before God. I care not what men may say to the contrary, for faith the cross for ever has ended judicially before God the history of the first man. The Lord Jesus Christ was the second Man and the last Adam, and there are deep and blessed truths connected with both these expressions, for they do not express the same thing, they are part of the glories of that blessed One. He was the second Man, because He displaces for ever the first man; and He was the last Adam because there never will be another order of man after Himself. He is the second Man because He displaces for ever the history of the first, and He is the last Adam because, in that new, risen order of being, He is the only order of man before God; there is now but one order of man before God, and that is the last Adam; He is both the second Man and He is the last Adam.
Observe this, the Lord Jesus Christ brought them into His own new risen place before God, and thus He can own them, hence it is said of them in Heb. 2:1111For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11), “They are all of one.” He has brought them there, He has brought them to stand in this new place. Blessed it is, beloved brethren, to dwell upon it; hold it fast in your souls, mark it well, it is not by His coming down to where they were, but He, through His death, bringing them into His own new, risen, wonderful, blessed place before God. And mark what He says, just what came out prophetically in Psa. 22, historically in John 20: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” You have the prophetic utterance of the Spirit of Christ in Psa. 22, the announcement that as soon as ever the suffering of death was over and the cross became a great reality, as soon as ever the whole thing was gone through by Himself, alone treading that path of death, alone enduring that judgment, but when it was all passed—mark the precious, beautiful words that our hearts have often dwelt on—“I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” Yes, He never had brethren before. Thank God, He has got them now.
Think of what that moment was to the heart of that blessed One. In those earliest moments, when heard from the place where He was transfixed by death, “heard from the horns of the unicorns,” an expression that conveys the most intense suffering of death, transfixed by death, He was heard—of course it goes on to resurrection—“I will declare,” He says, “thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the assembly will I praise thee”; and going on then into the full, final issue, “My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation.”
Now these are all magnificent and precious fruits of the triumphs and victories of our Lord Jesus Christ, the risen One. But I allude to it now to show you what supervened, as soon as the solitariness of the Lord Jesus Christ was over. He is no longer solitary, no longer alone; He was, blessed be His name, as we have seen, both in life and in death; but now He has a company associated with Him, a new company entirely, those whom He calls fruit of His death, those whom He has around and with Himself, and says, “They are all of one” and He calls them “brethren.” So you will remember how that which was prophetically spoken of by David in Psa. 22 came out historically in John 20, when the Lord spake to Mary Magdalene—to her, moreover, to whom this world was intolerable without Him: it is blessed to know there was one who could not do without Him, whose heart was a desolation without Jesus. What was all in the world to her? Peter and John had their homes, and all the rest; but to Mary this scene was an empty place without Jesus. It shows you what He values—that He Himself should be everything to us, that is what He appreciates; not merely necessary to us for our souls’ eternal salvation, and for our escape from coming judgment; but everything to us.
Is He everything to us, not merely in a little way, not merely as our Savior, but is He everything? That is what He was to Mary, and He comes and shows Himself to her. He appears first to the one to whom He was everything. Think of the value He thus puts on devotedness. It was not doing great things for Him. That is not the meaning of devotedness. There are many persons who do great things for the Lord, and they are not after all devoted; true, they may be most earnest. God forbid one should depreciate anything. So little is there of anything really and truly done to the Lord, that I dread depreciating anything done, only we must call things by their proper names; and devotedness is a heart that values beyond everything in this world Christ Himself; a heart that has Himself as its object; and He delights thus to show Himself to it.
And now, mark, her testimony gathers the disciples. A poor, feeble woman, it is true; no preacher was she, and yet look at her ministry; it was her testimony which brought the disciples together. And when they are found together by the word which she announces of His resurrection, as He appeared to her first Himself, He stands in their midst to historically make good His promise prophetically expressed in Psa. 22, to declare all these wonderful things, announces peace, saying, “Peace unto you,” as the fruit of His death, peace as proclaimed in His resurrection, that is the first thing.
But, mark, again, He says to them (and do not for a moment think that I am attempting to be critical, I have neither the right nor would I presume to do so), “Receive,”—not “the Holy Ghost,” but “Receive Holy Ghost,” “Receive Holy Spirit,” that is to say, He communicates to them His own risen life. And I believe the reason why the Lord used the expression “Receive Holy Ghost,” is just this, that the Spirit of God is the power of everything that Christ communicates to us, and therefore the breath of risen life is here connected by name with that which was to be its power. But that which He really communicated to them there as the risen One, as the last Adam, the life-giving Spirit, fulfilling the words of 1 Cor. 15, was His own life in the power of resurrection.
