LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY

 

 

We come now to the last point of the Apostle’s Creed: I believe in the resurrection of the body. Again, this is not just a doctrine, it is a fact that is essential to the Christian faith. It is a fact that all people die and it is a fact, not yet observable, that all people will be resurrected from the dead.

Materialistic thinking dismisses the possibility of the resurrection of the body from death. Materialistic thinking views people who believe in a resurrection of the body after death as primitive and ignorant. We are considered to be like people that believe in reincarnation, or some kind of happy hunting ground. Materialists want to believe that the body, and life itself, is nothing more than a machine, and when the light goes out, it is over.

 

The Theory of Evolution

 

Charles Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history. He did not invent the theory of evolution; the concept of transmutation of species existed prior to his studies. It was Darwin who developed the concept of the survival of the fittest leading to natural selection; the result being the evolution of different species. Charles Darwin died in 1882 and from the 1930s to the 1950s scientists expanded his theory, believing it to be the mechanism of evolution. The theory of evolution is accepted in modern culture as a fact to such a degree that it is now illegal or unintellectual to teach creationism in our schools and universities, even as an alternative theory to evolution.

The theory of evolution does away with the concept of the resurrection of the body because it does away with God; and, doing away with God does away with Christianity. Evolution believes that life happened by accident through a collision of inert material substances that always existed. Somehow, through a process that no one can explain, inert substances eventually produced a primitive, living cell. Over trillions of years, all life forms evolved from that first single living cell by different lines of evolution. This may sound silly, but why do we not have a statue or image of this fist living cell and worship it as the progenitor of all living things? After all, we do have temples dedicated to its worship; we call them universities.

According to the evolution theory, mankind is nothing more than a material machine prompted by nothing more than chemical reactions. It is believed that people really do not think; instead, thoughts are just electronic impulses in the brain responded to external stimuli. People do not have emotions; emotions are merely chemical reactions. Mankind does not have free will; he is programed by chemistry and is not and cannot be responsible for his actions.

The theory of evolution does away with God; it does away with life after death; it does away with personal accountability; and, it ultimately does away with any responsibility for all human actions of any kind. But, the fact is, there will be a resurrection of the body whether people want to believe it or not. People who reject the fact of the resurrection deceive themselves. They will experience the fact of the resurrection when it happens to them, but by then it will be too late to choose the alternative—the truth.

 

Christ Is The Basis For The Resurrection

 

It is important that we believe in and acknowledge the truth of the resurrection of the body because of an earlier statement about Christ in the Apostles’ Creed: He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

The truth is not just that we will be raised from the dead; the truth is that all will be raised from the dead to face Jesus Christ and be judged by Him. Jesus died on the cross, was buried, He rose from the dead, and returned to heaven. These actions make up what theologians call the atonement. The atonement is what makes it possible for God to forgive sins, bring people into a right relationship with Him, and take them to heaven to be with Him after death. Christ will return from heaven at the end of time for the purpose of judging all mankind, including Charles Darwin, and including you.

 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).

 

This text says that when Christ returns there will be a lot of noise; it will not happen in secret. The dead will rise first and then the living will be caught up with them and all ushered into the presence of Christ. Some argue that the Apostle Paul speaks only of Christians here and that the picture is that of a rapture of Christians only and not a general resurrection. The reason Paul mentions only Christians in these verses is because his purpose in writing the Thessalonian letter was to comfort Christians that had lost loved ones. Apparently there was a fear among them that their loved ones that had died might be overlooked during the resurrection. Paul assures them that their Christian loved ones all will be raised from the dead and that the living will be caught up with them to meet the Lord.

Some suggest this passage refers only to a resurrection of the Christian dead only, as there is no mention of sinners being raised at this time. That explanation is weak as it is based on an assumption that is contrary to other clear statements in the New Testament about the resurrection. In the Gospel of John we read where Jesus describes the resurrection in terms that are so specific it is impossible to misunderstand. Jesus said that He would return with a shout and the sound of the trumpet—this will surely wake all the dead just as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.

 

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which ALL who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, AND those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28–29, bold and capitals added for emphasis).

 

When Jesus returns at the end of time and gives the shout that will be heard around the world, “ALL who are in the graves WILL HEAR His voice and COME FORTH.” There will be no exceptions; no one will be overlooked or left out.

The first person on earth to die was Able, the son of Adam and Eve. His brother Cain buried him in the ground. That grave is long gone and his body returned to dust. But, even Able will be caught up in the resurrection and given a new body.

Notice that Jesus taught the resurrection to be two-sided: the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation. All people that have ever lived, and that will ever live, will be in one or the other of those sides of the resurrection.

Romans 14:19–10, 12 teaches that the resurrection of Jesus is the basis for the resurrection of all people.

 

For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall ALL stand before the judgment seat of Christ. . . . So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. (Bold added for emphasis)

 

The resurrection will happen suddenly; all the dead will be raised, the living will be translated and all humanity will be brought before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged. There will be no opportunity for anyone to argue his case at the judgment. It is only in this life that people have the opportunity to determine their sentence at the judgment. Jesus illustrated the events of the judgment in Matthew 25:31–33 where He describes sheep being placed on His right side and goats placed on His left side. This is done before anything is said and before the reason behind the separation is disclosed. The determination on whether a person is a sheep or a goat is made during his life, long before he reaches the final judgment.

 

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:31–33).

 

What does it mean to be a sheep or a goat? The sheep pass from this life into the eternal phase of the kingdom of God as revealed in verse 34, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Verse 41 reveals a tragic situation for the goats, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

The issue at the judgment will not be if a person joined a church, was nice to people, had a profession of faith, or thought himself to be a good person. The issue will be, and only will be, how did he treat Jesus. Notice what the King says in verse 40, “And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” To the goats, the King says in verse 45, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” The issue is not a matter of good works; the issue is the holy lifestyle of salvation that reaches out and ministers to Christ through people.

Reading through verses 31–36 carefully, it is clear there is no possible recourse to or argument for any claim of innocence or ignorance. Judgment is passed on every individual before reaching the judgment seat of Christ. The judgment concludes with people being sent to where they will spend eternity for ever and ever: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Verse 46).

   

Conclusion

 

The old Negro spiritual says, “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout hebben aint goin’ there.” The resurrection of the body is a fact; the final judgment is a fact; and, eternity is a fact. Now is the time to prepare for this coming event, and it is coming in your life sooner than you think. 1 Corinthians 6:2 offers this counsel: “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”