Delivered on Sunday Morning, July 18th, 1869, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”—2 Corinthians 5:17.
HIS TEXT IS exceedingly full of matter, and might require many treatises, and even multitudes of folios, to bring forth all its meaning. Holy Scripture is notably sententious. Human teachers are given to verbiage; we multiply words to express our meaning, but the Lord is wondrously laconic; he writeth as it were in shorthand, and gives us much in little. One single grain of the precious gold of Scripture may be beaten out into acres of human gold leaf, and spread far and wide. A few books are precious as silver, fewer still are golden; but God’s Book hath a bank note in every syllable, and the worth of its sentences it were not possible for mortal intellect to calculate.
We have two great truths here, which would serve us for the subject of meditation for many a day: the believer’s position—he is “in Christ;” and the believer’s character—he is a “new creature.” Upon both of these we shall speak but briefly this morning, but may God grant that we may find instruction therein.
I. First, then, let us consider THE CHRISTIAN’S POSITION—he is said to be “in Christ.”
There are three stages of the human soul in connection with Christ: the first is without Christ, this is the state of nature; the next is in Christ, this is the state of grace; the third is with Christ, that is the state of glory.
Without Christ, this is where we all are born and nurtured, and even though we hear the gospel, and the Bible be in all our houses, and even though we use a form of prayer, yet until we are born again, we are without God, without Christ, and strangers from the commonwealth of Israel. A man may stand at the banqueting-table, and may be without food, unless he puts out his hand to grasp that which is provided; and a man may have Christ preached in his hearing every Sabbath-day, and be without Christ, unless he putteth forth the hand of faith to lay hold upon him. It is a most unhappy condition to be without Christ. It is inconvenient to be without gold, it is miserable to be without health, it is deplorable to be without a friend, it is wretched to be without reputation, but to be without Christ is the worst lack in all the world. O that God would make all of us sensible of it who are now the subjects of it, and may we no longer tarry in the position of being without Christ.
The next state is that indicated in the text, “in Christ,” of which I will say more by-and-by. “In Christ” leadeth to the third state, which we can never reach without this second one, namely, to be with Christ; to be his companions in the rest which he has attained, all his work and labour done; to be with him in the glory which he has gained, made to see it and to participate in it world without end. To be with Christ is the angels’ joy, it is the heaven of heaven, it is the centre of bliss, the sun of paradise. Let us seek after it, and in order that we may have it, let us labour with all our heart and mind to be found in Christ now, that we may be in Christ in the day of his appearing.
Turn we now to the expression itself, “in Christ.” I never heard of any persons being in any other man but Christ; we may follow certain leaders, political or religious, but we are never said to be included in them. We may take for ourselves eminent examples and high models of humanity, but no man is said in that respect to be in another. But this is a grand old scriptural phrase in which the disciple and the follower of Christ becomes something more than an imitator of his Lord, and is said to be in his Master. We must interpret this scriptural phrase by scriptural symbols. We were all of us in the first Adam. Adam stood for us. Had Adam kept the command, we had all of us been blessed. He took off the forbidden fruit and fell, and all of us fell in him. Original sin falleth upon us because of the transgression of our covenant head and representative, Adam the first; but all believers are in the same sense in Christ, Adam the second, the only other representative Man before God, the heavenly Man, the Lord from heaven. Now, as in Adam we all fell, so all who are in Christ are in Christ perfectly restored. The obedience of Christ is the obedience of all his people; the atonement of Christ is a propitiation for all his people’s sins. In Christ we lived on earth, in Christ we died, in Christ we rose, and he “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places” in himself. As the apostle tells us that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchisedec met him, so were we in the loins of Christ from before the foundation of the world; faith apprehends that blessed truth, and thus by faith we are experimentally in Christ Jesus.
Noah’s Ark was a type of Christ. The animals that were preserved from the deluge passed through the door into the ark, the Lord shut them in, and high above the foaming billows they floated in perfect safety. We are in Christ in the same sense. He is the ark of God provided against the day of judgment. We by faith believe him to be capable of saving us; we come and trust him, we risk our souls with him, believing that there is no risk; we venture on him confident that it is no venture; giving up every other hope or shadow of a hope, we trust in what Jesus did, is doing, and is in himself, and thus he becomes to us our ark, and we are in him.
Another similitude may be taken from the old Jewish law. By God’s commands certain cities were provided throughout all Canaan, that an Israelite who should slay his fellow at unawares, might flee there from the avenger of blood. The city of refuge no sooner received the manslayer than he was perfectly free from the avenger who pursued him. Once within the suburbs or through the gate, and the manslayer might breathe safely, the executioner would be kept at bay. In the same sense we are in Christ Jesus. He is God’s eternal city of refuge, and we having offended, having slain, as it were, the command of God, flee for our lives and enter within the refuge city, where vengeance cannot reach us, but where we shall be safe world without end.