Man Unconscious in Death
Resurrection the Only Hope of Future Life
Having seen that man is not an "immortal soul" or "never-dying spirit," we are prepared to accept the clear and unmistakable scriptures which say that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Gen. 2: 7); that "the first man is of the earth earthy" (I. Cor. 15: 47); and we can understand the following testimonies:
"Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes"--Gen. 18: 27.
"Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?"--Job 10: 9; .
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not." "Man dieth and wasteth away; yea man giveth up the ghost and where is he?"--Job 14: 2-10.
"He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust"--Psa. 103: 14.
"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away"--I. Pet. 1: 24; Jas. 1: 10, 11.
It would be impossible to understand these testimonies and many more of the same character if man were such a "precious immortal soul" as he is claimed to be by popular theology. That he is mortal is the only view consistent with the Bible, reason, and the facts of human experience. "Mortal man" is what, therefore, he is declared to be (Job ).
Coming to see that man is mortal,
we are able to understand the scripture use of the word death, and thereby see
that "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so
death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned" (Rom. 5: 12). It is
Godís universal law that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. ). Our first parents having sinned, the "wages"
necessarily followed; the penalty was pronounced, "Dust thou art, and unto
dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3: 19). By sin they were stricken with
mortality, passing from a happy, healthful state into one of sorrow, pain and
death; ending at last in the darkness of death itself. The causes that would
produce death were set at work in their physical nature as soon as the law of
righteousness was broken. Thus the stream of human life, having been poisoned
by sin at its head, has carried sickness, sorrow, pain and death down through
all its channels, until universally it is "appointed unto men once to
die" (Heb. 9: 27), and death has passed upon all men (Rom. 5: 12).
It is safe, therefore, to conclude that, had not Godís love moved Him to offer
a means of redemption, all the race would have gone down to dust under the
sentence, "unto dust shalt thou return," there to have remained
eternally. This the apostle Paul assures us of when
arguing so eloquently and so reasonably for the doctrine of the resurrection.
"If," he says, "the dead rise not, then
is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are
yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are
When the apostle Paul speaks of
the "mortal" he means the man, recognizing nothing as the man
except that being which is "out of the earth, earthy," animated by
the breath of life. This is what he terms "a natural body," and this
natural body, he says, is a "living soul" (
IS DEATH A FRIEND OR A FOE?
The writers of popular theology have "made a covenant with death" by persuading themselves that it is a friend instead of a foe. This is the logical sequence of the false and delusive theory that man is an immortal spirit entity dwelling in the body till death liberates him. If man is an entity capable of conscious existence separate from the body, and if as soon as death takes place every good man enters a state of happiness, and if death must take place before he can enter such a state, it follows that death is indeed manís very best friend, and the poet might well say:
"Iíll praise my Maker
with my breath
And when my voice is lost in death
Praise shall my nobler powers employ."
But this would put a premium upon sin; for it was sin that brought death into the world. It makes death the "gate to endless joy" instead of the "wages of sin" (Rom. ). The cunningness of the serpent has taxed its most eloquent powers in the use of enticing words in both prose and poetry to persuade men that the death which its words of falsehood brought upon man is, after all, a good thing. Sometimes it even has the audacity to attempt the justification of its words, "Ye shall not surely die," by saying:
"There is no death;
What seems so is transition,
This life of mortal breath
Is but the suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call death."
But Nature protests against this and cries out, "Death is a self-evident fact. I am stricken with the poisonous fangs of death. I am sick, I am pained, I am dying. Had I all that the world contains how willingly I would give it to save myself from death. ĎAll that a man hath will he give for his life.í" It persistently refuses to be silenced by the sanctimonious rebukes and frowns of the ministers of Satan feigning to be angels of light; and knowing from experience and observation apart from revelation that it is right, it confidently answers back, declaring, "Death is a fact."
If it is too glaringly false to say "there is no death," the serpentís subtlety is not to be daunted by Natureís protests nor to be defeated by positive facts. Its inventive powers of deception try other tactics, cunningly admitting that death is a fact, but claiming that the dread fact is a blessing; with which delusion it attempts to captivate the feeble mind when overwhelmed with that grief and sadness that death inflicts upon the bereaved. Calling again to its aid the enchanting power of poetry it exclaims:
"Why do you mourn
Or shake at deathís alarm!
ĎTis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call us to his arms."
Having been first led into the snare of the popular delusion that man is a spirit that can fly to realms of bliss in a disembodied state, many easily become victims of this falsehood and drink deep draughts of the intoxicating cup of the strong delusion.
"Console as you will,
they receive it
As a well-meant alms of breath;
But not all the preaching since
Has made death other than death."
If death is a call to the "arms of Jesus," why did he weep over Lazarusí death, and why must he reign till death as the last enemy is destroyed? Can it be that "death is the gate to endless joy" and yet the Son of God came to "destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil?" (Heb. 2: 14)? Is it that the devil has the power of death, and yet that death is the "gate to heaven"? Has the charm of the serpentís seed cheated men of all reason, that they can believe that "death is the gate to glory" and yet to it the redeemed are to exclaim, "O death, where is thy sting?" Is it that the cup of delusion is so intoxicating as to cause minds that are reasonable in ordinary things to believe that death is a friend and yet that "the sting of death is sin"? How marvelous is the power of the serpentís craft and cunning, that it can persuade men to believe that death is the gate to heaven while they hold in their hands the Book that says that Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5: 7)? A companion in labor, a fellow soldier with the apostle Paul, who ministered to his wants, was "sick nigh unto death" (Phil. 2: 25-27), which, according to popular tradition, was to be nigh unto heaven; and yet it is said that "God had mercy on him," and saved him from dying; which was to save him from going to heaven, if death is transition and transmission from earth to heaven. Is it that Godís mercy, by saving one from dying, prevents him from passing from sickness and sorrow into joy and glory? Would it not--if "death, translated into the heavenly tongue, means life"--would it not be more merciful to allow death to do its work and relieve those who say:
"Burdened with this
weight of clay
We groan beneath the load;
Waiting the hour that sets us free
And brings us home to God."
