You are here: Home / Part 4 Disciplinary Truths of God's Kingdom (Lessons #70–104) / Appendix – Resolving the Controversy (#104) / Lesson 149 – Doctrinal Consequence of Resurrection – Glorification (Part 3)
© Charles A. Clough 2000
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 5: Confrontation with the King
Chapter 5: The Resurrection of the King
Lesson 149 – Doctrinal Consequence of Resurrection – Glorification (Part 3)
27 Apr 2000
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Tonight we’ll finish up, this is a good cut off point because in the Fall we’ll start working with the ascension of Christ and get into the Church Age, Pentecost and that sort of thing. I’d like to start by turning to page 103 to Dr. Ladd’s quotation about the resurrection. What we’ve been trying to point out in this series is that all of these events biblically have to be interpreted in the frame of reference. So you have an isolated event, in this case the resurrection, but that resurrection is itself interpreted in a framework of Scripture, it’s not just cut out, held up as a marble, look at this thing and draw your own conclusions. That’s not how the Scripture works. What he points out in this quote is what Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15; He died and rose again “according to the Scriptures.”
As Ladd points out, “Jesus’ resurrection is not an isolated event that gives to men the warm confidence and hope of a future resurrection; it is the beginning of the eschatological resurrection itself.” That’s very important. It is the beginning of the end when Christ rose from the dead. “If we may use crude terms to try to describe sublime realities, we might say that a piece of the eschatological resurrection has been split off and planted in the midst of history. The first act of the drama of the Last day has taken place before the Day of the Lord.”
The idea here is that we want to look very, very carefully at the resurrection as the unfolding of the end times. That’s the point we’re trying to get across, and that’s why the diagram, on page 113, where you have this state, if you can diagram it in terms of righteousness, minus righteousness and zero righteousness, man starts out with zero in the creation and has the opportunity by obeying God to gain righteousness through obedience, and attain the goal for the human race. That was an open possibility for Adam and Eve. But Adam and Eve chose not to do that, they fell and so we go into sin and then man waddles around down here, being saved or rejecting salvation. And those who trust the Lord Jesus Christ, who have imputed righteousness, then are raised to be where Adam and Eve would have been had they obeyed. If they don’t they just continue, but either way, immortality begins. So this is a new portion of history here. This is the history without repentance, and it’s a very sobering kind of history to think about because in our time, in our history, now in our own ordinary lives we are able, given God’s grace, to switch sides, to join Christ, and this is not true here. Christ Himself taught that in the parables.
This is the sobering side of the resurrection, so when you hear that the resurrection gives hope, it gives hope only to certain people, and it gives horror to other people. The resurrection is actually a horrible thing to think about if we were to die without Christ, because what it does it locks us into an indestructible body that’s forever going to be separated from God. That’s why Jesus said “the resurrection unto life and the resurrection unto damnation,” there are two resurrections here.
We’ve been trying to show that in this eternal state, where we have immortal history, this is immortal history in the sense it’s frozen, categorically you have a barrier, in that future time God will be glorified, man will be glorified, and the creation, nature, will be glorified. We’ve been going through that and we said “Man in Mortal Unglorified History,” then we said “Man in Immortal Glorified History,” and then we’ve gotten down to the last part where we have the glorification of nature, where nature fully reflects its design back to man.
The problem right now is, if you turn to Romans 8, and this has always been a problem in one of the so-called proofs for the existence of God, the so-called teleological argument, which means you see design in nature so therefore there’s a designer, that sort of thing. The problem, however, is that an astute unbeliever, the non-Christian can always point to chaos in nature and bad things in nature. So if the Christian is trying to argue, look on the basis of this design, don’t you see the Designer? An unbeliever can turn around and say and don’t you see this iniquity, this chaos, this horror, this suffering? That’s always been the weakness in the teleological argument.
But it’s explained in Scripture. In Romans 8:18 where Paul goes into this very point, showing that nature as we now see it in the fall, we’re living in this part of nature here, all during this period; we’re living in the day of the mixture of good and evil. So going back to the diagram of good and evil, we’re in that mixed period, good and evil coexist. That holds true of the physical universe around us, so you can see bad things in nature. You say well then, how does nature testify to the glory of God? It originally testified to the glory of God; after the fall parts of it don’t, they testify to His cursings. Actually they still testify to the glory of God because His cursings are administered by His sovereign plan too, but you can see what I’m getting at as far as the optimum design kind of thing.
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” That glory which is to be revealed is the final end state, it’s not just Christ as Paul knew Him, he’s talking about the glory which shall be revealed is in this immortal period, compared to the glory which shall be, future tense, revealed to us.  “For the anxious longing” he doesn’t say ‘of the people,’ notice the subject: “the anxious longing of the creation,” object of the preposition there, “waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” What’s the “revealing of the sons of God?” Remember back in creation, here again is the unity of the Bible, you can’t take a piece of the Bible and disconnect it from another piece, the Bible is a unified whole and in the creation story who is the lord of creation, little “l”? It’s man, and nature is to be under man. Even here in verse 19 you still see that ranking, that nature has been cursed. Well why was nature cursed in the first place? The ground was cursed because of Adam’s disobedience. So nature received its curse because of man’s problem.
We’ve said again and again, here’s another thought that totally collides with our environment and that is: do you want to talk ecology? Let’s talk ecology, very seriously. The greatest ecological disaster ever done was the fall of man. But when we start talking about that kind of ecology, all of a sudden we stop talking about ecology in environment; we don’t want to talk about it in those terms, that’s making man too responsible. A few coke bottles by the roadside, we can talk about our environment, but when you start talking about the fact that man was the cause of the damnation of the environment, then we back off of that sort of thing. That’s the thing we want to, as we go into the framework again and again, keep in mind; we live in a hostile world system.
