Those In Touch Of Heart With God - Part 2
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Service According to Ability
Then there's another thing to be said with some emphasis, and yet said gently. It is said with emphasis because it seems never spoken of. It is said gently because it touches one of the sore spots in our common Christian life. And the touch may make somebody a bit sensitive, and possibly may hurt a bit. Yet the surgeon's knife that cuts is to prepare the way for healing and health.
The word is this, their occupation up there, and the privilege of personal service for the King, will be according to ability. But ability has a new meaning, not used down here much. It refers to the spirit traits one has grown down here.
Those who, in the stress of life have been true to the Lord Jesus here have grown certain traits of character. There has been a cultivation of the inner spirit life which in turn has given color and shape to the outer life. In following fully they have had difficult experiences on the earth. There have been oppositions and persecutions, sometimes of the subtler sort that cut deep.
There has grown a sensitiveness of spirit to the Master's presence and voice and way of doing things. So there has been grown unconsciously, largely, the traits needed in the Master's upper service. The vision has been cleared, the ear trained for his voice, the spirit keen to understand, the judgment disciplined, the mood made like His own, responsive to Him, and to those in similar touch with Him.
May I say, very gently, that it seems pathetic how many there are whose one thought seems to be to be sure they'll be saved? The thought of being serviceable to the Master after being saved seems to slip quite out. There's a natural concern over personal salvation, of course, till it's settled right.
But so many seem to think that having fixed up the matter of salvation, very much—I am putting it bluntly as you take out any insurance policy, they are free to go on their selfish worldly way, like the outer crowd. The motives of the world seem largely their motives. It's hard to find the difference.
Now, the point to stress is this: our life there, and our privilege of personal service for the King, will naturally be moulded on our Christian lives here. It will be reckoned a great honor, the outstanding honor, to do errands, carry out commissions, and be entrusted with bits of service.
And mark you keenly, all may serve up there, who will. There will be no favoritism shown. But of course, only those will be sent on some honored errand who can do it, who have grown the traits of character it calls for.
It seems quite clear that when our Lord Jesus does come again (whenever that may be), in the second phase of His coming back to the earth to heal its hurt, He will be accompanied, not by all who are saved through His blood, but by those who being saved, are also "chosen and faithful." That is, in their life on the earth, they have answered the call to personal salvation. They have been chosen for some bit of service, and they have been faithful to their Lord in doing what He asked.
Now, this will naturally be the simple law of service up in the home-land, and in the coming kingdom time. Those are entrusted with doing the king's errands, who have grown the traits needed. And those traits are grown in our earth life by the simple full following of our blessed Lord Jesus.
Yet, let it be carefully noted that every cup of happiness will be full up there. There will be different sorts of cups, varying sizes, and full recognition of the differences, yet each will be as full as it will hold. We shall be absorbed with our glorious King. There will be sweetest fellowship, and fullest accord. Yet some will be honored in service as others cannot be. And the right of this will be readily acknowledged by all.
But, it does look sometimes, as though there'd be a lot of people saved as though by the skin of their teeth, in Job's words. They're in, but barely in; saved, but barely saved. Christ not only had to die to get them saved, but has to burn off a lot of stuff accumulated down here that can't get over the door sill up there.
This seems to be the simple picture etched out before our eyes in this old Book of God. There's much local coloring to add to it. But this answers the age-old question about our loved ones, in touch of heart with God, who have died.
Now Turn to the Book
And now we want to turn to the Book directly for the detailed study out of which this simple picture is drawn.
It will be noted that these old Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, are flooded with the Kingdom conception. The continual thought absorbing these writers is not death and heaven and the life beyond. They are absorbed with a new condition of things coming on the earth.
There's a King coming, and through Him a kingdom. And the kingdom they are thinking of will be on the earth. The triumph of right on the earth is their overmastering thought. This prevailing outlook of things is based distinctly on promises to Abraham, and David, and the other fathers of their people.
It is really the same as with the writers of the Newer Testament, where the dominant thought is of some One coming back to the earth, to lighten all wrongs and Edenize the earth again. This kingdom conception and outlook in the older pages color all the sky continually.
This makes the references to the future life stand out in sharper relief. Indeed the broad view seems to make it clear that these old writers didn't discuss the future life much. They took it for granted. This is the setting of the particular passages we want to look at.
It will be noticed that there are other things taken for granted. God is taken for granted. He is above any such thing as death. We are His creatures, breath of his own breath. We have the same quality of life as He. We have been badly hurt by sin. As a result there is death for the body. But the principle of life within us is of the same essential sort as God's. We are kin in the quality of life, through His gracious creative touch. All this is the common background here.
The other world is taken for granted. There is another world, another bigger part of this world we are in. It's another sort of world, that part we don't see. God's home or fireside is there. There's no death there, with God, for He talks to successive generations. Men come and go on the earth, but this One is continuous. In very homely simile, it is like the harvests coming and going, but the farmer continues season after season. This, be it keenly marked, is the common point of view of this old Book.
And God is directly concerned about things here. It seems quite natural to them to write down, "and God said," as they do countless times. Jacob is awed by God speaking to him at Jabbok, but it never occurs to him to question it. Abraham's heart is stilled when God appears in a dream or vision, but he accepts it as a thing to shape his plans by.
And death is taken for granted, as a dreaded passage through to something beyond. It is something unnatural, a break. It is a thing to be dreaded in itself, like passing through a dark gloomy valley on your way to the mountain top. This is revealed incidentally in the language used.
For instance death is commonly spoken of as sleep. Sleep is a temporary thing. It is followed by waking. There is no direct analogy to death in nature. Winter is not death, but sleep. The spring is the waking time with all the powers renewed and refreshed. The grain of wheat is said to "die". But the process it goes through is a natural stage in the getting of the harvest. The death stage that man knows is an unnatural thing, a sharp rupture in nature's order.
Now, here in the Book, death is as sleep.
The kings are commonly spoken of as sleeping with their fathers. Jacob says "when I sleep with my fathers." David cries out joyously "I shall be satisfied when I awake, with thy likeness."i This is as common in the Old, as in the clearer resurrection light of the New Testament.
And it should be noted that this usage of sleep for death is distinctive to this old Bible. That is, it seems to have originated there. Its use elsewhere is a copy of this old Biblical usage.
Some Incidental Teachings
There's a group of incidental teachings, that touch the subject indirectly. Incidental evidence is always strong evidence, like Ehud's left-handed thrust. It reveals an atmosphere, an attitude, an outlook, which at once tells the dominating faith. Look at a few of these incidental teachings.
