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How We Taught the New Testament in the Past: Lesson 27: “He Is Not Here, for He Is Risen”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 10, 2011

Lesson 27: “He Is Not Here, for He Is Risen”

The lesson in our current Sunday School manual looks at the scriptural account in the New Testament, presenting the events that occurred at the time of the Savior’s resurrection. The 1969-70 Priesthood manual, The Master’s Church, takes a more “what’s in it for me?” approach to the resurrection.

The Significance of Christ’s Resurrection and Atonement

In previous lessons we have emphasized the actuality of the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Savior. Let us now focus on the very personal significance of these events to each one of us.

The significance of the atonement and resurrection is expressed in the following three statements: First, each one of us who ever received an earthly body is assured of receiving that body again in the resurrection. Second, the personal nature of the resurrection assures personal identity and brings the comforting prospect of associating with our loved ones in a life after death. third, the degree of glory attained by any individual grows out of the resurrection he receives and will be directly proportional to his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and his obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel as taught by the Savior.

Resurrection – Reunion of Body and Spirit

The physical body is a magnificent instrument which houses the spirit of man. The body is equipped with sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell, and with other sensitivities which make possible the joy of living and learning in the physical world. it possesses emotions, passions, and similar powers which, when properly controlled and used, bring joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. In the following statement the Lord says that he created the earth and placed man in it for the very purpose that man might enjoy it through the senses of his body.

Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;

Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;

yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.

And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used … (D&C 59:16-20.)

Lehi declared: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:25.)

There is a spirit world and a physical world. Just as our physical body helps us understand the physical world, so our spirit body probably serves a similar function in relation to the spirit world. the spirit of man, housed in a mortal body, provides an instrument of inestimable value for understanding, appreciating, and interaction with things spiritual and things temporal. The combination of the spirit with the body is a long step toward the creation of a perfect being, capable of receiving both spiritual and physical fulfillment. According to President Joseph Fielding Smith, anticipation of this state of being was the cause of great rejoicing among the spirits without bodies who were present when the Father and Son announced the plan to create an earth and to send those spirits through birth to inhabit it. President Smith said:

In fact, we could not enjoy full happiness, or joy, because our spirits had not received their tabernacles of flesh by which it is possible for them to become perfect. The Lord says: “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element (the body), inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.” (D&C 93:33-34).

Therefore, there had to come a change. Preparations were made by which we could pass through this mortal probation, receiving tabernacles of flesh that we might go on to perfection.

But the “fulness of joy” mentioned will only be realized when the body and the spirit become inseparably connected, as indicated by the above quotation. This inseparable connection, or union, of the body and spirit is the resurrection. it is brought to pass through the power of redemption, which is possessed by Jesus Christ. This is made clear in the following scripture:

Now, verily I say unto you, that through the redemption which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead.

And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.

And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.

And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it [the earth]. (D&C 88:14-17.)

It is, of course, impossible to comprehend fully the joyous personal experience of the resurrection. having first longed in the spirit world for the experience of moral life; having finally obtained a body and enjoyed its great benefits; then, through death, having been again deprived of the benefit, joy, and utility of our body; then to receive it again, this time perfected and immortalized, must indeed be an incomprehensibly marvelous experience, to which each of us may look forward. This blessing is a gift to each of us from the Son of God.

A Comforting Aspect of the Resurrection

Another great benefit of the atonement is the assurance that death is a transitory condition, and that loved ones who have passed away will be united with us again. It is at times of bereavement that people almost universally need positive answers to the age-old question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14.) President McKay tells the following story:

”Oh, if I only knew!”

Such was the cry of a grief-stricken mother who clasped the silent, prostrate body of a beloved son. In the perfect bloom of health and youthful vigor he had bounded from her presence to join his playmates, that Fourth of July morning, in the celebration of the national holiday. Unfortunately, at that time, firecrackers and other explosives constituted part of that celebration. An accident – an explosion – a few lingering hours of suffering – and her boy lay still in death! A true, dear friend, whose vision, even in sorrow, penetrated the seemingly impenetrable gloom that hung over the household, said comfortingly:

“Be brave, Ann. This loss, to you as terrible as it is sudden, is but temporary. Your boy still lives and you will again meet him.”

‘Oh, if I only knew,” came the yearning expression from her questioning soul.

if she only knew that death is not an eternal abyss – if she only knew that beyond the grave her son possessed his loving personality, radiant boyhood, intelligence, and eternal life! If she only knew this, what comfort would replace her poignant grief!