Just today I was listening to Christian radio and they were telling about what’s happening in the Supreme Court today, they had Christian pro-life people outside the court, and they all got arrested. Before this Christian group was standing there they had checked with the Supreme Court police, is this okay, is this okay, is this okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s okay, everything was cool, and then they get arrested anyway, because all of a sudden the police told them that now you’re under arrest because of regulation six. They called their lawyers, what’s regulation six; this wasn’t discussed in the meeting before. Oh, that’s the one they made today, this morning. The Supreme Court actually can meet and make rules as you go along, so the law is so flexible you can’t obey it because you don’t know what it is, what is it this hour, maybe it’ll be something again the next hour. So you’re starting to see this is the kind of thing; its motivation, they wouldn’t pull that on a civil rights person. If there were a bunch of homosexuals outside the Supreme Court they wouldn’t have dared do that. If it’d been a group of black people, they wouldn’t have done it, but they can do it for life because ultimately it’s a hatred for Jesus Christ that’s the motivation factor.
The pagan world system is frightened to death by the gospel, and instead of being intimidated by it …, you kind of have to back off, relax and sort of laugh at it, why are these people so desperate? All we’ve got here is a book. Stop and think of it, this book is the most dangerous book in the world; they are so terrified of the ramifications of this book. Now we talk about open-mindedness, and freedom of speech, yeah, freedom of speech until we get here, now we’ve got to cancel the freedom of speech here, we can’t tolerate it over here.
When we get into these ideas like we’re talking about, good, evil, these are basic root ideas that we have to understand. That’s why I always teach adversarially; I like to teach the Bible over against the environment because that’s where I live. I live in a hostile environment, and each day it’s always jostling around, and you want to learn sort of a combat preparation for these ideas. These ideas are very dangerous, these are considered extremely subversive. So when we talk about the glorification of nature as in Romans 8, it is extremely subverting and upsetting to rebellious man who wants to feel like he’s halfway in control of the environment. Verse 19, “the creation waits” for the resurrection is basically what it’s saying.
I’ve thought about one of the neat things about demonstrations and stuff is …, I remember years ago I led a counter demonstration against some Iranians in Texas who were demonstrating against the Shah. Remember when the Shah of Iran thing was going on, and the Shah’s son happened to be in the city where I was getting training at the nearest air base. You had all these foreign students coming into this West Texas town, of course they forgot something, when they planned the demonstration they forgot this is West Texas, and in West Texas things are done slightly differently than the East coast, so they kind of screwed up there. They brought all these mass of people into this city to demonstrate.
We were trying to figure out how we could sabotage it somehow with humor, because if you can do it with humor, and they can look like fools, it’s hard for them to get angry at it because the more angry they get at something that’s funny, the funnier it gets. You’ve just kind of got to know human psychology this way. And everybody starts enjoying it. So what we thought we could do, one of the local people in the church had a gardening group, a landscape company, and we thought of taking one of his trucks with manure out of the cattle feedlots and staging a mock accident because the court had decreed that they had to go through certain roads, so we knew exactly where they would go, and we thought we would set this thing up so it would dump all this stuff out all over the road and then we’d get the press to take pictures of them plodding through this cow manure. We thought would be a good welcome to West Texas. But to make a long story short, we couldn’t do that.
We had to have a sign that was kind of ridiculing their cause, but they got very upset and one of the things I learned was that the leaders, this wasn’t just a group of innocent students, if you looked at the posters that they were holding in the parade, they had 2 × 4s in them, those weren’t just sticks, and when they got by where I was, they wanted so bad to come after me, I was just sitting there with my sign right on the side of the road, but what I saw was an interesting thing, all of a sudden, apparently out of nowhere, four or five adults came. I was there, the parade was going by, and they stood in front of me against the students. I really realized after that how professional of them, because they knew that if the students broke ranks and the parade came across the curb the sheriff’s deputies would get them, they didn’t want to ruin the parade, so they had to keep these angry students contained, and it was their people that did it. I thought that was so nice…
As it went on, I just followed them in and we set up the signs again, because the court had said you’re going to do it this way. And it angered the local people anyway because the court was telling the local people where they could do this, we used to have places to do this, etc. but to make a long story short, every time I did it I got more and more press, until finally at the end of this thing they must have had two or three hundred students in this parade, I walked away, and one-third of the pictures were of me and one-third of the interviews were of me, so I figured hey, for an hour investment I took away 33% of their publicity. That’s the kind of thing that you kind of have to go with the world system. We don’t have to be passive to this kind of thing; it’s just that if you can think of a way of ridiculing in a quasi-humorous way, it’s very powerful. It is far more powerful than some violent angry reaction.
The same thing goes when we deal with any kind of this doctrine, that’s why I show this so often, let’s not just learn the Christian position, learn the pagan position, these people are the suckers. I mean, can you imagine, the poor people haven’t even thought through this bottom line, that’s where the unbeliever is. If you don’t want to buy into the Scriptures, look at the mess you’re in. How are you going to separate the good from the evil. If you don’t have a resurrection, you can’t show any evidence, you’re pathetic; you have no answer to this problem. You see, by doing that you turn the debate back onto them. After all, the non-Christian position is the one in rebellion. The non-Christian is the one that doesn’t really fit reality. It’s not us, they’re not fitting reality. So when you think of these things always think in terms of antithesis and how you cannot just defend the faith, but aggressively press against the non-Christian position.
Paul here says “For the anxious longing of the creation waits for” the resurrection. Can you imagine a classroom discussion or a neighbor discussion where they’re talking about some ecological issue or something else, maybe a whale got washed up or something, and you say well, yeah, he was waiting for the resurrection of the church. It’s just so incongruous to just drop something like that in the middle of a conversation that they either think you’re totally crazy and disregard you, or they’ll ask a question, “Well, what do you mean by that?” It gives you an opportunity to go back in and discuss the matter.
