- The Necessity of the Resurrection – Let’s first look at the necessity of the Resurrection. God used man to introduce two gigantic biblical themes into this world – death and life (or the resurrection from the dead). In what way was man responsible for catapulting this world into death? It was the fall into sin by Adam and Eve that resulted in death. The “death” that God is talking about in this verse is far worse than physical death. He is speaking about the second death, which is eternal spiritual death [death of soul and body] in Hell, as described in Rev 21:8. The enormous problem of sin, and its infinitely painful consequences of paying for one’s sins in eternal Hell are, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest dilemma that anyone can face. The reason this problem is so overwhelming is that man is incapable of finding the solution on his own, although many people spend their lives vainly attempting to satisfy a Holy God by their own “works”, or religious efforts. Since the first man’s sin resulted in death for the whole human race, which Man was therefore responsible for the resurrection from the dead? Again, we learn from the Bible that it was the Second Man (or the “Last Adam”), who brought about Life. The “second man” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the eternal God as 1 Cor 15:47 affirms. Furthermore, Rom 1:4 emphasizes the supreme importance of the resurrection from the dead: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”. Not only the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, proves that Lord Jesus is successful and victorious in the Atonement and God’s righteous judgment was satisfied or propitiated by His sacrifice, but it also guarantees that all true Christians will be eternally saved.
Rom 5:12, 14, 19 “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure [figure of Christ] of him that was to come. 19For as by one man’s [First Adam] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Second Adam Christ] shall many be made righteous.”
1 Cor 15:21, 47 “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead, 47The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
- If Christ be Not Raised, Your Faith is Vain – This is the summation of being a Christian and if Christ be NOT risen: If there is no reality, if there is no power behind what we read in the Bible about the resurrection of Christ, if these things are like so many things in the world, so many religions, so many professing Christian gospels that are out there that are NOT true to the Bible, if the true Gospel of the Bible is like all of that, then it is worthless. Hebrews 11, the so-called “faith chapter” of the Bible, is a superb example of the faith that true believers have in God’s many promises in the Bible to raise them from the dead unto eternal life : “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb 11:13). The passage Heb 11:17–19 is referring to the account in Genesis 22 of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, his “only begotten”. This account is a historical account pointing to God’s faithful sacrifice of His “Only Begotten”, the Lord Jesus Christ. God stopped Abraham from killing his son in actuality at the last second; but why would Abraham do such a terrible thing? Well, we read the reason in Heb 11:19, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead”. This New Testament verse explains that Abraham was confident that God would raise his son from the dead in order to keep His promise to “establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” as we read in Gen 17:19. Then Heb 11:19 says, “… from whence also he [or God] received him [that is, Isaac] in a figure [parabole:G3850]”. In other words,God set up this test to be an historical parable that Moses would write about in the book of Genesis over 600 years later. Spiritually, it points to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would come as the Lamb of God over 2,000 years later as a fulfillment of Abraham’s statement in Gen 22:8, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”. Obviously, God knew in advance that Abraham would not fail the test. Abraham could not possibly have known God’s ultimate purpose at the time; but he obeyed God’s command solely “by faith” as we read in Heb 11:17, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried [or tested], offered up Isaac …”. It demonstrates God’s unique power to raise His people from spiritual death to spiritual life, even as Abraham was given the faith of Christ to believe that God could do that which was humanly impossible. Hebrews 11, which mentions numerous believers in the Old Testament who lived by the faith of the Son of God as they underwent many trials and hardships during their earthly sojourn. If Christ be NOT risen, then there is no salvation possible and absolutely no hope of eternal life for them and us — and we Christians would be most miserable of all men, because we are even depriving ourselves of the things of this world. Even though those who do not have the Gospel have a vain life and existence, at least they do have the pleasure of sin. Heb 11:24–26, where God figuratively associates Egypt with sin, helps us to see how Moses chose “the reproach of Christ” over the pleasures of the world.
Heb 11:17–19 “By faith Abraham, when he was tried [or tested], offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
Heb 11:32–34, 37 “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder , were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;”
Heb 11:24–26 “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward [eternal life].”