To prevent such from dying is certainly not an act of mercy; it is cruel; for they claim to
"Know that when the soul
Shall from the body fly,
ĎTwill animate a purer frame
With life that cannot die."
With the apostle Paul, however, instead of death being such a blessing as tradition has poetically and logically (from false premises) concluded, it was a thing to be saved from, and to save Epaphroditus from it Paul deemed an act of mercy. If an act of mercy even in one individual case, how much more so will it be for God to at last save the world from it, when the last enemy, death, is destroyed?
To Hezekiah the prophet Isaiah was sent with the message of death, which he delivered in the following emphatic words: "Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live," (Isa. 38: 1). Notwithstanding that Hezekiah believed that he "had walked before God in truth and with a perfect heart, and had done that which was good," the thought that he must die caused him to "weep with a great weeping;" and he prayed that he might be spared from dying. Why was this if death is the beginning of a life of bliss? The popular delusion afforded no consolation to Hezekiah; to him death was death. The words, "Thou shalt die and not live" meant to him the cessation of life, sweet life; and all that he had would he give for his life. For his prayer to be answered to the extent of adding to his days fifteen years was to him a cause for deep thankfulness to God.
Now it is clear from this that Hezekiahís view of death was very different from that of the popular Christianity of our day. Instead of expecting death to transport him to "the Eden above," he declared that it would have been the "cutting off of his days;" that he would "go to the gates of the grave;" that he would "not see the Lord in the land of the living," and "behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world." In the contemplation of death, instead of "peace he had great bitterness;" and in that God had caused him to recover, and had made him to live instead of die, He had "in love to his soul delivered it from"--Where? From heaven? Yes, says the advocate of the great delusion that death is the gate to heaven. Was Hezekiah thankful that his soul was delivered from heaven? Did God in love to his soul deliver it from that "heavenly place beyond the bounds of time and space, the saints secure abode?" What folly men become victims of! Let Hezekiah proceed: "Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption." What is the pit of corruption to which his soul (or he himself) would have gone had he died? He answers, "For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down to the pit cannot hope for thy truth."
Thus we see that death is death and not life; that death begins where life ends, and that instead of deluding ourselves that death is an escape from a world of woe to a world of bliss, we must face the grim monster as an enemy from whose relentless grasp we can find escape in Him only who is the resurrection and the life; for "by man came death; by man came also the resurrection from the dead" (I. Cor. 15: 21).
There are some who are deceived as to the meaning of death by the cunning use their leaders make of the word where it represents a moral state.
DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS
The words "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2: 1) are quoted and commented on in an attempt to prove that men are not really dead when they are said to be. But if the word death means life, why is it used as the opposite of life? Why not dispense with the word entirely and use the word life? Why not read the verse referred to thus: "And you hath he made alive who were alive?" Is it not clear that when they were quickened or made alive they were in the opposite state from that represented by the words "dead in trespasses and sins?" So far as their physical life was concerned no change had taken place. Physically they were alive, though they were bodies of death that would ultimately die. So long as they were alive physically they were not in this sense dead; for it is a contradiction of terms to say that one is dead and alive in the same sense at the same time.
What kind of death had the Ephesians been made alive from? This question can be answered by asking, What kind of life had they received? They had been dead in trespasses and sins; they were now alive in the righteousness of Christ. In other words they had been quickened into a state of moral life from a state of moral death; and when they were in the former state they were in the opposite of the latter, and vice versa. So when they were dead in trespasses and sins they were dead in that sense; and when they were quickened from that death they were alive in righteousness.
"IS DEAD WHILE SHE LIVETH"
The text "But she that
liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (
WHAT IS DEATH?
There is no use trying to evade the force of facts and scripture teaching on the question of what is death. We are all subject to its universal power; the rich and the poor, the great and the small, the old and the young are subject to deathís tyrannical reign. To call it a friend does not change the fact that it is a foe; that when it enters our homes to snatch from us our wives, husbands, children or friends, it is the most unwelcome visitor and one against which we would close our doors had we the power. We may believe as strongly as it is possible for man to believe in the deceptive theory that "death is the gate to glory," but our whole being rebels and protests with all its might when we are threatened with a visit from death. The self-evident fact that death is an enemy will not allow even the strong power of superstitious delusion to hold back the burning tears that its presence will cause to spring forth and trickle down our cheeks. You may talk and talk to the grief-stricken one who bends over the corpse in the coffin about death being a transition from a world of woe to a world of weal, and the distressed one may try to cherish the thought and proclaim belief, but the tears cease not to flow, the pain and anguish written upon every feature of the mourner refuse to give place to joy and gladness. Tell us not, then, that death is the "voice of Jesus to call us to his arms." It is the voice of sin, for sin brought death. "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned"--Rom. 5: 12. It is not the "gate to heaven," but the gate to the grave. It is not the beginning of life--a better life--but the end of life; and since "all that a man hath will he give for his life," he naturally revolts at death as his worst enemy.
When death is viewed in its proper light it is seen that for the dead resurrection is the only hope, and that resurrection out of death is the "gate to glory," the beginning of another life; and therefore it is said: "By man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" (I. Cor. 15: 21). At the resurrection the judgment will therefore take place, when "every man will be rewarded according to his deeds" (II. Cor. 5: 10). It is not that good men are rewarded in heaven and wicked men punished in hell from the time of their death till the time of resurrection and then judged, the foolishness of which would be too great for even a fallible human judge, to say nothing of Him who is great and wise and good and whose ways are the perfection of order.
