Here is a New Year’s Meditation for you from the ministry of Charles H. Spurgeon, taken from the sermon titled Life in Christ that he preached on January 1, 1871, based on the text “Because I live, ye shall live also.” — John 14:19:
It is a distinguishing mark of a true follower of Jesus that he sees his Lord and Master when he is not to be seen by the bodily eye; he sees him intelligently and spiritually; he knows his Lord, discerns his character, apprehends him by faith, gazes upon him with admiration as our first sight of Christ brought us into spiritual life, for we looked unto him and were saved, so it is by the continuance of this spiritual sight of Christ that our spiritual life is consciously maintained.
It is not only upon the first day of the Christian’s life that he must needs look to Jesus only, but every day of that life, even until the last, his motto must be, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The world sees him no more, for it never saw him aright; but ye have seen him and lived, and now, through continuing still to see him, you remain in life. Let us ever remember the intimate connection between faith and spiritual life. Faith is the life-look. we must never think that we live by works, by feelings, or by ceremonies.
Our glorifying is that our life is not dependent on ourselves, but is safe in our Lord, as saith the apostle, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Because he lives, we live, and shall live for ever. God grant that our eye may ever be clear towards Jesus, our life. May we have no confidence but in our Redeemer; may our eyes be fixed upon him, that no other object may in any measure or degree shut out our view of him as our all in all.
It is to be remarked concerning our life in Christ, that it is the removal of the penalty which fell upon our race for Adam’s sin. “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” was the Lord’s threatening to our first parent, who was the representative of the race. He did eat of the fruit, and since God is true, and his word never fails, we may be sure of this, that in that selfsame day Adam died. It is true that he did not cease to exist, but that is quite another thing from dying. The threatening was not that he should ultimately die, but “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;” and it is beyond all doubt that the Lord kept his word to the letter. If the first threatening was not carried out we might take liberty to trifle with all others. Rest assured, then, that the threat was on the spot fulfilled. The spiritual life departed from Adam; he was no longer at one with God, no more able to live and breathe in the same sphere as the Lord. He fell from his first estate; he had need if he should enter into spiritual life to be born again, even as you and I must be. As he hides himself from his Maker, and utters vain excuses before his God, you see that he is dead to the life of God, dead in trespasses and sins. We also, being heirs of wrath even as others, are through the fall dead, dead in trespasses and sins; and if ever we are to possess spiritual life, it must be said of us, “And you hath he quickened.” We must be as “those that are alive from the dead.”
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The work of regeneration, in which the new life is implanted, effectually restores the ruin of the fall, for we are born again, “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.” But you remind me that still sin remains in us after we have received the divine life. I know it does, and it is called “the body of this death;” and this it is which rages within, between the power of the death in the first Adam, and the power of the life in the second Adam; but the heavenly life will ultimately overcome the deadly energy of sin. Even to-day our inner life groans after deliverance, but with its groan of “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” it mingles the thankful song, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This life within the soul bears fruit on earth in righteousness and true holiness. It blooms with sweetest of flowers of fellowship with God below, and it is made perfect in the presence of God in heaven. Blessed is that man who hath everlasting life, who is made a partaker of the divine nature, who is born again from above, who is born of God by a seed which remaineth in him, for he is the man upon whom the second death hath no power, who shall enjoy life eternal when the wicked go away into everlasting punishment.
We have now to ask each of you whether you have received it. Have you been born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God? Was there a time with you when you passed from death unto life, or are you abiding in death? Have you the witness in yourself that you have been operated upon by a divinely spiritual power? Is there something in you which was not once there, not a faculty developed by education, but a life implanted by God himself? Do you feel an inward craving unknown to carnal minds, a longing desire which this world could neither excite nor gratify? Is there a strange sighing for a land as yet unseen, of which it is a native, and for which it yearns? Do you walk among the sons of men as a being of another race, not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world? Can you say, with the favoured apostle, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” Oh! then, thank God for this, and thank God yet more that you have an infallible guarantee for this, and thank God yet more that you have an infallible guarantee that your life shall be continued and perfected, for so saith the text, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
Union with Christ makes you live; keep up your enjoyment of that union, that you may clearly perceive and enjoy your life. Begin this year with the prayer, “Nearer to thee, my Lord, nearer to thee.” Think much of the spiritual life and less of this poor carnal life, which will be soon be over. Go to the source of life for an increase of spiritual life. Go to Jesus. Think of him more than you have done, pray to him more; use his name more believingly in your supplications. Serve him better, and seek to grow up into his likeness in all things. Make an advance this year. Life is a growing thing. Your life only grows by getting nearer to Christ; therefore, get under the beams of the Sun of the Righteousness. Time brings you nearer to him, you will soon be where he is in heaven; let grace bring you nearer also. You taste more of his love as fresh mercies come, give him more of your love, more of your fellowship. Abide in him, and may his word abide in you henceforth and for ever, and all shall be to his glory. Amen.
For further reading and meditation see also Spurgeon’s sermon Jehovah-Shammah (The Lord is There): A Glorious Name for the New Year.