What is the resurrection? What does the promise of the resurrection from the dead mean for us? Is this a future event only, or does it have some application to our lives now? This affects how we view the gospel of the kingdom of heaven in general.
The above is an excerpt from the prologue article of this series, Considering the Resurrection. To answer the questions above, I have put together an extensive list of scripture that will hopefully lead to comprehensive understanding. This will be broken up into two or three separate articles and “sections.”
What is the Resurrection?
It is safe to assume that most people have some concept of the resurrection, especially among Christians. However, I wonder if we consider this idea as fully as we should. Let’s take a look at some of the scriptures that tell us what the resurrection is. We will start with this:
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
God sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We’ve all heard that one. The above scripture says the same thing. God sent Jesus, His Son, to testify to the truth—and in the truth, we are made free (John 8:36).
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (John 18:37).
What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Those who belong to God will hear the testimony of Jesus, and in his testimony we have the key to eternal life. Why? The testimony of Jesus is truth. It is the true way to live that frees us from the destruction of Satan and his lies. It is the truth that leads to everlasting life.
To believe in Jesus means to believe in what he taught and stands for as the bringer of the New Testament laws. Jesus forgive sins, but he does more. He lays out commandments that we are to follow (Matthew 5-7 for a good stating point). Those that love Jesus will keep his commandments (John 14:15-31). Why? Because his commandments are truth. Those who love Jesus will love the truth also, and in so doing, we naturally want to live righteously.
However, we mess up. We need his blood to wash away our sins as we strive in the commandments of Christ. We need the intercession of the Son of God. Without that, we are all condemned because we have all sinned.
Jesus is the author and administrator of the New Covenant. Within this, we have the perfect sacrifice for sin – the spotless Lamb of God who was slain on the cross – raised up like the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness for the forgiveness of sins long ago (John 3:14, Numbers 21).
It is fundamental that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God in the flesh who was crucified for our sins. However, if we deny what Jesus taught, then we are not fully believing in him. We are not thriving in his truth.
Though we have all sinned, we are not bound to continue in sin. Sin is death. The commandments of Jesus are life. If we arrange our life according to the teaching of Jesus, then we will live an abundant life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance – which are the fruits of the Spirit. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are able to learn and keep the commandments of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent after Jesus died and rose. He spoke of this.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:7-13) For further information about the Holy Spirit, read John Chapters 14-17.
The faith in Jesus that leads to eternal life is not something that occurs in a single moment. We can convert in a single moment, yet, we are supposed to continue in the faith. We are supposed to go from faith to faith, from righteousness to righteousness (Romans 1:17, 2 Peter 1).
If we really hear Jesus in truth and if we really love him, the Lord will lead us on a path of healing and transformation of heart (2 Corinthians 1:14, Ephesians 3:6, Colossians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
As Christians, we are made into vessels of life that bring light and good things into this world as those who mimic the very behavior of Jesus. If we are not pursuing this, if our faith is not fruitful (showing fruits of the Spirit), then our faith is dead. We do not really believe, and we are not being passed from death to life (James 2).
What is the resurrection? It is a promise that if we believe in Jesus, then we will be raised from the dead. If we believe in Jesus, then we also believe in the truth, because Jesus himself came to testify to the truth. If we believe in the truth, then we will believe the commandments of Jesus and seek to keep them. If we seek to keep them, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit who will live within us, heal us, and direct us in the righteous ways as the kingdom of heaven lives within us. Only then are we made fit to be raised from the dead and enter into the everlasting kingdom of heaven.
Believing in Jesus does not stop at forgiveness. Forgiveness is the beginning and the means by which we approach the kingdom of heaven presently and eternally. We must hold fast to all that Jesus stands for, otherwise we are as the foolish virgins with no oil for their lamps, the guest without the wedding garment, the house built upon the sand, and so on.
Here are more scriptures that define the resurrection.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:54).
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26).
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11).
In Considering the Resurrection – Part 1 – Defining the Resurrection (Section 2), we will further explore how the resurrection applies to our daily lives. Many believe the resurrection is future only, and I seek to disprove that because one of the key components of the gospel is a present-day resurrection. We are presently passing from death to life. If we are not, then we might not be raised from the dead in final sense because we do not truly believe in the Son of God.
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