Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Essentials of the Gospel, Part 5

Throughout the ages the gospel has been attacked over and over again by satanic forces that want to water down the truth of salvation found only in Christ. That attack will continue all the way through the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus. The cults always distort and twist the truth of salvation by grace but lately, the attack and distortion is coming from within our own evangelical circles. 

Some are promoting a cross-less salvation, or a works salvation. Whatever the changes are that depart from what the Bible teaches bends the truth and weakens the marvelous fact of what God did to save lost humanity. 

While many more points can be listed, below are seven essentials that are necessary pillars of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

(5) The Resurrection of Christ
There is no gospel without the truth about the resurrection. This is a cardinal doctrine of Scripture. It will be the Lord Jesus who will give new life not only to the church saints but those who have died as believers in other generations of the past.

The believers in the Old Testament and the saints in the New Testament knew well that there would be a resurrection of those who trusted in God. Great passages such as Job 19:25-27 give strong confirmation as to the resurrection. The verses read: "Though my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; … my eyes shall see and not another." Daniel adds to this: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (12:2). To make certain that Daniel understood that he too would come forth from the grave, the angel Michael who was speaking to him added: "You will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age" (v. 13).

At the death of her brother Lazarus, Martha said to Christ, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day" (John 11:23). Jesus then made it clear that He Himself would be the One who would give the power to the resurrection, for both the Old Testament saints and the believers in the coming church age. He said: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (v. 25). 

There are two main Greek words used for the concept of the resurrection. One is anastasis. ana=up, and stasis=to stand. Or, "to stand up." Another word is exanastasis. It comes from three words: ex=out, ana=up, and stasis=to stand. Or, "To come forth and stand up." It is found only in Philippians 3:11: Paul says, I am "being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the ‘coming forth and standing up’ from the dead."
The word "resurrection" is used fifteen times in the Gospels. The Gospels were still part of the Old Testament dispensation. This tells us the doctrine was well believed and taught among the Old Testament believers. 

In the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection as it relates to church saints, Paul makes it clear we in this economy have a connection with Christ that grants us new life in Him. He says, "We have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6:5). In Paul’s definition of the gospel he said: "I delivered to you (in this gospel I preached) as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4). There can be no gospel without these three main components! Because of His resurrection, and because we are now in Him, we have the guarantee of the same new eternal life.

The apostle Peter makes a direct connection between the idea of being born again, with the necessity of the resurrection. He writes, "According to His great mercy [He] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3). By this, and through the resurrection, we are given "an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (v. 4). Our imperishable inheritance is because we are now related to the Holy One and now receive eternal life and an eternal new body because of His work on the cross!
It must be remembered that there is also a resurrection for judgment of the lost and the wicked. Daniel mentioned this (Dan. 12:2) and so did Christ in John 5:29.

While I do not agree with everything Dr. Norman Geisler publishes, I think he has written the defining volume on the resurrection entitled: The Battle for the Resurrection published by Thomas Nelson. I believe the book is presently out of print but I urge those interested to try to obtain a copy.

Concerning the resurrection mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15, Dr. Dan Mitchell writes in his commentary: "The third truth of the gospel is ‘He was raised’ (v.4). Paul uses the aorist tense to speak of Christ’s death and burial as singular events. Now he uses the perfect passive tense to stress abiding results. Elsewhere Paul uses similar language to speak of God’s miraculous power in the performance of the resurrection (Acts 13:22, 30-37; Rom. 4:24-25)." Mitchell lists fifteen points that are highlighted about the doctrine of the resurrection in his textbook. Mitchell’s discussion on 1 Corinthians 15 is outstanding! The book is: (Mal Couch, Ed Hindson, gen. eds., The Book of First Corinthians [AMG Publications, 2004])

To tamper with the doctrine of the resurrection is to destroy the full definition of the gospel. Without the resurrection there is no gospel!