Malankara World

Easter (Pascha)

Christ, Our Resurrection

by Ralph Bouma

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26).

This not only deals with the resurrection, but it deals with the difference between life and death. As our Saviour spoke the words of our text to Martha, we need to notice the connection He made between our spiritual life and Him as our resurrection. He is talking about a spiritual resurrection as well as a resurrection from the dead physically.

We may safely believe from this doctrine taught by our Saviour that the first resurrection is the spiritual resurrection of all true believers. Our Saviour is emphasizing the need for that first resurrection, which is the resurrection from spiritual death. Notice this same principle as it is taught in Revelation 20:6: "Blessed and holy [or sanctified] is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

This is what Jesus is talking about. Those who believe in Him have life. They have already passed from death to life. They have already experienced the resurrection He is speaking of.

It is so important that we find the full meaning of words we have a preconception of what they mean. This word resurrection here and also in our text comes from the root word anistemi (an-is'-tay- mee), which means "a raising up" - for instance, as rising from a seat, a rising from the dead, to rise up from laying down, to stand up or bring forward." This is a much richer word than just resurrection from the dead. It means much more.

How do we understand the application of the word resurrection? To rightly understand the word resurrection we must know it is used in a threefold sense.

First, there is the spiritual resurrection, that is, a quickening souls "who were dead in trespasses and sins," as in Ephesians 2:1.

In John 5:24 we read: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Here we see the evidences of someone who has received spiritual life, who has received spiritual ears to hear. The Lord Jesus is dealing with this as a spiritual resurrection. They have passed from death to life when they come to where they hear with a spiritual ear and when they believe on Him who sent Him and to have a holy reverence for His authority.

This hearing of His Word is what opens the grave of sin-and says to us, "Live!" It is a message to live unto God, and we live unto Him. This time of refreshing is a time of love. See the very next verse, John 5:25: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is [not tomorrow, not next year, not after we die], when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." This is speaking of a spiritual hearing. Those who hear shall live. How many people read this verse and understand that the Lord Jesus is speaking of today, while we are in the land of the living?

Our Saviour was speaking in the present tense even as He was when He began His gospel ministry in Mark 1:14-15: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." The call to repent is to repent today.

The first resurrection is a present conversion of putting off the old man and putting on the new as we see in 1 John 3:10-14: "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." The children of God and the devil are revealed as clearly as the light of day. There is no gray area. That resurrection is that newness of life. How do we know that we love our brother? If we do not love our brother, we have no claim to salvation. Our evidence that we have passed from death to life is that we love our brethren. It is our evidence that the work of grace is wrought in our soul.

Dr. Archibald Hart wrote about how grievously people are addicted to such things as drugs and alcohol, but he also mentioned that people can be addicted to religion and the Bible. Dr. Hart, who is a professional counselor, gave an example of a woman who took her Bible everywhere she went. However, her husband had never seen her with her Bible open.

Then, Dr. Hart went on to explain how people can get addicted to religion. We can come to be so religious and take part in every religious activity we have knowledge of and we can get so carried away because it makes us feel so good. However, we can still miss Christ. Being active in religious things is good as long as the heart is right.

Now we start to understand the religion of the Pharisees. They were addicted to religion. They were addicted to knowledge. They never came to understand what hell-deserving sinners they were and that they needed a Saviour for their souls.

Jesus is saying that He is the first resurrection, that spiritual hearing, that the ears are open to hear with a spiritual hearing, that we start to hear what we are by nature, that we learn that we are corrupt and polluted in sin. Then, we see we need a substitute for our soul. Now we are not addicted to religion. We have a desire for the person of Christ.

We may like religion because it can make us feel good, but we must be careful not to miss the resurrection of hearing and of the drawing power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Another sure mark of having passed from death to life is looking to Jesus by faith as our example. In all decisions we should ask, what would Jesus do in such a matter? We start living by Him as our example. We read in Romans 6:10-11: "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

What is the rule of your life? See what the Word says in Galatians 6:15-16: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."

Would you have Christ as your resurrection and your life? Resist the gospel call of Christ no longer. Jesus says to you today in His Written Word: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."

As soon as the Lord Jesus said, "come forth," we read in context with our text in John 11:44: "And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."

