Category Archives: DOCTRINES (vii) The resurrection of Christ

A review of references to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in Romans chapters 1 to 8

DOCTRINES OF SCRIPTURE: Resurrection of Christ

INTRODUCTION:

 The resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead is a fundamental part of the Christian gospel, as Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. That He really died is seen in that He was buried, that He really rose is seen in the fact that He appeared (not simply was seen, but deliberately confronted people). His resurrection had been prophesied in the Old Testament, hence the apostle says He was raised according to the (O.T.) Scriptures. See Psalm 16; Psalm 21:2-6; Psalm 22:21-31; Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 52:13, 53:10,11. It was also prophesied by the Lord Jesus Himself, although His disciple did not grasp the fact. Only Mary, who sat at His feet and heard His word, saw that He was going to die, and so anointed Him for His burial whilst He could appreciate it. She must also have seen that He would rise, for she did not go to the sepulchre to seek to preserve His dead body, as the other women did. So the Old Testament views Christ’s resurrection prophetically, the Gospels view it historically, whereas the epistles view it doctrinally.

1.    Romans 1:4: ‘”And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from (of) the dead”. Note the change of verb from verse 3, where Christ is made of the seed of David by incarnation. Here it is not something He was made in time, but what He is eternally is declared by resurrection.  He is ever the Son of God, for “to be the son of” means “to share the nature of”. Since the Father’s nature is eternal, so must the Son’s be, therefore He is the eternal Son of God. This is declared by resurrection. Note that it is not the resurrection from the dead, but rather the resurrection of dead persons, for the word dead is plural. Every time the Lord Jesus raised a person from the dead; every time a sinner is raised from death in trespasses and sins; when saint’s bodies are raised at His coming; when sinner’s bodies are raised  just before the Great White Throne judgement, then on each occasion there is a declaration of His Deity. This is in line with His words in John 5:19-29, where the right of the Lord Jesus to grant life and to raise from the dead, is vested in His equality with the Father.

And then of course there was the declaration of His Sonship when He Himself was raised from the dead. He had said “when (after) ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I am He”, John 8:28. They should have known He was Son of God by the supernatural events at His crucifixion, for the centurion came to this conclusion, Matthew 27:54. They should have known by His rising again, for Saul of Tarsus was convinced, Acts 9:20.

2.    Romans 4:15: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification”.  The apostle has been deriving principles from the experience of Abraham and Sarah, who as far as having children were concerned, were dead. Yet they believed God, and as a result He intervened and brought Isaac out of the sphere of death. Whereas Abraham believed God was able to do this in the immediate future, we look back to the distant past and believe that the true “Isaac” has been brought out of the sphere of death to guarantee the promises of God. Paul in effedct asks two questions: “Why was Christ found in death anyway?” and “Why was He raised from the dead?” The answer to the first is our offences, whilst the answer to the second is because of our justification, which means that He was raised again because God was satisfied that His work upon the cross was enough to justify believing sinners.

3.    Romans 5:10: ‘”For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. Verse one speaks of peace with God, so that those once enemies of God because of sin, are now reconciled to Him. Now if the work which forms the basis of that reconciliation was done for us whilst we were still God’s enemies, what blessings will He not bestow now that we are friends? And more than this, if Christ’s work of reconciling enemies took place when were in sin, surely we shall be saved from every sort of penalty at the judgement day, for the one who saved us from sin is still our saviour, preserving us eternally from the judgement of God. Because Christ lives eternally in resurrection, the believer is eternally secure. If the suffering and agony of the cross did not put Him off from taking up our case, surely the glory He has now will not prevent Him living to preserve those who believe in Him.

4.    Romans 6:4: “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. Paul is showing why it is not in order for believers to continue in sin, i.e. continue to respond to the sin-principle within. The reason here given is that we are buried, and therefore cannot continue in sin. The burial took place when we were baptized, and we were identified with Christ in His (state of) death. But our baptism has a positive purpose, it is not just a negative putting out of sight, but association also with Christ in His resurrection. Christ was raised from the dead because the glory of the Father demanded that such a person should be raised, and not left in the grave. It was not so with us personally, however, so our emergence from the watery grave of baptism is solely because of association with Christ. Having been raised, we have a responsibility to walk in a different sort of way, which is compatible with the new place we have with Christ risen.

5.    Romans 7:1-6: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God”. The apostle is showing that the believer is not under the Law of Moses, nor will trying to keep that Law result in a victorious Christian life. He uses two illustrations to prove his point. First, that when a person is dead, the dominion of the law, any law, is gone from him. Second, that when a woman’s husband dies, she is free from the law of the husband. He then applies these two principles, namely one’s own death delivering from law, and another’s death delivering from law. Christ has died, and we have died in association with Him, so on both counts we are dead to the Law of Moses. The body of Christ was hung upon a cross, and there He bore the curse of a broken law for us. But His body was also placed in a tomb, and subsequently rose from the dead. By association with Him in these things we are delivered from the law by association with what happened to Christ in His body.

6.    Romans 8:11:”But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you”. The Spirit of God is here described as the Spirit of the God of resurrection. Not only does the Spirit of God empower us so that we are able to live proper Christian lives now, but He is the guarantee that we shall share in the resurrection of the body hereafter. The epistle to the Romans emphasises truth which enables us to live upon the earth, hence we are looked at in this verse as being alive on the earth when Christ comes. When dead saints are raised, then those alive on the earth will share in the same sort of change, even though they have not died. The certainty of this is found in the presence within of the Spirit of God.

7.    Romans 8:34: “Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us”. The only one who could possibly condemn God’s people is Christ, for all judgement has been committed to Him. But far from condemning, He is the very one who defends and supports them. He does this in a four-fold way, because of the four events mentioned here. He died to deal with our sins that would have meant our condemnation. He was raised again  to demonstrate to all who would accuse us that the work of the cross dealt effectively with sins. He is ascended to the right hand of God, the most influential place in the whole of the universe where He wields all power. And He intercedes for us to defend us from the charges the adversary, Satan, would level against us, Revelation 12:10.