Our Best Days our Ahead! H.C. Lord's Day 22

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 22

Q 57. How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?
A 57. Not only will my soul be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head, but also my very flesh will be raised by the power of Christ, reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.

Q 58. How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?
A 58. Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.

The Apostles’ Creed ends with two eschatological statements about our Resurrection and the Everlasting Life we are promised in Jesus Christ.  Eschatology is the study of the last things, focusing itself, at least in the realm of Christianity, on the return of Christ and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s will in the world.  Much of this is derived from the book of Revelation as well as Jesus’ teaching on the subject matter.  Both of the belief statements at the end of the Apostles’ Creed, though intimately tied to Jesus’ death and resurrection, are actually directed at Jesus’ second coming.

So what do we mean when we say that we believe in such things.  Scripture promises that, just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so too will we be raised on the last day, when Jesus comes again.  This resurrection will be a physical, literal, bodily resurrection in which our current flesh will be raised, renewed, and glorified in the same way that Jesus was after His resurrection.  Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians 15, says that,

“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…”

We will still be us in every respect of what makes a person unique, however, everything will be glorified and perfected, the way we were meant to be in the beginning.  Our experience will also be glorified, returned to a perfect relationship with God who will dwell eternally with us here on earth.

The eternal nature of this relationship and dwelling is the subject of the final statement of the Apostles’ Creed and the second question of this week.  There are two ways in which we talk about and experience this eternal life.  First, and likely most obvious, is exactly what we are referring to here: Eternal Life in Paradise living with Jesus after His second coming and the final consummation of all things.

However, the second one is something that is important for us as Christians to remember as well.  We begin the experience of eternal life with God when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  The joy of renewed life is experienced in part already in this life when we come to faith.  This joy is built through the work of the Holy Spirit and increases as we are continually sanctified and built up in Christ.  Much of this happens as we grow deeper in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, receiving a deeper revelation, understanding, and experiencing greater freedom in Christ from the bondage of sin.

As we grow in this joy and freedom we also grow in our anticipation of the life to come when all things will be made new and no more will be the effects of sin in our lives and in the world around us.  This is the hope to which we profess and the great expectation of things to come!



Bodily Resurrection: H.C. Question 57

How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?

Luke 23:43 – Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Philippians 1:21-23 – For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;

1 Corinthians 15:20 – But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:42-46 – So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. 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.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

1 Corinthians 15:54 – When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Philippians 3:21 – who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 John 3:2 – Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.



God's Not Dead! H.C. Lord's Day 17

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 17

How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He might make us share in the righteousness He won for us by His death.  Second, by His power we too are already now resurrected to new life.  Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”  1 Corinthians 15:17. These are strong words from the Apostle Paul regarding the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; the event we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Often, in church, we talk about how Jesus died for our sins on the cross.  Far too often, that’s all the further that the mention of His work goes for us.  Jesus’ death is a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  Certainly, this is true and I wouldn’t want to discount this event or the suffering that Christ endured for us in the least.  As we discussed last week, the events of the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life cannot be overstated.

However, Jesus’ death doesn’t amount to much without His resurrection from the death.  The Resurrection is the most important event in history.  Without it, Jesus’ death does not accomplish the forgiveness of sins, His sacrifice is not sufficient, and His work is incomplete.  Without the resurrection, our death is still the ultimate end for us, even if the punishment for our sins had been taken by Him.

Paul goes on to say that if Christ is not raised, not only is the Christian faith futile, those that teach it are liars and are to be pitied.  What a bold and honest statement from the most influential Christian in all human history.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the death…” 1 Corinthians 15:20. This is the foundation of the hope that we have!  Jesus’ death paid for our sins; His resurrection conquers the ultimate punishment for our sins.  By His resurrection, we are assured that He is the all-sufficient sacrifice, that His work is complete, and that the wrath of God has been satisfied.  We know this because the consequences of sin have been removed.

