As a matter of both interest
and further instruction, we could follow our recent course and
bring under consideration other typical characters to show what
resurrection means in the totality of human categories. But we
did not set out to study human life comprehensively. Our purpose
was to try to show that, in Christ, a new humanity has been
introduced in resurrection, and that Christ as such challenges our
humanity and demands - and makes possible - adjustment to
Himself; that is, conformity to His image.
Having illustrated this by such
cases and categories as Mary Magdalene, the two disciples on the
Emmaus Road; Simon Peter; James the Lord's brother: we proceed
now to gather this whole matter into a final emphasis.
The first thing that the New
Testament makes perfectly clear is
Transcendent Power of Resurrection
Resurrection is the paramount
Death is the greatest power
against God's work, God's likeness, God's purpose. Death is the
greatest power in this universe against man; his labours, his
hopes, his wellbeing. Death is the last word in the creation as
it is. Outside of God there is no power in this universe as great
as death. When it has intervened and done its work there is
nothing that can reverse or destroy it. In the realm of evil
there is no power that exceeds the power of death. This is why,
in referring to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the
words are used: "the exceeding greatness of his
power" (Eph. 1:19). When death has exceeded every other evil
power - sin, suffering, sorrow, and destruction, then God's
unique and exclusive answer is the only hope, and the one answer.
More importance and glory is
placed upon resurrection in the New Testament than upon any other
matter. Indeed, everything else is declared to be in vain and
worthless until resurrection is established. Resurrection is
stated to give the value to every testimony and every work.
Death, spiritual death (not cessation of being) - of which the
physical is only one small aspect - is Satan's horizon.
Resurrection is God's horizon in Christ.
Resurrection, we repeat, is the
answer to death in all its forms and aspects: God's answer in His
Son, Jesus Christ.
Having said that, let us
proceed to note that the next thing revealed in the New Testament
is that this supreme truth in Jesus Christ is the birthright of
every one born into God's spiritual family; the heritage of every
truly born-again child of God.
But the point for special
realisation is that we must not make the mistake that Martha of
Bethany made, when she received such a revealing correction. She
said, concerning her brother: "I know that he shall rise
again in the resurrection." It is not something in the
future for believers, but for the moment when they believe on the
Lord Jesus and receive Him. The order now is first the
resurrection of the human spirit and at last the resurrection
body. This, for any born-anew Christian needs no stating,
although the meaning may take years to learn. It will come
up again in our next series on 'Horizons'.
What immediately arises out of
this fact is that, while resurrection is a spiritual crisis and
is a Growing Experience.
The history and experience both
of the Church and individuals as in the New Testament is a
revelation and manifestation of what Paul calls "the power
of his resurrection". Again and again, and in ever-deeper
and fuller ways situations arose in which the issues were nothing
less than an end or a new beginning; death or new life. This is a
fact, but there are one or two things to note in this
The reason is found in a
repeated word - 'That': "Always bearing about in the body
the dying [the putting to death] of the Lord Jesus, THAT the life
also of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2
Cor. 4:10); "We had the sentence of death within ourselves,
THAT we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the
dead" (2 Cor. 1:9); "For we which live are always
delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, THAT the life also of Jesus
may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11).
The great fact is that the
Church and individual believers are intended to be the vessels of
"the testimony of Jesus", and "the testimony of
Jesus" is that God raised Christ from the dead and He lives
by an indestructible life. Whatever and whoever has Christ within
it or them cannot die. There may be allowed many assaults of
death; many deep and dark experiences; but resurrection is God's
answer to faith every time.
There is another factor to be
recognized. Death is an agent in God's hands. When Jesus died He bore
away a whole condemned order. Death nullified what could not
stand with God. Although He died atoningly and vicariously, and
we do not extend that, yet, the principle remains that every
fresh experience and working of "the dying of Jesus"
is intended to remove something in order to make still more room
for Christ risen. The outcome should be both a new knowing of the
power of His resurrection, and a clearer and fuller place
for Himself. Thus, the experience on both its sides is necessary.
In the final issue all corruption will have been removed, and
Christ will be all in all.
The first picture in the Bible
is of resurrection as to the creation. The last picture is that
of resurrection consummated.
So we are right in saying that
IN CHRIST ALL
THINGS ARE HORIZONED BY RESURRECTION.