By Isma Wells Erwin
The reality of the resurrection of Jesus, from the dead is of great importance to the church, and to all believers in Christ Jesus, because on the resurrection hinges the hope of the church, and all the fundamental principles of the gospel. Jesus repeatedly told the apostles how that he would rise from the dead the third day after his death, and this was the crowning demonstration of the truth of all Christ’s claims. The apostles gave great prominence to this all important fact in their teaching, knowing that on the strength of the resurrection depended the whole power of the gospel. Is Christ risen? So sure was the Apostle Paul that Christ was risen, that he said in 1 Corinthians 15:12-17, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and, we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” He meant by this, that our sins being remitted or taken away, depends on the resurrection, or if there was no resurrection then we have no Holy Ghost or remission of sins. This also corresponds with what Jesus told the disciples in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” Peter said in Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” What was the purpose of his resurrection? First, that he might pay the penalty of our sin, he died, for, “he was put to death for our offences, and raised again for our justification;” also, “that thru death, he might destroy him that had power over death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through the fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15; 1 John 3:8). Then, too, by his resurrection he became the “first fruit” of them that slept, which proves that there will be many more resurrected. Also, he had to return to the place of Holy Spirit or Comforter in order that he might be “in us,” instead of “with us” He could not be in us, while in bodily form. God’s purpose when he made man was that we should be in his image and in his likeness, so we had to have his Holy Spirit to be like him, and he could not give us the Holy Spirit while he was in the flesh; therefore, he told the disciples in St. John 16:7, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.” In John 14:26 he said the Comforter was the Holy Ghost. So then, we see that God’s fore knowledge and counsel was that thru his death and resurrection we may be brought into Son-ship, thru faith in “the operation of God,” which means his death, burial and resurrection.
His promise to the disciples was, “I go to prepare a place for” you, that where I am there ye may be also” He was then in the Spirit; or in possession of the Spirit, and they were not. Now what is the proof of his resurrection? Can we know positively and absolutely without the possibility of doubt that Jesus rose from the dead? I say, yes, we can know surely, according to the Word of God, and also our own experience, that Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible, which is the record of the apostles, relates the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to numerous persons on different occasions, and showed them the scars in his hands and feet, and in his side, and was finally transported to heaven, and they saw him go up. Read Luke 24:36 to end, and Acts 1:1-12; 1 Cor. 15:12-17. Here are three records or proofs of his resurrection. The outpouring of the Holy Ghost recorded in Acts 2: 1-4 ; Acts 10 :44-48; Acts 19:1-6; are positive proofs that he rose, or that the Comforter has come. The early church received the “former rain,” and those who are receiving the Holy Ghost now are getting the “latter rain.” The evidence or positive proof today is just the same as it was then. They speak with other tongues as “the Spirit” gives them utterance. “For, with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing; yet they would not hear” (Isaiah 28:11, 12). The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyman to profit withal (1 Cor. 12:7). We know of a surety that Jesus rose from the dead because we are delivered from sin, and have received the Holy Ghost. If we continue in his word; or if we do his will, then are we his disciples indeed; and we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free (John 8:31, 32). When he was on earth, he was the light of the world, now he has gone, and we are the lights of the world, or we are the examples to show men, by our life, that we are his disciples indeed, and that it pays to serve Jesus. Are you a witness for Jesus and have not received the Holy Ghost? He gave the disciples power over “all the power of the enemy, and devils were subject to them thru the name of Jesus (Luke 10:18), but that was while he was yet in the flesh, and gave them power by measure; but if you will notice carefully you will find that just before he ascended into heaven, he told them to tarry at Jerusalem UNTIL they received the Holy Ghost (Luke 24: 49 and Acts 11:1-9). Then he said they should be witnesses to him, in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and in the uttermost parts of the earth. You may have had wonderful experiences with the Lord, so had the disciples, but you will find according to Acts 1:13, 14 that even Mary, the mother of Jesus, tarried with the other followers of Jesus, 120 in all, until they received the Holy Ghost. Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, “The promise is to all — even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” In John 7:39, we read, “This spake he of the Sprit, which they that believe on him, should receive” Do you believe on him? You would wake a much better witness if you had the Holy Ghost.
How can we become apart of the resurrection? Read Romans 6th chapter, which proves that we are buried with him by baptism into his death, and. also raised to walk in the newness of life; also Colossians 2:12; 3:4; Galatians 3:26, 27. We can put on Christ now, by receiving the Holy Ghost, and walk with him in the newness of life or in the resurrected life.
