Chapter 119

 

“Children of the Resurrection”

 

“Then came to [him] certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Luke 20:27-38)

 

In this portion of Scripture we have the Sadducees’ attempt to entrap our Lord Jesus. The Sadducees were the smallest but by far the most wealthy and influential of the Jewish sects. They were the aristocrats of Judaism, and for the most part controlled the priesthood and the temple. Though that was the case, the Sadducees were not commonly respected by the people. They, supposing themselves to be smarter than God, denied the resurrection. They were the most liberal sect of the Jews. They were religious; but their religion was the religion of infidelity.

 

            The Sadducees’ religion was nothing more than a philosophical system of carnal reason with religious overtones. They did not believe in the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the dead, or eternity. They did not believe that heaven and hell are real. The Sadducees believed that when men and women die, they die like dogs, that the death of the body is the end of a person’s existence. They used the Scriptures, taught the Scriptures, and professed to believe the Scriptures. As we see in the passage before us, they could even recite the Scriptures from memory. These were “smart” men, well-educated, and very knowledgeable. They were sure the Lord Jesus would be completely stumped by their pretentious question. But their religion was altogether a religion of infidelity; and they were completely stumped by the Master’s answer.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ graciously turned the quibbles of these infidels into an opportunity to teach us that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, and that all the children of God are “the children of the resurrection.” In this passage of Holy Scripture, as we consider the ludicrous question of the Sadducees and the answer our Master gave them, four things stand out as matters of great importance.

 

Religious Infidelity

 

First, the Sadducees stand before us as glaring examples of religious infidelity. The vast majority of people in this world who profess the name of Christianity, including the most powerful and most influential religious leaders of it, are really only religious infidels. Their religion is a matter of convenience, not conviction. It is, for the most part, a religion, which holds the Word of God, the truth of God, the Gospel of God, the will of God, and the glory of God in utter contempt, just like these Sadducees.

 

            The Sadducees laughed at the doctrine of the resurrection. They were simply too “smart,” too “educated,” too “enlightened” to believe such religious sentiments. The question they posed to the Lord Jesus illustrates both their hypocrisy and their arrogance. They hypocritically pretended to have reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, calling Him “Master.” They pretended to reverence the Scriptures as the Word of God. And they pretended to have concern for heavenly, spiritual things.

 

            These men presented their question as though it were a factual thing, as though they were really interested in knowing the answer. Any statistician will tell you that you would have a far greater chance of winning the lottery than of seven brothers marrying the same wife, after each had died, leaving the woman childless! The only thing these men were interested in was raising a question, which they were confident the Master could not answer.

 

            We will be wise to mark the things recorded here and learn from them not to allow modern religious infidels to entrap us. When carping religious infidels want to argue with you, just ignore them. Give them plain statements of Scripture, and leave them alone. If you get into a hissing contest with a snake, you are going to lose. Such people always try to press difficult and abstruse points. They always act in dishonesty. And they deserve nothing but contempt.

 

            In Mark 12:24 we read that our Lord Jesus plainly told this same group of men that they were totally ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. — “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” Spiritual ignorance and doctrinal error may always be traced to these two things: (1.) Ignorance of The Word of God, and (2.) ignorance of God’s Power. These men did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, because they did not know the teaching of Holy Scripture and knew nothing of the power of God.

 

            I do not doubt for a moment that they knew the letter of the Scriptures. No doubt, they could quote huge passages from the Bible from memory. I do not doubt that they were very keenly aware of the historic events and chronological order of things recorded in the Scriptures. They knew the history of Israel, and even knew what the prophecies of the Old Testament said. But they had absolutely no knowledge of the meaning and message of Holy Scripture. Their understanding was nothing but the understanding of carnal reason and religious tradition.

