When the Sadducees desired to embarrass our Lord in regard to the doctrine of the resurrection, and to make that doctrine appear improbable and absurd, they exposed their own ignorance of the Scriptures and of the power of God by stating what they regarded as an insuperable difficulty of one woman who, according to the provisions of the law, had had seven husbands, and demanded, "Whose wife of them shall she be in the resurrection, for seven had her to wife?" If they had known the Scriptures, they would have understood that all fleshly relations are dissolved in death, and if they had known the power of God, as displayed in the power of the resurrection of Christ, and of his people, they would have known that Christ was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. That such a change was effected by his death and resurrection as to forbid the thought that he shall henceforth be known any more after the flesh. His risen body is spiritual and immortal, and in the resurrection of his people they also shall be raised up, spiritual, incorruptible and immortal. Their bodies shall be changed from corruptible to incorruptible, from terrestrial to celestial, from dishonor to glory, from weakness to power, from a natural body to a spiritual body (I Corinthians 15:42,44); changed and fashioned like the glorious body of him who has risen indeed, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
In his reply to the caviling of the Sadducees, our Lord, after declaring their ignorance of the Scriptures and of the power of God, and their consequent error, speaks of the children of this world in distinction from the children of the resurrection. Now that we who contemplate this sublime and glorious subject may escape the ignorance and error of the Sadducees, we propose to notice the classification of the two kinds of children - the children of this world and the children of the resurrection. These are distinct relations, and so distinct that only some of those who sustain the first shall be counted worthy of the other. The children of this world marry and are given in marriage; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage. From these words of our Lord it is clearly inferred that some, but not all, who sustain the relation of children of this world will not obtain that world of which he is speaking, nor that resurrection which is therewith connected. That there will be a resurrection of both the just and of the unjust, and that the hour shall come when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth, some to a resurrection of life, and others to a resurrection of damnation, is fully declared in the Scriptures. But the resurrection which is connected with that world where the children of the resurrection are the children of God, and equal unto the angels, is a resurrection to life and immortality. We do not know that those who shall rise to damnation will be any less children of this world in their resurrection than before it, or to what extent any relation they sustain now will be changed. But we wish to treat specially on the resurrection of which our Lord was speaking in our text.
Whatever may be the doom or destiny of the ungodly, we know there will be in their resurrection a very great change with the children of God. And although "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him (I John 3:2)." "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:4)." "They will behold his face in righteousness, and be satisfied when they awake with his likeness (Psalm 17:15)."
To know the Scriptures and the power of God on this subject so as to escape the error of the Sadducees, let us carefully examine what the Scriptures teach in regard to it. And
First. What is implied in the relationship wherein we are known as children of this world? The relation of children always implies parentage, generation, birth and development; and all children must necessarily partake of the nature, and be composed of the elements of their parents. In all these respects, all the family of Adam are in their relation to him the children of this world. Adam was made of the dust of the ground, and God said to him, and to us as we were all in him at that time, "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." The dust is a part of the world. Jesus said to his Father, "I have manifested thy name unto them which thou gavest me out of the world." "I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine (John 17:6,9)." They are redeemed from the world, but the apostle declares that they were by nature children of wrath, even as others. "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind (Ephesians 2:2,3)." As children of this world, our nature was, and is, adapted to the elements of the world, and like all the other children of the same family, we marry and are given in marriage; the natural relationship of parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, males and females, masters and servants, rulers and ruled, these all belong alike to the race of mankind as children of this world. We were created with the creation of the world, and in the travail and developments of the world we were brought forth in the order of nature. We breathe the air of the world, our food and sustenance is all of this world. But this world is destined to pass away, and our relation to it shall be dissolved, and the places which know us shall know us no more. Like a vesture, all these elements shall soon be folded and laid aside.
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, shall differ very essentially from what they are or were in this world, in all these respects:
1. Their relationship to this world shall cease, and the new relationship of children of the resurrection shall be developed.
2. All the social relations peculiar to the families and kindreds of this world shall be discontinued, so we shall no more marry or be given in marriage. And in that world we shall know no man after the flesh; and although Christ was, in the days of his incarnation, known after the flesh, yet henceforth shall he be known no more after the flesh, or as a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.
3. "Neither can they die any more." Mortality shall be swallowed up of life. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:53-57)."
