For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.…
I. WHERE OUR LIFE IS NOT. It is not in ourselves. "Ye are dead."
1. How completely the image of bodily death in the senseless, motionless, and unimpressive state of the mortal frame, compared with its vigour and activity during life, represents the natural condition of the soul before God. Talk to the dead of the most stirring truths, surround them with all that charms the living, lavish upon them all the endearments that the heart can bestow, and what return will you receive? Just so is it with the soul in its unconverted state. How else is it that men hear these verities of God and go on as though there were no soul, God, eternity? It is because the soul is dead, cannot see, hear, feel.
2. But this absence of life is ascribed to the converted likewise. They are not dead so as to denote the actual want of life, for Christ is their life; but dead because they have not this life in themselves. The soul has no power to quicken and regenerate itself. Shall the dead raise the dead! Who has not striven to rouse the stagnant affections, kindle the cold desire, to walk closer with God, and render a more zealous obedience, yet found his efforts profitless as trees thrice dead. It is well for us to know the depth of our own need, and the feebleness of our best strength. It is from ignorance that we make these efforts in our own strength, and fail till the heart grows sick. Yes, and grace does not on this side heaven remove this state of impotency. At no stage does God give the soul life in itself; He imparts and renews it, as the soul has need, all fresh from Himself in daily streams to meet daily wants. He does not in one act of conversion store the soul with a treasure of strength, but breathes into it more and more of His spirit, keeping the soul dependent on Himself as a child on its parent.
II. WHERE OUR LIFE IS. "Hid with Christ in God."
1. But why not have given man life directly in Him self? This is what God really did; but man lost it beneath his first temptation. Then was moved the fount of Divine compassion, and through a scheme of redemption, culminating in Christ's resurrection, life is procured for man again.
2. Then comes the question, Into whose keeping shall this life be put? Doubtless life will be in man himself hereafter; but that will be in heaven, when the adversary, all bound and fettered, shall have been cast into his own place. But in whom shall it be placed meanwhile?
(1) In man, who had already once lost it? Entrusted to fallen man to keep that which unfallen man could not keep? Our experience may well teach us how dark had been our lot, if the preservation of our spiritual life amid this world of sin had been left merely to our own strength.
(2) Should it, then, have been entrusted to some mighty archangel? Ah! then we had seen war, when angel was mated against angel, and we, all fearful, had seen our all at stake upon a dubious contest.
(3) No! that gift which, once lost, had been recovered at so vast a cost, had it been a second time lost could never have been a second time recovered — for God had no second Son to give. That life was not to be lightly imperilled, and therefore God laid it up in His own Son, that He who had purchased should preserve what He had purchased, and against whose infinite strength all hell is weak to snatch one soul that trusts in Him. "He is able to keep that which is committed unto Him," etc.
(E. Garbett, M. A.)
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S DEATH AND LIFE.
1. Two periods in the history of a Christian: death, resurrection (Comp. Ephesians 2:1, and 1 Peter 1:3).
2. Why these expressions — death, life? Three kinds of life — bodily; of the heart; religious. The last alone real, according to the gospel. It consists in setting our affections on things above, and is in God with Christ. Christ having borne our life away we are dead. "Set not your affections on things on the earth."(1) The earth is not our place.
(2) The Christian, although dead, is not useless nor desolate in spirit, for He has God.
(3) Nevertheless he is dead —
(a) To sin.
(b) To the world.
(c) He has fixed, his goal beyond all that is transitory; he is a stranger, a traveller, a passer-by.He is dead, and appears dead. How natural this is. Nothing troubles, or excites, or astounds him; gives the right cheek, etc.; this man it is said has no blood in his veins.
3. Yet he lives, but his life is hidden. In one sense it is not so. But —
(1) Its principle is hidden.
(2) Its best parts are invisible — prayer, etc.
(3) The Christian conceals himself. When all the world speaks well of you, tremble.
II. MOTIVES FOR TAKING UP ONE'S POSITION.
1. Christ has not yet appeared. Christ is known and unknown. "Shall the disciple be more than his Master?"
2. The Christian is seen of God, this must be enough. There are flowers on inaccessible heights seen only by Him. Mediaeval sculptors carved exquisite images on the top of pillars to be "seen of God."
3. Glorious compensations — king in disguise.
4. Promise of being manifested some day. "He that shall confess Me" (Daniel 12:3).
III. APPLICATION. All this is Christianity, neither more nor less. You might be asked, Are you risen? Are you dead? I ask —
1. Do you love invisible things? Angels love them.
2. Do you love the hidden life? To be last, etc.
3. Do you feel that this is your safety as well as your natural position? Or do you perform all your actions with a view of being seen of men.
(A. Vinet, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.