The GIFTS of the Resurrection
Hello my name is April Mitchell, I’m married to Levi Mitchell who is the youngest son of long time ward members Barry and Elinda Mitchell. We have four boys ranging in ages from 13-6. We have been boomerang children off and on through out our 12 years of marriage, so we’ve been in this ward a few times, a year here and a few months there. I’m a convert, and this was the first ward I ever attended. I would tag along with Levi’s parents to find out what Mormons were all about. So Its always refreshing to come back to the Meridian 1st ward. To see old friendly faces, of course they are more friendly than old.
Since I am a convert, I was not raised in this Church. I was raised up in various Evangelical churches. I am the oldest of 4 children to a single mother. We lived with my Grandmother on and off throughout my childhood. She is an extremely passionate and faith filled person. When I was very young my Grandmother had just become a newly ‘born again’ Christian she shared her new found faith with our family. Our church was an excitable bunch. We played tambourines to worship music and the pastor prayed over those in his congregation with gusto and drama. In this atmosphere of constant celebration, I used to crawl into bed with my Grandmother and beg her in my small voice “ Can you read me the story of when Jesus Died on the Cross?” I remember a lot of emphasize being placed on the part about how he died on the cross for me, an extreme sacrifice, but this was not my favorite part of the story. The Trial, Atonement, and Crucifixion of Christ, to me as a child, were the sad stories that lead to the Happy Ever After. My favorite part of the story was the ending the Resurrection of Christ.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and preached His gospel of love. He was betrayed by one of His closest associates. He was subjected to the cruelty of an unjust trial and sentenced to death. He then died on a cross between two thieves on Calvary’s hill. His lifeless body was buried in a borrowed tomb, the entrance sealed by a great stone and Roman soldiers placed to guard it. Faithful women came that first Easter morning to dress the body of their beloved Master. They were surprised and grieved to be greeted by an empty tomb. When angels spoke these wondrous words to them:
“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6).
The Resurrection of Christ and our own eventual Resurrection are gifts given to us by a loving Heavenly Father. There are blessings without end within the Gift of the Resurrection. I will attempt to explain a few of them.
Christ our Savior Lives
One of the first gifts of the Resurrection is the knowledge that Christ our Savior lives and is not lost. We have many accounts in the scriptures of those who have testified to seeing, hearing and touching the Resurrected Christ.
The Resurrected Savior appeared to the faithful Nephites.
“And … behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
“And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world”
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.” (3 Ne. 11-8-17)
Christ dies but he is not gone, he was resurrected and lives on.
Lesson in faith
Along with the JOYOUS gift of knowing our Saviour lives on after death, is a GIFT OF INCREASED FAITH by truly believing in the resurrection of Christ and gaining a testimony of its truth and reality.
Even the disciples just shortly after his death and burial, began to lose faith and be confused. They wondered at what had happened to their Lord, why his body was gone. Their first response was to assume someone had stolen his body. You will recall that the disciples, who walked and talked with Christ on the road to Emmaus, did not recognize him at first. His true self was veiled from them. They were talking and worrying about what had become of their Lords body. Christ still unrevealed to them brought them to mind of all the scriptures concerning his resurrection. Later, “their eyes were opened, and they knew him,” when they reflected, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:31–32.)You will also recall that Jesus said to Thomas, “Be not faithless, but believing. …
The world is full of doubt and cynicism about Jesus, about who he was and the reality of His resurrection. We observe with sorrow those who deny Christ, denying His virgin birth, his ministry, and resurrection. What a great victory Satan would win if he could just convince men there is no Christ, that his death was his end! Satan has waged that war from the beginning. Matthew recorded that the chief priests gave “large money” to the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb, to have them spread the story that “his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept” (Matt. 28:12–13). It is sad to report that the soldiers “took the money, and did as they were taught” (Matt. 28:15). If Satam could just convince us that Christ was not who he said he was and that he was not truly resurrected, wouldn’t our faith be truly dissolved.
