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21 May, 2014

CHRIST THE BELIEVER'S LIFE

CHRIST THE BELIEVER'S LIFE

by Archibald Alexander

Jesus is the believer's life, because he has redeemed him from death. The sentence of death, eternal death, has gone forth against every sinner. "The wages of sin is death." "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." From this curse all believers are delivered by Christ, who endured the curse for them. To such "there is no condemnation;" and they are adapted into the family of God, and made heirs of eternal life. They stand completely justified on account of the perfect righteousness of their Surety. This exemption from death, and title to life, could in no other way be obtained than by Christ's making a sacrifice of his own precious life.

Christ is held forth as a Redeemer, and his great work as a redemption. The people redeemed are condemned criminals, who can be released in no other way than by the payment of a ransom. This Christ has paid, satisfying, by his "obedience unto death," both law and justice. Thus the believer has life, not by virtue of his own obedience, but only through Christ. His union with Christ gives him a title to the life which he has procured.

Again, Christ is the source of spiritual life to the believer. By nature all men are dead in trespasses and sins. Spiritual life was lost to the whole human race by the transgression of Adam. If there were only a spark of life left in the human soul, it might be nourished, and by assiduous culture, might grow to maturity. But in man's corrupt nature there dwells no good thing. All the thoughts and imaginations of his heart are "only evil continually." To introduce life into the depraved soul, as much requires the exertion of omnipotence as to create man at first. God, who caused light to shine out of darkness, must shine into the heart. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sends forth, the soul is united to Christ, and from him derives life. Just as the branch derives nutriment from the vine, so the believer receives from Christ, his spiritual head, vital influences, by which he lives. This communication of life is called regeneration, or the new birth. People who experience this change are "born of the Spirit," "born from above."

And as Christ is the author of this life in its commencement, so he is the cause of its preservation and growth. Every kind of life requires nourishment; and this spiritual principle, called by the apostle "the new man," must be fed. Christians are compared to "new-born babes," who naturally thirst for the pure milk of the word, that they may grow thereby. Their growth depends very much on their increase in knowledge; the word of God, therefore, is the means of the believer's advancement in the divine life. By the Spirit of Christ the word is made effectual; and Christ himself is the sum and substance of the word. The word testifies of him. The word exhibits Christ as "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." As the body is supported and made to grow by bread, which is called "the staff of life," so Christ is "the bread that came down from heaven." The believer eats his flesh and drinks his blood, "not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith." "The flesh profits nothing." Christ guards against any gross interpretation of his words by saying, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Spiritual life cannot be nourished by flesh.

Another respect in which Christ is the life of the believer, is the resurrection of the body. "I am," says he, "the resurrection and the life." "He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." The bodies of believers are united to Christ as well as their souls. The saints do therefore wait and hope for "the redemption of the body," and they shall not be disappointed. For we "look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

Finally, Christ will be the source of the believer's life through eternity. The union between Christ and his members shall never be dissolved. He will forever be the fountain from which their happiness flows. "He that has the Son, has life." "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." "And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." How emphatically may it then be said, that Christ is the believer's life. He is indeed "all in all." And they who have received the Lord Jesus, possess everything which they can really need. They are complete in him; for "of God, he is made unto them wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." "All things are theirs, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are theirs: and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's."


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