Resurrection: No. 6 - The True Beginning

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 10
F. B. Hole
No. 6 — The True Beginning
More than one “beginning” is spoken of in Scripture. Its opening words go back to the start of all created things; “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:11In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)). In the first verse of John’s gospel we travel into a yet more remote past. “In the beginning was the Word,” that is, He existed before creation began. Go back in thought to the farthest conceivable point which could possibly be called a beginning — He was there.
Then in John’s first Epistle we read, “That which was from the beginning.” There it is the commencement of the manifestation of eternal life in the person of Christ in this world, carrying us back to His incarnation.
Again in Matthew 19:4-84And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:4‑8). The Lord Jesus speaks of “the beginning,” referring evidently not to the actual beginning of Genesis 1:11In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1), but to the creation of man and woman as recorded in the close of Genesis 2, and the setting them in their respective places in regard to each other, and the creation beneath them. At that point it was that the great clock of creation, as at present constituted, was wound up, and its wheels began to revolve, only to cease as recorded in Revelation 20:11; 21:111And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21:1)
, because of the introduction of sin in its earliest moments.
Adam, however, is “the figure of Him that was to come” (Rom. 5:1414Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (Romans 5:14)), and his deep sleep and awaking, out of which sprang the woman, was a type of the death and resurrection of Christ, out of which has sprung the Church which is His body and His bride. As the Risen One, He is the beginning.
“He is the Head of the body — the Church, who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence” (Col. 1:1818And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)).
If we carefully read verses 13 to 18, we shall see that the apostle’s theme is the greatness and glory of “His (God’s) dear Son,” in whom we are redeemed, and into whose kingdom we are now translated. Two vast spheres of glory open out before us: First, the sphere of the first creation in all its parts (verse 16). Inasmuch as He is “the image [perfect representation] of the invisible God,” He is “the first-born of every creature.” The term “first-born” is not used here with any reference to His birth into the world, but rather, that being Himself the Creator, He is before all things (ver. 17), and hence He has the firstborn’s rights in His own creation. He inherits everything, and everything hangs upon Him.
In verse 18 the second sphere comes before us. The glory of the first is admittedly very wonderful. “The heavens declare the glory of God” even if the earth has been marred by sin. The glory of the second, however, far transcends it. This is the new creation sphere, for the moment only perceived by faith, but presently to be publicly manifested.
Near to the very center of that sphere “His body the Church” has her place. The glorious Head of the body is the center. Here we find Him as man come forth in resurrection. He is “the firstborn from the dead,” and, as such, “the beginning.” All and everything that forms part of that new creation finds its origin and takes its character from Him.
In whichever sphere we look, He stands absolutely alone. The pre-eminence is His in all things.
The great fact however, with which we are immediately concerned is that in Christ risen we see the beginning of the vast new creation system, even as it was in His death that its moral foundations were laid.
To unfold the glories of that system, to present its various component parts, is entirely beyond the power of the writer, still one or two scriptures may be referred to as throwing a little light on this great subject.
Ephesians 3:1515Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:15) indicates that in the coming day there will be various “families,” various circles of relationship and privilege, some heavenly and some earthly in character, “The Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every [R.V.] family in heaven and earth is named.”
In keeping with this the Lord Himself said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions [or abiding-places R.V.]... I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:22In 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. (John 14:2)).
We get a glimpse of some of these various families in Hebrews 12:22-2422But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22‑24). The heavenly Jerusalem is mentioned, angels, the church of the first-born, and also the spirits of just men made perfect; while in Revelation 21 and 22. the veil is drawn aside from the future, and we are permitted to see a little of that creation in detail of which Christ is the beginning in resurrection. It is worthy of note that twice in these two chapters we get the words, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (ch. 21:6 and 22:13), and in both cases the speaker is our Lord Jesus Christ. He it is who in John’s vision sits upon the throne and makes all things new (21:5), and He is the coming One whose reward is with Him (22:12).
In the first case the setting is that of God’s sovereign purpose. The end of man’s little fevered day has been reached. The ragings of the heathen, the vain imaginings of the kings of the earth, have been hushed in judgment. Evil has been dealt with in Satan its source, as well as in its outworkings in the self-destroyed children of men. The last enemies — death and hades — have been destroyed. Then the eternal thoughts of God find their accomplishment. The very heavens and earth are re-cast and established in new creation power. The Church, as the bride of Christ, the holy city, New Jerusalem, is set in her appointed place; men on the new earth find their place and portion with God. Every dark result of sin disappears. The former things are passed away, and God’s new creation system is launched forth upon a radiant sea of endless life and light and love, where He Himself is all in all.
But there is One — well known through grace — who sits enthroned at the center. He it is who in sovereign might brings all this to pass, and says “It is done.” He is the great end of all things. He is also the beginning. It is even as if He directed every eye filled with the glory of that new creation world back through the centuries, the changing scenes of time to that moment when, as risen Man, He stepped forth from the lonely sepulcher by the side of Golgotha’s hill, and said, “There you see the beginning.” In that Man and His resurrection from the dead there abode the potential power of all the glory of that eternal day.
