Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Resurrection Life



Focusing on the Hope of Resurrection

By Abraham Israel


Introduction:

One of the greatest desire of a father or mother is to be with their sons and daughters in heaven after they die, likewise the husbands desire is to be with his wife after they die, a friends desire is to be with their friends in heaven after they die, a granddad’s and grandmother’s burning desire is to see all their sons, daughters and their grandchildren in heaven after they die. In other words, the deepest desire of every human is to live ever after with their loved ones. No one likes to die in this earth. I believe our body system was created by God to live forever with our loved ones on earth, this is the reason we have this hindsight of innate desire to live forever. If man had not fallen in to the sin of rebellion against God in the Eden Garden at the beginning, we would have happily lived ever after in this earth with all our dear and near ones. But in spite of the fall of mankind in to sin which brought death to all mankind, God has a better way of making us to live eternally because we have believed Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as a substitute model for our own life (Rom 5:12; John 3:16; 11:21-27). Let us see how we can hope to rise in a new glorious heavenly body in our future when we will live in the heavenly Jerusalem first and then in the new earth with all our loved ones, which God has clearly revealed in his word (1 Thess 4:14-18; 1 Cor 15:35, 38, 40; Rev 21:1-4).


Is Resurrection the Only Hope for Mankind?

Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonian believers says, "v13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. v14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.v15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. v16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. v17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. v18 Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thess 4:13-18).

Without an iota of doubt, resurrection is the only hope for the reunion of all our loved ones who has believed in Jesus and died. This is the reason when Apostle Paul was speaking about the future life of believers in contrasting with unbelievers “who have no hope”, he said that all our loved ones in Christ who have died already until the time of rapture will rise up first and then we all who are alive at that time will surely not die but without seeing death will be transformed in to that glorious body in a fraction of second and will all have a grand reunion with Jesus in the air. Then Paul says we will never again die forever more to enjoy the bliss of both the celestial and terrestrial life forevermore. This is described by the Apostle Paul as a message of comfort for us who long for those who have died before us (1 Thess 4:13-18)

The reason for the hope that Paul had about his future life and reunion with his loved ones was totally based on his belief that Christ has risen from the dead as evidence and an assurance from God about the resurrection of all believers in the future. Apostle Paul emphatically said, "12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." (1 Cor 15:12-19)

From this we can concretely conclude that the resurrection of all believers is the central message of Christian faith, and we can have hope to be resurrected in a glorious celestial body and meet all our loved ones in the soon coming day of resurrection and rapture because Christ in getting resurrected from the dead has become a testimony to us who are “prisoners of hope” (Zech 9:12).


H.A. Ironside beautifully says, 
"The Apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God's right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised. So the apostle says, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17)." [i]

Here in this preceding quote H.A. Ironside is spot on in hitting the right chord of resurrection when he says that the gospel itself is a gospel of the Risen Christ. The word 'Gospel' comes from the Greek word 'euangelion' which means 'good news, glad tidings'. If we ask ourselves the question, good news about what? It is the good news about a dead Jesus getting resurrected back to life to live forever. I agree with the above statement and say with a modification that 'the Gospel cannot be good news if it just stops at the death of Jesus, but it becomes the good news only when we preach the resurrection news of Jesus along with his atoning death for us.' Nobody has reason to rejoice when someone dies, but everybody has reason to rejoice when someone comes back to life.


R. A. Torrey says, 
"Gospel preachers nowadays preach the gospel of the Crucifixion, the Apostles preached the gospel of the Resurrection as well. (2 Tim. 2:8-"Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead, according to my gospel.") The Crucifixion loses its meaning without the Resurrection. Without the Resurrection the death of Christ was only the heroic death of a noble martyr; with the Resurrection it is the atoning death of the Son of God. It shows that death to be of sufficient value to cover our sins, for it was the sacrifice of the Son of God."[ii]

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia states,

“The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus is a foundation of the Christian faith.[iii][iv] Christians, through faith in the working of God[v] are spiritually resurrected with Jesus, and are redeemed so that they may walk in a new way of life.[vi]

In the teachings of the apostolic Church, the Resurrection was seen as heralding a new era. Forming a theology of the resurrection fell to Apostle Paul. It was not enough for Paul to simply repeat elementary teachings, but as the Epistle to the Hebrews 6:1 stated, "go beyond the initial teachings about Christ and advance to maturity". Fundamental to Pauline theology is the connection between Christ's Resurrection and redemption.[vii] Paul explained the importance of the resurrection of Jesus as the cause and basis of the hope of Christians to share a similar experience in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22“But Christ really has been raised from the dead. He is the first of all those who will rise. Death came because of what a man did. Rising from the dead also comes because of what a man did. Because of Adam, all people die. So because of Christ, all will be made alive.”

