King's Business - 1949-04



By Arthur Hedley Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England

I AM HE that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever­ more” (Rev. 1:18). The New Testament record of our Lord’s life is unique, in that it tells us not only of His birth, His life, His min­ istry of teaching and healing, His death, His burial, but also of His resurrection and ascension. In human biography, the biographer is limited to the earthly life of his subject. He cannot follow him into the world beyond and record what he is doing there. True, some profess to have pierced the thick veil which hangs be­ tween the living and the dead, but these communications supposed to be from departed souls are so vague, trivial, dull and unoriginal, that if they were actual messages, it would appear that the senders had “left their minds be­ hind them.” The New Testament records several instances of men being raised from the dea,d, but in no case is a single word related respecting their experience while in a state of death. Tennyson in his immortal poem, In Memoriam, ques­ tions Lazarus as to what happened to him when he passed from this mortal scene. “ ‘Where wert thou, brother, those four days?’ There lives no record of reply, Which telling what it is to die Had surely added praise to praise. “Behold a man raised up by Christ! The rest remaineth unrevealed; He told it not; or something seal’d The lips of that Evangelist.” But while none come back from the dead to tell us how they are faring in the other world, the New Testament de­ scribes a Christ who did return, •and who now lives and reigns above. It re­ veals a living, acting Christ. We are per­ mitted to know what He is doing now, and we hear His voice speaking to us. From the eternal world which He has inhabited through endless ages, the in­ carnate and ascended Christ bears wit­ ness to the fact that His death was a reality, and that His resurrection too was a reality. It is the voice of Christ which breaks through the silence say­ ing : “ I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev. 1:18). In the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, the evangelists bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but here Christ Himself “ the faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5) de­ clares He has met and conquered death. That He was dead is a fact that is attested to by many witnesses. When Joseph besought Pilate to let him have the body of Jesus, he was surprised to Page Ten

learn that He was “ already dead” (Mark 15:44; John 19:33), so he sent for the centurion in charge to confirm the statement of Joseph. The disciples who had witnessed His death believed He was lost to them for ever. The reali­ zation of their material hopes depended •upon a present, living, all-powerful Christ, and His death meant the end of all their hopes and dreams. Their fear, distress and despair are a witness to the fact that He actually “was dead.” The sorrowing women came to “ anoint” the Why go ye among the shadows seeking? Looking with longing akin to dread, Expecting a sepulchral hand to reach out From the dim cold catacombs of the dead? He is not here . . . where the light has faded, Where warmth and vigor and life are gone; He is not here . . . for He has risen, He left His cloak, and hurried on. A soul unfettered . . . a life unshackled By. pain and worry and grief and care, Would linger not in dark damp places; Come out of the tomb— He is not there! Why go ye among the shadows seeking? He would not be where the lights are dim; Look not for the dead, but for life abounding, Go out in the sunlight and look for Him! body of a dead (not' a living) Christ (Mark 16:1). His enemies were sure of His death, and to make doubly sure that He would never trouble them again, they had His tomb firmly sealed, and set a watch to see that no one interfered with it. That Christ lived, was cruci­ fied and buried is one of the best authen­ ticated facts of history, confirmed by friend and foe alike. But death did not have the last word. Our Lord predicted with absolute con­ fidence that death would be but a tem­ porary interruption of His life. For the

Lord of life and death moved among men as one who had power to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:18). For three brief days death held Him fast (Matt. 16:21; John 2:19). Then He burst the bands of death and triumphed gloriously. After He had atoned.for our sins by the offering of Himself, He was raised for our justifi­ cation (Rom. 4:25). It is a living, con­ tinuing, reigning Christ that we meet in the New Testament. “ I am he that liv­ eth” says the eternal Son of God who “was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” His apostles knew He was alive, for they had fellowship with Him on several occasions. Peter says “Him God raised up the third day,” and gave Him to be made manifest . . . “ even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:41). The Acts of the Apostles could be, more correctly called “ The Acts of the Living Christ,” for here we see Him working in mighty power through the Holy Spirit. It was the fact that Christ was with them that made the apostles so fearless of their enemies and so scornful of consequences. It was through their faith in His presence and power that they wrought amazing miracles, and preached the Gospel with convicting and converting power. Nothing less than an actual meeting with the living Christ can account for the astounding conver­ sion of Saul of Tarsus, and his life of utter devotion to the cause of his Sav­ iour. As we turn the pages of the Epistles, we are conscious of being in the presence of men to whom Christ was a living and abiding reality. He was with them, in them, and through Him the greatest blessings flowed into their lives. He was their living Head, their great High Priest who dispensed grace in every hour of need (Heb. 4:14- 16); their ever-living Intercessor (7:25) who pleaded their cause before the Father’s face. He was their Sovereign Lord who is ever working all things to­ gether for their good. Because Jesus is alive for evermore, He is with us today and all the re­ sources of His love, grace and power are available for our use. We worship and serve a living, Almighty Saviour who waits to reveal greater manifestations of His presence, His friendship and His love. Too often we live as though Christ were still confined within that Eastern tomb; that is why we are so lifeless, so joyless, so fruitless. It is be­ cause there is such a lack of faith in the living Christ and so little real and vital fellowship with Him in our individual lives, that there is such a spirit of cold­ ness, deadness, worldliness and hopeless- T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S

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