Christ Our Resurrection and Life, #640
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (JOH 11:25).
Christ as our resurrection and life is all to often dealt with as some future event as we see from Martha's response to Jesus' statement in JOH 11:23-24, "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
The Lord Jesus is speaking of a present event, and all too often we have this weakness of being able to accept some great thing that the Lord is going to do in the future, but what about today? Are we able to take by faith what Jesus says literally, "I am the resurrection"? He didnt say, "Im going to be or will be." He said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." By nature we are all spiritually dead, but that is where life begins when we begin in the Lord Jesus Christ. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
Now, our Saviour was about to reveal the beauty of resurrection life in contrast with mourning over the stench of death. This was prophesied as the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in ISA 61:3. "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."
What did the Lord Jesus tell his disciples when He heard that Lazarus was sick? What did He tell the messenger who came to give Him the message? You see this in JOH 11:4, "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby."
ISA 61:3 says, "The planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." We need to understand how jealous the Lord is of the purposes that He accomplishes and the purpose of His creation: that He might be glorified. We need to look away from the things of death. We need to look away from the present things of life. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life."
As I pointed out before, spiritual growth is gradual. At first Jesus did not specifically reveal His gracious purpose. He only said it would be for the glory of God. Then He told Martha, "Thy brother shall rise again." He does not always reveal His total purpose. Instead He first pointed out a broad and general promise; "Thy brother shall rise again," which was the first thing He told her. But by so doing, He told her that her heart was too set on today and on the things of this life, i.e., temporal things.
He is pointing out to her that He is the resurrection and the life. He is-not will be-but He is the resurrection. That is where we are raised from the things of death, raised to a newness of life, and raised above the things of this world. He is allowing this contrast of death and life to become physically and literally lay before our eyes to illustrate and demonstrate what it is to be raised from the things of death. He first gives a general promise and then in His own infinite wisdom Christ often tells us just enough to encourage hope.
You need to see and to understand what is happening. Spiritual growth is gradual. We are born as spiritual infants, and as we exercise, by the exercise of faith, we come to spiritual maturity. The Apostle Paul said in 1CO 13:11, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
By nature everything accelerates. We are going to accelerate, and we are going to go forward and grow. However, we dont learn to understand until we start growing in grace by the exercise of faith, that as we mature in grace, we grow smaller and smaller within ourselves.
John the Baptist said in JOH 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
How far did he decrease? He decreased to the point of being a prisoner and having his head removed, his body carried away by his disciples and buried, physically. We need to understand that the Lord will deliver us from the things of this flesh. That is being resurrected from the dead. That is being resurrected from the things of this life. We need to see that the Lord told them just enough to encourage hope and to strengthen faith, but not enough to exclude the exercise of faith.
If the Lord would reveal Himself to a newborn Christian as His full glory and the fullness of salvation, there would be no exercise of faith, and physically there is no growth without exercise. Until we have the exercise of saving faith, we will not grow in grace.
Those who have been born as little infants are compared to those that have been on the breast. Then they are being drawn from the milk of the Word, and they are being taught doctrine. Teaching spiritual knowledge begins at spiritual infancy and then it grows. In ISA 28:9-10 we read, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." Every time we exercise in the struggles and trials the Lord lays upon us in this life, we grow a little.
I remember a pastor one time who often said in his prayers, "Lord, that we might die a little today, that there might be a little dying unto self, that there might be a little dying unto the flesh." This is what it is talking about, line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little.
Watch little children as they begin at infancy, and pretty soon they begin to walk. Watch their stumbles and falls, and watch how often they come up weeping because they have injured themselves by falling as they are just learning to walk. In a similar way Gods people learn to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. As we make these little slips and these little falls and as we become wounded, we begin to grow in grace. We start to become aware of the places that are slippery and the things that cause us to stumble and fall. Our hearts begin to bleed, and we come weeping before the Lord and ask Him to take away the foolishness of our sins. Then He heals it with the balm of Gilead and the precious blood of Christ is again applied to the soul. It is applied to that wound, to that particular sin.
