Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Final Resurrection, Part I

One time I was hanging out with a minister-friend and the topic of the resurrection came up. I affirmed that I believed in the resurrection of all our bodies, not just Christ's body. He chuckled and told me "nobody believes that anymore." Yes, he does believe it too, but he meant that very few people in the church really understand what they are affirming each week in the Apostle's Creed when they say, "I the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." This is talking about you and me, not just Christ! Our bodies will be resurrected from the dead.

Our hope is to be raised from the dead to eternal life with Christ. He is the Head and we are His body. Calvin writes, "When, therefore, with our eyes fast fixed on Christ we wait upon heaven, and nothing on earth hinders them from bearing us to the promised blessedness, the statement is truly fulfilled 'that where our treasure is, our heart is' [Matt. 6:21]." When we are focused on Christ, doubt fades away. We know when we are His. "Accordingly, he alone has fully profited in the gospel who has accustomed himself to continual meditation upon the blessed resurrection."

Philosophers for many years have questioned what is the supreme good. "Yet none but Plato recognized man's highest good as union with God, and he could not even dimly sense its nature." We cannot be truly happy in this life until we know that we must cling to Him. We will be content with nothing else on this earth. "I said that they alone receive the fruit of Christ's benefits who raise their minds to the resurrection." This should be our focus because that is when we will be in constant communion with God. Paul referred to the final coming of Christ as "our redemption" or "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). Calvin writes about this, "Whatever hardships distress us, let this 'redemption' sustain us until its completion." The author of Hebrews writes, "so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation," (Hebrews 9:28, New King James Version). It is at this final coming of Christ that He will complete our salvation.

How important is it that we believe that we shall rise from the dead? Paul writes, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty," (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, New King James Version). Sounds pretty important to me. Calvin does admit that it seems incredible to think that we will all rise from the dead. "It is difficult to believe that bodies, when consumed with rottenness, will at length be raised up in their season. Therefore, although many of the philosophers declared souls immortal, few approved of the resurrection of the flesh." Calvin then tells us that there are two foundations for our hope in the resurrection: "one in the parallel of Christ's resurrection; the other in the omnipotence of God." Paul makes it clear, "For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen," (1 Corinthians 15:16, New King James Version). Using the head/body metaphor, Calvin writes, "there was begun in the Head what must be completed in all the members, according to the rank and station of each."

God is omnipotent. He has the power to do anything He wills. He created man out of dust and breathed life into him, so it should not be difficult for us to believe that He will bring us back from the dead. Calvin writes, "But let us remember that no one is truly persuaded of the coming resurrection unless he is seized with wonder, and ascribes to the power of God its due glory." Believing in the resurrection helps us to overcome adversity in the present world. In the words of Paul Harvey, "And now you know the rest of the story." Knowing the rest of the story, that we will rise again, does give us the confidence to face the trials of this world confident that they are temporary and better things are yet to come.

Tomorrow's reading: 3.25.5-3.25.9

1 comment:

  1. This is great reading for me It affirms to me more & more that I truly beleive this & feel assured as so often I feel alone surrounded by secular thinking, live to day for tomorrow we die & who cares about anything else, I whole heartily beleive God keeps his promises & as Christ Died for me he will truly come & get me, Thanks for this post it was encouraging,. Lynda Brasz


Presbyterian Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf