April 6, 1958.
On this date, with special commemoration, the children of God will observe a most significant phase of the perfect work of Him, “Who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Rom. 4:17)
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (I Cor. 15:20)
Concerning this work of God, Chrysostorn, one of the early church fathers, used the following illustration:
“When we pluck down a house, with intent to rebuild it, or repair the ruins of it, we warn the inhabitants out of it, lest they should be soiled with the dust and rubbish, or offended with the noise, and so, for a time, provide some other place for them but, when we have newly trimmed and dressed up the house, then we bring them back to a better habitation. Thus God, when He overturneth this rotten room of our flesh, calleth out the soul for a little time, and lodgeth it with Himself in some corner of His Kingdom, repaireth the imperfections of our bodies against the resurrection, and then, having made them beautiful, yea, glorious and incorruptible, He doth put our souls back again into their acquainted mansions.”
Resurrection is transformation!
It is the crowning glory of the revelation of the God of our salvation. To it belongs the essence of the things which “eye bath not seen, ear hath not heard and which never have arisen in the heart of man but which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
On it rests the hope of faith!
“If there he no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, yea, and we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ; Whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (I Cor. 15:13-15)
No wonder then that this bulwark of the truth has always been the object of attack and ridicule by unbelief and no wonder either, that many errorists make much capital of the doctrine of the resurrection. Almost before the tidings of joy could he known and heralded by the ambassadors of the risen Christ, the enemies had fashioned the lying story that the disciples had stolen the dead corpse from the tomb while the guardsmen were asleep. And ever since, errors with regard to this most fundamental truth have multiplied beyond number.
What then is the simple truth concerning the resurrection of the dead?
Let us tell it briefly as related in our Confessions. First, there is the fact itself. Christ is not here, but He is risen even as He said. Need it be proved? Need it be scientifically demonstrated? Need every inquiry of curious rationalists be satisfied ere this fact can he intelligently accepted? Nay, for faith embraces it as the revelation of the wonder of God. That is sufficient!
What does it mean? Lord’s Day 17 of the Catechism expresses the heart of the matter by pointing to three comforting realities. Bold face in the following quotations are ours:
“First, by His resurrection Christ has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death; and secondly, we are also by His power raised up to a new life ; and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.”
For which reason in question and answer 57 of the same catechism there can be added this confession:
“What comfort doth the resurrection of the body afford thee?
“That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.”
From this it is evident that resurrection is salvation!
And what is more evident still is that It is all of Christ, by Christ, through Christ and His glorious power. Just read and study those Lord’s Days once again!
All of Christ, nothing of self!
That truth we celebrate on Easter!
Such is the comfort of the truth of the resurrection!
The errors that advance ridiculous stories about the resurrection that are contradicted by all the signs and evidences are not the most serious deterrent to the faith of the church. Such fables do not detract from or undermine the comfort of the children of God.
Far more serious are those countless forms of error that on the one hand affirm the reality of the resurrection but at the same time imply a denial of its power and glory. It is the error of the truth concerning salvation as related to the resurrection truth that misleads and causes many to stumble. For example let’s ask:
Must this glorious power be accepted by man to be effectual?
Does God in His grace offer to all men without distinction the use of this power if he so wills it?
Is it the intention of God to raise all men unto glory in Christ or is there also a resurrection unto damnation determined by the Most High?
In these questions the references to the power of the resurrection may be substituted by the idea of salvation! Then the error is easily detected and overagainst these we confidently and boldly confess:
“I believe… the third day He rose again… the resurrection of the body… the life everlasting.”
All through the power of sovereign, unconditional grace!
Thanks be to God Who always maketh us to triumph through our Lord Jesus Christ to Whom be glory and dominion forever!
Originally published in:
Vol. 18 No. 3 April 1958