4. The children of the resurrection shall be equal to the angels. Not only as pure, holy, incorruptible and immortal, but equally as ethereal, celestial and spiritual'equally far removed from earth and earthly propensities, worldly pollutions, and sensual proclivities. But more especially in the immediate sense of our subject, equal unto the angels in regard to such changes as are common to the children of this world, by marriages, births, deaths, or distinctions of sex, classes, conditions, etc. All alike, and always alike. No more sorrowing, sighing or grieving. No more doubts, fears, trials or temptations. No more likeness to the earthly, or unlikeness to the heavenly. As they have borne the image of the earthly, so shall they bear the image of the heavenly.
5. The saints in their immortal state shall all of them be perfectly like their Savior, and consequently like each other. What a wonderful change! Well may the apostle say, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." How much we mourn and lament our present unlikeness to him; but then every child of the resurrection shall shine in the perfect image of him who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.
But thus far we have dwelt comparatively only on the outside of our subject. Oh, that we were able to plunge into its marrow and fatness, sound its depth, rise to its summit, and speak of the infinity of its breadth and length.
They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world are the children of the resurrection. Generation is indispensable to the development of children in nature; all the children of this world, as such, were created in one progenitive head; that head was not generated, but created with all his posterity in him; all that posterity obtained their development and position as children of this world by natural generation.
All who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection of the dead, are children of God, being the children of the resurrection. As the relation of children can only be manifested by generation, in Genesis 5:1,2, we have the book of the generations of Adam; and in Matthew 1:1, the book of the generation of Jesus Christ. The first is an earthly generation, the other is a spiritual and chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people.
Adam's posterity are called generations, in the plural number; for in their development a long succession of generations was required. Adam begat Seth, and Seth begat Enos, and so many generations were required. Of Christ it is written, "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation (Psalm 22:30)." Christ is the Everlasting Father, or immediate progenitor of all his seed, there being no grandchildren or intermediate parentage between him and them. They are all born of God. In their redemption from the world, the law, from sin, death and hell, this chosen generation, royal priesthood, and holy nation, was born in a day. That is, as we understand, that when Christ was made flesh, he was identified as the flesh of Abraham, which he took on him; when he was delivered up for our offenses, it was for the offenses of all his generation, and when he had put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself, and arose for our justification, his people as a church, a generation or nation, were redeemed from the former relations to the law, for they became dead to the law by his body, redeemed from the world, being no more of the world, as he is not of the world, redeemed from the flesh, being no more their own, but bought with a price. The body of the sins of the flesh being put away by the circumcision of Christ, all their relations being changed, they were, as his body (not in their individual personal experience), buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, we also should walk in newness of life.
Will any intelligent child of God dispute that when Christ suffered on the cross his body embodied all his people, whose sins were laid on him, and that he was so recognized by the divine law and justice of God? When that body, which embraced legally all his members, died, did not the law and justice of God regard the sentence of the law as being fully executed on the whole church, or body of Christ? Then was not that body dead? When Resurrection life came down from heaven, and Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, was not that resurrection life given to the church which he embodied? Was not the prophecy fulfilled, "My dead body shall they arise?" Was not the temple of his body raised up in three days? Was not the gracious promise verified, "After two days will he revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight?" We do not ask our readers to say that this was the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, unless they can see it to be so. But if we were not washed then, the grand object of the sacrifice failed; for "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (Ephesians 5:26)." And if the church was not quickened, revived and raised up from under the wrath and dominion of the law when Christ arose for our justification, in what sense did he by that one offering forever perfect them that are sanctified? What does the apostle mean when he says that God hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus?
We desire not to be wise above what is written, nor to insist on any point of doctrine that is not clearly demonstrated by the Scriptures of truth; but it really appears to us that when, as our Mediatorial Head, Christ was made flesh - made of a woman, he was made under a law which held dominion over his people, or members which were under the law, that his flesh which he took on him, and in which he suffered and died was the seed of Abraham, and embraced all of the family of mankind who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world of glory to which his resurrection opens the way, and in that flesh in which they were under the law, with all the infirmities, iniquities, sins and penalties; that when he died on the cross, he so died for us, that legally we were dead, the wrath of the law was executed in our flesh as it mantled and made incarnate our Mediatorial Head. In our flesh he died, our flesh was dead. Our relation was to an earthly Adam, to Moses, to the law of sin and death, to guilt and condemnation. Dead to the law by his body in which he suffered; the body of the sins of our flesh cut off forever by the circumcision of Christ, so that in him we are no more known in our fleshly relations, marrying or being given in marriage. No more fleshly distinctions of sex, classes or conditions, for we are all one in him. "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Now if Christ died our death under the law which we had transgressed, and we with him are baptized into his death, has he risen from that death and left his members behind? Or did he not rather in his resurrection destroy death, and him that had the power of death; did he not completely abolish death, and bring life and immortality to light when he arose?