In the creation story, it is said that God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life. The lower animal creation had come earlier. Here is something distinctly additional. God's own breath was breathed into man. Man is of the essence of God, creatively. We are as God in the possession of life, the fact of life, and the sort of life. This is creative. It is quite distinct from redemptive action. The creative, sustaining, preserving, power of God continues in spite of sin. It's a bit of the love of God.
In the outstanding Fifty-third of Isaiah there stands an incidental word of significance, when thou hast made his soul, a sin-offering (put to death) he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days." The same is repeated a few lines farther down. Because he poured out his soul unto death, therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and so on. Here is not only life after death, but a victorious triumphant life after a peculiarly humiliating death, indicating the continuation of life after death had control.
In that remarkable last chapter of Daniel, there is clear teaching of a coming resurrection, with its direct implication of a continuation of the life of the spirit while the body mingles with the dust. "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; these (that awake) to everlasting life ; the others (that do not awake at this time) shall be to shame and everlasting abhorrence."
And an incidental bit spoken to Daniel personally, closes that chapter, "Thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days." Or paraphrased, "thou shalt die, but when these events occur thou shalt be living and be in thine allotted place.
It will be noticed that the large group of teachings about the resurrection become invaluable indirect evidence. Clearly if there is a resurrection, it is based on a continuation of the human spirit whose body is lying in the grave.
The resurrection involves a continuation of individual identity, for each spirit re-enters its own body. It takes for granted a spirit world, and that all in touch of heart with God who have died, are in His immediate presence, and that it is His resistless power in action overcoming the power of death.
All reference to the expected Second Coming of Christ belongs in this group of incidental teachings, Whatever view we may hold today regarding that subject is quite immaterial, just now, in this connection. Clearly in these pages there was a living faith in His return. His appearance was a thing expected in that generation.
These references at once express belief in the fact of an unseen spirit world, where Christ was then living in the same body they had seen and touched after his resurrection. Those who had died, who were in touch with Him, were in that spirit world. They would return with Him in great victory and gladness.
It will be noted that Jesus' constant stand-point is this : He had come down from His Father's immediate presence, on an errand to the earth, When the errand was done He would go back home again. That made the spirit world a
very real thing to Him. The characteristic phrase "eternal life," original with Jesus and the Gospels, carries with it the same significance.
In Peter's address, on the occasion of the healing of the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple, he says of Jesus, "whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restoration of all things whereof God spoke by the mouth of His Holy prophets."1 There was clear teaching that the Jesus whom they had killed was living then, up out of view, and living such a life of power that He would be returning to take control of things down here.
In his long teaching letter to the disciples in Rome, Paul makes two incidental allusions full of suggestive meaning. The sufferings then being endured by some of Christ's followers were intense and real, but they are said to be insignificant when compared "with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward."
And in the same paragraph there is a most touching reference to the whole lower creation. It is said to be full of inarticulate groanings, the suffering of intense birth-pains, in anticipa tion of a coming new birth which would include the whole creation, with man himself,' Not only is there life beyond death, but a victorious life in which all wrongs are righted, and the earth's hurt healed. This is a gathering of some of the indirect incidental teachings.
We come now to the great outstanding teaching passages. It will be noted that these are not isolated texts, picked out. Rather they are some of the peaks of the mountain ranges. Peaks and mountain range are parts of the same thing.
Turn first of all to the Book of Job. There is good reason for accepting Job as the earliest of all the books, in its writing. If written by Moses, as is the early reliable tradition, and altogether likely, it would reveal not only the conviction of the patriarch Job himself, but of the scholarly Moses who chooses this incident for his ,remarkable essay on the problem of suffering. It reflects the common belief of the early twilight of the race. Or, should we more properly say, before the early creative floodlight had dimmed.
There are two outstanding passages here, both from the lips of job himself. The "if-a-man-die-shall-he-live-again" passage, and the other "I know that my Redeemer liveth." These two famous bits that have been quoted so much, seem at first flush to be on opposite sides of the question in point. The first seems plainly to express doubt, or, at least, a question. The second rings with assurance.
The two really must be taken together. It seems quite clear that they both were spoken within an hour's time in the running conversation of these four men. As they are talking the cutting replies of his critics have turned the sick man's mood so that the second bit, the "Redeemer" passage seems to be merely a shift of emphasis, a making intenser the statement already made in the first passage.
If one read the question "if a man die shall he live again?", in its connection as it stood in their conversation, it seems plainly to be, not a question of uncertainty, but rather an affirmation, a confession of his faith that he was confident he would live again.
Notice, the preceding paragraph1 is taking the lower view of things as seen on the earth. The tree dies and is gone. The man dies and is seen no more on the earth, just like the tree. But in this paragraph containing the question, the point of view is clearly shifted. There Job is speaking to God. The point of view is wholly changed. It's the upper, the higher view.
Listen : "Oh that thou wouldst hide me in the world of departed spirits.
That thou would keep me secret (hidden in safety3) until thy wrath (in straightening out wrong) be past.
That thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and (then) remember me!
If a man die, shall he live? (I am so sure of it that)
All the days of my present time of apprenticeship or discipline will I wait
Till my release or graduation cometh.
Thou wilt call (me up into thy presence), and I will answer thee (and come).
Thou wouldst have a desire to (me), the work of Thy (own) Hand.
But now (during this time of discipline on earth) thou numberest (or keepest a sharp count on) my steps."
To one coming afresh to see just what job is saying, it seems plainly a confession of confidence in the final result when the present distress is past. A slight change in the order of the English would seem fairer to Job's thought: "If a man die, he shall live, or live again."
Then a little later, maybe half an hour, the mood of talk changes, and he sees only the one thing. Emphasis of certainty fills all his thought as his voice rings out "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
A glance over the connection' makes it plain that "my Redeemer" is put in contrast with a number of other items, "my brethren, "mine acquaintance," "my kinsfolk," "my familiar friends," "my house," "my maid," "my servant," "my wife," "my children," all these have failed in some way. But my Redeemer, ah ! I know about Him. He is unfailing
That word "Redeemer" had a strong tender intimacy of meaning to Job and his listeners quite missed by us westerners, far removed from the usages of his people. His redeemer was his "goel," that is, his nearest kinsman who, because of the tie of blood between them, would come to his help in any distressing emergency. There was no closer family tie than that of the goel, the vindicator, or blood brother, who stood up in his strength to righten the distress or wrong of his kinsman.