Growth in faith needs to be disciplined. It has to be disciplined very carefully, and knowledge is imparted as the seed-bed of the heart becomes cultivated and ready for the seed of the gospel. When you cultivate a field, the purpose of cultivating the field is to remove all of the foreign material, all the weeds, all the things that would choke out the good seed. As the field is cultivated and the seed-bed is prepared, and as it is brought into the proper mulch condition, then we can start putting the seed in. This is how we grow in grace. The seed-bed of the heart must be cultivated. All of these little things of Satan must be cultivated away. Satan would draw us away from the Lord with all of these little lusts and places of bitterness in our hearts that have a tendency to come up and choke out the work of grace. They must be weeded out. The heart must be prepared.
This principle is set forth in JOH 16:12; "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." What the Lord is telling us is that as we grow before He starts giving us stronger meat. He does not give strong meat to a little infant since we cannot bear it now. This teaches us how spiritual growth takes place.
In JOH 16:13-14 Jesus said, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
When that spirit of truth comes into our heart, then He teaches us. He will guide us into all truth. He will help keep us from slipping into error and from a wrong attitude; He will help us to walk humbly with our God. The Holy Spirit will take those precious things of Christ, that precious, humble obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ and He will bring that before our eyes. Then we see how grievous our rebellion is. That is when we start to understand sin in its right light.
You start to see those things of Christ, the Holy Spirit reveals them before your eyes, and you see the tender love of the Father. You see that precious love of His Son and this starts delivering you from the things of death. That is what makes the things of sin and the things of this life no longer have such a hold upon your heart.
The Apostle Paul admonished the Corinthian church of their need for growth; they needed to grow in the way of being resurrected unto a newness of life. Look what we see in 1CO 3:1-3, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [Why? Their hearts were still filled with bitterness and bickering.] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
These weeds in the seedbed of the heart must first be plucked out. You cannot plant that precious humility of Christ and expect the Holy Spirit to reveal the precious things of Christ in your heart while your heart is filled with bitterness, envyings, strife and divisions. The Apostle Paul comes back and reproves them saying, "Are ye not carnal and walk as men?"
Do you see what is necessary? The Lord Jesus in this whole chapter gives us a case scenario to see the striking contrast between the things of death and the things of life. There is no room for the two to dwell together. The one must be plucked out to make room for the other.
Take notice what Martha had asked Jesus in Verses 21- 22, "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Jesus answered in the next verse, "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again."
Now, when Martha replied, "Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Verse 24, it seems obvious she thought Jesus had avoided her request "to ask of God."
It seems obvious that she thought that He had avoided her request. She had asked Him and Jesus answer was, "Thy brother shall rise again." She did not understand that He was going to do the exact thing she had asked of Him because she said, "Whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will grant it. He was preparing her for asking that he be raised again. He said, Thy brother shall rise again, and she misunderstood Him. She considered Jesus response, "Thy brother shall rise again," was pointing her forward to some far distant hope.
Isnt that what is common in our funerals today? They point to the resurrection and say, "he shall rise again," giving some distant hope. We can see that by Marthas answer, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day," she didnt take Jesus literally. In other words, she was not able to take what the Lord had told her and apply it to a present circumstance.
Isnt this what we often do? We read the Word of God and we see the promises in the Word of God. Then we have such a tendency to apply them to some future event. This case scenario is a caution for us today. Martha, like the woman of Samaria, did not understand the nearness of the benefit. She did not understand that He was speaking of a present benefit. She did not understand how near it was. In each case they half despondently put it far in the future.
Now take a look at JOH 4:25, where the woman of Samaria said unto the Lord Jesus Christ, "I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things." She was speaking of a Messiah that has been promised from the beginning of the world and has for four thousand years delayed His coming. Now in a half despondent tone she said that she knew He would come and tell them all things. She could not apprehend the nearness of the benefit that Jesus spoke of.
We have such a tendency to do the same thing in our day; we dont grasp by faith the nearness of the promise that God gives to us in a spiritual sense. It isnt just something that is going to happen on the Judgment Day, but this resurrection is a present thing of today. Today we must be raised above the things of this world. We must be raised above the things of this life to where our hearts are united and centered upon the Person of Christ. This is the lesson that we learn here.
As her blessed Shepherd continued to lead this woman of Samaria forth, He arrested her attention to bring her to realize that her eye of faith must become fixed upon the very Person of Christ. If we walk and go forward in darkness, causes our eyes to be fixed on something besides the Person of Christ. What did the Lord Jesus say to the woman of Samaria? Look at Verse 26, "Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he."
