There once lived a man named Job. He is familiar to many of us Ð a man who suffered much. But it had not always been that
way. Once he was a wealthy man with a fine family enjoying good health. Then came the hard days. He lost his wealth; his children were killed in what today we would call a tornado. He
was afflicted with disease and suffered much.
It was in those difficult days that Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes Ð I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
These words came from a man who lived before Christ came to be the world’s Redeemer, but in a prophetic way, Job delivered the central truth of the Gospel. Death has been defeated in the resurrected Christ. Not only has Christ been raised from the dead, but one day those who died trusting in Christ as their Savior will be raised. This is what we confess in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” St. Paul reaffirms this same truth when he writes, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Corinthians 15:42-44)
It is natural that humans, who learn the Biblical teaching regarding the resurrection of the body, would ask, “You mean that my body will be resurrected?”
“Yes,” the Christian replies. “You confess that in the worship service.”
“I probably do, but I just haven’t given it much thought. In fact, I wonder if I really believe it,” is the faithful church attender’s answer.
That was the feeling of the person who came to Jesus one day with a question about the resurrection. He was a Samaritan, and they didn’t believe in the resurrection. “Master,” he said, “suppose a man with a lot of brothers died. Now it is the law that his oldest brother has to marry the widow. The marriage takes place, but then her second husband died. This is repeated several times. In the resurrection this woman has been married to seven men. Whose wife will she be?”
Jesus answered that in heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage.
Today our question might be, “What about those who have been cremated, and their ashes have been thrown into the depth of the sea? How will that body be raised?”
I don’t know, but I do like what Dr. George Forell writes. This former professor at the University of Iowa says, “The doctrine of the resurrection asserts that God, who created humans in the
first place, can recreate us.” He is the Almighty, and His works go far beyond what our little minds can comprehend. But you have a right to ask, “What relevance does this teaching have to our day? Can’t you find something that affects us where we are right now?”
Stop and think for a moment. Would you rather live with the threats of society or the promises of God? Our President said that if we do not defeat terrorism, and nuclear weapons fall into the hands of the terrorists, all of civilization could be destroyed. He is not speaking idle words. This is a threat that could come to be. But our Savior said, “I promise those who receive me as Savior and Lord a place in heaven with a new body.” Again, do you want to live with the threat or the promise?
A few weeks ago, I preached at an installation service where two friends were involved. The pastor of the church, who was officiating at the installation service, has terminal cancer. He has served this congregation for 25 years. The man, who was being installed as the new pastor, has been successfully treated for cancer and has been declared cancer free. It was not the way either of them wanted it to be, but in spite of the afflictions they have gone through, there was a peace in their souls that radiated in their faces and a confidence in their voices as they confessed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”
I put my arms around the terminally ill pastor when the service was over and said, “You delivered the message today. I spoke words. You demonstrated the truth of the message that I proclaimed from God’s holy Word.” Looking at me with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, he said, “We live with the promises of God.” For him it was not the message of defeat that had come from his doctor, but the message of victory that comes to him from His Lord.
Isn’t this a relevant message?
Jesus says, “Believers in Him are God’s children.” Then He gives us a new title:
CHILDREN OF THE RESURRECTION
I have been doubly blessed. For these few years on this earth I have been able to say, “I am an American and a child of the resurrection.” But one day, when this life is over, I will still wear the title, a child of the resurrection. These are also your titles, if you live with His promises.