Death and Resurrection
The following two commentaries, previously published, talk about both death and resurrection bringing out some important points about these two important subjects. I hope they are helpful.
When asked, "what's the best thing that ever happened to you?" how would you respond? After pondering for a time, some of you may answer, when I got this job", or when I got together with my new boyfriend (or girlfriend)." Others of you reading this might answer, "when I got married", "had my baby", or even "when I went on this fabulous trip." Answers that sound negative such as "when I had this accident", or "when I went through this particular trial" aren't going to be too forthcoming are they? Although you may recognize that a period of trial facilitated the greatest period of growth in your life, it is unlikely that you would characterize that experience as "the best thing" that ever happened to you. Let's say that retrospectively you're aware that what was intended for evil ended up being for good in your life, and perhaps you've even observed that it boded well for the lives of others. Still, even then, it can be difficult to accept that negative trial (or trials) as the best thing that could have happened to you. You might see it as beneficial-- yes, but as good--no way. Are you then likely to see it as the best thing that could have happened? Sadly, its unlikely. Why? Its our human nature to see things as they are temporally, not as what they are spiritually.
Here's an example for you. Recently I was diagnosed with diabetes, and it was a blow to me. I knew that friends and family were praying for me regarding my poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle which resulted in obesity. But what I could not have known is how the Lord would answer their prayers by allowing me to become diabetic. It was the diagnosis of diabetes and not its simple physical complications such as intense thirst, skin rashes, and hypo-glycemia that caused me to yield my will to Christ regarding my poor health habits. Once my doctor placed that sticker labeling me diabetic on my chart, I knew it was all over. What was over you say? My struggling to do it on my own, that's what. No more eating whatever pleased me in whatever proportions I desired at the time. No more late night eating, and snacking.
More importantly, no more sedentary lifestyle. Since that diagnosis eighteen months ago, by God's grace and power, I have lost more than one hundred pounds, and now wear clothing 3 sizes smaller than I used to. My blood sugar levels and other bio-chemicals are back to normal, I'm still losing weight, and feeling great! I say all of this to give God praise, and to use my story as an example. What satan meant for evil -- my cultivated and inherited tendency to poor health choices and thus slow death, God turned around for good. Thus what was meant to be a negative event or trial in my life is indeed one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
For the disciples, the worst thing that could ever happen was that Jesus would be put to death by the ruling powers. His impending death was unfathomable to them. The subject was so frightening, that whenever Jesus spoke concerning it, they quarreled with each other about who would be the greatest in His (temporal) kingdom. Their sizeable fears were activated at the prospect that never would their fondest dreams or goals for themselves or their nation be reached. Ultimately, Christ's death engaged even their doubts about His messiahship. Christ had said to them to prepare them, "its good for you that I go away, so you may receive the comforter (John 16:7)." Can you imagine being told that what you least want is best for you? Can you imagine what the disciples must have thought of Him? Yet it was good that Christ die, good that He go away. Sometimes the thing that we think is the worst thing that could happen, is the best that could happen.
The disciples did not understand that Christ's death "as the lamb slain" had been determined "from the foundation of the world." They did not understand the will of the Father, the scope and nature of sin, nor its cure. Without the death of Jesus we would neither have communion with the Father and the Spirit, nor Salvation, nor the hope of the resurrection and life anew. InI Cor. 15:14-22, Paul elaborates on the concept of the validity of the resurrection, and what would occur if it were untrue.
I Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
I Corinthians 15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we
have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
I Corinthians 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
I Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
I Corinthians 15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
I Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
I Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
I Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
I Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Here Paul is saying that if Christ did not rise, our faith, preaching, testimony of Him, and hope of life in Christ is futile. Worst of all, we are still in our sins and all we have to look forward to is the second death which is the wage of sin. But thanks be to God who gave us the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ (II Cor. 15:54). As sister White says, "Christ has conquered death, and led captivity captive. Men had looked upon death as a terrible thing; they had looked to the future with foreboding; but the resurrection of Christ from the dead changed the aspect of death" (E. G. White Notes, page 66). Friends, since Christ died and was resurrected our hope is real. Not only can we rise to life anew, but so can those whom we love who have died or will die in the Lord.
