Is the Bible the Inerrant Word of God

By R. A. Torrey

Chapter 8

 

WHAT ONE GAINS BY BELIEVING IN THE CHRIST WHO ROSE FROM THE DEAD

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, might be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory." — 1 Pet. 1:3-8.

This is Easter Sunday, the gladdest day in all the year. Every day in the year is a glad day for an intelligent Christian. But the gladdest day in every year, not the gladdest perhaps in our hearts, but the gladdest in itself and in its significance, is Easter Sunday: the day in which we dwell anew upon the joy-inspiring fact and absolutely certain fact of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, the glorious certainty that underlies all the other glorious certainties of our Christian faith. So I am choosing for tonight a subject appropriate to this greatest of all great days. My subject is, "What One Gains by Believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead."

There are many Christs in our day, that is to say, there are many who are proclaimed to us as Christ. There is the Christ of Christian Science, and the Christ of Theosophy (the Christ of whom Mrs. Annie Besant descants with her usual entrancing eloquence), and the Christ of New Thought, and the Christ of Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, i.e., the Christ of Spiritualism, and many other Christs; but these all are fictitious Christs. Oftentimes they bear only the faintest resemblance to the One and Only Real Christ, the Christ of the Bible, the Christ Who was born of a Virgin, who lived His wondrous life of thirty-four years in Galilee, Judea, and Samaria, Who died on the Cross of Calvary and thus made full atonement for all our sins, Who then broke the bars of death and rose from the grave and was seen alive through forty days by witnesses whom God had chosen (Acts 1:3, 10, 40, 41), on one occasion seen by more than five hundred persons at one time (1 Cor. 15:6), and then ascended into heaven from Mt. Olivet, right before the eyes of His disciples as they were looking steadfastly at Him, until the cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:8, 10), and Whom Paul saw after His ascension and Whom Stephen saw "standing on the right hand of God." He is the One and Only Real, actual historic Christ, the only Christ of fact; and not merely a Christ of man's perverted and bewitched fancy. And He is not only the Only Real Christ, He is also the only satisfying Christ. Men and women may talk with glowing and bewildering eloquence of these other Christs, but after all their skillfully phrased sentences these fictitious Christs do not satisfy, these Christs of romance and fancy do not satisfy the deeper longings of the human heart, longings that clamor for satisfaction. Mere words do not satisfy no matter how beautiful and fascinating and alluring, yes, enticing, those words may be. The human heart demands reality, and Jesus Christ, the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, is reality. And He is the Only Real Christ; and so He alone satisfies. Beautiful words, finely woven into a silken or lacy fabric of matchless rhetoric, or uttered with a voice of rare melody and rich musical intonation may satisfy the eye or ear, but they do not satisfy the heart. The heart demands reality, and the Real Christ, Christ Jesus, the Christ Who as an Undisputable Fact of History, Arose from the Dead, He satisfies and He alone satisfies.

So my subject is, What One Gains by believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead.

Over and over again the people who come to this church are exhorted to believe in Jesus Christ, to put their trust in Him, the One Who rose from the dead. It would be perfectly proper for you who do not believe in Jesus Christ, you who have not put your trust in Him, to turn upon us and say, "Why should I believe in Jesus Christ? What will I gain by believing in Jesus Christ?" I propose to answer that question tonight, to tell you what you will gain by believing in Christ Jesus, the Christ Who Rose from the Dead. I cannot in the limited time that we have at our disposal tell you all that you will gain by believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead; it would take many, many hours to do that. Indeed only eternity will disclose all that one gains by believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead. I will limit myself tonight to what is told us in six verses in the Bible, and even that we cannot dwell upon as we ought. The six verses are I Pet. 1:3-8, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, might be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory." In these verses we are told that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ with a true faith, that is, anyone who puts their trust in Him as their personal Savior, Who by the shedding of His blood on the Cross of Calvary made a perfect atonement for their sins, and who surrenders to Him as their Divine Lord and King the entire control of their thoughts and conduct, and who confesses Him as their Lord before the world, gains six blessings of priceless worth, blessings of such incalculable value that all the diamonds and pearls and pigeon-blood rubies and gems of every kind in the world, and all its wealth of every kind, is as nothing in comparison*