There are seven sections to the FIRST resurrection and three of them have already taken place. The first was Jesus, the second was the old saints that rose after his resurrection (Matt. 27:53); the third is the mystical church that are “buried with him by baptism into his death” and thru the operation of the Holy Spirit are “risen to walk in the newness of life,” (Romans 6:3-7; Galatians 3:26, 27; Colossians 3:1, 2). The fourth section are those who are the elect of God, the church triumphant, the Bride of Christ, who will be caught up, or translated, at the appearing of the Lord, when he comes for his people (1 Thess. 4:13; Rev. 4, and 1 John 3:1-3). The fifth section is the saints under the altar that were slain for the Word of God found in Rev. 6:9. The sixth section is the 144,000 described in Rev. 14:3, etc. These are taken from the twelve tribes of Israel. The seventh section is those who go through the tribulation” period, and refuse to take the mark of the beast, or to worship him. Their record is in Rev. 14:12, 13 and Rev. 20:4.
All the apostles taught of the resurrection, and they valued it more than any other fact, knowing that there could be no salvation, without the resurrection. On this fact hinges all the power of the gospel. No other religion except the gospel of Christ and the apostles, teaches a resurrection. Therefore, the Christian religion is the greatest of all. Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and was raised again for out justification. He gave himself a ransom for the whole human family. Thru our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and obedience to his commands, we are saved from sin and born into the “kingdom of God,” which is “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). “By one offering, hath he obtained eternal redemption for us, and hath perfected forever them that are sanctified; whereby the Holy Ghost is a witness to us” (Heb. 10:14, 15). Read St. Paul’s record in Philippians 3rd chapter, and see how much he valued the resurrection. He counted all things loss that he might gain Christ and that if by “any means” he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Jesus said, “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and HIS righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). The Holy Ghost is God’s greatest gift to man, for thru the “New Birth” or the baptism of water and the Spirit of Christ, we become sons of God, with all heaven on our side, and obtain the greatest peace and joy obtainable in this present world. We also become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and we shall inherit all things prepared for man, both in heaven and in earth. According to Paul’s record in Hebrews 12:22-25, we have already “come to mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.” “Thru one man came sin and death by sin, so also thru one came righteousness and life. There is an opposite to all things. If there was no light, there would be no darkness. If there was no good, there would be no evil. If there was 110 deaths; there would be no resurrection; The one is positive proof of the other. Christ the first fruit, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. As, we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the. heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not “all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. This refers to all who have the Holy Spirit, both dead and alive, but you must have the Holy Spirit in order to be quickened or changed, because it is the Spirit that quickeneth. You may have lived ever so good a life, and may have served God to the best of your ability; walking in all the light you had; you shall in no wise lose your reward; but you will not, and cannot be in the first resurrection, unless you have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Let no man deceive you. This is not just my idea, but is according to the Word of God, which Jesus said, “could not be changed” and shall not pass away. Remember there are TWO resurrections. Those who take part in the first are the “elect of God,” “the bride of Christ,” “the church, which is his body,” “the sons of God” that have been born into the church, of water and of the Spirit. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:14-18). For by one Spirit are all baptized into, one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the kingdom of God” (St. John 3:3-8). These and many other Scriptures prove that unless we have the Holy Spirit and .live a clean” upright, holy life, separate from sinners, we shall not be in the first resurrection. . Many are servants, some are sons, there is a vast difference. The servant abideth not in the house forever, but the son does. The servant does not inherit all the master’s goods, but the son does. The servant, if he be a good servant, and hath served faithfully, will be remembered in the master’s will, but the son inherits all things. The servant may be in the second resurrection, when the angels separate the wheat from the chaff. Read Matthew 24:31 to end, and Matthew 13:36-44. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:5, 6 to end). A thousand years expire between the first and second resurrections. During this period, called by many the millennium, Satan is bound, and Christ reigns on earth with the saints, and there are a thousand years of peace. But immediately after the first resurrection, in fact for some time before, we have what is called the Tribulation Period, and a time of trouble, such as never was before, or never shall be afterward; and those who are alive, and are not translated with the saints, or who miss the first resurrection, will have to suffer great tribulation, and will be persecuted beyond measure, and many of them will be put to death, refusing to take the “mark of the beast” (Rev. 20:4). By not worshipping the beast, or taking his mark, they will lose their lives, but will save their souls. I want to be in the first resurrection. While they are enduring these great trials and hardships, those who are in the first, will be enjoying the blessings of heaven, the marriage feast of the Lamb. In the midst of the week of the Tribulation Period, all whose names are written in the Book of Life will be delivered, or caught up to meet the Lord in the air (Daniel 12:1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to end). “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:1 to 3). “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). The only way to be pure in heart, is to be born again of water, and of the Spirit. “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” Read what happened when Paul asked this question to “certain” disciples that believed (Acts 