PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART CI
The return of Jesus the Christ from the world of the dead is proof that life exists beyond the grave. The spirit and the soul of man does not die! And that spirit and soul can reinhabit another human body and put life back into the body. However, Jesus did more! Jesus returned to the same body and changed the body! Jesus transformed His body into a vehicle that He used on earth; and then Jesus traveled back to the world from where He came from. He said that He could die and come back into the world again, and He did. Many people saw Jesus being crucified, declared dead, being buried, and when his followers came back on the third day to rebury their Teacher and Master, they found nobody to be properly laid to rest. Instead, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred believers. Two of his closest apostles put the event of Jesus resuming His role as the “Risen Christ” into writing. The apostle Peter and his fellow apostle John Zebedee testified thus:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths (fables) when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we have heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (II Peter 1:16-21).
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete (I John 1:1-4).
THE RISEN AND ASCENDED CHRIST CHOSE SAUL TO VERIFY THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Jesus became the “Pioneer” and the “First-born” into the Kingdom of heaven, which has moved into the world (Mark 1:14-15; Hebrews 12:1-2). Predestined for the kingdom are those who love Christ and who are reborn by the Spirit of God (John 3:3). The new life begins in the Kingdom of heaven on earth and continues in eternity as eternal life (John 5:24). The “First Resurrection” is the new birth in Christ that makes man eligible for the kingdom and the second rising from the dead hands out the rewards or punishments (Revelation 20:4-6). Thus, if one is reborn here on earth, he will be fit for heaven and eternity. The Spirit of the Lord is always ready to assist anyone who desires to join the First-born. Saul, who became Paul, learned that God’s intentions are for man’s benefit:
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30).
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in our sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. “For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection under him,” it is plain that he is expected to put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one. (I Corinthians 15:12-28).
He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell., and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-23).
JESUS ON LIFE IN HEAVEN; WHAt WILL IT BE LIKE?
The Sadducees did not believe in an after-life. The idea of a “Resurrection” was a mental sport used to ridicule those who subscribed to a life in the hereafter. So, the Sadducees tried to make Jesus look awkward with a question that made them look sheepish. All three synoptics reported the incident:
Then came to Jesus some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife and died without children; and the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterwards, the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
And Jesus said to the Sadducees, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him” (Luke 20:27-38; Mark 12:18-27; Matthew 22:23-33).
The Sadducees were no different from our own generation; for, they too selected texts, which supported their point of view; very much like we do. The Sadducees knew what Moses had said on how to keep a family name alive, but they neglected what God said to Moses, who was in relationship to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were alive and well in heaven with God. In heaven there is no need to marry or perpetuate a name because nobody dies in heaven, and only the worthy ones can live with God. The “Resurrection” is not comparable to a marriage, which ends here on earth. While in the “resurrection” the human soul and spirit separate from the body and from this world, in order to live in the eternal home with God. Not everyone who will rise up from the dead will be eligible to be with the Lord in His Kingdom. After these Sadducees were put in their place, it is not likely that they walked away with elevated heads. Therefore, there was no hope for them to be with God because their belief did not allow it.
The Pharisees were in the minority regarding the resurrection and a life in eternity. Most of the Jews believed that Abraham and the Prophets were all dead. When Jesus insisted that Abraham met Him and rejoiced with Him, it was beyond their grasp. The witness of the Gospel of John remembered such a discord between Jesus and the Jews. Jesus said to the Jews while He was in the temple:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you keep (do) my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to Jesus, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, ‘If anyone keeps my (your) word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets who died! Whom do you make yourself to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple (John 8:51-59).
THE ROAD TO HEAVEN IS NARROW AND HARD
Jesus, in his parables described two worlds, in which people could see each other, but they could not join and be together. There was a huge impassable chasm between them. In heaven there was bliss, comfort, and joy. And in hell there was darkness, extreme heat, and unquenchable thirst. The bodies in hell were subjeted to pain and torture. Hell was prepared for the devil and his followers (Matthew 25:41). To escape hell one must, like Christ, get on the narrow road, which Jesus prepared for his people to follow (John 14:6). Jesus left two parables that show Abraham enjoying life and helping a man the world rejected. As Jesus traveled from town to town, on His way to Jerusalem, and the audience shrunk, someone close to Jesus asked:
“Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And Jesus said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last (Luke 13:23-30).