Now this distressed man in the tightest corner of his life, wealth gone, home, children, standing, reputation, all gone, and almost his life gone, at bay before these teasing, nagging pretender friends, cries out : ah! I have a kinsman. He is of my own family and I am of His.
There's the tie of blood between us. He is full able to cover all my need, and He will do it. He is my kinsman-redeemer. He will buy back all I've lost, and make it good to me.
"He liveth. I don't see Him with these eyes, nor feel Him, nor hear His voice, but He liveth. Liveth, a perpetual present tense. I shall know death, but He knows only life. And He is my nearest Kinsman-redeemer. He will see that this death distress is overcome, and I shall live with Him, my Kinsman.
He shall "stand up" ready for action on my behalf, when action time comes. "At last," at the end of this troubled earth experience, He will stand up on behalf of me, His kinsman. Death will have done its work. It will have done its worst.
This body of mine itched and tantalized, scratched and weak, shall be laid away with its` mother-dust. But that's as far as death can go. It's the last of things here, but the first of things there. Life will just be beginning then.
Then apart from my flesh, separate from it, I shall see my Kinsman-redeemer, God, I, even I myself shall see Him. And He will not be a stranger to me, but my nearest and dearest Kinsman.'
Now note the truth taught. There is continuation of life beyond the grave for this man who is in touch of heart with God. It is in the presence of God Himself, who is known as an intimate friend and kinsman, so it's a joyous life, with all hopes fulfilled. There is continuation of personal identity. "I even I."
There is a righting of all the unevennesses and wrongs of earth. And the quality of life beyond is the same as God's own life, for He and His redeemed ones are of the same family stock. They are kinsmen. There's no closer tie than the family tie.
It is striking that back in the dawn light of the race this bit of clear teaching stands out so sharp and positive. Even the Fifteenth of First Corinthians is no more positive- than this.
Other Old Testament Bits
Much later comes a striking bit in King Saul's time. It is the famous story of the witch of Endor. This story will be taken up fully in the chapter on communication with the dead. It is one of the two exceptional instances in the Bible of communication with those who had died.
just now we want merely to notice that Samuel did come, to the witch's intense fright and utter astonishment. And, of course, quite apart from her witchery and pretended power. Samuel had been dead for some time. Now he comes back for a brief moment. He was recognized by Saul. He talked just as he had always talked to Saul before his death. Saul was quick and keen to note that he was getting another stinging rebuke as of old.
Samuel gave precise unmistakeable accurate information of what would happen on the morrow. There is no double-meaninged cryptic playing with words. The kingdom lost to Saul, his defeat in battle, and his death with that of his sons-that's the unwelcome message.
Not only was Samuel still living in the spirit world, but his identity was unmistakeable. His concern in affairs of the earth was keen, as ever. His characteristics were the same, his mentality as vigorous, and his speech as clear 'and incisive, as before his death.
When David's child died, he says in answer to his servant's surprise and questions, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me." Here is David's belief in the continued existence of his child after death, the expected reunion with one whom his intense emotional nature loved dearly, with identity and recognition both directly implied.
And further there is no hint of any earlier alleviation of their separation through communication with his child during his own life time, though that sort of pretension was the common practice among all the surrounding nations, and well known among the Israelites. Instead it is plainly said that the child would not return to him here.
David's teaching in the Psalms is as clear, and has a running joyous note in it. The Sixteenth Psalm is exultant in its assurance of faith in God, and of God's faithfulness. It makes a running summary of the wondrous blessings in the present life of trusting God wholly. And then comes this climax.
"(Even) my body also shall lie down in the grave in confidence.
For thou wilt not abandon, or forsake, my soul in the world of departed spirits ;
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one himself (thy beloved) to see (or go down into) the pit.
(Instead) thou, personally, wilt show me the path of life (while my body waits in confidence the day of reunion) :
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
At thy right hand there are pleasures forever-more."
This nut is as full of meat as it can stick. Here is continuation of life after his body has been laid in the grave. It is in the very presence of God, and is a life of fullest pleasure and enjoyment. Clearly, to David's thought, things have reached a climax of joyous living in the life beyond.
He is not less than when here, but more, a wondrous gracious delightful more. There is identity and recognition clearly inferred, and a fulfilment of all he had hoped for. And the resurrection of his body is anticipated, for it lies down in the grave confidently, in hope of a coming day of reunion with his spirit.
The Seventeenth Psalm has the same high exultant assurance. David has been talking of the selfish wicked who oppress him, and who have all their good things in the present life. Then comes this closing bit :
"As for me (in contrast with these others) I shall behold thy face in righteousness.
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with what I find thee to be when I am in thy presence."
Here are the same notes. There is an after life. For himself it will be in God's own presence. It fully satisfies the hopes and expectations even of David's vivid imagination.
The Forty-ninth Psalm, from one of the sons of Kbrah, runs out in much detail the contrasted conditions between those in touch of heart with God and those not. It's a graphic picture throughout. Then this is placed in sharpest contrast:
"But God will redeem or vindicate my soul from the power of the world of departed spirits (at death). That power will not get control over me.
For He (Himself) will receive me."'
The Seventy-third Psalm, from Asaph's pen, is in the same strain of contrast between the wicked and those trusting God. This is the setting of the words :
"Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel (in the
Midst of the present difficult struggle),
And afterward receive -me to glory or with glory." And the same contrast comes again later. "The upright shall dwell in thy presence," while the wicked are cast into the fire.
Ecclesiastes strikes the low level ideally or spiritually of Solomon's writings. He writes as a jaded cynic, worn dull with his excessive passionate indulgences. But even here is the incidental recognition of the after life. "Who knoweth (any longer here on earth) the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward."
That is, they are both alike so far as the earth goes : both gone: both die. The only difference is afterwards, one goes up, the other down. And again "the dust (of the body) returns to the dust of the earth as it (originally) was, and the spirit returneth to God who gave it."
In an exultant climax of victory over all Israel's enemies, Isaiah cries out, "He hath swallowed up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." This looks forward, is its face meaning, to the coming kingdom on the earth.
But it is also a distinct recognition of the transient character of death. Death is to be put to death. And life is to reign in place of death. This passage becomes the more significant as later it is made the basis of Paul's ringing cry of triumph over death in his first Corinthian letter.
In this same climax there is a still more striking bit from Isaiah's pen. Isaiah is talking to God. He says, "Thy dead shall live. My dead bodies shall rise (speaking as the national leader). Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust (of the grave) ; for the dew of God is a life-giving dew, and the earth shall cast forth the dead."" There is a resurrection of the dead bodies of those in touch with God. That is a recognition that their spirits have been living. Now there is a reunion. And it's a time of joyous sing-rig.
