Chapter 1 – Resurrected
God raised His son Jesus from the dead. The Bible insists this is an historical fact, not merely a teaching. This action vindicated all that Jesus had been teaching and doing for the past 3½ years. This man was not only alive again after being buried in a tomb for three days, but was transformed from human to divine nature. This reality became a matter of “first importance” when preaching the gospel (1Cor 15: 3). The fact of Jesus’ resurrection by God is the critical, core teaching of the Gospel, and the cornerstone of Bible Christianity.
Understanding the truth about the resurrected Jesus will compel you to discard misconceptions and share the true Bible teaching with others.
This claim is supported by the following Scripture evidence.
Each of these eight Bible references is discussed in terms of relevant teaching Points followed by So What implications, with respect to Jesus and then to his disciples.
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#1 – 1Corinthians 15:20 – in fact Christ has been raised
The context of this verse is the apostle Paul’s logical argument as to what would be true if there was no resurrection. Here’s what he wrote:
12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
- “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” is a clear, simple statement. It is not mysterious or ambiguous. It is not an assertion but a conclusion based on the evidence provided. It declares the cornerstone doctrine of Bible Christianity.
- Paul’s logic is precise and conclusive. Two implications are discussed. If Jesus was not raised, then dead believers are perished and living believers have a vain hope.
- But based on the fact of Christ’s resurrection to eternal life – he being the first man to enter into this glorious state – both dead and living believers have the assurance that they will be made alive as Jesus is alive.
- “Resurrection” is the English translation of the Greek word anastasis which is defined to be “a standing or rising up”. As used in the New Testament, it means being made alive again after being dead.
- To be ‘asleep’ is the Scripture way of describing the unconscious, dreamless state of dead, faithful believers. They remain in their tombs until Christ calls them from the ground or wherever their grave may be (cf. Jn 5:25-29, Rev 20:13).
- The eternal life given to Jesus entailed a body that cannot die and cannot sin (cf. 1Cor 15:53). Sent by a loving God, he has undone the problem of sin and death introduced by Adam’s transgression, and put into effect for all mankind. This Scripture teaching is unique in world religion and philosophy. As such, it is at odds with teachings such as “man has an immortal soul” and “there is no such thing as sin”.
- In the Bible text, there is no phrase such as “immortal soul”. Scripture says nothing about a person who ‘dies’ but actually goes on living as a reincarnated being. Any religion that teaches inherent human immortality is in conflict with basic Bible teaching.
- God gave Jesus the job and privilege of judging “the living and the dead”. This implies that Jesus needs to raise those dead people. But being made alive again is just the first step. The person still has to be judged, i.e. pronounced worthy of being given immortality, or declared unacceptable and cast out to die a second time (cf. Dan 12:2, Mt 25:46, Rev 20:4-6,11-15, 1Cor 15:53). No reward or punishment is given to people at their death; that outcome depends on the verdict of Jesus the judge when he returns.
- Sins are not forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross. Paul makes clear that if Christ is not raised, you are still in your sins. The majority of Christian denominations teach that Jesus’ death on the cross forgave sins. This is in direct contradiction with this Bible passage.
- Not every person who dies will be resurrected by Jesus. Many people will have perished, i.e., be lost and gone forever. They will die in their sins, with no hope to be made alive again, since they never believed or trusted in Jesus (cf. Jn 8:24, Eph 2:12, 1Thes 4:13). This is a terrible end for a human being. That’s why a loving God made this ‘shocking news’ part of Jesus’ teaching, because He wants to save people from their sins and perdition (John 3:16). But the person must first understand and confess their plight as a sinner (Mt 9:10-13, Jn 9:39-41).
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#2 – Acts 2:24 – impossible for Death to hold him
The context of this verse is Peter’s speech to the crowd of devout men and women on the day of Pentecost, as he argues from Old Testament Scripture on the logical necessity for Jesus to have been raised from the dead by God.
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
- The language is clear and definitive.
- God raised the dead Jesus. Jesus did not raise himself, because dead people have no existence.
