Edward McKendree Bounds (1835-1913) was an American author, attorney, and member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South clergy. While best known for his classic books on prayer, his others are certainly not ones to be missed.
The following is taken from his book The Ineffable Glory, which takes an in-depth look at resurrection. This book has proven to be a comfort to many during times of bereavement, and have helped to solidify the clear teachings of Scripture on the subject.
We would love to give you more from Bounds. If you follow this link, we’ve got a brief sketch of Bounds’ life, and also two free books (Power Through Prayer and The Necessity of Prayer). However, if you’d rather have a closer look at the resurrection, we have The Ineffable Glory available for your Kindle, and also in print.
Whether you buy a book or not, let’s get to the text.
Resurrection Power Lodged in Jesus Christ
The power of God speaks it possible that there may be a resurrection. —Matthew Henry
If you knew the power of God, you would know that He can do it; and if you knew the Scriptures, you would know that He will do it. —Bishop Horne
In the lessons that Jesus Christ taught of the unselfish ministries of the social life he guards our feasts and their guests so that there may be none of the pride of life in them: “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when than makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
The resurrection of the dead was an accepted fact in Jewish popular teaching and credence, well known and constantly taught in the Pharisaic schools of thought and doctrine, grounded on the teaching of the Old Testament and their schools of tradition and stalwart orthodoxy. In teaching, Christ accepts as true the doctrine as understood and so bases and refers the holy ministries of mercy and service to that great time for their recompense: “At the resurrection of the just.”
All the events of this life are to have their reference to the resurrection hour! How unselfish and dignified, how full of gravity will a life be that shapes all its actions by the resurrection or judgment day! “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” “Thou shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Assured fact! The truth of all truths! Let us keep our eye on that great hour. Let us shape our actions by its high rules of righteousness, rectitude, truth! Let us await its awards with a holy, lowly, unselfish ministry to the afflicted and beggared ones of earth, who cannot recompense us—take God as their security, and look to the resurrection as pay day.
The statements of Jesus are direct in regard to the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, propounded a question to Christ in order to confute the doctrine. In his reply he asserts the fact in opposition to the Sadducees and elevates the doctrine above the low and carnal views of the Pharisees, and also asserts it as fundamental to the nature of God and as belonging to the teachings of Moses.
“Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. And the third took her: and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them. The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”
This afforded Jesus Christ a fine opportunity to explode the doctrine of the resurrection if not true; instead he relieves the doctrine of its Pharisaic rubbish and debauchment, declares and confirms it by Scripture and by the character of God, putting it upon its divine and spiritual basis.
This is an important occasion. It is light on the doctrine of the resurrection to those who opposed it. Doubtless this question had often confused and silenced the Pharisees. The Sadducees denied the resurrection—angel and spirit. Here they came saying there was no resurrection, maintaining this against our Lord. He answers: “Ye do not understand the Scriptures which imply the resurrection, nor the power of God before which all these obstacles vanish.” Our Lord asserts here against the Sadducees the existence of angels and reveals to us the similarity of our future glorified state to their present one. The books of Moses were the great and ultimate appeal for all doctrine. The assertion of the resurrection comes from the very books from which their objections had been constructed. Our Lord here speaks of the conscious intent of God in speaking the words. God uttered these words to Moses in the consciousness of the still enduring existence of his peculiar relation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus declares that they still live. It is an assertion which could not be made of an annihilated being of the past. Weighty testimony against the so-called sleep of the soul in the intermediate state. The burden of the law, “I am the Lord thy God,” contains in it the seed of immortality and the hope of the resurrection.
For the present state of men marriage is an ordained and natural state of things. They who are worthy to obtain the resurrection life are no longer under the ordinance of marriage, for neither can they die any more. They will have no need of a succession and renewal; they are alive for evermore. They are by their resurrection essentially partakers of the divine nature, and can die no more. It is a covenant relation on which the matter rests. In regard to him who inhabits eternity, the being of all is a living one in all its changes. (Alford’s Commentary on Matthew and Luke.)
How clearly, distinctly, sublimely our Lord declares the resurrection of the body from God’s relation to his covenant patriarchs, as shown in the call of Moses for their deliverance from an enslavement as dark, as terrible, and as hopeless as death! Their deliverance from the death and slavery of Egypt was to be a type and prophecy of the glory of the resurrection from the dominion and tyranny of death.
Our Lord on this occasion, answering the questioning of the Sadducees, puts them to silence; but beyond this he draws the sublimest lesson about the great doctrine of the resurrection of the body, from the call of Moses, and unfolds the truth free from the stain and thralls of the flesh. The resurrection—heavenly life—is to be a new life based on new relations. The earthly family institutions are not to he revived in the resurrection life. They have their divine uses on earth, pass their day here, but will not have their place in the eternal. The angel life will be the model. The angels are not born into families; each one is separate, independent. So will be our future, individualized and immortal. No marriage there—marriage, the basis of earthly relations, the prime factor in earthly good, will not be there. No death—the source of deepest woe and pain will not be there. Marriage and death are earthly and not heavenly—belong to earth and not to heaven.