18 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION
Just as God’s grace underpins everything He does for us and in us to enable us to overcome the world, so Jesus’ resurrection is the reason and the power to overcome.
Paul said that, without Jesus’ resurrection, we have no hope and are still dead in our trespasses and sins.
“For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 NIV
The resurrection of Jesus is an undeniable fact of history. Many unbelievers have tried to disprove the truth that Jesus rose from the dead but, from Biblical and secular evidence, no one has been able to disprove the fact.
Frank Morrison, an unbelieving lawyer, wrote a book called “Who Moved the Stone?” in which he set out to disprove the resurrection but, after examining all the evidence from a legal perspective, he could only conclude that Jesus really did rise from the dead. On the strength of his findings, Morrison became a believer.
Before we consider some important aspects of Jesus’s resurrection, we must understand that before God created the universe, before the beginning of time, His plan was to create people who would live forever.
Job, who lived during the time of the patriarchs, had this hope.
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” Job 19:25-27 NLT
David spoke of Messiah’s resurrection centuries before Jesus came to earth.
“King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’” Acts of the Apostles 2:25-28 NLT
Despite the futility of life, Solomon recognised that God had a higher plan for man.
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart…” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT
Without the resurrection of Jesus, none of God’s plans for the human race would come to anything. Death, the last enemy, would never be conquered, and Satan would have the last word.
WHAT DID THE RESURRECTION MEAN TO JESUS?
- The resurrection was the fulfilment of prophecy and God’s seal of approval on Jesus’s work of salvation.
“And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus…”
- The resurrection affirmed Jesus’s identity as the Son of God.
“… He was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:4 NLT
- The resurrection confirmed Jesus’s sinless nature.
“But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” Acts of the Apostles 2:24 NLT
“For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’” Acts of the Apostles 2:27-28 NLT
- The resurrection sealed Jesus’s exaltation as Lord and Messiah.
“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand…” Acts of the Apostles 2:32 NLT
“So, let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” Acts of the Apostles 2:36 NLT
- The resurrection guarantees the full harvest of those who will rise again.
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” 1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT
‘But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.” 1 Corinthians 15:23 NLT
- The resurrection completed Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT
“For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 NLT
WHAT DOES THE RESURRECTION MEAN TO BELIEVERS?
The resurrection power of Jesus affects both our present and our future.
- OUR PRESENT
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT
Through faith in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have become one with Him. This means that we share in all the benefits of His life, death and resurrection.
This truth has far-reaching effects on our everyday lives in the environment and influence of an evil world. According to Paul, we died with Christ (because we are “in Christ”) and we have been raised with Him to a new life.
So, just as His death and resurrection cut Jesus off from His life as an earthly being and restored Him to His position in glory…
“We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.” Romans 6:9-10 NLT
… so we, who died and rose again “in Him” by faith, have been cut off from our old, sinful lives and have risen to a new life in the realm of God’s kingdom.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6 NLT
Through our baptism in water, we illustrate what has happened to us in the spiritual dimension. Not only that, but we also make a public declaration of our union and identity with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection and…
By faith we embrace the same power that raised Christ from the dead to raise us up from the works of the flesh that produce death, to newness of life in Jesus.
HOW CAN WE APPLY THE RESURRECTION TO OUR PRESENT LIVES?
To use the excuse that we are “only human” when we sin is to cancel God’s power in us to live new lives in Christ.
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:1-4 NLT
What we need, to begin with, is a new understanding of what has happened to and in us when we believed the gospel.
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.” Romans 6:6-8 NLT
Based on this understanding, and believing the truth of what Jesus has done for us, we need to develop a new awareness.
“So, you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11 NLT
How do we apply this awareness to our everyday lives, when we are under pressure to act and react like people of the world?
“So, you also should CONSIDER yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. DO NOT LET sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, GIVE YOURSELVES completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” Romans 6:11-13 NLT
Paul gives us three courses of action to overcome the temptation to give in to the flesh.
This means that we stop and think first before we say or do anything out of the flesh. Emotion is often what we respond to first, but emotion always follows wrong thinking.
So, the fact that you are dead to your old nature is a done deal. Now let that thought (truth) dominate your mind in that situation before you make the next move.
- Do not let…
Say a firm “No!” to what your flesh wants to do. It’s a choice YOU have to make and, once you’ve made it, grace steps in and gives you the power to do what you have decided.
- Give yourselves…
Since it is impossible to think two thoughts simultaneously, once you have changed your thinking from yourself to God, your mind is on safe ground and will lead you to take the right action.
This is resurrection power working in you that will train you to live by the Spirit and not according to the flesh. It will take a lifetime to learn but, if you keep applying these truths to your life, the journey will become easier.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” Romans 8:12-13 NLT
- OUR FUTURE
The resurrection of Jesus affects the way we deal with our present tests and trials in the light of our hope for the future.
Our life philosophy should never be either a “karma-type” fatalism, what will be will be, or “let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” way of thinking. We are tied to a hope for the future that is securely joined both to our present and to Jesus’ resurrection.
This is how the resurrection affects our future.
(The following points aren’t in any sequence or order of priority).
- Jesus’s resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life.
“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” John 11:25-26 NLT
” Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.” John 14:19 NLT
- We will be God’s eternal dwelling place.
“When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20 NLT
- The resurrection guarantees that we are justified, no longer guilty of sin
“He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.”Romans 4:25 NLT
- Jesus is the firstfruits, we are the harvest of the resurrection
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” 1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT
- Jesus’ resurrection conquered sin and death
“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. ” 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NLT
- We will be raised with new, indestructible bodies
“Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NLT
- Our hope of resurrection motivates us
To live pure lives
“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3 NLT
… and to persevere in doing good
“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NLT
- Our resurrection will happen in an instant…
“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NLT
… and we will be with the Lord forever
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT
Therefore, we, of all people, have everything to live for and to die for. We have powerful equipment to overcome our enemies in this life, both outside and inside of us… the world, the flesh, and the devil…
… and we have the hope that draws us towards, eternity. Death is no longer something to fear. It is the door to our eternal dwelling place with God. And the indestructible truth that gives us this hope is…
… that Jesus rose from the dead and is now
“…. seated… in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 NLT
All Scripture quotations in this series
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.