Verse 20, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.  That the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons,” that is “the redemption of” what? Our souls? Notice the language there, “the redemption our body.” That’s talking about resurrection.  “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see,” that is the resurrection in the future, “with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
And then it goes on to the various other things in the Christian life. But Paul is applying this great principle of the glory which shall be revealed is not just a private resurrection; it’s a cosmic resurrection that changes the universe of not only just resurrected Christians. It changes the whole nature of the universe. So that’s what we mean when we talk about the glorification of nature. It’s the thing that is going to be changed, and Revelation 21-22 that we mentioned, that’s the key passage for the new heavens and the new earth.
We’ve gone through the glorification of God, of man, and of nature, now we’re going to conclude by showing some applications of this doctrine of resurrection. Let’s take up these applications; there are a lot more, these are just suggestions. Here’s the event, understood in a Scriptural framework, so this is embedded in an Old Testament and New Testament interpretation of the resurrection. It’s not just an isolated miracle.
Did any you have a chance to see that claymation picture of Christ on television? I thought that was one of the finest theologically correct pictures of the life of Christ I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they did it with clay, but they did it some way, and I thought it was very good. They made Christ with dignity, but they also made Him, I thought, like you would expect as just a human being. One of the dialogues that struck me was so intriguing and I wondered what the script writer had thought about when they put this script into the claymation, remember they had Jesus visiting Mary and Martha, I forgot what the dialogue was but Mary and Martha said something to Him and He says you mean your door still doesn’t work, I fixed your door last time, is it still broken or something. And it was just reflection that He was a real carpenter and He really did those things. When we get into this so deep theology that it’s almost inconceivable to think of the God-man, the Son of Man, talking about Mary and her door that doesn’t work. I thought that brought out very neatly Jesus as a man, as a human being.
Pages 116-118, four things that I’d like to cover. The first one is the role that we just did in Romans 8 of showing that the resurrection is the basis of Christian hope. I don’t mean that in a trivial sense, oh isn’t that a nice thought. But rather hope in this sense, that it is the first section of this breaking of good and evil apart forever and ever, the final separation. That is what I mean by the basis of Christian hope. We use the word eschatology because the word eschatology is the knowledge of the last things. Eschatos, it’s a Greek word that means the last, last things. So this is the doctrine of last things, and if you think about it, the only movement that has come close to Christianity in history as far as something that gathers people together and keeps them so they can endure hardship is communism. Communism had an eschatology. This is why the secular west never understood communism.
And I think if you’re interested in history one of the books you need to read is Chuck Colson’s The Body because there’s a narration of the role of the church in the undoing of communism. This is not to minimize the pressure that Ronald Reagan put on the Soviet Union by Star Wars. That was a tremendous pressure, but that broke the back of something that was already rotting from inside. When you read Chuck Colson’s The Body you read about the thing that happened in Romania, you read about what happened at Gorbachev’s last review in the Red Square where the troops are marching through and they had the rockets and you always used to see every year on May Day they’d have this big celebration, the missiles all parading by and the guys in their black coats and somber Russian clothing sitting up there looking at all the red flags, big thing of Lenin in the background. And at that last one, so interesting that at the end of the parade suddenly some Christian Russians got in the back with a crucifix, held it way up, and yelled at Gorbachev as they went by “Christ has risen.” Unheard of in conformist Russia for anybody to have the guts to do that. There never was another Red Square Review; that was the end. That was the last one under communism.
Chuck Colson in his book The Body goes on and on with these instances, and you realize wow, we never got that in the newspapers, we always thought of it in economic terms. But it was more than that; it was a spiritual vacuum in the east that finally had to be filled. And it was Christians, the present Pope who was a Cardinal in Poland, he was the one that led a lot of the resistance in Poland to communism. So it was a time when Christianity and communism collided and it was only Christianity’s eschatology that won, because only Christianity eschatology is based on facts. Communism was based on a dream. Christianity was based on a living hope, and it’s a hope that’s been verified in history by the resurrection of Christ. So that’s why you see hope, hope is ultimately on the resurrection.
How do we know the promises of God are true? Because of Jesus Christ. He was born the way the Bible said He was; He lets you know that when you read a prophecy you can’t just allegorize it. Jesus wasn’t born in Nazareth, He was born in Bethlehem. Where did the prophet Isaiah say the King was going to be born? In Bethlehem, so where was He born? Bethlehem. Bethlehem wasn’t a symbol of some city somewhere; it was literal Bethlehem into which was born a literal Savior. It also said that He shall come out of Egypt. Did Jesus come out of Egypt? Yeah, because His parents took Him down to avoid genocide, and He came back out of Egypt. So did He literally go down to Egypt? Egypt is not a symbol; Egypt is not a stand-in symbol for the nations or something. It’s literal Egypt. So Christ’s life verifies the hermeneutic by which you interpret the text of Scripture.
So the resurrection tells us an awful lot about our Christian hope, that it involves matter, not just the soul. It’s not enough for the souls to be saved, the body has to be saved, and God is interested in saving the body, and not only our bodies but the universe, the physical universe. The moon is going to be saved, the sun is going to be saved, the stars are going to be saved, the whole universe is going to be saved. But that argues again that the fact it has to be saved tells you that in its present state it’s abnormal. The sun is not normal, the moon that you see at night is not a normal moon, it too suffers part of the curse of the fall. The stars we see are not normal, the whole universe is abnormal and it will be restored in eschatology based on the resurrection. This is why the lone resurrection of Christ is an anchor to the universe. Nothing has ever been like it before.
One of the interesting things that, I was listening to a tape by D. James Kennedy in which he was defending the validity of the Shroud of Turin, I think we raised that in discussion here back a couple of weeks ago, and one of the things that he says is very interesting about the Shroud of Turin is that for all the study that’s been done on it, this negative picture of this person that’s on this fabric, there’s a picture on there and there’s no dye, there’s no paint. Not one chemical analysis has been able to find any paint on that fabric. Now what is it that’s causing the picture? Well, if you get under a microscope you see what’s causing this image to appear is the fibers have had the water dried out rapidly out of certain areas of this thing, that’s what caused this picture. The only thing that we can think of is some sort of flash heat that did this at one point.
