The Resurrection

Easter Sermon by W. H. Book

But hath now been manifested by the appearing of our
Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and
immortality to light through the gospel. — 2 Tim. 1: 10.

 

HUNDREDS of years ago an old sage asked the
question, ”If a man die, shall he live again?”
Jesus answered this question by coming out from
among the dead after he had been put to death on
the cross. Until this demonstration the world knew
but little of immortality. Only a gleam was seen now
and then in shadow, type and prophecy. “We wonder
what must have been the feelings of Adam and Eve
as they looked into the face of a dead son!

In the Patriarchal and the Jewish dispensations
we have hints of the resurrection and of a life after
death. One day a man, who had been in the habit of
walking with God, took a long journey and followed
Him into the unseen world. Enoch proved by this act
that man’s home is not in this world, but in the
spiritual world where God dwells. He demonstrated
that there are two worlds — the seen and the unseen.

Abraham through Isaac taught the doctrine of death
and the atonement in Jesus Christ, and he also taught
the doctrine of life and the resurrection, for he believed
that God would raise his dead son and give him back.

One night one of God’s sons slept in the open with
his head resting upon the pillow of stone and he saw

 

angels ascending and descending the ladder that
reached from earth to heaven. The fact of communi-
cation between two worlds was established.

In the Jewish dispensation Elijah, God’s prophet,
moved out from among the sons of the prophets, and
in his chariot of fire drawn by fiery steeds, whose
swiftness was greater than light, he took his flight
into the spiritual realm. He gave us, in type, the
resurrection of Christ, and, at the same time, taught
the doctrine of life and immortality. Those who wit-
nessed his glorious ascension must have felt that man
shall live after death.

Jonah in the body of the fish three days and nights
was declared by Jesus to be a sign of his resurrection.

The Passover is a type of the death of Christ and
Pentecost is the type of His resurrection. It was then
that the children of Israel brought the firstfruits of
their labor and offered them to Jehovah. It was on
the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, figuratively
speaking. It represented a new dispensation and a
new creation. Christ had much to say on this sub-
ject, but it was hard for His disciples to understand.
He symbolized His death. His burial and His resurrec-
tion in His baptism. He placed in His church an in-
stitution that we call the Lord’s Supper, which sym-
bolizes His death and His resurrection down through
the ages.

From the time that Peter confessed Christ at
Ceesarea He began to show unto His disciples how that
He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things
of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be
killed, and be raised the third day. Jerusalem, which
was soon to witness His humiliation, must also witness
His exaltation.

 

After He had come from among the dead He
journeyed with two of His disciples and said nnto
them: “0 foolish men, and slow of heart to believe
in all that the prophets have spoken! Behooved it not
the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into
his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all
the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scrip-
tures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-
27). Mark you, He was not a destructive critic, for
He believed in Moses and all of the prophets, and all
that the prophets had spoken. He further declared
that all things, which had been written in the law of
Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms, concerning
Himself, must be fulfilled. His resurrection had been
declared by the prophets, and their prophecies must be
fulfilled if His Messiahship is to be established. God
can not lie. His word is true.

He made bold to say that He had the power to lay
His life down and that He had the power to take it
up again. Had He been only a man, He could not
have made such claims. Had not Christ come forth
from among the dead he would have been considered
an impostor and His disciples would have deserted
Him. His church would not have been established
and His name would have been forgotten.

When Christ stood in the presence of death He
told the sisters of His friend Lazarus that he should
rise again. Martha believed in the general resurrec-
tion and at once declared: ”I know that he shall rise
again in the resurrection at the last day.” It was
then Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life;
he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he
live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall
never die.”

 

Elijah was a type of life; Moses on the Mount of
Transfiguration is a type of the resurrection, and both
life and immortality have been brought to light
through the resurrection of Christ. He shall become
the resurrection unto all the righteous dead and the
life unto all the righteous living who are found on
the earth (”Whosoever liveth and believeth”) when
He comes. Listen to Paul’s words of comfort spoken
to the heartbroken members of the church at
Thessalonica :

”For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will
God bring with him. For this we say unto you by
the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are
left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise
precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord
himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of
God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we
that are alive, that are left, shall together with them
be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the
air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess.
4:14-17).