- Jesus had to be raised because of the promise God made to David, cited in vv. 25-28 from Psalm 16:8-11. This necessity is also explicitly stated by Paul: “And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he spoke in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David’”(Acts 13:34).
- The death of Jesus was not the result of chance or a series of unfortunate events, but rather part of God’s foreknowledge and plan.
- God and Jesus are clearly distinct beings. God is immortal, and cannot die (cf. 1Tim 6:16). Jesus died, i.e., he was mortal. That is why the divine being God had to bring the human dead-man Jesus back to life. Jesus could not and thus did not bring himself back to life! This plain Bible teaching is one of many that illustrate how the doctrine of a triune God [of which God and Jesus are asserted to be two of the three co-eternal divine beings] is contradicted by the Bible.
- Jesus was vindicated as being right and true by a resurrection that only God could do. He and his teaching were unmistakably demonstrated to have the divine stamp-of-approval. Thus Jesus is definitely a man to pay attention to. If you have not yet done so, make it a priority to investigate what Jesus said and did.
- Jesus was not a victim of murderous men, but the sacrifice of a loving Father. The death of Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (Acts 3:17-26, 4:8-11, 23-28) and brought God’s offer of salvation through Jesus.
- Acts 2:30-32 is part of Peter’s interpretation and expansion of the Psalm 16 quote. He states that king David was a prophet who predicted “the resurrection of Jesus”, and knew for certain that God would set “his descendant upon his throne”. That was why Jesus could not remain in the grave. He had to be raised and “exalted at the right hand of God”. This amazing teaching, argued Peter, was understood and prophesied by David nearly 1000 years before Jesus was born! Read the full Acts 2:25-36 passage for yourself.
- The salvation by God through Jesus the Christ was accomplished by a 3 step process: suffering, death, and resurrection. All three are critical parts. Jesus was made “perfect through suffering” (Heb 2:10), died on a cross to emulate the dead, brazen serpent made by Moses (Jn 3:14), and was raised to eternal life by God to demonstrate Christ’s power over Death and the grave (Rev 1:18).
There was no point to Jesus’ suffering unless the resurrection glory was accomplished. Salvation is not found in a crucified, dead Jesus, but in a risen, living Lord. Thus the assertion that ‘everything in the gospel of salvation was accomplished at the cross of Jesus’, falls short of the full, true Bible teaching.
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#3 – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – first importance teaching
This set of verses opens the great chapter on resurrection, as penned by the apostle Paul:
1 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,
- “first importance” is self explanatory.
- “in which you stand, by which you are saved” underscores the importance.
- “if you hold it fast” indicates the possibility of letting it go and thereby losing the benefits promised
- Belief would be in vain if it turned out that Jesus was not raised from the dead.
- Thus the ‘fact’ of Jesus’ resurrection is absolutely foundational, a core teaching of Bible Christianity, a ‘first principle’ of the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ.
- “in accordance with the scriptures” is a vital part of the argument; if it were not for the testimony of Scripture, the teaching would be merely human assertion.
On this single, critical point regarding a resurrected Jesus, there can be no compromise. Accepting it as truth compels a disciple of Jesus to be in disagreement with world religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Communism or Humanism, since none of them accept the resurrection of Jesus.
- He had to die “in accordance with the scriptures” = it was part of Old Testament prophecy, which God had written in advance to describe what His Son would do in obedience to the divine plan of salvation.
- He had to be buried and put in a rich man’s tomb, in fulfillment of prophecy (cf. Is 53:9, Mt 27:57-60).
- Then after being dead in the grave for “three days”, Jesus had to be resurrected, again “in accordance with the scriptures” (e.g., Ps 16:8-11, Acts 2:24-28). These vital truths are part of the widely-accepted Apostles’ Creed. However, Evangelical teaching has moved away from this correct emphasis.