I’m not prepared to say I’m 100% convinced it’s genuine, I’m saying it’s a very interesting artifact, and the study that has been done on it has been very interesting. If that’s correct, we have an evidence of the resurrection, because the other thing the shroud is that it has a picture of the blood of a man who’s been crucified, who has a crown of thorns, etc. a lot of the little interesting details, but they say if He was wrapped with that, and then somebody stole the body, you know the unbelieving idea, the only explanation is that somebody stole the body, so to do so you have to unwrap the body, but to unwrap it you’d smear this part of the blood, and it’s not smeared. It was wrapped around, and if this is the real thing, you could think of the resurrection going through it, just like it goes through a wall, and when it happened, the instant of the resurrection happened, gosh, I wish they’d had video cameras in those days, maybe they couldn’t capture it on video, I don’t know.
But whatever, something happened and all of a sudden He’s resurrected. Every molecule in His body was changed. Think about that. Every molecule in our body has carbon atoms in it, hydrogen atoms in it, do you suppose there are molecules in the new heavens and new earth? That’s an interesting question. Are there? We don’t know. Whatever they are though, you can touch it, because Thomas touched it. So whatever this mass is in the new universe to come it has mass just like metal, it has mass. The body takes up space, it weighs something, and apparently it can be subject to gravitational forces. Jesus didn’t float, He walked. Yet on the other hand the resurrection structures seem to be able to go through this universe, pass through it, or just appear and disappear. So what is this strange thing? We don’t know what the strange thing is, the point is, however, we know that it exists; however strange it is it exists because Jesus Christ made it clear that He did. And we know …, He took time to show this because if you turn to Acts, Luke being the careful person he was, and acquainted with the science of his time, he was a medical doctor, that’s why Luke is a good author to read. Each one of these men who wrote the Gospels has got to be respected for what they were.
Luke was a very incisive thinker. As I’ve said before, you can see the personality of Luke in his writing; he’s the only guy that interviewed the women. Who is it that carries on the discussions of what the women felt like when they were pregnant? It’s only found in the Gospel of Luke. Why is that? Because he’s a doctor, that was on his mind. He interviewed Mary, he must have, he got this information somewhere. He was very careful about the body. What is a physician concerned with? The body. So guess who God drafted to write a Gospel and the book of Acts? A doctor.
Acts 1:1, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,  until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.  To these also,” now look at this, “He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” So there it is, there’s the medical doctor’s summation of his investigation and study, it took forty days.
So the basis of the Christian hope was shown by evidence over a forty day period, shown to up to five hundred people at a time, that’s 1 Corinthians, five hundred people simultaneously saw Him, and there’s enough evidence there to substantiate the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we pretty convinced what’s on the moon’s surface? The astronauts weren’t up there forty days. But we’ve got a lot of data out of the few days they were up there. When I was at Marshall Space Flight Center you could look and there’s the evidence; here’s one of the lunar modules, a piece of it that came back, there’s the space station, there’s the cloth, there’s the vehicle, so come on, and it wasn’t any forty days. So here we have a long time period for gathering of evidence, forty days of appearances.
Okay, that’s one thing, one application. The basis of our Christian hope and what’s so nice about this is it’s not rooted on our emotions. We can get up any given day and feel exhausted, tired, sick, depressed, and the resurrection still happened. It doesn’t make any difference how you feel, the resurrection is still there. It’s still staring us in the face, regardless of how tired, how depressed, how emotionally down we are, it doesn’t make any difference. We have an objective basis here on which to rely. That’s why Paul kept drawing us back. Remember in Colossians the power of the resurrection of the Christian life where he says “if you be risen with Christ,” and the Greek means “and you are,” there’s spiritual union with the resurrected Christ which we have to treat differently than we are here, but the point it is would be a totally meaningless sentence if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead. So it’s an incentive, a powerful objective stable incentive to Christian living.
The second thing, on page 117, is something pointed out a while back, many years ago now, by a guy that revolutionized Christian counseling. Back in the 60s there was a lot of nonsense going around in evangelical Christianity in this area of counseling. What had happened was that people would go to college and they’d study psychology, they’d get their degree, they were Christians. Then they go out, Bible here, psychology books here, now we’re going to get Christian counseling. The problem is the two books weren’t coming together very well. So you had Christians who were genuine Christians but using the system of the world.
And Jay Adams became as controversial in counseling as Morris and Whitcomb became controversial in geology and earth science, because what Jay Adams did is he wrote a book that was the bombshell of the time, called Competent to Counsel and his argument was that any Christian that knows the Bible is competent to counsel, you don’t need a degree, a certification to do it. Well you can imagine how this went over, like a lead balloon. But his whole point was what’s the New Testament but counseling? Aren’t the epistles of the New Testament counseling churches, which are not buildings, they’re people, and they’re counseling them on how to live life. What area of life is not covered in the epistles of the New Testament, that’s what Adams said. Well then why aren’t we listening to them then?
In the middle of that, one of the things that Jay Adams did was bring in the resurrection, and the quote on page 117 is how he did it. I thought this was just an interesting insight into using the image of the resurrection, that drawing that I showed earlier, it’s in the notes, where you start off, you go down, then the resurrection takes you above where you started. Adams took that to be a microcosm of how God works, it’s almost like it’s a cycle, and you can see this in the Christian life. If you diagram Christian growth and it’s like a growth curve, something like this, let’s imagine we can take a microscope and enlarge this graph so we actually see it. What Adams was pointing out to us, if you could enlarge that you’d see a series like this, that first we get into a problem, we may stumble and fall, not carry the ball very well, we go along, then all of a sudden the Lord shows us how to cope with it, and we make a big improvement; now we’re up here, there’s been some advance. Then we rock along and then boom, we go down again, but every time we recover from those things we recover to a higher point than we did before when we were entering them, the trial. So that’s what he’s saying here.
