“But if the Spirit of Him that 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 that dwelleth in you.” – Romans 8:11.
This passage of the inspired Word declares that if the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead dwells in us who believe, that this same Spirit shall raise our mortal bodies in the future resurrection to take place when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, as is promised in the first epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter four, verses 16 and 17. According to our Lord’s words in John 5:29, there will be two resurrections. The one unto the resurrection of life, the other unto the resurrection of damnation. The first of these shall be that of the redeemed unto glory, the second shall be that of the finally impenitent reprobate wicked, unto eternal punishment. Paul, by inspiration, in Romans 8:11, announces to the Lord’s people that the assurance that they are to be raised in the first resurrection which shall be unto life and immortality, is that the Spirit which raised up Christ from the dead already dwells in the elect here in this present life which we now live in this present evil world. This indwelling Spirit is proof, or pledge, that the mortal bodies of the saints shall in due time be quickened and changed into conformity with the glorious body of Christ which He Himself now wears in Heaven. Our body is now mortal, but then it shall be immortal; now it is corruptible, then it shall be incorruptible. This word “mortal” means being in subjection to death; not simply being liable to die, but definitely subject to death; and when dead, being in subjection to death. Unless we who are now living on the earth are among those to be alive and remaining on the earth when our Lord comes, death shall one day take these bodies or ours. However, if the Lord is to come during our lifetime, we shall not die, but shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump. Should our Lord tarry, then we shall die as have the past generations of all who have truly believed in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. Yet death shall not be able to forever in-chain in the grave these bodies of ours. They are a part of the purchased possession whose redemption is promised in Ephesians 1:4. It is for this adoption, which is the redemption or resurrection of the body, that we wait and hope. These bodies now mortal, shall be quickened. The Holy Spirit in the Word tells us by what means it is to be accomplished. The “same Spirit” which raised up Christ from the dead when He arose, is the same Spirit by which the children of God are brought to believe savingly in Christ, Ephesians 1:19-20 so declare. And this same Spirit which in-dwells the believing child of God is the abiding earnest, or pledge, that our mortal bodies shall also be quickened by means of this very Spirit, when the time set by God to do so, shall arrive. The word, “shall” is important. The Scripture does not declare that this Spirit “IS” quickening our mortal bodies, but that it “SHALL” do so. It is yet future, it is not something experienced by us while in this present earthly life. It is not the same thing as regeneration, but is resurrection. The notion that there is such a thing as the quickening of the mortal body now in our present experience, is not in accord with Scripture teaching. The theory that this quickening of the mortal body is in our present experience of God’s grace, is not in accord with Paul’s experience as set forth by him in Romans 7. In the Spirit’s work of regeneration, the sinner comes into possession of a divine nature imparted within him and planted within him. The old human nature is not rooted up and cast out, neither is it quickened or a whit changed from what it was prior to regeneration. It is still the Old Man. The body remains the same: “dead because of sin” (Rom. 8:10). So long as the child of God stays here in this world, he carries with him this “body of death”. The stench of it intrudes into all his best endeavors, its impurities stain his prayers and meditation and spoils his efforts to obedience. There is no quickening of the “body” this side of the “first resurrection.” (It is the flesh, the “old man”, and remains only earthy and mortal as it is.) The essence of that for which we now hope, is the coming of the Lord from heaven to change our vile bodies and fashion them like unto the body of His own glory. “Looking for that blessed hope, the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Then, and not until then, we shall awake in Christ’s likeness and be satisfied forever.
What evidence have you or I, or any one, that we are to have a place and part in the “first resurrection”? That is, the future coming forth of the complete and whole redeemed church in body and in soul and in spirit from among the dead? The evidence we have is this indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our mortal bodies now. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. (I Cor. 3:19). Likewise, it is declared that our bodies are the members of Christ. Being the members of Christ, can they be lost forever in death? To say so would be to say that part of the body of Christ can remain forever dead. It cannot be! Death shall be swallowed up in victory, the grave itself shall be led captive for having so long held captive the bodies of the saints. When the Lord Himself shall be revealed from heaven bringing with Him the spirits of all them that sleep in Him, to unite them to their resurrected bodies, then the “creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” This is the divine fulfillment of our salvation in Christ for which we wait in hope. This present earth and heavens in which we are now being reserved unto fire and unto the day of judgment of ungodly men, in which the elements being on fire shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth and all the works therein shall be burned up. Is not this the lake of the fire of the second death which is to engulf in eternal torment all of the finally impenitent, reprobate wicked?
This “second death” shall have nothing to do with those having part in the “first resurrection” which is the coming forth from among the dead all the elect of God in Christ.
We who hope in Christ who look for His appearing in glory to bring us into that glory with Himself, and so to be with Him and be like Him, are not looking for the “fire” nor into the “fire”, but we look for the new heavens and the new earth in which shall dwell righteousness. Even now, we are citizens of that new creation by reason of that blessed Holy Spirit which now abides in the children of God. Though we are in the world, we are not of it.
This is a grand theme and I glory in it. I wish I had the ability to set it forth in some measure of the beauty and grandeur in which I have been made to believe in it. I have but scanned it, just hinted at it. I have a blessed hope, unworthy though I am in myself, that I shall one day see Jesus face to face and be like Him. To be like Him will necessitate our having a body like His. This He has promised us. That body which we shall then wear, which body is to be like His, shall be this present mortal body then quickened, changed, made immortal and incorruptible. This the Scriptures teach, and thus am I blessed to believe it.
Elder H. H. Lefferts