THE RESULTS OF CHRIST'S WORK
In Psalm 40:6-10 we see the purpose of the Son's coming into the world and taking on Himself the form of man in order to do the will of God completely and to accomplish that concerning which sacrifices and offerings only in a limited and imperfect manner had done. It was in three realms that our Lord wrought and accomplished eternal results, namely, on the cross, in Hades, and in His resurrection. Let us therefore examine the work accomplished in these three places.
I. ON THE CROSS
On the last day of our Lord's public ministry, as we have already seen, certain Greeks who had come to the Temple at Jerusalem wanted to see Jesus. This incident brought before His vision anew and in an overwhelming manner the purpose for which He had come into the world. Up to this time our Lord had confined His ministry largely--though not completely--within the boundaries of Israel. On one notable occasion He especially lifted His eyes and looked beyond the borders of the Chosen People and declared, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16). In this passage these other sheep, Gentiles who are hungry and thirsty for truth, were seen upon the distant horizon. But not so on the occasion which we have under consideration. The Lord Jesus was here in the shadow of the cross, for it was only three days ahead, of Him. He therefore cried: "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. III. IN THE RESURRECTION
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will the Father honor. 27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (John 12:23-28).
His heart was thrilled by seeing in the coming of these Greeks a token of the fulfillment of the vision of the prophet which is found in Isaiah 65:1-7.¹ There also loomed before His mind and heart the cross--the price that He would have to pay in bringing the myriads of seeking Gentiles back to God. At the same time He could see from Isaiah's prediction that His own beloved people had turned away from Him as a group and had determined to go their own way. This sad fact dealt a crushing blow to His heart. He naturally, from the human standpoint, would shrink from the horrible experience of being alienated from God and from suffering the excruciating pain of the crucifixion. His spirit was therefore troubled. This occasion was indeed a major epoch, if not the major crisis, thus far in His earthly life. But from the beginning His attitude of soul had been: "I have come not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." He had set His face like a flint to do the will of God irrespective of all consequences. On this occasion the necessity of the cross, with all that was entailed in it, came anew to His soul. He therefore declared, "Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit." Continuing the contemplation of the cross, He applied to Himself the principle which He laid down for others and which He expressed in the words, "He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will the Father honor." Thus His soul was stirred to the very depths. In His further meditation on His enduring the cruel sufferings of the cross, He addressed the following questions to Himself: "And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour."
He did not direct this question to anyone but to His own innermost soul. Then, without a moment's hesitation, He spurned the thought of praying God to deliver Him from that hour and declared: "But for this cause came I unto this hour." Then, looking by faith up into the face of God the Father, He prayed: "Father, glorify thy name."
Instantly there came a voice out of heaven which declared: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." Keeping the situation clearly in mind which called forth this meditation and prayer, we see that the thing referred to by the statement, "I have glorified it," was the testimony which God had given to Him in connection with His ministry to His Chosen People, the Jews. "And will glorify it again" without a doubt referred to the fact that God would still glorify the name of the Lord Jesus among the Gentiles throughout the world, the token of which was the Greeks desiring to see Him on this occasion.
The force of any testimony, or evidence, depends upon the attitude and the desire of those who hear and see it. "Convince a man against his will, and he is of the same opinion still." The multitude of those who were standing by heard this voice from heaven. To some of the people it was just simply thunder. To others it was the voice of an angel speaking. To the one group the voice was no more than a noise; to the other, it was audible language. The former group did not have ears to hear; the latter, though they did have ears to hear and did perceive the audible voice, did not have spiritual insight and desire for truth so that they could recognize it as the voice of God the Father to the Son. We may suppose that there were those who really had ears to hear, and who understood the import of this voice--even though they are not mentioned in the blanket statement which referred to the multitudes and their inability to understand this message from God. Then Jesus declared "This voice hath not come for my sake, but for your sakes." God in loving-kindness had spoken audibly in order that the Jews might at this final hour see the truth and accept the Saviour. That the message was intended to be understood by the multitudes, had they been in an attitude to receive it, might be judged by the first testimony which God bore to the Son when He was baptized. On that former occasion God spoke from heaven saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Quite obviously He was pointing out Jesus as His own Son who had miraculously come into the world, and in whom He was well pleased. The people who heard that voice, and who had ears to hear, could understand its import. In the same way let us, from this passage, take a warning: Unless our hearts are open to the truth, and we have the courage of our convictions, the testimony of God to Jesus Christ His Son will be no more to us than thunder, even though it be the voice of God Almighty in whom we live, move, and have our being.
Following this statement regarding the purpose of the voice, Jesus made the momentous announcement to the multitude: "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself. 33 But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die" (John 12:31-33). These three verses constitute a proclamation of the greatest revolution that the world has ever seen. In 31a we have the declaration regarding the judgment of the world; but in 31b is the prediction that the prince of this world (Satan) is to be cast out; following this in verse 32 is the prediction that the world is to have a new sovereign.