And then (for we must speak what we believe to be true, and what I believe I have scripture for asserting) the disciples were now for the first time put in possession of eternal life; they had not as yet the Holy Ghost, but they were now put in possession of eternal life, and this in virtue of His redemption work, and of the communication of this new wonderful life that was breathed from His own lips as the risen One from the dead.
I quite admit that when we look at the working of the thing now, you will find a great difference in working it out. But we have to look at the doctrine of scripture, not at the experience of people. It is the greatest mistake to look at peoples experience instead of at scripture. It is scripture that must speak to you about the truth of God, and not experiences, or the throes and anguish of people’s consciences through false teaching and all the rest of it. If you want to know what God says, you must get it out of this book, not out of human hearts. Most valuable as experience is in practically reaching the things of God, still there are things of God to be reached, and where are these things to be found? Even in His own word. So the Lord makes good that part of His word. He stands in the midst of the assembly in figure, in type, and in the midst He pronounces peace, He communicates His risen life to them as the last Adam, and He sends them out in the power of it into this world as His Father had sent Him.
Now all that is connected with resurrection, we are fruit of His death, we are of that new company He has brought to stand in that new position before His God; there in the relationship of children, so that He can own us as His brethren; He says of us, They are my brethren, as He says to Mary Magdalene, “Go to my brethren,” I have now, others associated with me, “and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.”
But there are other fruits of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which are collective. What I have spoken of up to the present moment are more individual, they are fruits that pertain to us individually, because as children of God being able to say to God, Abba, Father, and to use the language of Christ, that of course is an individual relationship. As the fruit of Christ’s death, we are that. If you take it as put in the Epistle to the Colossians, it is individual there; risen life in Colossians is individual; it does not go into the corporate relationships. I do not mean to say that when we are quickened together with Christ in Ephesians, it is that; there we get another thing entirely, even that which is corporate. There are corporate fruits, and in order to bring out what these corporate fruits are, there is one scripture that I intended to allude to last Wednesday evening, but time would not permit, which is really the foundation of these corporate relationships, and that is at the end of Eph. 1. I remarked last time that Christ is looked at and spoken of as rising from the dead in His own power, and also spoken of in scripture as being raised from the dead. Thank God, both are true; He was raised and He rose. He was the Son of God before all time and worlds, though He came down to be a man, and He did not cease to be God because He became a man, and therefore, looking at Him as a divine Person here, He could say to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” There is the display of His own power as the mighty God, the Son of God, a divine Person who could rise; He was the quickener of the dead as such too, but He rose, and so it is said in scripture, “The Lord is risen from the dead”; “The Lord is risen indeed.” That was the testimony with which they greeted each other on that first morning of the resurrection. But if you look at Him also as scripture presents Him you will find Him as man, and there we come to our passage in Ephesians—in Eph. 1 He is looked at as the glorious man who accomplished everything for God’s glory. He was the only man that could undertake perfectly to vindicate the whole of God’s holy, righteous character, and secure His glory. And, thank God, He found in that Man one on whom He could stake all His glory, and He did stake all His glory on Him.
Thus then, in Eph. 1, He is the glorious man, and the power of God comes down to the grave where that blessed One lay, and raised Him up and claimed Him as His own. The apostle prays that the eyes of the hearts of the Ephesian saints might be opened to know the surpassingness of His power, “which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.” When you and I think of might and dominion and principality and power, we cannot get beyond that; they are termini, as it were, with us, but they were the platform of departure for Him. Our poor thoughts even fail to reach to it, but see the blessedness, “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion.” And what a comfort for our hearts who have tasted and know His love to look at this blessed One, who went down beneath everything, exalted up above everything. When I read Eph. 1, oh the ministry of it to the heart and affections; how great too the delight of thinking of that One who was trodden under foot as it were by man, who went down underneath everything, yes, Him for whom there was no shelter, in whose bosom the sword of justice was sheathed, who drank the dreadful cup, and who exposed Himself to death and all that was connected with it as the just judgment of God due to sin. It is blessed to think of God coming down when everything had been finished, and Himself raising Jesus up “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” and everything put under His feet. What delight to the soul that has known and tasted His love! everything under the feet of that once down-trodden Man, that Man that went down into death; and He given in resurrection, and more than resurrection, in ascension and exaltation too, to be head over everything, and that as man. Let me press that upon you. I quite admit the worth and glory of His Person as Son of God, and delight to think of Him in His glories as Son of God, but do not let us lose any part of His glory; and remember it was not the question here of the worthiness of His Person, He is entitled to this glory as man, and it is as man He made a claim upon God to exalt and glorify Him in the very highest place in heaven. And that is what our hearts ought to cling to, because Christianity, for our entrance into it, and our connection with it, depends upon this new risen exalted place that Christ is entitled to, and that God was delighted to accord to Him in wondrous righteousness. And if you fail to grasp in your souls this new place that Christ got as man, entitled to it in virtue of what he accomplished as the glorious man, you will fail in your conceptions of what Christianity properly is. It is connected with that, it is a new place entirely, and Christ in it as man, head over everything to the church, His body.
