Two essential components of ‘sound doctrine’ which throughout the history of the church have been attacked, and today are being increasingly undermined, are that of the Resurrection of Christ and the Virgin Conception. It is easy to see why! Both of these components are fundamental to the whole plan of salvation. They both have to do with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In this paper we will examine the doctrine of the resurrection. For further investigation or study, I refer you to its treatment in the 'Explore Your Faith' series elsewhere on this site.
Resurrection of Christ is central to the entire biblical revelation
and there are innumerable references to it in the New Testament. It
is the cap-stone in the arch of salvation. Let me explain the
analogy. In ancient architecture, in the construction of the dome
atop a building (such as a temple) a piece of rock was specially hewn
to fit in the curved top (or crown) of the dome, allowing the several
arches that curved inward at the peak to be solidly anchored at a
central point. This stone absorbed the combined pressure of the
inward leaning arches, effectively bonding all the other structural
components of the dome into an integral unit. Without this ingenious
device, the arches would have no support at the top and simply
collapse upon each other. The doctrine of The Resurrection of Christ,
in like manner, is the piece without which all the other aspects
of salvation, glorious as they are independently, cannot come
together in finality.
The fact of Christ’s
resurrection is indisputably recorded in all the gospel records, so
that the antagonists of this doctrine have no grounds whatsoever to
disbelieve it, other than their own unwillingness. Against
unwillingness to believe we have no answer. But for those who
earnestly seek the truth, the authenticity of the gospel records of
his resurrection, the attestation of prophecy regarding the Christ,
Jesus’ own declarations, and the teaching handed down by the
apostles all bear witness to the fact of His resurrection. The reason
some people who, despite their profession of Christianity cannot
receive this doctrine, is because they do not have the witness of the
Spirit, not being really saved, their hearts being wicked and opposed
to God’s word.
In his letter to the
church in Corinth the apostle Paul goes to great lengths to set right
any misconceptions and refute any error regarding this glorious and
Paul finds it necessary
to reiterate the essential truth of the gospel that he had first
preached to them. (1Cor. 15). He states ‘the gospel’
very simply like this: “That Christ died for our sins according
to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again
the third day according to the scriptures” (emphasis mine).
He goes on to remind them that they were saved when they received
this gospel, unless they had believed in vain (that is,
by exercising mere mental assent, rather than true ‘saving
faith’ which comes from a believing heart).
Paul then deals extensively with the topic of resurrection, both of Christ’s and that of the individual believer’s as a corollary (that is, an inference from it). Three important points emerge from this discourse:
Firstly, if it
were true that Christ is not risen, it follows that
resurrection per se is an ‘empty’ teaching
(that it has no real substance) because it is founded on error. The
immediate ramification of this is that the gospel message is
not the truth but a lie. It logically follows that any
preaching on any topic as touching God and /or his salvation would be
of no use whatsoever to the hearer and to continue to preach it would
be to perpetuate a lie.
Secondly, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then the claims he made about being able to raise himself from the dead were indeed false. This at once brands him as a liar and consequently places doubt on the veracity of everything else he said. For example, he declared himself to be ‘the way and the truth and the life’. Is that true? Yet we know that scripture says about him that “in him was no deceit”. Now the veracity of scripture itself comes into question!
if he did not rise from the dead then he was not in fact the Son
of God. This at once attacks his divinity and also denies the
doctrine of the Trinity. Paul, introducing himself as an apostle set
apart for the gospel of God, specifically asserts Jesus’
resurrection as proof of his divinity: “ regarding his Son, who
as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who though the
Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by
his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord”
(Rom1:2-4, emphasis mine).
Christ did not rise from the dead it has serious
consequences for the believer who has placed his trust in the
resurrection because it means that the dead in fact cannot and
do not rise. Paul argues “If in this life only we
have hope in Christ we are of all men the most pitiable”. In
other words, we are stupid for entertaining such a belief, and
deserve to attract the pity that only fools attract! Or put another
way, we may as well have ‘any old religion’ because it
wouldn’t matter one whit!
Finally if there is no truth in the resurrection then we remain dead in our sins. This is the fatal blow! But why? Because our resurrection is intrinsically connected with our justification and because ‘salvation, really encompasses both.
Let me explain these concepts a little so that we may grasp the necessity of resurrection.
Firstly, Salvation is only complete when body, soul and spirit are once again reunited, reversing the curse of death. Salvation itself is not a one-off event, but has a threefold aspect in time. We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved. We are saved when we receive Christ. This is a positional status and carries positional justification with it. We continue to be saved as we are being sanctified, that is being made holy to conform to the image of Christ. This is a lifelong process and is never completed in this life. If it was, we would attain a state of sinlessness in this life. This is not possible. Finally, we are saved when we are raised from the dead. Through the blood of the Lamb this resurrected state renders us justified, body soul and spirit. In this state, we no longer need imputed (or positional) righteousness as we did in our bodies of sin. We now possess actual righteousness in glorified bodies, which are no longer tainted by sin or subject to corruption of any sort.
