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Death and Resurrection of Christ-Did the Divinity of Christ Die? 

Death and Resurrection of Christ: Did the Divinity of Christ Die?

By Paul Chung

Did Christ really die? Was it only his human nature that died but divinity did not die? Who raised Christ from the dead? Did Christ raise Himself or did God the Father raise Him?

This study will attempt to answer some of the confusions surrounding Christ’s death and His resurrection based on the evidence from the Bible and the writing of Ellen White.

“Science is too limited to comprehend the atonement; the mysterious and wonderful plan of redemption is so far-reaching that philosophy cannot explain it; it will ever remain a mystery that the most profound reason can not fathom. If it could be explained by finite wisdom, it would lose its sacredness and dignity. It is a mystery that One equal with the eternal Father should so abase Himself as to suffer the cruel death of the cross to ransom man; and it is a mystery that God so loved the world as to permit His Son to make this great sacrifice.”—The Signs of the Times, October 24, 1906. {7ABC 459.4}

Only the divine Son of God could pay the ransom

“Not one of the angels could have become surety for the human race: THEIR LIFE IS GOD’S; they could not surrender it.” (Ellen G. White, Youth’s Instructor, 21st June 1900, ‘The price of our redemption part IV’)

“The angels ALL WEAR THE YOKE OF OBEDIENCE. They are the appointed messengers of Him who is the commander of all heaven. But Christ is equal with God, infinite and omnipotent. He could pay the ransom for man's freedom.” (Ibid)

“He is the eternal, self-existing Son, ON WHOM NO YOKE had come; and when God asked, "Whom shall I send?" he could reply, "Here am I; send me." He could pledge himself to become man's surety; for he could say that which the highest angel could not say, -- I have power over my own life, "power to lay it down, and . . . power to take it again." (Ibid)

“In all the universe there was BUT ONE WHO COULD, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression.”  (Ellen G. White, Signs of the times, 4th November 1908, ‘When sin entered’, see also, Patriarchs and Prophets, page 63, ‘The Plan of Redemption’)

“NONE BUT CHRIST COULD redeem fallen man from the curse of the law, and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin--sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and the Son.” (Ibid)

“The angels prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the LIFE OF AN ANGEL COULD NOT PAY THE DEBT.” (Ellen G. White, Early Writings, Spiritual Gifts, Page 150, 1882)

“His life alone could be accepted of His Father as a ransom for man” (Ibid)

"THE DIVINE SON OF GOD was the ONLY SACRIFICE OF SUFFICIENT VALUE to fully satisfy the claims of God's perfect law. The angels were sinless, but of less value than the law of God. They were amenable to law. They were messengers to do the will of Christ, and before him to bow. They were created beings, and probationers. Upon Christ no requirements were laid. He had power to lay down his life, and to take it again. No obligation was laid upon him to undertake the work of atonement. It was a voluntary sacrifice that he made. His life was of sufficient value to rescue man from his fallen condition. {RH December 17, 1872, par. 4} (2SP 10.1)

Note: Here it is made clear that it was only the divine Son of God, who could become man’s surety. He was the only one who could say “I have power over my own life, "power to lay it down, and . . . power to take it again””. Again, it is emphasized that no one less than a divine person, “only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression.” Not even an angel could pay it let alone a human being. This is noteworthy in that a mere human sacrifice (Christ’s humanity alone) would have been inadequate.

Death-Who or what died?

“Jesus Christ laid off His royal robe, His kingly crown, and clothed His divinity with humanity, in order to become a substitute and surety for humanity, that dying in humanity He might by His death destroy him who had the power of death.....HE COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS AS GOD, BUT BY COMING AS MAN, CHRIST COULD DIE." (Ellen G. White, Letter 97, 1898, p. 5. To "My Brethren in North Fitzroy," November 18, 1898)

Note: EGW says, Christ could not have died as God, but as a man He could...meaning Somehow (this is a mystery) Christ was able to die as an incarnate Son...

Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

It would be helpful here to learn something about the nature of Christ in order to find some clues as to what died or didn’t die. Let’s take a look at a few statements:

"Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No; THE TWO NATURES WERE MYSTERIOUSLY BLENDED IN ONE PERSON-the man Christ Jesus. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified, IT WAS HIS HUMAN NATURE THAT DIED, DEITY DID NOT SINK AND DIE; THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE. Christ, the sinless One, will save every son and daughter of Adam who accepts the salvation proffered them, consenting to become the children of God. The Saviour has purchased the fallen race with His own blood."—Letter 280, 1904 in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1113.2

Note: The 2 natures (human and divine) were mysteriously blended into ONE PERSON, meaning Christ did not have two separate minds or 2 sets of consciousness... There was one personage-the Man Christ.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

What kind of nature did Christ have when he was on earth? Let’s take a look at a few more statements about the nature of Man Christ:

“Looking upon Him in His humiliation, as He walked a man among men, they had not understood the mystery of His incarnation, the DUAL CHARACTER OF HIS NATURE.” {DA 507.1}

"...The two expressions human and divine were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, AND YET THEY HAD A DISTINCT INDIVIDUALITY...  {ST May 10, 1899, par. 11}

 “His finite nature was pure and spotless, divine nature that led Him to say to Philip, ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father’ also, was not humanized; neither was humanity deified by the blending or union of the two natures; EACH RETAINED ITS ESSENTIAL CHARACTER AND PROPERTIES.” {Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, p. 182 par.1}

“Christ could not have come to this earth with the glory that He had in the heavenly courts. Sinful human beings could not have borne the sight. He veiled His divinity with the garb of humanity, but HE DID NOT PART WITH HIS DIVINITY.” {Review and Herald, June 15, 1905}

“CHRIST HAD NOT EXCHANGED HIS DIVINITY FOR HUMANITY; but He had clothed His divinity in humanity.” {Review and Herald, Oct. 29, 1895}

"He united humanity with divinity: A DIVINE SPIRIT DWELT IN A TEMPLE OF FLESH. (The Youth’s Instructor, December 20, 1900)

“But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet HE DID NOT CEASE TO BE GOD when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions ‘human’ and ‘divine’ were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, THE GODHEAD WAS STILL HIS OWN.” {Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899 par.11}

“It was a difficult task for the Prince of Life to carry out the plan which He had undertaken for the salvation of man, in clothing His divinity with humanity. He had received honor in the heavenly courts and was familiar with absolute power. IT WAS AS DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO KEEP THE LEVEL OF HUMANITY AS FOR MEN TO RISE ABOVE THE LOW LEVEL OF THEIR DEPRAVED NATURES AND BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE.” {Con 85.1}

“He was God while upon earth, but HE DIVESTED HIMSELF OF THE FORM OF GOD, and in its stead took the form and fashion of a man. HE WALKED THE EARTH AS A MAN. For our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. He laid aside His glory and His majesty. He was God, BUT THE GLORIES OF THE FORM OF GOD HE FOR A WHILE RELINQUISHED.”{SDA Bible Commentary, vol.5, p. 1126.8}

Note: The salient point we can take away from these statements is that while Christ lived on earth, He lived a life, DIVESTED of the FORM OF GOD (personality of God), nevertheless, Christ STILL RETAINED His divinity along with His humanity. Furthermore, His divine nature was such that, in order for Christ to maintain His humanity, it required Christ to constantly surrender Himself fully to His human nature; Christ’s divine nature was not dormant. These facts should help us understand who or what went into the grave for we are told that Christ “being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH, even the death of the cross.” (Phil 2:5-8); His obedience kept him from exercising his divinity; He made the choice to maintain his humanity even unto death.

Let’s also compare the following 2 significant statements regarding Christ’s deity as it is related to His death:

“There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. THE DEITY DID NOT SINK UNDER THE AGONIZING TORTURE OF CALVALRY, yet it is nonetheless true that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."—Letter 140, 1903 in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, pp. 1129, 1130.

And yet, Sister White has also stated the following statement:

"In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Men need to understand that DEITY SUFFERED AND SANK UNDER THE AGONIES OF CALVARY. Yet Jesus Christ whom God gave for the ransom of the world purchased the church with His own blood. The Majesty of heaven was made to suffer at the hands of religious zealots, who claimed to be the most enlightened people upon the face of the earth (MS 153, 1898).—Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 907.

Note: As Ellen White has stated, the divinity or “deity did not sink and die”...and I'm in agreement with her statement...and yet we are also told, “DEITY SUFFERED AND SANK UNDER THE AGONIES OF CALVARY.” Suffice to say, we need to understand what she meant.