We do not depend, however, upon facts and reason only, nor upon scripture testimony that may be regarded as inferential. The Word of God is quick and powerful in proclaiming to us what death is, the state of man in death and his hopelessness apart from resurrection. It is because death destroys life and places man in total unconsciousness that so much importance is attached to the resurrection. Some in the church at Corinth having denied the resurrection of the dead, the apostle Paul is inspired with a marvelous earnestness and logical power to show how utterly subversive of the truth such a denial was; that it formed one of the chief elements of the gospel and that salvation depended upon "keeping it in memory."
How can the doctrine of resurrection be held as important by those who believe that death does not end life for the real man; that it only relieves him of the burden of the "mortal coil" and sends him to a land of bliss in the sky? Resurrection with such, instead of being gospel or good news, is an encumbrance to their belief and an event that will be a disturbance to the happiness to which death is supposed to send them. If at death they "mount triumphant there" to unspeakable joy, surely to compel them to leave their "thrones on high" and return to their house of clay to be judged, to be placed in jeopardy, to be weighed in the balances, would be the most awkward, inconsistent and unwelcome arrangement.
To those in
The process by which man was formed and made alive is given very clearly in Gen. 2: 7--"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." In this we see that, first man is formed from the dust; second, the breath of life is breathed into his nostrils; and third, he--the man formed out of the dust--becomes a living soul or creature. As the result of this we now behold a living man. Now death being the opposite of life there ought not to be any difficulty in understanding it. What made the man alive? The breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, and starting respiration. What would take away life? The breathing out of the breath of life, expiring, and thus stopping respiration. When the life is thus expired or gone out of the man he is dead, and when dead he is lifeless as he was before the life was breathed into him. We have now a dead man who is "out of the earth, earthy," whom "the Lord God formed of the dust of the ground," and of whom it is said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." When this dissolution has taken place the man, as a living, formed being, is no more. Death and dissolution have reversed what formation and life did. Hence Inspiration says: "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help; for his breath goeth forth (death), he returneth to his earth (dissolution); and in that very day his thoughts perish (unconsciousness)--Psa. 146: 4. So far as death is concerned, there is no difference in its results in man and animal; all die alike, the difference being in manís relation to resurrection. Hence Solomonís inspired words declare: "I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth; so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man (in death) hath no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust and all turn to dust again" (Eccles. -20). Then as a challenge to the believers in disembodied spirits, and at the same time in transmigration from creature to creature, he asks, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth" (verse 21)? Let the reader ponder over what has been said and carefully read the testimonies following, and he will see that manís hope of a better life is not in death, but by a resurrection from the dead:
"For I know that thou wilt bring me to death and to the house appointed for all living"--Job 30: 23.
"Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of a hireling?"--Chapter 7:1
"What man is he that liveth and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul (himself) from the hand of the grave?"--Psa. 89: 48.
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth so dieth the other; * * * all go to one place; all are of the dust and all turn to dust again."--Eccl .3: 19, 20.
"All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass"--Isa. 40: 6.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest"--Eccl. 9: 10.
"In death there is no remembrance of thee, in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"--Psa. 6: 5.
"For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything"--Eccl. 9: 5.
"Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help; his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; IN THAT VERY DAY HIS THOUGHTS PERISH"--Psa. 146: 3, 4.
"The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth."--Isa. 38: 18, 19.
RESURRECTION THE ONLY HOPE OF
FOR THE DEAD
The theory that man is an immortal soul that never dies and is never buried has produced different inventions of resurrection in attempts to fit the needs of the supposed case. Some have confined resurrection to a moral quickening of the "immortal soul;" others have declared that it consists in the escape of the "immortal soul" from the house of clay and its elevation into the "spirit world." These speculators no doubt saw that too much importance is attached in the Scriptures to the resurrection to allow of its application to the body as a mere tabernacle for the soul which was only a burden during natural life, and which to be rid of is the unhampered and unburdened liberty of the soul to bask in bliss. No theory of resurrection would fit this disembodied existence as well as the ascension of the soul out of the body into heaven, and if the words of scripture could be manipulated to suit this invention the body might just as well, indeed much more conveniently, be left to moulder eternally in the dust. Having shown that disembodied existence is a myth it will be readily seen that to invent such theories of resurrection is only to add myth to myth. The fact that death is the cessation of life to the real man, and that the man is buried in the dust and is then in the dust and nowhere else, makes a real resurrection a necessity.
Death having passed upon all the race in Adam when he sinned, escape from death is what is needed in order to salvation. Since the sentence is "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return," the escape can be found only in a resurrection that will bring man out of the dust. "By man came death;" and if the race had been left in the condition into which it fell in Adam and no other provision had been made, every one of the race must have gone down to dust without a shadow of hope.
Having sinned and thus lawfully
brought himself into this hopeless and helpless state, man had no one to blame
but himself; and if means of escape are provided it must be an act of love and
not one that could be claimed upon a basis of manís right. Therefore if
salvation is offered to fallen man it will be by love; and so it is said:
"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him might not perish but have everlasting life" (Jno. ). Perishing, therefore, man is, and if the love of
God is not accepted by faith and obedience perish he will, for "in Adam
all die" (
Realizing that this is the
condition the human family is in, we see that a gospel
that will meet the requirements of the case must provide for resurrection.
"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death
passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned" (Rom. 5: 12); "by man
came death" (I. Cor. 15: 21) and "in Adam all die" (verse 22).
