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The Plain Truth – April 1986
The Plain Truth – April 1986
What Is The Purpose Of The Resurrection?

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Why is a resurrection necessary if man has an immortal soul? If we are saved by the death of Christ, why did Jesus have to be resurrected?

TODAY we live in a time of world revolution. We hear talk about the end of the world!

Today we face a dual question. Not only regarding man, but now also concerning civilization. We need to find the answer to the question put by the patriarch Job: “If a man die, shall he live again?”

This should be a time of hope – because, even if this world dies – and it shall – there will follow a resurrection of a new and better world – a world at peace – a world of contentment, happiness, abundance, joy!

Now, as never before, we need to realize that God is working out a purpose here below – and that his great plan involves a dual resurrection: the resurrection of the individual, and also the resurrection of a dying world! Very few, indeed, have any conception at all of the nature of the resurrection!

Never a Time Like This Before

You live today in a time different – utterly different – from any past time on earth! You are destined, as no past generation has been, to live in two worlds! Yes, this world is dying – that’s the real meaning of world chaos today – but there will be a resurrection. And, catch this! – the resurrected body is not the same body that previously dies!

Why did God Almighty need to provide for any resurrection at all? What’s the purpose of the resurrection? What does it mean?

Most people have somehow come to believe that Christ completed God’s plan of redemption on the cross – by his death! But if salvation was made full and complete by Jesus’ death, then why is there any need of – why do people celebrate – the resurrection from the dead?

You often hear people say, “Christ died to save sinners.” Many suppose that’s a Bible quotation – but it isn’t. Many firmly believe that Christ’s death imparts to us eternal life, that it is the blood of Christ – his death – that actually saves – that imparts everlasting life. Many of you will be surprised to learn that the Bible says no such thing! What a self-contradictory, totally unscientific thing the Bible would be stating, if you could find that in the Bible.

There is no more basic and firmly established law known to science than the law of biogenesis – that only life can come from life. Death has no power to impart life. Life cannot spring from dead matter. The living does not come from the not-living. God Almighty created that law.

Why, then, was it necessary that Christ die for us – that he shed his blood? Let’s understand!

Death Cannot Impart Life

The Scriptures reveal that ALL have sinned, and the penalty for sin is death! The punishment is death – yes, death for all eternity – eternal punishment! The Bible definition of sin is the transgression of God’s law – the immutable, inexorable spiritual law of love summed up by the Ten Commandments.

God established that law, actually set it in motion, to make men happy. It’s the way to peace, to prosperity, joy! It’s the perfect way of life. It’s the way to enjoy life to the full. This world is filled with strife and war, fear and worry, poverty and want, discontent and suffering – only because men have transgressed that holy, spiritual law.

God’s salvation does not impart merely eternal life. Salvation means far more than that. Jesus said he came that we might have eternal life, yes – but he also said something more: “I am come,” he said, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

God help us to comprehend. Not merely continuous existence – but the full, happy, interesting, abundant life! Yes – and that for all eternity!

Just stop and think a moment. For God to impart mere never-ending existence, which we should live in ever-increasing emptiness, boredom, misery and suffering – why, that would be the most cruel punishment. God is love. He wants you to learn the way to enjoy life – forever.

Why God Hides Himself

Your transgression of God’s way of life has not only brought unhappiness and suffering to you – it has cut you off from all contact with your Maker. You are a mere mortal. The penalty hanging over you is death – and the most certain thing in life is that all shall die. You have no power to impart to yourself eternal life. And your sins have caused you to be cut off from God the Father, the giver of eternal life.

But God so loved this world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that if you believe on him, you shall not, after all, perish, but have the gift of everlasting life! That can only come through Christ.

But how? Jesus Christ was changed from the divine Word of God to mortal human flesh – for the purpose of death. He, only, of all humans, lived without sin. He said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” When he shed his precious blood – when he gave his life – he was not paying the penalty of HIS sins, for he never sinned. He was paying YOUR penalty for you – in your stead – the penalty you incurred by disobedience.

So now if and when you really repent of your transgressions, and when you believe, not only in Christ, but also his gospel, your penalty stands paid in full – you are reconciled to God – you have access to God the Father! You are now justified. Your guilt is wiped clean – up to THAT moment. You are under grace – that is, undeserved pardon for past transgressions.

But that grace gives you no license to continue in sin! As the apostle Paul wrote: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [transgressing God’s law], that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1-2, Authorized Version). Justification refers only to a guilty past.

But now where do you stand? Are you now automatically already saved? You most certainly are not. Be not deceived. The death of Christ does not impart eternal life. You are not finally saved by the death of Christ, you are merely justified – your past guilt removed – reconciled to God. You are merely prepared so that you can be saved. You now have access to God from whom eternal life comes.

