Resurrection Day 2024 — Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 17

As we consider Resurrection 2024 we must be mindful of the battle we are in and which now Easter has been caught up in. Of course Resurrection Sunday along with Christmas are the two high days on the Christian calendar. The fact that it is still so widely celebrated in the West and has always been a calendar reminder that some little residue of our original Christian nation status remained.

But now the Biden administration has brought even Easter under attack as it sought to displace Easter by recognizing Sunday as “Transgender day of visibility.” This is akin to the how the French Philosophers tried to change out the Christian calendar during the French Revolution.

Of course, to a people who have not been like the frog boiling away as the temperature in the pot is turned up, this is nothing short of Statist blasphemy and it demonstrates for us again that Governments are always hopelessly religious. Our current Federal Gov’t is revealing that it is a servant of the religion and God of Wokeianity. It continues, not least by claiming Easter Sunday as “Transgender day of visibility” to make war on God and by extension God’s people.

But Christianity is an anvil that many a pagan hammer has worn itself out upon and it will be so in this case as well. Christ is King — quite to the chagrin of Ben Shapiro and many Evangelicals — and as King the celebration of the Resurrection will one day cover the globe.

As we turn to the doctrine of the Resurrection we consider the honored Heidelberg Catechism on this score. It asks;

Question 45: What doth the resurrection of Christ profit us?

Answer: First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death;1 secondly, we are also by His power raised up to a new life;2 and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.3

As we come to Lord’s Day 17 on the Resurrection we want to note that the thoroughness of this question and answer is not that for which we might hope. What the Catechism teaches here is true but there is a good deal more that needs to be said and so we will say a good deal more this  morning than what we find here though we will also incorporate what the HC teaches.

Before we get into the heart of the matter notice again how practical the HC is with its doctrines. This is something that we brought forth before but be alert again as to the desire by the HC for you to profit by knowing the doctrine of Scripture. The HC does not want to teach you a sterile understanding of the Resurrection. It wants you to know how it is that your Christian life is nurtured and sustained by understanding the import of the Resurrection.

But before we turn to how it is we profit from the resurrection we turn first to the fact of the Resurrection and the fact is that the Resurrection is the pivotal truth of Christianity. No Resurrection. No Christianity. Everything hangs on the reality and truth of the Resurrection. In the book of Acts, the two-fold Apostolic message everywhere the Apostles go is the Kingdom of God and the Resurrection as seen by the 24 references to Christ’s resurrection throughout the book of Acts. The Apostolic message was the message of the Resurrection. This is why the Apostle could declare in I Cor. 15

 if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 

It was that conviction that spurred the Apostles as they fanned out to the known world preaching Christ and the Resurrection;

It starts on the Day of Pentecost. Peter says there in His Sermon after properly pinning the responsibility of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Jews,

24 whom God raised up, having [g]loosed the [h]pains of death, because it was 2not possible that He should be held by it.

And again in vs. 32

2:32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

Peter put the resurrection front center in Acts 3 when God heals the lame man

14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the [b]Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.

And then in 4:10 in explanation to the Jew leadership Peter again speaks of the resurrection

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

Then later in chapter 4 after being released from Prison for preaching the Resurrection we read that these same Apostles;

“w/ great power gave … witness to the resurrection.”

As Acts begins to concentrate more on St. Paul we see St. Paul putting the Resurrection front and center when dealing with the Jews. In Perga, St. Paul proclaims that the Jews condemned and slew Jesus, adding;

30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’

Make especial note that here the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the promise of the Gospel, and in quoting Ps. 2 we learn that through the Resurrection God has begotten His Son.

Where else might we turn in the Missionary book of Acts to learn how the fact of the Resurrection was the message running like wildfire among stubble in that nascent Church?

In the Synagogue at Thessalonica in Acts 17, Paul, from the OT Scriptures

explains and demonstrates that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”

In that same Chapter, this time at Athens there we find Paul again banging this drum preaching;

 God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked…

In Chapter 26 the Resurrection again is front and center in speaking before King Agrippa while in bondage from the Jews declaring to Agrippa,

“23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

And then of course we have those beautiful words from I Cor. 15 that ties the Resurrection to the essence of the Gospel;

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you…” and this gospel is briefly summarized in the words; “ How Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”

So, we see that Christianity is not Christianity without the supernatural bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches us that if we deny the Resurrection of Jesus Christ we are not Christian. Further, Scripture teaches us that if we deny the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ we are not Christian.

