The Christian’s Hope of Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Romans 8:18-25; Revelation 21:1-8
For the past few months, we have known about the disaster that we are currently experiencing with COVID-19. Death, fear, anxiety, and violence is everywhere. On top of that we see lots of negative news that add to the severity of the current situation. Many in the world are currently suffering. However, this is not the only suffering the world has experienced. Throughout history, we have seen wars, plagues, murders, thefts, and other evil things.
As Christians we also experience this suffering. We experience sickness, sadness, horrifying events, deaths and disaster. Perhaps we are currently sick from COVID-19 now! The effect of suffering is universal, it impacts both believers and non believers because the world has fallen into sin and lacks the Glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
In a world like this, is there hope?
Thanks be to God, because Jesus Christ came down to earth. In Jesus we see God’s perfect love to this fallen world, and He shows us that God cares for the evil in the world. Jesus redeemed the world through His death and has given hope through His resurrection (John 3:16). Christ’s resurrection is the victory and hope for all who believe in Him. That includes all believers, us, who have been saved in the Lord. However, if Christ has died and resurrected, to be our victory and hope, why are we still suffering? The reason is because the whole works of the Lord are yet to be done. The Cross of Christ shows Christ’s work was finished, as Christ said “it is finished”. The cross is the climax, and the foundation of God’s whole plan. However the whole plan of God does not stop there. If it was the whole plan of God, then Christ would not have promised the Holy Spirit, nor commanded the great commission. Paul mentioned in Colossians 1:24 – “…I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”. ‘What is lacking in Christ’s suffering’ does not mean that Christ’s suffering on the cross is insufficient or incomplete. This is Paul’s address to the church to be an extension of Christ’s hand, that as we carry out His plans we will suffer just as He has. Therefore, there are still works of the Lord that the church needs to do. We are Christ’s ambassador to fulfill God’s plan in the world.
What are the works that we need to do then?
Jesus has commissioned us in Matthew 28:19, To extend the Kingdom of Heaven, to make the nations His disciples, to preach the great news about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Furthermore, brothers and sisters, the bible tells us that when we do this commandment, we will suffer. It should be no surprise then that we will suffer, because if Christ suffered, why shouldn’t we? We are doing the same work! Christ clearly warned this, when He said to His disciples: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…” (John 15:18-25). It should not surprise us that we will suffer if we obey Christ, because “A servant is not greater than his master” (John 15:20). Therefore, there is no suffering that we will go through that Christ has not already gone through.
Is all that we do now in vain?
The bible clearly tells us that this is not so. Our sufferings, they are not for nought. In fact,God has promised a great and victorious hope for those who follow Him. This can never be replaced nor obtained by other means except from God and God alone, and God has bestowed this promise to His loved ones, us! What is His promise? It is the promise of eternal life! The life that has no end, no death, forever! How can this be achieved by man? It cannot! We are mortal beings, but God promised this gift, a very special gift to us who believe in Him!
However, to go a little bit further what does eternal life actually mean? Does it only mean we’ll live forever? What will we do then when we have eternal life? Won’t it be dull if we have everlasting life without doing anything? Not so! In the bible, eternal life means a new heaven and new earth. Continuing the readings from John, Jesus said: “… If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also (14:3). Again, in John 16:21-22, “you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy … I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you”. To conclude, Jesus has said that He will come again and He has promised that our sufferings and sorrows will be taken away in the end. Right now Christ is working, interceding for us, and preparing a joyful place for us.
What is this place that Jesus is preparing for us? It is the new heaven and earth – the New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is not a place in heaven, outside of the world, rather it is a restored current heaven and earth, where God’s Kingdom will be fully established. Revelation 21 presents to us an image of this: there we will be sinless, cloaked with His Glory, and there will be no suffering. We will be with all of our brothers and sisters who have been redeemed by His blood, sinless and perfected in the resurrected body of Christ.
