The revelation of Christ.
One of the things that I love about preaching the word of God, which is the holy Bible, is that in It we hear God and see God and know God and love God. And all of those things are true, and they can only be true, by having faith in Jesus as our Sin-Bearer Savior.
The Bible alone is how we see Christ savingly, hear Christ, know Christ, and love Christ. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. (2 Tim.3:14-17, Rom.10:1-17, Jas.1:18, I Pt.1:22-25)
Beloved, this is what separates a Christian from a non-Christian. This is what separates a vital Christian from a nominal Christian, which means this separates the sheep of Christ from the goats. Believers come to this passage and they believe in Christ. And I mean, really believe in Christ. He is our only comfort in life. He is our only hope in death.
We are not here because our culture or upbringing says on Sunday or on a special Sunday in the year, engage in the religious rites of our culture or our upbringing. We are here to meet ‘our’ Christ. To grow in Him and to grow in our appreciation of the salvation, the eternal life He gives us. To thank Him and love Him for it. As we meet Him in His word.
The Risen Christ tells us that He walks among the lampstands of His church as them worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. And His word is truth. (Jn.17:17)
Oh how we should love God’s holy word. All of it. The law and the gospel. The law shows us our need of Christ. The gospel shows us our Christ. And the whole Bible is sufficient to build us up in Him.
May years ago, a young man named Joe was roofing our church. He came in for a cup of cold water. And as I shared Jesus with him, he opened up his mouth and it was like a record of the Bible. I asked him where he learned so much Bible and so much about Christ. He smiled and said, prison. Beloved, my prayer is that we would use our lockdown to feast upon God’s word to live upon God’s Christ.
I just mentioned the gospel. The gospel is the good news of Jesus as the One that atones for our sins and sets us free by His blood. This is the doctrine of the Cross. (Rev.1:8)
I Corinthians 15:1. Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Do you see how the Holy Spirit throws us back upon Scripture?
The Scripture says, Christ died for our sins. The wages of sin is death. The souls that sins must die. And Christ took our place. The scripture says Christ rose again from the dead. God says this. Notice the connection between believing in Christ for the forgiveness of Christ now and raising again on the Last Day to eternal life.
The fear of death.
There could not be a more appropriate message for our particular time in human history. How I wish churches would be full all over the world worshiping this One, but they will not be. The better part of the world is on government mandated lockdown due to the virus. This is certainly the case here in America, here in Florida.
Let us assume for the sake of argument that what is motivating the leaders to prescribe this national quarantine is to prevent the death of our population, of our citizenry. Civil magistrates have ordered what they have ordered because they do not want the virus to spread and to cause the death of our people. (WCF 23.1, Belgic Confession – Article 36, Rom.13:1-8, I Pt.2:11-19)
I do not think it is an understatement to say that the fear that this covid 19 virus has caused is palpable. The atmosphere of fear is so intense it is almost like we can touch it. Modern technology can be used for good or for evil; it can bring soothing comfort or awful anxiety. Think of the capacity to generate what we call ‘news’ seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day, and all over the globe. If there is not enough news about America to frighten you, you can absorb death and mayhem in China, Italy, anywhere with the click of a button.
Now fear is something inside of us, a feeling, an emotion. The fear is based on what we think or what we believe, but the trembling and the anxiety and the racing of the heart of fear is a feeling. The emotional life of mankind has been put in dread of death.
And I will say this, not in dread of death in the conceptual or theoretical sense, nor in the general sense. Anyone with even a bit of age on them know that things die. Even little children ages three or four know that pets die, and people die. But this fear of death is more than just intellectual or propositional. It is not merely general fear, fear that some other human being will die. There certainly is some of that as family members are afraid that their family members will contract the virus and die. But the dread is something else. The dread is intensely personal. We are not afraid someone else will. It is ‘I will die’. Death is an intensely personal thing.
Listen to Martin Luther. Every man must do two things alone. He must do his own believing and his own dying.
Beloved, all will die. Male, female, black, white, rich, poor. Death is the great leveler. Think of the curse in Genesis 3:1-24. (Ge.2:16-17, Eph.2:1-3) God has appointed for every human being the day and the way of their death. (Ps.139:16, Job 14:5-14) After which comes the judgment of all men. (Heb.9:27)
Look and listen. Men are trembling for a fear of their death. But there is no fear of God before their eyes. And there is no fear of sin; which is the great cause of death.