Secondly, Forgiveness is the means by which we receive justification, with the objective of being able to enter into God’s presence - body soul and spirit, and remain so for eternity. The objective is holiness! Very simply, if you are not forgiven you cannot possibly be justified
Now to the importance of our resurrection. If we are forgiven but remain dead when we exit this life, what’s the point? As long as we believers are alive on this earth, we are reckoned (counted as) ‘dead to sin’ . This is because Christ bore our sins in his body on the cross, paying the ultimate price for sin, which is death. His substitutionary death is the believer’s entitlement to life. Therefore we are is now reckoned (that is counted, or seen as) alive ‘in Christ’. This amounts to our sins are not counted against us, which the bible equates as being 'dead to sin'. We are regarded just as if we had not sinned. It’s very much like having an honorary title conferred. The fact is however, that we often sin even after accepting Christ. But despite this, we continue to be regarded as though we have not sinned, on the basis that Christ has died for us. This status is called a positional status. But, as I pointed out earlier, our actual state is different and is constantly being worked on by the Holy Spirit so as to conform us to the image of Christ. All the while, that this is happening, Christ’s righteousness continues to be imputed to us.
As believers, we are
entitled to exult in the fact that God does not count our sins
against us. But wait! We can’t live forever with this imputed
righteousness. The problem still remains that ‘the wages
of sin is death’ and we must face death eventually as a sinner.
What happens when we are dead? Our status is no longer of any use,
unless we can live again. Whatever our titles or status in this life,
they cease to carry any weight once we die. As the poet says:
“Sceptre and crown must tumble down, and in in the dust be
equal made with the crooked scythe and spade” See the point?
Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are
of all men to be pitied”. Then the whole exercise in salvation
becomes futile if our hope is only for this life and not the future.
Therefore the believer’s positional status must be changed from
positional (being imputed) to actual (being possessed
by us) for it to have any lasting value. In this life the believer
will need to be content with imputed righteousness, being
incapable of producing it by his own efforts.
How does this
transition from 'positional 'to 'actual' take place? By resurrection
from the dead! This is by God’s design. We are told
“Christ died for our sins and was raised for our
justification”. Christ conquered death by raising himself
from amongst the dead. Now the ‘dead in Christ’ (that is,
believers) will likewise be raised – but this time, without the
blemish of sin and with no need any longer of an imputed
righteousness. Of course, we will not rise of our own accord, but
when HE who has conquered death calls us out of the grave. When this
happens we will stand before God fully justified. In our glorified
bodies we will literally be a new creation! The blood of the lamb has
sealed our purity for ever.
The believer’s resurrection is guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection. This is the point that Paul makes. The believer's resurrection is a proclamation of the final victory over death (separation from God) which came as a result of the fall. The result is life (eternal existence with Him). This is not only the Christian’s sure hope, but the source of his pure joy. Jesus' word to Martha ring through in his resurrection; “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” (John11:25, NIV). It is the believer’s appointed destiny to share in the glory of his Lord for all eternity. Life itself only has meaning when we consider eternity in this light. That is why Paul goes to great lengths in this chapter to describe the resurrected body and point out its difference to the natural body.
Let’s look at
some of his concluding remarks about the resurrected body. “The
first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second man is the Lord
from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made
of dust; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are
heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall
also bear the image of the heavenly man” (1Cor.15:46-49).
Thank God that Christ
was raised from the dead in accordance with the scriptures!
The Resurrection as
pertaining to Unbelievers
The resurrection of
Christ has guaranteed the resurrection of all the dead,
regardless of whether they are believers or not. It is only the
timing of their respective resurrections which differs. Those who
are Christ's will be resurrected at his second advent. The remaining
will be resurrected at the end of time at the 'great white
throne judgment. It would be well for those who deny the
resurrection to take not of this!
The following scriptures, though not exhaustive on the subject are sufficient to declare this truth.
Prophesying about the
end time Daniel says “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the
earth will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and
everlasting contempt” (Dan.12:2).
Jesus said” Do
not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their
graves will hear his voice and come out- those who have done good
will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be
condemned” (John5:28, NIV). I believe that the terms
'good ' and 'evil' do not refer to works, but to the ultimate
sin, which is unbelief.
John says in Revelation
“And I saw the dead, great and small. Standing before the
throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the
book f life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as
recorded in the books” The sea gave up the dead that were in
it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each
person was judged according to what he had done”(Rev
20::12,13, NIV). The reader is reminded that all of this properly relates to
eschatology, the study of the end times, which is a subject on its
own. I have simply quoted this scripture as proof that all the dead
will be raised.
In conclusion, the Doctrine of The Resurrection cannot be denied by anyone who claims to be a Christian.
© Preach The word-with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues – www.kerysso.org
Bookmark This Page!(CTRL D)