Now I come to what is corporate, though I do not propose to go into the doctrine of it; but you could not have a body, until you have the head of the body. And here I get the power of God coming into death to take out of death the only man that ever did or ever could glorify Him, and to set Him there at His right hand in exaltation and ascension glory, In the second chapter you get the very same power quickening the members of the body of Christ; we are quickened together with Christ, raised up together, and seated together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Here you have some of the consequences. I do not say the consequences only of resurrection, but consequences that could not come out till resurrection was a fact, that awaited His resurrection from the dead to give them effect. And mark this, that the church (and there we speak of the great corporate relationship) is not founded on resurrection, but on ascension. Of course to have ascension you must have resurrection. But why is it founded on ascension? Because it awaited His presence in the scene of exaltation and glory for the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to be sent down from the glorified man. And it is the Holy Ghost that forms the church, it is He baptizes believers into one body; and therefore you must have Christ in heaven before you have the Holy Ghost on earth. “The Holy Ghost was not yet,” as the scripture expresses it, “because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Now this is one of the first great corporate fruits, pertaining to us in connection with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, going on, you may say, to ascension, which is a step further, but still, in which resurrection was absolutely a necessity; because, if He died, to lay the foundation of God’s glory in the cross, He must be raised to ascend, and be exalted; therefore it is you get Him in Eph. 1 “raised and exalted far above all principality and power.” And in the second chapter you find the same power accomplishing the resurrection of the members of the body, along with the Head, co-quickened with Christ, co-raised, and co-seated in the heavenlies, not as yet seated with Him, because they are not with Him yet as to fact, but in Him.
Now let me name another of the consequences, the fruits and effects of Christ’s resurrection—and it is a very blessed one to think of—and that is the assurance, the security, the certainty of the resurrection of all that are Christ’s. I referred last time to an association that is spoken of in scripture which is exceedingly blessed, and that is a risen Christ and those that have slept. A mistaken thought with some I would desire to remove, namely, that it was said that this was the “only” association. It is not the only association, for of course we are raised together with Christ and seated together in heavenly places in Him, and in that sense we are in association; but to me there is nothing more precious, when I think of the saints who have slept in Christ, than to see how they are spoken of in scripture; take for instance such a scripture as 1 Cor. 15, “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” A risen Christ and those that have slept—is not that a blessed association? When we stand by the graves of those whom we loved in this world, when we consign all that is mortal of them, not to the gloomy tomb, but to God’s keeping, to Christ’s keeping, He who has the keys of death and of hades, and has the keys of His people’s graves, and will open the graves of His sleeping saints in that day when He comes; when we put the body of a beloved saint of God into His keeping, sow it in the ground to be awakened by the association between that sleeping one and the risen Christ. “He is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
And again, when the apostle is reasoning as to the resurrection, and bringing out the fact, he says, If there is no resurrection of the dead (because you know, the Corinthians were so bad that some of them denied it), then Christ is not raised, and if Christ is not raised your faith is vain. What is the good of faith in a Christ that died and did not rise again? You are yet in your sins; there is no proof that the work is accomplished or that God is glorified; and they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. See how he loves to keep up the association of a risen Christ and the sleeping saints. To me, the more I think of it, the more precious it is. And I will tell you what is so comforting about it. Oftentimes, when you go away from a grave, from a scene of death, the poor heart gets the sense that you have left something behind; but this, you see, is far from that, it is really carrying it on to that wonderful, that glorious moment, that moment for which we wait, when He will put forth His power as the quickener of the dead, and when all His own that have slept in Him, from every graveyard and every cemetery shall be quickened, shall wake up in resurrection life and glory. It is an association of uncommon comfort, a risen Christ and those that are asleep. And not only that, but they are the very ones who shall rise first. Is it thought that they have lost anything by passing off the scene, by not being here to witness in their bodies His returning glory? Well, beloved, if so, they shall be first in the day of His power; “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” How like Him to put forth His power on the weakest, so to speak, so that where death, that which was the fruit of man’s sin, had come in, and asserted its claims, Christ puts forth His resurrection victory in the day of His power. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together”—“together,” think of that, no more separations, no more partings then—“caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, not to meet one another, but “to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Now His resurrection assures that; and let me give you a little and lovely instance of it. The very first moment that the blessed God could divulge this great and glorious fact, it was divulged. In the Gospel of Matthew, after the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, you get first of all the veil of the temple rent in twain from the top to the bottom; “the earth did quake, the rocks rent,” every sphere felt the touch of the victor. He made His touch felt in heaven and on earth. “And the graves were opened,” as if it was said to death, Hitherto you have had a right to hold, but no more. “The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and went into the holy city after his resurrection, and appeared to many.” Think how the blessed God, in the earliest moments of the victory of Jesus, gave expression to one of the effects of that victory, that the grave was no longer to hold, and that resurrection was secured. There were all the visible tokens of the victory of Jesus, we should have the resurrection of those that are Christ’s brought forth in figure.
