“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Death and Resurrection, Part II

…Perhaps one could say there are two ways in which we die and are raised. First, Christ’s saving work makes possible our bodily resurrection from death, when he returns. Only through the justification achieved on the cross could we sinners be lifted out of sin and death. This is the “general” resurrection from the dead, foreshadowed first in Daniel 12 and spoken of further in the NT, particularly in 1 Corinthians 15. Christ is the “firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:20, Revelation 1:5; see also Hebrews 1:6), and although he is our Lord and King he is called the “firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). Jesus Christ, the man who was God, was the first to rise from death with a new resurrection body. He ushered in the kingdom of heaven on earth and turned the tide in the history of redemption – away from death and decay, and towards life, renewed and restored. We are predestined to be made into his likeness and to be glorified with him (Romans 8:29-30, 2 Corinthians 3:18). Although we live now in natural bodies, bound to death and decay because of sin (it was in the garden that we first died), we will be raised with glorious, imperishable spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-57). Similarly, Christ is spoken of as the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [died]” (1 Corinthians 15:20), and we will follow him, being raised as the fruit of his work on the cross (verse 23, James 1:18). In Romans 8, Paul tells how God ordained the fall, subjecting his creation to the death and decay that resulted from sin. This was done, though, with the greater purpose of resurrection in mind. Redemption is a painful process because we must pass through death and the reality of a fallen world, but we have the hope of glory:

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” – Romans 8:19-23

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