fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Happy (40 days of) Easter!

jn3_16It is now Easter season for the next 40 days until the Ascension of Jesus. I had always thought Easter ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, but it is in fact just the beginning. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how he appeared to his disciples and continued to teach them. His teaching didn’t end at his death, but rather it continued after his resurrection. I often pray for the Holy Spirit to bring the works of the crucifixion, the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus in my life but I always took for granted what this request really means.  The crucifixion (Good Friday) of Jesus redeemed mankind from the fall of Adam, namely the debt was paid and our sins were now forgiven (washed clean). The resurrection of Jesus (Easter) reconciled us to God in which we no longer needed a priest to go before God on our behalf – having a personal relationship with the Father was made possible when Jesus was resurrected. The Ascension of Jesus meant that now we will have the Holy Spirit to help us live and overcome struggles (physical and spiritual) while on earth. We have been given all authority over the enemy and it’s through the Ascension of Jesus that we get this power through the Holy Spirit, otherwise we wouldn’t stand a chance against the forces of darkness.  It was during these next 40 days that Jesus would build the church and instruct his disciples what to do, not only to help build the church but also to overcome the enemy. This is my understanding of the triune meaning of John3:16 – the forgiveness, the redemption and the authority over evil.

April 2, 2013 Posted by | According to Scripture | , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day

Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day by Julie McAllen


grave stones14 “If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.
15 “You will call, and I will answer You;
You will long for the work of Your hands.
(Job 14:14-15)

Many a person has pondered the question of “coming back to life” and there’s no shortage of answers from a variety of religions as to where the dead go.

Christians are familiar with the story of Lazarus and how the power to resurrect was in Jesus. After learning of his death, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” (John 11:11)

We may take that for granted now, but at the time the Jews to whom this was spoken believed the dead would remain asleep until the Messiah came. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, had no doubt there would be a Messiah and a future resurrection but her expression, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” is a bit surprising. Did she believe that the very presence of Jesus would prevent her brother’s death? Remember, when Jesus first received news of his sickness, he intentionally waited so that he would not be present and Lazarus did die. And the reason Jesus gave for this delay?

“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” (John 11:4)

Jesus was not present four days earlier when Lazarus was about to die, but now, in the presence of Martha he says, “Your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23) indicating it “would not end in death.”

Martha understood that the dead slept in Hades. No one had risen from the dead before but she was aware of the promises, and so from this premise Martha answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:25-27)

Did Martha believe Jesus was the Christ? Yes. Did Martha believe in the promise of the resurrection? Yes. Then why did Jesus later have to ask, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Oh how we can relate to Martha! She had expressed such faith in the presence of her Lord saying, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11:22)

“Even now” those are her own words. “Even now.”

And here is Jesus “even now” declaring to Martha “I am the  resurrection,”  but her gaze is still far off into a future time her people had known as “the last days.”

She knew God had spoken to the prophets of her people and even trusted His Son had come, but how surprising it must’ve been for Martha to accept that the last day was closer than she had imagined!

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)

Martha knew that God had called Israel His chosen people. However, even they slept in death. But we learn from this same letter to the Hebrews, written about 62-64 AD, that Abraham, the father of Israel, believed God was preparing a heavenly city for him and other faithful ones even though they died in faith without receiving it.

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13-16)

Jesus Christ spoke of this heavenly city when he told his followers, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:2-6)

That “coming again to receive” them was oh so near, for he had even promised, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28)

If she knew the account of Job and his question of “if a man dies, will he live again?” Martha may have pondered the meaning of his words,

“So man lies down and does not rise.
Until the heavens are no longer,
He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.” (Job 14:12)

The resurrection would not occur until the passing of the heavens. But “even now” in Martha’s generation she was about to witness the glory of God to confirm this long-awaited promise of new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65-66).

