The Voice of Christ
by James Smith, 1861
With what conscious dignity our Lord often spoke, claiming the highest homage we can render, and asserting his equality with the Father. He rejoiced in his Father's love, displayed omnipotent power, and proclaimed his supremacy and majesty. With what dignity he asserts his sovereignty, when he says, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and those who hear shall live!" John 5:25
The Sinner's State. He is dead. Not merely bruised, or maimed, or mangled — but dead. In a state of separation from God, the source and giver of life. Having all the natural powers — yet as they are all under an evil influence, he is powerless to do good. Being powerless, he is inactive in reference to spiritual things, though active enough in all that is carnal and worldly. Such are in general unconcerned, or if they are concerned for a season, the concern is neither deep, nor lasting. They are unfit for holy society, a corpse in a ball room would not be more out of place, than an unconverted sinner in Heaven. All would be annoyed and disturbed, and the sinner could enjoy none of the employments of the place.
They are exposed to degradation and destruction. Hell is a place of degradation, as well as of punishment. There are collected all the detestable and vulgar, all the profane and proud, all the vile and villainous, the refuse of creation, the very dregs of the earth. With such, must eternity be spent. To the level of such, the lost soul will be brought. Lower and lower, into deeper and deeper degradation, the lost soul will sink. Everything included in the term destruction, except annihilation, must be endured. O miserable state! O terrible doom!
By dead souls we are surrounded, with the lost we have constantly to do — and yet how little we feel. Lord, give us deep and undying sympathy with perishing sinners!
The Savior's Promise. This includes, a time. "The hour is coming, and now is." Jesus has special times when he exerts his authority, and displays his power. The day of Pentecost, was the day of his power. And in the experience of every renewed soul, there was an hour, in which the voice of Jesus was heard, and in which the power of Jesus was felt. A fiat he will speak, and his voice is full of majesty. He may not speak in the loud and startling tones of the law. There may be no thunder, no lightning — but only a still small voice. As in the chamber, he quietly said, "Maid, arise" — or in the street he said, "Young man, I say unto you, arise," and in each instance, without noise, or bustle, or excitement — the dead sat up, and were delivered to their friends.
Just as quietly, as calmly, with as little excitement often, Jesus raises the dead in sin, and gives them everlasting life.
An effect: those to whom he speaks shall hear — hear spiritually, and live eternally. It requires no effort for him to raise the dead, it is but for him to speak, and it is done. Life accompanies his word, and floats on the tones of his voice.
A result: all who hear his voice live. They are quickened, though dead in trespasses and sins. They are raised up together with Christ, though buried in the grave of nature.
A solemn asseveration: "Truly, truly, I say unto you." The Amen, the God of truth speaks, and what he says — shall surely come to pass. How solemn, how majestic his words, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live."
The Believer's Privilege. Hearing the voice of Jesus — he lives. He is brought into union with Christ, who is the life; and through him into union with the Father, who is the living, and life-giving God. He becomes deeply, intensely concerned about the things of God — to know them, to possess them, and to enjoy them. He is active in the ways of God, aware of his holy will, awake to his requirements, and desirous of pleasing him. He becomes fit for the presence of God. He enjoys the presence of God in grace, preparatory to the enjoyment of it in glory.
To please Jesus — is the believer's delight.
To be like Jesus — is the believer's highest desire.
To be with Jesus — is the believer's Heaven.
He is safe from the wrath of God. To him, there is no condemnation, no second death, no curse, no punishment; but as Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, he who hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." He is prepared to hold fellowship with God, and enjoy it; and that fellowship is the solace and delight of his soul.
He shall live. Live a life of holiness and usefulness on earth. Live notwithstanding death, which shall have no power over him. Live with God, in the full enjoyment of God in Heaven forever. Yes, all that hear Jesus speak in a way of grace, shall live in the possession of his glory.
See then, what the Church of Christ needs: that Jesus should speak — speak to sinners, and convert them — speak to drowsy professors, and arouse them. Ministers may speak — but they will not heed them. Teachers may teach — but they will not be aroused by them. It is the voice of Jesus which is needed, for where the word of the king is, there is power. His sheep hear his voice, and follow him; but a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.
O Jesus, speak, speak we beg you. Speak to thousands, to millions, and grant us a great and glorious revival.
See, why some are quickened — it is because Jesus speaks. He speaks with the preacher, or without him. He speaks in public, or in private. He speaks just as he sees fit. Every conversion, proves that Jesus is present, for as the Shunamite's son, could not be raised by the prophet's servant, though he had the prophet's staff — no more can ministers raise dead souls, although they have the everlasting gospel — Elijah must come in the one case, and Jesus must come in the other.
See, the dignity and power of the Redeemer, he has the power of life and death. It is but for him to speak — and the end designed by him, must follow. He quickens whomever he will. He gives eternal life, to as many as the Father has given him. He casts out Satan with a word. He dethrones sin with a word. He imparts eternal life with a word. O the millions to whom He has effectually spoken — and every one of those millions heard and responded! They lived a life of faith on earth, and they are now living a life of unspeakable joy in Heaven!
See, to whom we should look. Do we want our children converted, our churches revived, our neighbors brought to God, the heathen turned from darkness to light, or our own souls quickened — we must look to Jesus! Means without Jesus, are powerless; and as the poor man lay for years at the pool of Bethesda, without a cure until Jesus came — so may we. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone — who can infuse life into the means we use, and render them effectual.
See, who should have the praise. Do any souls live? Have we been quickened? Are we living by the faith in the Son of God? Then Jesus has spoken to us, he has done the work, and to him belongs the glory. Let us praise his holy name. Let us give him all the glory. Be this our song, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us — but unto your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth's sake."
O Jesus, speak to my soul and revive it — speak to poor sinners, and save them! Speak with your word, speak by your servants, put life and power into the ordinances, and give us a glorious illustration of your own words. "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God — and those who hear shall live!"