THREE REVELATIONS ABOUT RESURRECTION
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
April 19, 2020
19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
— John 5:19-29, ESV
We are living in a current climate of fear because of the coronavirus pandemic. People fear leaving their home. People fear getting sick. People fear dying. Such fear is rational and even healthy for the most part for most people. But Christians are not most people, and one thing Christians should never fear is death.
Jesus Christ was clearly not afraid of death. As a matter of fact, He courted in at least a couple of ways: He performed miracles on the Sabbath to madden the Pharisees; and, He declared openly that He is the only begotten, the unique, the one-of-a-kind, Son of God and therefore, “equal with God” (ref. 5:18).
As we move forward in the Gospel of John, Jesus defies death by doubling down on His declaration of deity. In doing so, the Lord reveals the key reason why He does not fear death. It is because He, being God, has the power to raise the dead. Only God has this power, the power of resurrection.
The first revelation in this text is that since Jesus Christ has the power of resurrection, the Son of God is God. Secondly, it reveals that resurrection, to be beneficial, must be spiritual before it is physical. Thirdly, it reveals there will be a day when all of mankind is resurrected before the God who created us, and this will be “good” for some and terribly “evil” for others. So, we need to take a good look at these three revelations about resurrection.
A Revelation About God, Who Has the Power of Resurrection
The first amen (ESV “Truly, truly;” KJV “Verily, verily;” Greek “Amen, amen”) Christ gives in this sermon is a partial take on the tri-unity of God, or the Trinity. There is one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity includes the glorious unity between God the Father and God the Son.
A normal father-son relationship in the first century would have been based on love, vocation, and authority. A father who loved his son would find such love reciprocated. A father who worked as a baker, or carpenter, or fisherman, or tax collector, etc., would diligently train his son to perfect the same work. When the father had fully trained the son, the son would become a partner and given a signet ring or some other symbol of authority which matched the father’s, so that the person and work of the father and son would virtually be one.
Though the parallels are plain, God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are not a normal father and son. They are the supreme Father and Son. There is a supreme love between them, the Son was a supreme learner as He grew from virgin-born baby to Suffering Servant (ref. Luke 2:52; John 15:15; Hebrews 5:8), and in their unity they wield the same supreme authority over death.
Only God can raise the dead. The Father does it. The Son does it. Therefore, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is God. Of course, all other religions besides biblical Christianity deny this, as do the cultic versions of Christianity like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But believing this revelation, that the Son has power over resurrection because He was, is, and always will be God, is necessary for salvation. For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord (God) will be saved (ref. Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13).
If Jesus is not God, He cannot save; but, He is and He does; therefore, He demands and deserves to be heard. For hearing can lead to saving, and salvation is a resurrection.
A Revelation About Salvation, Which is a Resurrection
The second amen speaks of the resurrection of salvation. The formula is quite clear. Whenever someone effectually hears the word of God and the gospel, and truly believes in God’s revelation of Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ, he or she has “passed from death into life.” In other words, they have been resurrected.
Salvation by resurrection is necessary because all of mankind is dead, spiritually, before God (ref. Genesis 2:17; Ephesians 2:1), and dead men have no desires and make no decisions. A drowned man cannot save himself from drowning. A man without a heart cannot reach out and grab a new one to implant into his chest. A lost man cannot catch the Spirit of God and breath Him into his soul. You and I are dead to God, until God resurrects us.
Salvation by resurrection begins when one “hears my word” and “believes.” Paul said it this way in Romans, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (ref. Romans 10:17). The gospel goes out over a valley of dry bones (ref. Ezekiel 37), but when God is pleased to save someone, the hearing of the gospel is carried by the Holy Spirit to the hearer who repents and believes and is born again, resurrected “from death to life.”
Salvation by resurrection is not a matter of free will, but God’s will (ref. vs. 21). Dead men don’t have free will. But men and women and boys and girls resurrected by the free grace of God have freely and willingly believe in God with all their resurrected heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Salvation is not a decision. It is not a transaction. It is not payment for services rendered. It is a resurrection. It is an absolute miracle of God. And it is given by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
And, at the end of days, every person will have to stand, alone, before God.
A Revelation About Judgment, the Final Resurrection
The last “amen” describes the last amen.
While only a chosen few receive the resurrection of salvation, all of mankind will eventually experience a final resurrection at the end of the world, or Judgment Day. Everyone who has ever lived will die, with the exceptions of Enoch, Elijah, and all who are living at the second coming of Christ. Virtually everyone who has lived will die, then everyone who has died will live. We will all be resurrected and reunited with our bodies when the final trumpet finally sounds, and we will all stand before God, the Lord Jesus Christ, upon His throne of judgment.
Then, two great resurrections will take place. There will be the Judgment Seat of Christ (ref. Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), where the “good” according to Jesus will be ushered into a new heaven and earth. Then, there will be the Great White Throne of Judgment (ref. Revelation 20:11), which consigns the “evil” to Hell. Common thinking would make Hell almost obsolete, since the common man considers himself to commonly “good” and not “evil.” But the two terms bear a closer look.
“Good,” in the Greek text, is “Agatha” (which transliterated makes for a lovely, old-fashioned name for a girl). It literally describes one who has benefited and is a benefit to others. Those who have received the grace of God are gracious. Those who have faith in God, live and share faith. Those who genuinely follow the Lord Jesus Christ, are clearly the “good” people referenced here by Christ Himself.
“Evil,” in the Greek text, is “Phaula” (which transliterated is almost, but not the same, as another lovely, old-fashioned name for a girl). It is a word much broader than the limited, contemporary meaning of someone who is bad to the extreme, like a pedophile or a serial killer or an Adolph Hitler. “Evil” in Jesus’ day referred to anyone or anything fatally flawed, unacceptable to God, or worthless, which aptly describes depraved, unbelieving, human beings who fill their lives with temporary things which will be worth nothing in eternity. Their Bibles are unopened, their prayers are unspoken, and their hearts are unbelieving; therefore, they will be banished from God in “the resurrection of judgment.”
Amen, amen, verily, verily, truly, truly, this is the way this world is going to end. Jesus Christ has come once and lived, loved, died and rose again. Believers in Jesus Christ have been born again, risen from spiritual death, and given eternal life. All people will be raised to face the returning Christ at His second coming, and the majority of humanity will be banished from God and from Heaven forever.
I do not know if we are living in the end time or not. I do know we are living in a most unusual time. We are confronted with death, the number of dead people due to the coronavirus, every day. We should take precautions. We should search for a cure. But, we should not be afraid of death.
Consider the cure of the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Repent, believe, and follow the Lord, which is the only cure for death. Jesus was not afraid of death. Trust Him, and you will never have to fear death yourself.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org