April 4, 1904


Bible House chapel, in Allegheny, was crowded yesterday when Pastor C T Russell spoke on Christ's resurrection. The text and discourse follow:

Dear Friends: It is appropriate that we notice that the most important steps in the divine plan for the recovery of man from sin and its penalty are three in number. The first of these was our Lord's death as the redemption price of Adam and his race from the "wages of sin" -death. This we celebrated on its anniversary during the week just past. I am confident that I reflect the sentiments of all who participated on that occasion-that it was a most blessed and refreshing season, and that our hearts took fresh courage as we considered the love of God manifested in the gift of His Son, who died for our sins.

The second of these important steps in the plan of salvation was our Lord's resurrection from the dead; for be it noted that the redemption could have profited us nothing whatever had the Redeemer Himself remained under "the curse" -the death penalty-which he bore for us. Had our Lord Jesus remained under the power of death he could never have saved us; for the salvation promised us is a resurrection from the dead, and a dead savior would be no savior at all-Himself under the power of death how could He have released Adam or any of his family?

The third important step in the divine plan of salvation is the second coming of Christ, to actually bestow upon the faithful ones of His church the blessings promised to them, and to actually proffer to the world in general opportunities for reconciliation to the Father secured by the redemption sacrifice. Our topic for today is the second of these important items-our Lord's resurrection from the dead, and we choose as our text the words of the apostle:

"Now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man comes also the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive; but every man in his own order." -1 Cor. 15:20-23


It is unfortunate that a false theory respecting the penalty of sin (death) has so engrafted itself upon the minds of Christian people as to distort their views and really make meaningless much that the scriptures state respecting the resurrection of the dead. From the ordinary standpoint it would matter little to us whether our Lord Jesus arose from the dead or not-it would matter little whether anyone ever rose from the dead or not. The usual thought respecting resurrection is that it relates merely to the body and not to the soul. The theory is that the soul, so far from dying with the body, really becomes more alive without the body, and hence some speak of getting "free" from the body-being "liberated from the prison house of clay." To such as have been misled by such false conceptions of the facts as are implied in this language, the resurrection must mean to a greater or less degree a reimprisonment, a restraint of liberties, a limitation of powers and attributes.

Such persons in reading the scriptures must feel more or less confused when they come across statements by the Lord and by the apostles and the prophets implying a great necessity for a resurrection-an absolute necessity-implying the utter nothingness of the person in death if there be no resurrection for him. In the preceding context the apostle has been discussing this very subject with some who, apparently, had come under the teaching of Greek philosophies, called Platonic philosophy-the same error which so generally prevails among Christian people today. Note the apostle's words, "If Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some amongst you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" -or as some now would perhaps state it, there is no necessity for a resurrection from the dead.

The apostle could not agree with any such suggestion. In his theology as in that which prevails throughout the scriptures every hope of future life hinges upon a resurrection from the dead. The apostle states this in so many words: "If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen-if a resurrection of the dead is an impossibility, it must have been an impossibility in our Lord's case, (the argument), and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." Verses 12-18 [HGL201]


What strong language the apostle uses! He lays the whole stress of future salvation upon a future resurrection of the dead, and he unites the resurrection hope of mankind with the resurrection of our Lord. If Christ did not rise from the dead, no one will rise from the dead; if Christ did rise from the dead, it proves the possibility of a fulfillment of God's promise-the hope of a resurrection for every member of Adam's race sentenced because of Adam's sin and redeemed by our Lord's sacrifice.

All Christian faith is vain if there is no resurrection, all Christian preaching is vain, and all those who have gone down into death have perished-are without hope of any future life anywhere or of any kind-if there be no resurrection of the dead. Read these words of the apostle over to yourself quietly at home, ponder their meaning, and you will agree with me that our Lord's resurrection was a most momentous event.

The scriptural presentation of this subject is that God's penalty for sin includes the soul as well as the body-the intelligent and mental and moral qualities as well as the physical. From the scriptural standpoint Adam's soul was sentenced to death, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." It was necessary therefore, in order to Adam's redemption, that whoever would pay his ransom price to justice must die, not only physically but in every sense of the word-must fill the conditions of the penalty.

In Adam's case this penalty was represented in our Lord's words, "Thou shalt surely die," addressing the intelligence of Adam, and not merely saying, Thy body shall die and leave thee more alive than ever. The scriptural presentation of the sentence upon Adam is, "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." We have already seen on a previous occasion that the human soul or intelligence or existence is the result of a combination of life force ("spirit of life") with physical organism, and that the death of the man is the death of the soul, resulting from the separation of the spirit or vital spark of life from the organism or body.

This penalty which came upon Adam has been transmitted in a natural way to all humanity as his children, as the text declares-all who were in Adam at the time of his fall have inherited the dying qualities implied in his sentence.

The scriptures represent that the whole world of mankind, thus dying, go into oblivion, into unconsciousness, into dissolution. Thus we see that the death penalty upon man took from him all the rights and privileges which had belonged to him as a creature of higher intelligence, endowed with the moral likeness of his Creator-the privilege or boon of everlasting life.