REV 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." How often do you and I realize that in every struggle, in every trial, in every groan, it is Jesus who is speaking to you and me? It is the Lord Jesus Christ putting His finger upon us to draw our hearts away from the things of this world and to get our hearts fixed on the Person of Christ.
This is the message He gave this woman, "I that speak unto thee am he." The Lord speaking to us in the things of His providence. It is the Lord speaking to us in His Word to take our attention off temporal things and ourselves and to fix our eyes upon the Person of Christ.
So it was the same situation as Jesus spoke to Martha. He arrested her attention to not only look at the resurrection as something in the far distant future, but to also fix her eye upon His Person who is that resurrection and the life. We may not always consider the resurrection as something that is going to happen on the Judgment Day. We have to look at the Lord Jesus Christ and look at the Person of Christ; He is the resurrection, and there is where we get lifted above the things of death.
Our text says in JOH 11:25, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
Now, in each instance these weak believers had only a vague idea of a future and final good, but Jesus spoke of a present blessing. Satan is very crafty. How often do we trip on that same trick of Satan, that he tricks us into putting the good that Christ promised as a day a far off? He likes to have us put the day of reckoning as a day a far off, if we are walking in sin. However, if we are walking in the footsteps of our Saviour, he wants us to put the day of blessing off as a future event. If we allow Satan to have his way, we dont take by faith and reach out and have the present blessings. Jesus said, "I am [present tense] the resurrection, and the life."
Now, I want each one of us to examine our own hearts and tell me if what I am saying is right. It seems so much easier to believe things that are in the distant future than it is to appropriate it to the present trial as a comfort for today. As our trials are tripping us up, and as we are laboring and are exercised in the present trial, it is not as easy to appropriate "I am the resurrection" today as it is to believe that it will happen some day in the future. We need to see the comforts Christ has for us in His Word. It is so difficult sometimes to be able to see that they are appropriated to the present circumstances.
It most often seems to make less demand upon faith to believe that at some future date we shall receive glorified bodies, than to fully rest upon the Word of God now. In ISA 26:3 we read, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: [Why?] because he trusteth in thee."
How difficult It sometimes is in our present trials to rest upon this promise, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee," when our hearts and our minds are set upon the Person of Christ. That balm of Gilead is a medicine that cures every ill, and it cures every disease.
Now, with you and me today, as with Martha and the woman at the well, we are always so farsighted. When I was 16 years old, I had to wear glasses because I was farsighted. I could see something way in the distance much better than I could see something right before my eyes. If you are nearsighted, it is just the other way. You have to pull something right up to you to see it. But I was always farsighted. This is the way you and I are by nature. We become so farsighted that we need corrected vision to see and understand that Jesus Christ, or that is, what His Word speaks to us, is in a present tense. We need corrected vision. We have to start seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as real, and we must start fixing our attention and heart upon the Person of Christ. Why? As long as our hearts and our eyes are fixed upon those fiery serpents, we die, but when we turn and look unto that brazen serpent that was lifted up, which was a symbol and type of that blessed, crucified Christ, we live. Our hearts have to be taken off of present circumstances and set and fixed upon the Person of Christ.
Sometimes we make too much about heaven, and we make too much about a blessed communion in a blessed experience and our hearts can be fixed upon those things and miss being fixed upon the Person of Christ. We must fix our attention upon Christ in Person.
"I am," not I will be, "the resurrection and the life." He is speaking of present tense, today, this moment. When our eyes are fixed on Christ, we no longer die from the fiery serpents. We look to Jesus and live. He is the resurrection. He is the life. That is when death disappears. The things of death lose their value. They no longer have their charm.
When the Person of Christ becomes the object of our attention, all of our spiritual strength, comforts and joys are imparted as our faith is taken up with the Person of Christ Himself. We are not focused on the benefits we derive from Him. Satan is a crafty monster. He will either teach you that you are going to repent because of hell and damnation being preached to you, and that will drive you to Christ. Or he will try to get your heart so fixed on the inheritance that you lose your hearts attention on the Benefactor.
If I had a large inheritance and I knew that my children had their hearts so set on the big inheritance they would get some day, that they forgot all about me, I would feel pretty set aside. Cant you imagine that the same is true with our blessed Saviour? When we start becoming so infatuated with the inheritance and with the benefits that we lose sight of the Benefactor, that the Person of Christ is not the object of our love, then we find ourselves walking in darkness.