And we have to add that insistence that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was bodily. That is that the body that went into the tomb was a human body and so the body that came out of the tomb was likewise a human body albeit glorified.

We need to say this because legion is the name of clergy and theologians who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the one hand they will affirm the resurrection of Jesus Christ but on the other hand they will redefine the word “resurrection” so what they mean by that word is antithetical to what the Scriptures and the faithful Church mean by that word. As in so many other examples many in the Church today use linguistic deception to redefine the truth of the Resurrection to make it mean “Imaginary or pretend Resurrection.”  And so, we are left to not being able to give men the benefit of the doubt when they affirm the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have to go on and ask just if their resurrected Christ ate fish w/ His disciples. We have to ask if their resurrected Christ put on display for His disciples His scars and wounds. We have to practice a hermeneutic of suspicion lest we be taken in by this clergy grift of affirming the idea of the resurrection while denying the meaning of the Resurrection because the Church is chock full of professional people who talk about the Resurrection but deny the supernatural foundation of it by embracing any number of fanciful naturalistic understandings of this so as to avoid the supernaturalness of it all.

Here are a few examples to provide the receipts on my claim of linguistic deception;

After denying a real biological virgin birth theologian Walter Banon wrote,

“No more do we consider the fact that the Christian Church is guided in her faith by an ever present, active Lord. (We are not) “dependent upon the realistic-materialistic conception that the same body which died on the tree of the cross after three days in the grave began to function again.”

To that another Theologian Walter Kunneth added,

“To insist upon the historic character of the resurrection has the result of objectifying it, … that means… that the assertion of its his­toricality leads to an irresistible process of dissolution, which omi­nously threatens the reality of the resurrection itself. “

Kunneth is saying here that if we consider the Resurrection historical the way that we consider the landing of the Mayflower historical we are led to a position where the Resurrection is threatened.

Mennonite theologian Gordon Kaufmann lets us know that “these alleged appearances were, in fact, a series of hallucinations”  and that “Contemporary belief… will not necessarily involve the conviction that the crucified Jesus became personally alive again.”

These are all expressions growing out of the thought of Karl Barth who taught that “If there is to be a genuine hope on the basis of Christ’s resurrection, this can only be if orthodoxy with all its rationalizations be brushed aside.”

One of those rationalizations that Barth desired to be brushed aside was the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ in favor of a Christ who arose into History — a linguistic maneuver made in order to avoid the physicality of Christ’s resurrection.

This is the position of what we generally today call “Liberal Christianity,” and theologian Machen way back in the 1930s wrote a book demonstrating that Liberal Christianity and Christianity were two distinctly different faith systems.

Well, a great deal more should be said on this score but we must press on.

Here we have this marvelous indisputable bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Catechism asks how it is that that Resurrection of Jesus profits us. The Catechism starts by teaching us;

First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death

They then cite 1 Cor. 15:16 to sustain their point from Scripture;

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.

Of course the whole premise of all of I Cor. 15 is that Christ is raised and has overcome death. We get this even more explicitly in Revelation 1:18 with Jesus speaking;

I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

So we are profited by the Resurrection of Jesus in that He overcame death. But lets talk a wee bit about this Resurrection that overcame death. We have to understand that when Jesus rose again, He rose as belonging entirely to the new Creation — the age to come.  Christ’s resurrection finds Him in His new creation body. Christ resurrection in overcoming death lives and operates now in the New Creation. Christ has arose to a new creation reality. It is why we can talk about Jesus having a glorified body. This explains passages like this;

 That Sunday evening[ a] the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. SuddenlyJesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.

So by His Resurrection our Lord and Master overcomes death and the Catechism says it is with the purpose that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death.

Here the great theme of substitutionary Atonement is brought forth. Christ died the death that we had earned and that should’ve been ours. Christ’s resurrection is to us the seal… the confirmation … that His death on the Cross in our stead satisfied the just wrath of God by purchasing our right standing via the price of His own blood . Through the power of the Resurrection we have confirmed for us that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

More than that the Catechism insists that we find profit in the doctrine of the Resurrection because it declares to us that we wear the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The resurrection reminds us that when God looks upon us He sees us not besotted with the sin that we contend against daily, but rather He sees us as clothed and garmented in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In God judicial reckoning we have been declared righteous in Christ Jesus. We may not feel that way. The accuser of the Brethren may scorn us and rub our nose in the sin that we know is true about us, but the Resurrection reminds us that we are partakers of that righteousness which Christ purchased by His death in our place.