In brief, the way I understand sister White’s expression, “deity did not sink and die”, is that the "nature" of divinity-an unconscious aspect of Christ's personality which would have kept him alive) did not die with him.  "Unconscious" because there is just one consciousness which governed both the human and the divine nature of Christ. Nevertheless, this "divinity", which Christ voluntarily did not exercise, still remained in Him as an integral aspect of His blended personality that went into the grave and experienced death as a whole Person...a mystery we are told.

Christ remained faithful to His humanity even unto death

Jesus fully surrendered Himself to His human nature by laying aside his divinity-resisting the temptation to keep Himself alive through His divinity...And allowed his entire personage to experience death as we (humans) would experience death...

"HE[Jesus] COULD IN HIS DIVINE PERSON EVER HAVE WITHSTOOD THE ADVANCES OF DEATH AND REFUSED TO COME UNDER ITS DOMINION; BUT HE VOLUNTARILY LAID DOWN HIS LIFE, that in so doing He might give life and bring immortality to light. He must bear the sins of the world and endure the penalty which rolled like a mountain upon His divine soul. He died not through being compelled to die, but by His own free will. This was humility. The whole treasures of heaven were poured out in one Gift to save fallen man. He brought into His human nature all the life-giving energies that human beings will need and must receive. Wondrous combination of man and God! HE MIGHT HAVE ETERNALLY KEPT HUMAN NATURE WITHSTANDING THE INROADS OF DISEASE BY HIS DIVINE NATURE POURING IN VITALITY AND UNDECAYING VIGOR TO THE HUMAN. BUT HE HUMBLED HIMSELF TO MAN’S NATURE. HE DID THIS THAT THE SCRIPTURE MIGHT BE FULFILLED. The plan was entered into by the Son of God, knowing all the steps that He must descend in His humiliation to make an expiation for the sins of a condemned, groaning world." {Lt11-1887.17}

"Spirit of Jesus slept in the tomb"

“Jesus said to Mary, ‘Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father.’ When He closed His eyes in death upon the cross, THE SOUL OF CHRIST DID NOT GO AT ONCE TO HEAVEN, as many believe, or how could His words be true—‘I am not yet ascended to My Father’? THE SPIRIT OF JESUS SLEPT IN THE TOMB WITH HIS BODY, and did not wing its way to heaven, there to maintain a separate existence, and to look down upon the mourning disciples embalming the body from which it had taken flight. ALL THAT COMPRISED THE LIFE AND INTELLIGENCE OF JESUS REMAINED WITH HIS BODY in the sepulcher; and when He came forth it was as a WHOLE BEING; He did not have to summon HIS SPIRIT FROM HEAVEN. He had power to lay down His life and to take it up again.”—5 Bible Commentary, 1150-1151.

Note: Before His incarnation, Christ was fully divine w/ divinity and was capable of being omnipresent which he shared with the Father. Though Father and Son are spiritual Beings, Father and Son both have corporeal (bodily form which remained local) and non-corporeal (omnipresent) aspect to their personality. Father and Son’s non-corporeal personality is the “Third Person” or the “Holy Spirit”, a combination of their Spirit.

During His incarnation, Christ was fully divine and fully human, equipped with a spirit no different than a human spirit/mind. The “non-corporeal aspect of His divine personage which previously was omnipresent is now localized in the body. Thus we can say that it was only the Spirit of the Father that operated in omnipresent capacity during Christ’s incarnation.

After ascension, Christ’s omnipresence was restored but is now infused with His human experience. His previous “corporeal personality” is also infused with His human body while His non-corporeal personality is now infused with human mind/spirit. Thus, when we receive the Holy Spirit we receive the very life of Christ that is also imbued with his human experience along with the Father’s Spirit.

That said, I believe the whole Person of Christ died which includes His mind which governs both of His nature. This mind is what I think EGW is referring to as being asleep in the grave. I also believe Christ’s divinity (an unconscious but integral aspect to Christ’s blended personality that could have kept Him alive remained with Him locally in the grave) Again, keep in mind, while Christ had the dual personality-divine and human, he had/has one conscious mind. Thus, all that went into the grave remained in the grave unconscious.

