Sermon #1744 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: In Hope of the Resurrection
Text: John 5:25-29
Subject: The Resurrection of Christ
Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-58
When Moses turned aside to see the great sight that was before him, when the Lord God appeared to him in the burning bush, God made a tremendous revelation of himself. — He said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” What is revealed in those words? What do they teach? There are several things here revealed by our God that are as obvious as they are delightful and precious.
First, the Lord God declared, “I am the God.” He, and he alone, is the God. There is none like him and none beside him. He who is the God is eternal, sovereign, holy, self-existent, the Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of all things.
Second, the Lord God identified himself as the God of Moses’ father. — “I am the God of thy father,” the God his father and mother trusted, the God they taught him to trust. What a blessed privilege and honor it is for a child to be born into the home of a man and woman chosen, redeemed and saved by the God of all grace, and to be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!
Third, the Lord God identified himself as “the God of Abraham.” Abraham was the eminent reminder to Israel, and should be to us, of God’s covenant and all the promises and blessings of it. The Lord was saying, “Moses, you can count on me, you can trust me, you can believe me. I am the God who is faithful and true, the God who ever remembers his covenant.”
Fourth, the Lord revealed himself to Moses as “the God of Isaac.” What do you think of, when you think of Isaac? The first thing that comes to my mind every time I hear, or read the name “Isaac” is substitution and provision. Isaac is forever a picture of Christ our Savior as Jehovah-jireh — The Lord will Provide. Isaac is forever fixed as an emblem of substitutionary redemption and the bounteous, unfailing mercy, love and grace of God flowing to our souls through the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb of God!
And I love the fifth word by which the Lord God revealed himself to Moses. — “I am the God of Jacob.” He chooses to identify himself in his glory as “the God of Jacob”. He does so because “He delighteth in mercy!” When I think of Jacob, I think of grace, free, unmerited, undeserved grace, the grace of sovereign, electing love, omnipotent, conquering, irresistible, saving grace, immutable, indestructible, preserving grace!
God of the Living
Those things, it seems to me, are obvious in the words Jehovah spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. But, if you will turn to Luke 20, you will see that our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who spoke to Moses in Exodus 3, explains the meaning of his words as a declaration of the resurrection. The Herodians, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees tried to entrap our Savior by what they thought were questions he could not answer, without either denying his doctrine or giving them a justified excuse for killing him. What fools little men are when they imagine that they are smarter than God!
The Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the body, dreamed up an impossible situation, and asked the Lord Jesus whose wife a woman would be in the resurrection if she had been married to seven brothers who had died. Our Savior did not honor their foolish question by answering their imaginary quibble. Instead, he seized the opportunity to teach us what he revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:6. Look at Luke 20:34-38…
“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 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.”
He who is God, he who is our God is the God of the living, not of the dead. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were thought by all to have been dead, dead for a very long time. As far as the eye of man could see, they were dead. They certainly appeared to be dead; but they were and are living. I find something personally sweet and glorious in that. — When it appears to all others, and more so to me than to anyone else, that I am dead, Christ is my life, and I live in him and by him! When I was spiritually dead in myself, I was alive in him (Ephesians 2:4-5). And now, though I often appear dead, I live, because Christ who is my Life lives.
In Luke 20 the Lord Jesus Christ declares that his people, God’s elect, all who trust him are a people who shall be accounted worthy to obtain the next world of heavenly glory, being made by grace equal to the angels of God, and more, being the children of God (John 1:12), we are “the children of the resurrection!” Then he says, “That is what I showed Moses at the bush, if you knew the Scriptures and the power of God, you would know that.” That which Moses later spoke of as “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush” is the complete salvation of all God’s elect in and by the Lord Jesus Christ in resurrection glory. This is exactly what the Lord Jesus taught Martha in John 11.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:21-26)
Martha’s response to the Savior’s words demonstrated her confident faith in him as the long expected Messiah. — “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27).