You know, Christ's death and resurrection gave us so much more than can be imagined. First, we are able to receive the Holy Spirit who will tell us of the future, guide us, teach and remind us of all things, convict us of sin, righteousness and of judgment (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7, 8, 13). Second, according toHebrews 4:14 -16, we have intercession through Christ's mediation in the heavenly Sanctuary by Christ Himself who has been tempted in all points as we are yet did not sin. Third, we have a home in a heavenly mansion with the Godhead, the heavenly host, and the 24 elders (John 14:1-3). And last but not least we don't have to live a life of sin. Sin does not have to have power over us, for Objectively, our human nature was corporately in Christ and when He died to sin, so did we. Subjectively, when we are baptized into Jesus Christ, we are baptized into His death to sin. Subsequently, we are raised to life from the dead (dead in trespasses and sins-- Eph. 2:1, 5) like as Christ was raised up from the dead. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from (the power, presence and condemnation of) sin. For the wages of Sin is death, but the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:3-7, 23). Thank God for such a wonderful Saviour.
Yes, sometimes the worst thing that could ever happen ends up being our choicest blessing. The Lord has said through His servant Paul in Romans 8:28, and Isaiah in Isaiah 29:11 respectively, " For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" , "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Friends, many good promises and experiences in righteousness have come to us through Christ's death, should we trample under foot this beautiful gift He's given us?
Anyone familiar with sporting events is familiar with the verb, to intercept. The word means: "To stop, deflect, or interrupt the progress or intended course of…" Another definition is, "To block the progress of and force to change direction: cut off, head off; to obstruct (someone or something) so as to prevent them from continuing to a destination." When used in sports it means to stop the player with the ball from going toward the goal or stopping the ball itself from going toward the goal. The word is also used in telecommunications with the following definition, "The acquisition of a transmitted signal with the intent of delaying or eliminating receipt of that signal by the intended destination user; to interrupt."
The verb, used in the latter context, is a key term in the following quote from Sister White,
"Since the announcement to the serpent in Eden, 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed' (Gen. 3:15), Satan had known that he did not hold absolute sway over the world. . . . With intense interest he watched the sacrifices offered by Adam and his sons. In these ceremonies he discerned a symbol of communion between earth and heaven. He set himself to intercept this communion. He misrepresented God, and misinterpreted the rites that pointed to the Saviour. Men were led to fear God as one who delighted in their destruction. The sacrifices that should have revealed His love were offered only to appease His wrath."—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 115.
The author of the lesson says that according to this Ellen White quote above, Satan perverted the meaning of the sacrifice. The author then asks, "In what ways could we be in danger of perverting the meaning of Christ's sacrifice? What views of the Cross distort its meaning?"
Any view that is not the truth distorts our view of the cross. Among many points, two things come to mind, one is that Christ death was a corporate death. In Romans 5:12 – 21 the apostle Paul contrasts Adam with Jesus and the effects of their works on humanity. Romans 5:12 says because Adam's fall all men sinned therefore all must die.
Rom5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
But, because we are in Christ, with his death and resurrection we all die and live eternally. A point brought out in the following texts. Let s rad them.
Rom5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Rom5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Rom5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Cor15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
1Cor15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
The second thing is that Christ death was eternal. The book of Revelation talks about a second death,
Rev2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Rev21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Christ talks of the ruler's daughter death as sleep (Matthew 9:24) and says the same of Lazarus (John 11:11). Christ did not die the sleep death. The death He died was the second death – God's wrath poured without mercy. This second death is goodbye to life forever. This is the death that pays the wages of Sin. This is the death we all die in Christ.
Any view that is not in agreement with these two points perverts the meaning of Christ sacrifice and distorts the meaning of the Cross. Anything that leads to believe anything different than these things also distorts or perverts them meaning of Christ sacrifice and the cross; for example, the doctrine of immortality of the soul.
When we let the devil intercept God's communication with us, we allow him to distort the meaning of the Cross. This leads to unbelief – choosing not to, rejecting even, God's gift of mercy and grace to and for us – Salvation. This means that we also reject the Holy Spirit. Rejecting one is rejecting the other. The question is: do we see God as loving and merciful or as a tyrant wanting appeasement? The answer to that question determines your destiny.