The Resurrection of All Things
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus was no isolated event. His return from the dead entailed with it the resurrection of all things from the dead. The power of death, which had held the entire world in thrall, was reversed at that point, two millennia ago, and the power of His new life has since then been working through the world, the way yeast works through a loaf of bread.
“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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” (Rom. 8:10-31).
In this passage we find what can only be described as glorious argumentation. If Christ is in you, your body will still die (v. 10). But the Spirit of life that raised Jesus is dwelling in you, and this means you will be raised from the dead by that indwelling power (v. 11). But the resurrection of Jesus was not isolated, and our individual resurrections are not a series of isolated events. Follow his reasoning. If the Spirit of life is in us, we are debtors to Him, and not to the flesh that will die (v. 12). If we are indebted to the fleshly past, we will die. But if we (through the Spirit) mortify the deeds of the body, we will live (v. 13). We are indebted to the future. If as many as are led in this way, these are children of God (v. 14).
There are two spirits—the spirit of bondage to fear and the Spirit of adoption (v. 15). The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that the resurrection is coming (v. 16). But if we are children, we are heirs. If we are heirs, we are joint-heirs with Christ. If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified together in Him (v. 17). And therefore, the sufferings of this world are not even worthy of comparison with the coming glory (v. 18). And so the creation longs for our manifestation as sons of God (v. 19). The creation was subjected to vanity in hope (v. 20). This creation will be delivered from corruption and will be ushered into our liberty (v. 21). For this reason, the whole creation groans (v. 22). And we Christians, with the firstfruits of the Spirit, also groan for the resurrection (v. 23). For we are saved toward something (v. 24), and we wait patiently (v. 25). And the Spirit helps us in this groaning (v. 26). And He (Christ) knows how to pray because He knows the mind of Spirit (v. 27). Now, in this sense, all things work together for good (v. 28). Those who are forknown are as good as gloried (vv. 29-30). How should we respond to all this? If God is for us, who can be against us (v. 31).
TWO KINDS OF HELPLESSNESS:
There are some glorious things set before us here. And there are two ways to miss it. The first is by looking to the flesh for guidance. For those who are worldly, for those who do not put to death the misdeeds of the body, all these glory words will be just so much gibberish. But for those of us who embrace these realities by faith, we need to recognize that we still fall short, which is why in this instance our understanding is expressed with groaning. The creation groans, we who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan, and the Spirit Himself groans along with us, helping us in our weakness. This means that we have a weakness here, needing to be helped. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but the Spirit helps us as we long for it. The verb here means to “lay hold along with,” as though you were holding one end of a log and the Spirit holding the other. We need help because we don’t get it. But we know something of what we do not get.
Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit (v. 11). That same Spirit, with the same plans and the same intent, dwells in us also. Christ’s resurrection was the first fruits of the new heavens and the new earth, and we have been given the first fruits of the Spirit (v. 23). Now because the Spirit of Christ’s resurrection is in us, and because we are in the world, it follows that the Spirit of Christ’s resurrection is in the world—and moreover, the world knows it. And the whole creation longs for what is coming (v. 19). The resurrection of the Christ is cosmic resurrection and redemption (Col. 1:20).
LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD:
St. Paul says those who are children of God are heirs of God, and they will inherit all things in Christ (v. 17). But who are the children of God? Who is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ? Is the Spirit ever in us as some kind of inert substance? No, the Spirit of Christ who works in us, works in us actively. And if the Spirit of Christ is absent, then a man does not belong to Christ (v. 9). So what does this active Spirit do? He dwells in us (v. 11). He quickens our mortal bodies (v. 11). He empowers us to mortify the deeds of the body (v. 13). He leads us to mortify the deeds of the body (v. 14), and as many as are so led, these are sons of God. He impels us to cry out, “Abba, Father!” (v. 15). He bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God (v. 16). He impels us to groan for the resurrection (v. 23). And He is tender with us in our weakness in all these things, helping us (v. 26).
OUR PRESENT SUFFERINGS:
The apostle Paul wants to contextualize our lives for us. We have two directions in which we may look—and they are as follows: From the vantage point of our present sufferings, we may look back at the old creation of death. We may look to the way of the flesh, but the days of the flesh are numbered. If we look that way, we will die. From the vantage point of the Spirit’s present work, in the midst of our sufferings, the only alternative is to look to the future, but not to the immediate future, the day after tomorrow. We are looking to a world made new, not because we deny this present world, but rather because we understand what is currently going on in this present world. All this will be dismissed as “pie in the sky” by scoffers, but we are not swayed by them. Those who dismiss heavenly pies are not to be trusted with earthly pies.
Our present sufferings—however great—are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is coming for us (v. 18). And as a congregation, you know that these issues—resurrection issues—are not theoretical.