We are resurrectionists. We believe Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, to save us from our sins and to show us what will happen to us at the final judgment. The interesting fact here is not that Jesus rose again from the dead, but he did it for us. The love so great that gave his own life for ours.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)
Unless there is a Good Friday in our lives, there will never be an Easter Sunday. The Cross is the condition of the empty tomb, and the crown of thorns is the preface to the halo of light. (Life of Christ, Bishop Fulton Sheen)
The resurrection of the body is an essential Christian doctrine, as the apostle, Paul declares: “[I]f the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:13–18).
During this Easter Season- let us reflect upon what early Church leaders taught about the resurrection. Why is this important?
Look At The Church Fathers Messages On This Subject
Clearly look at what Paul wrote to the Corinthians on this subject
The Apostle Paul
Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15 12-19)
Now, wait for a second here, the underlying theme here also takes out the entire idea of Protestant Reformers who said that the Church needed to change. Is Paul not saying something different here? Is Paul not encouraging the congregation to believe in what the Church is preaching and not to listen to people who speak differently? In fact, is Paul not a leader of the Church and was he not trying to standardize the teachings of the Church in his day? When the Protestant Reformers threw out the early Church Fathers- the unintended consequence resulted in throwing out Paul and his writings as well. In essence, they threw out the vast majority of the New Testament. This does not make any sense even when you consider their rationale. By starting their own Churches- they threw out some of the best wisdom of the early Church- the words of our early Church Fathers.
Pope Clement I
“Let us consider, beloved, how the Master is continually proving to us that there will be a future resurrection, of which he has made the Lord Jesus Christ the firstling, by raising him from the dead. Let us look, beloved, at the resurrection which is taking place seasonally. Day and night make known the resurrection to us. The night sleeps, the day arises. Consider the plants that grow. How and in what manner does the sowing take place? The sower went forth and cast each of the seeds onto the ground; and they fall to the ground, parched and bare, where they decay. Then from their decay, the greatness of the master’s providence raises them up, and from the one grain more grow and bring forth fruit” (Letter to the Corinthians 24:1–6 [A.D. 80]).
“I believe in . . . the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh. Amen” (Old Roman Symbol [A.D. 125]).
Polycarp of Smyrna
“[W]hoever perverts the sayings of the Lord for his own desires, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, such a one is the firstborn of Satan. Let us, therefore, leave the foolishness and the false-teaching of the crowd and turn back to the word which was delivered to us in the beginning” (Letter to the Philippians 7:1–2 [A.D. 135]).
“[Christians] have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ himself impressed upon their hearts, and they observe them, awaiting the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come” (Apology 15 [A.D. 140]).
“Let none of you say that this flesh is not judged and does not rise again. Just think: In what state were you saved, and in what state did you recover your [spiritual] sight, if not in the flesh? In the same manner, as you were called in the flesh, so you shall come in the flesh. If Christ, the Lord who saved us, though he was originally spirit, became flesh and in this state called us, so also shall we receive our reward in the flesh” (Second Clement 9:1–6 [A.D. 150]).
“The prophets have proclaimed his [Christ’s] two comings. One, indeed, which has already taken place, was that of a dishonored and suffering man. The second will take place when, in accord with prophecy, he shall come from the heavens in glory with his angelic host, when he shall raise the bodies of all the men who ever lived. Then he will clothe the worthy in immortality, but the wicked, clothed in eternal sensibility, he will commit to the eternal fire along with the evil demons” (First Apology 52 [A.D. 151]).
“Indeed, God calls even the body to resurrection and promises it everlasting life. When he promises to save the man, he thereby makes his promise to the flesh. What is man but a rational living being composed of soul and body? Is the soul by itself a man? No, it is but the soul of a man. Can the body be called a man? No, it can but be called the body of a man. If, then, neither of these is by itself a man, but that which is composed of the two together is called a man, and if God has called man to life and resurrection, he has called not a part, but the whole, which is the soul and the body” (The Resurrection 8 [A.D. 153]).
Tatian the Syrian
“We believe that there will be a resurrection of bodies after the consummation of all things” (Address to the Greeks 155 [A.D. 170]).
