When someone first hears of the “resurrection of the dead,” they think of Christ’s resurrection. And rightfully so, for without His resurrection from the dead, our faith, our preaching, and our hope of eternal life are all vain and utterly of no profit. And like Paul said, if there is no resurrection, “…we are of all men most miserable.” However, Christ is alive; He is risen, and He is our only hope of immortality (I Cor. 15: 12-19).
And yet, Christ’s doctrine, The Resurrection of the Dead, which became the apostles’ doctrine, encompasses a vast array of miraculous pulsating life, from the smallest garden seed to the new heavens and a new earth that He has promised.
Belief in His resurrection opens the door to the light of His resurrection power. Belief in Him raising from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb—that is the seed beginning of our yearning “to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” For His power commands light to spring out of darkness, creating a new heart in us where once the darkness of selfishness dwelt.
Back to 1971
I remember when I was twenty-four, I went through a life-changing experience, and Christ’s resurrection was at the center of it all. As a child I had heard many times the story of the Savior and how He rose from the dead. I had walked the aisle at ten, being swiftly baptized into that Baptist church. But later as a teen I left the church after my parents’ divorce. I surmised then that something was terribly amiss; there was no love and peace in Big D. In my tortured teenage angst, I figured that the message the church was teaching was not strong enough to hold my parents together, so I moved on.
Yet, everyone at the church had said that I was “born again,” but booze and cigarettes and Playboy magazines became my cheap little gods. I realized later that I had never risen with Him from the state of being dead in sin. By 1971 my old nature had grabbed the steering wheel of my life and was drunkenly crashing into everything. It was then that I first heard that my old sinful nature “is crucified with Christ.” And that I am buried with Him, and by believing in His resurrection, I, too, am raised from the dead (in sin). I was raised to “walk in a newness of life.”
I had skin in the game this time. I was presenting my body as a “living sacrifice,” trusting in the power of His resurrection to sustain me in this new sinless walk of life. I had a great teacher who told me that “he that is dead is freed from sin…and in Him is no sin.”
Powerful truth is found in His word. But, first, someone’s got to stand on the wall and proclaim it in the face of the gainsayers. And then it must be believed. It is by faith in His resurrection that the surge of new life comes into our mortal bodies.
So, I went home and tried to think upon these things. But the first thought that came piercing into my mind like a sharp arrow was this: You don’t really believe that Christ was actually raised from the dead, do you?
This thought shattered me. My existence fell like shards of glass to the floor. I felt the terror of one who was hopelessly lost, rudderless, adrift in an empty sea of nihilism.
The next day I related all this to my mentor. He told me that the voice was Satan’s and that Satan knows that belief in the resurrection is the crux of the whole matter. If he gets you to doubt the resurrection, he wins, and you lose. I have not forgotten that day so many years ago. I was blessed; I had someone who loved me and helped me to overcome the first of Satan’s assaults.
From Personal to the Universal
The early apostles continued in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. They had the ultimate mentor, the “Author and Finisher of our faith,” Christ. He taught them that the resurrection has many levels, from the personal level on up to the universal level. Christ’s resurrection power is shown when a humble little garden seed sacrifices its identity and yields to that invisible creative power that is God, and then life bursts from that seed. Such is the word of the Spirit; such is the Seed, the Word of God, when it springs forth in our hearts.
From the personal the “resurrection of the dead” grows into a national scope. Remember how Christ was always teaching about the “lost sheep of the House of Israel”? For forty days after His resurrection, Christ taught them “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God”? And the foremost question on their minds was this: “Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” The national restoration of the lost tribes of Israel was on their minds, and they continued speaking on this theme because it was one of the main doctrines of Christ (Acts 1: 3-6). This restoration of the lost tribes of Israel is a resurrection of their nation spoken by the Spirit through the “mouth of all of His holy prophets since the world began.”
The next level of the apostles’ doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is worldwide. The earth will have gone through the Great Tribulation Period; the world system will be destroyed. The earth will have gone through a devastation that the world has never seen. The earth and its inhabitants are the walking dead by the end of this horrendous seven year period. This is when God will resurrect the whole earth through the establishment of His government and kingdom.
But there is another resurrection that takes place on a galactic scale. The Spirit speaks of a planting of the heavens. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth…And of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end…We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness” (Isa. 51: 16; 65: 17; Dan. 2: 44; II Pet. 3: 13). God will sow His seed, planting us with life giving power to resurrect cold dead planets, translating them into the gardens of God.
This resurrection of the universe is so grand and glorious, that my small mind struggles to taste it. It brings to mind Paul’s quote of Isaiah: “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2: 9-10). Kenneth Wayne Hancock