Jesus had come to declare the blessings of his kingdom. One of which was this resurrection hope. Those present would not have to go to Hades at all but rather pass from death to life. And concerning the resurrection of those long asleep in the grave? The time was at hand for their release!

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who  hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come  into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
25 Truly, truly, I say  to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice  of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has  life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and  He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do  not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs  will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a  resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of  judgment. (John 5:24-29)

The resurrection of Lazarus was the  demonstration of that transitional time period which Jesus spoke of as “coming and now is.” The generation living in “the last days.”

Martha was correct in her understanding that the resurrection would occur “on the last day,” but I believe she was surprised to learn that she herself was living in the generation that would see all things fulfilled.

And “even now” Jesus is asking, “Do you believe?”

Some Christians believe that their dearly departed loved ones are not yet risen but like Martha thought 2,000 years ago, the dead are in a type of “soul sleep” awaiting a future resurrection. This view is valid for those who believe the “last day” has not yet come. I used to hold to this view myself. It’s also a valid view if you believe we are still under the old law covenant. But it is incompatible with scripture to maintain a belief that Abraham or our own departed loved ones are enjoying their heavenly reward now and yet say we are “in the last days” still awaiting the arrival of the new heavens and earth.  Jesus validated Martha’s belief that the resurrection of the dead would happen “on the last day.” Usually when someone claims we are the generation of the last days, they point to a newspaper, but I find more evidence about the last days in my Bible. And the Bible clearly states that the resurrection of the dead would occur then. Based upon the consistency of God’s word, I believe the resurrection of the dead took place during the time that Jesus said it would, when all things were fulfilled after the passing of the old heavens — a term representative of the old law covenant.

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18)

I believe my Lord and Savior accomplished all that he came to do.

Do you believe?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

February 26, 2013 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Julie McAllen

It’s Easter, a time of year when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christianity teaches that Jesus’ original body was resurrected; however, some have argued that Christ’s body evaporated and he was given a different body. Others say he was raised as Spirit. Have you ever wondered what the Bible says?

This article endeavors to address some of those questions raised concerning the nature of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Some point to 1 Peter 3:18-19 as proof that Jesus was raised as a Spirit and not flesh, but this is easily disputed by noting that these verses refer to his visitation to the spirits in prison during the 3 days BEFORE his resurrection. Speculating that angels who once forsook their place in heaven also inhabited bodies on earth, some promote that Jesus could have done the same in his appearance (Jude 6; 2 Pe 2:4). Can the Spirit of Jesus inhabit a different body? Why, yes, we are bodies of flesh inhabited by Christ’s Spirit so in that sense I believe he does. The body of Christ on earth today is comprised of many different members, however, upon his appearance to 500 disciples 3 days after his death, it was Jesus Christ himself and not the church. Concerning that resurrection, it was not prophesied that Christ would be given another body and the historical fact that no one ever found the original body of Christ laying somewhere gives me reason to stand on the belief that Christ’s actual body was raised. We also have the example of Lazarus’ body being raised with no indication that there were two separate bodies.

The Greek word for resurrection is “anastasis” and it means a “standing up again,” or “revival of the dead.” Thus, to qualify as a “resurrection,” there must be a real connection between the body that died and the body that was raised. Jesus did not die as a spirit-creature, so logic follows that he could not have been raised as a spirit-creature. “Reincarnation” is the belief that one is “reborn in another body.” To assert that Jesus “took on different bodies” when he appeared to his followers makes it sound more like a reincarnation than a resurrection.

It is evident within scripture that the people of the time were influenced in a belief of some form of continuation after death.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:7-9)

Herod believed it was possible for John the Baptist to come back in the body of Jesus Christ. Others believed that the dead prophet Elijah was inhabiting the body of Jesus. And Jesus was well aware of this because he questioned his disciples on it a few verses later in Luke 9:18-20

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

So Jesus establishes the common belief, but teaches them it is HE who will suffer and HE that will rise.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:22)

Jesus is trying to lay it into their minds that HE will die and HE will rise–meaning in the same body.  When he walked on water in his flesh, the disciples THOUGHT he was a spirit. I wonder, if my husband died and I suddenly saw him, what would my reaction be? Perhaps I’d think I was seeing a spirit and I’d be frightened just like the disciples were. The other reaction would be of disbelief thinking it was not him at all, but someone who looked like him. So Jesus knew they would be too shocked and kept reminding them ahead of time it would be HIM, HIS BODY, HIS FLESH they would see.