But now there is one other consequence and fruit of Christ’s resurrection which is deeply solemn, and it might be thought perhaps that this is not the company in which to bring it forth. But, beloved friends, we have no right to pick and choose in the things of God; and if God connects with any one fact of His blessed book certain consequences, whether they are comforting or of deep momentous solemnity for our souls, we have no right to accept one and leave the other. There may be some one here tonight for whom God has a special voice in this consequence, and therefore God forbid I should keep it back.
In Acts 17:3030And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30) the apostle, amongst the cultivated and polished Athenians, speaking of the former times, and how God dealt with them, says: “And the times of this ignorance”—that was not paying much compliment to their polish, or learning, or philosophy, or wisdom, or education, whether sage or savage, they are all put in one lump there—“the times of this ignorance”—Oh the dignity of divine truth amongst men—“God hath winked at”; that is, He did not take account of such, “but now commandeth all men everywhere”—mark those words—to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Now there is a passage of deep and solemn moment for every one of us here.
We have been looking at the privilege side, the side that pertains to the children of God; but there is another side, as to this resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ—a terrible side of it for the world. There may be some in this company who are not the children of God, who are still in their sins, away from God, guilty, and lost. Now mark this, resurrection is the assurance of judgment, it is the precursor of judgment, it is the certainty of judgment. Could anything drop upon the conscience or heart with greater solemnity than this, that God has appointed the day and ordained the judge? Oh! if there is a sinner here tonight, think of that fact, God has appointed the day, and ordained the judge. Do you say, how do I know? He has raised Jesus from the dead, there is the proof of it. That resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from among the dead is surrounded by proofs, not merely from His own people, but the devil was made and the enemies of God were made to contribute to the proof of it; Satan and the Jews were made the instruments of the clear evidence of the truth of the resurrection. God has hedged round the resurrection of His Son with the most undeniable proofs, and, in connection with that, He tells us that “He has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world.” Do not think it is a question of the great white throne; it is not a question of the dead here at all, it is a question of the habitable world, the scene of man’s habitation. He will judge this world in righteousness. Thank God, He is dealing with it in grace now; but in grace for the grace, and there will not be one single ray of grace in the future judgment. He will judge it by the Man whom the world spat upon and trampled under its feet, by that Man whom He has ordained—and He has given the most undeniable proof of it in raising Him from the dead.
Oh, beloved friends, when I think of that, the blessed fruits of His resurrection, the association that we are brought into in His resurrection, the wonderful things that pertain to us as children of God, so that we can call God our Father, announced to us by the risen Lord through Mary Magdalene: “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.”
When I remember that through resurrection is preached to us the forgiveness of sins, through this Man, this risen Jesus, “is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins,” when I reflect that from that risen, glorified Man the Holy Ghost has come down, when I reflect that all that are Christ’s will rise in virtue of Christ’s having been raised, when I dwell in silent meditation on it, I am lost in wonder; but oh! I cannot leave this out, the day appointed and the judge ordained, I beseech those that are not Christ’s here tonight to let that word rest upon their hearts, “He has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men”—there is not a man in this world that is not without excuse as to it, there is the assurance before his eyes, “in that he has raised him from the dead.” You may be like the Athenians, and you may mock as they did when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, just as that poor heathen, Festus, afterwards said, They have some question “of their own superstition”—it was not the things I thought were exercising their minds—they have some question “of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.” That was all he cared about it, and that is all you may care about it, sinner; but it is true, for all that. The sword of unmitigated judgment in righteousness hangs over this world where man is, and the day for the execution of that vengeance is appointed and the judge is ordained.
Oh may God, by His grace, give those that are not saved to think of that! Lay it to heart, I beseech of you! Think of what the resurrection testifies to you. And, my beloved brethren, may our hearts rejoice in what it brings to us, all the glories and blessings that it has secured for God’s glory and for us, too, through Jesus Christ our Lord.