Living in Hope
Because we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God, we live in hope of the resurrection. With Paul, I say, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). That does not mean that the believer’s life in this world is a sad, morbid existence. Neither does it mean that it is really more delightful and pleasurable to live in this world without faith. And it certainly does not mean, that were it not for the hope of eternal glory, the people of God would prefer not live as they do in obedience and submission to our heavenly Father. We do not serve God for gain!
When Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” he simply means this: — If there were no eternal life in Christ, no eternal bliss of life with Christ in glory, and no resurrection, then the believer would be the most miserably frustrated person in the world.
Such a thought, the very thought that there is no resurrection, is the most distressing thought I have ever entertained. Nothing could be more cruel and miserable than to live in hope of seeing Christ, being like Christ and spending eternity in the presence of Christ, only to die like a dog!
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” — What a horrible, unbearable thought! What a tormenting supposition! But it is not so. I live in hope of the resurrection; and my hope is both sure and steadfast. — “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27). In sickness I am calm, in sorrow I am peaceful, in trial and affliction I am at ease, in bereavement I am confident, and I hope to die in confidence and joy, because I live in hope of the resurrection, “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21).
Our assurance of the resurrection is much more than belief in a point of orthodoxy. It is faith and hope in a Person. — Christ is himself our Resurrection. This is not some fool’s philosophy. It is not a mere religious tranquilizer by which we are able to cope with the trials of life. This is the calm, confident assurance of the believer’s heart. It is the necessary, inevitable result of God given faith in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life of all who trust him; and all who trust him shall in the last day be resurrected with him.
We have been resurrected with Christ representatively, both as our covenant Surety before the world began and as our covenant Surety in time (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 2:5-6). When the Lord Jesus Christ arose from the grave, he arose as our Representative. All that he has done and all that he has experienced, all of God’s elect have done and experienced in him, by virtue of our representative union with him.
· His obedience to the law was our obedience (Romans 5:12, 18-21).
· His death as a penal sacrifice for sin was our death (Romans 6:6-7, 9-11; 7:4). This is our atonement.
· His resurrection was our resurrection. This is our life!
The resurrection of Christ is an indisputable fact of revelation and history, upon which we rest our souls (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Disprove the resurrection and you disprove the gospel. — “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). And the bodily, physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ necessitates the resurrection of all who are in Christ. That which as been done for us representatively must be experienced by us personally.
We are members of Christ’s mystical body, the church. If one member of the body were lost, the body would be maimed (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27). If one member of the body were lost, the Head would not be complete (Ephesians 1:22-23). These bodies of ours must be fashioned like unto his glorious body (Philippians 3:21; John 17:24). Christ was raised as the firstfruits of them that sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). The full harvest must follow. Christ is the last Adam. As we have born the image of our first covenant head, we must bear the image of the second (1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 47-49). And Christ has obtained the victory over all that could hinder the glorious resurrection of his people: sin, death, hell, the grave and the devil (Colossians 2:13-15; Heb. 2:14-15). Above all else, the covenant engagements of Christ, as the Surety of God’s elect, will not be complete until the hour of our resurrection (John 6:37-40).
(John 6:37-40) “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (39) And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
We live in hope of the resurrection, because we have experienced the resurrection of Christ in regeneration. The new birth is nothing less than a resurrection from the dead. To be born again by the Spirit of God is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6; John 5:25; 11:25-26; Ephesians 2:1-4).
“You ask me how I know He lives? —
He lives within my heart!”
Having been raised from spiritual death to spiritual life in and by the Son of God, we live in anticipation of resurrection glory.
We live in hope of the resurrection, because we believe the revelation of God concerning the resurrection (John 5:28-29). “Whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die.” God’s elect never die. There shall be a resurrection of life at the second coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:35-44, 51-58; 1 Thessalonians. 4:13-18). This is not some imaginary secret rapture, but a glorious resurrection.