“The counselee”—the person receiving the counseling—“must be given a vision of overcoming evil with good, of turning tragedy into triumph. He must see that it is God’s purpose to use crosses to lead to resurrections. When sin abounds—and we must be entirely realistic about the abounding nature of sin—nevertheless, the counselor must point out, grace even more abounds. There is a solution to every problem! But that is not all. It is a solution that is designed to lead one beyond the place where he was before the problem emerged. Though man was created lower than the angels, and by sin descended into a still lower position, Christ’s redemption did not merely put man back again into his original condition; He has raised him far above the angels …. Job learned it at length: ‘the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,’ we read (Job 42:12). Joseph experienced it, and Jesus accomplished it!”
I think that’s a neat observation and just an encouragement when the going gets rough and it just seems we’re down in the trial it’s nice to know that when you come out of the trial you’re more advanced than when you went into the trial, even though you may be hurting, you may have scars, you may be damaged, but from God’s point of view you’ve been raised. I think that’s an encouragement, and it’d be good to reflect on how the Lord has worked in your life in the past, see if you can watch that pattern and see if you don’t think that works out. I’ve looked at my past and I can see how it works out. Just see that pattern, and then be encouraged. That seems to be the way the Lord works. He works this way in the universe; this is how He works on a large scale, and He seems to work like that on a small scale.
The third application I think we’ve already mentioned; that is the one about evangelism in Acts 17, another example of the application of the resurrection; at the point of the gospel, how did the apostles connect the gospel to the resurrection? Verse 30, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance,” that is when God did not promulgate the gospel, the times of ignorance doesn’t mean… here’s some things it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that men didn’t know God existed. Why? Because of Romans 1, all men know the truth, so it can’t mean they were totally ignorant of God. What “the times of ignorance” means is that men were left with just the Noahic Bible that they had pretty well crushed out of existence, distorted and perverted, so the amount of revelation available was pretty minimal. The Jews were not commissioned to go out and preach the gospel to every creature, that’s Israel. The church has a new commission. So looking at history before the church and the great commission, it says, this is “the times of ignorance.
He says, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent.” That’s the mandate, that’s the gospel mandate and that’s the one that is what I’ve heard unbelievers say that they’re upset with; the thing about Christianity is… they use the term cultural imperialism. I heard an unbeliever say, “You Christians, you follow a policy of cultural imperialism.” I thought about that, and I said you know that’s right, that’s good; he’s not ignorant, he saw a truth to the gospel. We are cultural imperialists in the sense that we have an order here that says the gospel is true outside of Judaism, it’s true outside of Israel, it’s true all over, on every continent to all men, everywhere. By the way, this shows you that “men,” the masculine “men” is being used for both male and female, because it’s obviously not depriving women of the gospel. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent.”
What is the basis of this cultural imperialism? The basis is verse 31, because all nations and all men everywhere are going to be faced with the resurrection, that’s why. Everyone is going to be judged by “a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” So the third application to the resurrection is to the gospel, and the gospel is preparing people for that time, that fork in the road, when good will be separated from evil. And it’s not just going to happen to Jews, and it’s not just going to happen to a few Gentiles who read their New Testament. That’s going to happen to every person, everywhere, that speaks every language, and walks around in every kind of physiological body that we term different races. Everybody!
So the resurrection sort of levels people and at the same time, in verses 30-31, it gives an envelope of time, it promotes an urgency in the sense that this moment is coming. We don’t know when this moment is going to happen, but it’s a coming moment and we don’t have an infinity of time before that cut-off point. It’s coming, the clock is ticking. Every day that goes by is one day closer to that event of the resurrection and the judgment. So that’s the application of the gospel to evangelism. Then I read last time that neat quote by C. S. Lewis. No one but Lewis could have that literary finesse to describe people as potential gods and goddesses; it’s a remarkable literary picture of it.
Finally we come to the fourth one, the fourth application of the resurrection, and this has to do, oddly enough, with education and I mean it in a big sense, not just taking a course, I mean education in the sense of our lives, what we learn. It’s here where we have to part company very seriously and very basically with the world. You talk to the average person involved in the educational bureaucracy of the government and their purpose of including courses in a curriculum, they have to decide on curriculum, you could teach anything from A to Z and you can’t, you only have so many hours, you get rid of the snow days and then you have holidays, so the teachers only have so many days a year where they can teach. Somebody’s got to decide the priority of the curriculum. And that’s a perennial fight because the priorities that you use to select the curriculum themselves, those priorities come out of a worldview. And usually the worldview is that education seeks truth. Sometimes, and more and more, it’s no longer truth but it seeks…
[blank spot]… but the idea, there’s always the political correctness, social comfort, truth, whatever that means, or something. That’s the goal of education. It’s something that’s out there that doesn’t mention God in any way. He’s not permitted, He’s been excised from this definition. That’s why on the internet one of the things that’s been passed around, you’ve probably seen it, that e-mail, when they paraphrase a person coming to God and asking Him where He was at Columbine, why are You allowing this violence in the schools, and God’s response is I thought you wanted Me to leave the schools. I thought that was very clever, you didn’t want Me around so what are you fussing about, you got what you asked for.
The proper goal of such activity is not seeking truth; the final thing is appreciation of God’s character. You know, that’s not just a pious slogan. Think about that. I don’t know whether this is true of you, but I’ll bet you at least half the people in this room have had this experience. When you became a Christian and you started getting into the Word of God, and your eyes were opened to the wonders of what God can do in history and is doing in history, did that change your attitude about learning more about history or not? Does that make you interested in reading? You bet. Did you get that because somebody banged you over the head and said you’ve got to study this to pass a test?