What is the significance of the word, judgment, in the sentence, "Now is the judgment of this world"? It certainly cannot mean the pronouncement of condemnation to the entire world, as some commentators have supposed. This statement must be viewed in the light of such passages as John 3:16-21: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him. 18 He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God." The basis for judging the world was laid in the events of the execution of Jesus the Messiah. That portion of the world, looking to Him and believing that He is what He claimed to be--the Saviour of humanity and the Messiah and King of Israel--accept Him, obtain eternal life, and never come into judgment: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into Judgment, but hath passed out of death into life" (John 5:24). On the other hand, the great masses of humanity pass before the cross with indifference and unconcern and refuse to accept His atoning work in their behalf. In their doing this, judgment is passed upon them unto condemnation. Thus the beginning of the judgment of the world was on the Friday on which Jesus was crucified.
Little did the world suspect that the basis of its being judged was being laid on that day. Fifty days later, at Pentecost, the significance of the judgment of that Friday became publicly known as it was proclaimed in Jerusalem by men endued with power from on high by the Holy Spirit. Forty years later, when Jerusalem was destroyed, the stroke of judgment fell upon the Chosen People who as a nation had rejected their long-expected Messiah. The final scene of the judgment will occur at the conclusion of the millennial reign of our Lord when all the lost will be brought before the judgment of the great white throne and will hear the awful pronouncement of their eternal doom (Rev. 20:11-15). "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
The next stupendous fact which Jesus announced was: "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out." Satan is the prince of this world who has retained a terrific hold upon the world ever since Adam's fall. This he has held, as we have already seen, through the power of sin. The Lord Jesus recognized the approach of Satan on this occasion and at different times until the very end. Thus He declared, as we see in John 14:30: "I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me ..." There was nothing in the Son of God to which the devil could point, and of which he could take hold. Since in no way Satan had any claim upon Him, and since He was Deity in human form, He could cast the devil down from his high position of authority and power.
Satan was and is the prince of this world, the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4). It is true that many of the ancient rabbis considered the world as being under the dominion of sin, but in their speaking thus they made Israel an exception to the rule. In this they were mistaken. The Scriptures do not make any arbitrary distinctions.
Though the devil was potentially conquered at the cross and was shorn of his absolute power over the world, in the wisdom of God and by the sufferance of the Almighty he still exercises great authority. When God can righteously--in keeping with the principles of His moral regime--do so, He will bruise Satan under our feet: "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20).
Jesus thus remained alone the conqueror of the world. From that moment onward, the world has had a different monarch--none other than King Messiah--Satan having, in this manner, lost his power and authority over the world. If this is true, why then is there still rebellion upon the earth? Why does Satan still exercise authority as evidently he does? The reason doubtless lies in the fact that men in general have not surrendered their wills to do the will of God. On the contrary, they yield themselves to the prince of the powers of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience, who is none other than Satan (Eph. 2:1-4). But during the present time, since the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ, the new King of the world, has been seated enthroned in glory. During this time He has sent forth His messengers of truth to the nations, pleading with them to accept the truth and salvation. He is waiting the time when Satan will overstep the bounds of this authority by leaving the high plane upon which he was created and become the energizer of the Antichrist, the man of sin. When he thus takes that step, the Son of God will deal with him drastically and will establish His reign of righteousness throughout the earth.
The Lord Jesus in speaking of His being lifted up from the earth was, as we learn in John 12:33, indicating that He was to die by crucifixion. It was by this tragic death that the crisis of the world was brought about and the god of this world was dethroned. Jesus, the new ruler, was enthroned.
The Apostle Paul, in discussing the death of the Lord Jesus and that which was accomplished by it, spoke of the facts in the following words: "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14,15). Since Christ championed man's cause, He entered the human realm and, as a man on the level of humanity and in the realm of the will, fought with Satan and overthrew his power by submitting to death. The penalty of man's disobedience was death. Death was his master. Man's master had to be conquered. The only way that it could be done was by Christ's championing man's cause and by conquering death itself. By the Lord's doing this, He brought to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. When on the cross Jesus cried out in His expiring breath, "It is finished," He meant that the battle had been fought and the victory won, and that Satan, who held the power of death, had been conquered,
"28 After this Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, that the scripture might be accomplished, saith, I thirst. 29 There was set there a vessel full of vinegar: so they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop, and brought it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit" (John 19:28-30).
Again, Paul declared: "And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; 14 having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; 15 having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:13-15). The sting of death is sin. The power of sin is the law. (See I Cor. 15:56,57.) So long as law exists to which man is amenable, just so long does death have power over man. In order to deliver man from the power of death, Christ had to meet the demands of the broken law and cancel "the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us" and to take it out of the way. In doing this, He nailed it to the cross and canceled the obligation which He himself personally had met.