"How impotent on this occasion was the power of the kings and rulers. They could not act their will on Him who was slain for the sins of the world. Had it been possible, the prince of darkness with his apostate army would have kept forever sealed the tomb that held the Son of God. But a heavenly host guarded the sepulcher. With majestic and terrible tread, the GOD OF HEAVEN, FOLLOWED BY THE ANGELS, WALKED ROUND THE TOMB OF CHRIST. They had been unseen witnesses of all that had taken place in the mock trial in the judgment hall. Every action was noted, every taunt recorded." 12MR 421.3

Note: Why wouldn't she say that God the Father, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit walked around the tomb sorrowful for the dead flesh that didn't really matter anyway because it was just a temporary shell that would make everyone think that Jesus actually died, but really didn't?

Thus, we can conclude that Christ did NOT maintained ANOTHER CONSCIOUS divine personage-a nature that was separated from his humanity. It “did not wing its way to heaven, there to maintain a separate existence.” But “all that comprised the life and intelligent of Jesus remained with His body,” including his spirit, and the divine nature which could have kept Himself alive.

Again, Ellen White has stated that the Person of Christ had/has two natures but mysterious blended into one Person, the Man Christ... So, when Sister White says, "deity did not sink and died" She is referring to Christ's divine "nature". The "quality" of this divine nature was/is such that it could have kept Jesus alive but this was not another aspect of His personage that existed outside of Him with separate consciousness. Christ had ONE mind, ONE consciousness-who was apparently dead in the grave without consciousness.

Illustration:

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 12.04.36 AM.png


Imagine yourself being submerged under water with a fully functioning scuba gear, equipped with a full tank of oxygen.  Jesus, not exercising his divinity to keep himself from dying would be liken to a diver (for whatever reason) voluntarily forfeiting his access to the oxygen from the scuba gear to keep himself alive. Christ’s divinity (not a conscious entity) which could have afforded Him to keep Him alive “BY HIS DIVINE NATURE POURING IN VITALITY AND UNDECAYING VIGOR TO THE HUMAN” but He chose not to; He remained obedient to His humanity even unto death.

Thus, when Christ died, He voluntarily gave up and resisted the temptation to allow His divinity to keep Himself alive even though He still retained his divinity as integral aspect of his blended personality. Christ voluntarily denied Himself of all the prerogatives of His own divinity...and left it in the Hands of His Father... When He said, "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)

Resurrection-Who raised Christ from the dead?

Scripture evidence for the Father raising Christ:

The Spirit of Christ inspired David to write concerning Christ’s death, “I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.” (Psalm 88:8)

Note: Christ was shut up in the tomb, and He could not come forth on His own.

If we are to believe that Jesus was fully dead, then we must also believe as Scripture says, "dead know nothing"(Ecc 9:5).

Therefore, to make the claim that Jesus Christ raised Himself from the dead, all on His own, would also be to directly contradicting the words of Christ. For Christ said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” (John 5:30)

Acts 2:24 “Whom God [Father] hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”, 

Acts 2:30-32 “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he[Father] would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God[Father] raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Acts 3:15 “And killed the Prince of life, whom God[Father] hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”

Acts 3:26 “Unto you first God[Father], having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

Acts 4:10 “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God[Father] raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

Acts 5:30 “The God[Father] of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”

Acts 10:40 “Him God[Father] raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;”

Acts 13:30 “But God[Father] raised him from the dead:”

Acts 13:33 “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he[Father] hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”

Acts 13:34 “And as concerning that he[Father] raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”

Acts 13:37 “But he[Christ], whom God[Father] raised again, saw no corruption.”

Acts 17:31 “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he[Father] hath raised him[Christ] from the dead.”

Romans 4:24 “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him[Father] that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Romans 6:4 “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him[Father] that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God[Father] hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

1Corinthians 6:14 “ And God[Father] hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”

1Corinthians 15:15 “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God[Father] that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.”

2Corinthians 4:14 “Knowing that he[Father] which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”

Gal 1:1 “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)”

Ephesians 1:19-20 “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he[Father] raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,”

Colossians 2:12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God[Father], who hath raised him from the dead.”

