Chapter 16 – The Power of His Resurrection

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Col. 3:1. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Phil. 3:10.

These passages describe our attitude toward the resurrection of Christ, and the power which His resurrection is fitted to exercise upon our life and work. “If ye then be risen” — literally, “If ye then were resurrected with Christ.” There is a difference between “risen” and “resurrected.” One may rise from one level to another; but when one is resurrected, he is brought from nothing into existence, from death to life, and the transition is simply infinite.

The great objection to all the teachings of mere natural religion and human ethics is, that we are taught to rise to higher planes. The glory of the Gospel is that it does not teach us to rise, but shows us our inability to do anything good of ourselves, and, laying us in the grave in utter helplessness and nothingness, raises us up into new life, born from above and sustained from heavenly sources. Christian life is not self-improvement, but is a supernatural and divine experience.

Now, resurrection cannot come until there has been death, and just as real as the death has been, so will be the measure of resurrection life and power. Let us not fear, therefore, to die, and to die to all that we would detach ourselves from, yea, to die to ourselves. We lose nothing by letting go, and we cannot enter in till we come out. “If we be dead with Christ, we shall also live with Him.”

The passage in Colossians expresses the fact that we have already died and risen, and that we are now to take the attitude of those for whom this is an accomplished fact. The Apostle does not call upon us to die again with Christ and rise with Him anew, but he calls upon us to recognize the fact that we have done this, and now are expected to live on a corresponding plane. He tells them later in the passage, “For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

In the sixth chapter of Romans this thought is much more fully worked out. “As many of us as were baptized into Christ,” the Apostle says, “were baptized into His death. Therefore we have been buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Then, to emphasize more forcibly the finality of this fact, he says, “Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him; for in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God.” Therefore, and in like manner, the Apostle bids us to “reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Christ Jesus,” and to yield ourselves “unto God as those that are alive from the dead and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

Now, much of the teaching of the present day would bid us yield ourselves unto God to be crucified by a constant process of dying, but the Apostle says nothing of the kind here. On the contrary, we are to yield ourselves unto God as those who have already died and are alive from the dead, recognizing the Cross as behind us; and for this very reason presenting ourselves to God, to be used for His service and glory. Have you never seen soaring in mid-heaven some bird, with mighty pinions spread upon the bosom of the air, and floating in the clear sky without a fluttering feather or apparently the movement of a muscle? It is poised in mid-air, floating yonder, far above the earth below; it does not need to rise, it has risen, and is resting in its high and glorious altitude. Very different is the movement of the little lark that springs from the ground, and, beating its wings in successive efforts, mounts up to the same aerial height to sing its morning song, and then returns again to earth. One is the attitude of rising, and the other is the attitude of “risen.”

Perhaps you say, “How can I reckon myself dead when I find so many evidences that I am still alive, and how can I reckon myself risen when I find so many things that pull me back again to my lower plane?” It is your failure to reckon and abide that drags you back. It is the recognizing of the old life as still alive that makes it to be real and keeps you from overcoming it. This is the principle which underlies the whole system of grace, that we receive according to the reckoning of our faith. The magic wand of faith will lay all the ghosts that can rise in the cemetery of your soul; and spirit of doubt will bring them up from the grave to haunt you as long as you continue to question. The only way you can truly die is by surrendering yourself to Christ and then reckoning yourself dead with Him.

Should old traits of evil reappear; should old thoughts, evil tendencies, assert themselves, and say loudly and clamorously, “We are not dead,” what then? If you recognize these things, fear them and obey them; you are sure to give them life, and they will control you and drag you back into your former state. But if you refuse to recognize them, and say, “These are Satan’s lies, I am dead indeed unto sin, these do not belong to me, but are the children of the devil, I therefore repudiate them and rise above them” — then God will detach you from them and make them to be really dead. You will find they were no part of you, but simply temptations which Satan tried to throw over you until they seemed part of yourself. This is the true remedy for all the workings of temptation and sin. It is an awful fact that when one counts himself wicked he will become wicked.

There is a strange story written by a gifted mind, describing a man who was two men alternately. When he believed himself to be a noble character he was noble and true, and lived accordingly; but when the other ideal took possession of him he went down accordingly. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Our reckonings reflect themselves in our realities; therefore God has made this principle of faith to be the mainspring of personal righteousness and holiness, and the subtle, yet sublime, power that can lead men out of themselves into the very life of God.

Our attitude will influence our aim. People live according to their standing. The high-born child of nobility carries in his bearing and his mien the consciousness of a noble descent, and so those who have a title to a heavenly kingdom, and the consciousness of their high and heavenly rank, walk as the children of a king. The remainder of Paul’s letter is devoted to working out this most practical idea, that, because we have risen with Christ, therefore let us live accordingly.