When we respond to the gospel it is a change in attitude. It does not mean we have our act already cleaned up.

Lazarus came forth immediately without any ifs, buts or ands, without making any objections.

So, the question may arise in the mind of some: "How can I that am dead come forth?" How did Lazarus come forth? He came forth "bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. [and as soon as he responded] Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go." True repentance begins with a change of attitude. Now the things of death lose their power, and they have to fall away.

So also may the power of the Word awaken you to a newness of life saying, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." When the Lord Jesus spoke about Lazarus being dead, He said that he was asleep, but that He was going to awaken Him. You and I are sleeping spiritually, and we need to be awakened.

See the context of this gospel trumpet call in Ephesians 5:11-16: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." The Holy Spirit is sent to reprove us of sin. We need to respond by faith. We must obey the gospel. We have responsibilities. It comes back to an attitude of the heart.

The question we must ask ourselves is, Do we want the light? The light is what separates Christ's sheep from the ungodly as we see in John 3:19-20: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." Is this something we long for, or is this something we shun? Do we want the Word of God to show us where we are wrong? Do we want Christ to be our life? By our nature, light is our condemnation because it reproves what is in our hearts that is wrong.

However, by nature we want to remain in that state of spiritual sleep and slumber because we do not desire the light. It is not because we cannot, it is because we do not desire it.

The second form of resurrection that all believers experience is a figurative rising from the dead. This is raising a living soul from a low, miserable, helpless condition to a state of comfort, joy, peace, and sense of safety. We read in Hosea 6:1-3: "Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."

This language comes from those who have strayed from their God as lost sheep and have experienced a Fatherly hand of chastening as we see from the context in Hosea 5:14-15: "For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early." After the Lord sends His chastening, he returns to the mercy seat. The Lord waits till they acknowledge their offense and seek His face.

I, like all people, find it difficult to admit that I am wrong. It is easy to blame others and be critical of them. However, when the Lord chastens us and we confess our sins, He will raise us up and we will live in His sight.

The Lord used a similar illustration to reveal the backsliden condition of His people in Ezekiel 37:1-3: "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest." The children of Israel were as dry bones spiritually. They were walking in death.

See how this symbolic vision of His people is likened unto a resurrection. We read in Ezekiel 37:11-14: "Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." They begin to see that they have forsaken the Lord. He refers to them as "my people." He is not talking to the unconverted.

Such a symbolic resurrection is also what we see in Hebrews 11:17- 19: "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."

The apostle Paul pointed to his present deliverances as a type of resurrection as we see in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10: "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us." As we go through seemingly impossible struggles, the Lord comes and lifts us up from that sentence of death. The life we have in Christ gives us this deliverance.

This hope of deliverance was their consolation with regard to the present afflictions. Notice 2 Corinthians 1:6-7: "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation." That consolation is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Has not a faith's view of the path Christ trod in the way of the cross been our consolation many times? When it seems there is no way out, the Lord takes the Lord Jesus Christ and puts Him before our eye of faith and we see that He has trod in that exact path.

In Hebrews 12:2-5 we read: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." The joy of Christ gives us the strength to go forward. We must meditate on the blessed life we have in Christ. We will fellowship in the sufferings of Christ, and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that it is the chastening hand of the Lord bringing us to where He wants us to be.

Third, there is also the final resurrection, the reuniting of body and soul at the last trump. As surely as we all die we shall all live again. John 5:28-29 says: "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."

The most blessed thought about this final resurrection is that all sin and every defilement shall remain behind all saints. Every saint will come forth perfectly pure. We read in 2 Peter 3:11-14: "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." We will be free from all sin and defilement. We will be as pure as Christ Himself.

If our conversation is in heaven we will speak with one another often of these things, encouraging one another. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 says: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." We are commanded to comfort one another with these words.

These things should excite us unto all Godliness, delighting in the revealed will of our God as He makes us meet or fit in character to share in the inheritance of the saints. We see in 1 Corinthians 15:55-58: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Where are our hearts? Do we delight in the light? Do we want to know where we offend, so we can repent and correct it?

Source: Gospel Chapel Ministries

See Also:

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for Kyomtho - Easter Sunday

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