How can escape be found from this except through resurrection? Exclude
resurrection from the gospel and it will be no gospel to man in the plight in
which scripture and facts prove him to be. Spiritualize the resurrection and
you might as well deny it altogether; for what is the use of a "spiritual
resurrection" as a means of reaching the literal fact of death, and
dissolution in the dust? Death, as we have seen, is terribly literal, and a
resurrection that does not deal with the fact of death as it really is, is a
delusion and a snare. The cure must reach the disease; the plaster must fit the
wound. It is worse than vanity to theorize about a resurrection of a supposed
spirit entity out of the body and lose sight of the resurrection of that upon
which death and dissolution to dust came. It is grasping at an imaginary shadow
and losing the substance. It is the substantial man that is the "thou"
of the words, "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou
return," and it is this man that must be the subject of resurrection if
the requirements of the case are to be met. In view of the reality of this it
is said: "By man came death; by man came also the resurrection of the
Whenever and wherever the gospel is made known to man the resurrection must be found in it, either expressed or implied; for if it is not, then in this life only we have hope and we are most miserable; since death is the extinction of life, if there is no resurrection there is no hope beyond the present life. It is said by some that resurrection is a New Testament doctrine, and that scarcely is it referred to in the Old. If the gospel was made known to Adam and Eve when they found themselves alienated from God and sentenced to death, it must have offered a hope of real deliverance from the real destiny brought upon them. The serpentís lie, "Ye shall not surely die," was what had caused them to sin. On this account the serpent became a representation of sin, and sin became personified and was called a serpent. The effectual way to kill a serpent is to crush its head; and this is used to represent the taking away of sin and redeeming from its power. What power had sin obtained? It had power to take life, for "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. ), and it had the power to take man into its prison-house, the grave. This is the power that must be destroyed if escape is ever possible; and what will release the captives from the prison-house? Resurrection and life, is the only answer--the only provision fully meeting the requirements of the situation; and therefore resurrection is implied in the first gospel words that were ever uttered--"I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman; and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3: 15). To bruise the heel of the womanís seed was to put Him to death but not to destroy Him; to bruise the serpentís head was to destroy sinís power to hold the womanís seed in death and the grave, and therefore resurrection was promised in the gospel when it was first preached, afterwards more fully made known as Godís plan of redemption became unfolded, and clearly demonstrated when "the God of peace brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb. 13: 20).
It will be seen from the
"bruising of the heel" of the seed of the woman in the crucifixion of
Christ that as a means to the removal of sin and destruction of its power over
man God saw fit to require sacrifice, even that of His beloved Son. All the
sacrifices of the law of Moses were shadows of the
"better sacrifice" made by Christ. With this in view we may go back
THE COATS OF SKIN
Death is not brought to view, either in man or animal, until after sin is committed. The first intimation we have of it as a matter of fact is in the words, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skin and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). The forgiveness of sin is spoken of in the Scriptures as a covering of nakedness. David says: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psa. 32: 1). Again: "Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin." Sin having caused shame of nakedness literally in our first parents, nakedness became a representation of manís unfitness to be in communion and conciliation with God. By the sacrifice of Christ he became an acceptable mediator between God and man and the "holy place," as it were, in which God would become reconciled to man. By another figure of speech we are spoken of as "putting on the new man," and are "in Christ new creatures" (II. Cor. 5: 17). Having "put on the new man" (Col. 3: 10), he is to us a garment of righteousness to hide the nakedness of sin in which we were placed by the disobedience of the "old man" (Col. 3: 9). In all this we see sacrifice, a garment for covering sin, and redemption; and all brought about by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
For "coats of skins" to
be made for Adam and his wife there must have occurred the death of the victims
from which the skins were procured; and is it going too far to say that their
death was sacrificial, typical of Christís death, and that the clothing made
from the skins represented redemption in Christ? The death of Christ without
his resurrection would not have procured the necessary release for man.
"Christ died, yea, rather is risen," says the apostle Paul;
and "if Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in
your sins" (
Coming one step down, we next see resurrection typified in Abelís "excellent sacrifice," speaking of which the writer to the Hebrews says: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Heb. 11: 4). There must have been instruction given to Adamís sons before they could know that God required sacrifices, and that the instruction was sufficient to render it possible for them to offer acceptable sacrifices is shown by the fact that Abel had a faith that enabled him to make one that was more excellent than that of Cainís and by which he "obtained witness that he was righteous." To be righteous is to believe and obey God; and to do this there must be a knowledge of what to believe and what to do. The only faith that will please and without which "it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11: 6) is one that "cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. ). It must have been by a faith of this kind that Abel was moved to offer "a more excellent sacrifice." We may be sure of this from the fact that the apostle prefaces what he says the ancient worthies did by faith, by clearly defining what "faith" as used by him meant. The first verse of the chapter begins: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it (this defined faith) the elders obtained a good report." Then he proceeds to state what the elders did by the power of this faith.
Abel, therefore, hoped for something promised; and his intelligence in the promise is exhibited in the excellence of his sacrifice. Christ, the seed of the woman, who would "bruise the serpentís head" had been promised--promised as a sacrifice, the Lamb to be slain, whose blood would bring remission of sins, the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Here is Christ crucified, buried and raised again from the dead; and here, therefore, is resurrection for all in Him who have Abelís faith. Did Abel "by faith" show forth in his sacrifice of the "firstling of his flock" Christ put to death only? Belief in the death and burial of Christ, unless he saw his resurrection to "die no more," would to have been belief in good news of deliverance; but seeing that the sacrifice of Christ would give him power over death and the grave, he saw in him "the resurrection and the life," and his faith taught him that he that believeth in him, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (Jno. 11: 25). Thus the resurrection is seen in every step as we come down the ages to Him who broke the barriers of the tomb and came forth and declared: "I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, amen; and have the keys of hades and of death" (Rev. 1: 18).
NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD
That resurrection is not so clearly and fully set forth in plain language in the Old Testament as it is in the New is, no doubt, the reason some think it almost exclusively a New Testament doctrine. Being of little importance, too, to a theory that sends good men to happiness and the wicked to torment at death, it has not been viewed as a serious omission, even if the Old Testament did have but little to say upon the subject. Indeed, the popular theory would be much relieved if the doctrine were not taught in the New Testament. With a few clear exceptions resurrection in the Old Testament is shown by types and taught by implication. Wherever the gospel is set forth necessarily it is either expressed or implied. A striking instance of implied resurrection is seen in the words, "I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Ex. 3: 6). One who believed that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive in heaven would not see resurrection implied in these words. Indeed the words are often quoted to prove the disembodied existence of these fathers in a happy state. But to one who believed that they were dead and "gathered to their fathers" in sheol, or "in the dust of the earth" (Dan. 12: 2) this passage would be an implied proof of resurrection. It was the Saviourís clear discernment of this that enabled him to silence the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. They were sticklers for the writings of Moses, and from a passage in these writings Jesus proved the doctrine they denied. "Now that the dead are raised," he says, "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 the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto him"--Luke , 38.
To fully see the force of this argument the facts must be kept in view. The Sadducees denied the resurrection; Jesus is proving the resurrection. He is not proving that the fathers were alive and stood in no need of resurrection, as believers in the immortality of the soul claim from this passage. If it were true that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive in happiness, and that they--their "immortal souls"--never died the Saviourís argument for resurrection based upon the words quoted would be utterly without force and entirely irrelevant. The believers in the conscious state of the dead when they use this text to prove that doctrine in effect declare it to be useless for the purpose quoted by Jesus. They say it does not prove resurrection, but it proves conscious existence independently of resurrection. The argument as used by our Lord, however, is this: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead; God is their God, and He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; therefore they must have a resurrection to life from the dead. They "live unto him" now, because it is His purpose to raise them to life. As a matter of fact they are dead; and it is because they are dead that resurrection is necessary to make them alive; and Godís purpose to raise them is irresistibly proven by His words, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."
Let there not be an attempt to evade this by saying that our Saviour was speaking only of the body. He is speaking of the men named. God was the God of these men, not of bodies of which they could live independently and better without than with. They were among those who had "died in the faith, not having received the promises" (Heb. ). "Having obtained a good report through faith, they received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. ).
THE OFFERING OF ISAAC
In the offering of Isaac we have another way of showing forth resurrection. Many claim it was unnatural and cruel of Abraham to be so willing to make an offering of his beloved son, and that the demand that he should do so was inconsistent with a God of love and justice. This disparagement of Abrahamís faith and reflection upon the character of God exhibits destitution of the faith which made such an act possible for a loving father. It also shows ignorance of Godís ways and His object in making trying demands.
If Abraham had seen only the death of his son the demand would have been greater than human nature could bear and the object in view would not have been reached, namely: to make a practical test of his faith. Faith here, as in the Scriptures generally, must not be viewed as blind trust, but as intelligent confidence. The faith that sustained Abraham in such a hard trial is defined by the writer to the Hebrews as the "substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." And then it is added: "For by it the elders obtained a good report," etc. (chapter 11: 1, 2).
We have already shown that a faith pleasing to God is based upon His promises. It was confidence that what God "had promised He was able to perform" that constituted a faith intelligent and strong enough to stand such a rigid test as Abraham was subjected to. Belief that God would restore his son to life was the faith that inspired Abraham and prevented him from "staggering at the promises of God." The promises that had begotten this great faith were as follows: "For all the land which thou seest to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth" (Gen. 13: 15, 16). "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Gen. 18:17, 18)? The fulfillment of these promises depended upon Isaac, for it had been told Abraham, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" (chapter ). How could he reconcile promises involving the blessing of all nations through Isaac with Isaacís death when a youth? Only by believing that God would raise him to life again. He would reason thus: God has said that from me through Isaac a great nation shall come, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; He now requires me to take Isaacís life; Godís promises can not fail; therefore if I take my sonís life God will restore him to me alive and thus fulfill His promise. That this was Abrahamís view of the case is shown by the apostle Paul in the words, "accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure" (Heb. 11: 19). Here then is a figure of resurrection through Christ, who was offered as a sacrifice in order that He might be practically the "resurrection and the life" (Jno. ).
Redemption is nothing without resurrection. Resurrection is a necessary part of redemption. Therefore the offering of Isaac was a type fully showing forth redemption in its various aspects and especially foreshadowing resurrection. In it the great love of God is seen, the willing resignation of the Son to the Fatherís requirements; the necessity of offering for sin; the fact that God only could provide the sacrifice; that death by shedding of blood must take place and that resurrection would surely follow; thus redemption would be complete when every child of God would be brought out of death into immortal life to be received into the love of a Fatherís embrace without danger of ever more falling.
In the history of
JOBíS HOPE OF RESURRECTION
The patriarch Job, after taking a view of the work of death among men, and showing that in general man "lieth down and riseth not," cries out in the great agony he was then suffering, "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath is past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time and remember me" (Job 14: 13). Then he asks: "If a man die shall he live again?" and his faith in Godís promises answers: "Thou shalt call and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." The "set time" that God would call and he would answer was the time of the resurrection. Then will Job, with all of like faith, answer. This "call" is undoubtedly the same that in the New Testament is spoken of as the "sound of the trump."
