My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Lord and Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
DISCUSSION OF THE GENERAL RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
by Father Seraphim Slobodskoy [Orthodox Church of the Mother of God]
The truth of the General Resurrection of the dead is clearly and definitely revealed in the Holy Scripture. It also flows from the fundamental powers of our immortal souls, and from our understanding of an Eternal Omnipresent All-Righteous God.
As early as the Old Testament, the righteous people had faith in the General Resurrection of the dead on the basis of Divine Revelation (Job 19:25-26; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 12:2; Macc. 7:9; and others).
In general, all of the righteous people of the Old Testament considered themselves strangers and pilgrims on this earth and sought the Heavenly Fatherland (Hebrews 11:13-20).
Through the Prophet Hosea the Lord said, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, Where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes" (Hosea 13:14).
In the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ preaches about the resurrection of the dead clearly and definitely: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live...they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (St. John 5:25, 29).
The Savior affirms the teaching of the resurrection by the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Communion. "Whosoever eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day" (St. John 6:54).
When the Savior speaks about the purpose of His advent on earth, He points out eternal life specifically. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (St. John 3:15-16).
During His stay on earth the Savior raised the dead, and He Himself rose from the dead, becoming according to the words of the Apostle Paul, "the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20).
The Apostle placed the truth of the resurrection of the dead above all doubt and contended that it is intimately connected with the Resurrection of Christ and with all the teaching in the Gospels. "Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also in vain...If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).
Besides that, the Apostle Paul points out the natural phenomenon in nature which convinces us of the truth of the resurrection. "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain; it may of chance be wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it has pleased Him, and to every seed his own body...So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor: it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:35-44).
The Lord Himself said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (St. John 12:24). Nature itself shows us this marvelous, authentic phenomenon. A kernel, thrown on the ground decomposes, decays, rots--and then what? Is that all that occurs? No, not at all! From it begins growth. It grows into ears with new grains, despite the fact that it appeared to be reduced to dust. Is not this marvel worthy of our attention? Is it not obvious that this witnesses to the fact that the Omnipresent Creator through death lays the beginning of life, and out of ruin creates new being?
Thus, the mystery of the resurrection of the dead is always before our eyes. It is evident to us in nature, and strengthens our faith, and denounces our skepticism.
But, in spite of this, the question may occur in our soul, "How can the dead be raised, when the body of the dead turns into dust and is destroyed?" If Almighty God gave us existence once from a handful of earth, then obviously He can take the handful of earth a second time and reanimate it. If God brought forth the whole world form chaos; If He created it from nothing, then is it possible that He is unable to form our bodies anew from a handful of earth, and give us the same bodies as before, only in a renewed form?
Figuratively, the Lord already showed the Prophet the mystery of our resurrection from the dead. He was shown a vision of a field strewn with the dry bones of men. From these bones, by the word of God uttered by the Son of man, the figures of men were formed and, perhaps by the same capacity as existed at the primeval creation of man, the Spirit reanimated them. By the word of the Lord, as dictated to the Prophet, first movement occurred in the bones, bone became joined to bone, each according to its place; then the bones became bound with tendons, clothed with flesh, and covered with skin. Finally, on the second sound of the voice of God, pronounced by the Son of man, the spirit of life came forth in them. They all began to live, stood on their feet, and they constituted a great multitude of people (Ezek. 37:1-10). Will not the future resurrection of the dead follow likewise? Wonderful indeed are the works of God! Marvelous is the holy faith that we profess!
Thus, by the righteous determination of God, our frail body, like a seed, is condemned to die at first. It decays to dust, and then rises again. The place where the dead are interred is in essence a cornfield, in which our bodies are sown by the hand of death, like seeds. The earth, our mother, is a stronghold, where in the midst of decay, our immortality is kept. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44).
God did not condemn us to death in order to obliterate His creation, but in order to recreate it, to make it capable of future imperishable life.
It remains for us people to reverently submit to the wise judgment of God, to accept with faith Divine Revelation about our fate, and to look with Christian hope for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come.
[Taken from the book Lessons and Examples of Christian Faith, and other books by Archpriest Gregory Diachenko.]
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in Christ's Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God