What the Death of Christ Means

The blood of Christ does not finally save you, and had Christ remained dead, you would have no salvation – never could you have eternal life!

Here’s the glorious truth! Here’s the point I want you to grasp: You are finally saved – you receive eternal life – by the resurrection of Christ – from the living Christ, not a dead Savior.

It’s in your Bible. Turn to it – see it with your own eyes. Turn to Romans 5:8-10: “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life”!

There it is. Do you see? Do you comprehend? We are forgiven, justified of past guilt, reconciled to the Father, by the death of Christ – but we shall be saved, not by his death, but by his life! Yes, by his resurrection.

In I Corinthians 5:7-8 the apostle Paul laid down the commandment for the Church: “… Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast…” The original true Church that Jesus built kept the Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread – not Easter. The Passover was the memorial of the death of Christ, observed on its anniversary – picturing our justification from past sins – our being reconciled to God.

Therefore, as Paul said, let us put sin out of our lives – for that’s what the Festival of Unleavened Bread was given by God to picture to his Church.

Also, this festival of God pictured the risen, resurrected Christ. And so, as Christ died for us, and rose again, the people of God are instructed (Rom. 6:11), “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” – yes, through Christ’s life.

Saved by His Resurrection

Christ’s resurrection makes possible our resurrection to immortal life in the very divine family of God. Jesus is only the firstborn of many brethren. Your gift of eternal life results not from the death of Christ – but from his resurrection!

Suppose Jesus Christ had remained dead in his tomb. Do you suppose that, in that case, your faith in his blood – his death – could have saved you? If you do, you’d be trusting in a false hope. It’s time we realize the truth.

Notice again – read this in your Bible, I Corinthians 15:14, 17-18: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain… if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain… Then they also which are fallen asleep [that is, dead] in Christ are perished” – unless Christ rose from the dead.

Do you grasp the wonderful truth? Christ is not a dead Savior. He rose from the dead – he is our living Savior. But he was dead. He rose from death – not from life. It was the ever-living Father who raised him – who imparted eternal life to him. Jesus Christ became mortal man for the very purpose of death – to pay the penalty – death – for you and for me. He was mortal. He died. You are mortal. You shall die. And there is no immortal life – and no possibility of it – in mortal man.

God alone possesses inherent immortality. God is life – life inherent – life eternal. God alone has life to impart. We can have it only as his gift.

No Immortal Souls

The Scriptures do not teach that the soul that sins shall go on living forever – but “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). And all have sinned. Millions of people today have learned to hate other people. People learn to hate, in time of war. Do they have eternal life inherent – do they have an immortal soul – is any eternal life inherent in them? Listen: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15).

God’s Word says plainly such a person does not have an immortal soul. To our first parent, God said: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” He didn’t say “your body that you live in” – he said “Dust thou art.” Your Bible says man is mortal, but nowhere does it say he is immortal. Man is mortal flesh, subject to corruption – death. All have sinned, and the penalty is death for all eternity – eternal death!

But in John 4:24 it is written, “God is a Spirit.” And again, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Notice also I John 5:11-12: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

Christ Jesus is a living Savior! He died to pay the death penalty for you – that your past guilt might be erased. God raised him from the dead, to make a resurrection to eternal life possible for you. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25, AV).

Paul wrote, I Corinthians 15:20: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

But his resurrection made possible not only your personal salvation and mine, but the resurrection of this dying world. For Christ was raised from the dead, to ascend to the throne of God the Father in heaven – to be glorified – to receive for himself the kingdoms of this world. And he promised that if he went, he would come again – coming this time as King of kings, and Lord of lords, to rule the world with the supernatural power of God – to bring us the happy world tomorrow! Jesus’ gospel was the good news of the kingdom of God – the reign of God – world rule!

Why the Gospel of the Kingdom?

The conditions to entering that glorious and glorified kingdom are these: “Repent” – repent of your ways, your thoughts, the ways of this world – the ways that have seemed right to a man, but are contrary to God’s perfect and holy law; and “believe.” Yes, believe the gospel – believe on Christ as personal Savior. The inspired Peter pointed the way: “Repent, and be baptized,” he said, “… and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit].” That’s the way to salvation – the way into eternal inheritance in the kingdom of God.

At the resurrection of the just – at Christ’s coming – it is proclaimed: “The kingdoms [the governments] of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

If we repent, believe, and are begotten of God now, if we overcome, and grow in grace and knowledge, we shall sit with Christ on his throne – we shall be given power over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron, as kings and priests under Christ the King of kings.

And now one glimpse into the resurrected world – the glorious, happy world tomorrow – lying at peace, at last: “And [the Lord] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

God speed that happy day! Let us pray, “Thy kingdom come.”