That’s not the motive. That experience of having your eyes and your heart opened and all of a sudden these subjects become interesting because it’s my Father’s world, what is He doing there? What did He do over there? I wonder how that fits in with His plan. That’s the motivation for learning and when you’ve got that you don’t have to worry about whether the person is in the classroom, out of the classroom, whether they have a big library, whether they have a little library, you’ve put a tiger in their tank because the call of the image of God is to have fellowship with my Father. And I want to know Him, and I want to know Him better, and it’s not just a religious knowing, it’s a knowing in every area the neat things that happen.
It’s interesting, one of my sons is in medical school and before he went to medical school he had this wonderful professor at college that got him interested in what’s going on down inside DNA, the structure and biochemistry; fascinating. I remember him coming home, all the structure and saying wow, look at this, how did God do that, isn’t this amazing. So there’s a wonder and a worship. You can study the most deep intellectual subject going and worship God with all our heart because all you’re doing is you’re scratching the surface of what He’s done, and that is an act of profound appreciation for God. That’s the whole thing that’s missing here. You wouldn’t have to worry about motivation to learn if it was put into those terms. And if a person isn’t interested in learning about God, you can’t make them learn anything. There’s no such thing, until a person gets straight with the Lord, any inclination to learn something is usually to make more money, to do something else, this or that, it’s some short term goal, and you can’t interest them.
So it boils down to, is the person, is the child, or is the adult, is he sincerely interested in knowing the God of the Scriptures? That applies to algebra, it applies to calculus, it applies to physics, it applies to chemistry, geology, psychology, the arts, music, whatever it is, because who was there first. Take music, who were the people that developed music first? The angels, they sang at creation. What key did they sing in? Did you ever think about that? Did they use eighth notes, sixteenth notes, was there a forte, what is it that they used?
Art—ever seen in the deep waters of the ocean, in the clear areas like Okinawa or down in the Caribbean, you see these fish, with all these colors. Nobody’s going to even see the colors, they’re all down there, nobody sees down there unless you take special equipment to go down there and look at them. Why are they all pretty colors down there? Because God enjoyed making pretty fish, that’s all. He has a sense of art; so there’s the art in God. You get into the structure of math and you say holy mackerel, how come this all works out so neatly. Why are these ratios always the same? Why is p “p”? And why is it always p? Why do they say the same? How does He do that? Why is it that we have the power to think about imaginary numbers that don’t exist in the real world but yet we need them to solve equations with, but they don’t exist. How come they can’t exist but we need them to make our equations work? I don’t know; they just do that. So that shows you He’s got structures beyond the structures that we can even dream about.
Proverbs 1:7 is to me the focal point of education. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And it doesn’t mean fear in a run-away sense; it means respect, “The respect for the Lord, that’s the beginning of wisdom.” If you’ve got that, you get the wisdom; if you don’t have that you won’t get the wisdom. Folly begins with no fear of the Lord. So is a person’s relationship with God important to education? You’d better believe it is. Without the relationship there’s no motive to learn. That’s the point of the fourth thing about education.
I want to conclude this section by taking you back to the Westminster catechism on page 119, one of the most famous portions of that doctrinal creed. We don’t agree with everything in the Westminster Confession of Faith, but we have to agree that it was one of the most carefully structured and researched theological statements the church has done. It was done in 1648, and with all due respect to whoever it was on ABC news or NBC when Princess Diana had her funeral at Westminster Abbey, with all the cortège and the British with their neat red bearskin guards in the parade as only the English can do it, into this great Cathedral of Westminster, and the anchor man says this is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened at Westminster Abbey. Are you kidding? The greatest thing that ever happened at Westminster Abbey was this, in 1648 when this creed was formed. That’s the greatest thing that ever happened there.
What was the question? Look at the question. “What is the chief and highest end of man?” By the way, notice how they learned. You can argue with the teaching methodology, but I’ll tell you what, these people learned their theology, and they learned it with a question and answer catechism, question and answer. It’s not necessarily bad. We kind of pooh-pooh that kind of learning today, but it forced people to think. They could memorize it rote and just spit it back and it didn’t mean anything. That’s correct, that can happen. But it wasn’t intended to be that. It was intended to show that the Word of God answers deep questions. It was intended to help people formulate questions. So the question is, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” That’s just not an abstraction, you can put your own name, replace m-a-n with your name, and read it that way if it seems to abstract to you.
“What is the chief and highest end of me?” Put it that way. “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and to fully enjoy Him forever.” Just remember that last one, “fully enjoy Him forever.” God is enjoyable, and in a profound way, like C. S. Lewis said, a joy that is far more powerful than anything this world can have. “To enjoy Him forever,” and this, by the way, is the theology that is identified with Puritanism. What’s the average thing you get in school about the Puritans? They walked around somber. But that’s a caricature of the Puritan; the Puritan was out to enjoy God forever, and they had hymns, they enjoyed each other, the problem is the joy that we’re talking about here is a joy that’s God-centered. And it’s the unbelief and its hatred because the carnal mind is enmity with God, it can’t be subject to God, well it’s going to flee this. It’s like Adam and Eve back in the garden, I’m going to hide in the bushes because God’s walking here. Well anybody who’s a representative of God, like the Puritans who were enjoying Him forever, walks by we’re going to hide in the bushes, these people are bad people, we keep them out of here.
So that’s the end of our section, we’re going to close for the season here. We’ll have some Q&A for a few minutes, but that’s it, we’ll see you in the Fall when we get into the ascension of Christ.
Question asked, something about the passage in Matthew when Jesus died on the cross and many were raised, can you explain that, was that like Lazarus’ resurrection, where they continued to live and had to die again …: Clough replies: I hate to disappoint you but because I haven’t studied that text carefully, it was years and years ago and the impression I got was that it was a genuine resurrection, for the reason that it’s created a lot of questions in history, where do these people fit in. It seemed to be almost like there some sort of an authentication maneuver by God, but I am not 100% sure of myself when I call it resurrection. Obviously they came out of the graves, but whether they were resuscitated or resurrected, I wouldn’t be prepared tonight to say right now. But the impression I got at the time as I recall was that most people have studied that believe it to be a genuine resurrection, and then they don’t know what to do with it. It’s like what happens, and we’re not told, it’s just reported that it happened.
