JohnSWilson3 Blog

“My hope in the resurrection.”
March 25, 2010, 3:40 am
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

Paul seemed to have this singular thought throughout his life culminating in his defense before Jewish Sanhedrin, the Jewish king, and the Roman governors claiming that “I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6).

I returned a few days ago from a memorial service for my uncle who passed away last month. It was a surreal time being with my dad and relatives remembering times past and present. It seemed when I got back that time had stood still for a couple of days while I was away. Then when I returned life began again. Is it possible that during such times God gives us a sense of eternity, life without time?

While away on this trip this thought by Paul comes to mind. I have been studying the Acts and most of Paul’s letters since last fall, looking at them through the lens of organic church life, life together with other believers that has as its singular focus Jesus as Head, versus programs, systems, or other people. So my perspective of this “hope” that Paul claims has somewhat been colored more with the look at the big picture of God’s purpose, His eternal purpose as T. Austin Sparks, Frank Viola, and Milt Rodriguez would point out. I think it has been colored with some beautiful images and perhaps a rainbow even comes to mind. Isn’t that what God intended for the rainbow to mean? Hope!

When a person “passes away,” when the human body dies, there seems to be finality, an ending that does not return. The natural life ends and we can never perceive life in its natural form again. It seems life then is without hope; hopelessness brings much grieving of the heart. But Paul claimed that if a person, who has by faith confessed Jesus as Lord, if that person dies, his human form dies, that part of the person, the true self, our spirit, immediately goes to be with the Lord. We infer this from Paul when he says, “We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7-8) and other similar passages. Paul had confidence and hope of being with the Lord Jesus if he died. But he also claimed, like the rest of Scripture, that in the future there will be a “resurrection of the dead” and “the body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44a). Why is there a resurrection for human beings?

God had a purpose for man from the very beginning, even before creation! His purpose, as eloquently described in Ephesians and Colossians, involved His Son, Jesus Christ. That purpose was spoiled and as a result the need for resurrection. Let’s see what the Bible says happened.

So at creation:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground…” (Genesis 1:26-28).

God’s purpose was to have a relationship with humankind, both man and woman. This was meant to be a wonderful mutually loving spiritual fellowship that focused on God as Head. God as Creator is worthy to be praised! But man decided to make himself head, he decided to take control, and make his own individual decisions instead of those of the Lord. How many times have we done the same? There were immediate consequences.

First was their personal relationship to God. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ ” (Genesis 3:8-9). Man became lost, or should we say they lost God. God knew where they were hiding, He wanted them to seek Him instead of running away from Him.

Second, God judges the woman and the man and these same curses run through the blood of every man and woman to this day.

“To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’
“To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Throughout the rest of the Bible we can see the devastating affects of sin on humanity. Man had lost his spiritual life, life meant for relationship with God. A dead spirit, brings only death. Not a pretty picture. Time and again God sought for a people to make Him a home, a place of rest, to enjoy again that wonderful mutually loving spiritual fellowship that was first begun in the garden at the beginning of creation. But God knew that He would have to settle the matter at a specific point in time, a time of His choosing to bring in a new creation out of the old chaotic creation that humankind spoiled.

God wants us to know Him! But this knowing Him can only come from a new birth, a new creation. Because our spiritual lives died in the beginning, unless God comes in and gives us spiritual life we cannot know Him, Him who is Spirit. From before creation God has always enjoyed mutual fellowship within Himself, the Godhead. This is the point Paul makes in Ephesians and Colossians and many other passages in the Bible. But God desired to express that mutual love to another, to humanity, like a husband and a bride, God desired a Bride (read “The Divine Romance” by Gene Edwards). But mutual love that is spiritual can only come from a life giving spirit, the Lord Himself. This is the reason why God Himself came to this earth, in His Son, to bring in a new creation, one that is spiritual, that can be His Bride! That Bride, in order to fully know God must be a spiritual Bride, a Bride whose human nature must die and to fully live in His presence must be resurrected.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
“John testifies concerning him, He cries out, saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ‘ From the fulness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”

We can know God through Jesus Christ. Jesus makes God knowable! God wants us to know Him, but it requires a new birth, a spiritual birth, a new creation! This is what Jesus taught time and again. Do you want to know God then you must know Jesus Christ. By knowing Jesus Christ as Lord you know God Himself, because Jesus is very God. Jesus and the Father are one! He wants to have a mutually loving spiritual fellowship with you and I together!

Jesus came to show us the way to God but the gospels spell out the fact that Jesus died on a cross, in fact He had to die on the cross in order to end the curse, the problem of sin that we have always had since Adam. And when Jesus took man’s sin and man’s punishment for sin on that cross, He died. And not only did Jesus do away with sin and it’s curse, He did away with death by raising from the dead! That’s the good news! That’s why Paul can say he had “hope in the resurrection”!

Paul reminded the brothers and sisters, the church in Corinth, of this good news:

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-9).

Jesus rose again! Because Jesus rose again we have hope in the resurrection! Those who are without a living spirit, without Jesus Christ, know they are missing something, in fact the natural world around us reveals that it lacks something. Can we find solace that God has not left us to alone, that He can be known? We who are the Lord’s, who belong to and know Jesus as Lord inwardly groan for that day we can know Him face to face.

Paul describes it saying:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:22-25).

Only those who know Jesus Christ have this hope. In fact our hope is none other than Jesus Christ Himself who said “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?”

Hope in the resurrection is believing the good news that Paul and others in the Bible have proclaimed! Jesus is our hope, our resurrection, our good news! Jesus in fact becomes our very life! How we need to know Jesus! As Paul tells the Roman Christians:

” ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ”

Make Jesus Lord, give Him first place, make Him head. Only then can you receive His free gift, Himself! He is our hope and resurrection!

He desires to have a mutually loving spiritual fellowship with you and His Bride together. This hope is not meant to be just a future hope, it is a hope that can be a present reality with His Body, the church! Jesus inhabits His people, He dwells within every believer, and we can never truly know Him apart from knowing one another in a mutually loving spiritual fellowship. We gather together, to encourage one another, because of Jesus, because of hope!

Paul’s words he wrote to the body of Christ in Thessalonica speak of this hope both now and in the future:

“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 of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Let us enjoy the hope of the resurrection, the Lord Himself, now with His people! Paul wrote strongly and joyfully to the church in Philippi of getting to know Christ who lives in us more abundantly. He, perhaps even shouting, said these words:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:10-12).

In the end, all creation will make Jesus Lord whether you have done so now or not. The Bible is pretty clear about the consequences of those who decide not to make Jesus Lord, but it is even more clear about the present realities and future hope for those who are the Lord’s! Make Jesus Lord, make Him your hope!

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Be a part of God’s eternal purpose of bringing you to Himself, Jesus who is our hope and resurrection! Enjoy Him who can be known!


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Excellent work on this article. It makes for an interesting and Thoughtful read.

Comment by Gardener

Gardener thanks for the encouraging words!

Comment by John Wilson

I just like the approach you took with this subject. It is not typical that you just discover something so concise and enlightening.

Comment by Gicci

Thanks Gicci. Praise God for whom we receive understanding!

Comment by John Wilson

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