The Basis of
"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain." 1 Corinthians 15:14 NASB
THE SERPENT told Eve, "Ye shall not surely die." That lie obscures the importance of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, and all philosophies built upon that lie further minimize the resurrection's importance.
It is commonly thought that there really is no such thing as death. Rather, people think that when they die they are merely in a state of transition. Some hold that Jesus did not actually die, not realizing that if such were true, then His "resurrection" was no resurrection at all.
It is essential to understand what death and resurrection are. Death is the opposite of life--a falling away from life. Resurrection is restoring the life which had ceased to exist, a setting up again, a giving back. Death is the end of being; resurrection is the restoration of being. When we understand this, Christ's resurrection can be understood as a momentous display of God's mighty power. God's resurrecting power is greater than sin or death--and death is sin's inescapable result in every human being.
The more one yearns for God, the more the Bible's teaching about resurrection satisfies our longings. The more we know of life's disappointments, injustices, and failures, the more our sense of love, justice, and equity encourages us to accept the resurrection as a fact. The future resurrection of all vindicates God's character. Because of the resurrection, we see God as loving and just. We can understand how "...all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" and thus that "Christ died for the ungodly."--Rom. 3:23, 5:6
Jesus Christ did rise from the dead! The Apostle Paul testified to that great event in 1 Cor. 15:3-8: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."
We are confident about salvation through Jesus Christ because of the testimony of others. They, from personal knowledge, wrote about Jesus' rising from the dead. If their witness is false, then Christian faith and our hope of a future life is without foundation. But our redeemer, Jesus, died for our sins. A savior who has not arisen from death can offer no hope of salvation! We rejoice that "Christ has arisen." The New Testament writers appealed to the reality of Christ's resurrection as the basis of faith and hope. Paul taught that Jesus' resurrection was a foundation teaching of our faith:
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."--1 Cor. 15:17-20
The Good News of the Resurrection
What is the Good News about Jesus? Briefly, it is salvation through belief in His sacrificial death and in His resurrection. The apostles taught this Gospel. The Gospel's dual aspects are prominent in Romans 4:25: "Who [Jesus] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
Peter emphasized these aspects on the day of Pentecost. He testified, "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it...Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."--Acts 2:24,36
If Christ is not raised, believers remain under the dominion of sin and death. If Christ is not raised, then no power exists that can deliver anyone from God's just condemnation to death and overcome sin in us. Without resurrection, the holy life, ministry and death of Jesus would profit neither Him nor others.
Without the resurrection, Satan has conquered. The qualities which Jesus embodied and exemplified--innocence, purity, faithfulness, truth, love--are crushed. Malice, hatred and wickedness would triumph over them. Without the resurrection, the prince of darkness has blotted out the prince of light!
But Jesus Christ did rise from the dead! The Apostle's words ring out victoriously: "But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruit of them that slept."--1 Cor. 15:20
Christianity is still lightly esteemed. It is ridiculed and openly assaulted. Infidelity is on the rise. Pagan philosophies belittle Jesus' principles and judge Him a weakling.
Why is Jesus' resurrection important? Because by raising Jesus from death to the power of an endless life, God showed that He approved of all that Jesus did and taught. Jesus is "...declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."--Rom. 1:4; see also 1 Cor. 15:15.
Those who love darkness shun the doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection. These essential Bible truths imply that moral renovation and spiritual quickening are essential. Those who love darkness do not want to change their life-style. They not only do not want to admit that God's way is better, they don't want to admit that their choices will inevitably end in their own death.
God instructs us throughout the Bible that we should choose between doing our will or His. Those who respond favorably to this counsel stand before God to acknowledge their shame and nakedness. They accept Jesus' righteousness to cover their nakedness and understand that His Word and spirit are ready to direct their lives in righteous paths.
You cannot avoid making a choice. If you postpone the good choice, you have effectively rejected God's loving provision.
Jesus Did Not Forfeit His Life
Jesus' resurrection from the dead was unique. He could only be raised again if He fully obeyed His heavenly Father. Only then would the just God not allow Him to remain dead. (Acts 2:24) If God had resurrected Jesus due to other considerations, God's behavior would have been inconsistent. Had He done so, His creation would never know whether to trust the Almighty to keep His promises.
Jesus' death was voluntary, sacrificial and substitutional. He had said: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father."--John 10:17,18
Jesus presented Himself as a sacrifice, that is, an offering for sin. Why? Because God asked Him to do so. He obeyed His Father. (Heb. 10:5-9) Why did God raise Jesus from the dead and highly exalt Him? Because Jesus fully surrendered His human life and self-will to God. God found this humility and obedience entirely acceptable. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up...because it was not possible that He should be holden of it."--Acts 2:23,24
Jesus Christ never endangered His reward by disobedience. He yielded His life on the cross according to the will of God. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him" (Phil. 2:9, also see vss. 5-11) and "...made that same Jesus,...both Lord and Christ."--Acts 2:36
Hebrews 9 describes how that perfect, unforfeited life was used. Soon after His resurrection, "through His own blood, He entered the holy place [heaven itself] once for all, having obtained eternal redemption," and appeared "in the presence of God for us," vss. 12, 24.
