Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
- 1 Peter 1:3-9
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- Romans 6:5-11
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
- Philippians 3:20-21
“Question & Answer 45
“Q. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
“A. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he obtained for us by his death.
Second, by his power we too are already raised to a new life.
Third, Christ’s resurrection is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.
1 Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
2 Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4
3 Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21
- Heidelberg Catechism, Question 45
“Next follows the resurrection from the dead, without which all that has hitherto been said would be defective. For seeing that in the cross, death and burial of Christ, nothing but weakness appears, faith must go beyond all these, in order that it may be provided with full strength. Hence, although in his death we have an effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid; still it is not by his death, but by his resurrection, that we are said to be begotten again to a living hope (1 Pet. i. 3); because, as he, by rising again, became victorious over death, so the victory of our faith consists only in his resurrection. The nature of it is better expressed in the words of Paul, ‘Who (Christ) was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification’ (Rom. Iv. 25); as if he had said, By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored. For how could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? How could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest?
“Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the resurrection of Christ: by the former, sin was abolished and death annihilated; by the latter, righteousness was restored and life revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed upon us by means of the latter.”
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (translated by Henry Beveridge)
It seems as if I have heard these words of John Calvin in countless sermons. Then again, each pastor probably phrased it in their own words.
But I dislike two things that Calvin wrote in this part of his Institutes. The first is that the cross, death, and burial all showed weakness. Sure, Jesus did not use His power overtly, but it is tremendously powerful from a character sense that He had the power to simply cause everyone around Him to go blind temporarily, as the angels of the Lord did to the Arameans in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Jesus had the power and it exhibited powerful character in not using His power, so that His Father’s will might be done.
Second, rather than divide salvation into two parts, could we not say that both the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ combine to provide us complete salvation, not only paying the price for our sins, but providing visible proof of resurrection? This then gives us the assurance that God’s promises will be kept, and we will meet Jesus in Heaven. One word makes so much difference. We have too much division these days, and it points to the inadequacy of each part. Combined they tell the story. Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus Christ is powerful and can help us in our time of need. And Jesus Christ is good on His promises. We are indeed protected on earth, our burden shared, and our eternal salvation guaranteed.
These Tuesday morning posts will be suspended for the rest of this month, possibly. I am not halfway through my notes on John Calvin’s great opus, but I thought I would take a break from the Heavy Topics, just for a while.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.