"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."
We do not understand this Scripture as applying to the raising of our dust bodies on what is termed the "General Resurrection Day", but rather that its application is to the militant church here in this time state. We shall, therefore, undertake to present the evidence, as we see it, which supports this point of view. In the very first verse of this chapter the apostle says: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." We will all doubtless agree that so far as that life which is beyond this vale of tears is concerned, there is now no condemnation to those who were chosen in Christ Jesus, but according to the language as we interpret it, there still is condemnation here in this life to God's people who walk after the flesh. Both our experience and the Scriptures bear testimony to this truth. Paul says, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." Heb. 10:26-27. Following on in the chapter containing our text, the apostle shows how the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, which is attributed to the fact that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death. He points to what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, and this necessitated God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh. He clearly shows that "they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." Continuing with this line of reasoning he says, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Then he makes a positive statement to the effect that "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." His definite and final conclusion, therefore, is "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Here, again, we believe, all will agree that the natural man, as such, cannot please God. There must needs be first the work of regeneration wrought in him and faith given before he can walk acceptably before God. Paul, therefore, tells his Roman brethren that "ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Then he goes on to say, "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." We might well inquire, how are we to be made aware of these glorious truths? Here is where our text comes in and explains it by saying, "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." It was God who raised up Jesus from the dead, and we are persuaded that his Spirit must quicken our mortal bodies before we can have any part in glorifying God in our bodies and in our spirits which are his. Saul of Tarsus realized full well the necessity of this quickening in his own case, and after experiencing it Paul (for he was even given a new name) was qualified to speak with authority to similar characters among the Ephesians, saying, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 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 also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Eph. 2:1-3. This is all applicable to the experience of the children of grace here in this world.
The verse immediately following our text reads as follows: "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh." The conjunction, "therefore", shows conclusively to our mind that that which follows is inseparably linked to and becomes a part of that which went before, and this meant that those quickened characters whom Paul was addressing as brethren, "are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh," and he warns them of the result by saying, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." If these Scriptures do not substantiate our claim that the text deals with the life of God's people here in the flesh, we would not know what form of speech could be employed that would. The purpose of language, when properly used, is to convey what is meant, and in order to get the proper meaning we must not lose sight of that which surrounds the subject. Neither should we lift bodily a Scripture out of its setting and place it where it does not belong. It should be allowed to remain in its own native environment if it is to produce the results and serve the purpose for which it was originally intended.
There is such an abundance of evidence which follows on in this chapter to support our conclusion, and the importance of the subject is such that we feel compelled to present more of it here: (1) "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father; (2) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together; (3) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us; (4) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; (5) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body; (6) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it; (7) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." We repeat, if language means anything at all, it would certainly seem to us that these Scriptures deal with the children of God while they live here in this world.
Some years ago we recall reading an article written on the twenty-eighth verse of this chapter, which reads as follows: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." In that article the writer maintained that what the apostle actually meant to set forth was that ALL GOOD THINGS work together for good, etc. We later wrote on the same subject through the Signs and said in substance that, since the apostle did not write these things of himself, but wrote as he was wrought upon and moved by the Holy Ghost, there could not possibly be any mistake as to what he said or what he meant, for his mind was even filled with the words supplied by the Holy Ghost to express the thought intended. The most learned of mankind often fail to choose the right words to correctly express their meaning, but the Holy Ghost, never. We feel the same way regarding our text. Had the text meant to refer to the quickening of dead bodies, at some far distant future time, unquestionably the Holy Ghost would have directed the apostle to so declare, but since it specifically says mortal bodies, which means bodies that are subject to death, we must accept it at its face value, unless we are willing to have the Scriptures changed, and this we cannot consent to or permit.