 
At John 2:18-22, Jesus answered the Jews who challenged him to show them the sign of his authority. At verse 19, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews misunderstood what he was referring to and thought he spoke of the temple in Jerusalem. Then, at verse 21, John explained that Jesus “was speaking of the temple of his body.”

One might make the argument that Jesus could not even walk in his beaten and torn flesh after 3 days in the tomb and in order to appear to the disciples, God gave him a new body. But why would God evaporate the old body, give to Jesus a new body, but then puncture it with holes in the hands? Why not resurrect the original, nail-scarred body and use that? We have the example of Lazarus as a stinking, rotting corpse after four days in the tomb. Was it a different body he came back in? I believe Jesus resurrected the original Lazarus and somehow took care of the stench. I have no doubt God did the same with the body of Jesus.

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, (Luke 24:39-46)

Now, granted, you could argue that the hands and feet and fish-hungry tummy of the Lord was a new substitute flesh, but number one that would indicate reincarnation and number two where is it written in the law of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms that the Christ would die and rise up in someone else’s body?

I had someone pose this question about it. “If Jesus paid with his perfect human life, why would he take it back?” He was implying that Jesus offered up his flesh and and was accusing him of “Indian giving.” The answer is that the Bible doesn’t teach that a sacrifice of FLESH is the atonement for sin. It is the blood (Heb 9:22) His sacrifice was made, yes, his flesh was given, but it was the pouring out of his blood that sealed the covenant and atoned for our sins. He didn’t take that back.

My previous religion had taught me that Jesus’ body evaporated. But which one of those leaders were witnesses to the fact? Which testimony do I accept? Those of men 2,000 years after it happened or those who were there?

Jesus said, My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (John 17:20)

Seems the message of the disciples for whom Jesus prayed differs from the message of my former religion concerning the bodily resurrection. I choose to believe the message of the first century eye witnesses rather than some latter day speculations.

When I read the New Testament, it’s the resurrection of Jesus the first century disciples proclaimed and were consequently persecuted for believing in. They actually believed the man Jesus had died, was buried and on the third day was raised in the same body because it did not see decay. This is the testimony of those closest to the event.

So, regarding the issue of whether the body of Jesus evaporated and thereby was given a different body to present himself to the disciples, I have to ask why? If the original body would NEVER decay….where is it? The testimony of Peter and Paul is that the body of Jesus never disappeared; it was raised to life and shown to many eye witnesses.

Paul was speaking to the “men of Israel” and some Gentiles gathered in Acts 13. He reminds them all of the history of God’s people. He uses this to establish that Jesus whom they crucified is the promised Messiah written about in their scrolls. Notice what he brings up …

As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’ (Acts 13:34-35)

Paul is clearly saying Jesus was raised from the dead and he adds “no longer to return to decay.” What else could this mean but his body? And what could “never decay” mean but that his body would never rot? If there is any doubt we’re talking about his flesh, Paul goes on to compare it with the man David….

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. (Acts 13:36-37)

It’s easy for us to accept that David died, was buried, and his body rotted away. It’s not easy to accept that Jesus died, was buried, raised from the dead and his body did not rot. But that is what is being proclaimed by Paul and others closest to the event.

In fact, Peter said the same thing and I trust his words over any religious leader today who was not there. Peter was there!

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. (Acts 2:29-32)

Both Peter and Paul validate the physical resurrection of Jesus’ body. His body did not decay or evaporate. It was raised to life and as Peter put it among his generation, “we are all witnesses” to the fact.