We see in the death of Lazarus that the hearts of Mary and Martha and the Jews were so taken up with his death that they were not able to raise their eyes above the present circumstances and look unto Christ. He had said, "I am the resurrection and the life."
In other words, why are you so taken up with death? Why isnt the resurrection of Christ the central focus? Why is it that we are not looking to the Great I Am, that great Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and who is life?
We see in JOH 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." While the people were dying, and the fiery serpents were biting, their hearts and their minds and their eyes had to be taken off from what they had there. Their hearts and their minds had to be removed from death, and they had to look unto Christ, who is life, and as they looked, they lived.
As we look away from those fiery serpents unto the Person of Christ, we begin to believe with saving faith. We may all believe, but do we have a saving faith? As Jesus is lifted up before the eye of faith, we learn in Verse 15 that, "whosoever believeth [That is why He was lifted up.] in him should not perish, but have eternal life." That blessed inheritance is the benefit or the reward of having our hearts fixed upon His Person, but if our hearts are fixed upon the benefits, we miss the Person of Christ.
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life." See how our Lord shepherds His wounded sheep. He is talking to those who are wounded. They have just lost a brother. They are weeping and they are wailing over death, and this blessed Lord shepherds His wounded sheep, and leads Marthas eyes away from the still open wound made by the death of her brother and points her unto His Glorious Person, who is life. "I am the resurrection and the life." When we look away from present circumstances, we live.
JOH 11:25 says, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life [after the resurrection, we have life]: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." There must be faith; there must be belief that what Jesus says it true. "And though he were dead, yet he shall live;" all the things of death are removed, and now we start seeing what is life.
Our Saviour would impress upon our minds who He is in His own Glorious Person, that He is all Power. The Lord wants our eyes fixed upon Him. Remember that Jesus said in JOH 11:4, "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
The Lord Jesus Christ needs to be glorified in His resurrecting life. He will be glorified, all power is resting in Him. As we wait upon Him to fulfill our expectations, our minds should be stayed upon Him. Our eyes must not be fixed upon the present circumstances and upon the fiery serpents and upon all the things that causes our sorrows and our griefs. Our eyes must be fixed upon that blessed Person of Christ as it says here in Verse 2, "(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)"
What did He tell Martha? "She has chosen the better part, and it shall not be taken from her." This is the one thing needful, that we sit at His blessed feet, that we wash His feet with our tears, as we weep over our sins, not that we weep in a way of despair, but in a weeping over having grieved such love. Our Saviour would impress all of His power and all His might and all His glory upon our feeble minds.
Look at ISA 40:29-31, "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
One time I had a situation that I had such a sinking feeling. I really felt I would collapse physically. I felt I had come to the end of my strength, and the Lord used that verse. He says, "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." All it took to instill strength back into me was to take my eyes off the present circumstances and fix them upon the blessed Person of Christ. There is the place we can wait patiently upon the Lord.
First Jesus says, "I am the resurrection," and secondly He says, "I am the life." Why that order? Spiritually, by nature we are "dead in trespasses and sins" as we see in EPH 2:1. Therefore, until there is a spiritual resurrection, there can be no spiritual life. That is why the resurrection must come first, because we are dead. We are spiritually dead.
Now, in a spiritual sense, by nature we are as the man spoken of in MAR 5:2-3, "And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit [and that is who you and I are by nature. We are among the things of death.], Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains."
When the Lord works grace, He quickens us unto a newness of life. EPH 2:1 says, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." That is why He says, "I am the resurrection." There must first take place a resurrection. We must be raised above the things of death before we will ever enjoy the things of life. We will never enjoy the things of spiritual life as we keep mulling around in the stench of death. We cannot entertain the sins of our youth. We cannot entertain the things of sin and experience spiritual life. That is why He says, "I am the resurrection and the life," in that order.
Now consider that in this man, having his eyes opened to see the Person of Christ, effected spiritual resurrection. I need you to see this. Look at MAR 5:6, "But when he saw Jesus [it doesnt say, when he saw heaven. It doesnt say when he saw this benefit or that benefit. It says, But when he saw Jesus] afar off, he ran and worshipped him." This man who dwelt among the tombs, this man who was quickened, who was raised and he saw Jesus afar off, and he ran and worshipped Him. His eye was fixed upon the Person of Christ.
