Eternal life is the gift of God to all who, through faith, have been redeemed by his Son. The resurrection is the transitional phase for the dead in Christ to eternal glory with him.

Faith in the bodily resurrection of our Lord and of all believers is one of the central doctrines of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that it is essential to salvation: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

The resurrection hope is no theoretical doctrine. It is so deeply a part of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ that faith in him and hope of the resurrection are inexorably bound together.

Jesus, called to the home of sorrowing friends where a beloved brother had been dead for four days, made a statement that has rung out through the ages, giving courage, hope, and assurance to his own: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26).

In the work of regeneration there is given to every believer the imperishable assurance of eternal life. It is an inevitable part of salvation, a quality of life that exists now and will exist for all eternity.

In his defense before King Agrippa, the Apostle Paul asked, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8). Unless one’s God is thought to have human limitations, the resurrection is seen as the right and natural hope for all who believe. The God of creation and redemption is also the God of the resurrection and the author of eternal life for all who believe.

Resurrection and life are bound together. God, the author of life, has made it a continuous process for the Christian. Jesus affirmed that he is “the way, the truth and the life,” and this life, of which the resurrection is a part, is given to all who in simple faith accept his work and his promises at face value.

In all this we are confronted with the deep mystery of spiritual truths made plain only by the work of the Holy Spirit, and with the mystery of life itself.

Arthur Brisbane caught the significance of God-given life in his lovely story of the funeral in the forest. In the story the little creatures of the forest find a dry cocoon on a branch and bemoan the fact that the caterpillar never had a decent burial. All the while they are conducting the funeral, a lovely butterfly flits over their heads—the creature they think they are burying.

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Easter comes at the time of the year when the earth is wearing the garb of a new life that existed unseen during the cold, drab days of winter. How wonderful is this yearly renewal of life and beauty! And how much more wonderful is our Lord’s promise to “raise up” or “bring with him” all who have his life in them!

Unquestionably there are two phases of the resurrection life, the first lived here in this world by believers. The Apostle Paul says that “as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4b). This phase is preliminary to the eternal life of which we will be a part in glory. And the first should be a public witness to the certainty of the second.

Jesus spoke continually of eternal life. He said he came to take care of the sin problem so that all who believed could have this life. The Apostle Paul frequently refers to the present reality and future hope of eternal life. His letter to Titus, for instance, begins with this statement of purpose: “… To further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who never lies, promised ages ago” (Tit. 1:1b, 2), and later he says, “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life (3:5–7).

Let the Christian beware when his love for and assurance of the resurrection hope become dim. Let him be sure, too, that proper concern for the world’s needy serves to sharpen concern for their spiritual plight.

The hope of the resurrection has a sobering, restraining, and impelling effect on believers. Even if this world should become a utopia—and it never will—that which God has prepared for those who love him is so wonderful that no mind will ever grasp its wonders before being ushered into his eternal presence. Jude admonishes us, “Keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (v. 21), and then adds these significant words, “And convince some who doubt.”

There is danger of letting familiarity with a truth dim its significance for our hearts. The aged John speaks to us today: “This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son has not life” (1 John 5:11, 12).

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The certainty of the resurrection hope lies in the resurrected Lord and in the new life he gives to all who believe. It is a hope greatly needed today, when so many see no further than material blessings or needs and secular movements. It is a hope that rests, not in man, but in the mercy, power, and promises of God himself. Much to be pitied are all who think no further than the horizons of this life, despite the evidences of decay and death on every hand. Only the spiritually dead center their lives and hopes in the present. How great to have a share in lifting their sights beyond what can be seen to the eternal verities revealed through faith in the person and work of the Son of God!

Nothing can give us the right perspective on this life and the next but faith in the reality of the resurrection, for, as Paul says, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.… If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:13, 14, 19).

The substantiation of our faith rests in Christ, who arose from the dead and promised that all who sincerely love him will be with him for all eternity.

In a day when skepticism is rampant, when men’s hearts are full of fears, doubts, and uncertainties, it does us all good to reaffirm our faith in God’s provision for our eternal souls and to realize that there will come a day when we will be able to look back and marvel at our own stupidity and faithlessness.

God has promised us eternal life through faith in his Son. He raised him from the dead, and that same power will some day raise us up to behold and to bask in his eternal glory. Little wonder that the Apostle Paul longed to go on to be with his Lord!

Remember, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), and this faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

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