One of the most positive teachings was given by Jesus in the running fire of dispute with some of the national leaders during the last few weeks. It was in His answer to the prize or Pet question of the Sadducees.
The Sadducees were the atheists, the rank materialists, of the Jewish nation.' Their chief characteristic was a nonbelief in the resurrection. But that is merely made the outstanding feature in their creed of atheistic materialism.
Now they make a carefully planned attack upon Jesus. They feel so sure of being able to get Him in a corner that their attack is made in the open, before the thickening Passover crowds. They had a test case to present. It was clearly their standing illustration. They considered it simply unanswerable.
A man had died leaving his widow childless. In accordance with Jewish custom his brother had married the widow to perpetuate the family line. But he also died, and also, childless, and so in turn, seven brothers, each dying without leaving an heir. Now in the resurrection that Jesus believed in and taught, whose wife would she be, for they each had her in turn.
And one can see them chuckling under their breath, with an unholy hate and glee mingling in their gloating eyes. This had never been answered yet. It was unanswerable, they were quite sure. Ah, now they had Him ! And out in the open too. It would be a public defeat for this man they hated.
Jesus reply is so simple and quiet and clear and absolutely convincing that His questioners are utterly silenced. They have no reply. And that is saying a lot for an Oriental, and a Jew, and a Sadducee, and a skeptic.
Jesus answers in effect : "It's no wonder you make such blunders, for you evidently don't know your own Scriptures. And you don't know the power of God. For the other world has not the same limitations as this. There they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are upon the level of the angels. For neither can they die any more."
Then He goes on in quaint language: "as touching the dead, that they are raised ; have ye not read in the book of Moses, in the place concerning the Bush, how God spoke unto him saying, `I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'." Then He adds with that convincing unanswerable quietness: "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
God is a God of life. Abraham and these others were indeed dead in the common language and experience of earth; but they were not really dead. They were living when the word was spoken to Moses out of the burning unburnt bush four centuries and more after their death on the earth.
They were living as Jesus spoke the words. They were living with God. They had the same quality as He of being alive. Those in touch of heart with God have the same qualities as He. All continue to have some part of creative life. These have the same sort of full life as God Himself. He is a living God. They are living too, the same quality of life as He.
And the force of the answer is seen in the attitude of these critical quizzers. They are silenced, actually silenced ! They haven't a word in reply There's a touch of the real in Jesus' words that gives a peculiarly convincing power to them. The Sadducees retire abashed, confounded, dumbfounded, utterly routed. It's such a victory for Jesus that another group of His. enemies muster their forces to try to gain some of the lost ground.
God is a living God. Those in touch of heart with Him are like Him. They take on His quality of life. Though they have died here yet they are living. They are living with Him. They are living His sort of life. It's His power that makes it so, overcoming all the power of death. The Book clearly teaches it, So Jesus teaches here.
The Betrayal-Night Talk
The Betrayal-night talk, between Jesus and the inner circle, has some clear explicit bits. Jesus' intimate, John, says plainly that Jesus knew that the time had now come for him to leave this world and go back up home to the father.
After Judas his gone out, in spite of the utmost to keep him in, Jesus talks about His Father's house, evidently up in another world.
He was going there now soon. But in this going away from ' them He was thinking and planning about them. He was going on their behalf. He was going so as to get a place ready for them to come to.
Then He would come back and take them up with Himself. And so they would all be together again up in the Father's house, gathered about the old home fireside. Could there be a simpler, more realistic picture of life after death, the real life after the abnormal break of death?
Then when things aren't quite plain to their groping minds he goes on to explain that He's made an arrangement for the in-between time before this plan had worked out. He would send some One else, like Himself, who-would come and stay with them. And He, this coming One, would be everything He Himself had been to them, and immensely more. It is striking that the Holy Spirit here in us, and with us, is clearest evidence about this whole question we are talking over.
That quiet peace in your heart, that hunger to be pure, that prayer tug, all this sort of thing tells of the Spirit's presence within. And it tells too, that that loved one gone from us here, is now up in His presence, face to face, in full enjoyment of the real, griefless life up there.
And then the great simple talk with the Father under the full mellow moon — could any thing make the other world, the reality of the Father, and of things up there, could any thing make these stand out more realistically and dramatically, and satisfyingly?
The words to the poor thief, hanging by Jesus' side on Calvary, must have come with a peculiar comfort to that man.3 "Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise' The word Paradise clearly stands for some desirable blissful place. Jesus Himself would go there at His death.
He would go there at once on leaving the earth. The thief would be with Him. They would be alive, and together in this place of enjoyment. This man would be with Jesus because of his attitude toward Jesus, his touch of heart with Him.
That attitude was one of recognition of Jesus as "Lord." There was acceptance of Him as Master. This was a radical change from his early life. It was a penitential change. The prayerful mood was in control now. And there was positive certainty that it would be so "thou shalt."
The Love Chapter of First Corinthians has a bit of contrast between our understanding of things now, and as it will be at some future time? There is a time coming when prophecy shall be done away, for it will all have been fulfilled ; speaking in various tongues shall cease, for there will be one tongue common to all; and the pain-
ful acquiring of knowledge shall be a thing past because we shall know fully, and learn easily. At present we see as something is reflected in a piece of polished steel, or in a mirror, indistinctly, as though through a cloud. But then face-to-face, that is my face, your face, to Jesus' face. Now we know only in part ; but then we shall know fully even as now we are fully known. When that which is perfect is come that which is in part shall be done away, or swallowed up, the less in the greater, the thin line of light in the noon shining.
Jesus' Resurrection Incidentals
That great resurrection climax of Paul's in his letter to his Corinthian converts and friends is one of the choice classics of this sacred Book. The whole story there is one of the most fascinating from the Tarsan's thoughtful pen.
The resurrection of Jesus is the chief corner stone of the whole fabric of Christian truth and fact. But we are not concerned just now with that. But with the other things, the incidentals, tremendous incidentals, that are part and parcel of the other.
Look at these incidentals. There is another world, a spirit world. Jesus is alive up there. He is in command up there. He has at his disposal all things in heaven and on earth. His power is more than we can take in. He is the same Jesus who fed men down here, and healed, and taught, and that died.
That upper spirit world is the big thing in comparison with this old earth. It is the center of things, the center of earth control. All things here are regulated there, even the desperate fight against the revolutionary powers of evil. It's the real world.