Further along Job gives still clearer expression to his knowledge of resurrection. He says, "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 the Psalms there is abundant proof of resurrection. In chapter 49 the Psalmist, like Job, declares that the masses of men, who are without understanding and are "like the beasts that perish," die in their folly without hope of resurrection. But in contrast with this he says: "But thou wilt redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for thou wilt receive me." Of the resurrection of Christ and of his own through Christ he says: "Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol, the grave), neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption" (Psa. 16:9, 10). That this refers to resurrection is made more evident by the apostle Peterís reference to it in Acts 2: 27-31. Referring again to the destiny of men in general and in contrast with his hope concerning himself and all of his faith, the Psalmist prays to be delivered "from men of the world, which have their portion in this life;" and then of himself he says, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness" (Psa. 17: 14, 15).
It was hope in resurrection to the Divine nature, which he terms "thy likeness," that inspired Davidís last words. The "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure," which "was all his salvation and all his desire" (II. Sam. 23: 1-5), depended upon resurrection; without it the covenant could never come into force. In making this covenant with David, God assured him that he would raise up Christ to sit upon his throne and that of his kingdom there should be no end" (II. Sam. 7: 12-15; Luke 1: 32, 33; Acts 2: 30). He knew that Christ would suffer death, and yet God covenants that he should rule upon Davidís throne forever. How could this be without resurrection? How could David derive consolation from this covenant unless he understood and believed the doctrine of resurrection? The fulfillment of the covenant he knew was not to be until "a great while to come" (II. Sam. 7: 19). He had been told that when he would "sleep with his fathers," his "days having been fulfilled," (verse 12), his Son and heir should be raised up. Then he is assured: "Thy throne and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee" (verse 16). It followed therefore, that his resurrection must take place.
Let it not be forgotten that "the dead know not anything;" for if the reality of death is not kept in view the absolute necessity of resurrection in these cases will not be seen. If as is popularly claimed, David did not die, only forsook his body and went to heaven in a disembodied state, it would be difficult to see why he exulted in hope of resurrection, and declared that he would be satisfied when he would "awake." It is quite difficult to persuade believers in the disembodied existence of the dead to look at the words of scripture that assure us that David is "both dead and buried" (Acts 2: 29); that he "fell on sleep and saw corruption" (chapter 13: 36); that "David is not ascended into the heavens" (chapter 2: 34). These truths must be accepted, however, before the importance of resurrection can be seen.
ISAIAH AND EZEKIEL
The prophet Isaiah is very clear
in declaring his hope in the resurrection. After speaking of some who were dead
and should not live, deceased and should not rise, he exclaims: "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" (chapter 26: 19). In the prophecy of Ezekiel there is a
very remarkable representation of resurrection. It is a vision of the national
death state and resurrection of
THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL
The resurrection is set forth in
symbol and in plain words in the book of Daniel. The prophet sees in vision a
man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz; his body
was like the beryl and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as
lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and
the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude" (chapter 10: 5, 6).
This description is similar to that given in the book of Revelation, and
represents Christ as the multitudinous man--that is, Christ returned to the
earth, the dead saints raised and with the living glorified with immortality.
These saints will, after resurrection and glorification, constitute the one
body of which Christ will be the Head to rule the world in righteousness. Since
they have been redeemed and glorified by one man, even Jesus, the aggregation
is represented in the picture of a wonderful man portrayed in the words quoted.
"When he shall appear," says John, "we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is" (
In the interval, which he is informed must elapse between his time and the resurrection, the program of events previously symbolized will be carried out in the world. Periods of time represented by "time, times and a half," "one thousand two hundred and ninety days" and a "thousand three hundred and five and thirty days" were to intervene between an event subsequent to the prophetís time and the "time of the end;" and Daniel is given no hope, and entertains no hope of salvation till the end of the events symbolized, or "that time" when "Michael shall stand up" and "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." The last words spoken to him gave him the only consolation that could be given to one who must "sleep in the dust of the earth." No use is found for the common custom of consoling men with the hope of soon shuffling off the mortal coil, and "mounting triumphant there" to realms of bliss. Such delusive hope was not given by the angel; but he says: "Go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot AT THE END OF THE DAYS" (verse 13).
RANSOM FROM THE POWER OF THE GRAVE
In the prophecy of Hosea (chapter
) the restoration of
RESURRECTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The resurrection is so fully taught and there is so much predicated upon it in the New Testament that he who runs may read the doctrine there, and special examination of numerous testimonies is unnecessary, even if our space allowed. A careful reading of one chapter--I. Cor. 15, is enough to convince anyone of the truth of the doctrine. But it is not as necessary to prove the resurrection as it is to show what it really is and that future life depends upon it. Few there are professing to believe the Bible who will not admit that it is taught; but it is nullified by the tradition that "immortal souls" go to heaven and hell at death. After proving resurrection by showing it to have been a fact in the case of Christ, the apostle emphasizes its necessity; and in doing so shows that the dead are dead, and that without resurrection dead they must remain. This chapter (I. Cor. 15) is nearly always read at funerals; and the speaker is sometimes drawn into the powerful current of the apostleís argument, until one is almost persuaded that he accepts the doctrine of resurrection as of vital importance--so much so that the only hope for the dead is in resurrection. But we are soon disappointed when the "orthodox" creed begins to assert itself, and breaks out in such expressions as "He is not dead but gone before;" "Weep not, our friend is better off;" "He is in the land of bliss," etc. This not only spoils what the officiating preacher has said when he is in the current of the teaching of the chapter, but it entirely destroys the force of the apostleís argument--rather the apostleís argument utterly destroys the orthodox tradition expressed in the foregoing quotations. If "he is not dead but gone before," is "better off" and in "the land of bliss," why read a chapter that has not a single word in it about one that is dead having "gone before" to "the land of bliss" to be "better off"? Why read a chapter that only treats of resurrection and that predicates all upon it? If the resurrection has nothing to do with the real man who has "gone before," and only provides for the reforming of the body, what consolation can there be in it when it is claimed that the "departed" is "better off" without his body than he was with it? When the "departed" was in the body before "he went before" it is claimed his experience was,
"Burdened with this weight
We groan beneath the load:
Waiting the hour that sets us free
And brings us home to God."
