throughout history have placed their faith, as well as the reason
and foundation of that faith, in the crucifixion and resurrection
of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of his execution, when Jesus
"gave up his spirit", Matthew tells us "...the
veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom...",(Mt.27:51).This
tearing of the temple curtain, though often overlooked, plays
an important part in the New Testament salvation of men and the
development of the church.
tearing of the curtain is a sign that God gave to the people showing
just what was taking place on Calvary. The tearing of the curtain
substantiated every claim Jesus ever made about Himself, as did
every miracle he performed. But further, it substantiated every
miracle Jesus ever worked. It substantiated every healing and
every resurrection He ever commanded. In all, it proves Jesus
was who he claimed to be, the very Son of God, the Creator. Notice
the words of Matthew as he relates this to us in his gospel. He
says the curtain was torn "from top to bottom". Now
the tearing of this curtain by a man would be a great feat. We
have all seen people attempt to tear a telephone directory in
half. It is practically impossible, for the book is much too thick.
The tearing of this curtain would be roughly equivalent as it
too was very thick. Note that not only was the curtain torn, but
that it was torn "from top to bottom". This shows us
who it was that did the tearing, God! Not only could this not
have been done by mere human strength, but it was done as if the
curtain tore itself, beginning at the top, out of man’s
reach, and ending at the bottom. The tear began at the top signifying
God as the one who tore the curtain. God tore the curtain to show
His utter displeasure and judgment on the Jewish people.
are serious repercussions to this act. The temple was considered
to be the holy place in the mind of the Jew. Any judgment or destruction
of the temple surely meant the final end of the world. The Jew
could not fathom the idea of the temple’s destruction, or
of God’s displeasure with them. The prevailing attitude
of the Jew was "We are Israel, God’s chosen people.
Surely He would not deal harshly with us". But God had ripped
the unrippable curtain to show He had indeed judged Israel and
as a result had abandoned the temple forever. Jesus, in Matthew
23:38 declared "Your house is left unto you desolate"
(emphasis mine).Before this Jesus had considered the temple as
God’s house, but no longer. The temple had become "Your
house". God had forsaken the temple. He had indeed turned
his back on the Jewish nation to focus on the Gentiles and the
establishment of His church.
tearing of the curtain is proof positive of Jesus statement "It
is finished" (Jn 19:30). He was not speaking of his life
here, nor of his ministry, but of the work of salvation. As Christ
hung on the cross and died, Satan was bound, sin was put away
and the debt of the sinner was paid in full. None of Christ’s
chosen throughout history would ever have to pay the death penalty
for their sin. DEATH!? Would a loving God really impose such a
harsh penalty? Indeed He would, He must! Sin is a crime against
all that God stands for, yea even the very nature of God. Man
was created in the image of God and when we sinned that first
time in the garden, that image of God in us was invaded and became
deformed. Man died spiritually. God’s image in man became
polluted and corrupted with sin and colored with evil intentions.
Sin so invaded the being of man so as to render him helpless and
hopeless and unable to do or will in favor of God’s will.
This sin causes a debt to the holy God so large that it can never
be paid by ourselves. Hell lasts for eternity because the debt
we owe is so great and it must be paid. Those in eternal punishment
are paying this debt they owe. BUT, as we saw earlier, the work
of salvation is finished. Jesus paid this debt for His elect.
He purchased salvation and gave it to those He loved. We have
been redeemed! Our debt has been paid and canceled by Christ Jesus
and we receive it as a gift of God’s wonderful grace.
however, does not end here. We cannot leave Christ on the cross,
for a religion that does is a fruitless religion. Christ resurrected
is our centerpiece. The One who rose is our strength, our power.
The resurrection is that in which we glory!
Catechism is a wonderful statement and explanation of God’s
truth. Question 45 and its answer will provide the basic outline
for the rest of this treatise. It reads thusly:
How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He might make
us share in the righteousness He won for us by His death.
by His power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.
Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.
Paul told the Roman church that Jesus "was delivered up because
of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access
by faith into this grace in which we stand..." (Rm. 4:25-5:2).