 

            Do you understand the message of Holy Scripture? The Book of God is all about Christ. The message of Holy Scripture is the Gospel of Christ (Luke 24:27, 32, 44-45; John 5:39; 1 Peter 1:23-25). Spiritual knowledge is not merely doctrinal knowledge, creedal knowledge, logical knowledge, and factual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is the revealed knowledge of a Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            These silly men wanted to argue about the doctrine of the resurrection. But the resurrection is more than a doctrine. It is a person. Christ is the Resurrection (John 11:25). You cannot know the Person without knowing the doctrine; but you certainly can know the doctrine of Christ without knowing Christ Himself. Salvation involves more than doctrinal knowledge. Salvation is knowing Christ (John 17:3). Christ is the Resurrection and the Life of chosen sinners: representatively in redemption (Ephesians 2:4-6), experimentally in regeneration (John 5:25; Revelation 20:6; Colossians 3:1-3), and prospectively in the last day (Colossians 3:4).

 

            The truth of God, the Gospel of His grace, is much more than doctrinal, historical facts. — The Gospel is a Person, the crucified Christ (John 14:6). Without question, this Person is revealed and made known to us and in us in the context of revealed, doctrinal truth. But life and salvation comes by knowing the Triune God Himself in the Person of our all glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 17:3; 2 Timothy 1:12). Salvation is not merely knowing about Christ. Salvation is knowing Christ as my God, my Surety, my Substitute, my King, my Priest, my Prophet, and my Savior!

 

            Spiritual ignorance, doctrinal error, and heresy of every kind, according to our Savior’s word, must be traced to ignorance of the power of God. I take that to mean three things. These three things, you will find throughout the Scriptures, are what is meant by the power of God.

  1. Spiritual ignorance arises from and must be traced to an utter ignorance of God’s sovereignty, His absolute authority as God.
  2. Spiritual ignorance arises from and must be traced to an utter ignorance of God’s omnipotence, His almightiness as God.
  3. Spiritual ignorance arises from and must be traced to an utter ignorance of God’s Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:15-16).

 

            These Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, because they were totally ignorant of God’s sovereignty, His omnipotence, and His Gospel. All heresy, all spiritual ignorance must be attributed to these things.

 

            All false religion, all free will, works religion denies the sovereignty of God’s will and purpose in election and predestination, the omnipotence of His power and grace in redemption, regeneration, and effectual calling, and the power of the Gospel’s good news of redemption accomplished by the blood of His dear Son. — The preaching of the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:17-24).

 

Worthiness for Heaven

 

In our Lord’s answer to these carping infidels we find sweet and precious things for our souls.

 

“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (vv. 34-36).

 

            The first thing he tells us is that there are some people in this world who are “accounted worthy to obtain” the world to come. It is written, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). Yet, our Lord Jesus asserts here, and the Word of God elsewhere declares, that there are some people in this world who are counted worthy to obtain the world to come (Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5).

 

            Who are these people? What makes them worthy to obtain the world to come? These four things identify them; and these four things make them worthy of heavenly glory.

  1. The Record Book of Heaven! — Their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, written there from eternity as worthy (Romans 8:28-30).
  2. The Redeemer’s Precious Blood! — The blood of Christ has freed them from all sin.
  3. The Righteousness of God! — They are completely, perfectly and immutably righteous in Christ, made the very “righteousness of God in Him.”
  4. The Regeneration of Grace! — Being born-again by God the Holy Spirit, they are made “partakers of the divine nature.” Christ is in them; and Christ in them is “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

 

            Every year I travel to at least one foreign country preaching the Gospel of Christ. I have crossed the borders of our nation north, south, east, and west. Whenever I leave this country and cross into another, three things are required: (1.) I have to have a birth certificate to prove my citizenship. (2.) I have to have a visa from the country receiving me. And (3.) I have to have a clean record, no criminal record. Soon I will leave this land of sorrow and sin. I hope to enter into the bliss and glory of heaven. I hope to stand forever accepted as a citizen of the New Jerusalem. And this is the basis of my hope…

  • A Birth Certificate — The Lord God has given me a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is in me a new man, created of God in righteousness and true holiness.
  • A Visa — I have a right to enter into heaven itself by the blood of Christ, because I am robed in His righteousness. God says, “It must be perfect to be accepted,” and in Christ I am perfect! He has made me perfectly righteous before God!
  • A Clear Record — Jesus Christ has purged away all my sins with His own precious blood. Therefore, God will never charge me with any sin (Romans 4:8). When I stand before God and He searches the books for iniquity and sin under my name, He will find none (Jeremiah 50:20).

