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To arise with Christ is Life

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

THE resurrection of Christ is of no avail to thee unless Christ also rises in thy soul. As Christ should be conceived in thee, born in thee, and live in thee, so likewise ought He to arise in thee. Death precedes every resurrection, for he cannot arise again, who has not first died; so it is with respect to our spiritual resurrection. Christ will not arise in thee unless the old Adam first die in thee; the inner man of the Spirit arises not until after the outer man of the flesh is dead and buried; the newness of the Spirit will not appear until the oldness of the flesh disappears. Nor is it enough that Christ should arise in thy soul but once, for the old Adam cannot be destroyed in a single moment. The old sinful nature strives daily to live anew in thee; and daily must thou destroy it that Christ may daily begin to live in thee. Christ ascended not to heaven, nor entered into His glory, until after His resurrection from death (Luke xxiv. 26); and so thou wilt not enter into the heavenly glory until Christ first rises and lives in thee. If Christ live not in thee, thou art no part of His mystical body; and if thou art not a part of His body in the Church militant upon earth, He will not lead thee victoriously into His Church triumphant in heaven. A betrothal always precedes marriage, and if thy soul has not been betrothed to Christ through faith (Hos. ii. 19), and sealed with the pledge of the Holy Spirit, it will never appear at the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. xix. 7). Therefore let Christ rise and live in thee, that thou mayst live eternally with Him in heaven. This is the first resurrection. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power” (Rev. xx. 5, 6). If thou wouldst then appear in that resurrection unto eternal life, Christ must daily rise in thy soul in this life.

Christ arose from the dead at “the rising of the sun” (Mark xvi. 2) and so if Christ arise in thee, the light of the saving knowledge of God will arise in thy soul. But how can there be such light where the gross darkness of sin still reigns? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. cxi. 10); but how can there be heavenly wisdom where the favor of the Lord has no place? And if one be utterly destitute of the light of the knowledge of God in this life, how can he be a partaker of God’s eternal light in the life that is to come? The children of light only pass over into the glories of eternal light, whilst the children of darkness pass into the awful gloom of everlasting darkness. Christ in His resurrection triumphed over death, and so the soul in whom Christ spiritually rises will pass from death to life (John v. 24); nor can he be overcome by death, since Christ, the Death of death, lives in him. Christ by His resurrection brought in perfect and “everlasting righteousness” (Dan. ix. 24); “He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. iv. 25), and he likewise is justified from sin in whom Christ spiritually rises, for how can sin find place where Christ’s perfect righteousness blooms in the life? But that righteousness becomes ours through faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ by His glorious resurrection has robbed Satan of his victory over us, for by His descent into hell Christ destroyed his kingdom, spoiled that strong man’s palace, and shattered in pieces the armor in which he trusted (Luke xi. 22), and so Satan can nevermore prevail over him in whom Christ rises spiritually, for he cannot be conquered by Satan in whom the Conqueror of Satan lives.

At the resurrection of Christ there was a great earthquake (Mat. xxviii. 2), and so it is that when a soul arises with Christ into a new life, it is attended with serious commotions and with true contrition of heart. The old Adam will not dawn in us without severe struggles and a great show of resistance. And so Christ’s spiritual resurrection in our souls will be accompanied by a great inward commotion, by serious and profound agitation of heart; sin must first be destroyed, and this cannot occur without first a penitent acknowledgement of sin, with a serious and hearty contrition for it. This inward contrition of heart precedes any spiritual resurrection with Christ. The prophet Isaiah said, “As a lion He hath broken all my bones” (Is. xxxviii. 13). Behold how great a commotion is here! But he immediately adds, “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit, so wilt Thou recover me and make me to live; Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back” (Is. xxxviii. 16, 17). Behold here a spiritual resurrection from sin.

When Christ arose from the dead an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and sat upon the sepulcher (Matt. xxviii. 2); so if Christ is spiritually risen in thee, thou wilt rejoice in the companionship of angels. Where the old Adam still lives and rules there Satan delights to dwell, but where Christ lives and reigns there angels love to abide. For it is written that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke xv. 10). And in the soul of such an one Christ is spiritually risen. The soul that has not yet experienced this spiritual resurrection of Christ is without the grace of God, and hence deprived of the guardianship of the holy angels; is still under the dominion of the old unrenewed nature of sin and of the devil; and what possible fellowship can there be between the holy angels and the devil?

After His resurrection Christ appeared to His disciples and showed Himself alive unto them (Luke xxiv. 15); and so if thou hast become a partaker of His resurrection through faith, show thyself a living member of His body by thy deeds of love and charity. A man cannot be deemed alive if he fails to manifest the signs and deeds of life. When the soul is possessed by Christ, the Holy Spirit will there take up His abode and lead the soul to every good; for those “who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. viii. 14). “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. v. 25). The sun scatters the splendor of its beams on every side, and the light of faith diffuses itself on every hand in glowing deeds of love. Take away light from the sun, and then canst thou separate works of love to our fellowmen from faith in God. Our sins are dead works (Heb. ix. 14); and if thou walkest in dead works, how canst thou possibly be living in Christ and Christ in thee? Sin belongs to and is a manifestation of that old unrenewed nature within us, and if that old Adam still reigns within thee, how can Christ have spiritually risen in thy soul? Sin belongs to the oldness of the flesh, and if thou walkest in this, how can the new man live in thee?

Raise us up, O blessed Jesus, from the awful death of sin, that we may henceforth walk in newness of life with Thee. May Thy death, O Christ, put to death the old Adam in us, and may Thy resurrection call into new life our inward man! May Thy precious blood cleanse us from all our sins, and Thy resurrection clothe us as in a robe of righteousness! For Thee, O Thou True Life, do we who have been dead in sin most ardently yearn; to Thee, O Thou True and Only Righteousness, do we who have so foolishly wandered away from Thee through our sins, turn with longing hearts; to Thee, O Thou True Salvation, do we, condemned to eternal death for our sins, look with yearning hearts. O, quicken us by Thy Spirit! Justify us by Thy grace! And save us for Thy mercy’s sake! Amen.

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