19:1-6). Have you had this experience? Many think they received the Holy Ghost when they were converted, or joined the church. You may have, I hope you did. There are two ways of knowing. First consult your Bible, and see if you had the “manifestation” the apostles had when they received him (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-48). “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (l Cor. 12:7). “There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism,” according to Ephesians 4:5. They all had this manifestation, they were baptized in the name of Jesus, and they all began to speak with “other tongues” as the Spirit gave them utterance. If you haven’t had this experience, you may be a servant, but you are not a son. This is God’s way, as recorded in the Bible. They believed in the name of Jesus, and were born of God (St. John 1:12 and Malachi 3:16, 17). The second proof that you have been born again or received the Holy Spirit is the life you live. Many people, however, live a clean, upright life, and have not received the Holy Ghost. We have many examples of this in the Bible. The apostles, for instances, were given power over unclean spirits, and power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, etc. (Matt. 10:1), but they did not receive the Holy Ghost until after Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Cornelius was a devout man who prayed and gave much alms to the poor. So good a man was he, that his prayers and his alms came up before God as a memorial, but he was told by the angel, to send for Peter who preached Christ to him, and he, too, received’ the Holy Ghost (Acts 10th chapter). Apollos was a man mighty in the Scriptures, but he knew only the baptism of John. He was shown the way of God “more perfectly,” and received the Holy Ghost. No matter what your experience has been, the question is, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? Many people today that have been serving God for years are “tarrying until” the Spirit comes in. This experience has nothing to do with your conversion, and does not belittle your experience with God at all. It is for “those who believe,” and simply proves that you are honest and believe the Word of God, and are willing to walk in the light of God’s Word. If you area devout Christian and are doing all you can to worship God, you surely deserve to be in the first resurrection, and you need the Holy Ghost above all things. Let no man deceive you. It is those who know the Lord, that desire to know him better. Grace and peace shall be multiplied unto you, thru the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord (2 Peter 1:2). The Holy Ghost will teach you all things, and will show you the things of God (John 16:12). The second resurrection takes place after the millennium or the thousand years of peace in which Satan is bound and Christ reigns on earth with the saints who are in the first resurrection then all the dead, both small and great, stand before the judgment seat of God, and are judged, according to those things that .are written in the Book. There the righteous are separated from the wicked, and those who are counted righteous are placed on the new earth, and the wicked are destroyed, or cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. The records of these are found in Rev. 20:7 to end, and Mathew 25:31 to end. The righteous are those who died not having the Holy Ghost, but were good people, who served God to the best of their knowledge without the Holy Ghost. Many of them knew but little concerning the divine plan of salvation, but they had honest hearts and did the best they could. However, the Scripture says, “If the righteous scarcely be saved; where shall the sinner and the ungodly man appear (1 Peter 4:18). So a person is taking a long chance in trying to be saved by his righteousness. God’s way is best and he said, At evening time it shall be light (Zech. 14:7). This is the evening or close of the gospel dispensation, and the truth of the gospel is being broadcast everywhere. There is no excuse now. Repent ye, and believe the gospel. The time is at hand. The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth, say, Come. And let him take of the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17). Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28). There are many things happening today that prove we are very near the “Tribulation Period,” or the time of trouble, such as never was; such as never will be again. Men are standing aghast and wondering what these things mean. No man knows the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man cometh but we do know the signs of the times, if you have your “spiritual eyes” open. Ye are not the children of the night, that these things should come upon you unawares (Luke 21:31-35). He said, When ye see these things begin to come to pass, look up, for your redemption draweth nigh. We have had the World War, the Jews are returning to Jerusalem, knowledge has increased remarkably in the last few years. The morals of the people are at a very low ebb, as it was in the days of Noah and of Lot. “Perilous times” have come, men are scoffing at the Word of God as never before. The antichrist spirit is more prevalent thru out the world than ever before. Is not this enough to assure us that “our redemption draweth nigh?” This generation (in which these things begin) shall not pass, until all these things be fulfilled (Matt. 24:34).
This is warning enough for me. I am living each day as tho it was the last. I am listening for the cry, “Behold! the Bridegroom cometh.” My lamp is trimmed and burning, and my vessel is filled with oil. Will you be among the “wise virgins,” or will you be one of the “foolish virgins” who have no oil in their vessels? The oil is the Holy Ghost, the lamp is the Bible. Many are carrying their lamps, but have no oil in their vessel. There is no excuse now. The evening light has come. The Word of God is revealed now as never before. Thousands are laying aside their traditions and are being baptized in the name of Jesus, for the remission of their sins, are being filled with the Holy Spirit, sealed unto the Day of Redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). It will be too late to go for oil after he comes. Everyone must be saved for himself. God is no respecter of persons. The only way you can be quickened or translated, is by having the Holy Ghost.
It won’t be very long,
It won’t be very long, ‘Till Jesus shall appear,
His coming draweth near.
Will you be ready then?
To meet the ransomed throng
Get ready for that day,
For it won’t be very long.
This article “Resurrection” by Isma Wells Erwin is excerpted from her book The Resurrection and The New Birth, 1954.