Today I conclude my comments on the articles of the Apostle’s Creed. If you’d like to comment I’d love to hear from you. I trust these few words may have contributed something to your understanding of what it is to have faith in the God of Jesus.
It is significant to note that the language of the creed here says “…resurrection of the body…”, not from the body. The Scriptures are concerned with the salvation of the whole person. Resurrection does not mean immortality of the soul or the repudiation of the body. To make this confession is to believe that, like our Lord Jesus Christ, we will be raised as He was. In the letter of 1 John we read,
“We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
What will be raised from death is not a formless spirit, vague and undifferentiated. I believe I will be raised from death and everything that has gone into making my life what it is will be part of the resurrection. Someone once asked me, “Do think we will know one another in heaven?” “Yes”, I replied, “but without the baggage!”
We cannot penetrate further into this mystery. But it is a mystery, a hope that is meant to inform our living in the present. It should not turn us into mystical dreamers but realists, grappling with the darkness of our lives and the world even as we take up our existence in the sure and certain knowledge that we are loved with an everlasting love.
As in all things, our confession of eternal life is informed by the Cross.To believe in “the life everlasting”, therefore, is not to whistle in the dark in an effort disarm the ticking bomb of mortality. That would be just one more of our human efforts to deny death and grasp at life. To know Christ crucified is to believe with the Apostle Paul,
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Eternal life is the life we already share in our lord Jesus. This life gives a renewed seriousness to the gift of our lives even as it compels us to look forward with joy to the consummation of all things.
For centuries these closing words of the Creed have resonated among the faithful like a great crescendo at the climax of a stirring symphony. They have lifted the eyes of countless hearts toward the dawning horizon of hope. Today they assure us, that in spite of everything, Christ Jesus will one day take our hand as He once took the hand of a little girl locked in death. Then we too, though held in death’s strong bonds, will hear Him say as he said to her, “Arise, little one.” Our confessing will be over. We will see Him face to face and enter the endless joys of His eternal love.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”