Question asked, something about Adam and Eve’s body: Clough replies: It’s hard to say because we don’t have evidence in the text except that we deduce from the fact that we are now cursed to die, that there were tremendous biophysical things that happen to our bodies so that our present bodies probably are remarkably different from Adam and Eve, not that they were bigger or they looked, so to speak, different, but physiologically our bodies are dying and we’re all under a death sentence; there’s deterioration biochemically that they never experienced, so what they looked like we don’t know. There are extra-biblical traditions; in the Jewish tradition that they were clothed with light, just like angels, and that when the curse happened, they sinned, their lights went out and that’s how they knew that they were naked, that they didn’t have a sense of nakedness before. But again that’s extra-biblical traditions; it’s not in the text so we don’t know what the story was.
Their bodies were mortal in the sense that they could die; they were not like the resurrection, but their bodies apparently would live forever as long as they took care of it, didn’t have an accident, fall out of a tree or something. Obviously they could be injured, we would think, but their body was intended, apparently, to be a vehicle of life so that they would have opportunities to trust the Lord and obey Him, and experience God on this planet. We just have to say it was a body sufficient to live for however long God wanted it to live, to pass the trials, whatever trials there were that were ordained for them to have. But other than that the Scriptures do not tell us a thing about it, other than we make these deductions, we say the DNA of all of us is obviously connected biochemically to their DNA. And what’s most intriguing about Adam and Eve’s body is that Adam and Eve are one creation. That it’s not a case where you had masculine genes and feminine genes, and these two then merged in their child. But unlike any other couple in history, they were the same body, they were split apart of the original creation.
And the way Eve was constructed is fascinating in the Scripture because the Hebrew text gives you this picture that Adam was made, it’s a picture of creation and making and formulating out of dirt and dust, and then those verbs aren’t used when it comes to Eve. When woman is made it’s the word benah, I think is the Hebrew verb there, and it’s used for to build a building. And we always used to kid each other in Hebrew class when we were learning that you’d say this woman is well-built. You could say that right from the text of Genesis, because God built her, and it’s a very distinct difference between how man was made and the woman was built, and she was derived from Him. So that way in which Adam and Eve were created we now know to have theological significance, because that’s Christ and the church. And that’s a warning why we read the text of the Scriptures. You’ve got to be very careful to take it literally, because the commentators for years of the allegorical school treated Genesis 2 like it was just a story, you know, just kind of a picture story for ignorant naïve rural people or something, that’s how God created, that was a nice little story but that really didn’t happen that way. Yes, it really did happen that way, and that narrative text makes it absolutely impossible to accommodate Genesis to evolution. Because no matter what you do, you can’t fit Genesis 2 into any schema of evolution; it won’t fit. The only way you can make it fit is to allegorize it. So it becomes just a little story that doesn’t have any historical significance.
There’s a lot in that text. That Genesis 1 and 2 is the most amazing section of Scripture I think because there’s so much in there written so simply and so brief, and yet my goodness, we’re talking about the speed of light, the formation of the universe, planets, stars, the relation of man to the environment and this strange thing that all animals were created in pairs and man wasn’t. Male and female He made the animals, male and female He did this, male and female He did this, and then man He just made him, oh, and then afterwards He split them. So the first creation of man was basically the two sexes were combined. Weird, you wonder what does that look like, but it was, because the Scripture says it was, until they were differentiated, all in the same day of course, because Genesis 2, remember, we harmonized it with Genesis 1.
But to get back to the body, we have nothing beyond the text. It’s one of those neat questions, it stimulates your imaginations and we try in our minds eye to visualize, artists have tried and tried to reproduce what Adam and Eve looked like, and as I said, and I forgot to do it again tonight, I forgot to bring the picture of this lady that was morphed from all the races. If you look at her it’s just intriguing because you just do a double take, because you kind of look at her and there’s part of her that’s very familiar, and then there’s the other part that in her face it’s just different, you don’t know what it is, and it’s a computerized version of what happens if you pack all the races of back together again in the package from which they came. That’s always intrigued me to see that.
Question asked: Clough replies: Was that a happy thing for Lazarus? The issue was that if Lazarus died and was 3 or 4 days in Abraham’s Bosom, then didn’t he feel like it was bad news to get pulled from Paradise back into life. That’s really an intriguing thought. I’ll have to ask him someday, Hey Lazarus, what was that like.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question is the status of people after they die, both in the Old Testament and New Testament tends to be obscure, more in the Old Testament. We were told about Abraham’s Bosom, we’re told about Sheol and the compartments and stuff. Evidently from Jesus’ parables after death in the Old Testament period there were two distinct places that the dead went to, because you have that in the parable, so that’s clear from the text. What’s not clear from the text is what they are doing, what’s going on; that’s left in the shadows. In the New Testament there’s enough evidence in the text to say that whatever the status was of Abraham’s Bosom, that has been transformed so that now they’re not just with Abraham but Abraham and the occupants of Old Testament Sheol and the people that have died in the New Testament era are with Christ. That’s changed. What that means, other than what Paul says, “to be absent from the body is to be face to face with the Lord,” and he doesn’t talk about anything more. Then the saints will come back, by the way, that’s at the resurrection, and he’s talking in their incorporeal spirit-souls coming back and being rejoined at the resurrection. So they exist in a body-less, without the resurrection body, put it that way.
