But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. — 1 Corinthians 15: 20
We believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and hope in our own resurrection and the moment when death will be overcome.
On this last Sunday of the church year we will deal with things that will occur in the future: the return of Christ, our own resurrection, and the overcoming of death.
Countering those who denied the resurrection
At the time of the early Apostles, only a few people believed in the resurrection of the dead. Concerning this, Apostle Paul writes that those who do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ will not be able to find salvation (1 Corinthians 15: 12, 14). If Christ did not resurrect, our faith would be futile (1 Corinthians 15: 17).
Hope in the resurrection
Hope is a sure and steadfast “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6: 19). The early Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted, were forced to flee, and were scattered. But in spite of everything they continued to preach the gospel. The hope that lived in them gave them the strength to do this (Acts 8: 1, 4).
We put all our hope in Christ, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”. He has overcome death, and death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15: 20, 55).
If we live in hope of the resurrection, and want to prepare ourselves for the resurrection, this means that we must remain firm in faith and follow the Lord.
Implication of the resurrection
We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we hope for our own resurrection and the moment when death will be overcome. What are the implications of the resurrection?
- After the resurrection we will be liberated from all suffering, and from death.
- After the resurrection we will be like the firstfruits of the resurrection, namely Jesus Christ, and will receive a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15: 44).
- After the resurrection the church of Christ will be perfectly visible.
- Thereafter, death will be overcome once and for all (Revelation 21: 4).
Because we harbour this hope, we prepare ourselves for the resurrection. Today already, let us be perfect in the unity of the Spirit and reveal the perfect church through faith, profession, and following.
To this end, may God grant us His help and His comfort! Let us pray daily that the Lord may come soon and that death may be overcome once and for all.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 22 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.