Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 9 Union in Christ’s Death and Resurrection
David A. Green
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Strimple Argument #9: If we’re not going to be resurrected physically,
then the physicality of the resurrection of Christ was redemptively
meaningless. If the resurrection of the dead is non-physical, then
Christ could have been raised non-physically only. Then the physicality
of His resurrection was merely a “brute fact” of history (330).
Answer: We can see the fallacy of this argument if we apply Strimple’s
logic concerning the resurrection of Christ to the Cross of Christ:
If we’re not physically “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20), then the physicality
of the crucifixion of Christ was redemptively meaningless. If the
crucifixion of believers is non-physical, then Christ could have been
crucified non-physically only. Then the physicality of His crucifixion
was merely a “brute fact” of history.
Like all futurists, Strimple knows that the physical work of Christ in
His crucifixion was to be spiritually reproduced in His people (spiritual
crucifixion with Christ); but then like all futurists, Strimple assumes
that the physical work of Christ in his resurrection was to be physically
literally reproduced in His people. Part of the reason for this assumption
is that the resurrection of His people is future in Scripture and
“bodily.” But what is missed by futurists is that the crucifixion of His
people is not altogether past in Scripture, and it is also bodily.
“Our old man was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might
[in the future] be annulled. . . . ” (Rom. 6:6)
For Paul, the past and ongoing crucifixion of believers with Christ
will be consummated in the future annulment/abolition/destruction of
“the body of sin.” No futurist contends that our bodies are now spiritually
crucified with Christ and that our bodies will be literally crucified
with Him in the end of world history. In neither case (past crucifixion or
future crucifixion) is bodily crucifixion with Christ literal, even though
Christ was literally-physically crucified in His flesh-and-bone body.
In the same way, from Paul’s perspective, the resurrection of Christ’s
people with Him is past and future, and bodily. And in neither case
(past resurrection or future resurrection) is resurrection with Christ literal-
biological, even though Christ was literally-physically resurrected
in His flesh-and-bone body. (I will discuss the meaning of “bodily” crucifixion
and resurrection with Christ below.)
Jesus was unique in the physicality of His resurrection (just as He
was in the physicality of His crucifixion) because He was God’s one and
only body of sacrifice for sin and justification. In this sense there is discontinuity
between Christ and believers. But there is perfect, spiritual
continuity. Because we have been justified through Jesus’ physical, sacrificial
body, we now—like Jesus—bodily die to sin and bodily rise to
walk in newness of life while still in our physical bodies (Rom. 6:4).
Now we do not die alienated from God as Jesus did for our sakes. We
do not die forsaken under God’s wrath as Jesus did for our sakes. We do
not die a futile death and go to Hades as Jesus did for our sakes. Jesus
suffered that penalty in order to save us from experiencing it. Because we
put our faith in Him, we will never be the objects of God’s wrath. Adamic
Death and Hades will never separate us from God or from His City. As
Jesus and John taught, though our physical bodies die in the new covenant
world, we “never die” “from now on” because we have already (in
our physical bodies) been given eternal life through His body of sacrifice.
into Hades to preach the gospel to the dead saints (1 Pet. 3:19; 4:6) in anticipation
of their imminent liberation (their resurrection into the kingdom). In a
manner of speaking, Jesus went to Hades/Sheol to distribute to His elect the
“keys” out of their Hadean place of waiting (Rev. 1:18).