1 Thess. 1:9-10 “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols TO SERVE THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD[Father]; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he[Father] raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

Hebrews 13:20 “Now the God[Father] of peace, THAT BROUGHT AGAIN FROM THE DEAD OUR LORD JESUS, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,”

1 Peter 1:21 “Who by him do believe in God[Father], that raised him[Christ] up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Note: The Scripture evidence is overwhelming in that the Father raised Christ from the dead.

Which Spirit raised Jesus from the dead-Romans 8:11?

"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Romans 8:11

Consider the following statements:

1) "This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the SOUL OF HIS [Christ’s] LIFE, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With HIS SPIRIT Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin." (E.G. White, Review and Herald , May 19, 1904 par. 1, 2, 3).

2) “Jesus said to Mary, ‘Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father.’ When He closed His eyes in death upon the cross, THE SOUL OF CHRIST DID NOT GO AT ONCE TO HEAVEN, as many believe, or how could His words be true—‘I am not yet ascended to My Father’? THE SPIRIT OF JESUS SLEPT IN THE TOMB WITH HIS BODY, and did not wing its way to heaven, there to maintain a separate existence, and to look down upon the mourning disciples embalming the body from which it had taken flight. ALL THAT COMPRISED THE LIFE AND INTELLIGENCE OF JESUS REMAINED WITH HIS BODY in the sepulcher; and when He came forth it was as a WHOLE BEING; He did not have to summon HIS SPIRIT FROM HEAVEN. He had power to lay down His life and to take it up again.”—5 Bible Commentary, 1150-1151.

According to the Statements 1 and 2 above, we can conclude that the Soul of Christ is describe as the Spirit of Christ (life force) and it “slept in the tomb with His body.” In fact, the statement reveals that Christ's entire “blended” personage-both His humanity and Divinity remained in the grave; "All that comprised the life and intelligence of Jesus [who was both divine and human] remained with His body in the sepulcher" Christ's divinity did not have a consciousness on its own...He had one personage with one consciousness but with two "natures" combined...

“In beholding God we behold the One who POURED OUT HIS SOUL [His vitality, life force] UNTO DEATH. In beholding the cross the view is extended to God, and His hatred of sin is discerned. But while we behold in the cross God’s hatred of sin, we also behold His love for sinners, which is stronger than death. To the world the cross is the incontrovertible argument that God is truth and light and love” (The Signs of the Times, March 7, 1895). {5BC 1133.3}

If the "Spirit of him that raised up Jesus" (Rom 8:11) refers to Chris's own spirit, then, how is it that the Christ also poured out His soul or His Spirit unto death? 

Thus, the “Spirit” that raised up Jesus is non other than Father’s Spirit.

Other Scriptures that appears to support Christ raising Himself

Let’s take a look,

John 10:17, 18

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take (Strong's G 2983) it again. No man taketh (Strong's G142) it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power (Stong's G 1849) to lay it down, and I have power (Strong's G1849) to take (Strong's G 2983) it again. This commandment have I received (Strong's G 2983) of my Father.” (John 10:17, 18)

Note: The Greek word that was translated “I might take,” (with Strong’s number 2983) can mean take, but also means this: “to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back.”* 

Please notice that this word is also used in verse 18 but is translated “have I received.” 

Christ laid down His life that He might receive it again. The Greek word that was translated “power” can also mean “authority, permission.”* 

Thus, we can say that Christ had “permission” to lay down His life so that He could “receive” it again from His Father.

John 2:19-22  “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:19-22)

Spirit of Prophecy evidence for Father raising Christ

“He who died for the sins of the world was to remain in the tomb the allotted time. He was in that stony prison house as a prisoner of divine justice. He was responsible to the Judge of the universe. He was bearing the sins of the world, and HIS FATHER COULD ONLY RELEASE HIM.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 50

So then, while Jesus slept (was dead) in the grave, He remained in the tomb for an “allotted time… as a prisoner.” He did not know anything...He was not conscious in His divine nature separate from His "human" consciousness...and there was only one Person (Father) who could release Christ from His death.