In the second case our responsibility is the setting. He again emphasizes His speedy coming, and this time not so much in connection with the affections of His bride, leading her to say “Come” as with the responsibility of His servants. He says, “My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” It is in connection with this that He again presents Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Every man’s work will be greatly colored by the measure of recognition given to this great fact. That service is most acceptable to God which not only has Christ as its end, but Christ as its beginning; taking its rise and source in Him.
The real value and importance of this part of the truth cannot be easily over-estimated, especially in view of the actual condition of Christendom today. Two leading features must surely strike any thoughtful observer, if an earnest and awakened Christian: first, the great outward prosperity of the professing Church, in its many branches. Much advance has been made in numbers, influence, wealth, and activity. The day of great organized effort has arrived, and things are being attempted and accomplished upon a grand scale, undreamt of not so many years ago.
Second, there is with all this an extraordinary indifference as to Christ. There are many, thank God, everywhere to be found who love and reverence His blessed Name, but they are amongst the rank and file rather than the leaders. In many quarters anything is tolerated in the way of doctrine, so long as the man is intellectual, cultured, and likely to add influence and luster to his denomination. Men can call themselves ministers of Christ and yet teach from the pulpit practically nothing but the old heathen philosophies, using Christian phraseology to express their terms, and do so with impunity.
Viewing the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. as a prophetic outline of the history of the professing Church upon earth, we have evidently reached the Laodicean stage where these features are exactly described. Outwardly “rich and increased with goods” and having “need of nothing,” really “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” because neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm when Christ is in question.
It is to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans that the Lord presents Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (chap. 3. ver. 14). This is surely very significant, and gives us in few words the antidote to the poison at work. Let us take good heed to it.
Laodicean doctrine has man as the beginning — if it does not go back to the ape, or even the protoplasm-and it certainly has man, deified man, as its end, and if Christ is brought in, it is as an example, an incentive and helper to man in his struggle on the upward road of progress.
In contrast to this the truth of God, as revealed in the Scripture, declares man to be lost because hopelessly defiled and corrupted by sin. He brings in the cross of Christ as that whereby sins have been atoned for, and man the corrupt sinner — judicially dealt with and ended in the death of the One who took up man’s place and state before God. It sets forth Christ in resurrection as the beginning of all those things summed up in “the creation of God.” Once let the truth get possession of the heart and the self-complacency of Laodicea is destroyed. May its preserving power be known to every one of us!
One thing more. Apart altogether from this preserving power, and its great importance for that reason in the present day of departure from truth and incipient apostasy, there is the blessing that flows to the soul from thinking the thoughts of God, and viewing things from His standpoint.
Man in his unconverted state is an absolutely self-centered creature; beyond his own very limited horizon his thoughts never rise. Even after conversion it is natural for us to dwell a good deal upon ourselves, our forgiveness, our deliverance, our blessing — and the beginning from which we reckon everything is the hour of our own conversion: that is the great red-letter day for us. We would not wholly condemn this. The moment when, turning to God, we first learned the value of the precious blood of Christ to shelter us was indeed a beginning. It was typically foreshadowed with Israel in Egypt. When the first-born was smitten and Israel sheltered by the blood of the Passover lamb, the Lord said, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Ex. 12:22This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2)). It is well that we should recognize that all the days that went before the hour of our turning to God are lost days to us. Until then we never had a beginning. But then it was our beginning: notice the words twice repeated, “to you.” Having made our beginning we should advance and begin to learn things as God sees them.
When we do not make advance in the things of God we become stunted, and lapse even as Christians into a self-centered condition, which is always deplorable, because leading to unhappiness and lack of spiritual understanding. We are like the old astronomers who formed many conflicting theories to account for the motions of the heavenly bodies, none of them very illuminating or satisfying, and it was not until, breaking away from the traditions of the ancients, it was discovered that not our earth, but the sun, was the center of the system around which the planets were revolving, that everything was explained, and that which appeared to be complex and chaotic was seen to be simple and harmonious.
Who can measure then the blessing of traveling in thought out of one’s own littleness into the immensity of the thoughts of God? Be it ours to view things, not with the eye of a caterpillar whose horizon is bounded by the green leaf on which it feeds, but, with the eye of an eagle soaring into the blue dome above the mountain tops. This we shall do if we start forth with the risen Christ as the beginning and center. Every thought of God in connection with Him is imperishable, and will find its full consummation in the coming day of glory.
We have thus surveyed in these papers — though imperfectly — a little of the wealth of spiritual meaning which must have been conveyed to the ears of heaven when the angel said, “He is not here, for He is risen,” on the dawn of that never-to-be-forgotten day.
“He is not here! Hushed are our woes for ever;
The Victor’s shout hath made the welkin ring.
All heaven rejoices, for again shall never
The creature suffer from the serpent’s sting.
The keys of death and hell are in the keeping
Of Him, who from the foe my soul hath freed,
With exultation great my soul is leaping —