Those who treat baptism as an option not only miss this clear connection with the life and death of Jesus, but they are in serious danger of disobeying the plain teaching of Jesus in John 3:3-5.
|“The Son of God”||‘God the Son’|
|is a Bible phrase||is not a Bible phrase|
|the phrases are not equivalent|
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#4 – Acts 13:33 – fulfilled promises to the fathers
The context of this verse is very instructive, since it illustrates how the apostle Paul, in speaking to the synagogue Jews in Antioch, argues in a way similar to Peter speaking to the devout Jews in Jerusalem:
26 “Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets which are read every sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning him. 28 Though they could charge him with nothing deserving death, yet they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead; 31 and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee.’ 34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he spoke in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘Thou wilt not let thy Holy One see corruption.’ 36 For David, after he had served the counsel of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but he whom God raised up saw no corruption.
- The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had Jesus condemned and killed; yet instead of eliminating him as a threat, they were actually fulfilling the predictions of the prophets; an innocent, sinless man died, but God raised him from the dead.
- This was “good news” for the Jewish nation, since the resurrection of Jesus not only vindicated his teaching, but was an event that would bring about the fulfillment of God’s promises to “the fathers”, namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- The resurrection of Jesus by God also fulfilled a prophecy found in Psalm 2:7, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”. This is not referring to the conception of Jesus, but his new life in a resurrected, spiritual body foreshadowed at his baptism (Mt 3:16) and fulfilled at his resurrection
- The prophecy of Psalm 16:10 was also fulfilled, in that Jesus’ body experienced no decay or ‘corruption’ since it was only “3 days” in the tomb.
- The resurrection is first asserted to be a ‘fact’, and then clear, irrefutable Scripture evidence is presented to establish it as fact.
- v. 34 directly connects the need for the resurrection of Jesus with God’s promise to king David.
- Using comparable reasoning as Peter did in Acts 2, Paul makes the same case for the resurrection of Jesus. And in making an argument from OT Scripture, both Peter and Paul imitate Jesus, who cited the Psalms, law and prophets as proof of his resurrection, even after he was standing alive again in front of the apostles (cf. Lk 24:44-46). The testimony of Scripture was to be the primary means of convincing people and creating faith in him.
Preaching the gospel today should use the same method as in the first century. The most effective way to preach is to use the information of authoritative Scripture to call men and women to repentance, belief, and baptism into Jesus Christ, the living Lord. And then make sure that the full gospel is preached, i.e., talks about “the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12).
- The promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are recorded in Genesis 12:7, 13:14-17, 15:13-16, 17:1-8, 18:32, 21:12-13, 22:15-18, 26:2-5, 24, 28:13-15, 31:3,11-13, 32:9-11, 28, 35:9-12, 46:2-4, & 48:3-4. Key details include:
- the land of Canaan being given as an everlasting possession,
- a multitude of descendants,
- one special offspring who would bring blessing to all nations and
- the personal relationship that God would have with each one of them.
- The importance of this amazing individual relationship with God is illustrated when God tells Moses that He, the LORD, should be introduced as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:15). Jesus cites this verse in Luke 20:37-38 as proof of the resurrection! Therefore, God will be raising these men from the dead in order to give them the land he promised as an everlasting possession.
- It gets better. Those men and women who have been baptized into Christ are the offspring of Abraham and heirs of the same promise (Gal 3:29)! Or as Jesus taught elsewhere, “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5, cf. Ps 37:3, 9, 11, 22, 29, 34). In his account of the reward passed out by the returned King, Jesus talks about the promised inheritance: “Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34). Eternal life on earth with Jesus as king in Jerusalem, not heaven, is the reward of the faithful saints.
- The promises to David are recorded in the parallel accounts of 2 Samuel 7:1-29 and 1 Chronicles 17:1-27. Key details include:
- God would build David a house [temple & people], starting with Solomon
- the LORD had proven to be God to the people of Israel, and spoke of a house and kingdom that would last forever
- one special offspring would build a house for God; God would be his father, and he would be God’s son; God would establish his throne forever
- the personal relationship that David had with God, as shown in David’s bold prayer and understanding the implications and extent of the promises.