That work being accomplished, only one step remains. Each person must do their part in order to be blessed through Jesus' great sacrifice and subsequent resurrection. Each person must become aware of, confess, and repent of their own sin and disobedience. They must acknowledge Jesus' righteous life and sacrifice. They must submit to the Master and learn the principles He taught. In other words, they must follow Him daily in the pathway of salvation. Those steps are summarized in the last half of Heb. 9:28: "...and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Now considered are the three elements in the last portion of verse 28: 'look,' 'second time,' and 'appear.'
'Look' = 'Eagerly Expecting'
We know of no New Testament translation completed within the past 100 years that represents the Greek word apekdekomenous with the word 'look.' They all use some other word or words. Linguistic authorities say that the thought in the expression is of 'expecting' or 'eagerly expecting' Him, the One who made the offering for sin and Who now has authority to save those who seek Him. Thus, the text is saying that they are 'eagerly expecting' His appearance to save them from sin and bring them the promised eternal life.
That is what Hebrews 7:19 says Jesus has done for us: "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God."
We suggest that there is no basis for viewing the expression "a second time" (Heb. 9:28) as a reference to our Lord's second advent. No word in the context even remotely means 'coming' or 'advent.' Interlinear texts read 'a second.' 'Second' connects with the thought of appearing--a second appearance. First Jesus is perceived as a sin offering; then, and based upon that essential sacrifice, He is perceived as the bringer of salvation. The promise is that He shall appear to those who eagerly expect Him. It does not apply to His second advent, when "all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him."--Rev. 1:7
Notice the three occurrences of 'appear[ed]' in Hebrews 9:24-28, KJV. Each occurrence represents a Greek word having a somewhat different meaning. In verse 24, it is from a form of emphanizo (Strong #1718), defined as "to manifest, to exhibit (in person)"--"now to appear in the presence of God for us." In verse 26, 'appeared' is from phaneroo (Strong #5319)--"but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (NASB).
'Horao' the Base of 'Ophtheesetai'
The word 'appear' in the verse-28 phrase we have been considering is from the Greek ophtheesetai, third person singular future passive of horao, Strong #3708. It is not from #3700 as shown under 'Appear,' in its identification after Heb. 9:28 in Strong's Concordance. Liddell & Scott omits as a primary listing both of the two verbs shown under #3700; Bauer and Moulton both omit the second. Please see the reference to #3708 in the Strong's #3700 listing.
The definition of horao supplied by the authorities clearly authorizes the meaning suggested for its use in Heb. 9:28. Strong: "to discern clearly (physically or mentally)." Thayer: "to see with the mind, to perceive, know." Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich: "figuratively of mental or spiritual perception." Liddell & Scott: "used of mental sight, to discern, perceive." Two other passages confirm its meaning as 'seeing with the mind':
Heb. 11:27--"as seeing him who is invisible" Acts 8:23--"For I perceive..."
Jesus has appeared to our spiritual understanding in these two essential services: as the sin offering and as the bringer of salvation. These are the same dual aspects of the Gospel seen foregoing in Rom. 4:25. Believers have lived the experience described in Hebrews 9:24-28. After we confess our unrighteousness, and understand that His righteousness was our sin offering, we "eagerly expect" Him to bless us with salvation. We have not been disappointed.
These perceptions and the reality of Jesus Christ's resurrection instill special hope in those who claim God's promises in faith: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."--1 Peter 1:3,4
Believers in Jesus Christ hear the "upward call of God" (Phil. 3:14). He invites believers to joint-heirship with His dear Son, our living Head. That calling fosters a purifying hope in us, by which we sustain a combat against the forces of evil. He helps us choose association with Jesus in spite of all the shame and ignominy which that choice may provoke. His holy spirit enables our mental vision to perceive invisible (that is, spiritual) things. We trust God's promises, not what we see, feel, hear, touch or smell. We count today's afflictions as momentary inconveniences-- "knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus."--2 Cor. 3:14
By God's grace Jesus Christ 'tasted death for every man' (Heb. 2:9). As the man Christ Jesus, He gave himself "a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6) in order to become "the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). All humans are thus assured of a share in the resurrection through the work of Jesus. How do we know that? "Because [God] hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead."--Acts 17:31
Jesus Christ's resurrection is God's assurance to us who believe that sin and death no longer reign over us. And everyone will have a full opportunity to participate in resurrection. And this remarkable experience, the Bible assures, awaits all men: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruit of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead."--1 Cor. 15:20,21
For Me to Live is Christ
God showed us that His power can triumph over death. He showed us this by resurrecting Jesus Christ. The resurrection means that God's justice, wisdom, and inherent goodness will eventually be vindicated. A new and living hope flows forth from God's promises and those who proclaim them. It is the hope of an "...inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. 1:4). Enlivened by such hope, we can view all things from a new perspective.
Those who are alive in Christ receive eternal life through faith. They can view their life in the light of eternity. Sin and death will be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:25,26,54) just as surely as all who are in their graves will come forth. Jesus made that simple but far-reaching promise in John 5:28,29 and Rev. 21:1-4.
"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'"--John 5:28,29, Rev. 21:1-4 NASB
Our Master also taught the resurrection of all in His profoundly simple words: "I am the resurrection and the life."--John 11:25
In view of such promises, the Apostle Peter encouraged believers: "...sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."--1 Pet. 3:15
The reality of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead is the basis of our hope.
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