Without true belief in the Resurrection of Christ, our faith is meaningless. The Apostle Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and [our] faith is also vain.” ( 1 Corinthians 15:14.)
The Resurrection of Christ provides an opportunity for us to test our faith. Do we truly believe? Do we accept his Atonement? Believe he was truly Resurrected?
Christ said to Thomas, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:27, 29).
Gift to all:
Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, "Christ is risen," but "I shall rise." ~Phillips Brooks
Jesus was the first to be resurrected (2 Nephi 2:8), and because of his Resurrection, all people will be resurrected (2 Nephi 9:22; Alma 11:42, 44). All mankind will rise from the dead. Resurrection is a gift to all.
Amulek declared: “The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame. … 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” (Alma 11:43–44; emphasis added).
President Ezra Taft Benson has told us that the literal resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a certainty, and surely one should make careful preparation for this event. A glorious resurrection should be the goal of every man and woman, for resurrection will be a reality. Nothing is more absolutely universal than the resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.) (Apr. 1992The Meaning of EasterBy President Ezra Taft Benson)
We will recieve perfected bodies :
The restoring of our perfected bodies to our spirits is central to the gift of the Resurrection.
In the book of Alma it tells us that when we are resurrected, our spirits are reunited with our perfected bodies, never to be separated again (Alma 11:43, 45). Resurrection is essentially—the reuniting of the spirit and body in its perfect form.
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame. (Alma 40:23-26)
President Joseph F. Smith said “that those from whom we have to part here, we will meet again and see as they are. We will meet the same identical being that we associated with here in the flesh.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 91.)
President Spencer W. Kimball amplified this when he said, “I am sure that if we can imagine ourselves at our very best, physically, mentally, spiritually, that is the way we will come back.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 45.)
The Gift of the Resurrection assures us that we will become immortal beings. The Saviors own Resurrections illustrates this promise of Immortality. Death is not the end. The Savior has promised us that “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19.) When we die, it is not our end, we can rest assured in Gods promise of immortality.
In the book of Mormon the 179 year old prophet Enos shares with us his testimony of assured immortality. “And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.” (Enos 1:27)
When we are resurrected the knowledge and intelligence we gained here on earth “will rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18–19).
In a talk given at BYU in 1992 President Hinkley shared, “What a miracle is the human mind. Think of its power to assimilate knowledge, to analyze and synthesize. What a remarkable thing is learning, the process whereby the accumulated knowledge of the centuries has been summarized and filtered so that in a brief period we can learn what was first learned only through long exercises of research and trial and error.
Education is the great conversion process under which abstract knowledge becomes useful and productive activity. It is something that need never stop. No matter how old we grow, we can acquire knowledge and use it. We can gather wisdom and profit from it. We can be entertained through the miracle of reading and exposure to the arts and add to the blessing and fulfillment of living. The older I grow, the more I enjoy the words of thoughtful writers, ancient and modern, and the savoring of that which they have written.
Under a divinely given mandate, we are to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). And “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18). (I Belive, Ensign August 1992, Gordon B Hinkley)
This is a great blessing to us from our Heavenly Father, all the knowledge we have learned here on earth will become part of our eternal and immortal selves.
Promise of Spiritual Perfection:
Our Resurrection also provides us with the gift and promise of true spiritual perfection. C. S. Lewis, who had unusual insight into “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13), had this to say about what we can do once we get the perspective of immortality clearly in our minds:“The command be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. Christ is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said” (Mere Christianity, New York City: Macmillan Paperbacks, 1960, page 160).
In a presentation to the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Alexander B. Morrision shared this thought- “The command “be ye … perfect” (Matt. 5:48) cannot be executed overnight, or even by the end of mortality. It takes much, much longer to overcome all our weaknesses and qualify ourselves for godhood. Christ’s resurrection, which assured our immortality, provides the time necessary for us to at least seriously attempt to pursue the goal of perfection. (By Elder Alexander B. Morrison An abridged version of a presentation to the Quorums of the Seventy, 17 March 1994.)
