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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 79 - 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 - The Power of Christ's Resurrection Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

The old warrior, who has passed through many fights, carries about with him his scars, as memorials of his battles, evidences both of danger and deliverance. So Paul said, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." He was "in deaths oft"; "alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake"; "I die daily." The old warrior will narrate to you the history of every wound; pointing to each in succession he will say, this was Waterloo, this was Spain, this was Sebastopol, this was Lucknow. So Paul, pointing to his scars, could say this was Antioch, this was Iconium, this was Lystra, this was Philippi, this was Damascus, this was Jerusalem. Thus he describes his life, "in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft," &c. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

It is of this constant exposure to death that he is speaking in our text. Every part of his body, from head to foot, bore marks of death; the rods, the stones, the chains, the stocks, these were imprinted on his body; as seals both of death and life. We can imagine, too, his lean, pale, weather-beaten face and form; all telling of his encounters with hardship, danger, death, in an hundred forms. Did all these speak merely of his endurance and bravery and patience and martyr-spirit? No, they told of the life which was sustaining him; a life beyond his own; a life super-human, super-angelic, nay, divine; the life of Christ; a life which sustains and invigorates, not the body only, but the soul as well. It is this life which keeps alive the spark, which a whole ocean with all its storms is seeking to quench. No life, but that of Christ—the mighty life of the God-man—all-sustaining, irresistible, irrepressible, unquenchable, could accomplish this. It is only such a life that can do battle victoriously with such death as is in us and around us.

The life here spoken of is not the substitutional or sacrificial; at least not in the substitutional or sacrificial aspects. It is life as a root, or fountain, or vital power. It is not a life given for us, but a life given to us. It is the life of the risen Christ; resurrection life, His risen life deposited as in a vessel for us, and shewing out all its fullness in the counteraction of the death which is in us, and around us. It is in reference to this life that the apostle reasons, "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life"; that is, if a dying Christ did so much for us, what will not a living Christ do? Let us look then at this vessel and its contents; this well and its life-giving water. "Truly it has been said, Christ is life, others only live." Mark this "life of Christ."

I. It is large. The vessel is capacious; and its contents are commensurate with its capacity. The amount of life contained in the vessel is infinite; and being infinite, it assures us that no amount of death, or danger, or weakness on our part, can prove too great for it to counteract and overcome. O vastness, O infinity of life, what is there that thou canst not do for us? What is the extent of death, in a human soul or body, when compared with this life divine? Good news indeed!

II. It is constant. This life is not fitful. It does not come in tides, ebbing and flowing; nor in seasons, sometimes winter, and again summer; nor in alternations, as day and night. It is continuous, unbroken, ever flowing. It is the river which ceases not. It is the deep well which never runs dry. It is the fresh clear atmosphere which always surrounds us, and which we breathe every moment. It is like Himself, the unchanging one; the same yesterday, today, and forever. O ever-constant life! Ever full and running over! That knowest no drought, no break, no change! Surely we were not meant to be the fitful changeful beings that we are! With such a life, should we not be calm and constant?

III. It is free. Priceless in every sense it is. Without price, and beyond price! "Free" is the word inscribed on this divine vessel. No condition, no merit, no price! The life is a gift; and that gift is absolutely and unconditionally free. All that the vessel contains of life for the dead, or dying, is as free as God Himself can make it. God interposes no limitation, no restriction, no purchase. He who would clog the gift with any price or condition, is a rejecter of the gift, and a disbeliever in the love of the giver. It comes to us without money; we come to it without merit. O life-giving energy of the Son of God, how free art thou!

IV. It is suitable. It takes up every act of our being, and extends to every region, every circumstance, of our life. It pours itself into every faculty, and feeling, and organ. It meets us at every point. It brings forth from its unsearchable riches the very things that we require in every exigency. In Paul's case, it was the body that it so specially suited; meeting as by a miracle every emergency of disease or danger; not simply like an impenetrable shield, interposed toward off some mortal stroke, but an inward virtue or power, making the man himself impenetrable and invulnerable; nay, infusing new life where death sought to come. It not merely flings off death, but pours in life; and the man at whom the deadly stroke is aimed, rises not merely unwounded, but quickened, and refreshed! Who is there amongst us whose case is not met by this manifold life?

V. It is powerful. Omnipotence is in it. It is not the mere skill of the physician, or the efficacy of his medicines (a thing of experiment or probability). But it is the irresistible power of a divine vitality, which no kind nor amount of creature-death can neutralize or conquer. The power of the life of Christ was that which specially came forth in the history of the apostle, when every step was on the edge of death; so that any one looking at him, and knowing his daily history, would say, "his life is a miracle," and "what a life must that be which keeps that man alive, which prevents him from going down to the pit"! It is life-giving, comforting, reviving, healing power. O mighty life of the risen Christ! O all-quickening, all-invigorating life! What a fountain head of vital power art thou to us still, in this daily battle between life and death!

VI. It is available. We might say, it is placed at our disposal, and within our reach. It is not in the heavens, that we should have to ascend thither; it is not in the depths that we should have to dig down thither. It is nigh; it is the nearest thing in the universe; as near as He is in whom we live and move and have our being. How it pours itself into us we know not. It has a thousand channels, and will make itself known in a thousand ways; being administered and applied by the Holy Ghost. It quickens at first; it quickens to the last. It pours itself in through faith; through the word; through prayer; through praise; through the sacraments. We are surrounded by this mighty life. It is within us; it is around us; a well of water springing up into everlasting life. It makes our life a continual resurrection. Like Abraham, we lay our life (as he did Isaac) on the altar; like Abraham, we receive it again from the dead. We live in, and through the living one. Because He lives, we live also. Our life is hid with Christ in God. Christ Himself is our life.