I. "A New Birth

The first great blessing that everyone who believes in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead gets, is a New Birth. "Blessed," says Peter, "be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy Begat Us Again" (v. 3). The same precious thought is found in the twenty-third verse of the same chapter, "Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the Word of God, which liveth and abideth." When anyone believes in Jesus Christ he is born again, he is made "a new creation." The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul puts it this way, "Wherefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new" (2 Cor. 5:i7). The one who truly believes in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead gets a new nature, God's own nature, a new disposition, new tastes, new ambitions, new purposes, new desires, new thoughts, a new power of seeing the truth, a new strength to overcome sin, new affections, a new idea of life, a new will, he is made all over in the deepest depths of his innermost being. In a word, he becomes a "new man." We not only find this truth stated in the Bible, we see it demonstrated around us every day. Take George Mller for example. Before he accepted Jesus Christ he was a drunken, cheating, lying, licentious wretch. When he took Jesus Christ God made him all over and he became one of the noblest and most useful men this world ever saw, living after this for between sixty and seventy years a life of which it is an inspiration to read. He is but one illustration among millions.

I had a dear friend, one of the most honored friends I ever had, who was once a desperate forger. He had been guilty of one hundred and thirty-eight forgeries. After committing these forgeries he had sunken down until he was a penniless, drunken outcast on the streets of New York, on the verge of delirium tremens. One night feeling the delirium tremens coming upon him he went to a police station and asked them to lock him in a cell for the night. This they did, and he spent there a night of indescribable horror. The next day Jesus Christ met him and he met Jesus Christ. He put his trust in Jesus Christ, the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, and Jesus Christ completely transformed him until he became one of the most highly respected citizens of New York City. I had afterwards the pleasure of taking dinner with him in Washington at the home of the Postmaster General of the United States, where he and his wife were being entertained as honored guests. Christ Jesus, the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, did it.

The New Birth is a wonderful thing, a perpetual miracle, more marvelous than any miracle recorded in the Four Gospels. I have no difficulty whatever in believing any of the miracles of healing of the sick or of raising of the dead that our Lord Jesus Christ wrought while He was here on earth that are recorded in any one of the Four Gospels. I have seen far greater and more wonderful miracles of healing and resurrection of the dead wrought in our own day, miracles of healing of sick souls and of resurrection of dead souls. This is a miracle that we may all know in blessed experience in the life that now is, if we will only believe in Christ Jesus, the Christ who Rose from the Dead. He whom God raised from physical death can raise us up today from spiritual death, and when He comes again He will raise our bodies also and transform them into the likeness of "the body of His glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself" (Phil. 3:21).

This is a miracle that not only those who are way down in vice and immorality need to have wrought in them, but that we all need to have wrought in us. Even though you are not drunken or licentious or lying or vicious in any way, even though you consider yourself pure and upright and honorable and moral, still you are selfish, yes, sinful, and blind to the things that are eternally the most true and beautiful. "You must be born again" (Jno. 3:7), one and all of you.

It is unspeakably glorious to be born again, and there is only one way in which one can be born again, and that is through simply believing on Christ Jesus, the Christ Who Rose from the Dead. As John puts it in Jno. 1:12, "As many as received Him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name."

II. A Living Hope

The second thing we gain by believing in the Christ Who rose from the dead is, A Living Hope. This is the way Peter puts it, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Hope is a blessed thing, one of the most desirable things any man can possess. Alas for the man who has no hope! The man who has no hope is ready for anything desperate and bad. It is the man who has no hope who plunges into drink and dope and dissipation of every kind. It is the man who has no hope who throws himself headlong into the ocean or blows out his own brains and those of his wife and children. But through believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead we get a true hope, "hope of eternal life," founded upon the Word of God. "Have you a hope of eternal life," is sometimes asked me. Yes, I have an absolutely sure hope of eternal life, not a hope founded upon the vague poetic fancies of some popular preacher, nor upon the subtle speculations of some specious but fallible philosopher, nor upon the darkened room seances of some spiritualistic medium and fraud. No, I have a hope of eternal life built upon the sure Word of God. As Paul puts it, "In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal" (Titus 1:2).

