Don’t Forget The Resurrection!

Nov 23, 2014 6051

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The words “it was credited to him [Abraham]” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:23–25 (NIV)

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love preaching the Cross of Christ. This is my favourite topic of all.

However, when I refer to the Cross, I want to make it very clear that I am always referring to both the death and resurrection of Christ.

We rightly focus on the cross, but all too often it is to the exclusion of the resurrection. However, it is more than a little surprising to realize that a simple concordance search will demonstrate that the New Testament writers refer to the resurrection of Jesus Christ far more frequently than his crucifixion.

So we seem to have missed something along the way? Is it because we have a better understanding of the achievements of Christ than his earliest believers, who were consumed with the reality of the risen Lord? I don’t think so.

The verses above from Rom 4:23–25 give us a perspective that we don’t often see in Christianity today – but it does represent the understanding of the earliest believers. Notice firstly how in this passage, as is usually the case in the New Testament, the death and resurrection of Christ are mentioned in the same breath, conceptually as the one event.

Now please notice something that may surprise you. Paul says that Jesus “was delivered over the death for our sins.” OK, so we’re fine with that bit. But then Paul says that Jesus “was raised to life for our justification.” In other words, for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus is an integral part of how we are justified.

Through his death Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, but it is through is resurrection that the atonement is applied through our lives. Without it there is no justification from sin. As I said, before… it’s the one event. But we must never, ever forget the resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus is not just a happy appendage to what happened at Calvary. It is not merely something that happened as a result of Calvary. The atonement was made at the cross, but its power was released on Easter Sunday.

To demonstrate what is too an overly-simplistic perspective, we tend to think that when Paul wrote the words,

if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile… (1 Cor 15:17)

that he was referring to the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the world. But that is not the case. Look at how Paul actually finished this sentence:

if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins (1 Cor 15:17).

Paul is actually referring to firstly to justification and secondly to the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the world. And the second depends on the first. He is saying again, that if Christ is not risen, there is no justification from sin.

The New Testament gives a centrality to the resurrection of Christ that we often fail to see and replicate. Why? Because we fail to see the cross and the resurrection as the one event.

Consider this Phil 3:10, in which Paul challenges us to,

know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Paul is pointing out that we cannot know Christ unless we participate in his sufferings and experience the power of his resurrection. Again, both concepts are paired together. And particularly challenging is the idea that we are to live in this life now by the power of his resurrection. (Read the context.)

And how about this?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead. – Eph 1:18–20

God calls us to experience his incomparably great power – the same mighty strength of Christ’s resurrection – granted to all those who believe. It is the power of justification, sanctification, righteousness, wisdom, and strength. It is the power of the atonement applied to our lives.

It’s time to get excited about the resurrection of Jesus Christ all over again!

Grace and Peace! – Eliezer Gonzalez

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