“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into hell
The third day He rose from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit;
The Holy catholic Church;
The communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body;
Continuing to focus on the Apostle’s Creed, we come to “the resurrection of the body.” This was a “hot potato” even in Jesus’ day – as one faction of the religious leaders, the Sadducees, did not believe in the resurrection, while the Pharisees did. The debates over this subject still divide people, but the Scripture is very clear, and that is where we will be focusing in this devotional.
Before His own resurrection, there are three separate accounts in the Scriptures of Jesus’ raising people from the dead: the widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7:11-17; Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; and Lazarus (John 11:1-45). But these all still eventually died, theirs was not an eternal life.
It was only at the resurrection of Jesus that a bodily resurrection unto eternal life became a reality for believers. So critical to the Christian faith, the writers of all four gospels, under the divine leading of the Holy Spirit, were inspired to record Christ’s resurrection. (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16; Luke 24; and John 20.) Jesus’ resurrection lead the way for all who will follow Him into eternal life. Paul said, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). This was His promise in John 11:25-26 as He spoke to Martha – “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”
Jesus proved His bodily resurrection to His disciples in Luke 24: 37-43, when He told them “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (v. 39). He even ate before them, as further evidence that death has no hold on the Author of life.
Jesus declared that ours will be a bodily resurrection, just as His was. The most important Scriptural evidence came when He addressed the Sadducees in Matthew 22, He said “But about the resurrection of the dead – have you know read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (vs. 31-32). Dr. R. C. Sproul says “Our Lord’s argument seems to be based partly on the use of the present tense; God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,’ not ‘I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’”[i] He is the God of life, and will raise to life all who believe in Him.
Philippians 3:21 is another confirmation of the resurrection of the body: “Jesus Christ…will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” In this body we will enjoy everlasting, or eternal life, as Jesus Himself promised: “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life” (John 6:47).
Paul gives us an excellent source of information for the resurrection of the body in 1 Corinthians 15: 35-57. He says that we will have imperishable, glorious bodies, raised in power and in the Spirit (v. 42-44); we will “bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (v. 49); we “will be raised imperishable and immortal” (v. 53).
John writes “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11-12).
What does this all mean to you and me? No more death, no more tears, no more crying or mourning or pain. The Lord said, “I am making everything new” (Rev. 21:4-5). That includes you and me and every person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, the salvation of all mankind. He will bring us, with transformed bodies, into everlasting life. That is the greatest news the world has ever known.
Lord Jesus, when I think of the resurrection of the body, I always think that I will have hands, to hold the hand of my Savior; arms to throw around You in a loving embrace, and lips to sing Your wonderful praises with the angels of heaven. Oh what glory that will be! Amen.
[i] Sproul, R. C. “Tabletalk Devotional with RC Sproul.” Bible Gateway. September 24, 2013. http://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/tabletalk/2013/09/24 (accessed September 24, 2013).