C.S. Lewis, in his book “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” captures this so clearly in the conversation Aslan has with Lucy and Susan after coming back from the dead:

“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know.  Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.  But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read a different incantation.  She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

Yes, an innocent victim taking the place of a traitor, though the Resurrection is no magic… it is the sheer power of God on display in Christ Jesus.  It is the ultimate will of God being played out before the eyes of the entire cosmos and impacting the entire universe.  There is no place or time in which the Resurrection’s significance does not touch and is not felt.  All of this was decreed before the foundations of the earth when only the Triune God existed, and all of it was done for us.  Thanks be to God!!



Resurrection: H.C. Question 45

How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

Romans 4:25 – He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

1 Corinthians 15:16-20 – For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Peter 1:3-5 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Romans 6:5-11 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:4-6 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Colossians 3:1-4 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Romans 8:11 – And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

1 Corinthians 15:12-23 – But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Philippians 3:20-21 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.



John 20:1-8; 1 Corinthians 15 "Resurrection Life"



1 Corinthians 15 – Concerning the Resurrection

Read 1 Corinthians 15

One of the arguments in the Corinthian church, it seems, had to do with the resurrection.  Whereas Paul spent a long time talking through freedom and love because of its many applications in the Christian life, here Paul is very direction.  Without the resurrection, the Gospel itself and our faith in Jesus Christ are meaningless.

So often, we talk at length about Christ dying for our sins, and rightly so.  It is one of the single most important events that has happened in the world.  But we need to always think about it as fundamentally connected with the resurrection of Jesus Christ; they cannot be separated.  Without Jesus’ death, there can be no resurrection.  Without the resurrection, Jesus’ death is meaningless and we have no hope.

But, Paul says, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and is the “first fruits” of all who believe in Him who will also be raised.  We have hope that, when Christ comes again, we will be raised with Him in a resurrected body, something fundamentally different and yet still congruent with what we are now.

Talking about this raises a number of questions for us to ponder, but few concrete answers about what life will be like in the resurrection and what happens to us in the meantime, after we die but before Christ comes.

The question of what happens to us after our earthly pilgrimage ends is one that people have sought to answer since the very beginning.  Paul doesn’t give us any direct answers here, but consistently talks about it in terms of “falling asleep” and “being with the Lord.”  We often think about death in a sort of disembodied existence in which our soul if active in heaven while our earthly body waits for Jesus to come back.

Again, there are few concrete answers here.  There is, however, a promise in all of this: the end of our earthly journey is not the end.  When we pass from this life into whatever is to come we can do so with hope, assured that God transcends even death and holds us in His hand (in whatever form that is) until the day of Christ’s return when we will be raised and live with Him from that time forth and forevermore.



Introduction to 1 Corinthians

As we have discussed before in Acts 18, Corinth was one of the major cities in the Roman Empire and the major city both economically and politically in the nation of Greece.  Corinth was also a major religious center, home to the temple of Apollo and the temple of Aphrodite and thus was home to considerable pagan worship.  Specifically, in the temple of Aphrodite, it is said that at times over 1,000 priestesses (who were also prostitutes) served which also made Corinth a center for horrific immorality.

This pagan culture and lack of a moral center took its toll on the church in Corinth as well, leading to a number of moral issues that Paul had to address here in this correspondence.  This is one of possibly four total writings that Paul would have sent to the church in Corinth, two (possibly three) of which we have recorded in the Bible as we know it today.

Apart from issues of immorality that were plaguing the church in Corinth, Paul also addresses a considerable amount of other issues.  The congregation there was likely made up of mostly lower class individuals.  However, with some, more wealthy individuals, issues of socio-economic disparity arose and needed to be addressed.

It also seems that there was some disagreement surrounding the nature of the resurrection of the dead, which was, in part, related to the other issues, but also stands on its own.

While Paul’s writing here does take on rather specific issues regarding a particular congregation, his words can really find new meaning in our culture today as well.  We too live in a culture full of rampant immorality, socio-economic disparity, and in a time when the Church itself is dealing with so many disagreements about theological issues.  Paul’s words here, inspired by God, are incredibly needed.