This special provision of God for man above the provision for the lower animals having been lost by disobedience, man really was, therefore, on the same plane as the brute creation-without any right in God's promise or any character of his own which could call to justice for everlasting life.

Whatever, therefore, God shall at any time proffer to man in the nature of a hope or prospect for eternal life must be wholly as a free gift on God's part, entirely independent of any rights or privileges with which mankind was endowed at the time of his creation-for all these were "lost." But our Lord Jesus explains to us the object of His first coming, saying, "The son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost." Men by disobedience had "lost" the right to eternal life, and all the privileges and blessings and opportunities attaching to that great boon. It was this life-right that man needed and that Christ came to give back to him. The Lord explains this in so many words, saying, "I am come that they might have life-and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) He tells us again that he came not to destroy men's lives but to save them-to save them from the death sentence, the death penalty under which the race had then been for more than 6,000 years. -Luke 9:56


Our Lord explained further how he intended to give the world life, saying, "The son of man came not to be served unto, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28) From this standpoint our Lord's life was laid down in death in exactly the same manner in which Adam's life was laid down, and for the very purpose of securing to Adam (and to the race in him when he was condemned) a release from the original sentence-a release from the death penalty.

In view of this, dear friends, what should we expect to find the Scriptures to teach respecting the character of our Lord's death? Do they teach, as is generally believed, that our Lord only appeared to die, but that in reality He did not die, and merely allowed His body to die on the cross? Not so, the Scriptures teach very explicitly that "He made His soul an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:10). Again they tell us that "He poured out His soul unto death" (Isa. 53:12). They tell us further that eventually "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied" (Isa. 53:11). It is evident, then, from these Scriptures that our Lord's "soul" died and thus fully met the penalty against sinners- "the soul that sinneth it shall die."

Whoever sees this clearly and distinctly sees that justice has been fully met, and that God, having thus laid upon His Son the penalty of Adam, can now be just in setting at liberty from death, the soul of Adam and the souls of all of Adam's posterity, all of whom came under this death sentence through his disobedience, as the apostle most explicitly states the matter. -Rom. 5:12

Not only have we this evidence that Christ poured out His "soul" unto death and made His "soul" an offering for sin-for our sins-but additionally we have the Scriptural testimony that His "soul" was delivered from death in His resurrection-thus proving beyond peradventure that he did pay mankind's penalty, that He did pay the "wages of sin" - "the soul that sinneth it shall die." The prophet David, speaking of our Lord, distinctly tells us that His "soul" was not left in sheol-the grave, the death state. -Psa. 16:10

Let us notice the Apostle Peter's testimony on this subject, as recorded in Acts 2:24-34. He is discussing our Lord's resurrection, in full harmony with the words of the Apostle Paul in our text. Does not the frequency of the Scriptural references to the resurrection of the dead and the infrequent mention of it in the pulpits of our day attest clearly what we have already been showing, namely, that [HGL202] a great and serious error has crept into the Christian faith which bears upon this subject, and which tends to make the word of God of none effect to them that are beclouded with the error? It surely does.

It must surely strike Christian people in general as remarkable that so much emphasis is laid upon the absolute necessity of the resurrection of Christ and of the church and of the world in the Bible mention of these matters, while the majority of Christian people have perhaps never heard the subject of the resurrection preached upon a single time in all their lives. Why? Because of the erroneous thought that men who have died know more than they knew before they died.

It all comes from the ignoring of the Scriptural testimony on this subject, to wit, that "the dead know not anything-so that their sons come to honor and they know it not, or to dishonor and they perceive it not of them. For there is neither work nor device nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest." -Job 14:21; Eccl. 9:10


The Apostle Peter's argument is quite to the point. He was preaching on the day of Pentecost; he was charging home to his hearers the fact that they had crucified Jesus, and then in offset declares that God raised Him up from the dead-that it was not possible that He should be holden of death. It was the Father's promise that our Lord's faithful sacrifice of His life as the man Christ Jesus should not signify to Him an utter blotting out of His existence.

It would indeed mean the termination, the complete blotting out of Him as a man-His human existence, which He had assumed in exchange for a previous spirit existence, being given up as a "ransom" price for Father Adam and thus for all who were involved in Father Adam's disobedience. He could not rise from the dead as a man, as a human being, as flesh-his flesh being given once and for all and forever for the life of the world, for Adam and his race. -Heb. 2:9; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6

But nothing in this arrangement for the complete laying down of His life as "the man Christ Jesus" interfered with another arrangement which the Father provided, namely, that at the time of His consecration when 30 years of age, He should be "begotten again" of the Holy Spirit to a new nature-a spiritual nature, higher than human. This spiritual nature developed as the earthly nature of our Lord was sacrificed day by day in obedience to the Father's plan.

