Victory Over Death

KEY VERSE: “Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.” —Matthew 28:7

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 27:62-66

THE Christian world at this season of the year professes to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, but because it believes that nothing has occurred since to indicate that anything is to come out of that miracle which will advantageously affect the experiences of this suffering and dying world, it exercises little faith that such will ever be the case.

There is not much in the world today to suggest the thought of the resurrection—rather, it is a time of slaughter and destruction. The grim specter of death is hanging over practically every home in the world. These very conditions, however, emphasize the need of a resurrection, and give real point to the promises of God which assure us of hope beyond the grave.

The resurrection hope set forth in the Bible is centered in the fact that Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, was himself raised from the dead, and with him Gethsemane and Calvary preceded the joys of the resurrection. With Jesus, a miracle was performed in which God used his mighty power to raise him from the dead.

If we can believe in the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, and can believe that the God who raised him from the dead will fulfill his promises to raise all mankind from death, then the resurrection of Jesus, commemorated again this year, should mean more to us than ever before.

The sense of God’s message is that he will use his miracle-working power to make an end of human suffering and death. The resurrection of Jesus is one of God’s greatest guarantees of this fact. Actually, the resurrection of Jesus was but the beginning of a whole series of miracles which, before they are all performed, will see Edenic perfection and happiness restored worldwide, and mankind restored to life upon the earth, enjoying peace, prosperity, and health forever.

This is the blessed assurance that the Bible gives us over and over again! It is clearly set forth when the Apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ resurrection in connection with the hope of the church, as well as the hope of the world, pointing out to us that if Christ were not raised from the dead, then our faith is vain, and they who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

As already noted, however, the resurrection of Jesus was but the beginning of a series of miracles on behalf of mankind. Paul says, “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” The term ‘firstfruits’ indicates that others are to be raised from the dead, that there are to be ‘after-fruits’. These after-fruits of the resurrection will eventually include all of the sin-cursed and dying world, redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Paul says, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” And again, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” This shows that the work of redemption through Christ is to be as far-reaching as the effects of the fall through father Adam.

The apostle, in explaining God’s program of resurrection, indicates that there is a certain and definite order in connection therewith. He says, “Every man in his own order. Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Thus we see that while all in Christ are to be made alive, it was not God’s plan that this be accomplished all in one moment. There is an orderly sequence in God’s resurrection program, beginning with Christ the firstfruits, and concluding with the resurrection of those who become Christ’s during the thousand years of his presence.

The term firstfruits, as used by the apostle, includes the church of Christ as well as Jesus himself. The prophecies indicate that already we are living in the dawning of Messiah’s second presence. The first manifestation of that presence, so far as the world is concerned, is in a great time of trouble, during which the kingdoms of this world are overthrown, preparatory to the reign of Christ.

We are witnessing this today, which means that we can look forward into the near future with confidence, realizing that the power which raised Jesus from the dead is soon to be used again. This fact should bring us much comfort.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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