This week we begin with Question 50 of the New City Catechism, found in part 3 (questions 36-52), which focuses on the Spirit, restoration, and growing in grace.
Question 50: What does Christ's resurrection mean for us?
Answer: Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead results in two kinds of resurrection for all who are saved by him. The first resurrection is a spiritual one, whereby God gives new spiritual life to us through his powerful work in our hearts. The catechism's reference to "new life in this world" speaks of this reality. The second resurrection is a resurrection of the body. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead to the glorious life of the age to come, so will all who are in Christ at the culminating point of our redemption. The catechism speaks of resurrection "to everlasting life in the world to come." So just as spiritual death (separation from God and exile in his presence) leads to the physical death of the body (Gen. 2:17), so does new spiritual life lead ultimately to the resurrection of the body in glory.
Notice how Jesus speaks of these two realities in John 5:25-29:
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so has he granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Jesus first speaks of "the dead" who will hear his voice, the result of which will be that "those who hear will live." Jesus speaks first of those who are spiritually dead, and thus cut off from the life of God. By the powerful voice of the Son of God, they will hear the gospel proclaimed, and as a result, they will come to life spiritually.
Then Jesus speaks of "all who are in the tombs," referring to those who are physically dead. There is a coming day when the Son of Man will summon all the dead out of their tombs in order to be judged and separated into eternal life or eternal judgment. Jesus is the one who gives both spiritual life now in this present age and new bodily life of the resurrection at the end of this age. Both resurrections result from his own resurrection from the dead.
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: John 5:25-29. What does this passage teach about spiritual resurrection? What does it teach about the physical resurrection? Who will be raised from the dead in the end? What does this passage teach us about Jesus?