 

            Do you have what God requires? Are you worthy to obtain the world to come? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall obtain in Him all that God requires to make you worthy of heavenly glory!

 

The Resurrection Life

 

Our Savior not only assures us of the resurrection, but also gives us a slight glimpse of what life shall be like in the resurrection glory awaiting us.

 

“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (vv. 34-36).

 

            There will be a resurrection of the dead. When our Lord Jesus comes again, there will be a resurrection of the just and of the unjust. This fact is inscribed upon every man’s heart and conscience by the finger of God in creation. Anyone who denies the resurrection is a liar. He lies against his own conscience. This doctrine of the resurrection is the doctrine of both the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 3:6; Job 19:25-26; Psalms 16:9-10; 49:15; 73:24; Hosea 6:1-2; Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

 

            In the resurrection God’s saints shall be as the angels of God. In the resurrection we “shall be equal unto the angels.” What does that mean? I am certain that it contains a depth of meaning far greater than I have yet fathomed. But I am equally certain that it means these things.

 

1.   In the resurrection we will be completely free of all carnal distinctions, weaknesses, cares, needs, and passions.

 

2.    In the resurrection there will be no need for marriage and procreation, because there will be no more sickness, sorrow, bereavement or death! “Neither can they die any more!” — “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power!” And there will be no imperfection of love and unity among God’s saints.

 

3.    And in the resurrection we will, like the angels of God, possess the constant, full knowledge and assurance of God’s approval. We will enjoy uninterrupted assurance of complete security with Christ. We will have perfect, uninterrupted communion with our Redeemer. Like the heavenly angels, we will always be engaged in the suitable, gratifying service of our great God. — Worshipping Him! — Singing His Praise! — Celebrating His Wondrous Works! — Doing His Will! We will have unbroken, everlasting rest! Like those celestial spirits above, we will gaze upon our God and Savior. “They do always behold the face of God.” “They shall see his face!” —As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

 

            He who is our God is the God of the living.

 

“Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him” (vv. 37-38).

 

            Again, there is much more here than I can explain; but certain things are clear. It is certain that God’s saints who have left this world are not dead, but living. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob represent all God’s elect. They were chosen of God. They were heirs of a covenant. They believed God. They lived in communion with God. But they did not fully enjoy the fulfillment of God’s promises until they left this vale of tears (Hebrews 11:13-16). God’s glory was wrapped up in their lives. — “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” “God is not ashamed to be called their God.”

 

The Word of God

                                                                  

Every time I read verse 37 I think to myself, “What a vast, immense Book the Word of God is!” The more I study it, the bigger it gets. This is a Book altogether beyond the reach of our puny brains. When we have studied it as deeply and as fully as possible, when we have taken in and comprehended everything that it is possible for us to take in and comprehend in this mortal frame, we will have only begun to scratch the surface. We will be learning the secrets of “the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever” throughout the endless ages of eternity.

 

            Let me show you what I mean. The passage our Lord quotes in verse 37 is Exodus 3:6. — “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” — Who would ever have dreamed that this passage of Scripture has anything to do with the resurrection, if the Son of God Himself had not stated it? No one in history ever gave God’s word to Moses such an interpretation, until the Lord Jesus explained it in our text. Someone once wrote…

 

The Bible is the Word of the living God; each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word came from the everlasting lips; each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit. Moses wrote with his fiery pen; God guided that pen. David played and sang the sweet psalms, but God moved his fingers over the strings and taught him the words. When Peter, James, and John tell of their Lord’s life, death, and resurrection, it is the voice of God, not a man’s voice. The very words are God’s words, — the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty Jehovah. The Bible is God’s Word; and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it saying, ‘I am the book of God; man, READ ME! I am God’s writing, open my pages, for I was written by God; He is my author and you will find Him manifested on every page.’

 

            Read the Book of God; and as you read it, pray that God the Holy Spirit, Who wrote it, will take the things of Christ in it and reveal them to you. Oh, what great, boundless, free, indescribable grace the Lord God has bestowed upon us in Christ, making us in him to be “the children of God,” “the children of the resurrection,” and “accounted worthy to obtain that world!” — One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalms 27:4).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com