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TEXT: John 5:28-29

SUBJECT: Watson on Death and the Last Day #3

Tonight, with the Lord's help, we'll finish our study of Thomas Watson on Death and the Last Day. Thus far, we've looked at the believer's death and what's called the intermediate state that follows it.

I don't need to tell you believers die-the holiest men in the world die-even the Perfect Man died. Looked at from below, death is a terrible thing-an exit from life. But looked at from above, the believer's death is something else altogether: it is an entrance to life. That's not true for the unbeliever, of course. For him, there's nothing beyond death but The Second Death, which is far worse. But for believers, death is the doorway to Life. That's why Paul says,

"For me to live is Christ

and to die is gain".

The believer goes to heaven when he dies-"To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". But that's not the end of the story. As wonderful as that is, it only gets better. For now, dead believers are enjoying the Lord as half-men. But someday their pleasure will be doubled; they'll enjoy the Lord as whole-men.

That brings me to tonight's topic, which is the resurrection.

DEFINITION

Before we get to what Thomas Watson has to say on the subject, let's be very clear on what we're talking about. What is the resurrection?

It is not just life after death. Except for the Sadducees in Israel and the disciples of Lucretius in the Gentile world, all ancient peoples believed in life after death. The Pyramids were built to house dead Pharaohs because the Egyptians believed they were still alive. Socrates thought death was a good thing because it freed the souls of men from the weaknesses of the body.

The resurrection is quite different from that. It is raising the dead body back to life (and for the believer) re-shaping it into the Image of the Lord. It's not that everyone will look the same in the resurrection, but that everyone will bear a striking resemblance to Christ.

That's what the resurrection is.

THE OUTLINE

But that's not what the chapter is about. It's about the blessings of the resurrection for the saved. On the first page, Watson tells us what they are. Quoting the Shorter Catechism, he says,

"What benefits do believers receive from Christ

at the resurrection?

At the resurrection, believers being raised up

In glory, shall be openly acknowledged and

Acquitted in the day of judgment, and made

Perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of

God to all eternity".

THE BODY RAISED

In the resurrection-first of all-the body shall be raised,

"The body shall rise again. We are not so sure

to rise out of our beds as we are to rise out

of our graves. The saved body shall rise again.

Some hold that the soul shall be clothed with a

New body, but that would not be a resurrection-

It would be a creation. `Though worms destroy

This body, yet in my flesh shall I see God",

(Job 19:26). Not in another flesh, but my flesh-

`This corruptible must put on incorruption',

(I Corinthians 15:53)".

It's hard to improve on what he's said here. Everything is gotten right out of the Bible. This means-if you're a believer-

    1. Some time after you die, your body will rise again.
    2. It will be your body that rises (this is not reincarnation).
    3. Your body will be fitted to enjoy the presence of God forever.

To the Greeks of Paul's day, the resurrection was downright stupid. They gave him a respectful hearing till he mentioned it-but then they mocked and called him a babbler. But he made no apology and did not try to accommodate it to their thought patterns. Paul believed in a literal, physical resurrection of the body on some set day in the future. He didn't say when that day would come, but it would come. And dead bodies would come back to life on that day.

PROOFS

Having stated the doctrine clearly, Watson goes on to give four proofs for it. They are:

    1. The Word of God says so.
    2. "I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44);

      He will swallow up death in victory (Isaiah 25:8).

      That is, by delivering our bodies from the captivity

      Of the grave, wherein death, for a time, had power

      Over them. Those who sleep in Jesus, God will

      Bring with Him (I Thessalonians 4:14)."

    3. The Resurrection of Christ anticipates it.
    4. "Christ is risen, therefore, the bodies of the saints

      must rise. Christ did not rise from the dead as a

      private person, but as the public head of the church;

      and if the Head is raised, the rest of the Body cannot

      always lie in the grave. Christ is called the first-

      fruits of those who sleep. As the first-fruits is a

      sure evidence that the harvest is coming, so the

      resurrection of Christ is sure evidence of the rising

      of our bodies from the grave".

    5. God's justice demands it.
    6. "If God be just, He will reward the bodies of the

      saints as well as their souls. They have served

      God with their bodies-their eyes have dropped

      Tears for sin, their hands have relieved the poor,

      Their tongues have sung God's praise-therefore

      Justice requires that their bodies be crowned as

      Well as their souls. And how can that be unless

      They are raised from the dead?"

    7. The believer's happiness requires it.

"If the body did not rise again, then the saint

would not be completely happy. If the soul

should go to heaven and not the body, then

the believer would be only half-saved!"

These-I think-are excellent proofs of the resurrection. If God is just, the dead must rise; if heaven is perfect happiness, the dead must rise; if the Bible is trustworthy, the dead must rise; and-most importantly-if Christ is risen, then the dead must rise.