Now, after this spiritual resurrection we see how Jesus became the Life! Now, I want you to see what takes place in MAR 5:14-15, "And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid."
Oh, now we start seeing the benefits. When? His eyes were first fixed upon the Person of Christ. Now we see the blessed benefits. We see that wedding garment. We see that white robe. We see that sanctified person now sitting at the feet of Jesus. He is no longer roaming in the tombs and crying out and cutting himself. He has been raised. Jesus is the resurrection; this man of the tombs has now experienced that resurrection. His eyes are fixed upon the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the people come to see him, and he is clothed and he is in his right mind. Do you know what it means to be in your right mind? When your affections are in the right place and are no longer fixed upon the things of this life you are in a right mind.
Now, lets consider the story of Job. Men came to him with news. It is quite a thought when you think about Job and the man who came and told him what the Lord had taken away. And while he was yet speaking, the next one came, and while he was yet speaking, the next one came. And while he was yet speaking, the last one came. And they told him that his own sons and daughters were slain. Where did it bring Job? He sat in dust and ashes. JOB 1:20-22 tells us, "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."
"The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." That is the declaration of one whose eyes are fixed on his God.
Sometimes the Lord removes some of the things that are hindering us in this life. Are we able to sit at His feet? Are we able to be clothed in that perfect robe of righteousness? We must live a sanctified life and be in our right mind. In other words, that our priorities are straight and our affections are set on things above and not on things below. In the case of the man among the tombs, the people were afraid. Why? They saw such a dynamic change happen in one man. How? It was by having his eyes fixed upon the Person of Christ.
So how did this faith view of the Person of Christ affect the life of this man? Look at MAR 5:17-18, "And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him." Do you see now where his heart is? He now prayed him that he might be with Him, that he might be able to be in His presence and be able to follow in the footsteps of Christ. You see a totally different man. He saw the Person of Christ and the immediate effect was a resurrection and there was new life. Now, there is a complete change in the pattern of this mans life, and he prayed him that be might be with Him.
So, again we see that the ways of our blessed Saviour are higher than our ways. Did the Lord tell him, "Yes, come on board, come along." ? No. Look at Verses 19 and 20, "Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel." Do you see how the Lord will sometimes be glorified in our sacrifice of not being able to have what we would desire? Then He is going to be glorified in the work that it does among his friends.
Sometimes we have to give up everything we live for. I used to be a farmer. I used to be in the trucking business. I started a truck dealership. I have had many businesses that prospered. But, do you know what the Lord did? He gave me the privilege to give it all up. For what? I gave all that up for His Names sake, and sometimes men marvel and wonder, "Why would you do that?"
The new birth is a resurrection, and a new life. JOH 5:24 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Our blessed Saviour is telling us about that new resurrection. They hear His word, they believe on Him who sent Him and they have everlasting life and they shall not come into condemnation; but have passed from death unto life. He is the resurrection and the life, and that is the transition from the maniac who was among the things of the tombs-transition, where? -to sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind.
Now, our text again teaches so clearly that salvation is limited to those who believe. We need to rightly understand what the Lord Jesus is saying in our text, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Do you see where the limitation lies?
There is no difficulty in understanding such plain language. It is so satanic the way some people want to take the Word of God and wrest the meaning of it. Why? They often want to gratify some pet doctrine that they have inherited from their fathers. Our blessed Saviour shows again so powerfully and so beautifully where the limitations lie. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." There is no difficulty in understanding this, in revealing the salvation God has provided through the atonement for sin. It is as plain as the light of day. The salvation that is there by atonement is for those who believe.
Look at PSA 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Christ, who is the Way, Truth, and the Life is revealed in the Word as clearly as the light of day. The Word is as a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path. Those who reject Him and love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil, will find no comfort in the doctrine of limited atonement on the Judgment Day. They will not be able to say that the atonement was limited and therefore, they couldnt be saved. "Oh, the Lord didnt call me," will not work. Saying that the Lord didnt do something, or "I had a right," or "I had a license to live in sin and to reject Christ" will not be an excuse on the Judgment Day. Those Jews who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and rejected the gospel of Christ will be accountable on that Day of Judgment for having rejected the Lord Jesus because they refused to believe His Word, and that is where the limitation lies.
JOH 1:29 says, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the [elect? No, I am sorry. That is not what it says.] world."