The new nature, however, was merely the new will, the spirit-begotten mind of our Lord, and was entirely dependent upon His physical organization; and when, therefore, He was crucified, when He died, the new mind as well as the fleshly body was involved. With Him, as with all others, there was neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in sheol.

Our Lord's resurrection, therefore, was not as a man, but as a spirit being-such as He was before he undertook the work of man's redemption and left the glory which He had with the Father before the world was-only that now His exalted position is still a superior one to that which He previously enjoyed. (Philip. 2:9) This is the teaching of the apostle when he says: "He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit." Speaking of our Lord's faithfulness unto death and the glorious exaltation to which it led, he says: He left the glory of the Father and took a bondsman's form and was made flesh for the suffering of death-that "He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. And, being found in fashion a man, He humbled Himself even unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. . . and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father." -Philip. 2:7-11; Heb. 2:9

St. Peter, after declaring our Lord's resurrection from the dead, makes various quotations from the Prophet David, showing that our Lord's resurrection and future glory were foretold. Then, proving that David was not speaking these things respecting Himself, but respecting Christ, he says: "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the Patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried and his sepulcher is with us unto this day."

The fact of his burial proved that David's flesh did see corruption, that God did not deliver him from the power of death, and his sepulcher was a standing memorial, not of his resurrection, but of his death and corruption and hope of a future resurrection through Christ. The apostle, in the words of our text, proceeds to show that David, as a prophet, foretold the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to be the heir of the throne of Israel and the world, as God had declared to David, and as He had previously declared to Abraham.

"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses," said St. Peter; and then he referred to the miraculous power of the holy spirit displayed in the eleven apostles as proofs that Jesus not only had arisen from the condition of death, but that He had ascended up on high to the Father and had sent forth the holy spirit, whose manifestations were generally perceived. As though to clinch his argument, and to prove that David was speaking of our Lord and not of himself, the Apostle adds in verse 34, "For David is not ascended into the heaven" -his prophetic reference therefore was to Jesus the one whom he represented in type and prophetically.


As the fact of Christ's death attests His love and devotion to us and that the penalty for the sins of the whole world has been fully paid, so His resurrection from the dead on the third day assures us that the Father was pleased with the sacrifice, that justice accepted it, and that therefore it will be possible to justly exonerate the whole world of mankind from the Adamic sin and all the penalties and consequences, depravities and hereditary weaknesses which have come down to us through that original sin.

God can be just and yet justify all mankind from all things-from all the sins that are the result of our original impairment as a race, mental, moral and physical degeneracy. The resurrection of Christ assures us further that God, who changes not, is carrying out the stupendous plan of salvation which he at first arranged, concerning which the Apostle prayed that the early church might more and more have the eyes of their understanding opened, that they might be able to comprehend with all saints the [HGL203] lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God, which passeth all understanding.

This great, wide and deep and high plan of God relates to and has blessing for every member of our fallen race. As all who are in Adam shared his penalty, so all who shall come into obedient relation with Christ will in Him share the life which He has secured for the race. As yet only the church, only the "little flock," have had the eyes of their understanding and the ears of appreciation opened to grasp the situation and to appreciate the love of God which passeth all understanding.

This "little flock" -as we shall see, the Lord willing, next Sunday-is to have a special resurrection to spiritual favors and blessings and position, and from that standpoint in association with the Lord shall dispense blessings to the whole world of mankind in due time.

The due time for the world to have its resurrection privileges will be the next age, but this also we leave for consideration next Lord's day. Today we are dealing with the fundamental fact that our dear Redeemer died for our sins, and, as the apostle expresses it, "rose again on the third day from the dead for our justification." Blessed are our eyes and our ears which see and hear now of the grace of God! A special blessing comes to all of us who thus learn in advance of the world of the precious boon secured by the dear Redeemer's death, and which He lives to bestow. The bestowment of this blessing upon the world waits for the election of the church, the bride class, to be joint heirs with Jesus in His heavenly kingdom.

In view of this wonderful outcome-in view of how much was dependent upon the Lord's death, and then dependent upon his resurrection and is still dependent upon His coming in the power of His kingdom to pour out the blessings secured by his death-how much may we rejoice today and give glory to God that the grave no longer holds our Master. We rejoice that the bars of the prison house of death have been broken so far as He is concerned, and that shortly they shall be broken so far as the church, His consort, is concerned, and that the hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall come forth-shall be released or have the opportunity of being released, from the bonds of death, as well as the bonds of sin, shall have the privilege of being delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

We do not wonder that farther along in the same chapter in which our text is found, the apostle-still discussing this momentous question of the resurrection of our Lord and its import of resurrection to the church and to the world-pointing down into the future accomplishment of divine promises, breaks out into the exclamation, "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O, death! Where is thy sting? O, grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" -victory over sin, victory over death!

Our Lord's last great message to His people refers to the same victory, triumphantly saying: "I am He that was dead (not merely apparently dead, but really so) and, behold, I am alive forever more, and have the keys (the authority, the power over) death and hades (the grave or death state)." -Rev. 1:18

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