Christ has redeemed us and now we work to extend His kingdom. We strive and toil to do the works of the Lord, even if no one sees, nor understands, or even if we are mocked. However, listen to the Word of the Lord: God accounts and sees all our toils, be it our relationships, our jobs, our studies, our ministries, He accounts all of it. Now it is not a coincidence that the Word of God starts in the Garden of Eden and ends in the City of New Jerusalem. This shows that in history, there is a progress to cultivate the creation, just as God has commanded Adam and Eve to tend the creation (Genesis 1:28;2:15). Therefore, God accounts for every good thing Christians do, because it is part of the preparation of New Jerusalem. Every study, every discipline, every ministry, every practice that is good in the eyes of the Lord will be accounted as work to extend His Kingdom, so what we do is not meaningless. Oh what a wonderful God! What a wonderful promise! That our hope is true and firm! Our tears, blood, and sweat, nothing we do will be in vain as Christ is resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:14-19;58).
A time is coming when Christ will be King and rule the world. The sins of the world will be purged, and the kingdom of the world will be the kingdom of our Lord (Revelation 11:15). At last, perfect justice will be here! No more political lies, no more fraud, no more abuse of power, and no more injustice, no more hunger and no more tears (Revelation 21:4). What Jesus had promised to us in John 16 will be fulfilled in the future. Our sorrow will turn to joy, for Christ, our Lord will reign.
However, it does not stop there! In eternal life, Jesus will reign, but our relationship will not be as a king and his subjects, but as husband and wife! In eternal life, we will be able to know God, perfectly and fully (John 17:3)! We will finally be able to know Him who loves us! We will be able to know His loveliness! We will be able to know our Saviour! Now what we know about Him is too small, only a mere shadow of His magnificence compared to what we will know about Him in eternal life. What we believe, or hear about Him now will be revealed later in full glory. Revelation 19 gives us a clear image of our relationship with Christ as the church. Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33, mentioned how a husband should lay himself down for his wife, is to reflect Christ’s love towards His bride, the Church! See how Christ has loved us? He has laid down His life for us, sinners who reject God from the bottom of our hearts. Oh how we are undeserving to receive this love! How we are too insolent for His attention! But this does not stop Him from loving us. This is our hope then, that He died and resurrected for our sake, so we are able to finally know Him intimately, fully, eternally!
These are not a utopian vision to just console us in the grim reality, but this comes as a promise from God who never breaks His promises. His Words are reliable, and righteous! This is the Vision of His coming Kingdom that He has promised to all of us!
Let us be reminded this Easter, that because Christ has been resurrected we are able to receive the promise of eternal life. We are united with Him, so we can know His loveliness, and He walks by us as our Comforter – He understands our struggles and leads us through suffering. Let us also be reminded of the future glory we will have, that all of these are not in vain because Christ is resurrected. There will be no tears, and all evil will be undone. Therefore Brothers and Sisters, take heart and heed this word: Christ had been resurrected so He is our hope and consolation.
As Christ is risen, let us then take up our cross and follow Him. Let us deny ourselves, and let our zeal consume us (Psalm 69:9a). Let us tell this story to the nations, and let His name be heard, let His wonderful works be known. Let us keep on running this race, and persevere with the faith that God has given to us. Let us daily revere His name in everything, and keep living a holy life. Let us keep suffering for Him, let us keep our eyes towards Him (Hebrew 12:1-2) as we can cry out to Him who knows all our struggle, and see Him in all of our sufferings. Let us not be faltered, for Christ is with us, therefore who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) Let us endure all of these, because Christ is risen, and it is not in vain. Let us suffer for Him, for the sufferings now are incomparable to the glory we will receive. Look towards the future where we will be resurrected as He is, and let this be our consolation in this race, let the resurrection of Christ be our hope to the future. We now live by faith in these things, but when He comes we will live by sight – the sight of Him in the fullness of Glory. (JC)
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:56-58