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Christ Our Resurrection
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)
How important is the resurrection? Many seem to think it is irrelevant. But the fact is there is no aspect of Gospel doctrine that is more important than the resurrection. I live in hope of the resurrection. With Paul, I say, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). In making that statement Paul does not mean that the believer’s life in this world is a sad, morbid life. The apostle certainly does not mean that it is really more delightful and pleasurable to live in this world without faith. And he does not mean that were it not for the hope of eternal glory, the people of God would prefer not live as they do in obedience and submission to our heavenly Father. God’s saints are not mercenaries. We do not serve our God for gain!
When Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” he simply means this: — If there were no eternal life in Christ, no eternal bliss of life with Christ in glory, and no resurrection, then the believer would be the most miserably frustrated person in the world. We would never have that which we most earnestly desire. We would never see the end of our hope. We would never embrace Christ, or be embraced by Him. We would never see our Redeemer.
Such thoughts are unbearable. I cannot imagine anything more distressing than to be without Christ! Nothing could be more cruel and miserable than to live in hope of seeing Christ, being like Christ, and spending eternity with Christ, only to die like a dog! — “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” What a horrible thought! What a tormenting supposition! But, bless God, it is not so.
Hope of Resurrection
We live in hope of the resurrection; and our hope is both sure and steadfast. — “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27). In sickness we are calm, because we live in hope of the resurrection. In sorrow we are peaceful, because we live in hope of the resurrection. In trial and affliction we are at ease, because we live in hope of the resurrection. In bereavement we are confident, because we live in hope of the resurrection. And we hope to die in confidence and joy, because we live in hope of the resurrection.
Our assurance of the resurrection is much more than belief in a point of theological orthodoxy. It is a very personal thing, the most personal thing in the world. In fact, when we talk about the resurrection, we are not really talking about a doctrine, but about a person. When we think about the resurrection, we ought to be thinking about a person. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, our glorious Mediator is the Resurrection.
The blessed hope of the resurrection is not some fool’s philosophy. It is not a mere religious tranquilizer by which we are able to cope with the trials of life. This is the calm, confident assurance of believing hearts. It is the necessary, inevitable result of faith in Christ. That is what our Lord Jesus teaches us in these words: — “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)
We live in hope of the resurrection, first, because we have been resurrected in union with Christ representatively (Ephesians 2:5-6). While He lived on this earth, in obedience to God as our Representative, we lived in Him. When Christ died, all God’s elect died in Him. And when He arose from the dead, taking his seat in heaven, we arose with Him, and have been seated with Him in glory (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Hail! sacred union, firm and strong,
How great the grace, how sweet the song!
One in the tomb, one when He rose,
One when He triumphed o’er His foes,
One when in heaven He took His seat,
While seraphs sang all hell’s defeat.
Nothing in all the world is more wondrous, more profound and more comforting than the teaching of Holy Scripture about our union with Christ. Union with Christ is the very heart of salvation. Union with Christ is central to everything revealed in Scripture. Without this union of our souls with Christ and the union of Christ with our souls, there is no salvation. Our union with Christ is an eternal union, secret and unknown to us until it is brought to light by the Gospel (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:9-11). Our union with Christ is a legal, representative union (Romans 5:12, 18-21). Our union with Christ is a living, vital union, a union made manifest when Christ is formed in us in the new birth (Colossians 1:27). And our union with Christ is an everlasting union of life and grace (John 17:22-23).
When the Lord Jesus Christ arose from the grave, He arose as our Representative. All that He has done and all that He has experienced, all of God’s elect have done and experienced in Him, by virtue of our representative union with Him. His obedience to the law was our obedience (Romans 5:12, 18-21). His death as a penal sacrifice for sin was our death (Romans 6:6-7, 9-11; 7:4). — His death is our atonement!
Our Lord’s resurrection was our resurrection. — This is our life! The resurrection of Christ is an indisputable fact of revelation and history upon which we rest our souls (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Disprove the resurrection and you disprove the Gospel. — “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). In 1st Corinthians 15 God the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to mention six distinct appearances of the Lord Jesus. In all, the Scriptures record twelve separate times that the risen Lord appeared to His own. There may have been more appearances (Acts 1:3); but these twelve are recorded.