The fact of His resurrection was clearly established
in the minds of His apostles. They were in position
to know the truth and they were not deceived. John
declares: ”That which was from the beginning, that
which we have heard, that which we have seen with
our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled
concerning the Word of life (and the life was mani-
fested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and de-
clare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was
with the Father, and was manifested unto us) ; that
which we have seen and heard declare we unto you

also, that ye also may have fellowship with us; yea
and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his
Son Jesus Christ”

For forty days the great Teacher instructed His
students in the spiritual things of His kingdom.
This was the postgraduate period. For more than
three years He had been with them in the flesh, a
Jew, limited in His sphere of activity, but now He
is the spiritual Christ with all power given unto Him,
and He is making things plain which they did not
understand when He taught them in the flesh. The
Scriptures — Old Testament prophecies — have been ful-
filled and now they understand.

Peter denied Him only a few days ago because he
did not understand. Now he can stand in the pres-
ence of the mob and say: “Ye men of Israel, hear
these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of
God unto you by mighty works and wonders and
signs which G-od did by him in the midst of you,
even as ye yourselves know; him, being delivered up
by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,
ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay:
whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of
death: because it was not possible that he should be
holden of it. . . . Being therefore a prophet, and know-
ing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the
fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne;
he foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the
Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did
his flesh see corruption. This Jesus did God raise up,
whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:22-24, 30-32).

Men who only a few days ago killed the Son of
God are convinced and become the charter members
of the church. It is here in the city of Jerusalem,

where our Lord was condemned to die, His kingdom
is established. If Christ did not come forth from the
grave, how can you account for the courage of His
apostles, the conversion of His enemies and the found-
ing of His kingdom? The kingdom could never have
been founded upon a dead Christ. The preaching of
a dead Christ could never have impressed His ene-
mies. Peter preached a living Christ when he said:
” Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted,
and having received of the Father the promise of the
Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see
and hear. Let all the house of Israel therefore know
assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and
Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified” (Acts 2: 33, 36).
Those who had plunged the spear into the side of
Jesus Christ now feel the sword of the Spirit as it
pierces their own hearts, and cry out, not in ex-
pressions of flattery and praise, but in groans and
sobs, begging for mercy. They are ready to join with
the disciples. They are willing to be baptized into
the death of the crucified Christ. They are ready to
fight with the wild beasts and to stand in jeopardy
every hour, for they believe that Christ has con-
quered death and the grave in His resurrection, and
they are no longer afraid of the one who can kill the
body, for they believe that the spirit will go to be
with Jesus, who has become the firstfruits of the
resurrection, they are ready, by their baptism, to be
placed among the dead. (1 Cor. 15: 29.)

When the apostles had been brought out of the
prison into the presence of the council to meet the
charge that they had filled Jerusalem with their doc-
trine, they answered: ^^The God of our fathers raised
up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him on a tree. Him

 

did God exalt with his right hand to be a Prince and
a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission
of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and
so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them
that obey him” (Acts 5:30-32).

Jesus surely is alive. After Stephen had delivered
that wonderful sermon, one that could not be an-
swered by the enemies of Christ, they gnashed their
teeth and determined to make an end of him and his
doctrine. Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit,
looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory
of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of
God, and in his dying moments he declared that he
saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man
standing on the right hand of God. This statement
was more than they could stand, and they rushed
upon him and carried him out of the city and stoned
him to death. Stephen died for his belief in the resur-
rection of the Christ.

