Hebrews: The Resurrection of the Dead

See the source image

What kinds of things did you learn in elementary school? Of course reading, writing, and arithmetic, probably some basic earth science, and social studies. But I doubt you learned about “the resurrection of the dead.” That is one of the things the author of Hebrews classified as an “elementary teaching,” a foundational truth of the faith. But ask church members today about the resurrection of the dead and you are likely to get a lot of hemming and hawing. What does this mean?

The resurrection of the dead is both the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of believers in the last days. I expect you know about the former, that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, proving that he was the Son of God. Every tenet of the Christian faith rests on this truth. If you do not believe that Jesus was raised from the dead then you have no hope for salvation and eternal life.

But Christ also promised resurrection for those who trust in Him. Hear Paul’s explanation: “The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise” ( (1 Thessalonians 4:16). That means my Mom and my big brother and Billy Graham and Paul himself and every believer who has died will all be raised on that grand and glorious day. I don’t understand all the theology of the resurrection but I believe it is the truth.

Consider what Jesus told Martha at the grave of her brother Lazarus: “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” (John 11:25). Then He posed a question to Martha that I want to pose to you: “Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus is who He claims to be? Do you believe that He is the Son of God, that He has been raised from the dead, and that He has the authority and power to give you eternal life?

Beloved, I pray you said, “Yes.” I pray that your eternal future is secure and that one day you and I will cast our crowns before our Savior and fall down together at His feet. If you said, “No” I pray you will come to faith in Christ today. Eternity is a long, long time my friend. Don’t spend it without Jesus.

A Perfect Body at Last! (Part 10 in the Apostle’s Creed)

“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).