The connection with Jesus is plain to see. Read for yourself the following Bible verses: Mt 1:1, Lk 1:31-35, Mt 22:41-46, Acts 2:25-36 and Rom 1:1-4. Understanding God’s promises to David is essential.
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#5 – Romans 8:2, 6:22 – set us free from law of sin & death
The verses preceding Rom 8:2 are important for determining the meaning of the verse, and the passage is an expansion on the earlier verse in Rom 6:22.
Ch 7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Ch 8 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Ch 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Paul describes two distinct and opposing laws at work in his being: “the law of God” in his inmost self [his mind] and “the law of sin” which dwelt in his members [his human body]; it was a “war” between his mind delighting in God’s law, and his flesh being captive and serving sin.
- Paul thus saw himself in a wretched state, and longed to be delivered from his “body of death”, i.e., human nature [“the flesh”] with its inherent tendency to serve Self. This was in contrast with the assurance he now had in Christ. He now belonged to Christ, him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom 7:4).
- Paul then thanks God for deliverance from this wretched bondage to sin, accomplished by His sending Jesus “in the likeness of sinful flesh [Jesus had 100% human nature] and for sin” [i.e., as a sacrifice for sin]. See how Paul describes his life before he knew Jesus compared with after he belonged to Christ:
- More precisely, there was “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” that set Paul “free from the law of sin and death”. The former came into effect when Jesus broke the hold of sin and death, as evidenced by his resurrection to eternal life. The latter is defined as “the person that sins shall die” (Ezek 18:4, 20) and illustrated by “so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom 5:12).
- Jesus set men free from sin by his resurrection to eternal life, not his death on the cross, which was a critical step toward that end. This conclusion opposes the Evangelical assertion that ‘with respect to salvation, everything was accomplished by Jesus at the cross’. Without his resurrection, there was no true victory over sin and death (cf. 1Cor 15:54-55). To stop at the cross is to stop short of victory.
- For Jesus, living a life that was free of any personal sin not only demonstrated a blemish-free sacrifice, but made the final lifetime score 100% obedience to God, 0% yielding to Sin. Sin had been totally resisted. When he died, Jesus was no longer capable of being tempted. A lifeless person cannot sin. When Jesus was raised up to eternal life, he was given a body that could not die or sin. Thus Sin would never have any further impact on or power over Jesus.
In short, the death of Jesus killed Sin, with respect to himself. The resurrection of Jesus entirely eliminated Sin, with respect to his spiritual body. Jesus was therefore God’s means of overcoming the “law of sin and death”, first for himself, and then in the fullness of time, for all who would believe in and follow him (cf. Heb 9:12, 26-28, 1Cor 15:23).
- While it is true that ‘Jesus has done it all’ with respect to salvation (cf. Heb 10:12-14), it is also true that Jesus expects his disciples to “follow in his steps”, “suffer for doing right”, “resist the devil”, and “crucify the flesh” (cf. 1Pet 2:20-21, 5:9, Gal 5:24). Note that in this list of items, the #1 enemy in a disciple’s struggle against sin is him/herself. The human heart is the source of all defiling evil thoughts and associated sinful actions (cf. Mk 7:21-23, Jer 17:9-10). The enemy for a disciple to focus on is not anyone or anything else but rather oneself.
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#6 – Philippians 2:9 – given an exalted name above every name
This verse is in a context of Paul urging each of the believers in Philippi to “do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourself”.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Jesus is being cited as the ultimate example of humility for believers to emulate; “emptied himself” indicates the choice of being humble, not of divesting a nature.
- “form” [Greek, morphe] in v. 6 & 7 implies function or role, not nature.
- “human form” [Greek, anthropos] in v. 8 is the general term for man.
- It was because Jesus, though God’s Son, chose to take on and perform the role of a servant, that the mindset of humility was demonstrated.
It was because Jesus was “obedient unto death, even on a cross”, that the Father “highly exalted him”. The bestowal of “the name which is above every name” took place after his death, upon his resurrection, as confirmed by Rom 1:4 “…and designated Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord”.