The estates of Christ.
God gives us the answer to that fear of death in Jesus Christ.
Though this chapter is very large, the themes contained within it are actually very few. Perhaps I could boil it down to two main truths and these relate to the estate of Christ as the God-Man Mediator from an estate of humiliation to an estate of exaltation.
And then the application is made to those in Christ. In this life we exist in an estate of humiliation. In the next life we will exist in an estate of exaltation.
Please get that pattern. Suffering and death now. Bliss and life then. That is what Paul is getting at in this section of verses 40 – 49.
The humiliation of Christ.
Let’s look at Christ’s estate of humiliation. We are told in our passage, that Jesus lived and then He died and was buried. That is Christ’s estate of humiliation. Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead, condescended to take human flesh and become man, to be born under law for men, for us.
Christ willingly entered into this estate of fallen man.
Let me read for you a summary what this estate consists of from our shorter catechism.
The sinfulness of the estate that we are born into consist of this:
WSC 18 The sinfulness of that estate wherein man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it. (1)
(1) Rom. 5:12,19; Rom. 5:10-20; Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14,15; Matt. 15:19.
The misery of the estate of man that we are born into consists of this:
WSC 19 All mankind by their fall lost communion with God,(1) are under his wrath and curse,(2) and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.(3)
(1) Gen. 3:8,10,24. (2) Eph. 2:2,3; Gal. 3:10. (3) Lam. 3:39; Rom. 6:23; Matt. 25:41,46.
Think of that. Holy Son of God, life personified. He took human flesh for the very purpose of making it possible for Himself TO die.
Hebrews 10:4. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME;6 IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE.7 “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'”8 After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law),9 then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second.10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Jesus Christ dying for sins on the cross was the death of death as the English Puritan John Owen said. Christ defeated death by His death. Christ removed the sting of death which is sin, which is the broken law by His death for them that believe. (I Cor.15:56, I Jn.3:4-9, Mk.9:23)
This is our loving merciful sympathetic High Priest, even our sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. (Heb.2:9-18, Heb.4:8-16)Christ left Glory and entered into an estate of humiliation, to be made like His brothers in every way except sin. This is the solidarity and the sympathy of God with us, Immanuel.
Beloved, Christ is the love of God to us sinners. (Jn.3:16) His death is God’s love for us. His resurrection and ascension is His love for us. (I Jn.3:7-12)
The exaltation of Christ.
Christ entered into His estate of exaltation when He rose from the dead. There are four elements to Christ’s exaltation; resurrection, ascension, session, and return for judgment.
The objections of resurrection.
Paul says here in our passage if the dead do not rise that would logicially mean that Christ did not rise from the dead. That would mean Christ erred or lied when He said that He would rise again. That would mean He is not our sinless sacrifice. That would mean we are still in our sins. And we are soon to enter into an eternal estate where God will punish us for our sins. (I Cor.15:13)
Now as regarding the resurrection from the dead being too incredible to believe that it is utter nonsense. Think of this. The God of the Bible is eternally self existent. And He created all things out of nothing by the word of His power in the space of six days and all very good. Nothing is impossible for our God.
God gave life. God created the body and the soul. That same power can refashion a new body in the resurrection.
The proof of resurrection.
Let me say something that may sound strange to you. Christ’s resurrection from the dead was not the first resurrection from the dead recorded in Scripture.
By the power of God through Elijah, He raised the son of the widow of Zarephath.
(I Kg.17:24) By the power of God through Elisha, He raised the son of the Shunammite woman.
(2 Kg.4:8-37) Listen to this next account.
2 Kings 13:20.Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year.21 As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.
Now let’s think about the NT. In Christ’s earthly ministry He had already raised a number of people from the dead. The only son of the widow of Nain. (Lk.7:15) The ruler of the synagogue Jairus, Christ raised his daughter. Talitha kum – little lamb come forth. (Mk.5:41, Lk.8:55) Jesus raised Lazarus. (Jn.11:44) Even at Christ’s own resurrection there were others that also rose from their graves. (Mt.27:52)
But all of these people went on to die again and return to the dust.
Jesus Christ is the first one to rise from the dead and enter into an estate of exaltation, never to die again. (Acts 13:34)
Revelation 1:17. I am the first and the last,18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
The lesson of resurrection.
