Friday, December 16, 2022

The Vision (12.16.22): Christ and the Resurrection


Image: Scene from It's a Wonderful Life

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 22:23-33.

In Matthew 22:23-33 we find the record of Christ’s conflict with the Sadducees in the week leading up to the cross.

Christ rebukes the priestly Sadducees who denied the final resurrection, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (v. 29). This is the Lord’s answer to all cults, to all false teachers and false religions. And it is his answer to us when we stray from what it true and right and Biblical.

How and why did they err? Christ continues, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power [dynamin—miraculous or wonder-working power] of God.”

Having given this negative rebuke, Christ then turns to offer positive instruction in v. 30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”

Note three key points:

First, Christ teaches that there will be a future time during which all men shall experience the resurrection at the end of the ages. This was taught in the OT in places like Daniel 12:1-2, Job 19:25-27, and Psalm 16:10-11.

Christ also explicitly taught this in his earthly ministry (see John 5:28-29 in which Christ spoke of how those in the graves who would hear the Lord’s voice and be raised either “unto the resurrection of life” or “unto the resurrection of damnation”).

This is what the apostles taught. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 declared, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed.... for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Second, Christ teaches that life in the glorified state will be different than our lives in this present age. One of the chief differences will be the ways in which our former relationships will be changed. Marriage was instituted by God at creation to be a sign of Christ’s relationship with the church (see Gen 2:24; Eph 5:32), but in the resurrection, the bridegroom (Christ) will be joined to his bride (the church) and the temporary institution of marriage will be eclipsed by our being without sin in the presence of God. This does not mean that we will not know each other. I believe we will, but our focus and attention will be upon the Lord and not each other.

This coheres with John’s description of life in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22:3-5, as he declares, “his servants shall serve him” and “they shall see his face.” Our gaze will be always upon the Lamb.

Third, Christ says we will be like the angels. Notice that he does not say we will become angels. But we will be like the angels. We will have a resurrection existence that exceeds our present earthly existence, and we will not be able to sin, and we will pursue without hindrance the worship and service of the Lord. That’s how the elect angels live.

Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life might be an entertaining film, but it has terrible angelology. In that film Clarence is a man who became an angel and has to earn his wings. We do not become angels at death, and we have no post-mortem purgatorial work to do to attain higher standing before God. Instead, like the angels we will glory forever in God’s magnificent presence.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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