On a number of occasions in the Bible, we read of people who died and are then resurrected. Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son (I Kings 17). A unique resurrection was when the un-named man died and because of need of haste, he was thrown into the sepulchre of Elisha and immediately stood up on his feet (II Kings 13). There were several resurrections performed by Jesus. He raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5), the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7) and of course we all remember Jesus saying, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43) and Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha walked out of the tomb after being dead four days. After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the apostle Peter raised a woman named Tabitha and called Dorcas in the city of Joppa (Acts 9). In all of these cases, a person who had died physically was brought back to life. James pointed out that the body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26). There had been a separation of the two in each of these cases.
Of course, the most well known of all the resurrections in the Bible is that of Jesus Christ Himself. Peter wrote that, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (I Pet. 3:18). Though all those other resurrections certainly exhibit the power of God and the authenticity of those prophets and apostles, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is of vastly more importance to us. The entirety of the Christian system is based upon the fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. The validity of Christianity is dependent upon that empty tomb. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians stated, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he arose again the third day according to the scriptures”…”And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (I Cor. 15:3-4, 14). To the Romans Paul wrote, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). Needless to say, much more could be said of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord but this will have to suffice for now.
There is another resurrection spoken of in the word of God that we often refer to as “the great resurrection”. No resurrection could be greater in importance than that of Jesus as we have just noticed, but this resurrection is great in number resurrected. The resurrection we speak of now is that of the resurrection on the day of judgment. Jesus said, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:26-29). When the judgment takes place, “all shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (II Cor. 5:10). Every person who has ever lived will be resurrected at this time.
There is yet one more resurrection we wish to consider. This is the resurrection of a child of God. To the Ephesians Paul wrote, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins”…”Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together…” (Eph. 2:1, 5-6). As with all resurrections, there must first be a death. Whereas one is dead in sin, he must die to sin. Paul asked, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein” (Rom. 6:2). Though there was no burial with several of those mentioned in the first paragraph, with others, including Jesus, there was a burial. We too must be buried. Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…” (Rom. 6:3-4). To the Colossians Paul wrote, “Buried with him in baptism…” (Col. 2:12). This is when the resurrection occurs. One is raised from that watery grave as a new creature in Christ and to walk in newness of life. Paul said, “…that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:4-5). He also said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). One is baptized “into Christ” (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). It is at this point that one is “in Christ” and is resurrected as a child of God. Paul said, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). When one has obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you, he is then made free from sin, and become the servants of righteousness
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]