There shall also be a resurrection of damnation (John 5:29). The wicked and unbelieving shall be raised by the power of Christ in order to be judged and condemned. The believer shall be raised by virtue of his union with Christ in order to be judged and rewarded with everlasting glory. The wicked shall be raised in wrath. The believing shall be raised in love. The wicked shall be raised for execution. The righteous shall be raised for a wedding. “Prepare to meet thy God!” Soon we will stand before the living God in judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). I am “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” because Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
The Savior’s Tomb
Now, turn with me to Luke 24, and we will finish by looking into the Savior’s tomb. We often speak of “the empty tomb” as proof of our Savior’s resurrection from the dead, but that really is not accurate. The tomb wasn’t empty. Let’s read Luke 24:1-12 together. Then I hope to show you the blessedness of the fact that — The tomb wasn’t empty.
(Luke 24:1-12) “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. (2) And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. (3) And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. (4) And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: (5) And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? (6) He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (7) Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. (8) And they remembered his words, (9) And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. (10) It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. (11) And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. (12) Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.”
We who believe in the risen Christ have entered into his rest, because he is resting at the right hand of the Father. We rest in Christ, the risen Redeemer, because his work is finished. His resurrection is the pledge that he has perfected forever them that are sanctified. He has finished all the salvation of his people, and we are complete in him. It is my hope that God the Holy Spirit will enable me to set before you some restful thoughts, as we make a pilgrimage to the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and see the place where the Lord lay.
The very first thing that must be remembered is this. — Christ Jesus once died. — “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God” (Romans 6:10). So, as we gather around the place where the Lord Jesus slept “with the rich in his death,” seeing the stone rolled from the mouth of the tomb, we know he is not there. Yet, he assuredly was once there. — “He was crucified, dead, and buried.” He was as dead as the dead whose bodies are buried in the cemetery down the road. Though he could see no corruption, though he could not be held by the bands of death beyond the predestined time, yet he was once dead. There was a time when there was no light in his eye, no sound in his ear, no thought in his mind, and no word in his mouth, because there was no pulse of life in his heart. Christ died for our sins. He did not merely appear to be dead. He died unto sin once, because he was made sin for us. He was, therefore, buried in the sepulcher. A dead man is a fit occupant of the silent tomb. But, blessed be his name, he is not there now! He is risen from the dead. We look to the risen Christ as our only Savior and our only salvation.
(Romans 4:25) “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
(Romans 5:1-11) “Therefore being justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) 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. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
I want to show you some memorials of the fact that our blessed Savior was once in the tomb, memorials that he has left for us in the tomb.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4) “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
What memorials of this fact can be found in the tomb? How are they to be used by us?
First, the Lord Jesus left sweet spices in the tomb. When he arose he did not take those costly spices in which his body was wrapped with him. He left them behind. Joseph had brought about one hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, and the sweet aroma of those spices remained in the tomb. That tomb must have smelled like a perfume store, when Peter and John stepped into it.
What a blessed thought that is, when taken in a spiritual sense! Our Lord Jesus has filled the grave with fragrance. It no longer smells of corruption and foul decay, but we can sing —
“Why should we tremble to convey
These bodies to the tomb?
There the dear flesh of Jesus lay,
And left a long perfume.
The graves of all the saints He blessed
And softened every bed.
Where should the dying members rest
But with their dying Head?
Thence He arose, ascending high,
And showed our feet the way.
Up to the Lord we, too, shall fly
At the great rising-day.”
That bed awaiting our bodies beneath the earth is now perfumed with costly spices and decked with sweet flowers. There the truest Friend we have once laid his holy head. The angel’s first word to the women who came to the tomb was, “Fear not ye” (Matthew 28:5). We should never draw back with fear from the grave. Our Lord was once there; and where he goes no terror can remain.
(Psalms 23:4) “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Next, I want you to see that our Savior left his grave clothes behind him in the tomb. When Peter went into the sepulcher he saw the grave clothes carefully folded by themselves, laying to one side. He did not leave behind him a moldy shroud, but, as Luke tells us in verse 12, “linen clothes.”
