Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life
James Smith, 1859
Many circumstances connected with the recent war, were deeply affecting. Many a godly soldier fell in the battle field; no doubt, many had fellowship with the God of peace, while surrounded by all the horrors of war. Many incidents of a touching character have been published, and one that has recently been communicated to me, is I think as touching as any:
In one of the early charges in the battle of Alma, a soldier fell mortally wounded. He was found by the searchers for the wounded and the dead, lying on his face, having bled to death. His hand was resting on an open Testament, and his finger pointed to that precious text, "I am the resurrection, and the life; he who believes in me, though he were dead—yet shall he live: and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." (John 11:25, 26.) They endeavored to take the book out of his death-stricken hand—but it was glued to the page with his gore; and in taking it away, the leaf was torn out, with the text still adhering to his hand. His eye last rested on God's book, his mind in death was directed to Jesus, his thoughts weref fixed on the resurrection and the life; and so he passed out of time into eternity.
May we not hope he had a living faith in Jesus, that his soul was drawing living comforts from Jesus in his dying moments. Jesus is always precious to the believer—but, oh, how precious must He be to a wounded soldier, whose life is flowing from him on the cold dreary battle plain! Many, many of our brave soldiers we trust, during the last war, found Jesus precious amidst the privations and agonies endured. Precious must the thoughts of the resurrection be then, a resurrection to eternal life, to inhabit a country where neither sickness nor war, sorrow nor death shall be never known.
Jesus is the resurrection!He quickens the dead in sin, and raises them to a life of righteousness. He calls us out of the grave of nature, and raises us up to live in his sight. He will also quicken the dead bodies of his saints, which sleep in him, and will raise them up to inhabit the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. He will change our vile bodies, and make them like his glorious body. He will conform us to himself, and we shall be exactly like him.
Then there will be no more evil in our hearts, no more disease in our bodies; we shall no more experience the inward conflict, nor be exposed to the assaults of Satan. We shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven. United to Jesus now, death cannot separate us from him; falling asleep in Jesus at death, we shall sweetly slumber, until the morning of the resurrection. And then we shall be satisfied, for we shall awake up in his likeness. Sweet thought this!
Nothing can separate us from Jesus. Whether we live or die, we are still one with him. Whether we die on our beds, surrounded by sympathizing friends; or die on the cold ground alone, amidst the roar of cannons, and the shouts of the warlike hosts, we die in Jesus. We sleep in Jesus. The soul departs to be with Jesus. And he who raised up Christ from the dead, will also quicken our mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwells in us. What a glorious hope! What a blessed prospect! Oh, to be one with Christ in life, in death, and forever!
Jesus is the life.Our natural life was communicated by him; our spiritual life is his gift; he quickens the lifeless soul; he sustains the life he imparts; he crowns the life he sustains; quickened by him, we feel our need of him; the whole soul desires him, we diligently seek him, we cannot rest until we find him, and realize our interest in him. There is no repose for the soul but on Jesus, no satisfaction but in Jesus, no joy but what flows from Jesus. He is our life, and we are dead without him; miserable at a distance from him, and can never be happy but as we see his face and taste his love.
The soul is not more the life of the body, than Jesus, the precious Lord Jesus, is the life of the soul. Our bodies are not more sustained by our food, than our souls are by communications from Jesus. Light, air, and food, are not more necessary for the maintenance of our animal life, than Jesus is for the maintenance of our spiritual life. Christ lives in us; we live in Christ. Christ lived for us; we live on Christ. Christ and our souls are one. He raised us from the dead by his power, and he keeps our soul in life by his grace. We owe our all to Jesus. Blessed, forever blessed, be his glorious name!
The believer in Jesus shall never die.Sleep in Jesus he may, die he never can. Jesus has abolished death for all believers. It is a powerless enemy; a serpent deprived of its sting; an enemy paralyzed in all its parts. Never die! O blessed, blessed news! Never die! Oh glorious fact! We shall live, and live forever. There is nothing in what is called death, for a believer to fear. Does the laboring man, when he comes home wearied from his daily toil, fear to lay down his aching limbs on his soft couch? Does the traveler, worn out with the toils of his long journey, and exhausted by the rough roads, dread to stretch himself on his bed at night? Just as little cause has the believer in Jesus to dread or fear death.
When our work is done, when our journey is ended, when the body is worn out by toil or disease—we fall asleep in Jesus; we lay down to rest with the assurance, that when Jesus comes, them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Never die! No, no one in union with Jesus shall ever die, for he has said, "Because I live, you shall live also." Is the believer pronounced dead? He may be, "Yet," says Jesus, "shall he live." Live! Yes, a glorious life! Live! yes, and live for ever! Live; yes, when death itself is dead!
Oh how important is faith in Jesus! everything depends on this. Without faith, there is no union to Jesus—without union to Jesus, there are no supplies from Jesus—without supplies from Jesus, we do not, we cannot live. Reader, have you faith in Jesus? Do you believe on the Son of God? Have you as a poor, lost, condemned sinner, fled to Jesus for refuge? Have you ventured your everlasting all on his finished work? Do you trust in Christ alone? Are you looking for pardon and peace, only through his most precious blood? Are you expecting justification before God, only on the ground of his obedience unto death? Are you seeking to be made fit for heaven by possessing the Spirit of Christ? True faith, the faith that saves the soul—looks to Christ for all, trusts Christ with all, and depends on Christ alone in the absence of everything else.
If you are a believer, you know Christ—so as to commit your soul to him; you love Christ—so as to give up everything for him; you hope in Christ—and desire to be with him; you work for Christ—and wish above all things to glorify him; you desire Christ—and pant incessantly to be like him. In one word, if you believe on Jesus—he is precious to you. But who shall say, how precious? More precious than rubies, than health, wealth, or fame; than clothing, food, or even life itself. For faith will allow of no rival to Christ, nor of any equal; but always places him on the highest throne, and aims to crown him with the greatest glory. "Unto you therefore who believe—He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7
Faith brings us to Christ, fills us with the love of Christ, fires us with zeal for Christ, and makes us like Christ. Believing in Jesus, we are safe for time and eternity. Believing in Jesus, we are provided for and ought to be happy! Believing in Jesus, we are savingly interested in all Jesus did, entitled to all Jesus merited, and shall share in all the glories Jesus possesses! O believer, happy are you! Happy in your state! Happy in your connections! Happy in your prospects!
Unbeliever, careless sinner, thoughtless soul, your danger is great, your case is pitiable, your doom is dreary. You are condemned already. You shall die, and die forever. The resurrection to you will be no joyous event—but rather the reverse. Hear the solemn, the alarming words of Jesus, "The hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and they shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation!" The resurrection of damnation, what is that!? Damnation! what a fearful word! Raised from the dead—to be damned! Is that the design? Yes, that both body and soul, which have sinned together, may suffer together; and suffer together to all eternity!
Nothing can preserve you from hell—but faith in Jesus. Therefore the risen Savior said, "He who believes not, shall be damned." How plain, how positive, how decided these words, "He," let him be who he may; "who believes not," who will not come to me for life, who will not trust in my blood, profess my name, and take me for his Savior; "shall be damned!" He shall die without mercy; he shall be sentenced to eternal fire; he shall be punished with everlasting destruction; he "shall be damned!"
Reader, search your heart, examine your life, settle the question, "Do you truly believe on the Son of God?" If you do, it shall be well with you, all things shall work together for your good; but if you do not, it shall be badly with you, and all things shall work together for your destruction!