Pastoral Letter 17 Apr 2022

My dear readers,

Jesus Christ – The Resurrection and the Life to all!

John 11:25-26: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

The context of the above verses is the death of Lazarus, a believer. Jesus was speaking with his bereaved sister Martha. Martha was also a believer as John 11:24 testifies, “Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” She believed in the general resurrection of the last day. This generic understanding was common among some of the Jews (for the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection whereas the Pharisees did). Jesus wanted Martha to understand the doctrine of the resurrection better and not only in the generic sense. This doctrine of the resurrection must be understood personally, i.e. the believer must know that he or she will definitely be resurrected, and not just believe in the reality of the general resurrection, not knowing if one will be resurrected or not. Thus, Jesus declared to her John 11:25-26.

Jesus addressed the dead in verse 25 and the living in verse 26. Resurrection refers to a person who dies and rises from the dead. Does sinful man have the power in himself to rise from the dead?

Those who die in sin will remain dead in their sin. Their soul is cast into hell by God who is the righteous Judge. They will be barred from entering heaven, for heaven is a place of holiness where sinners cannot enter. However, for those who die in Christ like Lazarus, the basis of their resurrection is Jesus Christ. Thus, the emphasis is on the word “I” in verse 25. Jesus Christ is the resurrection. He is not pointing man to the way of the resurrection. He points to Himself as the Resurrection!

How is Christ the Person the Resurrection itself? Jesus Christ is the resurrection because He came to be the vicarious atoning sacrifice for mankind. He lived a perfect life according to God’s laws so that the righteousness that will be imputed to believers is known as the righteousness of the law (cf. Romans 8:4). Sinful man must be punished for the sins he commits against God, his Creator. Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter (cf. Isa 53:7). If Jesus had fought or murmured against His persecution, then the message would have been that He did not do so in complete obedience to God but reluctantly. Thank God He allowed His persecutors to spit on Him, punch Him, to mock Him by “crowning” His blessed Head with a crown of thorns and to put on Him a purple robe, to scourge Him and then to crucify Him. Jesus Christ endured the shame and the pain and took the punishment of God for the sins of the world.

That is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! We know that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice for our sins as sufficient to forgive us of all our sins because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day after He died. That is why to all believers Sunday is also called resurrection day. That is why it is called the Lord’s Day in memory of His resurrection. That day, God revealed to man that death has been destroyed once and for all by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. The sting of death in every believer is destroyed forever. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus put on the garment of man’s sins, and all who believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour, as Lazarus did, will be given His garment of righteousness. When salvation takes place in a person’s heart, he will experience spiritual life instantly. This blissful life will climax in eternity with God in heaven, as opposed to eternal death which is to be cast into the Lake of Fire where eternal torment begins. Once a person accepts Christ as his substitutionary atonement who was punished for his sins against God, God will not punish him again as there is no double jeopardy. The sinner is now a saint, i.e. a holy person in Christ. He will enter heaven as a holy person into the holy heaven.

This was what Jesus meant when He said that though Lazarus was dead, i.e. physically dead, he is very much alive. His spirit is now with God in heaven. Lazarus is more alive in heaven than ever before. When a believer dies, he will close his eyes on earth, and open them again in the heavenly realm. The change is the outward environment. He was living for Christ on earth. After his death, he will live with Christ in heaven. He did not stop believing in Christ on earth and he will continue to believe in Christ in heaven. The ones who believe for the moment and later deny Christ never really believed from the beginning. The ones who never stop believing are the ones who will live forever with God in Christ. 

But man must receive Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour now. Man has no power to raise himself from the dead because he is in sin and will die in sin at the end of life. Once he dies in his sin, he will be eternally defeated by sin. He will be cast into hell. Eternity in the Lake of Fire awaits him. There is no escape. Therefore, the resurrection experience must be experienced now. That is the thrust of verse 26. Jesus says that whosoever lives, i.e. is physically alive now, and continues to believe in Him who died for his sins will never die, i.e. will not experience spiritual death. He will die physically but he will never die spiritually. All sinners are spiritually dead. They do not know it, just like a dead person does not know he is dead. The moment a sinner believes in Christ, he is delivered from spiritual death. He is made alive in Christ.

There is no universal automatic salvation for the whole world. The sinner must believe in Christ with all his heart to be saved. The offer is to all who want to believe. No one is excluded from this offer. There is no sin so heinous that the blood of Christ cannot cleanse. God can forgive all sins committed by all sinners because of the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary when He suffered, died and rose from the dead for sinners.

This offer of Christ has an expiration date. At His second coming, the day of salvation will end. The Day of Judgment will begin. The believer who is truly born again in Christ will experience the resurrected life immediately. This is God’s promise. Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Everyone who has believed will continue to believe. He will experience a life-changing experience from within him. He is never the same again in Christ. Christ became sin for all believers. Christ died and rose from the dead to become our resurrection and the life! Believest thou this?

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew
Advisory Pastor

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