By believing in the Christ who Himself Rose from the Dead we get also a hope of the resurrection of our own bodies after death, a hope of resurrection not built upon some utterly unreliable spiritualistic manifestation in a darkened room, but built upon the conclusively demonstrated historic fact of Jesus Christ's own resurrection from the dead, which is one of the absolutely certain facts of history. It is a question centuries old, "If a man die shall he live again?" To that great and solemn question the Christian answers with an unhesitating "Yes."

When Colonel Robert Ingersoll, most brilliant of all modern agnostics, who went up and down the country proclaiming that "Christianity casts a shadow over the cradle and a gloom over the grave," himself came to die, his poor distracted wife and daughter could not bear to have that loved form taken away from the home to be buried or cremated; for they had no hope. Hope for them ended with death. But when Mr. Moody's granddaughter, the darling of his heart, passed away, every word spoken beside the casket was a word of hope and gladness; and when we had lowered the little form into the grave songs of triumph were sung beside it. I shall never forget the day of that funeral. Mr. Moody came to my house at Northfield and asked me if I would cancel an engagement to go to Winona, Indiana, and conduct the funeral services. I telegraphed to Dr. Chapman and was released from my engagement there and remained in Northfield to conduct the services, which Mr. Moody said his son wished me to conduct. Then Mr. Moody said, "Now, Torrey, let us have no sadness here. Let us give today a testimony for the resurrection." The funeral was held out on the lawn. Mr. Moody sat on the second-story verandah of his house, just back of us. Different ones spoke, and when I had spoken what I thought was to be the last word, Mr. Moody rose on the verandah and with a calm, ringing voice, though his heart was lonely for the little one he loved, spoke words of gladness and of triumph. And when we separated there was no gloom in our hearts, just triumph in the sure "hope of eternal life" and of the resurrection.

And when Mr. Moody himself died, that is to say, when his body died and his spirit departed to be with Christ, I was again called to take charge of the funeral services. A great crowd was gathered in the church at Northfield. The casket lay open between the platform and the assembled people. Right in front of it sat Mrs. Moody and then her son Paul, and then W. R. Moody and his wife, and then Mr. Fitt with his wife (Mr. Moody's only daughter). With bowed heads and weeping eyes? No, with their veils thrown back, and peace and hope brightening every face. It was a scene of triumph and of joy. In the light of facts like these, the striking contrast between the funeral of the greatest agnostic and the funeral of the greatest Evangelist of the century, let me ask, Is it Christianity or is it Infidelity that "casts a gloom over the grave?" Faith in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, floods even the grave with sunlight. We lay the bodies of our loved ones away for the night to sleep, but we shall meet them again in the morning, clad in new and unfading and eternal beauty.

III. A Substantial, Glorious, and Eternal Inheritance

The third thing that we gain by faith in Christ Jesus, the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, is a Substantial, Glorious, and Eternal Inheritance. Listen to Peter's words again, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." How many people there are in this world who are longing for an inheritance. Some years ago I received a letter from a stranger in the state of Washington calling my attention to the fact that a branch of the Torrey family had come into a large claim that the Government had long disputed, and expressing the hope that I belonged to that branch of the family. When I showed that letter to a relative how interested she was at once. I did not belong to that branch of the family, but I am heir to a vastly greater and grander and more enduring inheritance, and any of you may be heirs also. By simply believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, the poorest man or woman here may become an heir to untold riches in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Just look for a few moments at the character of this inheritance.

1. First of all, It is cm inheritance that is "incorruptible" imperishable. Oh how earthly inheritances crumble! I was once talking to a lady about her sister. This sister's husband had given her for a present on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary a set of silver plate that cost fifty thousand dollars. She never used it but once, and then a crash came and it was sold to Tiffany for three thousand dollars, to pay debts. Her husband built her a home that cost one million five hundred thousand dollars, and they never lived in it after it was finished. It went for eighty thousand dollars, and others got that. One cannot hold the most secure earthly inheritance many years. Take these magnificent homes in the Wilshire District and Hollywood and on Orange Grove Ave., Pasadena, or in Oak Knoll or at Flint Ridge; how many years will they belong to the same millionaire who built them? "Corruptible," is written in large letters upon every earthly inheritance.

