[Concluding the Apostles’ Creed]
OT Lesson Isaiah 52:7-10
NT lesson Revelation 21:1-7
“The resurrection of the body and the Life Everlasting AMEN.”
“God is at work” and as He has “pursued a loving relationship that’s real and personal” [1. Blackaby, Henry T., Experiencing God, Nashville, LifeWay Press 1989] — we have responded. We’ve invited Jesus Christ into our lives and have discovered that it has changed us. The Holy Spirit is working to develop the character of Jesus Christ in our lives.
The Apostle John wrote in John 1:12,13 “To those who believed in His name He gave the right to become children of God… born of God.” And the Apostle Paul writes in Eph. 1:5 that we are “adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ. And “having believed, you are marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” [Eph. 1:13b, 14].
Humanity started out as perfect — without defect– complete– and capable of choice and responsibility. As a result of the sin of Adam and Eve all nature was ‘cursed’ [see Gen. 3] Weeds would make agriculture difficult– antagonism between humans and animals would make living hazardous and the pain of childbirth would remind us that sin hurts.
God had said that when “you eat of it (that is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) you will surely die.” [Gen 2: 17]. And so from that point on the dying-disintegration. Cells are dying as well as being reproduced and from adulthood on the dying goes faster than the reproduction. But God wants to restore our bodies as well as us to Himself. The “resurrection is God’s counter-fulfillment of a plan whereby He might redeem what had been lost in Eden” [2. Lockerbie, D. Bruce, The Apostles’ Creed, Wheaton, Victor Books 1977, p.130]
The Old Testament had introduced the concept of resurrection in Isaiah 26:19: “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” And so in I Corinthians 15, Paul presents the logical arguments, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the fulfillment of that passage in the model of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So when Christ returns, our bodies will be changed and we will become like Christ [I John 2:3] — only in a changed body could we enjoy God forever “so in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye … we will be changed.” [see I Cor. 15:50-54]. And Paul concludes that because of these facts we can continue to do the work of the ministry God has given us in spite of the circumstances, “Because you know your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” [I Cor 15:58] This ‘resurrection’ has the purpose of preparing us for the “Life Everlasting.” This ‘Eternal Life’ is not merely an extension of our existence related to time. It has the connotation of “Outside of time” [3. McGrath, Alister, I Believe, Illinois, InterVarsity Press,1997] The flow of time as we know it here will no longer exist. It is sometimes expressed as “a forever NOW”. What it specifically will look like is beyond our ‘ken’ but it is figuratively described as this in a passage in the Revelation. “Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them, they will be his people. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” [Rev 21: 3,4]
I can hear some people rolling their eyes and saying “So what! That’s a ‘someday’ thing. What about the here and now? What difference does it make now?” I believe Barry Callen summarizes it well in the title to his book on the “End Time”. He calls it “Faithful in the Meantime.” [4. Callen, Barry, Faithful in the Meantime, Napanee, Evangel Publishing House, 1997.] He writes:
“The final judgment will establish as enduring reality the nature of the relationship with Christ that was chosen in this life… At death the burden of freedom is lifted; the wealth of freedom spent… Our individual life stories in this present world are significant and have permanent implications in the final unfolding of the divine story” [Callen, 255]
In II Peter 3 [see MSG], the apostle challenges us and reassures us that God is faithful and that His coming is seemingly delayed only in that He wants everyone to respond to Him so that no one will be “lost”. Not all will respond, but God doesn’t want to lose any more people than absolutely necessary.
So we are to “Go into all the world and preach the ‘Good News’ (of Salvation) to all creation” [Mark 16:15], and “make disciples, baptizing them, … and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” [Mat 28:19,20] We are to be Salt in order to make society taste better and last longer and to ‘Shine’ out our “Light” so that every one can get a clear picture of God and what He’s done for us and can do for everyone [see Matt 5:13-16]. Let us be “Faithful In the Meantime”.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD. HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY. HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED AND WAS BURIED. HE DECENDED TO THE DEAD. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN. HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER. HE WILL COME AGAIN TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD.
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, AND THE LIFE EVER LASTING. AMEN
Other resources used:
- Alister McGrath, I Believe — Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1997.
- D. Bruce Lockerbie, The Apostles’ Creed: Do You Really Believe It? Wheaton, SP Publications Inc., 1977.
- Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society, 1984.
- Eugene Peterson. The Message, Colorado, Navpress, 1993.
- Gilbert Staford. Theology for Disciples, Anderson, Warner Press, 1996.
©2000 D H Friesen