Now, is this limited to the world of the elect? Look at 1JO 2:2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Now that word propitiation means the appeasing of His wrath. This is specifically talking about the atonement. He is the propitiation for our sins. Now, when you take that in the original, what that is talking about is "all." Not some, but all.
Now, see this same principle taught in ROM 5:18, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Now we are not talking about the word world, we are talking about all men. I looked it up in the original and that word all, where it says "the gift came upon all men" is the same word in the original as the word "all men came into condemnation" through sin. The gift of God came unto all men. That doesnt mean that they all received it. Those who believe receive it. The gift came unto "all men unto justification of life."
Now look at 1TI 2:3-6, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all." I want you to understand what the Word of God does here. We have the revealed will of God; God wants all men to be saved.
I dont know how any man would dare to question the truth of the gospel that teaches the limitation of salvation lay in the term of JOH 3:15-16. "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
What does our text say? "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (JOH 11:25).
The total fault of the only limitation of salvation falls directly upon shoulders of man. In the Day of Judgment, no man will ever be able to reply against God and say, "But I was not elect." The atonement is for all from Gods side; Jesus said He gave himself as a ransom for all. No person can come on the Day of Judgment and say that the atonement was not for him. Mans enmity against God by nature is what keeps man from wanting to believe.
Look at REV 22:17, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come."
Now, I want you to see the distinguishing element. "Him that is athirst." Who is athirst? "He that believeth in me," is the distinguishing element, and only those in whom God has worked grace in their souls will believe. Now we see where Gods sovereign grace lies. He might justly have suffered all men to perish and allowed us to be destroyed in the enmity that we have by nature against God. It is the divine influence of the Holy Spirit upon the heart that brings any person to believe. However, the fault does not lie with God. It lies with our rebellion if we refuse to believe.
"And he that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The fault clearly lies with the rebellion of man. So now notice the emphasis, "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." God will never save any person against his will. This needs to be understood very clearly.
So, who then will be saved? We see the answer so beautifully brought forth in PHI 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." That is where we see the sovereignty of God in our salvation. It is God who works in you to will. By nature, no man will. By nature, no man would be saved, but the Lord has an election of grace. Now we are looking into the secret will of God.
In His election of grace, He has an election of those whom He will work grace in their souls. He will make them willing in the day of His power and as He works His grace. He says He does work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. That is where we see Gods sovereignty in our salvation. Not in a limitation of atonement, but in a limitation of salvation, limited unto those who have the divine work of grace in their souls. Those who do not have it will remain and die in their rebellion.
The law of the gospel is so plain, and so reasonable. What is the law of the gospel? "Repent," i.e., "and be renewed in the spirit of your mind" as we see in EPH 4:22-24. "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." That is the law of the gospel; that we must be renewed in the spirit of our minds. Our attitude toward God must be renewed.
The second element in the law of the gospel is "believe," i.e., "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," as we read in JOH 3:16.
The command is to believe from 1 JO 3:23. "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." The Fathers command is to believe on the name of His Son. That is the law of the gospel.
The third element in the law of the gospel is "holiness," sanctification, i.e., "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" as we read in ROM 8:29. Holiness is required, without which no man shall see the Lord. That is the law of the gospel. This is what takes place in this resurrection and the new life. All who come unto Christ shall live, and they will first be raised above the things of death. They will be conformed to His blessed image, and by faith beholding the Person of Christ, they become conformed to His precious image.
Now, are these unreasonable requirements that Christ has called us unto? Is it unreasonable that the Lord requires that we come to a change of attitude, when our hearts are filled with bitterness and enmity against God? That is not an unreasonable demand. Our enmity must be removed, but that state of spiritual death will only be taken away when our eyes are fixed upon the Person of Christ and we are quickened unto a newness of life. That is the work of grace. That is where Gods sovereignty comes in. It is not unreasonable that we should be conformed unto His precious image. Neither is it unreasonable that we should walk in the ways of holiness.
Our text says in JOH 11:25, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
There is only one place that you and I will ever find deliverance from the power of sin, and that is in the Person of Christ. You and I may struggle in our own strength, with all our might, all the days of our lives, and never, ever, ever, find deliverance from the power of any one sin. There is only one place where there is deliverance from the power of sin and that is in the Person of Christ. When our eyes are taken off from these serpents, these fiery serpents, in other words, the things that destroy, the things of death, and we are able to look unto Jesus, we will live. Amen.
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