Theophilus of Antioch
“God will raise up your flesh immortal with your soul; and then, having become immortal, you shall see the immortal, if you will believe in him now; and then you will realize that you have spoken against him unjustly. But you do not believe that the dead will be raised. When it happens, then you will believe, whether you want to or not; but unless you believe now, your faith then will be reckoned as unbelief” (To Autolycus 1:7–8 [A.D. 181]).
“For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in . . . the raising up again of all flesh of all humanity” (Against Heresies 1:10:1–4 [A.D. 189]).
“After the present age is ended he will judge his worshipers. . . . All who have died since the beginning of time will be raised up again and shaped again and remanded to whichever destiny they deserve” (Apology 18:3 [A.D. 197]).
“Therefore, the flesh shall rise again: certainly of every man, certainly the same flesh, and certainly in its entirety” (The Resurrection of the Dead 63:1 [A.D. 210]).
“See, too, how for our consolation all nature suggests the future resurrection. The sun sinks down but is reborn. The stars go out but return again. Flowers die but come to life again. After their decay shrubs put forth leaves again; not unless seeds decay does their strength return. A body in the grave is like the trees in winter: They hide their sap under a deceptive dryness. Why are you in haste for it to revive and return, while yet the winter is raw? We must await even the spring of the body. I am not ignorant of the fact that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve, would rather hope than actually believe that there is nothing for them after death. They would prefer to be annihilated rather than be restored for punishment” (Octavius 34:11–12 [A.D. 226]).
Aphraahat the Persian Sage
“Therefore be instructed by this, you fool, that each and every one of the seeds is clothed in its own body. Never do you sow wheat and reap barley, and never did you plant a vine and have it produce figs. But everything grows in accord with its own nature. So also the body which has been laid in the ground is the same which will rise again” (Treatises 8:3 [A.D. 340]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
“This body shall be raised, not remaining weak as it is now, but this same body shall be raised. By putting on incorruption, it shall be altered, as iron blending with fire becomes fire—or rather, in a manner the Lord who raises us knows. However it will be, this body shall be raised, but it shall not remain such as it is. Rather, it shall abide as an eternal body. It shall no longer require for its life such nourishment as now, nor shall it require a ladder for its ascent; for it shall be made a spiritual body, a marvelous thing, such as we have not the ability to describe” (Catechetical Lectures 18:18 [A.D. 350]).
Epiphanius of Salamis
“As for those who profess to be Christians . . . and who confess the resurrection of the dead, of our body and of the body of the Lord . . . but who at the same time say that the same flesh does not rise, but other flesh is given in its place by God, are we not to say that this opinion exceeds all others in impiety” (The Man Well-Anchored 87 [A.D. 374]).
“We confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins; we look for a resurrection of the dead and life in the age to come. Amen” (Nicene Creed [A.D. 381]).
“[Jesus Christ] sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead; at his coming all men have to rise again with their bodies and will render an account of their own deeds, and those who have done good will go into life everlasting, but those who have done evil, into the eternal fire [Rom. 2:6–11]. This is the Catholic faith unless everyone believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved” (Athanasian Creed [A.D. 400]).
“Perish the thought that the omnipotence of the Creator is unable, for the raising of our bodies and for the restoring of them to life, to recall all [their] parts, which were consumed by beasts or by fire, or which disintegrated into dust or ashes, or were melted away into a fluid, or were evaporated away in vapors” (The City of God 22:20:1 [A.D. 419]).
“God, the wonderful and inexpressible Artisan, will, with a wonderful and inexpressible speed, restore our flesh from the whole of the material of which it was constituted, and it will make no difference to its reconstruction whether hairs go back to hairs and nails go back to nails, or whatever of these had perished be changed to flesh and be assigned to other parts of the body, while the providence of the Artisan will take care that nothing unseemly result” (Handbook of Faith, Hope, and Charity 23:89 [A.D. 421]).
By not listening to the teachings of the Church Fathers and following their sage advice, the Protestant Reformers tried to adopt the words of the people without adopting the people themselves. This did not make sense in the 16th century and still does not make sense today. Just remember their words, their deeds, and their Creeds. We welcome Christ into your life and home, and we look forward to a day that we can together carefully consider all of the words of wisdom that have been uttered by the brave Church Fathers. Their knowledge of this season is amazing. Amen