He left those grave clothes for us to look upon as tokens of his fellowship with us in our low estate, as reminders that as he has cast aside the garments of death so shall we. When he arose from his chamber he left his bedclothes behind. And when we drop these bodies in death, as we ascend up to heaven, we will leave these garments of death behind.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18) “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 5:1-9) “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (6) Therefore we are always confident, 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 confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.”
(Psalms 27:13) “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
(Psalms 17:15) “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
(Isaiah 57:1-2) “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. (2) He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”
Look at it another way. We have seen old tattered flags hung up in places as the memorials of victory, memorials of defeated enemies and battles won. So in the crypt where the Savior vanquished death his grave clothes are hung up as the trophies of his victory over death and assurances to us that we have been made more than conquerors through him that hath loved us. — “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
Take one more look at those linen grave clothes in the fragrant tomb. Do they not lay before your eye of faith as emblems of his righteousness, that righteousness by which he merits heavenly glory as our Surety, that righteousness he has made ours, by which we are made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”?
(Psalms 132:7-9) “We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool. (8) Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. (9) Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.”
(Revelation 19:6-9) “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (9) And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”
(Revelation 14:4-5) “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (5) And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Then, John adds, Peter saw “the napkin that was about his head” carefully folded up and laid by itself.
(John 20:6-7) “Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, (7) And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.’
I see that napkin in my Savior’s tomb still. It is the handkerchief with which the Lord God wipes every tear from my eyes. The widow and the orphan, the widower and the broken-hearted father, mourning brothers, and sisters, and friends, take this handkerchief and wipe their tears away forever. — “Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy” (Jeremiah 31:16).
(Isaiah 26:19) “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
And with this same handkerchief, he wipes away all other tears from our eyes.
· Tears of Repentance
· Tears of Trouble
· Tears of Fear
· Tears of Bereavement
(Revelation 7:17) “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
(Revelation 21:4) “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Our Lord Jesus left something else in his tomb. He left angels behind him and made the grave…
“A cell which angels use
To come and go with heavenly news.”
Angels were not in the tomb before, but, at his resurrection, they descended. One rolled away the stone, and others sat where the Savior’s body once laid. I have never read that our Master has recalled the angels from the sepulchers of his saints. And we are assured that when his Lazaruses die the angels of God carry their souls into the bosom of their Lord, and their bodies, too, shall be watched by guardian spirits, as surely as Michael kept the body of Moses, until the resurrection.
A Way Out
Another thing was left behind in the tomb by our blessed Redeemer. — A Way Out. He left an open passage from the tomb. The stone was rolled away. Death is, for God’s elect, a prison without bars or doors. — The open tomb tells me there is a Door open in Heaven. The risen Christ is the Way out of death for us.
· Spiritual Death
From darkest night to brilliant light,
O praise His name, He lifted me!
· Physical Death
· The Second Death
Our mighty Samson has pulled up the posts and carried away the gates of the grave with all their bars. The key is taken from the girdle of death and is held in the hand of the Prince of Life. As Peter, when he was visited by the angel, found that his chains fell off, while iron gates opened to him of their own accord, so shall the saints find ready escape at the resurrection morning. Yes, we shall sleep awhile, each one in his resting-place, but we shall rise again in the morning, for the stone is rolled away. A mighty angel rolled away the stone, for it was very great, and when he had done the deed he sat down upon the stone. His garment was white as snow, and his face like lightning, and as he sat on the stone he seemed to say to death and hell, “Roll it back again if you can.” — That mighty Angel who rolled away the stone from the tomb for us is Christ himself!
Our risen Savior left one more thing behind in his tomb for us. Tombs are places of utter darkness. But our Lord Jesus left in his tomb the brilliant light of life and immortality.
(2 Timothy 1:9-11) God”hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
Our Lord has gone into the tomb and illuminated it with his presence, “the lamp of his love is our guide through the gloom.” He has brought life and immortality to light by the gospel; and now in every cemetery there is a light which shall burn through the watches of earth’s night till the day break and the shadows flee away, and the resurrection morn shall dawn.
Illustration: “I heard a choir singing.”
The Robin’s Eggs
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