Jesus' whole heart and thought is in things down here. He holds as precious to Himself, unspeakably precious, every one who follows Him simply and fully, and so is in touch of heart with Himself. His plans of action center here on earth. There's a waiting time just now. With infinite patience He is letting the great pore problem of evil work itself out on the earth.
But one day He will intervene. Intervention is plainly on the schedule. With most studiously careful regard to every one involved, human being and spirit being, he is holding intervention back. For He is just to all, even to the great evil spirit prince.
But the intervention day is as surely coming as that He died and rose again. - In this great Corinthian climax the program of action for the earth is given in broad outline.1 When the intervention day does come then all of His who have died will rise up out of their graves even as He did. As He comes down toward earth, the spirit magnetism of His presence coming nearer will draw their bodies up into reunion with their glad spirits.
Then follows the new order of things on the earth, His order of things at last. And when the purpose of that is achieved, and all contrary rule and authority is utterly abolished, then the kingdom is turned over to the Father. And the climax of the kingdom is this, that death, man's last enemy, is itself put to death.
There is given here too, what may be called the personal program He has arranged for His own trusting ones. It is called a "mystery,' that is simply instruction or information for the inner circle. The intervention day will be heralded by the sounding of a trumpet as of a summons to form in rank.
Instantly, quicker than you can blink your eye-lid, the bodies lying in the grave of those in touch, will know a new life as their spirits, now in Christ's presence, re-enter their old dwelling places, each spirit to his body. And they will rise up toward their center of spirit gravity, the glorified Jesus.
And all those who are living on the earth, and have that same vital heart touch, will as instantly experience some change in their bodies, making them answer to a pull of gravity upward. Courteously they wait until those who have died have preceded them, and then all together, loved one living joined with loved one who has died, they will be at once in the presence of Jesus.
Christ is called here in regard to His resurrection, "the first-fruits". That is, He becomes the model on which His followers' resurrection will be shaped. He rose. They will rise. His body rose: theirs will be raised. His was a changed body, its limitations gone, and new powers come; so theirs. His identity remained, and he was recognized ; so with them.
Joseph's emptied tomb becomes a guarantee of countless other emptied graves. Jesus living up there now becomes a guarantee that these others are living. They share the same sort of life as He, a full abundant victorious over-flowing life. He is the "first fruits."
From Paul's Pen
There is no more exquisitely worded reference to the change from this world to the next than in Paul's Second Corinthian letter. He thinks of the body as a tent easily taken down or shifted. Death is the taking down of the tent. He thinks of Christ's Second Coming as meaning for him a new sort of life, swallowing up or absorbing into itself the sort of bodily life he is living here.
Then he thinks of the body as a garment or suit of clothing. Dying is like putting the old suit off. It is in anticipation of something better. There's a new suit of clothes to be put on, a new life immediately following the break of death in the old life. If Christ should come while he is still living then the new suit would be put on over the old. The new life would swallow up the old or present life without the break of death.
He has the intensest desire that the great change should come, not by death, but by Christ's return. But whichever way it may turn out for him there would be the same happy result. He would instantly be in Christ's own immediate presence revelling in the wondrous new life. To be present here in his body meant absence from the immediate presence of his Lord. And for his spirit to leave his body meant an instant going into the immediate conscious presence of the Lord he so adored.
In the circular letter Paul sent out to the group of churches centering in Ephesus, he pictures the Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary now seated in the upper world at the Father's right hand, in absolute possession of all power, both in the spirit world and on the earth.'
There is a companion picture to this in Colossians, the two fitting together. The breadth of view in this double picture is refreshing. The Ephesian bit pictures Christ after His errand to the earth. In this Colossian bit He is seen before the errand to the earth.'
His presence on earth is like a hyphen, a tremendous tragic glorious hyphen, in His whole career. He it was who did things that far off creative week. Then He did His errand to earth. Then He went back again, and sits quietly waiting the next step in the program that shall show the full roundness of his planning.
There's a bit in the First Thessalonian letter of peculiar interest, because Paul is writing to comfort some who are sorrowing over the death of loved ones. The teaching is tied up with the expected Second Coming of Christ, whenever that may be. As surely as Jesus died and rose again, so sure is it, Paul says, that through Jesus, God will bring up out of the grave into His own presence, with Jesus, those trusting ones who have died.
Then he gives the detail of how it will be done. The Lord will descend out of the upper spirit world, where He is now. First of all, those trusting Him will rise up out of their graves; then the living ones who trust are also caught up. And so they are all together. Apart from Second Coming teaching, it is a very real picture of life after death, a glad joyous picture.
The writer of the Hebrews, quite probably some close friend and disciple of Paul, tells what happened on the other side of that cloud that Luke says served Jesus for transit up through the blue. He "sat down (as one whose task for the present was done) on the right hand (the place of power) of the Majesty on high."' Plainly there's something very real the other side of the upper blue, and some One very real, too ; and some other ones very really with Him.
Peter's First Epistle has some interesting bits of teaching about this whole question we are considering in these talks. We shall be turning to him later. Just now this fits in here . Speaking of Jesus, he says, "being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."
That "but" seems to throb with eager life. It's a hinge opening the door into the beyond. Peter is referring to what happened to Jesus at the moment of his death on the cross. As he experienced death in his body he likewise experienced just the reverse in his spirit life.
The two parts of the sentence stand in contrast to each other. The force of the language used implies that as there came a decrease of life in the body, to the point of extinction, there came an increase of life in the spirit. That is, not merely that his spirit continued to live, but that there was an increase of life, either more or, of a different higher sort, or both of these.
In his First Epistle, John says that we don't know at present just what we shall be in the future life. But we do know that when Christ appears openly before the gaze of men, we who are in touch shall be like Him, for we shall see Him even as He is.
The Patmos Book
John's Patmos Book begins with a wondrous look at the glorified Jesus, and then gives four looks into the upper spirit world. In that look at Jesus Himself, as seen glorified, there's the simple striking description of His person which quite overwhelms John. But when Jesus begins to talk it is the same sort of talk John was used to from his Master. The gentle right hand touches him again, and the quieting words come,
"Fear not: I am the First and Last, and the Living One; and I became dead and behold! I am alive; I am alive endlessly; and more than that, I have the keys, the absolute control, of death and of the whole spirit world, Where men go at death. " That's pretty clear unmistakeably plain talk about life after death from One whom we are disposed to trust to the last ditch.
Then there are four looks at those who- are allied in heart with Jesus. In the first, those who have suffered martyrdom for His sake are seen in His own immediate presence, honored and comforted, and told to be patient a bit longer while things are working out on the earth up to the great climax?