As He was on the cross, having taken upon Himself the sins of the world, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit turned their backs upon Him. This was in accordance with their holiness, for they cannot countenance sin in any shape or form. Yet the Son of God by faith looked through the dark veil that separated Him from the Father and held on by faith. As He did this, all the powers of the unseen world were marshaled against Him. But He fought them, conquered Satan, rendered him inoperative, and disarmed all of these powers. This is seen in the following statement:
"Having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The participle translated "having despoiled" is in the middle voice and has two meanings: (1) unclothing oneself; (2) stripping off the armor (of enemies). When we take all the facts into consideration, we are convinced that the second of these two meanings is that which accords with the facts of this context: The hostile, evil rulers and powers of darkness were marshaled against the Son of God as He suffered upon the cross. But by faith He won the victory, floored Satan, vanquished his army, and disarmed them as a conqueror on the field of battle does to the vanquished foe.
The Apostle John spoke of what Christ did by His death on the cross and declared that it was to this end that the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil: "... he that doeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8). Christ destroyed or brought to nought the works of the devil by conquering Satan and the numerous spirits and powers that are subservient to his will. This He did on the cross.
The broken fellowship between God and the believer is restored by Christ's having abolished death in our behalf. On the cross He did this. Hence we glory in the blood of His cross. "… for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. 10 And madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth" (Rev. 5:9b,10). On Calvary Jesus executed the divine plan whereby He can restore to fellowship with God everyone who accepts His atoning sacrifice. His great love and yearning desire for sinful man are evident even in His dying agony on the cross when He said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Let me summarize what was accomplished on the cross by giving a quotation from my volume, What Men Must Believe. "Christ Jesus, the God-man, having set His face like a flint to redeem man, marched directly into the jaws of death and by so doing laid down His life, shedding His blood, for our redemption. He accomplished the utter defeat of Satan and thus liberated man.
"The sentence of eternal death, which, like the sword of Damocles, had hung over the entire race from the time of Adam's transgression, would have sent every mortal being into a never-ending perdition. But the eternal Son, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, came and voluntarily allowed the stroke of judgment, which was due to fall upon each of us, to fall in all its fury upon Him, 'becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross' (Phil. 2:8). In doing this, He was 'the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world'--inborn sin (John 1:29). Taking also in His body all our sins, He went to the cross to bear them in our stead. In that tragic hour He cried out, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' When in this manner He took our place, God the Father, who could not brook sin, forsook Him as He did Adam in the garden--even though Jesus was the Son of God, one of the Eternal Trinity. It was then that Deity paid the eternal death penalty for man. It was then that God the Father forsook Him and He entered the chambers of death and Sheol alone. It was then that He, our Lord and Redeemer, battled unaided with Satan and conquered him, snatching from him the keys of death and hades.
"O thou eternal Victim, slain
A sacrifice for guilty man,
By the eternal Spirit made
An offering in the sinner's stead;
Our everlasting Priest art thou,
Pleading thy death for sinners now.
Thy offering still continues new;
Thy vesture keeps its crimson hue;
Thou art the ever-slaughtered Lamb,
Thy priesthood still remains the same;
Thy years, O Lord, can never fail;
Thy goodness is unchangeable.
O that faith may never move,
But stand unshaken as thy love!
Sure evidence of things unseen,
Passing the years that intervene,
Now let it view upon the tree
The Lord, who bleeds and dies for me.
II. IN HADES
When the Lord Jesus was put to death on the cross, His body was laid in the tomb, but His spirit went down to Hades. There He made an announcement to "the spirits in prison, that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water ..." (I Pet. 3:19,20). From this passage we learn that Christ went and made an announcement to the spirits that were in prison, those that were disobedient in the days of Noah. This passage has been interpreted as meaning that He preached the gospel to certain spirits and offered a second chance--a chance after death--to accept salvation. There is no warrant in this passage for such a thought. We do not know the character of the announcement that was made. Moreover, men as disembodied souls in the underworld are nowhere called spirits. Hence it is pure assumption to assert that there is a second chance for people after death to accept the truth. This position is contrary to Hebrews 9:27 which declares: "And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment ..."
