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A Reminder About Some of the Points in Lesson 7
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The word resurrection means ’rising up from the dead’. It is translated from the Greek word ’anastasis’ in the New Testament which means ’rising up’ or ’standing again’.
The resurrection of Jesus from the grave is an undeniable fact of history. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the whole purpose of God with the human race. The Christian faith is built round it, Christianity exists upon the basis of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. This was the driving force in the lives of the disciples in the 1st century A.D.
Main Topic Of The Apostles’ Teaching
When the apostles chose another to take the place of Judas, they chose one, Matthias, who they said must be ’a witness with us of his (Christ’s) resurrection’.
“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." (Acts 1.21-22)
The apostles were imprisoned because they taught about the resurrection: “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 4.1-2).
Paul was put on trial for the same reason: ’When Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council,
"My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." (Acts 23.6)
“...these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin-- unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: `It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ " (Acts 24.20-21)
The letters of the New Testament are full of teaching about the resurrection of Jesus and its importance for all of us. The apostle Paul emphasised this when he said: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith... if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15.14 & 17)
WHY DID GOD RAISE JESUS?
Earlier studies have shown the work of Jesus as a sacrifice for sin: Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 9.27)
Lesson 4 explained how Adam brought sin and death to mankind by his disobedience to God’s commands. In contrast, Jesus kept all God’s commandments and lived a perfect life. Study 6 dealt with this. The death of Jesus, however, could have no force at all as an effective sacrifice, if he had not been raised from the dead. Jesus, ’born of a woman, made under the law,’ came under the same condemnation of death that we have inherited from Adam. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,..” (Galatians 4.4)
He personally was free from sin, therefore death could not hold him, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.” (Romans 6.9)
God’s Love And Justice
The righteous principles of God could not allow such a man, who had perfectly kept His laws, to remain subject to the law of sin and death. The apostle Peter tells us, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2.24)
Study 3 showed how it was through the absolute justice of God as well as through His love for man that Jesus rose from the dead "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.16) God raised Jesus because he did not sin – 1 Peter 2:22
WAS RESURRECTION A NEW BELIEF IN THE FIRST CENTURY A.D?
We learn from the Bible that a rising again from the dead was the hope of the faithful in the ages before the time of Jesus. This is why Jesus said, Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." (John 8.56)
Peter quoted the words of David, King of Israel:
For David says concerning Him: “David said about him: " `I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;”...he, (David) Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” (Acts 2.25-26 & 31)
Compare this verse with Psalm 16: “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16.8-11)
David also said, “And I--in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” (Psalm 17.15)
The Resurrection - A Fulfilment Of God’s Promises
As Lesson 5 pointed out, Abraham and David expected to be raised from the dead to enjoy the promises of God. They were not alone in this hope. Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;”(Job 19.25-26)
“But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth.” (Isaiah 26.19)
Daniel was told:
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt”... "... You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” (Daniel 12.2 & 13)
The apostle Paul confirmed that this was the hope of those before Jesus:
“But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen-- that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."(Acts 26.22-23)
Christ The First To Rise To Everlasting Life
The Bible clearly shows that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to immortality. Paul wrote, “...our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1.10)
IS RESURRECTION THE ONLY HOPE OF IMMORTALITY?
The life and immortality that Jesus has brought to light is the hope of a rising up from the dead, to stand on the earth. Peter declared plainly that, “For David did not ascend to heaven..”(Acts 2.34). We have seen that this was not David’s hope. God had promised that he would see Christ sitting on His (David’s) throne in Jerusalem..
When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom.”
“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ " (2 Samuel 7.12, 16)
“...But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.” (Acts 2 30)
As Paul explained in his speech in Athens, referred to in Study 7, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was an assurance from God that Christ would rule the world in righteousness, at an appointed date in the future:
“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17.31).
Resurrection - The True Hope
Martha was a follower of Jesus. We can see clearly her hope of a future life. When her brother Lazarus died, Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."Jesus said to her, "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. Do you believe this?” (John 11.23-25)
WILL ALL BE RAISED?
The scriptures tell us that only the ‘responsible’ will be raised from the dead.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6.23).
Those who do not seek God or who have no desire to understand His purpose or serve Him, will not obtain the gift of God. The Bible plainly teaches:
“A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead..” (Proverbs 21.16)
“A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” (Psalm 49.20)
“They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise” (Isaiah 26.14)
Proper Understanding Necessary
In contrast to those statements, Jesus gives us hope by saying,
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17.3).
If we want to become related to God’s purpose we must have understanding. We must know the true God and possess a proper understanding of His Word. With this knowledge and a belief of the truth of these matters, we can take the next step of baptism into Christ, which will be dealt with fully in Study 11. Paul points out the importance of baptism to the true believer who wants to obtain resurrection:
“..don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6.3-5).
Christ The First To Rise - Others To Follow
Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to immortality. We read again, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15.20)
The first fruits are the first results of the harvest, a sign of many more good things to come. Paul uses this figure of the harvest to show the order of resurrection: But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15.23).
Second Coming Of Christ To Raise The Dead
The Second Coming of Christ is bound up with the resurrection in the last days. Paul wrote of, “..Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom,..” (2 Timothy 4.1).
Paul also wrote:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4.13-16).
Resurrection And Judgement
When Daniel was told that, ’many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake’, he was also told that, ’multitudes’ would ’awake’ to ’everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt’ . Those responsible will be raised with mortal/human nature and then be judged by Christ.
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12.2).
This speaks of the assembling together of the raised and those living at the return of Christ for judgement and of the possibility of rejection by Jesus. Jesus taught the same: "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.” (John 5.28-29).
All responsible people (those with knowledge of God’s Word/Law – whether they have been faithful or not) must appear at the judgement seat of Jesus Christ.
Those who trust in God, with a knowledge of His love and mercy, who have tried to please Him and follow the example of His beloved Son will, in the mercy of God, receive the gift of eternal life in that day.
Jesus speaks to all of us when he says, , “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;” (John 11.25). He was born of a woman meaning that he had the same mortal nature as we have.
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact.
- The resurrection of Jesus is the main teaching in the New Testament.
- Jesus was raised because of his perfect character. Therefore the righteousness and justice of God brought him out of the grave.
- The hope of resurrection has been the hope of all the faithful before and after the first advent of Jesus.
- Eternal life is not ours now, for there would be no need for God to promise it, or for it to be a matter for hope.
- Man has no natural immortality; if he had, Christ had no need to be a sacrifice to bring salvation to mankind.
- Resurrection after death is the only hope of obtaining immortality.
- Not all will be raised; those without understanding will remain in the grave.
- Understanding, belief and baptism are necessary to be related to Christ and resurrection.
- Christ was the first to rise to immortality; we can be like him if we follow his example.
- The resurrection and judgement will take place when Jesus returns to the earth.
Relevant Passages For Bible Reading:
1 Corinthians 15