Russell and Duenes

The Great Hope of the Christian

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ChristsresurrectionThe Christian’s true and greatest hope is not simply “going to a better place to be with friends and family.” The New Testament writers make clear that their great hope is to be raised from the dead with and in Christ, being given a glorious resurrection body just as Christ has.

Jesus begins by telling Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). The culmination of Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 is that “God raised [Jesus] up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it,” and “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” Peter later says to the religious authorities, “[Y]ou denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” Further, he proclaims: “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Indeed, the religious authorities were “greatly annoyed because [the apostles] were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead,” and “with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”

While preaching to the Athenians in the open market, Paul ends his speech with these words: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Paul cries out to the Jews and the Chief Priest: “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” When testifying before the governor Felix, Paul says: “I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” When making his defense before Agrippa, Paul exclaims: “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”

In Romans, Paul says that “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Further, Christians “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” In his most extended reflection on the resurrection, Paul writes, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when thisperishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'”

In numerous other places, the apostolic preaching of the gospel puts a primacy on the resurrection. Indeed, Paul’s exposition on the resurrection in Philippians is more penetrating than I had previously thought. Paul says that everything in his life is dung compared to the greatness of knowing Christ, sharing Christ’s sufferings, and ultimately “attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” This is what Paul strains after at all costs. The pursuit consumes him and all that he does. He “press[es] on to lay hold” of it. Paul’s crescendo reaches its apex when he finally says, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” This is all the Christian’s hope and joy, to be raised with Christ, to know him in all his glory, to live in His glorious presence with all the resurrected saints, with bodies conformed to the body of Christ’s glory.

Would that the present power of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of our future resurrection in glory through Christ found its way into more evangelical preaching. We need to hear this good news constantly.

-D

 

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Written by Michael Duenes

January 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Duenes, Theology

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