1. To Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18).
2. To the women (Matthew 28:9-10).
3. To Cleopas and his companion (Luke 24:13-35).
4. To Simon (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).
5. To the disciples, Thomas being absent (John 20:19-23).
6. To the disciples, Thomas being present (John 20:24-29).
7. To The Seven at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14).
8. To The Disciples on the mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28:16-20).
9. To The Five Hundred (1 Corinthians 15:6).
10. To James, the Lord's brother (1 Corinthians 15:7).
11. To the eleven disciples on Olivet, near Jerusalem (Acts 1:4-11; Luke 24:50-51).
12. To Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-7).
The bodily, physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ necessitates the resurrection of all who are in Christ. That which has been done for us mystically and representatively must be experienced by us personally. We are members of Christ’s mystical body, the Church. If one member of the body were lost, the body would be maimed (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27). If one member of the body were lost, the Head would not be complete (Ephesians 1:22-23). These bodies of ours must be fashioned like unto His glorious body (Philippians 3:21; John 17:24). The Lord Jesus was raised as the firstfruits of them that sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). The full harvest must follow! Christ is the Last Adam. As we have born the image of our first covenant head, we must bear the image of the second (1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 47-49). Our Redeemer, the Captain of our Salvation, has obtained the victory over all that could hinder the glorious resurrection of His people: sin, death, hell, the grave, and the devil (Colossians 2:13-15; Hebrews 2:14-15). The covenant engagements of Christ as the Surety of God’s elect are not complete until the hour of our resurrection (John 6:37-40).
We live in hope of the resurrection, first, we were resurrected with Christ and in Christ representatively, when He arose from the dead. Second, we live in hope of the resurrection, because we have experienced the resurrection of Christ in regeneration. We know that Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, because we’ve been raised from the dead and Christ lives in us.
The new birth is nothing less than a resurrection from the dead. To be born again by the Spirit of God is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6; John 5:25; 11:25-26; Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 2:9-15; 3:1-3).
We live in hope of the resurrection, because we were resurrected with Christ representatively. — Second, we live in hope of the resurrection, because we have been raised from death to life in Christ spiritually, because we have experienced the resurrection. — And, third, we live in hope of the resurrection, because we believe the revelation of God concerning the resurrection (John 5:28-29). God’s elect never die! There is a day coming in the which all that are in the grave shall be raised by the voice of the Son of God; and for all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ, it shall be a resurrection of life.
There shall be a resurrection of life at the second coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:35-44, 51-59; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Philippians 3:21). This will not be some secret rapture, but a glorious resurrection, a resurrection with and by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Soon must this body die,
This mortal frame decay;
And, yes, my body must return
To ashes, air, and clay?
Corruption, earth, and worms
Shall but refine this flesh,
Till my triumphant spirit comes
To put it on afresh.
God my Redeemer lives! —
My Savior from the skies
Looks down, and watches all my dust,
Till He shall bid it rise.
Arrayed in glorious grace
My body then shall shine,
(United body, spirit, soul!),
In life by pow’r divine.
This blessed hope I owe
To Jesus’ dying love.
My Life and Resurrection, too, —
I’ll live with Christ above.
Dear Lord, accept the praise
Of this poor, mortal’s song,
Till tunes of nobler sound I raise
With an immortal tongue!
Let us comfort one another with these words. And let us be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. — Our labor is not in vain in the Lord!
The Resurrection of the Damned
There shall also be a resurrection of damnation (John 5:29). The wicked and unbelieving shall be raised by the power of Christ, in order to be judged and condemned. The believer shall be raised by virtue of his union with Christ, in order to be judged worthy of and rewarded with everlasting glory. The wicked shall be raised in wrath. The believing shall be raised in love. The wicked shall be raised for execution. The righteous shall be raised for a wedding. — “Prepare to meet thy God!” Soon you and I will stand before the living God in judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).