In the second look, there's a vast uncountable number who have been caught up out of the great tribulation. They have been purified by the blood of Jesus. Now they are in the immediate presence of the glorified Jesus, singing rapturously, with shining faces and every mark of delight and victory and fullness of life.' They're busily occupied in service, doing the errands and tasks assigned them, and on terms of closest intimacy with Jesus Himself.
The third of these gives the same sort of description. The completed number of the redeemed are in the very presence of the Lord Jesus, singing the wondrous song of the re-deemed, purified now, and in fullest fellowship with their Lord, whom they follow absolutely without question or quibble.
Then the last of these looks up into the real world, the headquarters world, comes at the last. All the church has come to love that closing bit of John's Revelation for the winsomeness of the picture drawn. John's own spirit is so stirred in this last book that his grammar has a hard time.
His native Hebrew spirit and thought have a hard time of it trying to tell out the full story in the Greek language which most of the Church he is writing to used. He actually makes new grammatical adjustments. When we see Jesus' face there'll be a good `many adjustments, some of them pretty radical ones, too.
Here he sees men of the earth gathered about the Father, as a great family gathers in the evening of a long day about the fireplace in the old home. God and men are living together. Death is gape. Tears and pain are only a memory!
There is the sweetest intimacy between God and men, as between a father and his dear son.
Then the scene shifts out to the garden of the home.' Here again they are all together in fine fellowship. Men are face-to-face with their wondrous Father-Mother-Saviour God. They are busily occupied with glad errands and tasks at His bidding. Sin's curse is gone. Sickness is no more. Healing is everywhere. It's one long glad daytime, in the gracious sunshine of Jesus' own presence.
A Underscoring of Facts
Now there's an underscoring for all this clear positive teaching. It's a tremendous underscoring. There are in this old Book of God certain outstanding events that are illustrations of this teaching. Illustration is the very life-blood of teaching.
One man actually going up off the earth be-fore the watching eyes of men is worth a hundred statements that the thing can be done. One man actually dead and buried, and then rising up out of the grave, where they buried him, and being seen and touched and talked with, this is simply unanswerable.
When teaching is backed up by an event of that sort every doubting critical mouth is shut. The teaching itself stands out in its strength in the "'presence of the event. The event is explained clearly and fully by the teaching. The two interlace unbreakably. The case could not be stronger.
Now, there are in this solitary old Book twelve separate occurrences, fully vouched for, illustrating the teaching we have been gathering up. Five of these are in the Old Testament; seven are in the New.
In the Old, there are two men who went up into the other world, the upper spirit world, without dying, Enoch and Elijah. There are two other persons who had died and were then brought back to life, one through the prayer and faith of Elijah, the other through Elisha. And then there's the obscure instance of an unknown man brought back to life through touch with Elisha.
In the New there are three brought back to life through Jesus' power; that is, Jairus' daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. There is the woman Dorcas of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast, brought back through Peter's action ; and the unnamed young man of Troas on the Dardanelles coast, through Paul's intervention.
Then there is the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. And at the climax stands the resurrection of Jesus Himself and His ascension, a twin event. Let us look a little at these, briefly, yet enough to make the essential facts stand out clear and distinct.
It is put down as a fact that Enoch went up from earth into God's immediate presence.' He did not die. His body was not laid in a grave. He went up body and all, up through the blue above, into the spirit world where God's own home is. That is the simple tremendous thing put on record here as a fact.
Enoch was not an obscure person. He was the best known man of his day. He was the head of the first family of his time, and the head of the race which was then simply one large family. The outstanding thing in his character, commonly spoken of, was this, in the simple language of the record, that he "walked with God."
And this is directly connected with the unusual, manner of his leaving the earth. God and he were on the friendliest terms. It was the realest sort of touch of heart, a true friendship. One can imagine what a sensation the occurrence made. It will be helpful to try to think back and call to mind what effect such an occurrence had at the time.
It may have been one day as he was standing in a group on the street of the village, perhaps talking of the reality of God and of God's presence, while some looked askance at him, some were critical, some maybe with an expression of pity that this man, their most famous kinsman, was so peculiar on this subject.
While they were looking they are astounded to see his face turn up as though seeing something they couldn't see. A light of rarest beauty overspread his face as though he were looking into the face of his dear Friend. A hush comes aver them. Then his feet are off the ground. He's rising up into the air, unsupported by anything they can see ; yet he doesn't fall.
He keeps moving up and up, and then is seen no more. And they know in their inmost spirits, this critical worldly-minded group, they recognize unmistakeably what has happened. God has taken their kinsman up to live with himself in the upper spirit world.
It was a common fact that a man whom everybody knew had disappeared up through the up-per blue, and never came back. And furthermore that the strange happening fitted perfectly into this man's desire. His life made it seem a natural thing. As he had walked with God in spirit in his common life it fitted in that he should actually go up and walk with Him in the real world, in the spirit world.
It is vouched for as a fact by this old Book of God. One fact vouches for another. The thing was the talk of the whole racial community. It was not done in a corner. It made Enoch's witnessing tremendous. Without doubt it made a profound impression on the whole race. God was brought into life in a strangely new and very real way.
There seems to have been a purpose of God in this. The occurrence is exceptional. Some day we shall probably understand that better. This man Enoch was peculiarly God's witness to the whole race, God's loving faithful witness, when it wasn't easy. He told what he wot, what he wit, what he witnessed, what he knew, about the real God and His friendship with himself. We may hear from Enoch again before things get to their climax. There was a purpose of God in the happening.
The Chariots of the Skies
More than twenty centuries after Enoch, a similar event is recorded of another man who was in unusual touch with God, Elijah. He went up while Elisha was watching, up into the air through the blue vault above, body and all. The fact is attested in this Book of God, by a most reputable witness.' His going is described in some detail. It is certainly dramatic. In a whirl of wind chariots of flame swept down from above and caught him up and away out of sight.
Elijah is one of the chief outstanding characters of this Book of God. He was a great leader of righteousness. He braved the licentiously idolatrous Ahab in his palace with severest denunciation of his damnable, evil practices. He locked up the windows of heaven for forty-two months, and then unlocked them ' in most dramatic fashion.
It was said by the last of the Hebrew prophets, Malachi, that he would return for a further bit of outstanding witnessing. This so took hold of the Hebrew imagination that they freely discussed whether Jesus was not Elijah returning as foretold.
John the Herald is said by Jesus, to have fulfilled at that time the ministry spoken of by Elijah. There is good reason for thinking it quite likely that, like Enoch, Elijah's earthly task is not yet done. Each man in his generation was distinctly the outstanding witness to God and God's truth, when belief in both was peculiarly imperilled.