And yet this existence after death has some corporeal qualities to it because Samuel shows up. And the interesting thing, talk about art and imagination, think about Samuel appearing from the dead, he had clothes on. What kind of clothes do the dead wear? And the clothes that he wore, by the way, was a prophet’s mantle, because when the witch of Endor brought him up, she freaked out because she wasn’t used to bringing the real thing, she was used to this little demonic stuff that she used to play with, and all of a sudden the real guy shows up and she knows who he is because he’s got the prophetic mantle on, which they must have recognized. So there he’s wearing some garment that shows who he was, identifies himself. We’re not told that, the only guess that we have why we’re not told more about it is because God wants us to focus on this life here. And He really doesn’t tell us all that our imaginations would want to know about that.
The Book of Revelation gives you some insights; you have pictures in Revelation where believers are gathered around the throne and praying for vengeance on the earth. That’s an interesting one. And they’re not praying out of personal vengeance, they are like the imprecatory Psalms of the Old Testament that are being prayed in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation, and the nature of the imprecatory prayer, that’s those damn you prayers, isn’t damn you because I hate you as much as it’s God when are you ever going to bring this good/evil thing to a conclusion. It’s a cry for resolution of the good and evil, and the people who are crying out are the people who are the victims of it, particularly in the book of Revelation, the martyrs. So there’s prayer, there’s conversation, there’s some sort of clothing, and beyond that we have no earthly idea.
What you have to be careful of is in the last 20 years there’s been these books, people have partially died, then come back, and we can’t tell necessarily whether some of that is just demonic deception, because some of it they say oh, there’s this wonderful light that’s just warmth, and the people that are talking about it are unbelievers. You just say wait a minute, I think I prefer the text of the gospels to this. But on the other hand, there’s enough evidence from those incidents where people do appear to have an existence outside their body and can turn around and look at their body. Someone was talking about talking to the Russian Christians who had talked to a Russian pastor who was being tortured back in Soviet times, they were breaking his knuckles and doing all kinds of things to get him to deny his faith, and they said how do you endure that, I mean, the pain, the awful excruciating pain, what happens, I mean what did God do to help you get through that. And the pastor told them, he said well you know, it’s strange because I had prayed, I knew they were going to torture me so I prayed that I wouldn’t deny my Lord and that He would give me the strength, and He said when it started happening it was like the Lord took me out of my body, and he says I had the impression that I was looking at them torturing me, but I didn’t feel it.
So those are the kind of things that have happened, so there’s some strange thing that goes on about this thing called the soul, that our senses leave us when we know that here’s our optical nerve, all the other nerves of our touching, this is our sight, this is our thinking, and yet on the other hand this faculty seems to be able to leave the body. How does that happen? It’s just like all these questions, you just sit here and say gee, I don’t know. We’ve got a lot to learn. Maybe lesson 85 in eternity future or something. But you’re right, the Bible keeps the after death experience, almost deliberately, obscure, and focuses on the resurrection, and even the resurrection isn’t given a great deal of emphasis in the sense that it’s used as a motive for us, but explaining the fine details, like does food taste the same in the resurrection body and those kind of things? No, it doesn’t tell us at all. The Bible raises more questions than it answers but they are good questions.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question was just raised, on the Mount of Transfiguration, Elijah and Moses appear, and the apostles appear to recognize who they are. Now it’s always intriguing about that, they didn’t have any photographs, how did they know what Elijah and Moses looked like, unless they inferred it from the conversation. They heard the Lord talking to Elijah and talking to Moses and said oh, okay. It must have been that, because I can’t believe that they had a photo album. But that was a strange experience, talk about after death experience, what’s this business of Moses and Elijah showing up, in clothing, sitting there talking to the Lord? How did that happen? Beats me.
Question asked: Clough replies: Something happened. Yes, on the Mount of Transfiguration Christ instantly changed, within seconds this happened, this transform and it happened in front of their faces, so what you come away with …, I think in conclusion what we come away with is what C. S. Lewis keeps telling about, this world in which we live is a shadow land and that when we see the other side we’ll realize, you know this is a pretty dull mundane and very blind existence that we live in. And there’s lots of exciting stuff that goes on, maybe right around us that we don’t know. We’ve heard time and time again about the presence of angels. Christians down through the ages have given wonderful testimony to the fact that at times, these angels appear.
I’m recalling one in which the Montagnards, who were a darker race in Vietnam, missionaries had gone into the Montagnards in the highways of Vietnam and the war came, and of course the communists came right down that thing and they were attacking the Montagnards, because the Montagnards were not loyal Vietnamese. They’re a different race, totally different subgroup, but they had been heavily evangelized and there were a lot of Montagnards believers. And the one incident I remember being told by one of the military guys was that some special forces teams had gone into that area and they were talking to the Montagnards because they had earlier detected Vietnamese activity there, and they noticed that the Viet Cong had come up, looking like they were going to attacked this village and then backed off and left it. So they were talking to the Montagnards about it, the Montagnards said we don’t know what happened, we knew that the Viet Cong were out there so we had a prayer meeting here in town, and we all got in this building, this thing with a straw thing over it and we started praying that God would help us and deliver us, and then we don’t know because a couple rounds came in and that was it.
Later that same team captured one of the Viet Cong guys, and intel was going down through the check list of this and that, and where you last week, what unit you’re in, and by the way, what was the deal with your group and the Montagnards. And this guy said that was the strangest thing in my life, we had that place surrounded, we were going to put mortar rounds in there and then come in and just gun them down, and he said we got everything set up, everything was ready to go, and all of a sudden we saw people, shining white figures sitting on the roofs of that place. It turned out that place is the place where they were having the prayer meeting. And it just spooked them. I mean, these guys are kind of half-communist half-Catholics, and so when they saw that they just got spooked and took off. They said, “This is weird, we’re not going to mess with those guys.” Who were these guys that were standing up there? They were not visible to the Montagnards that were in the village, they were only visible to the adversaries. So how did that happen? We don’t know. So, there are all these little tricks that God has built into the system.