Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | May 21, 2006

Essential to the Faith

In our culture we have a skewed understanding of what are essentials and what are non-essentials.  I have this conversation with my wife all the time when we discuss her normal spending patterns.  On a more grander scale, however in our culture we have come to believe that our high standard of living (relative to the rest of history) such as owning homes (over 2000 square feet), automobiles, televisions, dvds, computers, etc are essentials in our lives.  We live in a consumer culture and commercials are designed to get us to think that we need these luxuries in life.  However, the human race survived quite well for millennia without these “essentials”, which proves that many of things we believe are essentials are really luxuries.  Food, water, shelter and clothing are the bare necessities that we need to survive…government should also be added to this list.  Unless we have these essentials in some meager form we cannot survive.  Of course, in our culture we have these things in abundance and can provide these necessities in much more elaborate forms than are required.

Conversely, in Christianity there are essential beliefs that must be subscribed to in order to qualify one as being orthodox.  Unless these essentials are believed then, similarly described on our 4/28/06 post, you might as well be attending a social club rather than a Church.  It’s ironic that many in our culture may dogmatically assert that luxuries, as described above, are essentials yet nonchalantly deny the need to uncompromisingly hold to the essential beliefs.  Today we consider one of these essential beliefs contained within the Apostles Creed.  Christ’s resurrection is an essential belief to Christianity and Question 45 of the Heidelberg Catechism goes on to describe how this benefits us:    

Q. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us? 

A.  First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death. 1 Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life. 2 Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.  3

1.  Romans 4:25:  He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. 1 Corinthians 15:16-20: For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  Peter 1:3-5:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

2.  Romans 6:5-11:  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.  For the death that He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:4-6:  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Colossians 3:1-4:  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

3.  Romans 8:11:  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  1 Corinthians 15:12-23:  Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But is there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.  Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised…For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  Philippians 3:20-21:  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Christ’s resurrection is a fundamental event that is part of the accomplished work of redemption.  Unless Christ was resurrected, as the Apostle Paul states, our faith is in vain.  This event was Christ’s vindication over His enemies and His victory over the final enemy, death.  This event was so integral to the Christian religion that it is the primary reason the worship of God’s people was changed from Saturday to Sunday.  Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week and became known as the Lord’s Day, Sunday, when Christians gathered to worship and proclaim the good news of their Lord.

We too will participate in the resurrection of all mankind and those who are the Lord’s will dwell within a new body for eternity.  It will be interesting to see how these bodies will differ from our current ones and if we will still recognize each other.  There is another resurrection, however that the catechism indicates that Christians experience before this resurrection that will not occur until the last day.  This first resurrection is associated with our regeneration, which is the process where spiritually dead people are made alive by the Holy Spirit and become believers.  Not everybody experiences this first resurrection, however everybody will experience the second resurrection. 

This Lord's Day reflect on this essential truth of the resurrection of our Lord.  We are still within the period known in the Church as Easter where we celebrate and contemplate this great truth.  Coincidently, we will be moving to the portion of the Creed that considers Christ's Ascension and Ascension Day is this Thursday.  Until next time God bless.

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