If the cross stands at the center of Paul's theology, so does the Resurrection: unless the one died the death of all, the all would have little to celebrate in the resurrection of the one.[viii] Paul taught that, just as Christians share in Jesus' death in baptism, so they will share in his resurrection.[xi] for Jesus was designated the Son of God by his resurrection.[Rom 1:4] [xi]” [x]


In the above quotes from R. A. Torrey and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, I come to see that all believers share the same resurrection because Jesus has shared not only his death for everyone but also His resurrection. So the bottom line is, there can be no Christian faith leading to redemption, salvation and hope without the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Absolutely the death of Jesus Christ loses its meaning without the resurrection.


Where, When and How?

For example, the questions that often comes to the mind of a son or a daughter who had lost their dear father will be, “Where is Daddy now? Is he with Jesus? What is he doing now? Can he see us?” Out of the cries, tears and deep unexplainable sorrows of lose these questions well up in the heart of the loved ones. I personally believe that God has the answer for all these questions in his word which can soothe our heart and increase our hope and desire to go to heaven at the appointed time of God to meet all our loved ones.

Apostle Paul says, “… to be absent from the body and [is] to be present with the Lord” ( 2 Cor 5:8) and also he says “22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” (Phil 1:22-23). These preceding verses shows that the moment a believer dies he will go straight to heaven, which is the new Jerusalem where God lives and Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Eph 1:20; Heb 12:22-24). The loved ones who have died already will be with Jesus in their spirit-body until the day Christ takes them with Himself to resurrect them in their new glorious bodies on earth and then take them back to be with Him forever (1 Thess 4:14, 16). The dead in Christ will be worshipping God, enjoying the splendor of heaven and serving God until the time of their resurrection (Rev 6:9-11, 7:9-11, 15-17). Once a believer dies, he will perfectly be able to know from heaven what is happening to their loved ones on earth. Apostle Paul says that when we reach heaven we shall perfectly know our loved ones and the saints of all ages as much as we are know by the people already present in heaven. This perfect knowledge about earth and its dwellers is only exclusive to heaven dwellers, who will know all about us even to all the minute details from heaven, along with the struggles we have while we are on earth (1 Cor 13:12).


Conclusion

Every believer in Christ should look forward to be resurrected soon and meet with all their loved ones. The hope of resurrection should ring as the trumpet of triumph over death all through their days of their life on earth. Life must not be lived hopelessly when a believer loses his dear ones, instead should look forward to meeting them in heaven very soon; this should motivate them to live a holy life of faith and be with a continual attitude of praise toward God. The time of mourning for the death of a loved one may endure for a night, but God will surely bring joy in to the heart of a believer in the morning who chooses to believe and meditate in the hope giving word of God (Psalm 30:5b). Praise the Lord!






Footnotes:

i. Ironside, H. (n.d.). THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Retrieved 06 15, 2010, from www.cobblestoneroadministry.org: http://www.cobblestoneroadministry.org/2005_CRM/TheResurrection_QuotesbyChristianLeaders.html


ii. Torrey, R. A. What The Bible Teaches (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898-1993) p. 177

iii. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

iv. 1 Peter 1:3

v. Colossians 2:12

vi. Romans 6:4

vii. The creed: the apostolic faith in contemporary theology by Berard L. Marthaler 2007 ISBN 0896225372 page 361

viii. Theology of Paul the Apostle by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN page 235

ix. a b c d Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0

x. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, s.v. “Resurrection of Jesus,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_Jesus (accessed 24 December 2010)



Bibliography

Ironside, H. (n.d.). THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Retrieved 06 15, 2010, from www.cobblestoneroadministry.org: http://www.cobblestoneroadministry.org/2005_CRM/TheResurrection_QuotesbyChristianLeaders.html

R. A.Torrey. (1898-1993). In What The Bible Teaches (p. 177). Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Berard L. Marthaler. (2007). The creed: the apostolic faith in contemporary theology. ISBN 0896225372

James D. G. Dunn. (2003). Theology of Paul the Apostle. ISBN

Bart Ehrman. (2006.) Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA.  ISBN 0-19-530013-0

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, s.v. “Resurrection of Jesus,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_Jesus (accessed 24 December 2010)




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