Understanding the resurrection helps us understand our eternal nature:
The following verses of poetry are from a poem by Emily Bronte, titled No Coward Soul is Mine. Her sister, Charlotte Bronte believed they were the last lines her sister ever wrote.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou - Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou - Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
When we understand the Resurrection we begin to understand our own true eternal nature. The understandings and realization of our eternal nature is a special Gift from our Heavenly Father. The promise of life beyond the grave gives us a different perspective of ourselves and those around us. We learn we are immortal creatures, we realize that life, does not end with the grave, and does not begin with the cradle. We lived before we came to this earth. We will live on after we leave this earth. We are eternal creatures, who if we are true and faithful, may return to celestial halls and live again with the mighty God who is the Father of our spirits. And Our Savior, whose resurrection makes it all possible, will be there to wrap us “in the arms of [His] love” (D&C 6:20).
Resurrection eases the pain of losing loved ones:
The promise of the Resurrection is a great gift, which can comfort us when we lose a loved one.
President David O McKay taught us that as Christ lived after death so shall all men, each taking his place in the next world for which he has best fitted himself. The message of the resurrection, therefore, is the most comforting, the most glorious ever given to man, for when death takes a loved one from us, our sorrowing hearts are assuaged by the hope and the divine assurance expressed in the words:“He is not here: he is risen.” [See Matthew 28:6.] Because our Redeemer lives so shall we. I bear you witness that He does live. I know it, as I hope you know that divine truth. " (Chapter 7: The Significance of the Resurrection," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2003) 11. In Conference Report, Apr. 1944, 125.)
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55.)
Resurrection is an ordinance:
Resurrection is one more ordinance that we need to receive to obtain celestial glory. The ordinance of resurrection will be administered after we have died. In an 1872 address President Brigham Young said “We are in possession of all the ordinances that can be administered in the flesh for salvation, and exaltation, but there are other ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world, one being the ordinance and the keys of the Resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints. This is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more. We will operate here, in all the ordinances of the house of God which pertain to this side the veil, and those who pass beyond and secure to themselves a resurrection pertaining to the lives will go on and receive more and more, more and more, and will receive one after another until they are crowned Gods, even the sons of God. (President Brigham Young address he gave on August 24, 1872 in Farmington, Utah, and reported by David W. Evans.)
Fullness of Joy:
After our Resurrection when our Spirit and element become inseparably connected we will receive a fullness of joy. (D&C 93:33)
Those spirits who have died look upon the separation from the body as bondage; (D&C 138:12–17, 50 When we are resurrected it will be a joyous time of celebration because our spirits will be reunited with our perfected bodies. We will be whole and complete. We will be able to experience a great fullness of joy.
We can know our Savior lives, by learning of the Resurrection of Christ through the scriptures and testimonies of those that have seen him. Our faith is increased when we believe in Christ’s resurrection, even though we have not seen or touched him. Resurrection is a gift and promise to all. Through our own resurrection we will be reunited with our perfected bodies and receive immortality. We are promised that all our knowledge gained on earth will rise with us in the resurrection. After our resurrection true spiritual perfection is made possible for us; we will truly be able to obey the commandment “be… ye perfect” (Matt 5:28). When we understand the Resurrection we will understand our own eternal natures and the eternal nature of those around us. The joyful promise of resurrection helps to ease the pain of losing loved ones, as we rest assured we will see them again. After our glorious Resurrection day we will truly experience a great fullness of joy and our own Happy Ever After.
I leave you with these hopeful words from a hymn by Eliza R Snow.
Though deepening trials throng your way, Press on, press on ye Saints of God! Ere long the resurrection day Will spread its life and truth abroad, Though outward ills await us here, The time, a longest, is not long. Ere Jesus Christ will reappear, Surrounded by a glorious throng, Lift up your hearts in praise to God, Let your rejoicing never cease. Though tribulations rage abroad, Christ says,“ In me ye shall have peace.” (Through Deeping Trials Hymn #122)