Folks … can you see why the catechism, following Scripture, says that this truth is a great profit to us? How can it not be but a profit to know we are partakers of Christ righteousness? How can it not be but a profit to know that because of that Resurrection nothing can separate us from the Love of God?

But the profit does not end here. The Catechizers go on to say that we profit secondly from this doctrine also by the fact that His power has raised us up to a new life.

Here they appeal to Rom. 6:4 to anchor their assertion.

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Remember a few minutes ago we stated that in Christ’s resurrection He was raised as belonging to the New Creation. Upon Christ’s resurrection Christ was and is living in the new heavens and the new earth … in that age to come. He was a member of the new Creation.

Here we learn that we likewise are, in an inaugurated sense, those who belong to that new creation and belonging to that the new creation we also should walk in newness of life. We are not now what we will yet be but because we are in Christ we are not now what we once were when we were dead in our trespasses and sins.

St. Paul can say this explicitly in Colossians when he reminds us there;

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and [a]conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…

You see, by the Resurrection we have been placed in the new Creation … into the Kingdom of God’s dear son, to walk in newness of life which the Catechizers quote to sustain this point.

Brethren we have been resurrected so that our relationship to the old Adam is superseded by our relationship to the new Adam… to the Resurrected Christ. This explains why the expectation is that we would walk in “newness of life.” We are resurrected beings and though we are not yet all that we one day will be we are creatures who live in this present age as walking and living in the age to come. Like Legolas in Tolkien’s work we live in two worlds at the same time but the creational age in which we have been resurrected is impinging on all around us that has not yet been resurrected. In some sense then we, as the resurrected, are the bearers of resurrection life to all that we come in contact with.

This reality of having been NOW resurrected with Christ is why Paul can write about our now being seated in the Heavenlies with Christ. It is why he could write that we have been NOW translated to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, whom He loves. It is why he could write that our citizenship is in heaven, keeping in mind that heaven is invading this present wicked age via His resurrected citizenry.

The “NOW” of our Resurrected status can not be hidden under the bushel of the “not yet.” The Kingdom as come and we are citizens of that future creational age Kingdom bringing the aroma of Christ and that Kingdom unto all we come in contact with.

If we profit first by Christ’s resurrection by having the truth of our Justification declared, we profit now with the assurance of our ongoing sanctification. We are members of a new age and and a new Kingdom and because we are a peculiar people. Belonging to this Resurrection life changes us completely … changes our thinking… our behaving … our relationships. Changes all of this so much that to those who are not living the resurrected life or even those just beginning the resurrected life we are a strange lot. Because we have been risen with Christ we seek those things which are above in everything we handle here. (Col. 3:1)

Theologian G. K. Beale demonstrates I’m not being original here;

“We must not underestimate the resurrection that we have been given in Christ. As Christ has been raised to a new reality so Christians united to Christ has been raised to a new reality and are to live their lives in terms of this Resurrection New Creational Kingdom (Col. 1:13f)”

And so the Resurrection profits us by raising us up with Christ to live a new life.

Finally the Catechism teaches us that we profit from the Resurrection as it is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

They anchor this in Scripture by appealing to I Corinthians 15

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have [d]fallen asleep. 

The whole chapter is dealing with the relation between Christ’s resurrection and our coming Resurrection. There is a linkage here that Theologian Gregory Beale makes out

In I Cor. 15 Paul portrays another version of this staggered resurrection fulfillment; The Messiah is physically resurrected first, and then later his people are raised physically. Remembering that the OT appeared to prophesy that all of God’s people together were to be resurrected as part of one event, Paul views the prophecy of the end time resurrection to begin fulfillment in Christ’s physical resurrection, which necessitates that the saint’s subsequent physical resurrection had to happen. In other words the great event of the final resurrection had begun in Christ but since the event was not completed in the resurrection of others, the completion of that prophesied event had to come at some point in the future.

Our ability to cheerfully come to the end of our days is accounted for by the certainty of our Resurrection and the certainty of that resurrection is lodged in the fact that Christ was indeed resurrected. Because He arose His own who have died in Christ will rise again. Death is not the final word.

So the doctrine of the resurrection profits us by giving us confidence of God’s good pleasure with us because Christ has paid for our sin and we are adorned with His righteousness. The doctrine of the resurrection profits us by the power it gives us to walk in a newness of life that is not characterized by the corruption and the death that those who hate Christ walk in. The doctrine of the resurrection profits us by the certainty and so courage it gives us to face our own mortality … to realize that there is even better life beyond this good life.

And so we see that doctrine is hardly boring.







Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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