It seems quite likely that the exceptional experience of those two men in their manner of leaving the earth points to a future bit of service down here in some great moral emergency. It was not a reward simply, though that element may have entered in incidentally. It points rather to the future when there will be exceptional need for their exceptional service for God to the race. Apparently they will yet know death.
But just now the bit to mark is that this dependable old Book states as facts that they went up, bodily, into the upper spirit world. So there is such a world. Their bodies went up there. Their bodies must have known some radical change fitting them for the new wholly different sphere.
And, as we shall see now in a moment, Elijah clearly retained his identity, and his grade of intelligence up in that spirit realm, not to say any more just now. And whatever would be true of the one, Elijah, would as likely be as true of the other, Enoch.
There are three instances recorded of dead persons being restored to life by Jesus. They are recorded as well authenticated facts. Their significance in this present connection becomes very marked. The three were at different stages of death. Jairus' daughter had just died. The son of the widow of Nain was being carried out to his burial.' Lazarus had lain in the grave four days.
The fact of death was quite clearly established in each instance. There could be no question in the case of Lazarus, nor of the Nain young man. And when Jesus said to the group in Jairus' house that she was not dead, but asleep, they laughed him to scorn, "knowing that she was dead."
That is, all the usual evidences of death in each case were so plain that the thing was beyond question. Their spirits were brought back to the bodies they had left. And the bodies themselves were retouched with vigor so as to serve as a dwellingplace for their spirits. Their spirits were still living while their bodies lay dead. They were recalled from where they were.
So there was not only continuation of spirit life, but identification of the human spirit and its body. Each spirit and its body belong together. Indeed we know that the body comes to take on the character of the human spirit living in it. It is chiefly noticeable to us in the face because that can be read more easily. But the impress of the spirit is in the entire body.
Some other human spirit didn't come back to Lazarus' body. Lazarus' returning spirit did not get into some other body in that graveyard. There was clear identification of spirit and body. When they had that glad reunion supper in Bethany with Jesus as the guest of honor, there was no question in anybody's mind about either the identity of Lazarus, or of their recognizing him and he them. Ask Mary what her plain senses told her.
We turn now to the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. And we are not concerned just now with its significance. We simply take note of certain incidental facts in the account.
It is put down as a fact that Moses and Elijah were there. Moses had died, something like fifteen hundred years before. Elijah had not died but had disappeared from human view, up-ward, through the upper blue, something like eight hundred years before. Now both men are plainly seen. Then it is clear that they had been living all that time somewhere else than on the earth.
Their identity was quite clear. The three disciples recognized them at once to be Moses and Elijah. It seems quite unnecessary to say that of course Moses and Elijah recognized each `other. They were in closest sympathetic touch with Jesus, His purposes and plans. They knew beforehand what would happen to Jesus at Jerusalem.
There was perfect repose of spirit on their part; no distress, no agonizing. They were perfectly at themselves. Their intelligence was fully on the level they had known and shown in their early lives. Their grasp of the great events being worked out by Jesus' errand to the earth, seems quite full and complete. That is, their outlook takes in events of earth, their connection with the upper world, and it takes in future events.
Clearly they were in full touch of understanding with the great purpose of Christ in going to Calvary, though nobody on earth seemed to understand. They saw things on earth from God's point of view. And they recognized that His plans would triumph. They talk of the decease that Jesus would "accomplish".
When the conversation was over they disappeared as they had come. Where did they go? Presumably back up where they had been. By mere inference where are they now? Clearly still living in full possession of their faculties, up in that spirit world where Christ joined them at His ascension.
And it would seem from other scripture1 that Elijah has a bit of work to do down on the earth before things get straightened out down here. And that it will be the same sort of thing he did so boldly in Ahab's iniquitous day. He seems reserved for that sort of work, and that sort of time.
Evidently these two men are more, than when they were on earth. There is broader grasp, keener spirit perception, and clear knowledge of the way things will work out. Elijah has no use now for that coniferous juniper tree. He has been graduated from the juniper-tree course.
The two instances of Dorcas, and of the young man at Troas,1 give the same essential facts. They add emphasis to the others. Tremendous emphasis it is. This is indeed living testimony, irrefutable.
The resurrection of Jesus stands wholly by itself. The fact of His actual death stands in-disputable. At the core that's a physician's question. And the simple unlabored use of exact language gives the physician the essential in-formation. The spear thrust into His side brought out, not blood, but "blood and water." The separation in the fluid had taken place. That at once told that death had occurred.
I have no thought of gathering up here the detailed evidences of Jesus' resurrection. There is no point in repeating that. Many excellent summaries can be found in any good library or minister's study. Let it be enough just now to say this, with thoughtful measured words. There is no fact of common history better authenticated by reliable evidence than the resurrection of Jesus: This evidential material in the case, considered merely as, evidence, is complete and irrefutable. As much can be said for the several appearances of Jesus after the resurrection, and also for His ascension.
This could be called the greatest fact of all. It would be more accurate to say, the fact of greatest significance. Its meaning can be put in this way. Jesus' spirit was living while His body lay in the grave. Then His spirit re-entered His body. Again He moved among men as before, though clearly free of the limitations known before. He was recognized. His identity was quite clear. He was more afterwards than before. All limitations were gone. A new power lifting Him quite above common conditions was evident.
In plain sight of man He went up, body and all, up through the doorway of the blue above. He is alive. He is somewhere up. Some day He is coming back, the way He went, He said. What has already happened to Him of the sort involved makes it good inferential reasoning that He will do as He has said in this regard. For He is more now than before.
The Damascus Road Event
One other event in this solitary old Book of God crowds for space here. That is the experience of. Saul on the Damascus road. It may well be put as a climax to the resurrection of Jesus: for it is a direct result of that resurrection. And a most tremendous result it proves to be.
Saul was a cultured man, of disciplined mentality. In modern language, he was a university bred man, of an old honored family, and a leader among the younger set in Jerusalem. He was in close touch with the group of Jerusalem leaders that planned the death of Jesus.
He came to the fore shortly after that event, in the persecution of Christ's followers that followed. He became the aggressive leader of this persecution, recognized by the national leaders, and fully empowered by them in his persecuting leadership. He had gone to the extreme degree in hatred of this despised Jesus, and his teachings, and his followers. Nothing could exceed the intent' of his bitter hatred and aggressive persecution. His spirit at this point, is vivid ly described in the record, "Saul yet breathing threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." That is the man Saul.
