The Vault

Articulate 4 – Risen

39 Articles: Article 4
By Archdeacon T. C. Hammond

“Christ did truly arise again from death, and took again his body with flesh, bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature. Wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitieth, until he return to judge all men at the last day.”

This important article asserts that the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was a fact. The insertion of the adverb “truly” before the words “arise again from death” is intended to give point to this assertion. It was no phantom body that the disciples saw. They were not in any sense the victims of a hallucination. The body which they saw and handled was a body which had left the tomb. And it was a true body “with flesh, bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature.” Some modern liberal theologians seek to impose a difference between the resurrection of the body and the resurrection of the flesh. It is perhaps well to remind ourselves that the early creed of about the second century has unmistakably the word “flesh’ where we read in modern recensions “body.” The idea that “a spiritual body” means “a body consisting of spirit only” must be discarded. Our present bodies, in St. Paul’s language are “natural” or “psychical” bodies. That does not mean they are bodies consisting of “‘psyche.” It means they are bodies controlled or directed by the “psyche.” Since the fall that means controlled by an animating principle that is alien to God and destined to experience the penalty of death.

Our Lord fulfilled the promise “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” which, according to Peter’s exposition in Acts 3:31, involved the rescue of His material body from the threat of corruption. David “spake of the resurrection of Christ.” David, unlike Christ, was not only dead and buried but his sepulcher with its body remained. But God raised up our Lord Jesus Christ. There had to be a reuniting of soul and body if the promise were to be fulfilled.

The Article assures us that flesh and bones appertain to the perfection of man’s nature. Our future existence will not be a shadowy ghost-like continuity. The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the guarantee that as here we have an external form of expression; we realise our inner thoughts purposes and desires through the medium of an outward sensible activity; even so in our heavenly state as Paul expresses it we shall not be unclothed but clothed upon. Whatever differences there may be even in our intuitions; should space and time vanish with this earthly condition of being; even so, we shall have a body which will be the true vehicle of our spirit’s activity. He took to heaven flesh bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature.

The Article, in no uncertain language. indicates that the earthly career of our Lord is ended. For forty days, indeed, He appeared occasionally to the disciples. He joined in human activities. He ate and drank with them. He conversed with them. He suffered Himself to be handled and allowed the wounds in His hands and side. But His seat was in heaven not on earth. When He had abundantly testified to the reality of His resurrection “He was parted from them.” The religion that rests on the sensible is not the religion of the resurrection. It is difficult for men to realise this. Over and over again the things of the spirit are degraded to become mere things of sense. The resurrection witnesses to a termination of the earthly, not by cessation, but by transformation. Earth becomes a vestibule of heaven and our mortal bodies harbingers of a higher destiny in which they shall not be lost but shall be completely changed.

But He is coming again. A weary world gropes for security and struggles against insidious and often victorious evil. Remedial measures are entered upon with high hopes. Recurrent malignancy seems to mock our beat endeavours. Jesus Christ is the answer to our heart yearnings. He conquered death and is coming again in judgment. He and He alone can say “Behold I make all things new.”

The Australian Church Record, April 28, 1955

This article from the ACR Vault is the fourth in our Articulate series, listening to T.C. Hammond unpack the 39 Articles one by one.

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