The importance of the resurrection
Most people believe that the hope of Christianity is to find a place in heaven rather than in hell but when we examine the Bible and look at what death really is, we find that upon death, a man becomes unconscious and there is no such thing as an immortal soul:
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun”. Eccleasiasties 9:5-9
“His (Mans) breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish”. Psalm 148:4
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” Ezekiel 18:20
From the above references we can see that man does not have an immortal soul and that the dead are unconscious. More on this on the page “Death, what is it?“.
So what is the true hope of Christianity then? Well the Bible teaches that it is because of our sin that we die, and that our nature, which we inherit from Adam is inclined to sin:
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”. James 1:14
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”: Romans 5:12
Death therefore, is a punishment which all mankind suffers because they are all in this sinful state. The importance of the resurrection is that, once understood, it can help to put the Bible into perspective, expose the area which main stream Christianity have moved away from and show forth the real hope of Christianity, that of a resurrection, judgment and then being given the gift of immortality.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ confirmed that he did not sin and that the grave could not hold him. It proves that he defeated his human nature and declares God’s righteousness in that he was raised from the dead. We too can be associated with his death and resurrection and gain, in God’s mercy, immortal life.
The example of Lazarus
There are a couple of examples of resurrection miracles recorded in the Bible and they are all worthy of note, however we hope to examine the miricle of Lazarus’ resurrection recorded in John 11.
In John 11 Jesus hears that his friend, Lazarus, was sick. He knew that Lazerous would die by the hand of this illness (verse 4). Jesus and the disciples then take the journey to visit Lazarus, eventually finding, as expected, that he had died four days (verses 17 and 39) prior to their arrival.
A miracle is then performed in which Lazarus is raised from the dead and comes out of his tomb, still with the grave cloths wrapped around him. The interesting thing is what Lazarus’ sister, Martha says to Jesus before this miracle is performed:
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him (Jesus), I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”. John 11:24
This shows that Martha expected their to be a future resurrection of Lazarus – she did not believe that his immortal soul was in heaven at that moment in time. In fact, wouldn’t it be cruel of Jesus to raise people from the dead if their souls had already gone to heaven 4 days previously? The Bible then is clear – a future resurrection is coming.
A clear Bible teaching
The resurrection is a theme which runs throughout the Bible. Consider these verses:
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself”. Philippians 3:20-21
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead”. Isaiah 26:19
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“And at that time shall Michael (Jesus) stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3
“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (the grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One (Jesus Christ) to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”. Psalm 16:7-11
“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just“. Luke 14:12-14
“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:34-36
The above verses show that both David and Jesus Christ anticipated a resurrection.
God’s promises demand bodily resurrection
God’s promise to Abraham
God promised Abraham the he and his seed (descendants) would inherit the land of Israel forever (see Genesis 13:14-17). For this to be accomplished Abraham and his seed would need to be immortal.
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God’s promise to David
God promised king David that his descendant (seed) would be the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and that this descendant would sit upon his throne and rule over his Kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:13-16). It is specifically promised that this would be done “before” David, e.g. in front of him (2 Samuel 7:26).
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The above two promises form the basis of the gospel message (Galatians 3:8) and therefore this hope of the resurrection becomes a key belief if one is to accept the Biblical gospel. The Bible teaches these promises are yet to be fulfilled. Consider this from the writings of the apostle Paul:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise… And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect”. Hebrews 11:8-40
The resurrection of Jesus Christ
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ’s early believers did not anticipate his death by the hand of the Jews and Roman authorities (see Luke 24:21). In fact, when it happened the Bible teaches that they went into hiding for fear and could not understand what had happened until they saw their risen Lord (Acts 1:3, 10:40-41, 1 Corinthians 15:4-8).
Why did Jesus die and then rise from the dead? The Bible teaches that Jesus came in our nature and therefore he had to die. Jesus was a descendant of Adam through Mary his mother and this is what is recorded of Adam’s descendants:
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22
From this we can clearly see that all Adam’s descendants had to die because of sin. His sin prone nature was passed on from descendant to descendant and we have all got the propensity to sin naturally inherent within us. We therefore all die, regardless of our personal righteousness before God (see Rom. 5:14-19 & 6:23).
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Romans 5:12
Christ, of course, did not sin but because of the nature which he bore he had to die (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ therefore was the only human ever to live who did not deserve to die. He had done nothing worthy of death and although tempted in all areas by his nature had completely resisted sin. Because God is a righteous God Jesus was therefore raised from the dead.
“For we have not an high priest (Jesus Christ) which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:5
“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:24
This very act of Christ’s resurrection proved that Jesus was the son of God. He was the seed which was promised in Eden, and to Abraham, Isaac and David in the Old Testament and because of his death all the promises of old could be fulfilled.
“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” Romans 1:4
When Jesus was resurrected he was rewarded with immortality and his sin cursed nature of Adam was removed (unlike Lazarus who still had this and therefore lived and died again after his resurrection).
“Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” Romans 6:9-10
“I (Jesus Christ) am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelation 1:18
What does this mean to us today?
Christ did not simply die only because he was of our human nature. The Bible also teaches that Jesus willingly gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus knew that through his death he would enable a way for eventual salvation from sin and death for all those who followed him (Eph. 5:2, Gal. 2:20)
“…for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;” 1 Corinthians 15:3
“…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“…walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Ephesians 5:2
Because Christ did not sin he overcame the result of sin cursed nature – death. We have the opportunity to be raised and to be made immortal like he has been if we associate ourselves with him and the promises of the gospel in baptism:
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-23
“Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” 2 Corinthians 4:14
“And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.” 1 Corinthians 6:14
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25
Because we sin we are worthy of death but because of Christ’s sacrifice we have a chance of being given (as a gift, not a right) eternal life:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For our conversation (way of life) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philippians 3:2-21
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:39-40
Baptism and resurrection
“…he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15-16
Belief in the gospel and baptism are neccecary for salvation. Why is this?
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life… Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:3-11
This verse shows that by the act of baptism we are declaring and associating ourselves with Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and our faith in him. This enables us to be “in” Christ and to be accounted righteous because of our faith.
The decision is yours
“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” Acts 17:32
So dear reader, will you mock or will you listen and study God’s word on this matter? This is a serious issue and should not be a matter we take lightly because:
“…but now (God) commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
To find out more about the hope of the Bible read the article: “Eternal Life – What the Bible really says”»