by Rev. Travis Berg

The resurrection of the body is the culmination of the Holy Spirit’s work. The Large Catechism’s explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed points this out clearly: “I believe that the Holy Spirit makes me holy. . . By the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”[1] In this life, we need the church, where our sins are daily and richly forgiven for the sake of Christ. The Holy Spirit crucifies the Old Adam and the body of sin every day of our lives by daily contrition and repentance. Every day the Paraclete raises up the new man in us by the Word of the Gospel.

But at our temporal death, we are freed from sin. This is where God does His great work of separating our nature from original sin, that deep corruption which infects all our powers and faculties. This is why the resurrection is not only a very comforting teaching for Christians, but it also reminds us that we are not as God originally created us. Death is not a sloughing off of the flesh. The body is not an old coat which can be tossed after use. God created us body and soul. The Son redeemed both body and soul with His blood. The Spirit sanctified both body and soul by the Gospel. And, on the Last Day, our bodies and souls shall be reunited to live immortal, imperishable lives in bliss forever.

The resurrection of the dead is one of the neglected portions of the Apostles’ Creed. Even though we recite it often, indeed, every day, many people only think of the interim state when they think of heaven. Unfortunately, by doing so they are missing out on the inexpressible, glorious hope which we have. Just as Christ has been raised from the dead, we too shall be raised to new life. Luther continues in the Large Catechism: “We will come forth gloriously and arise in a new, eternal life of entire and perfect holiness.”[2] In this life, we are growing in sanctification, but we must still contend with the corruption in our nature. But, in the resurrection of the body, there will be no more forgiveness because there will be no more sin. And that will be a glorious day for all believers in Christ: “We will be full of godliness and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a new, immortal, and glorified body.”[3] One day, our struggle against sin, death, and the power of the devil will be over. We will no longer be soldiers of Christ, fighting against the infernal foe, but we shall shine like the stars in the firmament, at peace for all time.

The resurrection of Christ teaches us many things. It shows us that He truly is the Son of God, that His work of redemption is complete and sufficient, and that His words and His works are utterly divine and true. But Christ’s resurrection also teaches us that He has destroyed death by death and has removed the debt of sin which we owe. And because we are in Christ, we too shall never see death, as He promised.  Our lives are hidden with Christ in God, and on the Last Day, we will see Him face to face, because we shall be as He is. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

The Rev. Travis Berg is pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Latimer, Iowa.

[1] LC, Second Part, Apostles Creed, par. 40-42.

[2] Ibid. 57-58.

[3] Ibid. 58.