The argument against lying is: we have put off the old man and put on the new man. We have ceased to be paupers and become princes. We have put on the new man, therefore let us put on kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, and over all that charity, which is a perfect girdle that binds all the garments together. The best of all our robes is Christ Himself; and we are to put on Christ.

This resurrection life is intensely practical. The Apostle brings it into touch with the nearest relationship of life, the family circle, the position of masters and servants, and all the secular obligations of life. It is to affect our whole conduct and aims and lead us to walk with Him wherever we are called.

This leads us to notice the practical power there is in this glorious fact, that we have been raised up together with Christ. It has power, in the first place, to confirm our assurance of salvation, because the resurrection of Christ was the guarantee that the ransom price was paid and the work of atonement complete. When He came forth triumphant from the tomb, it was evident to the universe that the purpose for which He went there was fulfilled, the work He undertook satisfactorily done, and the Father was satisfied with His finished atonement. Therefore, faith can rest upon His resurrection as an everlasting foundation, and say, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again.”

Again, the resurrection of Christ is the power that sanctifies us. It enables us to count our old life and our former self annihilated, so that we are no longer the same in the eyes of God, or of ourselves; and we may with confidence repudiate ourselves, and refuse either to obey or fear our former evil nature. The risen Christ Himself comes to dwell within us, and become in us the power of our new life and victorious obedience. It is not merely the fact of the resurrection, but the fellowship of the Risen One that brings us our victory and our power. We have learned the meaning of the sublime paradox, “I have been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” This is the only true and lasting sanctification, the indwelling life of Christ, the Risen One, in the believing and obedient soul.

Christ’s resurrection has a mighty power to energize our faith and encourage us to claim God’s answers to our prayers, and ask difficult things from God. What can be too difficult or impossible after the open grave and the stone rolled away? God is trying to teach us “the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, “according to His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand.” Christ’s resurrection is the pledge of all we can ask for, and if we pray in “the power of His resurrection,” we will take much more than we have been doing.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the secret of power for service. The testimony of His resurrection is always peculiarly used by the Holy Spirit as the power of God unto the salvation of men. It was the chief theme of the ministry of the early apostles. They were always preaching of Jesus and the Resurrection. It gives a peculiar attractiveness to Christian life and work. Many Christians look as gloomy as if they were going to their own funerals. We heard not long ago of a little girl who met some very sad-looking people on the road, and she said, “Mother, those are Christians, aren’t they?” And when the mother asked her why she thought so, she said, “They look so unhappy.”

This is the type of Christianity that comes from the cloister and the crucifix. This is not the Easter type, and certainly it is not the higher type. The religion of Jesus should be as bright as the blossoms of the spring, the songs of the warbling birds, and the springing pulses of reviving nature. Our Lord met the women on that bright morning with the cheering message, “All hail,” and so He would meet each one of us on the threshold of our Christian life, and bid us go forth with the joy of our Lord as our strength. This joy must spring from the resurrection and be maintained by life in the heavenlies with its ascended Lord. This is the message that a sad and sinful world needs today. Its motto must not be the Ecce homo of the judgment hall, but the glad All hail! of the Easter dawn. The more of the indwelling Christ and the resurrection life there is in Christian work, the more will be its living power to attract, satisfy, and save the world.

There is power in Christ’s resurrection to enable us to meet the hardest places in life and endure its bitterest trials. And so we read in Philippians that the power of His resurrection is to bring us into the knowledge of the fellowship of His sufferings, and make us conformable unto His death. We go into the resurrection life that we may be strong enough to suffer with Him and for Him.

There is a very remarkable passage in Isaiah which tells us of those that “mount up with wings as eagles”; but immediately afterwards we find the same persons coming down to the ordinary walks of life, “to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint.” It would seem as if the mounting up was just intended to fit them for the running and walking, and that the higher experiences of grace and glory were designed to enable them to tread the lower levels of toil and trial.

It is in keeping with this that the Apostle speaks of glorying in tribulation. “Glory” expresses the highest attitude of the soul, and “tribulation” the deepest degree of suffering. And so it would teach us that when we come to the deepest and lowest place we must meet it in the highest and most heavenly spirit. This is going down from the Mount of Transfiguration to meet the demoniac in the plain below, and cast out the power of Satan from a suffering world. Yes, these are the sufferings of Christ. The power of His resurrection is designed to enable us to rise to all the heights of His glorious life, and like Him go forth to reflect our blessing upon the lives of others, and find a sweeter joy in the ministrations of holy love than in the ecstasies of divine communion.