The work of the Church upon earth resembles and is analogous to the work of Christ, or rather it is the very work of Christ continued by the Church, with the abiding presence also of the Holy Spirit dwelling within it. As Christ both waged war with and gained the victory over the ruler of this world and built upon the rights which He so acquired His own Church, so it is the function of the Church to contend with and to conquer the same enemy and adversary and to build herself upon the rights of Christ, abolishing the old-time manner of life founded upon the rights of the Devil.
And as Christ died and rose again unto life eternal, – for Christ having arisen from the dead dieth no more, death has no more dominion over Him, – so also the members of the Church, dying likewise with Christ, acquire the right of resurrection and to live eternally and reign with Christ, whose kingdom is everlasting and indestructible.
Wherefore all the members of the Church look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. In this hope they pass through this ephemeral life on earth, contending in the strife that is set before them and looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith, becoming partakers of His sufferings that they may become also sharers of His resurrection and of His eternal glory and blessedness.
This dogma of the resurrection and of the eternal life and kingdom is one of the most necessary beliefs for salvation. If one does not accept this dogma, one cannot be a member of the Church, but must be numbered with unbelievers, not being in a position to believe even the other dogmas necessary to salvation, with which it is indissolubly connected, because he who does not believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, does not believe in the resurrection of Christ and comes to be the wholly an unbeliever. Most necessarily therefore is the dogma of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, and he who does not believe in this dogma of faith cannot be saved.
In the ancient Church of the Corinthians there were some who used to say that there is no resurrection of the dead. Upon learning this, Paul the teacher of the faith wrote in the First Epistle thus:
“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 be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ; whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor. 15:12-19.)
By means of this logical conception the Apostle of God shows that unbelief in the dogma of the resurrection of the dead overturns the whole teaching of faith and that this dogma is one of the most necessary of doctrines and is of the number of those without which there is no salvation. Wherefore he confirms and strengthens it, saying:
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things tinder his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put al1 things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all,” (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
By such words the divine Apostle confirms the dogma of the resurrection and the future life and kingdom, from which the Church and every member thereof derives strength to perform the work of God in the hope of the resurrection and the future life and kingdom. But he who has not this hope or has cast it aside is dead and unable to do anything which the Lord commands. But the Lord commands to contend with and to overcome the ruler of this world, and to them who overcome He promises rewards, one portion whereof He bestows here, the remainder in the future.
Therefore the Church is at war with the prince of the world which is built upon sin and death, preaching to those who are ignorant thereof the death and resurrection of Christ and the rights which are derived from faith in Christ by the power of which every one who believes is delivered from the condemnation of death and receives the right of the resurrection to life eternal, if he renounce Satan and all his works of irreverance and unbelief, and live the remainder of life according to the word and law of Christ.
The Church builds herself up when she adds to herself through preaching new members and walks circumspectly according to the right and commandments of her Leader, with whose nature and virtues every member of the Church is clothed, that with Him she may be glorified and reign in the day of recompense and restoration, because as we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, so we shall bear the image of the heavenly. To speak briefly, the present life of the Church and her members regards the future and eternal life, and the doctrine of the resurrection and eternal life regulates and harmonizes the life of each temperately and justly and religiously, because only they who so complete their life have the right of resurrection to life eternal. They who intemperately, unjustly and irreligiously conduct their life shall arise to eternal punishment, as the word of the Lord assures us, saying,
“The hour is coming in which all who are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:28-29.)
To them who are in uncertainty as to how the dead arise and with what body they shall come the Apostle Paul answers, saying:
“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another flesh of fishes, and another of birds. 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. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written. The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shalt be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Cor. 15:36-57).
In this manner therefore, the dead shall rise through the power of God conferring a body spiritual, incorruptible, and immortal. “Therefore,” commands the Apostle who confirms these truths, ”be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58). They who surely hope and willingly and well perform the work of the Lord are engaged upon the work of the building of the Church and the destruction of the old world of sin.