Paul tells us Jesus died because of our sin, as we have already
seen. He was raised to bring justification. The first benefit
of the resurrection is the gift of justification. Justification
itself is an objective work of our salvation. It is something
that happens to us and not in us. Justification is the judicial
act of God whereby He declares us righteous. As we stand before
God in His courtroom, the evidence is overwhelmingly against us.
Yet, as He drops the gavel, He pronounces no penalty. The sentence
has already been paid in the execution of Jesus Christ, and because
of this, God labels us PARDONED! God declares us just.
He declares us righteous. Our sins have been "put away"
and we are placed in right legal standing with God. This pardon
brings with it freedom. Negatively, we have freedom from condemnation.
No sentence is placed upon us and all our sins are forgiven. Positively,
we now have freedom unto righteousness. We are made partakers
of Christ’s righteousness. We are seen as Christ is seen.
It is a mistake to say that justification is the same as if we
had never sinned, it is more. If justification was mere sinlessness,
then our post-conversion status would be the same as that of Adam’s
pre-fall standing. Adam was created a sinless and innocent being.
He was created with holy inclinations but he had the ability to
commit sin. He loved God and obeyed God and Adam was without sin,
(until he fell). He did not know what grace was and he had no
idea of what justification did, for indeed he had no need of these
gifts. Justification puts us on a higher plain than this. It is
more than just being legally sinless. Righteousness is given to
us and we are made active participants in the righteousness of
the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul believed justification to be an important
facet and a central part of our salvation, so much so that he
assumes it so in Romans 5:1. John Calvin said that justification
is the main hinge on which religion rests. It is foundational
and its benefits are many.
benefit of justification is seen in Romans 5:1 where Paul mentions
peace with God. Not only have we been pardoned, but we have been
accepted by God as well. Being sinful creatures, we cannot accept
God, we cannot even approach His throne. Being justified before
His sight, He accepts us, which is a tremendous comfort. Before
our conversion we were at enmity with God, (Rm. 8:7). We were
bent on sin and headed for Hell. God’s wrath abided on us,
(Jn. 3:36) and His hatred rested on us, (Ps. 5:5). After salvation,
we are no longer haters of God nor are we at enmity with Him.
God becomes our friend as we are drawn to Him with cords of love.
We have "peace with God". The Greek term used here for
"with God" denotes perfect harmony and unity. We are
now "in tune" so to speak, with God. Jonathan Edwards
painted a verbal picture of sinners being dangled over a fire
by a thin thread, protected only by the hand of an angry God.
This peace we now have removes the thread, quenches the fire,
and plants us firmly in the hand of a loving God.
benefit of justification is access, (5:2). We have the privilege
to go directly to God with our petitions. This access has a direct
effect on our behavior. Access to the Holy One is a stimulus to
act like Christ. As I was growing up my father was a member of
the local Loyal Order of Moose lodge. The only way a non-member
could enter into the lodge was in the company of a member. Once
inside, the guest had a reason to act especially honorably, his
host. Any dishonorable behavior by the guest would reflect on
his host. So it is with our access. We have been brought in and
justified by Jesus Christ, so we act like Him, and because we
are now members, these actions become part of our very nature.
affords us adoption, sweet acceptance By God. Adoption is the
doctrine which makes all of justification "click". We
are made "sons of God". There are two words in the Greek
for the word "son". The first, teknon denotes
one born into a family by natural birth. Hence, a girl is technically
teknon. The second word, huios describes one
who has legally been declared a son. In the Jewish tradition,
at age thirteen a boy becomes barmitzvah and enters manhood. In
this celebration the Jewish boy passes from being merely teknon
to being huios. He now assumes all the responsibilities
and enjoys all the rights and privileges of being a full fledged
son of the covenant. We, by being justified and adopted, are not
only generic children of God, but are regarded as full sons of
God. Because of this we call Him "Father" and have the
responsibility to obey Him, and the privilege to love Him.
