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Thinking about the resurrection

Followers of Jesus believe in more than life after death!  There are plenty of people, religious and otherwise, believe in that.  No, what Christians believe in is distinctive.  They believe in the resurrection of the body.  Resurrection is not reincarnation where we’re given a different body than the one we had.  Neither is it a leaving behind of the body to enter some spiritualized state of existence.  Resurrection is about the body that died being brought back to life.

Jesus is the ultimate definer of the resurrection (1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:20).  If He was given a different body or rose to a spiritualized existence, then the His tomb wouldn’t have been empty because there would be no need for it to be.  But it was!  However then we understand the resurrection, we must understand it as the bringing to life of the body that died.
Resurrection is about the (ultimate) redemption of the body (Romans 8:23ff).  The body that was placed under the sentence of death due to sin (Genesis 3:19), will have that curse lifted through Jesus.  Why is this so important?  Because we are more than spirit, we are also body.  We are body and spirit.  This is the way God made us (before there was any such thing as sin).  It may sound “spiritual” to some to say things like, “what you see is not the real me,” or “what’s inside will live forever,” and by doing so marginalize the body, but it is without biblical merit.  Redemption isn’t just about being forgiven of our sins (and who would wish to minimize that?); it is also about the restoration of our body. 

A second truth worth noting is that resurrected life is a different kind of life than life before resurrection.  Romans 6:9 is helpful here.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  While on earth, Jesus body was subject to death and indeed experienced death but His resurrected body cannot die.  He told John, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades,” (Revelation 1:18).  He has the keys --- death no longer has mastery over Him!  But there is more ---- He lived under law, He lived as a Jewish man, He lived with a view toward offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, etc.  None of those things is true of His resurrected life.  It is the same body but a different kind of life.

This is important because it is the whole point behind Paul’s argument in Romans 6 that Christians cannot live the same kind of life after their resurrection at baptism, as they lived before.  Before baptism, we were subject to death.  The Scripture speaks of the unrighteous being raised, but it is a resurrection to condemnation involving destruction of the body and soul (John 5:29; Matthew 10:28).  Previous to coming into union with Christ at baptism, death was our destiny!  But the resurrected Christ who is making all things new, causes us to pass out of death into life (John 5:24).  We will still die physically, but that is no longer our final destiny --- our destiny is life!  But there’s more.  Before our baptism we live under law, but now we live under grace (Romans 6:14).  Before we were in the flesh, now we live by the Spirit (Romans 8:9ff).

None of this should be understood to mean that our resurrection at baptism somehow precludes or replaces the fullness we will experience when our bodies are raised “to live.”  Rather, the Scriptures encourage us to think of what happens to us at baptism as something like a deposit on our future bodily resurrection.  At baptism, not only were we raised with Christ, but we received the Spirit --- the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).  This Spirit guarantees what is to come (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22,5:1-5).   

 The resurrection is a deep, rich subject that is about so much more than simply our bodies being raised in a far off future.  It has to do with us a new kind of life of life when we come to Him.  It has to do with God continuing through the church (the body of Christ), the work He began in raising Christ from the dead.  It has to do with the risen Christ making all things new (Revelation 21:5).  May God help us to see this and live out these realities for Him!
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