To life that was in Himself

“When the voice of the angel was heard saying, “Thy Father calls thee,” He who had said, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again,” “Destroy this temple, and in three days I WILL RAISE IT UP,” came forth from the grave TO life that was in Himself. Deity did not die. Humanity died, but Christ now proclaims over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In His divinity Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death. He declares that He had life in Himself to quicken whom He will.” {5BC 1113.4}

“I am the resurrection, and the life.” He who had said, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again,” came forth from the grave TO life that was in Himself. Humanity died: divinity did not die. In His divinity, Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death. He declares that He has life in Himself to quicken whom He will. {5BC 1113.6}

A few key thoughts concerning the statements above:

1)   Christ “came forth from the grave TO life that was IN Himself” (the power of Christ’s divine “LIFE” did not exist outside of Him; it remained with Him but Christ voluntarily forfeited it.

2)   It says, Christ came forth from the grave “TO” NOT "BY" that life in himself...meaning, once Christ was “released” BY His Father, He regained His access "TO" the life that was in Himself (NOT that it was "BY" the same life that released Him.

3)   Jesus voluntarily denied Himself of this divine nature and remained dead, knowing nothing (Ecc 9:5), until His Father called him forth from the grave.

But let’s compare the following statements

"When the voice of the mighty angel was heard at Christ’s tomb, saying, Thy Father calls Thee, the Saviour came forth from the grave BY THE LIFE THAT WAS IN HIMSELF. Now was proved the truth of His words, I LAY DOWN MY LIFE, THAT I MIGHT TAKE IT AGAIN. . . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” NOW WAS FULFILLED THE PROPHECY HE HAD SPOKEN TO THE PRIESTS AND RULERS, “DESTROY THIS TEMPLE, AND IN THREE DAYS I WILL RAISE IT UP.” John 10:17, 18; 2:19. {DA 785}

Note: In this statement found in the Desire of Ages, Ellen White makes direct reference to John 10:17, 18; 2:19 in connection with Jesus’ resurrection. This particular statement is similar to the previous statements but the significant difference is in the way the preposition, “BY” was used rather than “TO”.

This statement seems to suggest that it was Christ who “came forth from the grave BY the life that was in Himself.”

Another statement to consider:

Christ remained in the grave the allotted period of time, AND THEN HE TOOK UP HIS LIFE AGAIN. In the hearing of the people He had said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again,” referring to His body. He came forth from the grave a conqueror, proclaiming over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life.” {Ms123-1897.6}

Note: Again, this statement also seems to suggest that it was Christ who raised Himself. So, how do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory statements from the previous ones that say it was the Father who raised Christ? Did Christ raise Himself or did the Father raise Him?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that partial truths (Father raised Christ) are pitted against another partial truths (Christ raised Himself) with the result that the whole truth is very frequently unseen.

When we consider all the statements under consideration, we can conclude that we can be true to the Scripture in saying that the Father raised Christ from the dead. And yet, we can also say Christ raised Himself for it was the Father who initiated the resurrection by calling Him forth from the grave by the voice of an angel and giving Christ the “permission” to be “released” from his “sleep” thus allowing Him to have the access TO the life that was in Himself to come out of the grave BY the life that was in Himself.

Final Thoughts

If you look at the Bible and the testimonies holistically I believe you will see that God the Father raised Jesus by calling Him back to the life that was still within Himself. You can liken this to someone waking someone else up from his or her sleep. The external source is the impetus that wakes the person up but they do not provide life to them for that is already there.

We must admit that His very incarnation is a mystery so then how much more so His death and resurrection? We are dealing with a dual nature Being here with attributes and abilities far beyond our comprehension. He is the God/man.

Consider this: When Christ incarnated into this world He did not cease from being God in nature. He was still a Divine Being with the very same type of life within Himself that God the Father has. And when He died He did not lose His Deity nor did it fly off to maintain a conscious existence but It remained dormant within His body. Everything that was Him (both human and divine) was still there, in the "person" of the Man Christ Jesus. Thus when God the Father called Him, He rose back TO the life that was still within Himself. I hope this is clear. 

Thus when you read Bible verses that state that God the Father raised Him this is true. For it was God the Father who sent the angel to have him come forth from the grave. And we know that the Son had committed Himself into the Father's hands and relied upon Him to wake Him for He has voluntarily would not do anything without the Father's consent.

Yet when you read Bible verses where the Son states that He raised Himself. This is also true. This is similar to a person who wakes up from sleep. The Son recognized that His resurrection would happen based on the virtue of the life within Himself that He had received. If He had sinned He would have lost this and would have died forever but He did not sin thus He came forth from the grave by the life that was in Himself.

