In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul wrote: “8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. 11 So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:8-11).
What does Christ’s death and resurrection mean for us? What does it mean that Christ died to sin once for all? What does it mean to live unto God?
Jesus died, poor trembler; if he died and took our griefs, will not his atonement save us? Rest here. Millons of souls have rested on nothing but Jesus’ death, and this is a granite foundation; no storms of hell can shake it. Get a good handhold on his cross; hold it, and it will hold you. We cannot depend on His death and be deceived. Try it; taste and see, and you shall find that the Lord is good, and that none can trust a dying Savior without being with him in Paradise. But if this suffice you not, he rose again. Fasten upon this. He is proved to be victor over our sin and over our adversary; can we not, therefore, depend upon him? Doubtless there have been thousands of saints who have found the richest consolation from the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead. He rose again for our justification. Sinner, hang on that. Having risen he lives. He is not a dead Savior, a dead sacrifice. He must be able to hear our plea and to present his own. Depend on a living Savior; depend on him now. He lives forever, and therefore it is not too late for him to save us. If we cry to him he will hear our prayers, even though it be in life’s last moment, for he lives forever. Though the ends of the earth were come, and we were the last man, yet he ever lives to intercede before his Father’s face. Oh! Search not for any other hope! Here are four great stones for you; build your hope on these; you cannot want surer foundations—he dies, he rises, he lives, he lives forever. I tell you, Soul, this is my only hope, and though I lean thereon with all my weight it bends not. This is the hope of all God’s people, and they abide contented in it. Do thou, I pray thee, now come and rest on it. May the Spirit of God bring many of you to Christ. We have no other gospel. You thought it a hard thing, a scholarly thing, a matter that the college must teach you, that the university must give you. It is no such matter for learning and scholarship. Your little child knows it, and your child may be saved by it. You without education, you that can scarce read in the book, you can comprehend this. He dies; there is the cross. He rises; there is the open tomb. He lives; there is the pleading Savior. He lives forever; there is the perpetual merit. Depend on him! Put your soul in his hand and you are saved.
If we be thus dead with Christ, let us see that we live with him. It is a poor thing to be dead to the world unless we are alive unto God. And so, if we be dead to sin we must have, also, the life of Christ, and I trust, beloved, we know, and it is not a matter of theory to us—I trust we know that in us there is a new life to which we were strangers once. To our body and our soul there has been superadded a spirit, a spark of spiritual life. Just as Jesus had a new life after death, so have we a new life after death, wherewith I trust we rise from the grave. But we must prove it. Jesus proved his resurrection by infallible signs. You and I, too, must prove to all men that we have risen out of the grave of sin. Perhaps our friends did not know us when we first rose from the dead. Like Mary, they mistook us for somebody else. They said, “What! Is this Tom who used to be such a hectoring, proud, ill-humoured, domineering fellow? Can he put up with our jokes and jeers so patiently?” They supposed us to be somebody else, and they were not far from the mark, for we were new creatures in Christ Jesus. I trust, in resurrection-life we desire to prove to all men that this is not the common life we lived before, a life which made us serve the flesh and the lusts thereof; but that we are living now with higher aims, and purer intentions, by a more heavenly rule, and with the prospect of a diviner result. As we have been dead with Christ, dear brethren, I hope we have also, in our measure, learned to live with him.
But now, remember, Christ lives forever, and so do we. Christ being raised from the dead, dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. The fourteenth verse is wonderfully similar—”Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.” Sin made us die once in Adam, but we are not to be slain by it again. If Christ could die now, we could die, but since Christ can never die again, so the believer can never again go back to his old sin. He dies to sin no more; he lives, and sin has no more dominion over him. Oh! this is a delightful theme! I know not how to express the joy my own heart feels at the sense of security arising from the fact that Christ dies no more. Death has no more dominion over him; and sin has no more dominion over me, if I be in Christ. Suppose, my brethren, suppose for a moment that Christ could die again. Bring out your funeral music! Let the muffled drums beat the Dead march! Let the heavens be clothed in sackcloth, and let the verdant earth be robed in blackness, for the atonement, earth’s great hope, is incomplete! Christ must die again. The adversaries we thought were routed have gathered their strength again. Death is not dead; the grave is not open; there will be no resurrection! The saints tremble; even in heaven they fear and quake; the crowns upon glorified heads are trembling; the hearts that have been overflowing with eternal bliss are filled with anxiety, for the throne of Christ is empty; angels suspend their songs; the howlings of hell have silenced the shouts of heaven: the fiends are holding high holiday, and they sliviek for very joy—”Jesus dies again! Jesus dies again! Prepare your arrows! Empty your Quivers! Come up, Ye legions of hell! The famous conqueror must fight, and bleed, and die again, and we shall overcome him yet!” God is dishonored, the foundations of heaven are removed, and the eternal throne quivers with the shock of Christ subjected to a second death! Is it blasphemy to suppose the case? Yet, my brethren, it were equal blasphemy to suppose a true believer going back again to his old lusts and dying again by sin, for that were to suppose that the atonement were incomplete. I can prove that it involves the very same things; it supposes an unfinished sacrifice, for if the sacrifice be finished, then those for whom it was offered must be saved. It supposes hell triumphant—Christ had bought the soul, and the spirit had renewed it, but the devil wipes away the blood of Christ, expels the spirit of the living God, and gets to himself the victory. A saint perish! Then God’s promise is not true, and Christ’s word is false—”I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish;” then the foundations are removed; eternal justice is a name, and the divine honesty is suspected; the purposes of God are frustrated, and the crown of sovereignty rolls in the mire. Weep angels! Be astonished, O heavens! Rock, O ye hills with earthquake! and hell come up and hold riot! for God himself has ceased to be God, since his people perish! “Because I live you shall live also” is a divine necessity, and if dominion can ever be had by sin over a believer again, then, mark you, death can again have dominion over Christ; but that is impossible; therefore rejoice and be glad, all you servants of God.
You will notice, that as they live, so, like Jesus Christ, they live unto God. This completes the parallel. “In that he lives he lives unto God.” So do we. The forty days which Christ spent on earth he lived unto God, comforting his saints, manifesting his person, giving forth gospel precepts. For the few days we have to live here on earth we must live to comfort the saints, to set forth Christ, and to preach the gospel to every creature. And now that Christ has ascended he lives unto God; what does that mean? He lives, my brethren, to manifest the divine character. Christ is the permanent revelation of an invisible God. We look at Christ and we see justice, truth, power, love; we see the whole of the divine attributes in him. Christian, we are to live unto God; God is to be seen in us; we are to show forth the divine bowels of compassion, longsuffering, tenderness, kindness, patience; we are to manifest God; living unto God. Christ lives unto God, for he completes the divine purpose by pleading for his people, by carrying on his people’s work above. We are to live for the same, by preaching, that sinners may hear and that the elect may live; by teaching that all may be saved; teaching by our lives, by our actions, that God’s glory may be known, and that his decrees may be fulfilled. Jesus lives unto God, delighting himself in God. The immeasurable joy of Christ in his Father no tongue can tell. Live in the same way, Christian. Delight ourselves in the Lord! Be blessed; be happy; rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Our Redeemer lives unto God, that is he lives in constant fellowship with God. Cannot we do so too by the Holy Spirit? We are dead to sin; we should see to it that we live forever in fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Let us praise God with the song “Unless a Grain of Wheat”: