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Archive for May, 2012

The Principle of Resurrection of the Dead

“… of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”[1]

The need for Resurrection

Ever since Adam’s sin introduced death into the human family, we have experienced spiritual death and eventually, physical death as well. For this reason, the prospect of rising from the dead is of great importance to us.

Death is First Spiritual then Physical

God’s instruction to Adam was; “… of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.[2]” We know from the Genesis account that when Adam ate of this fruit in disobedience to God’s command, he did not drop dead on the spot, but continued to live for nine hundred and thirty years. The fact that God drove them out of the Garden of Eden and barred the way to the Tree of Life is a clear indication, that they had become spiritually dead to God. This fact is confirmed by Paul who wrote: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.[3]” The wages of sin is death, which was instant in Adam’s case. He died spiritually, this ‘death’ continued to corrupt his physical body until it returned to the dust, from where it originally came.

The human spirit of an unsaved person is not dead in itself, in that humans can be aware of and possessed by demonic spirits. Being ‘dead in our trespasses and sins’, means that we have no spiritual awareness of God, nor can we have any spiritual relationship with God. We are dead to God.

Paul confirms this by telling us that; “… the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.[4]” He also tells us that; “…. the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.[5]

This spiritual death, resulting from sin, leads to physical death, because we are cut off from our source of life, Jesus Christ; and our bodies have been sentenced to death because of sin.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—[6]

Redemption is First Spiritual then Physical

At conversion to Christ, our spirit which is dead to God because of sin, is resurrected or made alive to God.  “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,[7]” We could say that right from the outset of our walk with the Lord, the resurrection has begun in us. The next phase of this process is the renewing of our minds, so that we can begin to grasp the things of God that were previously hidden from us because of sin, which blinded our minds.

We are also told in Romans chapter eight, verse ten; “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.[8]” In other words, the spirit is alive to God, but the physical body remains under the sentence of death because of sin.

We do however live in hope of the resurrection of our physical bodies, as we are told in Ephesians; “…. who (the Holy Spirit) is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.[9]” “The purchased possession” is a reference to our physical bodies, which Jesus has purchased with His shed blood and which He has promised to redeem at a future point.

We can say therefore that redemption involves the resurrection of our spirit, the renewal of our mind to grasp spiritual things and finally the resurrection of our physical body.

The Credibility of Christianity Rests on the Resurrection

Paul deals with the resurrection in great detail in First Corinthians chapter fifteen.  He makes reference to the fact that Jesus died, was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures.[10] This is the Gospel that has saved us. He also makes reference to the many witnesses that can confirm that Jesus rose from the dead.[11] This declaration is of tremendous importance to us and has been summed up by various writers, such as the following:

“Harvard law professor Simon Greenleaf, a man who lectured for years on how to break down testimony and determine whether or not a witness is lying, concludes: “It was therefore impossible that they (the apostles) could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”[12]

“Dr. George Eldon Ladd, writing of the historical significance of the change in the Apostles, says: “The historian must also admit that historical criticism has not yet found an adequate historical explanation for these facts; that for the historian the transformation in the disciples is an unsolved problem. He must also admit that the view that Jesus actually arose from the dead would explain all the facts.”[13]

Paul then arrives at this very important conclusion regarding the resurrection of Jesus: “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” [14]

We can therefore say that the credibility of Christianity rests on this one fact; that Jesus rose from the dead and He has promised that He will also raise us from the dead at a future time.

All of Paul’s Ministry Took Its Authenticity from the Resurrection

While Paul was in custody following his arrest in Jerusalem, he was called upon to defend his ministry a number of times before various Roman Rulers. He was seen by the Jews as a heretic because he believed that Jesus is the Christ and that He rose from the dead.

Paul, in his defense, based his whole ministry on the fact of the resurrection. Before the Roman Ruler, Felix this was Paul’s defense: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” [15]

The report given to King Agrippa concerning Paul’s accusation was; “When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.” [16]

Paul’s defense before King Agrippa is particularly important, if we are to understand the great motivation within Paul to preach contrary to all that he had ever been taught and to stand for things contrary to the understanding of the Jewish Rulers of his day. This also demonstrates the extreme importance of the resurrection to us today.

“To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.[17]

The Principle of Resurrection vs The Doctrine of Resurrection

So far we have established the need for a resurrection and the absolute importance of the resurrection, but in this article we are seeking to understand the ‘Principle’ of the doctrine of the Resurrection. It is important therefore to distinguish between the doctrine of the Resurrection and the underlying principle that governs our understanding of this all important doctrine.

The doctrine or teaching of the Resurrection would of necessity include every reference to the resurrection from the Old and New Testaments, covering every aspect of our understanding of the resurrection. For example the doctrine would cover the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous, every aspect of the resurrection of Jesus, the order of the Resurrection, what type of bodies we will have, when the Resurrection will take place, where the resurrected people will go. It will also cover the resurrection of sinners, when they will be resurrected, what their fate will be in the resurrection of the unjust and many other details concerning the Resurrection.

To understand the underlying principle of the resurrection we need to consider the following factors:

  • The Resurrection gives credibility and authenticity to our Christian Faith.
  • It was the motivation for Paul to say, “If by any means I might attain to the resurrection …. I press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus”[18]
  • It was the driving force of all the Old Testament Saints, as recorded in Hebrews chapter eleven.
  • Like these Saints, we will live for ever; this drastically changes our whole perspective on life.
  • The Resurrection is the culmination and climax of all the promises of God to us.

To incorporate all of these important aspects into a sentence, we will be able to arrive at a definition of the Principle of the Resurrection.

The Principle of the doctrine of the Resurrection is the one single event that authenticates and motivates our certain hope in Jesus Christ, who has secured our future existence in the presence of God for ever.

 Application of the Principle of Resurrection in Our Lives Today

The principle of the resurrection focuses us on the future, in real certain hope that we will live for ever. As Paul put it, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” [19]

Peter also beautifully and graphically presented this great truth, when he wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” [20]

A careful study of Hebrews chapter eleven will reveal the effects that this living hope of the resurrection changed the lives of many of the Old Testament saints. We find that because they ‘sought a City, which has foundations, who’s Builder and Maker is God’, in other words they were fully convinced by God’s promise of the Resurrection that it affected their lives in the following ways:

  • They fully believed that God had promised them a heavenly City in the Resurrection.[21]
  • They saw these promises afar off by faith.
  • They embraced the promises of God.
  • They were fully persuaded by what God had promised.
  • They declared plainly by their conduct that they were strangers and pilgrims in this world, just passing through.[22]

The writer of Hebrews tells us that ‘the world is not worthy of such people and that God is not ashamed to be called their God.’[23]

Jesus said: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” [24] The principle of this glorious truth, written upon our hearts will cause us to live in a certain hope like the men and women of Hebrews chapter eleven.

 

 

 

 

 


[1]  Heb. 6:2

[2]  Gen. 2:17

[3]  Eph. 2:1

[4]  1 Cor. 2:14

[5]  Rom. 8:7

[6]  Rom. 5:12

[7]  Eph. 2:1

[8]  Rom. 8:10

[9]  Eph. 1:14

[10] 1 Cor. 15:1 – 4

[11] 1 Cor. 15:5 – 8

[12] McDowell, J. (1981). The resurrection factor (111). San Bernardino, CA.: Here’s Life Publishers.

[13] George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism, Grand Rapids, Mich., Wm. B. Eerdmans,      1967, p. 188.

[14]  1 Cor. 15:16–19

[15]  Acts 24:14–15

[16]  Acts 25:18–20

[17] Acts 26:7–23

[18] Philippians 3:11 – 14

[19]  Philippians 3:13–14

[20] 1 Peter 1:3–9

[21] Hebrews 11:10

[22] Hebrews 11:13 – 14

[23] Hebrews 11:16 & 38

[24] John 6:54

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The Principle of the Doctrine of Laying on of Hands

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. [1]

The Practice of Laying on of Hands in the Old Testament

The common practice in the Old Testament of passing on a blessing, particularly the all-important blessing of inheritance from father to son, was solemnized by the act of laying hands upon the recipient’s head and pronouncing the blessing. This is demonstrated very clearly when Joseph brought his two sons to Jacob his father to receive a blessing.[2] Joseph purposely steered his older son, Manasseh towards Jacob’s right hand because he believed that the greater blessing would be given to his first-born from Jacob’s right hand. This great blessing that Jacob passed on by the laying on of hands, he had received from his father Isaac.[3] Isaac in turn had received the blessing from his father Abraham[4] and Abraham had received the blessing from Melchizedek[5], in accordance with God’s promise.

It was also common practice in the Old Testament to bestow authority or the recognition of an office, by the symbolic act of laying on of hands. An example of this is found in Numbers chapter eight and verse ten, where the Levites were ordained as priests; “So you shall bring the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites.[6]

Moses also ordained Joshua in a similar way. “And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. [7]

The Practice of Laying on of Hands in the New Testament

The practice of the symbolic ‘laying on of hands’ continued in the New Testament time with Jesus laying hands on many people to heal them.[8]  Jesus also laid his hands on little children to bless them and pray for them.[9] In Mark’s version of the Great Commission he gives instructions to us, the followers of Jesus, to “lay hands upon the sick and they will recover[10] “. Examples of this practice can be seen in Ananias being sent to Paul to both heal him and to impart to him the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” [11]

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was also imparted to other recipients as recorded in the Book of Acts, through prayer and the laying on of hands. “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. [12]

The Old Testament practice of ordination or formalized recognition of office by the ‘laying on of hands’ was continued in the New Testament as can be seen by the ordination of Deacons in Acts chapter six. “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. [13]

This same practice is seen in the recognition of Paul and Barnabas as apostles who were sent out from the church at Antioch. “Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. [14]” It is also demonstrated in the case of Timothy, where it appears that his ministry gift was confirmed by a word of prophesy and then formalised by the Elders laying hands on Timothy and sending him out to fulfil his ministry. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. [15]

The Principle of the Laying on of Hands

Having taken a brief look at the practice of laying on of hands to bless, heal or ordain, it should be fairly clear that although this is an important aspect of Scripture it does not really form part of our Foundation in Christ. However, when we understand the ‘principle’ behind the laying on of hands we are then able to very clearly see how that this principle is part of the cornerstone of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The principle is the motivation behind laying on of hands and the governing rule behind this symbolic practice; the Principle of the laying on of hands is therefore:

Passing on to someone else, the blessing that we have received.

We could also put this in Biblical language; “… And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, who said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ [16]

In understanding this foundational principle we should not be distracted by the practice of laying on of hands and rather focus on understanding the principle of laying on of hands. The ‘Principle’ as expressed above, is that having received something from the Lord, we willingly and enthusiastically impart that blessing to our fellow brothers and sisters. Imparting this blessing may have nothing to do with actually laying hands on someone, but rather the impartation of the blessing.

The Practical Application of the Principle of Laying on of Hands

At first glance, this principle may seem to be of minor importance, but once we grasp the fuller understanding of the operation of the New Testament church, we will begin to appreciate how pivotal and important this principle is, for the healthy spiritual functioning of the Body of Christ.

Paul’s teaching from 1 Corinthians chapters 11 through 14 gives us a detailed insight into how all of the members of the church have a function of one kind or another, which involves imparting what they have received from the Lord to other members of the Body of Christ, so that all may be encouraged and built up. He teaches very clearly that “…Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. [17]” This is not just an isolated verse, but it follows the lengthy and detailed explanation in 1 Corinthians 12, of how the church is like a human body, with many different parts, but all have a vital function and all form part of the whole.

This same truth is again expressed by Paul in Ephesians 4:15 & 16 “..but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. [18]

The participation of every member of the Body of Christ in one way or another is also taught by Paul in Romans chapter 12.

You will note that in none of the passages quoted above is the ‘laying on of hands ‘ mentioned, but in all of the above examples of the operation of each member of the Body of Christ, the principle of giving what you have received is applicable. Or we could say that the principle of the laying of hands is applied even though we are not physically laying hands on anyone, but imparting a blessing through a Psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, or an interpretation, which is what the principle of the laying on of hands represents.

Ministry is given to Equip the Saints

There is a great danger in the ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, becoming an end in themselves, rather than using these gifts as a means to equip the saints, with the knowledge, maturity and ability to minister to one another. This Principle of Laying on of Hands, focusses on this very issue. We all should have received something from the Lord that we can impart to my fellow saints. This is the Principle.

Our Participation with Jesus the Head of the church

If we can grasp and by God’s grace apply the principle of laying on of hands, we will be participating directly with Jesus the Head of the church, in His ministry to each part of the Body of Christ. It is in this activity that we learn how to receive from others but also how to give. Relationships with brothers and sisters develop, sometimes with much difficulty, but it is all part of our growing and maturing process, as we grow to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

This principle is so important that John tells us, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? [19]

The principle of laying on of hands (imparting the blessing) is therefore a demonstration of the love of Christ in us, pouring from us, to the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Heb 6:1–2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Gen. 48:13

[3] Gen. 27:24-29

[4] Gen. 25:5

[5] Gen. 14:19

[6]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Nu 8:10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Nu 27:18–19). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mark 6:5;Mark 8:23-25;Luke 4:40). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

 

[9] The New King James Version. 1982 (Matt 19:13-15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

 

[10] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mark 16:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson

[11]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Ac 9:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[12]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Ac 8:14–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[13]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Ac 6:5–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[14]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Ac 13:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[15]  The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Ti 4:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[16]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Ac 20:35). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[17]  The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Co 14:26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[18]  The New King James Version. 1982 (Eph 4:15–16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[19]  The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Jn 4:20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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Having briefly discussed the significance of Albert Einstein’s formula on Facebook, I was asked for a more detailed explanation, so here it is.

Einstein saw how that all matter is in fact a different form of energy. His famous formula E=MC squared, demonstrated this principle, where E represents

energy which he worked out is equal to the mass (M) x C x C, (C represents the speed of light at approximately 300,000 km/second).

Perhaps this is best understood by looking at an example of this formula. Water is made up hydrogen and oxygen, the hydrogen component of 1 kg of water weighs  .111 kg. We therefore have the ‘mass’ part of the equation. Applying Einstein’s formula we are able to calculate the amount of energy, this hydrogen portion represents. (Mass) .111 x (speed of light) 300,000 x 300,000 ( because it is C squared) = 10,000,000,000,000,000 Joules (a joule is a unit of energy).

We are able to conclude from this that 111 grams (.111 kg) of hydrogen represents 10,000,000,000,000,000 Joules of energy. A very small amount of matter equates to a huge amount of energy.

Now armed with this understanding, imagine if it were possible to know the mass of all matter in the entire universe, then multiply that figure by the speed of light squared. The size of this hypothetical calculation is mind blowing and represents an unimaginable amount of energy. To put the energy aspect into perspective a relatively small amount of uranium was converted into a massive amount of energy, using Einstein’s formula, during WW2. This energy generated in the atomic bomb flattened a large city and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The point of all this from a Christian and Biblical perspective is that the Bible tells us that everything that we can see has been made from an unseen substance. “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God; so that what is seen, was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3 (NASB). God created the invisible atomic energy and brought it together, so that the material universe can be seen.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus, as Creator not only made all things visible and invisible, but that He holds all things together.

Colossians 1:16-17 NASB

For by Him all things were created,  both  in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

With a tiny grasp of the insight that Albert Einstein brought to the fore, we begin to appreciate the unimaginable amount of energy or power involved in the creation of the invisible and visible creation. We also get a very small sense of the amount of power that the Lord Jesus uses to hold everything together. If He chose to convert all matter back to energy, the whole universe would disappear in a flash and with an explosion of energy that we could not possibly imagine.

Peter does talk about this happening at some future time. 2 Peter 3:10 NASB

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

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