1 Cor 15:13–17 “But if there be 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. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
- It was NOT possible that Lord Jesus should be Holden of Death – The “resurrection of the dead” is an extremely important topic. When the Apostle Paul is giving his testimony, or actually defending himself before King Agrippa, he speaks of Jesus rising from the dead as we read in Acts 26:23-24: “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles”, it was such an incredible fact for Festus to comprehend: “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad”. The Athenians were the same way, so we read in Acts 17:32: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed”. Yes, Christ took upon Him the sins of His people and experienced God’s Wrath — Hell for His people on the cross. Many would like to believe that this is where the story ends. Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate and begged His body, and he had a sepulcher nearby hewed in a rock. So we read about Joseph and Nicodemus and probably others also who had to roll away a stone, and the Bible tells us that it was a great stone. In Matt 27:63, the chief priests and Pharisees are saying: “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again”. Continuing in Matt 27:64–66, We see the desperation of the enemies of God who were doing everything that that they could, humanly speaking, make sure that Jesus stayed dead, the body of Jesus stays in the tomb, that it stays in the sepulcher. They could have had all the power of their army with their chariots and their horses, and it would not have made any difference at all. It would not have made the slightest difference, because the penalty had been paid in full and death could no longer hold the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that the truth is that Jesus did rise and this is what the Gospel centers on. We find this declaration in Acts 13:30 that “it was not possible that he [Lord Jesus] should be holden of it [death]” and “God raised Him from the dead”. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. This is the key ingredient of the whole Gospel. Indeed, the Resurrection guarantees that all true Christians will be eternally saved, as we see in Rom 9:33. On the other hand, those who do not have a Savior will be “ashamed” – that is, eternally damned, as we find in 1 Pet 2:8. Jesus is indeed the LORD from Heaven, the Creator and the only Savior.
Matt 27:64–66 “Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch”
Heb 2:9 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death [second death] for every man [every one of His Elect].”
Acts 2:23–24 “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it [death].
- Jesus the Author and Finisher of Faith – “Faith” is synonymous with the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is called “Faithful” in Rev 19:11. What was the “work of faith”, or rather, “the work of Christ” that He so faithfully performed? Isa 53:11 reveals: “He [referring to the Father] shall see of the travail [or work] of his [Christ’s] soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities”. The “travail”, or “work”, that Christ had to endure was eternal damnation, which the Bible calls the “second death”. In John 4:34 we also find this statement, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat [food] is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work”. His perfect work was completed while on the Cross he uttered the words of John 19:30, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost”. Yes, what had been “finished” or accomplished on the cross was the Atonement for the sins of God’s elect – a crucial element of their salvation. Lord Jesus was able to endure the Cross, with the faith in God the Father and in the promise to Him by His Father that His soul would not be left in Hell and that His body would not be subject to “corruption”, or decay (Acts 13:33–37). Heb 12:2 declares, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of (our: added by translators) faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”. God is only pleased with His work, He is pleased with His salvation program that is centered around the faith OF the Lord Jesus Christ, as Gal 2:16 and 20 insist: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified … I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and 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”. The way that Christ “loved” the believers and “gave himself” for them is outlined in Isa 53:11, as we have seen above. Eph 2:8–9 declares, “For by grace are ye saved through faith [the faith of Christ]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”. After salvation we are given “faith” along with the other eight fruit (or “products”) of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, according to Gal:22–23.
Rev 19:11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”
Acts 2:25–27 (quoting Psa 16:10) “For David speaketh concerning him [Christ], I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou [God the Father] wilt not leave my [God the Son] soul in Hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
Acts 13:33–37 “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he [Christ], whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
- The Hope of the Resurrection for the Christian – The Bible’s answer to the very important question, “What is faith?” is given in Heb 11:1, “Now faith is the substance [hupostasis:G5287] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Who or what is the Christian’s “confidence” and the “substance of things hoped for”? What is it that a child of God hopes for? We read in Rom 8:24–25, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it”. We learn that one is “saved by hope”, but it is not something we can see physically. As the verse teaches; if we see something physically, there is really no need for hope. 2 Cor 5:7 similarly states, “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. 1 Cor 15:19 stresses the importance of a “living hope” for each believer who anticipates resurrection and spending eternity – not just a few years on this earth – with the object, or substance, of his hope – the Lord Jesus Christ: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable”. 1 Pet 1:3 speaks about being “begotten again” (or “born again”) to such a glorious hope: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively [or living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. In other words, faith is a person, and a person has “substance”. Thus, the faith related to eternal salvation is the Lord Jesus Christ! the “evidence of things not seen” is a reference to the Written Word of God and also to the Incarnate Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the “Word made flesh”, as we read in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. This point bears repeating: Faith is the Word of God – the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why Rom 10:17 announces, “So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. 2 Cor 4:18 also mentions the difference between “things not seen” and the “things which are seen”: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal”. If we are a true Christian, things that are eternal in character should grip our minds and hearts and motivate us to greater obedience, as Col 3:1–2 asserts: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth [temporal things]”.
Isa 25:8 “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. 9And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Heb 1:1–3 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (substance hupostasis:G5287), and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
1 Pet 1:18–21 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
Col 2:11–12 “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.