Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection

16
Apr
12

celebrating the son-rise

(A guest blog by Jim Gamble.)

It was good to celebrate and proclaim the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday. Some argue that it doesn`t really matter whether Jesus was physically resurrected or not and others deny the resurrection altogether, they see it as mere myth or legend. This sort of scepticism is not new of course, even in the early church some Christians had fallen for this error. They had been deceived by the philosophies of the age which said there was no physical resurrection of the dead.

We can read the Apostle Paul`s response to this heresy in 1Cor 15 .

1Cor 15:3-11 (ESV)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

From v 3 – 4 we see that the reality of the physical death and resurrection of Jesus is so important that God foretold these events hundreds of years before they took place. Twice Paul repeats that phrase – according to the scriptures. The OT prophesied that God would send his Son to die for our sins. But Jesus didn’t just die. He was also raised from the dead, according to the Scriptures.

V 5 – 8 provides some of the historical evidence that God raised Jesus from the dead. God doesn’t expect us to have blind faith or to believe in fairytales and myths. We have already referred to the witness of the OT to the death and resurrection of Jesus and here we also have reference to the eye witnesses who saw Jesus after the resurrection. V5 says that Jesus appeared to Peter, and then the twelve , then to 500 of the brothers and so on … and last of all to Paul himself or Saul of Tarsus as he then was.

Not only did all these people see the risen Jesus, they were changed as a result. This is additional dramatic evidence because on seeing Jesus after his resurrection they were transformed from cowering wrecks into courageous witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. The reality of the resurrection of Jesus gave them the confidence they required to face persecution. The resurrection has this kind of  transforming power.

The main thought then in this short late-Easter blog is this :

The Resurrection has Transforming Power.

The resurrection of Jesus transforms our lives. Just by dwelling on the resurrected Jesus we will be transformed and will find that Jesus himself is at work in us, changing our appetites and desires. All of us are not changed to the same degree. Often we lose the wonder of Jesus and forget to concentrate upon him. But as we dwell on him and in him, Jesus is at work changing every believer to be more like himself.

The courage, the moral strength and resilience, the peace and joy that belong to Christ, he gives to us. His life dwells in those who trust in him. His resurrection gives us the certainty of coming resurrection. This certainty completely changes our present outlook in life.

If there is no resurrection then what have we to live for?. All we have to live for is the pleasure of the moment.  Notice what Paul says in v30 – 32.  ‘And as for us why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day` he says in v31, then he adds, ‘what have I gained by this if Jesus has not actually been raised? If there is no resurrection he says in effect in v32 we may as well just eat drink and be merry for sooner or later we will die.’

You see the point Paul is making?  He is not interested in being a masochist. It is because he is convinced of the reality of the resurrection that he is ready to subject himself to a life of danger. He is willing to face all kinds of hazards including shipwreck, beatings, imprisonment and execution. In fact, it seems almost all of the initial disciples were executed because of their refusal to deny that Jesus rose again.

Paul even describes his sufferings in 2 Cor. 4:17 as ‘light and momentary troubles’ and as ‘achieving an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all’. He is so convinced about the glory of heaven that he can let the things of earth go.

Like Paul then, let’s fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. We can be so focused on our job, our families or on sport or entertainment. Some of us may have been more excited about the Masters at Augusta on Easter Sunday than about the Master! Some of us get more excited by the latest iPad which will be quickly superseded and become obsolete than by eternal realities. Paul reminds us that what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal and imperishable.

Jesus is enthroned in heaven for ever. All power and all authority is given to him. He reigns and he is reigning inside every believer. To meditate on the risen, reigning Lord Jesus brings motivation to be like him, it brings hope, optimism, enthusiasm and certainty.

Only by setting our minds on the one who has been raised victorious over sin and death will we be able to live with victory over sin. His triumph over sin and death opens up for us a life of freedom from fear of death and slavery to sin. The Resurrection of Jesus has that kind of transforming power in our lives.

The Resurrection also has Justifying Power.

Justification is simply “the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him”.

God raised Jesus on the third day as the guarantee that all who put their faith in him are forgiven. They are free from the guilt and penalty of sin. The price has been paid by the death of Jesus. If the cross was Jesus` payment for our sins, then the resurrection marked God`s acceptance of that payment.

Paul is very clear in v 17 of our chapter regarding the implications of denying the resurrection.

17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. And of all men we are most to be pitied.

That’s how vital the resurrection is. The resurrection of Jesus is verification that his death has paid the full price for sin. Because he has been raised justification is certain.

Rom 4: 25 `He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification`.

So then, in the resurrection of Jesus, God is declaring us to be just, to be righteous. This is only possible because in the resurrection the Father declares his Son to be righteous, he vindicates his Son, he vindicates his claims to be the Son of God in power and he shows his absolute delight in his Son .

So too in the resurrection of Jesus we can be justified and the delight of the Father and the vindication of the Father rests upon us. With that justification comes peace. Being justified by faith we have peace with God and assurance of heaven.

Heaven is guaranteed because of the resurrection.

V30 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead , the first fruits (the guarantee) of those who have fallen asleep.

We are freed from the fear of death. Some of us will have witnessed fellow believers and loved ones (some elderly and some not so old) calmly facing death without fear. With the confidence which comes through believing that Jesus has been raised from the dead. In the sure and certain knowledge that the day of resurrection is coming soon for all those who have been transformed and justified by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

`This is of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures`.

Let`s continue to focus our minds on our risen, reigning Lord Jesus not simply in the period of Easter but throughout the year.  Easter is the reality that shapes the whole of our lives.

