Lord of Life

KEY VERSE: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” —John 11:25

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 11:17-27, 38-44

THE doctrine of the resurrection is the only hope held out in the Scriptures for a future life after death. And yet, both by Christian and non-Christian alike, it is perhaps the least understood and least believed statement of God’s method of achieving salvation for mankind.

All the various ‘no-death’ theories rule out the Bible’s teachings concerning the resurrection of the dead. If no one really dies, then there are no dead to be resurrected. But when we accept the Bible’s teachings that death is the penalty for sin, and that there is no hope of life beyond the grave at all except through a resurrection of the dead, then it is natural to inquire concerning the details of the resurrection. Thinkers in Paul’s day did the same, and he expresses their question thus: “Some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what bodies do they come?”—I Cor. 15:35

Paul answers this question, saying, “That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, … but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” (I Cor. 15:36-38) Two great truths are set forth in this passage. One is the fact, as we have previously stated, that there must be death in order for there to be a resurrection of the dead—“That which thou sowest [in death] is not quickened [made alive], except it die.” It would seem that even in Paul’s day there were those who denied the reality of death.

The other truth here set forth is that the body we sow in death is not the body which will be restored in the resurrection. By this statement Paul robs many theologians of the only apparent way of harmonizing their no-death theories with the Bible’s teachings of the resurrection; for, say they, while the ‘immortal soul’ does not die, it is the dead body which is to be resurrected. Certain creeds state it this way: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”

But Paul does not agree with this, for he says, “Thou sowest not [in death] that body which shall be.” In our English versions of the Bible, the pronoun ‘it’ is used to describe that which is to be restored to life in the resurrection. Thus ‘it’ is not a so-called immortal soul, for if it were, it could not die, and Paul insists that there has to be death in order to have a resurrection of the dead. Neither is the ‘it’ the body, for as we have seen, the body sown in death is not the body to be restored in the resurrection.

The matter is not a complex one. The ‘it’ simply refers to one’s personality, a personality which has developed from infancy through all the years of life. In the resurrection it is this identity or mind of the individual which will be given life in a new body. It will indeed be a miracle because the body which now houses the mind dies, and this ‘life recording’ is later given a new body in which to function. It is this that will be done by divine power in the resurrection.

Certainly the great Creator, who, as the Bible says, knows the number of the stars, and has given them all names, will have no difficulty with the resources available to him, in preserving the identity of all the millions who have died, and restoring them to life in the resurrection. It is just this that the Creator of all life has promised to do!

All mankind are included in the statement in Isaiah: “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: and they shall obtain joy and gladness.”—Isa. 35:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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