Scripture is true.
The resurrection of Christ proves the veracity of Holy Spirit. That God is true. And we can trust our eternal soul to His word. He did not allow His Holy One to suffer decay Psalm 16 fulfilled.
Jesus is the Christ.
Romans 1: 1.Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Acts 17:31)
This is God confirming His word by His deed; confirming Jesus is the Christ. This is the purpose of miracles.
Christ is God.
Also think of this. God raised all those other people. Christ says by His own power He lays down His life, by His own power He takes it up again. (Jn.10:18) Christ is God.
John 1:4.In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (Jn.5:21-29)
The dead will rise.
The great truth set before us from God’s holy word is that there shall be a resurrection of the dead. Those that have died will come to life again. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof of that.
We will rise. Christ died as a public person. Christ rose as a public person. He died for our sins. He rose for OUR justification. (Rom.4:25) This speaks to our spiritual and unbreakable union we have with Jesus.
Christ’s resurrection is the causes and the pattern of our resurrection. He has the power to give life to our lifeless bodies. Oh beloved what good news!
Those who die in the Lord are not dead. Those who die believing in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are alive. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is not the God of the dead but the God of the living. The Mount of Transfiguration was a glimpse of our resurrection in the resurrected glorified living Christ Jesus. (Mt.17:1-13, Mk.9:1-13, Lk.9:28-36, Lk.20:38)
You remember what it looked like.Moses and Elijah met with Christ on the mountain. The glory of God came down in the shekinah cloud of God and enveloped them.
All those who die in Christ live with Christ. This is what Christ’s resurrection from the dead testifies of. Death is not the end. At the end of this life there is another life.
Christ has gone out of this sphere. But He lives immediately, bodily in another sphere, though He is with us by His Spirit always.
You see this truth is not something for us to hold as an interesting tidbit of information. No. This truth of Christ over death, Christ over the grace is meant for us to get this into our heart.
Oh Beloved, look around at the better part of humanity. Man is so addicted to the sin of practical atheism. They live as if there is no God. They live as if they have no immortal soul. They live as if there is no life after death. They do not prepare for their death. They do not think about what will happen to them when they die. Where will they go? What will happen to them?
Oh Beloved, the Bible says that God put eternity into the heart of man. Men know. They know. Even when they say they do not know. They do. They can lie to themselves all they want.
But for the Believer in Christ, Christ has broken the power of the lie. Christ is the way, the truth and the life. He is the resurrection and the life. Oh beloved, we do not vanish into thin air when we die. Our body rests in our grave, as Christ’s body rested in His grave.
Our soul goes immediately into Paradise, as did Christ’s the moment we breath our last. To be absent from the flesh is to be present with the Lord. Christ’s victory over the grave, proves this, to them that believe. (Lk.23:43, 2 Cor.12:4, Rev.2:7, 2 Cor.5:6-11,Heb. 12:23, 2 Cor. 5:1-8, Phil. 1:23, Lk. 23:43, 1 Thess. 4:14, Isa. 57:2, Job. 19:26-27)
Then on the Great Day, the Day of Judgement, God by His infinite power with cause our bodies to rise from the dust. God will give us new glorified bodies.
Christ rose from the dead with His own real body. Christ did not merely as a spirit, like a ghost. Christ physically rose from the dead. You remember to prove this, after He rose from the dead Christ said to His disciples give me a piece of fish to eat. (Lk.24:36-47)
You see Beloved, God is training us to live on His word, to believe on His word. The flesh says, dead men do not rise from their graves. Faith says, God’s word says Christ did – Christ did.
The treasure of faith.
Oh beloved, what a great treasure we have been given. We have what the world does not have. We have what the world must have.
We have been given faith in Jesus Christ who has the words of eternal life. (Jn.6:27-69) As Christians we have received Christ and He has freed us from the slavish fear of death. Christ has set us free for life, abundant life, spiritual and eternal life. (Heb.2:15, 2 Cor.4:7-18)
Beloved, we often say on this day, He lives! Oh, He does live. But’s let’s mean it. Let’s live it out. Let’s live knowing we serve a living Christ. Let’s live the faith we say. Let’s live knowing death is not the end for the Believer in the Risen Christ. Let that truth radically transform everything about us. Our thoughts, our words, our actions. He lives. Only believe.
