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December 16, 2020 marked the end of an era – the Civil War era. Yes, for on that day the very last Civil War widow died. She was Missourian Helen Viola Jackson who died at the age of 101.

Now, you’re probably thinking something like this. “Wait a minute! The Civil War ended nearly 156 years ago. How could she possibly be a Civil War widow?” Let me explain. While they lived, if a Union Civil War veteran was widowed, he could marry again and leave his pension to his new wife after he died. In Jackson’s case, when she was 17 years old, she married a 93-year old Civil War veteran. Now, it wasn’t as shady as it sounds. Helen was caring for 93-year-old James Bolin – a former member of the Union 14th Missouri Cavalry. Because he was unable to pay her for her services to him, he offered to marry her, so he could pass on his pension to her. She agreed. They were married in 1936 – despite the 76 year difference in their ages.

But they did not live together as husband and wife. Helen remained with her parents on their farm. Nor did she change her name to his. But she did continue to care for him until his death in 1939.

And, though Helen Jackson was a bona fide Civil War widow, she never did apply for her late husband’s pension. Helen just thought it didn’t look right for a 20-year-old widow to be filing for her 96-year-old husband’s pension. Nor did she ever marry again. Many might say she got the worst of both options.

You know, Jesus Christ does not have any widows, but He does have millions of brothers and sisters. That’s what the Scripture says. “For both He who sanctifies (Christ) and those who are sanctified (believers) are all from one Father. For this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers. For He says to His Father, ‘I will proclaim Your name to My brothers’” (Hebrews 2:11-12; see also Mark 3:34 and Romans 8:29).

And all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters are 100% eligible for His “death benefits.” You see, according to the New Testament everyone who by faith embraces Jesus as their Savior is miraculously united to Him by the Holy Spirit’s power. They are supernaturally “baptized into Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13). And through this divine union believers receive the benefits of Jesus’ death. “For all who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). And since the death Jesus died was a death to sin (Romans 6:10), the old sinful heart within us is crucified and rendered powerless (Romans 6:6) the moment we first believe. This is why Paul the apostle tells us that we should consider ourselves dead to sin, free from tyranny and power (Romans 6:11-18).

But foremost of Christ’s “death benefits” to us is that His death put away our sins once and for all time. “Even our future sins?” you ask. Obviously, Christ’s atoning death erased from heaven’s records – and God’s mind – all sin that will ever be committed. For one thing, all sin committed since Jesus’ death constitutes “future sin.” Yet, clearly His death is still effective in putting away the sin of everyone who believes. Second, the shadow of Christ’s atonement not only extends all the way back to Adam. It also extends forward all the way to infinity. There are no sins which the atonement of Christ does not cover – except the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ, the only valid sacrifice for sin.

The death of Jesus Christ forever satisfies God’s justice, turns away the wrath of God, and cancels all of God’s judgments for those who believe in Him (Romans 3:24-26). Therefore, no Christian believer ever need fear God’s frown or disapproval. For by Christ’s death, the Day of Judgment is forever past. It took place at Calvary.

And even though Jesus died nearly 2,000 years ago, there’s no problem in still receiving these benefits. We may apply for them at any time simply by clinging to Jesus in faith and repentance.

Fortunately, we not only receive Christ’s “death benefits.” Believers in Jesus also receive His “Resurrection benefits.” Yes, by being united with Jesus Christ, we experience His Resurrection power. Jesus’ Resurrection power raises us from death in trespasses and sins, gives us new birth, and seats us together with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1:3). And, henceforth, there is a vital and powerful force within us that renews us day by day and motivates us to keep His commandments and do what pleases Him (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Philippians 2:13).

Perhaps the greatest of Christ’s Resurrection benefits is that they secure us a place in the New Creation. For, “according to His promise we look forward to a new heavens and new earth” in which there is no death, no curse, no sin, no corruption, and no decay (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4; 22:3-5). This new creation began when Jesus rose from the dead incorruptible, never to die again. This is why Jesus is called “the Firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). He was the first to rise incorruptibly.

Yet, all who believe in Him, shall benefit from His Resurrection in this manner as well. First we are born again spiritually by His Resurrection and finally we will be raised up incorruptibly like Him at the resurrection of the dead. This is why Scripture calls Jesus “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

But by His Resurrection, Jesus is also, the first to be raised of the entire creation. By His Incarnation Jesus became part of the old creation and by His Resurrection He became the beginning of the new. For since Jesus’ resurrection, all of creation awaits its own deliverance from decay and corruption by being resurrected and made new (Romans 8:19-23). This is why Jesus is called the “Firstborn of all creation.” He is the very first of all creation to be resurrected, raised incorruptible. And by Christ’s mighty Resurrection, we become partakers in that new heaven and new earth in which righteousness will reign forever.

Even though Jesus rose from the dead so many years ago, the very worst of sinners may partake His “Resurrection benefits” by embracing the atonement of Jesus and the risen Lord in faith. And every believer may rejoice – even while their nation and this world crumbles and is about to pass away. For a whole new creation awaits them. This new creation is where heaven and earth merge to become one glorious habitation. It is about to break upon us and sweep away the old.


PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, though I am the worst human being alive and only deserve Your judgments, in sorrow for my sins, in humility, and in faith I plead for Your mercy. I trust in Your atoning sacrifice to cleanse me. I trust in Your powerful Resurrection to raise me to newness of life and make me a brand new person on the inside. Please help me, Lord Jesus, to no longer love this crumbling world, but to love You and to prepare to the new world to come. In Your most holy name I ask this, O Savior, Amen.


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