We said in the outset of this article that we understood the text to refer to the quickening which God's people experience here in this time state, but we would not for the world leave our readers in doubt or even have them suspect that our hope, which we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, does not enter into that which is within the veil, whither the fore-runner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. This eighth chapter of Romans is one of the most wonderful in all of the Bible to us. Not only does the Apostle Paul set forth herein the things both of the flesh and the spirit, but he shows clearly to our mind how we are to be partakers of spiritual things, which is by the very same quickening power of God which wrought in Christ in raising him from the dead. He then assures those of us who are thus quickened that all things shall work together for our good, and finally and best of all he declares in no uncertain terms that nothing, not even DEATH itself, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. While we firmly believe that our text deals with God's children in this life, we equally and just as firmly believe that the latter portion of this chapter deals with the hereafter, or that which is beyond this vale of tears. In this connection, we would like to invite the attention of our readers particularly to the expression of the apostle 'in the thirty-fifth verse where he asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" We have purposely italicized the plural pronoun US. Please note the apostle does not ask who shall separate our spirit from the love of Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, and neither does he speak of either the soul or the body. There must be a reason why he did not differentiate between and mention them separately. If these bodies of flesh and bones in which we live here, which were formed of the dust of the ground, and concerning which the Lord said to Adam, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," (Gen. 3:19) were a part of the us referred to by Paul, death would at least separate this part of us from the love of God until we are raised, but the language of the apostle will not permit of any such conclusion. Incidentally, God is unchangeable and eternally the same, yesterday, today and forever, and we have never yet discovered between the lids of the Bible where he has revoked or altered in any degree whatsoever his decree or declaration to Adam that "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." To better understand what the apostle had under consideration, since the Scriptures are their own best interpreters, let us bring forth some other Scriptures which bear upon this point. Job is a pretty good witness, so we will first call upon him. He says, "Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews." Job 10:11. The personal pronoun "me" here refers to the real Job who was clothed with skin and flesh, and was fenced with bones and sinews. Peter also is a good witness, so he shall be heard: His testimony is, "Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance: knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as the Lord Jesus hath shewed me." Peter was dwelling in a tabernacle which his Lord had shewed him had to be put off. Another outstanding witness is one that is familiar to all and is an unquestioned authority on these matters. We refer to Paul, who says: "I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart (from the flesh or body), and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you," who were still in the flesh. Let us have some further testimony from Paul on this point. Continuing, he says, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Here he speaks of two houses, or buildings, and they are not one and the same, for one is an house for us to live in while here in this world, which will be dissolved, but the other is a building of God for our eternal abode in the heavens which are beyond. Dr. John Gill, famous biblical commentator of England, quotes one, Philo, as having said: "I am very little concerned for this mortal body, which is about me and cleaves to me like the shell of a fish, though it is hurt by everyone." Sometimes we hear brethren say, "If it is not my flesh, my blood and my bones that will be resurrected, it will not be me, and if it is only something in me that is to be resurrected, I am not interested." If they did but know it, it is just the reverse of what they seem to think. Instead of something being in them, the truth of the matter is they are in something, as we have undeniably shown by the three witnesses whose testimony has just been presented. Our real self does not consist of so many pounds of flesh, blood and bones, which varies but little with most of us here in this life. The greatest men of history were very similar in fleshly appearance to the great masses, but something besides flesh made them stand as peers among their fellowmen. Ordinarily the features by which men are identified and distinguished from one another are found in the face or head, and the recognition of the Lord's people is to be found in their head, the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not need pictures of Christ hanging on the wall, which are so popular with the religious world, to give us an idea as to what our Lord looks like. Having never looked upon his earthly features, we would not recognize Jesus if he appeared in our midst, but even if we had seen him in the flesh it would be no guarantee that we would recognize him if he appeared in the flesh again. Even his own earthly mother, Mary, did not recognize him a few hours after his death and resurrection, for it is said she mistook him for the gardener until he spoke to her. His personality or identity as the blessed Son of God is what interests us most vitally. What he was, what he did and the principles for which he lived and died is what gives him the preeminence over all others who went before or shall follow after him. It was Jesus who said to Martha, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." He did not say, the spirit of whosoever believeth in me shall never die. He was speaking of the new creature who has part with him, and since Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death, not even death can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Is it any wonder that so many of God's called and qualified servants turn so often to this eighth chapter of Romans for solid comfort and assurance to the poor and needy. Not only are they told that tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword shall not be able to separate them here in this life from the love of Christ, but they are assured "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature," shall be able to separate them from the love of Christ throughout all eternity. The reason why nothing shall be able to separate them from his love is that he has conquered all foes and will destroy for them the last enemy, DEATH.
R. Lester Dodson
The Resurrection of the Dead
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