Adding to that, when John was given a vision of the risen Lord in heaven, he saw Jesus’ body still scarred. Yes, his body still had the wounds.

6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. (Rev. 5:6)

What does this mean for us?

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:35-44)

No doubt there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies having different splendor. I believe I have strictly an earthly body at present. This body is perishable. It is a seed that will be planted and grow a new body from its original material. Notice that Paul says when IT is raised” imperishable (v.42). It sounds to me like “same body raised, made different.” The new body that comes forth from the same body is now “heavenly.” I believe Jesus was clothed with his heavenly body, one which could walk through locked doors and eat fish. His same (perishable) body was raised imperishable. “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

Remember what the disciples said upon seeing the empty tomb. One account says,
He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. (Matt 28:6)

He has risen, just as he said. What did Jesus say? Did Jesus say “I will evaporate but the Father will produce a different body?”

What did Jesus SAY???
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)

It sounds like he’s talking about the SAME body being raised. He is risen, just as he said.

So what’s interesting about that is what it also says of the resurrection of people.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

Do we have any reason to assert that our resurrection would be like that of Jesus?

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? (1 Cor 6:14-15)

because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. (2 Cor 4:14)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Christ was raised a perfect spiritual body, and the hope of every follower of Christ is the same. We currently dwell in our perishable bodies, but will be clothed with our perfect spirit bodies.

Jesus Christ entered heaven in his resurrected spirit body as the perfect man in heaven.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5)

John understood the spiritual dimension of his being a new creation by saying “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14) However, he also understood there was more to it which is why he began with “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

John wrote his letters to correct a falsehood that had crept into the congregation. Among other things, I believe the notion of a strictly “spiritual resurrection” had crept in causing some to think there was no further physical resurrection. So John agrees that yes, they had crossed over from death to life meaning their HOPE was secure, but this was not to be confused with the promises backed by Paul’s address to the Corinthians.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor 15:1-8)

Paul first sums up the gospel (which concerns the PHYSICAL resurrection of Jesus) before he goes on to correct their thinking also. Notice how he establishes the resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor 15:1-8 saying it was by this witness they were already saved. This church had received his witness of the resurrected Christ. This laid the groundwork for Paul’s correction toward them beginning with these words, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor 15:12)

Caution should be taken when anyone denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Though the New Testament is filled with spiritual language, attributing spiritual fulfillments to prophesy is in no way discrediting the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ or the hope of our own new bodies given upon our individual deaths. Both Paul and John knew they had crossed over from death to life but they also addressed the future hope of their own resurrections.

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11-13)

Beloved, we have crossed over from death to life, but like John at the time of his writing this, we await more. As Paul put it, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor 15:49) I personally believe these men have been given what they awaited–their spiritual bodies and now live among the angels as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12:23). Likewise, we can only expect to be made perfect upon the shedding of our perishable, imperfect flesh. However, we are made righteous right here and now by the blood of Christ. His spirit-born church upon earth is righteous, which is why they are mentioned separately in Hebrews 12 as part of the spiritual Mt. Zion. There is “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (made righteous by the blood of Christ) and then there is “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (perfected upon earthly death). –Hebrews 12:23

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Ro 8:11)

By the indwelling Spirit of God, we have the witness that we already have eternal life and we have the future hope that our mortal bodies will also be raised from the dead. We have this assurance because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Happy Easter.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

If you are interested in more articles relating to the Easter season, in 2009 I wrote a two part series showing how the lamb of the Jewish Passover became the Christ of our Easter celebration. Those articles can be read here.

https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/christ-our-passover-part-one/

https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/christ-our-passover-part-two/

In 2010, I exposed how one religious sect interprets the sacrifice Jesus made as only having significance for a limited number of people in another article titled In Remembrance https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/in-remembrance/.

 

March 26, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

   

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