21
Feb
12

the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering, conformed to his death

The whole of the gospel is intended to train our heart and life in grace.  Yet, if we must press for any particular aspect of the gospel that most frames and forms Christian living it is our participation by grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The gospel makes it plain that the death and resurrection of Jesus are not simply events that we believe and confess, but they are realities in which we share.  The Christian is someone who has died and risen with Christ.  The pattern of cross and resurrection is stamped on our lives.  It shapes our present identity.  Thus Paul’s words,

Phil 3:8-10 (ESV)
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…

But what does this mean?  How for example, do we presently experience the power of his resurrection?  What enables us to ‘take up the cross’ and follow Christ?  Do we sometimes experience the power of his resurrection and at others the fellowship of his cross and sufferings?  Do we experience the power of his resurrection despite embracing the fellowship of his sufferings?

The answer to all the above is this: we know the power of his resurrection in embracing the fellowship of his sufferings by conforming to his death.  Our Christian life is not resurrection or cross.  Neither is it resurrection and cross.  It is resurrection for the cross and in the cross.  If we die to live, and we do, in another sense we live to die.

The only way I can take up the cross and follow Christ is through the enabling power of his  resurrection life in the Spirit.  It is the same Spirit who acted powerfully to raise Christ from the dead who enabled him to live, obedient to the extent of death, even cross-death; it was through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God (Hebs 9:14).  And it is the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead in resurrection life who works in our hearts, we who were dead in trespasses and sins, have been made alive with Christ that we may be given over to death for him.  To put it as Paul does in 2 Cor 4,

2 Cor 4:10-11 (ESV)
we are… always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Again, we die to live and we live to die.  There is a reciprocity, a symbiosis, in death and resurrection.

What is the life of Christ that is revealed in us?  It is his life on earth, his life of cross-bearing, a cross-bearing that began long before he hung upon the cross.  Christ’s whole life was one of cross-bearing, in the sense that his whole life was lived with self-will always held in the place of death.  His personal will was always  determined to do only the will of his Father (although Christ was not attracted to sin, neither was he attracted to pain, suffering and rejection; he embraced these willingly because these were his Father’s will) .  Cross-bearing is death to self (not simply to sin).  It is to die to ‘self’ with all its siren calls for protection, pampering, prestige, power, pleasure and profit.

And so, resurrection life means living in death.   Resurrection power is power in weakness.

We so often hear that God will bless his people with possessions, health, good relationships.  Or that resurrection power is power to overcome or heal sickness and disease.   Sometimes God does bless his people with the good things of  this life, though he never promises this and these gifts if given are the very least of his gifts.  And sometimes he does give people abilities to do miracles revealing his power in visible ways but these are the exception.  Chiefly his power works in our lives by enabling us to put to death our selfish desires and equipping us to endure suffering and rejection for the sake of the gospel.  Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is revealing:

Col 1:11 (ESV)
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy

Notice it is power to endure.  Power to suffer.  Power to find joy not apart from suffering but in and through suffering.

Look at the Christians you know.  Who  reveal the life of Christ?  It is not those pursuing material comfort, career advancement, and every hobby and sport imaginable, rather it is those who are serving others.  It is those who look not on their own interests but the interests of others;  those who visit the sick, support the vulnerable and needy, have a word from the Lord suitable for the occasion, pray with mourning hearts for the lost, and who suffer deprivation and trial for the gospel.  People whose voices are not raised in the street.  People who do not press themselves, or vindicate themselves.  These are the people you see Christ in.  These are the people where his life is evident.  And these are the people who seem most content and who most know joy in life for it is he who loses his life who finds it.

Such people are rarely life’s celebrities.  We place far too much emphasis on performance.  We think that if we can only get a champion athlete, or a succesful businessman, or an intellectual with a string of letters after his name to front our outreach then people will respond.  We think the big name, the big personality, the big preacher, the big show, band or whatever is where it is at.  We admire these qualities.  We place store on what is superficially impressive – on outward appearances.  We admire the dynamic personality.  We want the clever orator, the one who can hold a crowd in his hand.  Yet big personalities are not what God values.  The way of the cross is not about big names, big personalities, big gifts, or big shows.  It is precisely the opposite.  The way of the cross is the way of weakness.  It is the way of refusing to draw attention to self, to promote self, to display self.  The messenger and the message must be the same.

Paul refused to preach to the Corinthians with impressive words and oratory.  They loved these things and for this very reason he refused to display them.  The power lay not in human giftedness and glory but in God, and was best demonstrated in human weakness and insignificance.

1Cor 2:1-5 (ESV)
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 

When are we going to learn that the weapons of our warfare are not ‘fleshly’ (impressive shows, impressive presentations, impressive preachers, impressive personalities, political muscle) but spiritual; it is in weakness, suffering, humility, endurance, self-giving, patient prayer,and ordinary preaching without glamour, that the power of God’s resurrection life is to be found.  How many people do you know who have been won for Christ through big shows, big concerts, big budget events?  God’s way is not in the impressive, but the humanly unimpressive.

1Cor 1:26-29 (ESV)
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

This is not a plea for laziness, or carelessness, or poor preparation.  There is no virtue in these.  Nor is it a plea for using people for a task who are not gifted for it.  It is a plea, however, for us to place great importance on prayer, on self-giving in the lives of others, and on the simple witness of an ordinary believer.  It is a plea to seek for God’s power in the places he says it will be found and nowhere else.  It is a plea to seek life through death and to seek God’s power through weakness and through things that are normally discounted by human measuring.




the cavekeeper

The Cave promotes the Christian Gospel by interacting with Christian faith and practice from a conservative evangelical perspective.

Archives

Site Posts

July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Recent Comments

Susanne Schuberth (G… on an apology…
Don J Chiechi on an apology…
Susanne Schuberth (G… on an apology…
Susanne Schuberth (G… on an apology…
Don J Chiechi on an apology…
Follow Cave Adullam on WordPress.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32 other followers