Very early one Thursday morning, John roe was coaxed into consciousness by the persistent ringing of the telephone. Sister Roe had reached the phone first. As John came into the study, he heard his wife sob, “Just a minute, Dad. Here’s John. Talk to him.” John, immediately sensing tragedy, eased his wife into a chair and picked up the telephone. It was his father-in-law.

“John,” he said simply, “We have bad news. Don Peterson was killed last night in a motorcycle accident.” He related a few of the details and then added, “Marie” (the boy’s mother) “would like you to be one of the speakers at the funeral.”

Needless to say, this was a terrible shock. Don Peterson, a young elder, only 22 years old, had gone to the service station late the evening before to make arrangements to have his car serviced. Dick Richards, his very good friend, had ridden up on his new motorcycle. Along with others around the station, Don joined in admiration of the new bike. He wanted to try it.

“Sure, go ahead,” his friend Dick had responded. Don straddled the bike, revved the motor, and with a wave of his hand took off up the street of this little town. Minutes later he was found dead on the curve of the road south of town.

This was John Roe’s nephew. His wife’s sister, Marie, had lost her husband ten years ago. This fine son was her only child. Now he was gone. When John found words, he said simply, “We’ll be down tomorrow. If it’s Marie’s wish that I should speak, I’ll do the best I can.” What was really going through his mind was: In a situation like this, what can you do? What dan you say to Marie to help her face this loss and find meaning in her life?

As John and Ann pulled up to the old familiar home, they virtually took their courage in both hands. Under the circumstances the least they felt they could expect inside was deep mourning. The possibility of bitterness, the inclination to blame someone – these are common reactions in tragedies even of much less severity than this. But they found none of these reactions. What they did find was a spirit of peace, love, acceptance, and faith. Marie, the widowed mother, was seated on the couch with her arm on the shoulder of Dick Richards. she was talking quietly to Dick – urging, pleading with him not to blame himself. The home was in order. Its tenants were graciously receiving sympathetic friends. There was no panic, no wailing and mourning, no vindictiveness, no desire to blame anyone. The spirit of the home was simply one of acceptance of the facts as they stood, and a desire for courage to endure the parting with faith and understanding.

What made the difference between the reactions of these two mothers – the one spoken of by President McKay, and Marie, the mother of Don Peterson? The first seems to have doubted, at least temporarily, the reality of the resurrection as it applied to her own son. The other possessed faith in the reality of the resurrection so strong that it was near knowledge. She had an assurance that personal identity and individuality will persist after this life. She understood that just as Moroni, John the Baptist, Moses, Elias, Elijah, and the resurrected Jesus, himself, had appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith as recognizable individuals, so her son and husband will also retain their personal identity and will be recognizable as individuals. She had the deep conviction that her family would indeed be reunited; that the family unit is eternal when the necessary ordinances are performed here on earth to bind this unit together in eternity and when one lives Christ’s teachings. The difference between the two mothers, then, resides in knowledge of and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. the contrast gives special meaning to Paul’s statement: “if in this life only we have faith in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor. 15:19.)

The Degrees of Glory

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. … that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2, 3.) This statement by the Savior raises some interesting and vital questions: (1) Who will be resurrected? (2) If one is resurrected, does not this assure him a place in the presence of the Savior and the Father?

Let us take these questions one at a time and consult the scriptures for answers:

1. Who has the privilege of resurrection? Everyone. This great gift comes as a direct result of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and is a free gift to all. The Prophet Amulek made this point very clear when he said:

Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death; for behold the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.” (Al. 11:41.)

The Savior himself taught this doctrine: “… the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29.)

2. Who will have a place in the presence of the Father and the Son? Nephi addressing himself to all who would receive his words, said:

Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Ne. 31:20.)

In glorious verse we have been told who will come forth in the resurrection of the just:

And again we bear record – for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just –

They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given –

That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds fort upon all those who are just and true.

Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.

These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.

These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.

These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection. (D&C 76:50-53, 61-64.)

The scriptures show us that we must have faith, we must obey the commandments of the Lord and we must continue in faith and works to the end if we would be with God and Christ.

There are many degrees and kinds of salvation. We shall receive the degree we have earned. The savior said: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3). Speaking of the degrees of salvation, Paul said:

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. (1 Cor. 15:40-42.)

Which of the mansions (degrees of glory) we receive there depends upon us.

What must we do for ourselves? Nothing. We have no choice. All of us will be resurrected.

What will be the result for us? We will receive our bodies in their perfect physical forms.

Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all should be raised from this temporal death.

The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form, both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. (Alma 11:42-44.)

The kingdom or glory to which a person is assigned will be that which he has earned. Whether it shall be a celestial, terrestrial, or telestial glory will depend on what each person has done with his abilities and opportunities.

They who are of celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.

Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. (D&C 88:28-29.)



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