by Michael McGee
45. What benefit do we receive from the “resurrection” of Christ?
First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He has obtained for us by His death. Second, by His power we are also now raised up to a new life. Third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.
46. What do you understand by the words “He ascended into heaven”?
That Christ, in the sight of His disciples, was taken up from the earth into heaven, and continues there in our behalf until He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.
47. But is not Christ with us even unto the end of the world, as He has promised?
Christ is true man and true God. According to His human nature He is now not on earth, but according to His Godhead, majesty, grace, and Spirit, He is at no time absent from us.
48. But are not, in this way, the two natures in Christ separated from one another, if the manhood is not wherever the Godhead is?
Not at all, for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and everywhere present, it must follow that the same is not limited with the human nature He assumed, and yet remains personally united to it.
A popular catchphrase that summarizes the heart of Lord’s Day 17 is “the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat.” As the catechism presents to us the benefits of our Lord’s resurrection, as well as explaining the meaning of Christ’s ascension into heaven, we are encouraged in our certain hope and assured of the sure defeat of the Evil One.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a key doctrine in our Christian faith. In this one act, our Lord validated His veracity, for He predicted on numerous occasions that He would be raised from the dead (Jn. 2:19-22; Mt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; etc.). He also proved the legitimacy of His atoning work on the cross, for without the resurrection, there would be no confirmation that our Savior had broken the curse of sin. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated his power over death by showing that the grave could not hold Him, an enemy which no one else has ever defeated.
This important doctrine also affords us a number of comforts.
It assures us that as we are united to Christ by true faith, His accomplishments are applied to us. Not one of our sins remains to be addressed, for Christ would not have risen if He had not met all the demands of the sins of His people.
It also guarantees the promise of eternal life as Jesus proclaimed in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” All those who look to the risen Lord for complete salvation are assured that as they are united to Him by the Holy Spirit, He is able to make their dead souls alive.
Additionally, this doctrine overcomes any fear of the grave, for we will one day rise again. Our Lord’s resurrection guarantees the salvation of our whole person—body and soul—thereby securing our complete redemption. As He defeated the curse of sin on our souls through His death on the cross, so through His resurrection, He has overcome the curse of sin that remains on our bodies. Therefore, one day, when our mortal bodies put on immortality, we will see that “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (I Cor. 15:57)