The Easter factor...Jesus and our resurrection
by Gini Crawford, MSW
posted 3/4/2009, revised 3/7/2013
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My uncle Ott would say, “I am just going to a pine box in the ground when I die, so why be in a hurry.” He would say this quite often, and the looks he got were priceless, as you can imagine. Yet as reality is, he got old and developed Parkinson’s disease. Several months before he died, the certainty of death hit him hard, which made him very afraid. He was entirely serious when he started screaming for Jesus to forgive his sins, as he rode to the hospital in the ambulance.
What happens to us after death (as Ott realized) is something we do need to take very seriously. This is because the Bible says,
… man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment Hebrews 9:27 (NIV)
We don’t get a second chance after we die to choose the eternity we want. You either live on in a state the Bible calls eternal life with God, or live away from God, in eternal punishment (destruction or ruin). The Apostle Paul explains eternal punishment in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9,
… dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power… NASB®
Do you realize, God never wanted to punish you eternally, away from Him! He created you to have a relationship with Him (Jeremiah 31:3).
What did He do to stop the horror of eternal death for us? The God of the universe stepped out of eternity, so He could become one of us, and live, and die for us.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)
And if that wasn’t enough, God whose character is completely absent of sin, whose whole being instinctively abhors sin, took our sin, not His own, upon Himself, when He died on the cross. He was our substitute. This was so our sins could be fully forgiven.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB®
What you need to do to have eternal life in heaven instead of eternal death in hell is - believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty of your sins upon the cross.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 NASB®
Have you ever thought about what will happen to you when you die? I think a lot of people believe that when we die - we just decay somewhere, or we become a part of some good force in the universe, or become angels. However, the Old and New Testament teach something very different. They teach death is a state of separation, not extinction of self, because starting from our birth we are eternal beings! As I said above, “We either live with God in heaven or away from Him in hell, after we die physically.” Both existences are eternal.
My dear friend experienced something miraculous when her mother died of cancer last year. This happening literally gave her a visible glimpse of our eternal existence. Below is the story.
My friend’s mother who had been a strong Christian for many decades, battled with cancer the last few years of her life. Yet, she kept a great attitude in the Lord and lived life to its fullest. However, about two months before she died her body started to struggle greatly with the effects of cancer. As the weeks went on she got sicker and her body got weaker until she was like a skeleton. The last two weeks of her life she was in coma and didn’t respond to her children who had all come to be with her. My friend said it was so hard to see her beloved mother lay there with the only sign of life being faint breathing. As the days went on, everyone who saw her wondered why she had not died yet. Then one early morning a miracle happened, her mother’s eyes slightly opened and she started to react to people around her. My friend said her mother was cooing like an infant who was happy, and would answer them when they asked her things with this heavenly sound. One of the questions they ask her was, do you see Jesus? They knew by her response that she was. After hours of being in this world, as well as seeing the next - Jesus took her, and she left her earthly body behind and stepped into eternity.
When we die physically our bodies are buried or cremated by one means or another, but our soul and spirit live on. Of course this means we are eternal. My friend’s mother was experiencing her soul and spirit living on, and her body becoming a lifeless shell.
You might be wondering what spirit, body, and soul mean? The distinction between spirit and soul are difficult to understand in the Bible, but the distinction between body and spirit is clear. So let’s zero in on what our spirit and body do. From James 2:26 we know it is our spirit that gives us life, because the body without the spirit is dead. Our spirit also is our inner self. In other words who you are will live on. So we could say, our earthly bodies are a shell for living in this world.
Sometime in the future, after your soul and spirit have departed, your earthly body will be resurrected. Your resurrected body will be a renewed body very much like your old one but this one will be made specifically for living eternally with God (1 Corinthians 15). However, if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ (which is the only way you can have eternal life instead of eternal death), you will get a body sometime after your physical death too. Yet this resurrected body is suited to live on in hell or the lake of fire (Revelations 20).
…there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Acts 24:15 (NIV)
Since this devotion’s theme is about our resurrection, it just makes sense we should understand what the word “resurrection” means in the Greek language. It means standing on the feet again or rising as opposed to falling, also the resurrection of the body from death, return to life.
What did Jesus’ resurrection do for us? It is very important for you to realize if Jesus had not risen from the dead, you would not be able to have eternal life. You would be stuck on a path that would keep you spiritually dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-3). This is because without Jesus’ death, there would be nothing to take away your sins, or your criminal acts against God (Psalms 51). This would make you doomed to eternal death and punishment away from God.
You see, Jesus’ resurrection proved His death on a cross was an act from the God of the universe, not just a man’s unselfish and noble act (Romans 1:4). God knew only God Himself could satisfy His own just anger against sins that were committed against Him (Isaiah 53). Without Jesus’ resurrection there would have been no victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). We would still be held in slavery to sin that resulted in our eternal death.
…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.... 1 Corinthians 15:17 NASB®
Jesus’ resurrection also gives us the hope that in eternity, as Christians, we will rise bodily, just like Him. Our resurrection gives us an imperishable body that is just right for a life with God in heaven. I do not know about you, but at my age, an imperishable body sounds awfully exciting. My perishable body here on this earth is starting to get spoiled we could say. I fight one wrinkle with supposedly a miracle cream and when I think I see some improvement (maybe it’s just the placebo effect), two more have appeared. No amount of anything seems to do much to stop the slippery slope of aging that is a part of our state of death. When you look at your body and feel the physical, psychological and spiritual distresses of that body (I know some of you are in awful pain and are crippled in this earthly body), don’t forget the promise of our new one. It certainly gives a beautiful new meaning to the old phrase, off with the old and on with the new. Doesn’t it?
And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:49-54 NASB®
You might be thinking, do we get our new and improved body soon after we die? 2 Corinthians 5 explains this answer somewhat.
Now we know that if the earthly tent (body) we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (NIV)
There is speculation we might get a temporary body until we receive our resurrected bodies. However we know for sure from scripture, we will be with Jesus, and we will be in a conscious state as ourselves. This is because (remember) our spirit and soul lives on. We also know from 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 - that we will get a superdupered up, resurrected body when Jesus descends and shouts for us from heaven to be resurrected.
Let’s end with a summary of what eternity will mean to a Christian. The moment you die, you will be looking at Jesus. Whatever had caused your physical death, maybe cancer, an accident, a heart attack, murder, torture and so on - the suffering from it will be lifted immediately as you enter into eternity. (Truthfully and wonderfully, all pain and suffering and its effects, both the physical and psychological will be gone from you, forever.) You will feel a peace and joy I could never explain to you, because I am bound to the feelings and thoughts of this fallen world. Are you conscious of your life on this earth? You bet, because your spirit and soul live on. You are also more aware and have clearer understanding than was ever possible on this earth. This will allow you to have God’s perception instead of how you used to perceive people, things and events. Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-12. Do you see and understand what is happening on this earth? The Bible seems to teach this. Read Luke 16:19-31, Hebrews 11:1-12:2, Revelations 6:9-11 & 19:1-5. You will of course be with Jesus, but you also will be with others who have died before you in Him. Read Mark 12:26-27 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 also 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. (These 2 passages talk about the rapture. The rapture is when Jesus’ literally calls all Christians into eternity and we get our heavenly bodies whether we were dead (asleep) at the time or alive, to live forever with God and each other. Hallelujah!)
Life application: If Jesus came back for you today - would you be ashamed of your life in Him, or would you feel you have walked with Him as much as possible? Read Galatians 5:16-26
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