2. In the second place, The inheritance we gain by believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead is "undefiled," that is, it is unsoiled. Of how many earthly inheritances can it be said that they are "undefiled," unsoiled? Many of them are soiled by the way they were acquired, many others are soiled by the way they are used, and many are soiled in other ways. I knew a very nice young man who was going to fall heir some day to many, many millions. A fair inheritance was it not? No! a soiled, foul inheritance. That money was made by driving other men to the wall with unspeakable cruelty. It was made by lying, trickery, deception, conspiracy, made by methods that once nearly landed its present possessor in State's prison (and unless I am greatly mistaken ought to have landed him in State's prison). What soiled things many of these inheritances of which men boast are. But the Christian's inheritance is absolutely unsoiled, absolutely "undefiled," it has upon it no spot, defect, debasement or deformity of any kind. There is nothing on earth fair enough with which to compare it. Even the glorious sun in the heavens has spots upon it, but our inheritance is spotless, "undefiled," unsoiled.

3. In the third place, This "inheritance fadeth not away." I praise God for that! Everything of this earth fades. No matter how matchless its beauty today, its beauty soon disappears. You take a wondrously beautiful rose, how it delights the eye with its beauty and the sense of smell with its fragrance. But it fades! Look at it tomorrow or next day. Its leaves have fallen and are withered. There is no beauty in it. Look at a great painting. What a delight! And it can be kept for many years, but it will fade in time. Look into that lovely face. Oh, how rarely beautiful! Men rave over it. But it will fade. The fairest face on earth today will in a few years be a bunch of wrinkles, and then in a few years more it will be — Oh! I cannot bear to tell you what it will be. But thank God, there is an inheritance that "fadeth not away," an inheritance whose beauty and glory ever increase as the centuries roll on, and as the aeons roll on. Fairer, ever fairer, it grows as it approaches the absolute perfection of the Eternal God. That inheritance is mine and it is yours and it is for anyone here tonight who will believe on the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, Christ Jesus.

And yet, there are some of you here tonight who turn your back upon that inheritance for some fading thing of earth. For a fortune of miserable dollars that will soon fade and slip from your grasp. For fame that will last at best but a few years. One night when Admiral Dewey was at the height of his fame and popularity I said, "Even Admiral Dewey will be practically forgotten ten years from now and the world will have some new idol." And so it came to pass. Some of you turn your back upon this inheritance that fades not, for the mere painted and enameled face of a "strange woman," a face that will soon be blotched with foul ulcers. Oh what fools we mortals are t

4. In the fourth place, This inheritance is sure, it is kept in a safe place, it is "reserved in heaven." No earthly inheritance is at all sure. I once expected my father to leave me a large inheritance. Everyone supposed he would. But the panic of '73 came, "Black Friday" came, and the hard days and years that followed. My father left only a few thousand dollars and they were swept away by mismanagement. I did not get a penny, not one penny. But I have an inheritance that all the lawyers on earth and all the devils in hell cannot cheat me out of, "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for me and for you and for anyone who will believe on the Christ Who Rose from the Dead.

IV. Absolute Security

The fourth thing we gain by believing in the Christ Who rose from the dead is Absolute Security, not security only for our possessions but for ourselves. This is the way Peter puts it in the fifth verse, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Now just think of that for a moment. There are many who hesitate to start in the Christian life lest they fall away again. Every man who knows himself at all well knows that he is no match for sin and the world and the flesh and the Devil. But some men have no strength at all. They are moral wrecks. But our text tells us that if we really believe in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, God Himself, the Almighty, will keep us. No matter how weak we may be, we shall be "kept by the power of God." I wish I could drive home to every heart these great words, "Kept by the power of God," "Kept by the power of God, KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD." Do you hear that, you poor man way back yonder in the gallery, you who have been afraid to start in the Christian life? "Kept by the power of God"? These words come to me as sweetest music in hours of discouragement and weariness and fierce temptation, "KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD."