benefit of Christ’s resurrection as seen in the catechism
is that of sanctification. Louis Berkhof defines sanctification
as "that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit
by which He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the
image of God, and enables him to perform good works". God
is the primary mover in our sanctification. Paul wrote to the
Phillipians that "He who has begun a good work in you will
complete it..." (Phil. 1:6). God begins it and God completes
it! It is God who brings us along, sustains us, moves us and makes
us holy in our Christian walk. Our sanctification is not dependent
upon faith that we, of ourselves, conjure up, but upon God’s
faithfulness, His promise. It is the continuation of the work
of the Holy Spirit after regeneration. It is NOT merely the "turning
over of a new leaf", our making ourselves better, but God
being actively involved in our Christian growth. Change is temporary
but transformation is forever! God strengthens us and He uses
various means to excite our faith. The Word of God is the primary
means. We will not, we cannot grow in grace if we refuse to study
the Word. Look around you. Modern, American evangelical Christianity
has produced doctrinally weak Christians and churches. Many of
today’s Christian population are little more than ignorant
church-attenders and pew-fillers. It seems today more and more
people are susceptible to be "tossed to and fro and carried
about by every wind of doctrine", (Eph. 4:14). Religious
cults and false gods are widely accepted and tolerated, all because
of a rejection and refusal to study and believe the Bible. People
do not know God’s Word! The rise of liberalism in today’s
churches is directly related to this. Jesus said worship must
be done "in spirit and truth", (Jn. 4:23). This "truth"
includes doctrinal truth, which is impossible without diligent
Bible study. The Bible connects spiritual life with truth. The
Bible is also regarded as a quickening power, as it promotes obedience,
prevents and purges sin, and produces a hatred for sin and a love
for truth. D. L. Moody, on the inside cover of his Bible, wrote
"This book will keep me from sin, or sin will keep me from
this book". Our sanctification is inseparably linked to our
study of the Bible.
God uses in our sanctifying process include faith and prayer.
The diligent and heartfelt exercise of these leads directly to
their increase. Just try it! It has been said that abiding begins
as a discipline, but turns into desire!
Word preached and applied also plays a large part in our growth
as Christians, as does fellowship with other believers. None of
these activities should be neglected. And while these all are
very important to our growth in the Lord, they should not be regarded
as ends in themselves. God is sovereign, but we are responsible
for our actions, and so must determine in our hearts to become
holy. We must determine to die to sin and not lead a lifestyle
of sinfulness. We should strive to live a new life in the Lord.
This is our duty as well as our desire. God has saved us to be
a living memorial to Him, to honor Him, glorify Him and serve
him. We must, in our hearts and minds, determine to do these things,
and yet we see that it is God who sovereignly enables us and helps
us to do so. He guides our will to do His will. He grants us grace
to withstand trials and he leads us to do His perfect will.
benefit of Christ’s resurrection we see in the catechism
is that wonderful truth of glorification. We look for the return
of the lord Jesus Christ. In celebrating the Lord’s Table,
we not only commemorate His death, but we look forward to His
return and our resurrection. We expect Him to come for us as a
girl expects her date to whisk her off to the prom. When He does
so, we will be like Him. Our bodies, as well as our souls, will
be redeemed. Presently, our bodies are earthly, sustained by the
earth and infested with a sin nature. They are subject to sickness
and disease, and upon death they decay in the grave. At Christ’s
return we will receive a glorified, heavenly body, one that is
sustained by God alone. This means for us, no more sickness, sin
or death. "Many blessings are promised to our outward man,
here in this life; and hereafter it is to be made a glorious and
incorruptible body, like unto the glorious body of our lord Jesus
Christ; It is to be clothed with light and crowned with rays,
nevermore to suffer injuries without or diseases within",
(Ezekiel Hopkins). Do you long for this? We can believe God for
this. Thomas Watson said rightly that "we are more sure to
arise out of our graves than out of our beds"! We can trust
in God’s faithfulness and power, and let us do just that.
We have briefly
looked at a few of the benefits resulting from Christ’s
resurrection. They ought to move us to an even greater love and
appreciation for the lord Jesus Christ. Let us take these truths
and study them, understand them and apply them to our lives as
we wholly trust the King of Kings.
A. Hess, BS Pastoral Ministries
1982 graduate of Mid South Bible College,
(now Crichton College) in Memphis, Tn
Has worked with teens as a youth pastor and teacher
in various churches.