If, now that he is dead, he is "set free" from the "weight of clay under which he groaned" and has "gone home to God," why read a chapter about a resurrection that is supposed to have to do with the "weight of clay" only, and what consolation can there be in contemplating a time when the "departed" must return from his "home with God" to his "load" and "weight of clay"? Resurrection in this case is surely the most awkward and inconvenient prospect for the "departed" to contemplate. To them the prospect of a resurrection would make them "miserable;" but with Paul it was, If there is no resurrection of the dead there is only this life; and "if in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable" (verses 16-19).
Now it is safe to say that any theory that will destroy the force of an argument of an inspired apostle must be false. The burning words of the Spirit enabled the apostle in this chapter to present one of the most powerful, logical arguments to be found in the Bible. In it he lost sight of no truth that could in any possible way be used to weaken his force or in any manner to oppose his trenchant position. This must be admitted by all who accept the inspiration of the apostle in this chapter. Yet, if the popular theory of heaven-going at death for the righteous be true, Paulís argument is absolutely destitute of force, truthfully or logically. This arises from the fact that the apostle on the one hand starts out with the postulate that the dead are dead and not alive, and that if they ever live again it must be by resurrection. On the other hand the advocate of the popular tradition starts out with the assumption that the dead are not dead, only their bodies, and that they are better off since they died than they were before. With premises so opposed how can a conclusion be reasoned out without conflict? The inspired apostle starts with the truth and finishes with the truth. The advocate of the popular theory starts with a false position and his finish must necessarily be false. The result is collision in this way: Paulís argument is that, since all who have died are dead, if there is no resurrection then "they also which have fallen asleep in Christ are perished." It follows, therefore, that "our faith is vain" if in "this life only we have hope;" and we who have supposed ourselves to be in Christ and thereby in the resurrection "are of all men most miserable." But a champion of the "orthodox" theory steps forward and says: You are wrong in the start, Paul; the dead are not dead, only their bodies. "They that have fallen asleep in Christ" are not asleep, they are awake in the happiness and bliss of heaven, and when we die we shall go to them. Therefore you attach too much importance to resurrection, we can do without it; for death to us is what resurrection is to you. Let them deny the resurrection and our faith is not vain; neither are we "miserable," for our faith is not dependent upon resurrection; it is that we shall be happy in heaven as soon as we die; and therefore for you to say that if there is no resurrection they that have fallen asleep in Christ are perished is without foundation. Thus a false theory nullifies the Word of God; and the fact that it does is sufficient to expose its fallacy and render it worthy of condemnation by all who are willing to "let God be true though all men are liars."
With these truths kept in view a simple reading of the following scriptures affords all that is necessary to show that manís relation to the law of sin and death necessitates resurrection in order that he may enjoy the blessings of life and immortality:
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection * * * Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.--Matt. 22: 23-32.
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.--Luke 14: 14.
Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.--Jno. 5: 28, 39.
These things said he; and after that he said unto them: Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep * * * 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 saith unto her, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live.--Jno. , 23-25.
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.--Acts 1: 21, 22.
He (David) seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (hades, the grave) neither did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.--Acts , 32.
The Sadducees came unto them, being grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.--Acts 4: 1, 2.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.--Acts 4: 33.
Then certain of the philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.--Acts 17: 18.
When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.--Acts 17: 32.
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council: Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.--Acts 23: 6.
But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets; and have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, and there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.--Acts 24: 14, 15. See also verse 21.
Who (Christ) was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.--Rom. 1: 3, 4.
For if we have
been planted in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of
I count all things but loss * * * that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.--Phil. 3: 8-11.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.--Heb. 6: 1, 2.
Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.--Heb.11: 35.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.--I. Pet. 1: 3.
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us * * * by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.--I. Pet. 3: 21.
Not only do these testimonies
show that the resurrection is an essential part of the gospel, that salvation
depends upon it, but they contain irresistible proofs that death ends the
present life and holds man helpless and unconscious in its grasp, and that no
future life can be reached by the dead except through resurrection. It is
"in the resurrection that we are to be made like the angels to die no
more." It is in the resurrection that the just are to be recompensed. It
is in the resurrection that the righteous are to come forth to eternal life and
the wicked to condemnation. It was "in the resurrection at the last
day" that Martha believed her brother would rise again. Since all depended
upon the resurrection of Christ there must be "ordained witnesses" to
testify of its truth. Since David could not hope for the realization of Godís
promises without resurrection he spake of the resurrection of Christ; and in
fulfillment of the promises of Christís resurrection, and as assurance that all
depending upon it would at last be fulfilled, it says: "This Jesus hath
God raised up." It was the part of Epicurean and Stoic philosophy to deny
and mock at the resurrection of the dead. It was for the hope of the
resurrection of the dead Paul was called in question. He had "hope towards
God that there would be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the
unjust." It was by the resurrection of Christ from the dead that he was
"declared to be the Son of God with power by the spirit of holiness."