- Jesus was given his ‘name’ when he was born, and was called thus by his family and followers. He was also called “Lord” by his disciples, and identified by Peter as “you are the Christ”. However, after his resurrection, the name “Jesus” now becomes a short version of the “Lord Jesus Christ” title, where “Lord” [master] and “Christ” [anointed] are added titles. See its usage in 1Cor 1:2, 3, 7, 8, 9, & 10, where another variation is “Christ Jesus”.
- Consider the object lesson Jesus gave the twelve apostles. While rightly called their Lord and Teacher, Jesus chose to wash their feet (Jn 13:1-14). He then clearly said, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (v.15). Humility is what Jesus is expecting from his disciples.
- For disciples who struggle with their sins and the challenge to be humble like their Master, Jesus said this:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt 11:28-30).
Jesus alludes to the oxen yoke, where a less experienced animal is coupled with one that knows what to do. He does not take the burden away from the disciple, but ‘partners’ with him/her to get the work done; with Jesus, things are “easy”.
The fuller title of the “Lord Jesus Christ” is obviously significant. It indicates a special anointing by God. In the OT, three roles required anointing: priest, prophet and king. Jesus served in all these roles before his death, and serves more fully in those same roles since his resurrection.
- The exaltation of the resurrected Jesus is also described in Revelation chapter 5, which pictures a Lamb standing who is deemed worthy to open the book of life, having conquered Death and Hades, the grave (Rev 1:18). This scenario was first prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14 as a “son of man” coming before the throne of God and being given “dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him”. The Revelation 5 text first has a new song sung about the Kingdom to come, which is then followed by the highest praise and honor and glory from beings in heaven and every creature on earth. The words are absolutely splendid! Read and be thrilled.
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" 14 The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.
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#7 – John 11:25 – Jesus is the resurrection & the life
This verse is part of the story surrounding the death of Lazarus, whom Jesus had come to raise from the dead. It had been 4 days since Lazarus died. Before getting to the tomb, Jesus has this discussion with Martha, the sister of Lazarus:
20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
- Martha expressed belief in a resurrection, prior to the death of Jesus, indicating that this was a common understanding of his disciples, based upon Old Testament teaching (e.g., Daniel 12:2).
- Jesus then declared that he was the resurrection, i.e., the very means by which people would be raised from the tomb, as he had taught earlier in John 5:21-29.
- Martha reaffirms her belief in him, using “the Christ” title, indicating that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, who had in fact come to the Jewish world. It was just a matter of time before his Kingship was recognized and established.
- Chapter 5 in the gospel of John sets up this entire event with Lazarus in chapter 11. There, Jesus patiently explains who he is and what he will do, when it comes to the resurrection and judgment. To illustrate how further examination of other relevant Bible passages can reward the explorer with helpful information, two segments are quoted and commented on.
- Segment 1 –
19 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
- Jesus states he can do nothing on his own, but can only do what God has given and empowered him to do. Clearly, Jesus is the ‘getter’ from the giver God; he is receiver of power from God the originator. This wording makes sense, given Jesus was a human being, and God is a divine being.
- Jesus then predicts that something marvelous will happen: just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so will Jesus. It turns out that the Father has given Jesus the privilege to make the final pronouncement at judgment-seat time. Why? So that all may honor the Son as they honor the Father. This honoring will be given to the resurrected, glorified Jesus, since that is when he takes on the role of judge. This wording makes sense if Jesus has taken on an honor from God that he never had before. It is non-sense if there is a triune God where all parties have always been equally honorable before each other.
- Jesus explains his criteria for granting eternal life: hear my word and believe in him who sent me. Jesus is the messenger, God is the sender of the messenger. Jesus rightly points to God as the one to believe in. This works when two distinct beings are involved. It is utterly confusing when the notion of a triune God consisting of totally equal beings is used.