John 20 – Peace Be With You

Read John 20

The celebration of Easter Sunday is marked in the Church by great celebrations.  We often have lively music, rousing sermons, and well-dressed individuals present to hear them.  More people than normal come out for this particular Sunday because of its perceived importance in life and faith, and rightly so.  Jesus’ resurrection is the pinnacle of the Christian faith, the zenith of the Church year, and the most transformative event of all time.

While much of this celebration is focused on conquering death and the new life that we have in Christ, which isn’t wrong, John’s Gospel offers another theme that doesn’t readily come to mind when we think of Easter: Peace.

At every event in which Jesus appears to someone after His resurrection and His chat with Mary in the Garden, Jesus offers the peace.  “Peace be with you,” He says.  Earlier, in John 14, Jesus also comments on that peace, a peace that He leaves with them, one that He now gives to them again.

This peace is an important element of one of John’s themes, pitting Jesus as the light the world who hate Him and loves the darkness.  Now, once all has taken place and Jesus accomplished all He was sent to do, true peace once again reigns.  Through Christ we have peace with God; we can have a relationship with Him once again, which leads to a subtle yet powerful image that John places at the end of His Gospel: God in the garden once again.

When the world was created, God walked with Adam and Eve in His garden.  After Jesus was raised, He too walked in the garden, but instead of asking “where are you,” as the Father did to Adam and Eve, Jesus calls her by name and she is not afraid.



John 11 – Raising the Dead

Read John 11

It’s hard to imagine that a miracle so great as raising someone from the dead warrants the harsh reaction of the religious leaders that we see here.  But for them, it was the last straw.  It isn’t entirely clear here why it comes down to this, but in the end, they put forth a plot to capture and kill Jesus.  For John’s Gospel, this is the turning point in Jesus ministry, the divide between the book of signs and the book of glory.

Yet even in the midst of all the scheming and plotting, God’s will and plan are still being worked out.  Remember in Matthew 27, when the people screamed for Jesus’ blood to “be on us and on our children”?  Here we see yet another irony as Caiaphas speaks to the current predicament: “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”  Little does he know how right he is.

All of this, as Jesus often reminds us, has to happen for His glory to be revealed.  As we begin to shift our focus from Jesus’ earthly ministry to His glorification on the cross, we need to keep in mind the recurring themes that John infuses into His writing.  First, Jesus is the light of the world, the one who gives true sight, but the world hates the light and does not recognize it.  The Pharisees are still in the dark here.

Second, and more importantly, Jesus is the great I AM, and the way that this is going is, as He reminds us here, the only way… He is the only way for life, freedom, and true sight.  As Jesus moves forward now, His actions will expand the resurrection from local, one man, to a universal reality.



Mark 16 – They were Afraid?

Read Mark 16

Mark’s Gospel brings this story to a conclusion with a very unique and unexpected ending: “They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.”  It seems so anti-climactic.    But we have to cut them some slack here.  They just experienced the most significant event in all of history that had an undeniable impact on the entire universe.  The truth for them, however, was that they had no idea what they were experiencing.  So honestly, they had every right to be afraid; you probably would have been too.

If we think about it for a moment, they obviously didn’t say “nothing to anyone” or else I wouldn’t be here writing this, nor you reading it.  Looking at the other Gospels, the accounts of Acts and Church history, obviously someone said something.  So why didn’t this just get edited out of later versions of Mark?  What possible purpose does this passage serve?

Perhaps Mark understands something that many of us experience from time to time: that an encounter with God, the experience of God working in our lives in unexpected and unexplainable ways can indeed be frightening.  Maybe Mark is creating space for people by showing that even some of Christ’s most faithful followers needed time to process what was happening to them in the midst of this powerful story.

We live in such a “now” oriented society, having everything at our fingertips with just the click of a button.  Explanations and definitions, videos and commentary are all only seconds away, yet far too often we don’t create space in our lives for the Holy Spirit to unravel and reveal the mysteries of God’s work on our hearts.  Sometimes we need space to process, to explore, and then eventually to tell of the great things God is doing in us!