V. Praise, Glory, and Honor

The fifth thing that we gain by believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead is "Praise and Glory and Honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." This is what Peter says, "Ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found into praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is coming again. He is going to be "revealed from heaven with the angels of His power" (2 Thess. 1 17), that is, His glory is going to be fully unveiled when He comes again; and when He does really come again and His full glory is unveiled, everyone of us who has believed in Him will receive "praise, and glory and honor." That glorious revelation of Jesus Christ may be very near at hand, or it may be very far off, but whenever it does come we who have really believed in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, believed not merely with an intellectual conviction but believed "in our hearts," believed with a faith that controls our lives, with a faith that has stood the test of suffering and affliction and persecution, we shall share in His glory, we shall have "praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

General Joffre has recently traveled through the land and received great "praise and glory and honor." City after city has gone wild over him. But the praise and glory and honor that he has received on these occasions is nothing at all to "the praise and glory and honor" that awaits each one of us who believes in the Christ "Who Rose from the Dead, the "praise and glory and honor" that awaits the poorest and humblest and weakest of us "at the unveiling of Jesus Christ" in His glory that is soon to come. And that "praise and glory and honor" will be eternal. The praise and glory and honor that General Joffre is receiving in these days will last for a few days only. It will soon pass and some other man will take his place. As I have read of the honors and applause that have been showered upon the great General I have had two thoughts. First, one of admiration for the man whose head is not turned by these things. It is a greater victory that he is now winning in keeping humble under such extravagant honors than the great victory he won on "the field of honor" in France. My second thought is one of sadness, at the anticipation of how soon this laudation and praise and glory will pass away and General Joffre drop out of sight with all the idols of the past, only to be recalled now and then by school children and after awhile forgotten even by them. But that will not be so with the "praise and glory and honor" we receive at the revelation of Jesus Christ! That praise and glory and honor will be eternal.

VI. Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory

There is one more thing that we gain by believing in The Christ Who Rose from the Dead, and that is "Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory." This "joy unspeakable" of which Peter speaks does not refer to the future. Peter distinctly says that "now ... ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Right now in this present life, every believer in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, every one who really believes in Him and surrenders all to Him, receives "joy unspeakable and full of glory." I know that this is so; for I have this joy in my own heart tonight. I know what the joys of the world are. I have tasted its great joys and its wild excitements. I have had a beautiful home, I have had loving parents and have had charming brothers and sisters, wife and children. I have had money, horses, carriages, servants, education. I have been familiar with the literature of all nations and have seen the art treasures of the world. I know the dance, the card-party, the theater, the opera, the wine supper, the race-track and all the rest. I have been through it all, but there is no pleasure fine or coarse, exalted or debased, that this world knows, that is for one moment to be compared with the joy that is found by simply believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, the "joy" that is "unspeakable and full of glory." Why sometimes there comes over me a joy so great I do not know whether to shout or sing or cry or all at once. It is simply "unspeakable" and it is "full of glory." Oh you men and women who are looking for fun, for mirth, for merriment, for pleasure, for joy, for gladness, for exultation, for ecstasy, for rapture, Come to Jesus, The Christ Who Rose from the Dead. That is where you will find them, and only there. Come now.

Let me sum up the things anyone gains by believing in the Christ Who Rose from the Dead, by believing in Christ Jesus. They are: First, a New Birth; Second, "a Living Hope"; Third, "an Inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away"; Fourth, a present Security from the power of the world, the flesh and the Devil; Fifth, "praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ"; Sixth, "Joy unspeakable and full of glory" "now," and forever. [Will you come to Him now and believe in Him now? You will if you are wise. You will unless the great enemy of your soul, Satan, deceives you. Oh say you will! Look! These six wonderful things, A new birth, a living hope, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, security from the power of the world, the flesh and the Devil, praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, joy unspeakable and full of glory, are all spread out before you. They are all within your grasp. Will you have them? Who will say, I will?

THE END