OBJECTION

But how can this be? If a man died a thousand years ago, his ashes are spread all over the world. Or-what used to bother me as a kid-what if a man was eaten by a fish, but the fish was caught and eaten by another man? Or-what about a saved man who used to be a cannibal? Some of his body used to be someone else's body!

Watson has an answer for this,

"It does not oppose reason, but transcends it.

God can more easily raise the body from

The grave than we can wake a man out of sleep".

That's a bit wordier than it needs to be: Let me sum it up in one word: miracle! No one ever said the resurrection was a natural process; it's a stupendous miracle-an act of almighty power and wisdom.

"Why should it be thought incredible

that God should raise the dead?"

 

 

BELIEVER OPENLY ACQUITTED

The second main point he makes is that the believer will be "openly acquitted" on the Day of Resurrection. This means he will be judged at that time and declared innocent.

A personal note is in order here: When I was a young pastor, I was shocked to find out that most people in the church did not believe in the judgment of Christians. Unbelievers, yes they would be judged on the Last Day-but not believers. That's what my friends said. When I asked them for a Bible verse to support their beliefs, they almost always named John 5:24. In the NASB, it reads,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My

Word and believes Him who sent Me, has

Eternal life, and does not come into judgment,

But has passed out of death into life".

There you go-they said: Believing in Christ gets you out of the judgment. The problem is: "judgment" here does not mean the judgment seat of Christ; it means "Condemnation" (which is the word the KJV uses here). We use the word "judge" or "judgment" in different ways; there's no reason the Bible cannot do the same. If I say "My wife is always judging me", I don't mean she is evaluating everything I do; I means she's condemning me all the time!

Believers will not be not condemned (John 3:18). But we will be judged One Day. Many verses plainly teach that everyone will stand in the judgment on the last day-including Christians (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:14, Acts 17:31, Romans 14:10, II Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:12).

But in that Judgment-Watson says-believers will "stand acquitted".

"Christ will plead His own blood for the saints.

These are the persons I have purchased-

They are the travail of My soul. They have

Sinned, but My soul was made an offering

For their sin"

"Christ will vindicate them from all unjust censures.

They were misrepresented in the world as proud

Hypocrites, but Christ will clear their innocence".

"Christ, as a Judge, will absolve His people

before men and angels-with what ravishing

joy will the saints be filled!"

"Christ will mention before men and angels

all the good deeds the saints have done".

"Christ will call His saints from the bar to

sit upon the bench with Him to judge the

world".

"The saints will be fully crowned with the

enjoyment of God forever".

Right now, men condemn us-they exaggerate our faults or make them up, even! Fallen angels certainly condemn us, as the devil did to Job long ago; they are "accusers of the brethren". Our own hearts often condemn us. They smart when we sin and, often, they make us wonder if we're saved or not.

But on the Day of Judgment, all condemnation will be swallowed up in the love of Christ. What is objectively true now, when then be felt-forever,

"There is no condemnation to those

who are in Christ Jesus".

"Who shall lay any charge to God's

elect? It is God who justifies!"

Because we will be judged one day, we must take life seriously, obey the Lord, and make the most of the opportunities we have of serving Him. But, even though it is sobering, the Day of Judgment holds no terror for the believer.

And here's why: Our Judge is also our Defense Attorney. When Christ pleads His own blood, the Judge will accept it on our behalf.

Believers will be "openly acquitted on the Day of Judgment". Thus, what scares the dickens out of us now, when be a big and happy surprise then.

APPLICATION

The resurrection is still in the future-maybe tomorrow morning, maybe a billion years from now-nobody know when. But the fact of the resurrection provides much comfort in the here-and-now.

"The resurrection is a comfort when a Christian

is dying. Though the body will drop into the

grave, it shall revive in the resurrection. What

God takes away by death, He will restore again

At the resurrection-in a more glorious manner".

This means death is not the end for you (if you're a believer). It also means your saved loved ones are not dead, but only sleeping in Christ, awaiting the Alarm Clock that will ring on the Last Day.

It also means what you do matters. The Epicurean said, "Eat, drink, and be merry-for tomorrow we die". But the Christian says, "Worship God and serve your neighbor-for tomorrow we live!"

In light of the resurrection-Paul said,

"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding

in the work of the Lord, for you know your

work is not in vain, in the Lord".

THE UNSAVED

But what about the unsaved? Will they, too, be raised from the dead on the Last Day? The Bible says they will be. Our text says there will be a

"Resurrection of the unjust".

Thus, death does not destroy the sinner. Something much worse awaits him. Because He rejected God in body and soul, both will be united that day-to suffer forever. God

"Can destroy both body and soul in hell".

And not only can He do it. He will do it. Thus, it's time to repent of your sins and to believe in Jesus Christ. Why don't you? Why not now?

The love of God be with you. For Christ's sake. Amen.

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