The Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Protestant faith, yet the church is unsettling in its ambiguity on this subject. Furthermore, it is usually only discussed at Easter and I have found over the years that the sermons on this subject are both ambiguous and abstract. I suggest that this is the exact opposite of enlightening and has created a confusion among the laity which is reflected in every funeral service which we attend. I believe that many of our clergy do not believe in the physical resurrection and this is compounded by the fact that they have no understanding of the Kingdom of God which they find, “within our hearts”. Even the Second Coming cannot be taken literally, so in their minds, Christ has already returned, “in our hearts.”
The apostle Paul preached the Resurrection as the absolute cornerstone of our faith. For example, 1st Corinthians 16:18, “If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” The resurrection is re-inforced in the verses 4:16-18, 1st Thessalonians, “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 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.”
Previously, I mentioned funeral services. Well that is the place that we hear that our souls have gone to heaven where we can enjoy that august environment, worshiping and praising God. Then, when resurrected, our souls depart from heaven to respond to the bodies leaving the grave at the call of our Lord. For me, that does not put the Resurrection in a favourable light! At a recent funeral I attended, I commented to the presiding minister that we ,”short-circuited”, the Resurrection, with souls embarking for heaven at the point of death. This defines death as a transition from one life to another. This is not so! While God preserves our souls, “in the secret places”, to be united with our new incorruptible bodies on Resurrection day, there is no awareness during our wait, in sleep, in the grave. I offer two quotes. Ecc. 9:10, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave wither thou goest.” And Psalm 115:17, “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” SO, DEAD IS DEAD! By the way, the challenged minister responded by saying it was too complicated to explain!
The clergy have failed to realize that heaven is the exclusive abode of God. In John 3:13, Jesus says, “And NO MAN hath ascended up to heaven: but He that came down from heaven even the Son of Man which is in heaven.”
This raises a question. If we are not resurrected to enter into heaven, where do we go? Right here, that’s where! God created the earth as a paradise for man and gave man dominion over the earth. To teach men to follow His eternal rules, He founded a kingdom at Sinai and although the people of that kingdom floundered, falling short of the glory of God, He sent a Redeemer of the Kingdom of Israel, Christ Jesus whom we adore. When Jesus returns, as promised, He will establish and extend the Kingdom and peace will flourish throughout the whole world, encompassed by the glory of God. Those of us who achieve the First Resurrection will rule with Christ in His kingdom, through the seventh day of the Millennium, through one thousand years. Following this period of peace, Satan must be loosed for a little time, and the Second Resurrection will occur, some raised to eternal life, and some to judgment. (This could be the subject of a complete article itself so I will not address it here.)
Because the clergy have spiritualized the Kingdom, there is no understanding of the bulk of the Bible story. Jesus selected Abraham to be the founder of the Kingdom because of his faithfulness. This continued through Isaac and Jacob and Jacob’s twelve sons. The Old Testament is full of the stories of the kingdom of Israel, and later, during the reign of Rehoboam, the splitting of the kingdom into the House of Israel and the House of Judah. The prophets also advised us that the two Houses would be united again under one king. This will occur when Shiloh comes, whose right it is, who is the Appointed One, to reign over the whole House of Israel. Gabriel explained this to Mary, when he indicated that Jesus would rule over the House of Jacob, (the whole House of Israel). It is noteworthy that this is not the case to-day.
Queen Elizabeth preserves David’s throne, but many of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, and the Scandinavian, and other related peoples are not under her jurisdiction.
So, to summarize, we start by saying the Resurrection is real, it will happen, and we will be resurrected with incorruptible bodies to enter and serve in the Kingdom of God with Jesus reigning among us on earth. Why do we believe this? Because Jesus said He would lay down His life and take it up again in three days. AND HE DID!!! When He demonstrated publicly His great power with the resurrection of Lazurus, Martha said, (before the resurrection) “I know that he shall rise again at the Resurrection at the last day.” And Jesus replied, John 11:25, “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.” Jesus also told Nicodemus that to enter the Kingdom of God, man must be born again. Over Nicodemus’ protests, Jesus explained the Resurrection, where we exchange earthly bodies for spiritual bodies and enter the Kingdom for eternity.
This story of Nicodemus contains the famous John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
BELIEVE IN HIM!!!!