The responsibility of faith.
Remember, if we will not speak up to our trembling countrymen who will? If we will not share Christ the One who overcomes death and gives everlasting life who will? (2 Cor.5:7-21)
I Corinthians 15:58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Let the love of our living Christ compel you to share the good news of eternal life to perishing souls. (Lk.14:23, 2 Cor.5:14, Gal.2:20) Look around Beloved, every person you meet will soon die. The field is white for the harvest. Tell them of Christ. That they may live and not die.
Christ is the resurrection and the life, everyone who believes in Him will live, even if they die. (Jn.11:21-26)
- Why can you not know God in Christ savingly from natural revelation? What do you learn about God and man in natural revelation? Why is Christ only known savingly from the Holy Scripture? What is the content of the gospel of salvation? (Rom.1:18-32, Jn.3:1-16, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Rom.10:1-17, Jas.1:18, I Pt.1:22-25, Jn.17:1-17, Rev.1:1-8, I Cor.15:1-6, WCF 1.1)
- What is the work of the minister of Christ? Should the minister practice politics in his ministry?(Isa. 9:1-7, 1 Tim. 5:17, I Thess. 5:12; Acts 20:17-18, Heb. 13:7-24, 1 Cor. 12:28, Mt. 28:18-20, Mt. 16:19, Mt. 18:17-18, Jn 20:21-23, 2 Cor. 2:6-8, WCF 31.5, 2 Tim.2:1-5)
- Did God appoint civil rulers to govern civil society? What is the work of minister of state? (WCF 23.1-3, Belgic Confession – Article 36, Rom.13:1-8, I Pt.2:11-19, WCF 20.4, WCF 30.1)
- Why is death in the world? Why do men die? How is God sovereign in our death? What lessons do we learn by this? Should men fear their death? Why? Why not?(Gen.2:16-17, Rom.5:12-21, Rom.6:23, Eph.2:1-3, Gen. 3:1-24, Ps.139:16, Job 14:5-14, Heb.9:27)
- Interact act with this quote by Martin Luther (1483-1546). Every man must do two things alone. He must do his own believing and his own dying.
- What is the sinfulness and misery into which mankind excepting Christ is born into. This is our estate of humiliation. (Rom. 5:12-19, Rom. 5:10-20, Eph. 2:1-3; Jas. 1:14-15, Mt.15:19, Gen.3:8-24, Eph. 2:1-3, Gal. 3:10, Lam. 3:39, Rom. 6:23, Mt.25:41-46)
- What is Christ’s estate of humiliation consist of? Why did Christ enter into this estate?(Lk.2:7, Gal. 4:4, Heb. 12:2-3, Isa. 53:2-3, Lk. 22:44, Mt. 27:46, Phil. 2:8, 1 Cor. 15:3-4, Acts 2:24-31)
- What is Christ’s estate of exaltation? What lessons do we learn by this? (1 Cor. 15:4, Mk. 16:19, Eph. 1:20, Acts 1:11, Acts 17:31)
- List some people in the Bible that were raised from the dead. Use OT and NT. How did their resurrections differ from Christ’s? How is Christ’s resurrection unique?(I Kg.17:24, 2 Kg.4:8-37, 2 Kg.13:20-21, Lk.7:15, Mk.5:41, Lk.8:55, Jn.11:44, Mt.27:52, Acts 13:34, Rom.6:1-9)
- What does the resurrection of Christ prove? What benefit does this have for you? (Ps.16, I Cor.15:1-6, 2 Tim.3:14-15, Rom.1:1-4, Acts 17:31, Jn.10:18, Jn.1:1-18, Jn.5:21-29, Rom.4:25)
- What happens to Believers in Christ when we die? What happens to Believers on the Day of Judgment when all the dead will rise? How then should we live? (Heb. 12:23, 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:23, Lk. 23:43, 1 Thess. 4:14, Isa. 57:2, Job. 19:26-27, 1 Cor. 15:43, Mt. 25:23; Mt. 10:32, 1 Jn 3:2, I Cor. 13:12, 1 Thess. 4:17-18)
- Given the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and our eternal life in Him do we as Believers have responsibilities to Christ and to people?(2 Cor.5:7-21, I Cor.15:58, Lk.14:23, 2 Cor.5:14, Gal.2:20, Jn.11:21-26)