The reality of the cross and risen Christ continues forever change the world and cause believers to exalt in the Son of God!
Last week we discussed God’s purpose for the suffering we endure in this world. Suffering, in its grand scheme, helps us to look beyond ourselves and see an All-knowing and wise Creator who cares for and comforts those who place their trust in Him for eternal comfort from this sinful world. While this knowledge consoles many, such experiences were never meant to give us a genuine hope. No, it was our risen Savior, who suffered at the hands of this sinful world through whom we enjoy a genuine hope for eternal comfort.
The apostle Paul knew this both from a conviction he long held before coming to know Jesus as the Christ (Acts 23:8), but also because as a hostile enemy of the Lord’s church, witnessed with his own eyes the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9:1-9; Acts 8:3). Because of this he said to the church at Corinth.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. ” (1 Corinthians 15:1–19, NKJV)”.
The fact and reality is that Jesus died, then rose from the dead according to prophetic scripture and is the reason why we have such a hope that we declare the glorious gospel to the lost. It is through our risen Savior we can trust God to get us through this suffering world, on to a better home. A place where there is no more sorrow and shed tears. Amen.
Some time ago I cut an old plum tree down that had grown in our yard since we have lived here. Due to the spring rains and other responsibilities I did not remove the stump until just recently. Even though the tree was gone and the stump looked like it was drying up, some small green shoots of growth came up from the base of the stump.
I remember years ago when dad would replace an old fence post with a new one cut from a locust tree when the sap was rising. Some time when the conditions were right a new sprout would grow from that locust post even though it had been cut from the tree and all visible signs of life were gone.
These two instances remind me of the Scripture in Job 14:7-9. Here God through Job is comparing the cutting down of a tree to the death of man in verse 12. I will not quote the whole but verse 7 says, “ for there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down it will sprout again”. The roots may grow old in the earth and its stump may die in the ground yet at the presence of water and proper conditions it will bud and sprout new growth.
Now lets look at what Job says about the other living part of God’s creation. In verse 12 he says “so man lies down and does not rise till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.”
May we take note of the comparison here; the tree is cut down, dies, and from the decaying stump sprouts an identical new plant just like the original.
Man dies and is put in the grave to return to the ground from whence he came. Unlike the tree no new physical life has ever come from the dead body of man that decays, and is dissolved; for the man breaths out his last breath and returns to dust.
Notice Job’s response to man’s plight in verse 13. “Oh, that you would hide me in the grave, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time and remember me.” Job expresses this to be a privilege to be hidden from physical affliction and distress. To be kept in secret until all the unpleasant things of earth are no more. Job indicates, “I will rest here where you have concealed me until the appointed time for me and you will remember me”.
In verse 14, Job says, “If man dies shall he live again, I will wait till my change comes.” Here Job assures us of the certainty of a resurrection.
Isn’t the following Scripture enough to assure us that through Jesus Christ we will be remembered in the resurrection in the last day? In John 11:24, Martha said to Jesus concerning Lazarus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die he shall live.”
In the comparison of the tree stump and the man in Job 14, man’s spirit will return to God in the last day through faith in Jesus and his body will dissolve back to the ground from whence it came. What a great and significant difference.