How many times have we stood at the grave of a departed loved one and heard the words, “Dust to dust.” If the one who was being lowered into the dust of the earth was a Christian, then there may be an interesting scenario that sometimes exists among all those who are standing as mourners around the grave. It is often the scenario of two groups who have opposing world views. One group maintains a world view that is based on a sincere hope that the one being lowered into the grave will rise again. This group of witnesses believe as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who confessed to Jesus before He resurrected Lazarus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (Jn 11:24). This group of witnesses have a glorious hope that is consistent with their belief concerning the origin of all life on the face of the earth. They are there at the grave, therefore, because they have a consistent faith in things of the past that inspire hope for the future.
The Christian’s belief in the coming resurrection is based on his or her faith in a God who created from the dust of the earth the body of those in whom He breathed the breath of life (Gn 2:7). As the first body of man was created from the dust of the earth in a moment of time, so it will be in a moment in time when every lowered body will be resurrected in the future. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Th 4:16). This will all transpire “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised” (1 Co 15:52). The Christian believes in a God who can both create out of the dust of the earth, and then, once the body returns to the dust of the earth, can create it again in a resurrection.
We must clearly understand the world view of those Christians who stand at the grave of a departed brother or sister in Christ who believe in a future resurrection. They believe in the God of creation who created the first man Adam from the dust of the earth. If this God can so create, then the body of the saint who is lowered into the grave can be created again from the dust of the earth. If the resurrection to come will be “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” then the creation of the first body on earth was “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” If the “moment” of one event is true, then both events must be true. We cannot deny the first “moment” in the beginning, and yet believe in the “moment” that is yet to come in reference to the dead. The time lapse of creation in the beginning will be no different than the creation that will happen again in the resurrection to come. The Christian’s hope in the coming resurrection, therefore, is based squarely on his or her world view concerning the beginning of life in creation.
But now we must return to the burial scene and venture into the world view of the assembled mourners who do not have the preceding world view. We must consider the world view of those who base their faith on the belief that life came into existence through a gradual development of some molecular substances of the sea that eventually resulted in the “first” homo sapiens on earth. The world view of this group believes that once some single-cell form of life was spontaneous generated out of the chance organization of molecular substances in the sea, a primordial form of “life” then split into two cells. Over millions of years there was subsequently the splitting of this primordial cell form of spontaneously generated life into what eventually became land creatures, from which man evolved. Over millions of years, and through the natural selection of those who were more fit to survive in the harsh environment of this world, humans eventually evolved into what we behold them to be today.
This is the world view that is promoted by the majority of the scientific world, and is taught in schools and promoted through electronic media around the world. It is subsequently the foundation of the world view of all those to reject the belief of those who base their faith on a resurrection to come by a God who initially created all life in the beginning. There are those at the grave site, therefore, who may pretend that they have hope in a resurrection to come, but they deny the creation of the first human body of flesh from the dust of the earth.
So in the grave-scene audience there are those who are witnessing the lowering of the body into the grave, but according to their world view, believing that the lowered body is gone forever. They may have not considered this inconsistency in reference to the subject of their world view. Nevertheless, every funeral is a reminder of their contradictory belief in the philosophy of evolution that denies creation, and their futile hope of a resurrection in the future. Since life supposedly came into existence over millions of years of gradual development, then certainly when the preacher says, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” in reference to the lowered body, then silently in the minds of some there is scoffing at such words. The scoffers correctly conclude that if the body of a human took millions of years to evolve into the form in which it is at the time it is lowered into the grave, then certainly there is no rational justification to believe that that body will be “recreated” in resurrection in the future “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
If the scoffer is a Christian who supposedly believes the Bible, then he or she is maintaining a world view that is quite inconsistent if he or she denies the Bible claim of the creation of man from the dust of the earth. In such a world view there is a stark contrast between the belief that affirms that life came into existence instantaneously at the spoken word of God, and the belief that assumes that life developed out of goo, then to the zoo, and finally to you over millions of years. Christians who have deceived themselves into believing this philosophy of the origin of life stand at the grave of their loved ones with a spirit of hypocrisy if they say “amen” to the message of the preacher. They supposedly believe that there will be an instantaneous creation from the dust of the earth of their loved one when Jesus comes again, but at the same time, they believe that Jesus could not have done this very thing in the beginning. They fail to understand that creation and resurrection are inseparably linked to one another.
So as a reminder, we must again consider John 1:1,3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). The grave-side witness who believes that the body of the one who is being lowered into a grave of the earth would have no problem with this statement in his belief in “God.” However, if there were no creation of the first body from the dust of the earth, then his belief is actually in an impotent god who has no power to create again the lowered body from the dust of the earth in a resurrection event. So in order to clearly state the belief of the Christian, John continued, “All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (Jn 1:3). This is a problem for the grave-side witness who supposedly believes in a resurrection, but at the same time has created in his mind an impotent god, who in reference to life, did not create life in the beginning. This person is trying to maintain contradictory beliefs concerning the Christian’s faith in creation and resurrection.
The one who believes that the origin of all life on earth was simply the result of chance actually believes in an impotent god who also cannot resurrect. Herein is revealed the hypocrisy of the grave-side witness who says “amen” to the preacher’s sermon concerning a resurrection that will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” In his world view there was no “moment” of creation in the beginning, and thus his “amen” is simply a vain utterance to put on a hypocritical face of Christian faith, for he cannot consistently believe in a future resurrection.
But just in case we did not understand John’s aforementioned affirmation that this Word, the incarnate Son of God, was the initial Creator of those bodies that have been lowered into graves for millennia, God the Holy Spirit reaffirmed the same thought in another statement: “For by Him [the Word] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Cl 1:16). If indeed the God in whom the Christian believes worked as one in order to bring all things into existence “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” then certainly He can do the same in the last day in reference to the resurrection of all saints who have been lowered into graves.
If one maintains a world view that is based on the belief in a god who did not originally create, then it is entirely contradictory in his own world view to believe in a God who can create in the future through resurrection. It would be inconsistent for him to believe in a God who can resurrect “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” and at the same time believe in an impotent god who cannot create from the dust of the earth. In other words, it is simply not possible for one who does not believe in the God of creation to also believe in any concept of resurrection.
And now we understand why Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead. In reference to twelve baskets full of leftovers after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus revealed that He had the power of creation over the material world and animal life. But through the resurrection of Lazarus, He revealed His authority over all life, and that He had the power to create from the dust of the earth that which is life. So we can be assured, therefore, that He will do it again when He is revealed from heaven “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
[Next in series: Jun 6]