"This is a great mystery, a mystery that will not be fully, completely understood in all its greatness until the translation of the redeemed shall take place. Then the power and greatness and efficacy of the gift of God to man will be understood. But the enemy is determined that this gift shall be so mystified that it will become as nothingness" (Letter 280, 1904). {5BC 1113.3}

Further notes from SDAs Pioneers:

“20. Jesus Christ died. Is not this plainly stated in the Scriptures? Yes, many times; yet few believe or teach it. They say that nothing but his body died, while his soul, the divine part, that which came from Heaven, all that was really Christ, this, they say, did not die, but left the body when it died on the cross, and went to paradise. If this be so, Christ did not die; nothing but his human body died. Hence we have only a human sacrifice, which cannot take away sin. But the Bible says that Christ did die. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." 1 Cor. xv, 3. But the force of this text is evaded by claiming that it does not mean that his soul died. Paul says he died according to the scriptures. We will turn to one of those scriptures and see how it says Christ should die. Isa. Liii, is a very touching description of the sufferings and death of Christ. Verses 10-12 read thus: "Yet it hath pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand." It was his soul that was made an offering for sin. How could this be if it did not die ? "He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: 'for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death." What does this mean if his soul did not die? Yes, Christ's soul did die. He said in the garden, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." His soul not only died, but it went into the grave. Speaking of his death, burial and resurrection,

it says, "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, (hades, the grave) neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Acts ii, 27. It would be senseless to talk about not leaving a thing where it never was anyway; so it would be to say that Christ's soul was not left in hades or the grave, if it was never there at all. If any object that this is not the meaning of the text, but say that it means that death did not leave his soul to go into the grave, this objection is answered by verse 31. "He (David) seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." It was through this resurrection that his soul was not left in hell, or the grave. Why? because by the resurrection his soul was brought out of the grave. Thus we see that Christ did-die soul and body, poured out his soul unto death, and went into the grave. Thus he died a sacrifice for the sins of the world. "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" Rom. iv, 25. Then he rose from the dead and ascended on high to his Father's right hand.” (D. M. Canright, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald June 18, 1867)

“And here is shown how remarkably the widest extremes meet in theology. The highest Trinitarians and lowest Unitarians meet and are perfectly united on the death of Christthe faith of both amounts to Socinianism. Unitarians believe that Christ was a prophet, an inspired teacher, but merely human; that his death was that of a human body only. Trinitarians hold that the term “Christ” comprehends two distinct and separate natures: one that was merely human; the other, the second person in the trinity, who dwelt in the flesh for a brief period, but could not possibly suffer, or die; that the Christ that died was only the human nature in which the divinity had dwelt. Both classes have a human offering, and nothing more. No matter how exalted the pre-existent Son was; no matter how glorious, how powerful, or even eternal; if the manhood only died, the sacrifice was only human.And so far as the vicarious death of Christ is concerned, this is Socinianism. Thus the remark is just, that the doctrine of a trinity degrades the Atonement, resting it solely on a human offering as a basis. A few quotations will show the correctness of this assertion.” (J. H. Waggoner, 1884, The Atonement In The Light Of Nature And Revelation, pages 164, 165)

“As before remarked, the great mistake of Trinitarians, in arguing this subject, is this: they make no distinction between a denial of a trinity and a denial of the divinity of Christ. They see only the two extremes, between which the truth lies; and take every expression referring to the pre-existence of Christ as evidence of a trinity. The Scriptures abundantly teach the pre-existence of Christ and his divinity; but they are entirely silent in regard to a trinity. The declaration, that the divine Son of God could not die, is as far from the teachings of the Bible as darkness is from light. And we would ask the Trinitarian, to which of the two natures are we indebted for redemption? The answer must, of course, be, To that one which died or shed his blood for us; for “we have redemption through his blood.” Then it is evident that if only the human nature died, our Redeemer is only human, and that the divine Son of God took no part in the work of redemption, for he could neither suffer nor die. Surely, we say right, that the doctrine of a trinity degrades the Atonement, by bringing the sacrifice, the blood of our purchase, down to the standard of Socinianism.” (J. H. Waggoner, 1884, The Atonement In The Light Of Nature And Revelation, page 173) (This is also found in Review & Herald, November 10, 1863, vol. 22, page 189)

Hope this lesson has blessed you!