Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:6)
Yes, Jesus truly died and was buried; but that same Jesus, with all certainty, rose from the dead just as He said that He would. Believing in Jesus’ bodily resurrection is essential to one’s faith.
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9,10)
In theological terms faith is the “instrumental cause” (to use John Calvin’s term) of our justification.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Romans 3:24 gives us a careful explanation of the causes of our justification as John Calvin explained them.
Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith… (Romans 3:24-25a)
The efficient cause (the power that made it possible) of our justification is the grace of God. The meritorious cause (the basis on which it depends) of our justification is Christ and His sacrifice. The instrumental cause (the means through which it is applied to us) is the gift of God, which is faith. And the final cause ( the ultimate reason for it) is the glory of God.
All of this is to make the point that faith is essential for our salvation. And part of true faith is believing in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead.
So far we have established that Jesus was bodily resurrected form the dead, and that faith in His resurrection is essential for our salvation. But what does Jesus’ resurrection mean personally to me? First it assures the resurrection of my own body. Second it assures my glorification. And third it assures my present resurrection to a new life in Jesus Christ. Now, let’s explore each of these. (You can tell I am a preacher. I have my classic three points!)
First, it assures the resurrection of my own body. At my death, assuming that it is prior to Jesus’ second coming, my soul immediately goes to be with the Lord. But when Jesus comes again the dead will be bodily resurrected.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
Now what sort of body will be given to us at the resurrection?
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Corinthians 15:42-44a)
The resurrected body we will receive on the day of resurrection is very different from our temporal bodies of this life. Our current bodies are perishable; they are dying every day that we live. But our resurrected bodies will be imperishable, that is, they will never die; they last for all eternity!
Our current bodies are sown in dishonor; that is they decay quickly which explains why we bury the remains as soon as possible. But our resurrected bodies will be raised in glory. I will get to what this means shortly.
Our current bodies are sown in weaknesses. I experience the weakness of my body each day and it grows weaker the older I get. But our resurrected bodies will have power. I love the passage in Isaiah that reads:
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Our current bodies are sown a natural body. They are subject to all the effects of nature, fallen nature. But they are raised a spiritual body, a body similar to the resurrected body of Jesus. Spiritual does not imply invisible. Jesus’ body was visible; He ate with the disciples; they saw Him. Spiritual means that our new bodies will not be subjected to the effects of nature (fallen nature that is). They will not age; they will not suffer pain. They will be different.
Second, the resurrection of Jesus assures my personal glorification.
For those whom He foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)
Salvation has three distinct tenses: the past tense of our salvation is justification, the present tense is sanctification and the future tense is glorification.
Glorification, in its technical sense, does not take place until the second coming of Christ when our new bodies will be united with our souls. Those who die in the Lord prior to this time souls go to be with the Lord in heaven. This is called the “intermediate state.” They behold God’s glory. They are in HIs presence. They are set free form the cares of lit in this world. The Bible has very little to say about what our souls will experience in this state.
But the “final state” is what takes place at the second coming of Jesus. Our bodies will be resurrected and will be reunited to our souls. Then we are glorified with Christ. Prior to this our souls are in heaven where we behold HIs glory in all its fullness; but at our glorification we share in His glory. We become complete and we will live forever in the new heavens and new earth which are physical, real. Just the same we will have physical, real bodies. It is then that we will possess the full inheritance that we have been promised.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:3-5)
Here Peter clearly teaches that this inheritance will be rewarded to us at the time of the future state of our salvation, our glorification, which is revealed to us in the last time when Jesus comes back.
This now leads to the third assurance we have because of the resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection assures my present resurrection to a new life, or as Jesus called it “abundant life.”
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin…So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God. (Romans 6:3-6,11)
It is profound to think that we died with Christ in His death and were raised to life in His resurrection. This means we have a new life which has been set free from our bondage to sin.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14)
The truth of the gospel is that we have been set free from our slavery to sin. We have a new ability. We have a new power and a new motivation to live for One greater than ourselves.
The instructions are clear. Now that we have been set free, we are no longer to present our members (bodies, minds, actions) to sin. Rather we are to present ourselves (the whole of ourselves) to God as His instruments for righteousness.
We are also responsible to put off the old self and to put on the new self.
But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have learned about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)
So here is how it works. I must make a conscious effort and a decisive commitment to put off my old self — my lust, my bitterness, my wrath and anger, my slander, my pride, my selfish desires and behaviors, my addictive behaviors, my self-righteousness, all my destructive thoughts and actions.
I must be renewed in my mind: “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). I must consciously and continuously live my life in light of this great truth — Christ lives His life out in me.
When my mind is renewed by this truth, I am then enabled to put on the new self. Then I am enabled and empowered to walk in a manner worthy of my calling, to walk in step with the Spirit. When I am doing these things, I will put on love, forgiveness, purity, selfless actions, behaviors that bring honor to my God and King.
II Corinthians 5 sums it up:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed way; behold the new has come. (II Corinthians 5:17)
Here is the great fruit of the resurrection of Christ — we have become new creatures; the old is gone and the new has come. Yes, think upon this, I am a new creation because I have been resurrected with the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead.
A new creation! A change on the seat of my affections — no longer I but Christ. A new view of life, a new eternal perspective, new thoughts, new emotions, a new commitment to holiness and obedience, a new life free from sin and all its guilt. True freedom to will what God desires of me. True love, joy, peace. All this and infinitely more because Jesus died for me and rose again from the dead.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming age He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
Imagine it: believe it; embrace it; live it — I have been made alive; I have been raised up with Christ; I have been seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Now, not just in the future; in the present, on this earth, now — raised, seated, now!
So here it is. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I have the assurance that my body will be raised when Jesus comes back; that I will be glorified at that time; and while He tarries, I am resurrected to a new life now on this earth! Oh, may my life be lived in the fullness of God, to the glory of God until Jesus returns again victoriously!
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