We have seen the people of God, in their legal relations, convicted of guilt, condemned and executed in their legal representative. But God has said, These, his dead men, shall live, together, with his dead body they shall arise. Christ, their second Adam, is made a quickening spirit (I Corinthians 15:45). He was made flesh, and in that flesh he was made a little lower than the angels, for the sufferings of death, that he by the grace of God might taste death for every man, by him represented as Captain of their salvation. And he was made perfect through suffering, and has forever perfected them that are sanctified (Hebrews 2:9; 10:14). And now, in his resurrection and exaltation, is he "of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30)." "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time."
The children of the resurrection then are begotten children, and therefore the relationship is vital. Children may be recognized in a family by adoption, but adoption simply imparts none of the life of the foster parent to the adopted child. But the children of the resurrection are partakers of resurrection life and immortality. These children of the resurrection, being begotten by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, could not fail to be brought forth, quickened and animated by the power of the resurrection, by which they are begotten of God. Begotten of God, they are the children of God, and by him begotten by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, makes them the children of the resurrection. So then they are children of God, being the children of the resurrection, just as our Savior said to the Sadducees. And as the children of God, and of the resurrection, they cannot fail to be accounted worthy of that world where all fleshly distinctions and earthly influences will be unknown, and where there will be no marrying or giving in marriage.
This text in Peter has a much deeper signification than some commentators have given it. We cannot believe, as some have said, that such language was used by the Holy Ghost merely to express the relief experienced by the desponding disciples, when they became convinced that their Lord has risen from the dead. Neither their despondency or their assurance could change the facts. Whether they were aware of it or not, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ had by his resurrection begotten them, not only to a lively or vital hope, but to an immortal inheritance that can neither be corrupted nor fade away.
Resurrection life from the God and Father of our Mediatorial Head was implanted, conveyed beyond the possibility of failure, made certain to all the members of Christ by his resurrection from the dead. This communication of the life and immortality of God the Father, in quickening and raising him from the dead, is called a begetting him and them from the dead, in their own order: Christ the first fruits, and afterwards them that are Christ's at his coming. Paul, in presenting this subject to the saints, says, "Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you that feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent," etc. He then speaks of his being put to death, and taken down from the tree, and laid in a sepulchre, and then adds, " But God raised him from the dead," in fulfillment of what was written in the second Psalm. "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us, their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee (Acts 13:32-33)." This promise was made, not to Christ in distinction from his members, but to those children of the fathers who were included in the promise; and the resurrection of the crucified body of Christ was in fulfillment of it to these children. The same resurrection life and immortality which quickened his body, destroyed death, abolished death, and swallowed up death in victory, for all his members. Christ existed as the Son, or Word of God, before he was made flesh, or took on him the seed of Abraham, by being made of a woman, and under the law.
But the words, begotten, born, etc., in these Scriptures are expressly used in reference to his resurrection from the dead. As also, "first begotten (Hebrews 1:6);" "first begotten of the dead (Revelations 1:5);" "first born among many brethren (Romans 8:29);" "first born of every creature (Colossians 1:15)." All these words are applied to the resurrection of Christ, by the power, glory and immutability of the Father. Christ as the first begotten from the dead, the first fruits of them that slept, was raised up by the glory of the Father, as the perfect embodiment of the resurrection life and immortality of all his members. And so perfectly is that resurrection life embodied in him that the apostle declares that "He only hath immortality, dwelling in the light (I Timothy 6:16)." And he himself declares, "I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)." This resurrection life, begotten of the Eternal Father, brings immortality to all his church, and when this life from the Father brought him up from the dead, from under the law, and in the newness and immortality of an endless life, in that resurrection all the election of grace are and were begotten, and their eternal inheritance is and was secured to them, and they are kept by the power of God for it. Begotten of God and born of the resurrection, they are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Lengthy as we have made this article, we have not expressed all we desire to say, and we propose to resume the subject soon, and show from the Scriptures that in our spiritual birth we are made partakers of the resurrection life which was begotten by his resurrection, and by the indwelling of this resurrection life, as the first fruits of the Spirit, we are sealed unto the day of redemption of our bodies, which by the power of this endless life shall, at the coming of our Lord, be changed and fashioned like his glorious body. "But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his spirit which dwelleth in you (Romans 8:11)."
May 1, 1868.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 182 – 190