There was a brilliant young lawyer who heard
Stephen’s words and who was blinded by prejudice.
He held the clothes of the murderers and sanctioned
Stephen’s death, and, being mad with enthusiasm,
started out to destroy the church of God. He
entered into every house, and laid hold on men and
women and committed them to prison. Not satisfied
with seeing Stephen brutally murdered and the saints
in Jerusalem placed behind prison-bars, he determined
to go into the far-away cities in search of all who wor-
shiped God in the name of Christ. He was honest in
all that he did. He verily believed that he was doing
God’s will. One day he saw a light from heaven and
heard this same Jesus speaking to him. This Jesus, who
had been nailed to a Roman cross, who had gone down

into the unseen world, who had tried its realities and
had come out from among the dead bringing life and
immortality to light, said to Saul, ”I am Jesus whom
thou persecutest. ” Saul had resisted the Holy Spirit’s
message to him through Stephen, but he is now con-
vinced that it is a message from God. His own
spirit of persecution dies within him. By the Master
he was told to go into Damascus, not to persecute and
arrest the saints, but to be introduced to a disciple
who would tell him what he must do.

Jesus appeared unto him to make a witness of him.
No one could be an apostle who had not been a wit-
ness. He was to become the apostle to the Gentile
world. He was converted and told how to become a
Christian by the minister Ananias. Jesus, who had
been crucified and buried, appeared to Saul in person
and sent him to this minister, who was to tell him
w^hat he must do. The minister came and found him
praying. He had been three days without sight and
did not eat nor drink. He was commanded to arise
and be baptized, and he obeyed and immediately en-
listed under the blood-stained banner, the banner of
the cross, and from that day to his death he was a
fearless defender of the truth.

No one, who denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
can account for the wonderful change in the life of
Saul. Why did he turn his back on his own kin, his
own people, give up his bright prospects for a bril-
liant record in the practice of the law, and engage in
the cause which only yesterday he had tried to de-
stroy? Why would he place himself among the people
that were being hounded by the priests and thus in-
vite upon himself humiliation, disgrace, suffering and
the death sentence as an impostor?

 

The apostle Paul is one of the miracles that the
infidel can not explain. Paul alone can explain. He
was unalterably convinced, and he recognized that it
was the love of this living Christ that constrained
him. He at once became the champion of the doctrine
and fact of the resurrection. When in the presence
of Agrippa he made his defense, it was one of the
most pov^^erful speeches ever delivered. He declared
it was for the hope of the resurrection he was called
in question. Listen to his words when he exclaims in
the presence of this ruler: ^’Why is it judged a thing
incredible with you, if God doth raise the dead?”

This logical, eloquent, learned and unimpeachable
apostle has much to say on the subject of the resur-
rection. His argument in the Corinthian letter is un-
answerable. To him the three pillars upon which the
church of God rests are the death, the burial and the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was by the resurrec-
tion that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God
with power according to the Spirit of holiness. He
had seen Him and had heard Him speak and could not
have been mistaken. To be saved, one must believe in
his heart that God hath raised Christ from the dead.
This belief is the life of the gospel.

If Christ has not been raised, then we are yet in
our sin, our faith is vain, our preaching is a lie, the
apostles were false witnesses, our loved ones who have
died have perished, and we are of all men most mis-
erable. Thanks be to God, Christ has risen and has
become the firstfruits of them who sleep. As we have
borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the
image of the heavenly. ”We all shall not sleep, but
we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twink-
ling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet

 

shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must
put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on im-
mortality” (1 Cor. 15:51-53). “For we know that if
the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we
have a building from God, a house not made with
hands, eternal in the heavens.”

After Paul had given his life to the preaching of
this gospel for which he suffered much, he can say as
he stands at the opening of the two eternities: ^^I am
already being offered, and the time of my departure
is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished
my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is
laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the
Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that
day; and not to me only, but also to all them that
have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Friends, the pale horse and its rider may cross the
threshold of my home and take from me my mother.
The one who cared for me when I was helpless
and unable to care for myself; the mother who loved
me when I was wayward; who taught me to kneel by
her side and lisp my childish prayer; who has fol-
lowed me with her own prayers from my infancy.
Yet I can confidently say: ” Jesus died and rose
again, and some day He will come bringing her with
Him, and we shall meet again.”

The death angel may return and take from us our
baby, the sunshine of our home and the joy of our
hearts. We can carry the little form out to the same
city of death and leave it under the trees and flowers,
and come back to the familiar things that association
has made more precious than gold, saying: The Lord
giveth and the Lord taketh away : blessed be His name.