- Segment 2 –
25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, 27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. 30 "I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
- The Father, the inherent source of all life, has granted the Son to have life in himself, i.e., God has given Jesus the role of being the resurrection source and the executor of judgment. Why? Because he is the Son of man! When will it occur? When the Son of man comes back to sit on his glorious throne and determine who will get eternal life and who will be cast out (Mt 25:31-46).
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#8 – Acts 24:15, 26:6-8, 28:20, Romans 8:24 – the Christian hope
This string of references shows the “hope of the resurrection” is also an Old Testament teaching, and not relegated to only the New Testament. Belief in the resurrection goes right back to Abraham (Heb 11:19), who is called “father of all who believe” (Rom 4:11). His faith was carried over to and embraced his son Isaac and his son Jacob and passed along to the 12 tribes of Israel. That same faith that the dead would be raised and rewarded by God is evident in the life of kings David and Hezekiah, and is found in the writings of the prophets (e.g., Dan 12:2,13).
Acts Ch 24:14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets, 15 having a hope in God which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men.
Ch 26:6 And now I stand here on trial for hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Ch 28:17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews; and when they had gathered, he said to them, "Brethren, though I had done nothing against the people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar–though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."
Romans Ch 8:18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
- In Acts 24, Paul is on trial before Felix, accused by the Sadducee high priest of the Jews. A former Pharisee, Paul had already made an appeal “with respect to the hope and resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6-8). He now admits to being part of the Christian sect called the Way, but argues that their belief and teaching is consistent with the law and the prophets. They had a common hope in God, namely that there would be a resurrection, a teaching accepted by the Pharisees, but not the Sadducees.
- In Acts 26, Paul is on trial before the gentile King Agrippa, who had a working knowledge of Jewish ways and beliefs. Paul reminds his judge that the “hope in the promise made by God” to the Jewish forefathers rested on the belief that God raises the dead. Take Abraham for example. How else could he receive the land of promise as an everlasting possession (cf. Acts 7:5)?
- In Acts 28, Paul is now in Rome, waiting to be heard by Caesar. In the meantime, he gathers the notable Jews to his quarters, and makes the point that his arrest and his chains are the result of taking a stand for “the hope of Israel”. This has already been shown in the record to be the “resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15) and the expectation of being counted as just before Jesus.
- In Roman 8, Paul is writing “to all God’s beloved in Rome”, which included Jew and Gentile believers (1:7, 2:14, 17). He talks about hope, being set free from the bondage of a sinful human body, having it redeemed and thus obtaining the glorious liberty of the children of God. This hope of resurrection to eternal life was a vital part of being saved.
- The following table recaps the above points:
Audience Paul’s Argument and Appeal Sadducees & Pharisees (Jewish council) Acts 24 -The law & prophets teach hope in God and resurrection of the dead; that’s what I am preaching with a clear conscience and as a Pharisee; there will be a resurrection of the just and unjust, and that includes us! King Agrippa
(Gentile familiar with Jews)
Acts 26 – I’m on trial for hope in the promise of God (which necessitates resurrection) believed by the twelve tribes of Israel, yet am accused by Jews! Why is it so difficult to believe that God raises the dead? Jews in Rome
Acts 28 – I am innocent of all charges by the Jews in Jerusalem, but was forced to appeal to Caesar; I am in chains for teaching the resurrection, the hope of Israel, and I want to speak to you of this great news. Believers in Rome
(Jews & Gentiles)
Romans 8 – My sufferings for preaching a resurrected Christ are nothing when compared with the hope of the glory to come: the redemption of our bodies, free from the bondage of sin to be the children of God.
- Bible Christianity uniquely teaches this hope which rests entirely on the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. No other world religion has such a teaching. No complete Christian teaching will leave it out. No true Christian teaching will displace it from a central, foundation position.
- The claim that the resurrection of Jesus took place is frequently attacked by enemies of Bible Christianity. Why? Because the logical implications are clear:
- The resurrection proves God has clearly intervened into the world of humankind.
- Scripture declares that He will be sending Jesus into the midst of humankind again, this time to judge the whole world.
