I was reading in Frank Matera’s excellent Biblical Theology this week, and though he is a Catholic (a VERY conservative one), and I disagree with him on many points, he is also a brilliant Biblical Scholar who says some really wise things on the nature of our union with Christ. What Matera says concerns the fact that those who are joined to Christ will benefit from the resurrection of Christ. Here’s what Matera says:
Those who believe already enjoy resurrection life because the one in whom they believe is resurrection and the life. Because they already possess this life, they will live even if they die, and they will not suffer eternal death because the eternal life they already possess cannot be taken from them. Consequently, even though they must face physical death, they will not lose the eternal life they already enjoy. Their resurrected life will be the continuation of a life they already possess.
This is a concept that I spoke about on Sunday morning, and that I believe Luther understood when he wrote the famous hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’.
Luther puts it this way:
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
In other words, once you are joined to Christ, you’re unstoppable. Death can’t keep you from life. You’re going from life to life. This reality is only ours through the finished work of Jesus. This week, I’m going to stop and remember that fact, and preach it to my fears and my self-centered concerns, giving thanks to Jesus who has overcome death to give us life everlasting.