Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Justification of Life!

In celebration of Easter, I wanted to focus on some thoughts on the Resurrection of the Savior.  I have always seen two parts to the Atonement of Christ. (see Who Am I to Judge Another blog post) Through the fall of Adam sin and death came into the world, but Christ overcame both.  

First, Christ saves us from the condemnation of the first death or physical death.  Without the resurrection, we would be condemned.  This is a free gift to all.  

 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life

Second, Christ saves us from the second death or spiritual death.  Without Christ’s intervention for us, we would all be made sinners.  This gift is given on conditions set by the Savior.

Romans 5:19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

 Revelations 2:11  He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (see also Rev 20:14)

It is interesting to me that in order to return to God, not only do we need to be free from sin through Christ, but we also need a body.  In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, it talks much about the need for a resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:13, 18-19 But if there be no resurrection of the dead… Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

This is a concept that I have not really understood; why would not having a body condemn us and make us miserable?  Recently, I was doing a study on the after-life with a good non-denominational Christian friend.  She has suffered with some huge losses in her family and wanted to REALLY know what comes after death through a thorough study of what the Bible says.  In this study, I have come across a lot of interesting things that seem to hint at some answers to my questions. 

One of the first interesting points that I fell upon was that Christ did not ascend to his Father until AFTER he was resurrected.  Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus right after he was resurrected; she was commanded to not touch him yet.  When Jesus appeared to the apostles, he had apparently ascended to his Father because he tells them to touch him. 

John 20:17 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

Christ was perfect!  Could he not ascend or did he not ascend?  The answer to this would be a personal opinion, but it really appears to me that he could not, because it also seems that we will not be presented to the father until we are “raised up” or resurrected. 

2 Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

The reason I believe we are presented to God is so that we can be judged.   The righteous will be resurrected at the coming of Christ (1 Thes4:14) and the judgment will not happen until he comes (1 Timothy 4:1).  Thus it seems that we will have resurrected bodies at the time we are judged. 

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

There are two things that stand out in this scripture.  Even though we must meet certain conditions to be saved from the second death, the ”justification of life” (or  resurrection) is a free gift.  If resurrection is necessary in order to return to God and be judged, then it would make a lot of sense that even the wicked need resurrection in order to be receive their judgment.  The other thing that stands out is that every person will “receive the things done in his(her) body.”  In 1 Peter 4:6 it tells us that we are judged according to our deeds in the flesh.  It appears that we are judged according to the flesh and we are rewarded (or punished) in the flesh as well.

 John 5:29 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.

I also think that the phrase justification of life is very telling.  To justify is to show, act, or claim to be just or right.  It is almost as if this phrase is saying that life through the resurrection allows us to be justified through judgment.  I think that this, the importance of being judged is the very reason we need to be resurrected.  Without judgment there would be no punishment or reward.  Maybe the idea that God could not reward us is the condemnation that would come upon us if there were no resurrection.  Maybe this is why we would be men and women most miserable!  I would love your own Biblical thoughts and comments as I feel this is only scratching the surface of this concept!

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