- Therefore, believers and enemies alike should be getting ready for the judgment day that comes with Christ’s return.
- Man does not have an immortal soul; rather, man is a soul [i.e., a person]
- Immortality is granted only after Jesus pronounces a person worthy, and that happens at the time of Jesus’ return, not at the time of one’s death.
- The doctrine of heaven-going at death eliminates the need for the resurrection of the body. What would be the purpose of uniting an immortal soul with a new body, given that blessed enjoyment occurs without any body?
- Most heaven-going scenarios leave out any hands-on, personal, visible work for the Lord, especially on behalf of mortal people and the nations who have survived the earth-shattering events of the Second Coming. Books or TV shows may present visits from heaven to earthlings in need, but that is the role of angels [if at all], not immortal saints.
- The meek shall inherit the earth, not go to heaven. The land promised forever to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the land of Israel in the Middle East, not heaven. Baptized believers are heirs of the same promise made to Abraham, and so heaven is not the place of eternal rest they are seeking. Jesus is explicitly said to be taking over the throne of David in Jerusalem and reign from Mt. Zion forever; this location is on earth, not in heaven.
A bit-geeky friend of mine made this comment. “Which would you prefer, heaven or earth? Heaven, astronomically speaking at least, is a dark, featureless, textureless void at -270°C. Fun? I don’t think so.”
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”.
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The fact of Jesus’ resurrection by God is the cornerstone of Bible Christianity. Preaching and teaching the resurrection of Jesus to eternal life is a matter of first importance, as is his exaltation as a man who is given the title ‘Lord Jesus Christ’. The resurrection of Jesus confirmed the promises God made to Abraham and David. Resurrection to eternal life is the substance of the Christian hope. It is also the means whereby the faithful dead can be made alive again to serve in the Kingdom on earth.
The “truth” of the resurrection of Jesus Christ takes an uncompromising position against all other world religions and the skeptics of Scripture. It also is in opposition to:
- the doctrine of the Trinity,
- the teaching that man has an immortal soul, and
- the belief that when the faithful die, they go to heaven.
This diagram illustrates how a person with the right understanding of Jesus’ Resurrection is put into an interesting position. When it happened to me, I was compelled to embrace and take a stand for certain teachings, and at the same time, to abandon and be against teachings I grew up with. Then since I wanted to establish a relationship with God, the action to take was plainly described in Scripture. I needed to declare the change in my thinking and allegiance in the act of baptism, and begin to live “in newness of life” like the resurrected Jesus (cf. Rom 6:4). For the challenge to a disciple is not to live like Jesus did during his 3½-year ministry, but like his resurrected life!
If you the reader were to follow a similar path and obey the calling of God, you would repent, be baptized into Christ, and live the life of a faithful disciple. Your new understanding, acceptance of the call and doing things that imitate Christ would be getting it right with Jesus.
- What are the implications for a believer if Jesus did not rise from the dead?
- Since the reward given to faithful disciples is immortality, how does that work if a person already has an ‘immortal soul’?
- Since Jesus was dead, God had to raise him. Clearly there are two distinct beings with two distinct natures [mortal vs. immortal] here. Then what about the Trinitarian claim that Jesus was God the Son, whose nature is identical with God the Father?
- Since the resurrection of Jesus is the critical core of the gospel message, what about the Evangelical assertion that it is ‘the cross of Christ’ where everything [that matters about salvation] is accomplished?
- What do you think you need to do to “get it right with Jesus”?
The reader is encouraged to ponder and then answer these questions. If desired, send the answers to the author, whose home address and e-mail address can be found in the Foreword. A response to your effort is promised.
a. Look in the Appendix for Strong’s Concordance analysis about the following words: resurrection, immortality, incorruptibility.
b. Check out the research claim called “God raised Jesus” in the study paper section of the Appendix. It lists 12 verses in the NT that state “God raised Jesus” or its equivalent. Jesus did not raise himself from the dead.
c. Read the article called “The Resurrection Status of Jesus” in the study paper section of the Appendix.