The hope of the Roman believers was that they would be "in the
likeness" of Christís resurrection. Paul counted all else as nothing
"if by any means he might attain to a resurrection from among the
dead." The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is one of the
principles of the foundation upon which the
THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS
In John 11 we have an account of a case of a once happy little family stricken with sorrow by the visitation of manís great enemy, death. A beloved brother had died, and two loving and devoted sisters were left to mourn his loss. Here is the scene that death, cruel death, always brings to view wherever its cold withering hand clutches. Who is there that has not been in its presence, and witnessed aching hearts, agonizing cries and scalding tears? And who can be there and not feel the darkness of the hour, and not be touched with the sympathetic chord that vibrates through every throbbing heart? Why these pangs? Why this pain, this sorrow and sighing? What is the cause? The answer to it all is in the dreadful word, death. Yes, it is death that makes the heart ache and the tears burst forth. In its presence the Son of God, "Jesus wept." What a rebuke to the false tongues that in deathís presence say it "is the voice that Jesus sends to call us to his arms!" "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," said Jesus. "If he sleepeth he doeth well," said his disciples, speaking of natural sleep. And if he sleepeth in death he doeth better, say the modern believers in the conscious, happy state of the dead of Lazarusí faith; for he is not asleep but basking in bliss. Look at those loving sisters weeping. Send some one to console them. Whom shall we send? Shall we send one who will console them with the words, "He is not dead but gone before"? Or shall we send one who will console them with the words, "Thy brother shall rise again"? If you send a popular preacher who has "made a covenant with death" he will use the former method; if the Son of God go he will use the latter--he will give resurrection as the consolation. Why this difference? Because one represents the lie of the serpent, "Ye shall not surely die," while the other is the "Seed of the woman" and represents the truth of God; "Thou shalt surely die." Let the preacher say "He is not dead," "There is no death," and let the serpent hear him, and if he still has the power of speech he will say, "That is right; that is the doctrine I taught when I said ĎYe shall not surely die,í and I am pleased to hear preachers faithful to me in saying that Ďthere is no death.í" Let the Saviour say plainly "Lazarus is dead," and "Thy brother shall rise again," and let the serpent and popular preacher hear him and they will charge him with being a materialist, believing that the man is dead and unconscious, depending upon rising again for life. Let them stand by when Jesus calls Lazarus back to life as an act of kindness, and they will charge him with an act of cruelty; because to them it is calling a man back from bliss to re-enter a life of woe. How can these things agree? How can truth and falsehood walk together? They cannot; and now whose consolation to the two weeping sisters is consolation? Is there consolation in a lie? No; there is only deception in it, cruel deception; all this is the deception of popular funeral sermons, rebuked and condemned by the Son of God in words that sound out, echo and re-echo the mournful sound, "Lazarus is dead," and rebuked again in words of cheer that give hope, the only hope, "Thy brother shall rise again."
The resurrection of Lazarus had for its object more than simply temporary gratification of the two bereaved sisters. Its object was to manifest the power of God in Christ and to give a practical demonstration of the words Jesus uttered, "I am the resurrection and the life." The real and permanent benefits of resurrection were not realized by Lazarus, and will not be till the time contemplated by Martha when she said, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." This miracle of our Lordís was therefore an illustration of the resurrection, and shows us the meaning of the word of which resurrection is a translation. That word is anastasis and means a standing again--that is, a standing again in life. For one to stand again in life implies that he stood once, then fell from standing in life, and then was made to stand again in life; and this implies that during the interval between there was no life, but death. This is why Jesus could say plainly, "Lazarus is dead," and then promise, "Thy brother shall rise again."
If we follow the Saviour to the tomb of Lazarus we shall have the question of the state of the dead and the resurrection from the dead decided by the highest authority and in the most demonstrative manner. A believer in the conscious happy state of the righteous in death would expect to hear Jesus call Lazarus down from heaven; and since they expect to see their friends in heaven, bodiless though they be, they would expect to see Lazarus come and re-enter his body. On the other hand, a believer in the scriptures, that the "dead" are "asleep in the dust of the earth" and that "the dead know not anything" would expect to see Lazarus called out of the grave where he lay dead and buried. Of course the expectations of the one are doomed to disappointment, as all theories and hopes contrary to the Word of God are, while the other will see just what the Scriptures prepare him to expect. Jesus is at the tomb; the stone is removed therefrom; prayer is offered to God, and the Son of God "cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth! And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go." Surely there is no room here for the popular theory of the consciousness of man in death.
"WHOSOEVER LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN ME, SHALL NEVER DIE"
With an air of triumph the
question is asked, What will you do with the words,
"He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die?" Our
answer is, Believe these words just as fully as those that immediately precede
them, namely, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live." Lazarus had believed and he was dead; yet he should
live. Jesus had said plainly, "Lazarus is dead." Who will say
he never died or apply the words "shall never die" to all men? He who
would must use one scripture to contradict others and would support the
serpentís lie, "Ye shall not surely die." The two statements of
verses 25 and 26 must be true; and therefore one class will be dead but shall
be made alive by resurrection, while the other class will be alive and not
dead; and Christ at the time referred to--the "resurrection at the last
day"--having come to change the mortal to immortality "in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye" (I. Cor. 15: 52), they will "never
die." This is the "mystery" that Paul said he would show and did
show when he said, "We shall not all sleep" (
"MY BROTHER HAD NOT DIED"
When Martha met Jesus she exclaimed: "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died." It is possible she only meant that if Jesus had been at Bethany he would by his power to heal sicknesses have prevented the death of Lazarus; but are not the words capable of a much more far-reaching application, especially in view of the saying of Jesus, "He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die?" Let us suppose Christ returned today; how would it be with those who live and believe? Would it not be as Marthaís words declare, and as more fully explained by the apostle Paul: "We shall not all sleep, or die"? When the Lord does return our brothers and sisters who, like Lazarus, are dead, shall be made alive by resurrection; and our faithful brothers and sisters (in the Lord) will not die, but will "be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump." The whole matter concerning the "quick and the dead" is therefore dealt with in this narrative, and we can confidently say of all in Christ as Martha did: "I know he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."