These truths are well substantiated by Scripture. See Psalm 16:8-10; Matthew 27:62-66, Matthew 28:5-9, 16,17; Mark 16:6-7,12; Luke 24:4-8,23; John 20:26-29, John 21; Acts 1:2, Acts 2:24-31; Romans 8:34, Romans 14:9-10; I Corinthians 15; Hebrews 13:20.
This article is number 4 in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the established Church of England and has remained unchanged since 1553. The language is slightly different from the Confession of Augsburg, but the body of truth is the same.
Three great truths are considered in this article: (1) The resurrection of Christ (2) The ascension and session (at the right hand of the Father) (3) The return in Judgement.
The statement relating to the resurrection considers the evidence for the fact of the resurrection and the nature of Christs resurrection body.
The witness of Paul to the resurrection is important. His epistles were all, or nearly all, written some time before the Gospel narratives were committed to writing. First and Second Corinthians, Romans and Galatians were written between the years A.D. 52 and 60, by the Apostle whose name they bear. These epistles alone are amply sufficient to prove, not merely that the fact of the resurrection was believed in by the whole Church at the time when they were written, but that the belief in it grew up at the time of the alleged event, on the spot, and that the Church was immediately reconstructed on the basis of the resurrection.
The crucifixion is dated at 28 A.D. Pauls conversion is dated about 35 A.D. Thus within eight years of the alleged event, the fact of the resurrection was universally held by Christians. Thus, the belief is pushed to so early a date which leaves no time for the gradual growth or development of legend or myth.
Then Peters first epistle is known as "the epistle of the resurrection," See I Peter 1:3,21 and 3:21. Then we have Peters sermons on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:24-36 and on Solomons porch, Acts 3:15 and 4:33. We have his address to the Council in Acts 5:30 and the event in the home of Cornelius, Acts 10:40.
All these evidences are independent of the Gospels. Then there are the four statements of the resurrection in the Gospels.
The details of each narrative so harmonize with the details of the other three that no room can be left for doubt.
Bishop Wescott is right when he says, "Indeed, taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no single historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it."
However, not only is the fact of the resurrection important, but also the nature of His resurrection. The article states, "Christ took again His body with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of mans nature." He still bore the marks of His passion when in John 20:20, it says, "He showed unto them His hands and His side." The reality of His body is evidenced in Luke 25:43 when He ate before the disciples. When they were frightened and supposed that they had seen a spirit, He assured them by saying, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle Me and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have," (Luke 24:36-40).
The actual nature of the resurrection body we know little about. It is perhaps impossible for us in our present condition to form any distinct conception of it, or to understand the laws which regulate its presence and action, especially in light of John 20:19, Luke 24:31 and Acts 1:10.
Another important truth taught in this article is the Ascension of our Lord to the Father. Pauls epistles mention it in Ephesians 4:8-10 which we will not quote in detail and in I Timothy 3:16 states, "Received up into glory." Peter in his first epistle, 3:22, states that Christ has "gone into heaven." But in heaven He is still Christ the man. Paul speaks of Him in I Timothy 2:5 as the man when he states, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." Paul again states in Romans 8:32 that Christ Jesus who was raised from the dead is at the right hand of God. In Colossians 3:1 he states that Christ is "seated at the right hand of God." Stephen in Acts 7:55 declares, "Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God."
The right hand is the symbol of strength and power. It is the position of honor and dignity. Pearson states, "The right hand of God is the place of celestial happiness and perfect felicity; according to that of the Psalmist. 'In Thy Presence is fullness of joy, at Thy right hand pleasures for evermore.
Another important truth is stated in this article, the second coming or the return to earth in bodily form of the Lord Jesus Christ. The article says, "Until He returns to judge all men at the last day." The article does not state if it will be a pre-millenial or post-millenial return, but it is a definite statement of a return.
This is important because present day Methodist leaders deny this truth, even scoffing at it. I heard Harold Case, who at that time was the pastor of Elm Park Street Church, Scranton, Pennsylvania, ridicule the doctrine. He said that all I have heard since boyhood, when the world was in a time of stress, was that Jesus was coming back. He said that even his grandfather talked about it but nothing happened in grandads day nor will it in ours. Peter said men would so treat the doctrine, "in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
I would advise our readers to read II Peter 3:13-14. He tells why Jesus has not yet come again in verse 9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise (John 14:3), as men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." let us rejoice that He has not yet come, but let us, also, rejoice in the expectation of His coming as promised by the angel in Acts 1:10-11 and the hope which is ours from the pen of Paul in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
It is plainly taught in the Scriptures that the Second person of the Trinity who came to the world the first time as its Saviour will come the second time as its Judge. See Matthew 16:27, 24:37, 25:31; Romans 2:5-6; I Corinthians 4:5; and II Peter 2:9,10.
While present day Methodist leaders deny this doctrine and are bitterly opposed to all who do believe or teach it, Wesley firmly believed in the second coming and millenial reign of Christ. In Emorys edition of the Works of Wesley, published in 1839, in Vol. 5, page 726, Wesley states that he agrees with Justin that the saints will reign with Christ for a thousand years preceding a general resurrection. Wesley states that Justin deduced this from the testimony of the Prophets and of St. John the Apostle and was followed in it by the Fathers of the second and third centuries.
In Vol. 6, page 743 of Emorys edition of Wesleys Works, in writing to a Rev. Mr. Hartley, March 27, 1764, Wesley says, "Your book on the Millenium was lately put into my hands. I cannot but thank you for your strong and seasonable confirmation of that comfortable doctrine, of which I cannot entertain the least doubt as long as I believe the Bible."
Benson, who wrote Bensons Commentary, and was closely associated with Wesley, preaching Wesleys funeral, in a volume entitled "Sermons On Various Occasions," on page 57. has a sermon entitled "On The Second Coming Of Christ." The sermon is based on II Thessalonians 1:7-9 and is definitely a treatise on the millenial reign of Christ who returns to the earth in a second advent.
Bishop Stephen M. Merrill of the Methodist Episcopal Church in speaking of the second coming and millenial reign of Christ said, "It kindles the fires of devotion and lifts the soul with an atmosphere of warmth and loyalty to Christ and contempt for the world."
Bishop Horace M. DuBose, D.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in his book, "The Bible And The Ages," pages 251 and 252 says, "The Scriptures are our guarantee that all
shall be finished according to the pattern given at the beginning. However, nothing is more certainly taught in the Gospels, as also in the epistles, than that the Lord will come 'a second time; and also that He will come 'in glory...the modernistic bravado which empties the millenial era of its bodily risen Christ and His Messianic reign with the saints is a denial of the faith, and no better than infidelity...As the Bodily Resurrection was answer to the Virgin Birth; and as the Ascension was answer to the Resurrection, so the Ascension will be answered in the second advent, and in the bodily resurrection of all who sleep in Christ...the Lord will suddenly appear, and that as a thief in the night; our Redeemer shall stand upon the earth, and we shall see Him as He is, and that for ourselves. He will then show us what He will do; and from henceforth we shall forever be in His presence. This safely and surely is the Millenial pledge. "Even so come, Lord Jesus."
With such definite statements of their belief in the second coming and millenial reign of Christ by Wesley, those associated with him, and the Bishops, leaders of Methodism, of a generation ago, how tragic that so many of Gods people within The Methodist Church today are robbed of the blessing and hope of this precious truth. Truly there are many in places of authority in Methodism who are not worthy of the name.