With the strange blaze of light came a power that impelled him, against his will, to fall prone to the earth. There was a clear distinct voice. Then ensued a brief conversation between himself and some One connected with the light and the voice. And this One plainly said, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest."
From that hour Saul was an utterly trans-formed man. From being a bitter enemy, using all his unusual, finely trained, native powers and leadership against Jesus, he became His most devoted follower and exponent. There is no transformation in the character of a strong man so complete, so sudden, and so wide-sweeping. No such similar transformation can be found recorded. Saul's case stands utterly alone, unanswerably alone.
And, mark you keenly, there is no evidence stronger, viewed simply as evidence regardless of moral conclusions involved, none stronger, clearer nor more convincing, evidentially, than the recorded facts in the case of the conversion on the Damascus road of this man Saul, taken in connection with his wide influence in the spread of the Christian faith.
Note the teaching involved. The man Jesus who had been killed was now alive. He was somewhere in an upper spirit world. He was in full possession of His faculties. He was in full vigor of action. He was possessed of a power, clearly more than human, nothing less than superhuman or divine.
His identity, His concern with affairs on the earth, the rare intimacy of His relation with His followers, insisted upon so tenderly and tenaciously, His masterful overwhelming action, all these were unmistakable to this exceptional, rarely trained, Herculean-willed man, who had so bitterly hated Him. And who now completely reversed his course and became His devoted follower.
Never, was a strong career so radically, so dramatically reversed. His devotion became as marked as his hatred had been. Nothing could dim the burning of his devotion to Jesus. Break of family ties, quite certain loss of family inheritance, break of friendship, the bitterest social ostracism, relentless persecution, truly Oriental in its hounding intensity, the extremest personal hardship continued through years, and at the end a violent death,-all these proved simply fuel to increase the flaming fire of his devotion to the Man of Light and Power and of the Voice, on the Damascus Road.
Such are the teachings, such the events or occurrences, out of which grows the sweet story of assurance regarding loved ones in touch with God, gone from our clinging hungry grasp.
In Touch of Heart
But who are these of whose happy condition in the spirit world we are so sure, and of which we know so much certainly? All who have gone? It pains one to say an emphatic no to that question.
I have said it is those in touch of heart with God. I have not used that good Bible word, "believe". The two phrases, "in touch of heart with God," and "believing on the Lord Jesus," really mean just the same thing.' Then, why not use this last common Bible phrase?
I'll tell you why. "Believe" has been twisted so much out of its simple fine true meaning. It has been made to mean believing things, believing creeds and church formulas, and so on. It really does mean just what I have used here. It means touch of heart with God. And that touch can be only through Jesus Christ.
That simple language includes a changed attitude toward God where the life has been wrong. It means all that believe, and trust, love and devotion, can mean. There must be the real personal touch of heart with our Father-God, who is known only to anyone anywhere through Jesus Christ, the Man who died on Calvary.
I have not spoken of Church membership. Simply because it, too, is another of the fine things that has suffered at men's hands. It has been severely discounted. The true thing is really at a premium. It is to be feared that there are those in church membership who are not in touch of heart with Jesus, God to us. And it is quite clear that there are many not in church membership, many who have no opportunity for that fine privilege, who yet are in the real touch of heart that is the decisive thing.
And I have not spoken of when they have come into that saving touch. With some it may have been a life-long experience; with some a much shorter story. Some come creeping in at close of the day of life, as a tired child creeps into the mother's lap and snuggles down contentedly.
The mother would not turn away her child. And certainly the Man who died will not turn away any that really in heart turn to Him with as much as half the blinking of an eager asking eye.
There will be distinctions made up there, as we have seen, intelligent thoughtful distinctions. But anyone who comes for that touch of heart, however inarticulately expressed, will find himself in the blest presence of Christ at the close
of his day of earthly life. And where believing prayer has been sent up for loved ones, there will be that touch some time. Of that there can be no question.
Because of Jesus' Blood
But one last word crowds for place. And I am giving it the most prominent place, at the close, the climax, of this simple heart-to-heart talk. It is this : Why are these in the glad conscious presence of Christ and of their loved ones in the upper home-land. How do, they get there?
And the answer is simple, but it goes to the very tap-root of all Christian teaching. It is because Jesus died and rose again. That, all of that, only that, and that to the exclusion of everything else.
There will be no slurring over of sin, nor of stubborn insistence on one's own way in defiance of God's way. Sin can't be ignored, neither by human law, nor by God. Personal rebellion or defiance of God the very core of sin can't be slurred over nor winked at.
It will not be because we have been consistent members of the Church, nor because active in good works. It will not be because of some great personal sacrifice we've made, nor because we've stopped enemy steel and lead with our bodies. It'll not even be because we've believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
It'll be solely and only because Jesus took on Himself what was due us for our sins, and wrong-doing, and the like. His blood poured out till no red drops remained unspilled, His life burned out sacrificially till no white ashes remained for the flames of death to feed upon, this, only this, is the reason why these go up into yonder Presence.
These other things are good, in so far as they are good. Believing is the connecting link with the thing that does the saving. There must be the connecting link, the touch of heart. But the one thing that saves is the precious life-blood of Jesus poured out till death claimed his body. And then His rising again tied the knot on the end of His sacrificial atoning death for us. That made clear and complete His victory over sin and death, and over the prince of death.
A young Italian girl sat at her fruit stand intently absorbed in reading a small book. A gentleman, pausing to get some fruit, asked her what she was reading with so much interest. She replied, rather timidly, "the Word of God, sir."
But he was one who called himself a skeptic, and delighted in spreading his skeptical poison. He said "who told you the Bible is the Word of God?" With child-like simplicity she replied, "God told me, Himself."
"God told you ! Impossible ! How did He tell you? You have never seen Him nor talked with Him. How could He tell you?" And for a few moments the girl was confused, and silent. Then looking up she said respectfully :
"Sir, who told you there is a sun in the sky up there ?" And the gentleman replied, rather contemptuously, "Who told me? Nobody ; I don't need to be. told. The sun tells this about itself. It warms me. I Jove its light."
And the young Italian girl earnestly answered, "You have put it straight, sir, for the sun, and for the Bible. That's the way God tells me this is His book. I read it. It warms my hearts. It gives me light. I love its light and warmth. None but God could give the light and warmth I get from this Book." And he turned quietly away, abashed by her simple faith.
I do not know what communion she had connection with. Her nationality would suggest the Latin communion. But there was the touch of heart with God.
That's the thing that counts, now and up yonder.