R1591-316 Bible Study: The Resurrection

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IV. QUAR., LESSON VI., NOV. 5, 1 COR. 15:12-26

Golden Text—”Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Cor. 15:57

VERSES 12-19 call attention to the great importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, presenting it as the twin of the other great doctrine which the Apostle set forth “first of all” (verse 3)—”how that Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures,” to which fundamental doctrine it stands related as effect to cause. So important is this doctrine in the estimation of the inspired Apostle, that he emphatically declares that, if it be not true, then there is no hope for any man beyond the present life; the preaching of the gospel is in vain, and those who preach it are false witnesses; the death of Christ was for naught; the faith of Christians is vain, and their hope delusive; and their life of sacrifice, in view of the resurrection and its rewards, merely robs them of what little enjoyment and advantage they might gain in the present life, which is all they would ever have; and those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. Such indeed is our sad plight if there be no resurrection. If this, which Christ died to secure, is not guaranteed to us, to be realized in due time, we are yet in our sins and under the death penalty without a ray of hope. And more: if there be no resurrection, although the price was paid to secure it, then God is not fulfilling his part of the contract.

While verses 12-19 declare the great importance of this twin doctrine of the ransom—the resurrection—verses 20-26 emphasize its truthfulness. The resurrection of Christ, attested by many infallible proofs (verses 5-8; Acts 1:3), is the guarantee that all those whom he redeemed by his precious blood shall have not only an awakening from death, but an opportunity to attain a complete resurrection to all the blessings and favors lost in the fall. That was the assurance which God gave to all men (Acts 17:31) that the ransom for the sins of the whole world given at Calvary was acceptable, a full satisfaction of the claims of Justice against our race, so that now he can be just, and the justifier of all that believe in Jesus.—Rom. 3:26.

In verse 20 let Christians observe what the various creeds of Christendom ignore, and what is in direct antagonism to their teachings, viz., that the risen Christ was “the first-fruits of them that slept“—that he was the first one to experience a resurrection in the full sense of the term, viz., to perfection and everlasting life. True, some before him were temporarily awakened, again to relapse into death; for example, Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, the Shunammite’s son, etc., but those were only partial illustrations of resurrection, to assure men of the divine power to fully accomplish it in due time—in the day which God has appointed. (Acts 17:31.) Now mark the logic of this fact: If Christ was the first one resurrected, none were resurrected before him; and if, as shown in the preceding verses, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, except they be restored to life by a resurrection; and if those who die in Christ, “sleep in Jesus,” until Christ’s second coming, it is plain that none of them went to heaven when they died. They were dead, they slept in Jesus, they rested in hope, they were destroyed, and must remain so until the time appointed for their resurrection—at the second advent of Christ when “all those that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (1 Thes. 4:14.) David hath not ascended into the heavens (Acts 2:34); Daniel must wait, and he shall stand in his lot at the end of the days (Dan. 12:13); Abraham must wait his time for the possession of the promised land of which he never yet owned so much as to set his foot upon (Acts 7:5); Job must tarry until the wrath of this evil day is overpast (Job 14:12-15,21); Stephen must wait the realization of his dying vision (Acts 7:56); and Paul, and with him all those that love the Lord’s appearing, must wait the fulness of time when the reward of their faithfulness will be due.—2 Tim. 4:8.

All this Scripture teaching is in perfect accord; but it is in irreconcilable conflict with the current theology of so-called Christendom,

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in whose theories there is no place whatever for the doctrine of the resurrection, logically considered. If a man goes to heaven when he dies, and is glad to shuffle off this mortal coil which some call his prison, although he loves and cherishes it and stays in it as long as possible, why, in the name of reason, should he hope for a reunion with his body? The whole position is illogical, unscriptural and untenable.

VERSE 21 antagonizes the current theology with equal force. It declares that since by man came death, by manthe man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all—came also the resurrection of the dead. Current theology says that our redemption is secured by the sacrifice of a God, not a man; but the Scriptures are very explicit in pointing out an exact equivalent, a human substitute for the human head of our race, whose redemption secures the redemption of his posterity, on precisely the same principle that his fall and condemnation entailed sin and death upon us. It was the man Christ Jesus, who, after he had left the glory of his previous spiritual existence and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, said, “a body hast thou prepared me for the suffering of death,” that accomplished our redemption by the sacrifice of himself—his

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flesh, his humanity, and that in consequence of that sacrifice has been highly exalted, even to the divine nature—”Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth.”—Phil. 2:8-11.

It was after the resurrection that he said, “All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me.” And if this exaltation and power were granted to him as a reward for his sacrifice, then it is manifest that, however rich he was in spiritual glory and power before he became a man, he was still more bountifully endowed at his resurrection, after he had sacrificed his humanity, being made a partaker of the divine nature and the express image of his Father’s person. (Heb. 1:3.) When the man Christ Jesus gave “his flesh [his humanity] for the life of the world” (John 6:51), he gave it up never to take it again; for it was the price paid for our redemption. And consequently, when he was raised again, his existence was in a new nature, that thus our benefits might not be interfered with, and also that the abundant power of the divine nature given unto him might be exercised in actually reclaiming from the thraldom of sin and death those whom he had legally rescued by his death.

VERSES 22,23 show that all who are Christ’s—by faith in his sacrifice—are to receive the benefits of his death in full resurrection to the perfection and lasting life forfeited in Eden. The order of resurrection is to be Christ the firstfruits, which includes not only Christ Jesus, the head and high-priest of our profession, but also all the members of his body—”Blessed and holy are all they that have part in the first resurrection.” Then, after the resurrection of this glorious body, follows the resurrection of all that are his at [during] his [Christ’s] presence”—Greek parousia, presence, not coming.

The time of his presence is the entire thousand years of his reign. During that period all that are in their graves [good and bad, the just and the unjust] 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 judgment”—Greek krisis, judgment, not damnation. (John 5:28,29.) The former class enter immediately upon their reward of full resurrection—human perfection, while the latter class awake to a judgment, or trial for everlasting life, which it will be their privilege to gain if they become Christ’s by fully submitting themselves to his discipline and control. Otherwise their trial will be cut short at a hundred years and they will die the second death, from which there is no recovery. (Isa. 65:20.) None out of Christ will be made alive, fully resurrected, though all experience the awakening from death, which is the first step in the process of resurrection, and a trial to prove their worthiness or unworthiness of the fulness of resurrection, which is actual perfection and everlasting life. “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:12.) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”—John 3:36.

VERSES 24,25 assure us of the victory of Christ, and in what that victory will consist—that it will consist in the complete subjection of every opposing power and authority,

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and in the putting of all the enemies of this, his purpose, under his feet, whether those enemies be evil conditions, principles, powers or individuals. He will banish all evil conditions by permitting first a great time of trouble (Dan. 12:1), and then by causing conditions of righteousness and peace to supplant them. He will forever banish the evil principles by flooding the world with his light and truth and by effectually renewing a right spirit in the hearts of all the willing and obedient. He will completely overcome every opposing power by the exercise of his own almighty power for their complete and final overthrow. And he will put down every opposing individual by cutting him off in the second death, from which there shall be no recovery.

“He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet;” and the limited time of that reign is a thousand years (Rev. 20:6-10), at the expiration of which time all opposing individuals, and the devil who deceived and led them, are to be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. (Rev. 20:7-15.) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death—not the second death into which the opposers have been cast, else the language would be contradictory, but the Adamic death, which Christ came to destroy by liberating all its subjects, which, to fully accomplish, will require all of his Millennial reign.

In the words of our Golden Text, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


— October 15, 1893 —