In Paul's second letter to Timothy he declared that Christ Jesus "abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ..." (II Tim. 1:10). When the Lord Jesus was released by death from the self-imposed limitations of His mortal body, He again was free to exercise His unlimited powers as He in His wisdom saw fit. When He therefore in the spirit passed through the portal of death into the underworld, He abolished death, being the conqueror of him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. In order to understand the significance of this passage, we must recall the fact that death, primarily, means separation; and in this instance it connotes separation from God. Separation from God, the source of all light and life, brought about, as we have already seen, physical death as well as the breaking of man's fellowship with God which culminates in spiritual death. All that was involved in Christ's abolishing death is beyond our comprehension. In some way and to some extent Satan's power over death was broken by Christ's dying for us. Christians still pass out of this life through the exit of physical death. To what extent Satan figures in our departing life this way, we cannot say. But we know that he ceases to have anything to do with one who has accepted Christ's blood atonement as soon as that one leaves the body; for the saved person goes, not to Hades as was the case of the servants of God prior to Christ's triumph, but into heaven itself: "Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight); 8 we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:6-8).
At the end of the Millennium the last vestige of Satan's power will be destroyed, for Christ "must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death" (I Cor. 15:25,26).
Having accomplished His work on the cross, He went down into Hades, or Sheol as it is called in the Old Testament, which consists of two apartments, that are separated by a great gulf. In one of these--Paradise--the righteous were incarcerated. When our Lord hung on the cross, He made a most significant revelation to the penitent thief: "And he said, Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. 43 And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:42,43).
When He cried, "It is finished," He entered Hades and seized the keys of death and Hades from Satan; for in Revelation 1:18 He declares that He now has them: "I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." Figuratively speaking, He put a robe of righteousness around everyone of the departed who had trusted God. Then He opened the gates of Sheol--Hades--where Satan had held them captive and led them forth.
Just before Christ expired on the cross, there was a great earthquake which opened many of the graves of the saints in Jerusalem. When the Lord Jesus Christ came back from Sheol and His spirit re-entered and immortalized His physical body that had been lying in the tomb, He came forth the glorified Redeemer. After His resurrection, the bodies of those who had been buried in the graves that had been opened came forth and appeared with Him to many in the city.
"51 And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; 52 and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many" (Matt. 27:51-53).
Let it be remembered that not all the righteous dead were raised at this time--only the bodies which were in the graves that had been opened at the time of the earthquake. But all the spirits of the saved came forth out of Hades when the Lord was raised, for He delivered all them who through all their lifetime were subject to bondage (Heb. 2:15).
When Christ ascended on high, He led away those who are in military terms, represented as having been in captivity in Sheol. They marched in His triumphal procession into glory.
"Wherefore he saith,
When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive,
And gave gifts unto men" (Ps. 68:18; Eph. 4:8).
When He re-entered the portals of glory, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high-- "... who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
Since there is a purpose in everything which God does, we may ask ourselves who were the ones that were raised when our Lord came forth from the tomb. Of course, no one can be dogmatic on this point, but each of us may express an opinion. We must however, be certain to express it as simply an opinion. It seems quite reasonable that those who were raised from the dead were brought forth in order that they might convince the apostolic company of the reality of the resurrection. They could understand how Christ came forth from the tomb because He was the Son of God incarnate; but for certain ones who were relatives and friends of the little company of believers, and who had died to come forth and to appear to the apostolic band would be additional proof of immortality and life eternal for the believer. Let us use our imagination and picture this situation: It is altogether possible that a brother or a sister of, let us say, some Jerusalem believers died prior to this time. There was great grief when this one passed out of life. They and the rest of their families laid the body to rest. This departed loved one came back with his resurrection body, talked about the childhood experiences, and then finally about his decease, burial, and related matters. All who knew this one in life would recognize him after he came forth from the tomb in his resurrection body. Thus these various ones who were raised came back for the express purpose of proving conclusively to their relatives and acquaintances that the believer is raised from the dead and that there is a blessed immortality beyond this life.
Since Christ conquered Satan and his assistants, abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, all believers in Him today, upon dying, go immediately into the presence of God, as we learn in II Corinthians 5:6-8 which declares that "whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord ... and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord." Also in Philippians 1:23 we read, "But I am in a straight betwixt the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better."
If our Lord's body had remained in the tomb, there would have been no resurrection for anyone. He was delivered up "because of our transgression, and was raised because of our justification" (Rom. 4:25, lit. trans.). In that classical passage on the resurrection, I Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul shows that the basis of Christianity is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. His coming forth from the tomb is a guarantee and a pledge of our resurrection and fellowship with Him and with the saved throughout all eternity.
"Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, 29 and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28,29). "For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living" (Rom. 14:9).
15 Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.
But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death. For, He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him. And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.
Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorifying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals. Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.
But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come? Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians, chapter 15).
¹ I am inquired of by them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. 2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, that walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts; 3 a people that provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens, and burning incense upon bricks; 4 that sit among the graves, and lodge in the secret places; that eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels: 5 that say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. 6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, yea, I will recompense into their bosom, 7 your own iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith Jehovah, that have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I first measure their work into their bosom (Isa. 65:1-7).
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