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April 1, 2018 The Power of the Resurrection

 

Scriptures: John 2:18-22; Matthew 28:1-10; Philippians 3:10

 

Today is the day commonly known as Easter. It is really misnamed. The Bible calls it Passover (e.g., Acts 12:4) for it was during that festival that Jesus rose from the dead. The apostle Paul tells us that we should celebrate the Passover in recognition that it is all about Christ (I Cor 5:7-8). In other words, we should celebrate Easter. I prefer to call it Resurrection Day since it has nothing to do with Eostre, the goddess of fertility in ancient England nor bunnies nor eggs.  “Special Passover” might be a good name as well. Whatever one call this day, it is meant to be a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

 

The resurrection is the most important event in the history of the world. One important aspect of the resurrection is that, whether you believe in it or not, it is meant, along with Christ’s birth and 3 ½ year ministry as recorded in the gospel accounts, to ground the Christian faith in real space and time. In other words, in history. The Christian faith is historical. It is unlike Hinduism which is based on mythical accounts of a plurality of gods. It is unlike most religions which are either based on fables or are simply teachings of men that have no credible miraculous confirmations to their claims of divine insight.

 

Hence, Luke begins his gospel in this manner:

 

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. [1]

 

And, the apostle Peter states:

 

 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.[2]

 

But Judaism and Islam are also faiths that are grounded in history. It is the resurrection that separates the Christian faith from those. The resurrection is God’s proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that salvation is only found in him.

 

Those purposes of the resurrection are mainly to show unbelievers the truth of God’s message. Presently, I wish to proclaim a facet of the resurrection that is of great help to the one who has already come to Christ in faith. There is something about the resurrection that can transform us into victorious and triumphant followers of the Lord! It is this:

 

There is power in the resurrection and this power is available!

 

The resurrection speaks to us. It says, “Death has no hold upon you.” Not only that, it says that all negative things are overcome. But, it does more than speak. It imparts power!

 

In John chapter two we read that Jesus promised that he would raise up his own body if it were destroyed. It was destroyed in the sense of the Lord Jesus being put to death by crucifixion. Then we read in Matthew chapter 28 that he has indeed risen from the dead and he was seen by his apostles and many others. Jesus fulfilled what he had promised!

 

Know, then, that Jesus has the power to resurrect! Praise Him!

 

It is his life that raised his body.  The power of Christ’s resurrection is His resurrection life. It is the working of the “great might” that He possesses (Eph 1:19-20). The mightiness of the resurrection life is for us as well!

 

Do not think that the power nor the resurrection life are something different than Christ Himself. Jesus is the resurrection life!  Before he was resurrected he told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)

 

The reality of Christ’s resurrection life is the Spirit.

 

One author has put it so well:

 

“The Spirit of Christ is the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Thus, where the Spirit of Christ is, there is resurrection. Because this Spirit is now within us, the power of Christ’s resurrection is within us also.”[3]

 

This is one of two points I want you to remember: There is power in the resurrection and this power is available!

 

There is a hymn that I used to sing when I was in college. It was entitled, Death Cannot Hold the Resurrection Life.

 

The lyrics are these:

 

Death cannot hold the resurrection life,

The life of God, eternal manifest;

‘Tis uncreated, indestructible,

‘Tis Christ Himself, unconquerable, expressed.

 

This life is uncreated and indestructible! It is Christ Himself being expressed.

 

Death cannot hold the resurrection life,

Through every block and barrier it breaks;

Conquering the power of darkness and of hell,

It swallows death and victory partakes.

 

Also, do not think that the power of the resurrection only has to do with physical death. It does have the power to raise our physical bodies just as the body of Jesus was raised. But it has the power to conquer every form of death and darkness. That means it overcomes spiritual deadness. As followers of the Lord we are not always in the spirit. We have the sense that, many times, our spirits need life. The resurrection life raises our spirits up!

 

 It also conquers darkness. Darkness is the biblical term for sinful things – sinful acts, sinful thoughts, even sinful propensities. The power of the resurrection overcomes our darkness.

 

The power of the resurrection is for us in our daily living!

 

When you are tempted to sin the resurrection life will overpower your temptation.

 

When you have no motivation to open your Bible and to be open to the Lord’s leading, the resurrection life will raise up a divine desire for His word and His leading.

 

When you are expressing your own dissatisfaction or discontent about something – in other words, just expressing yourself – the resurrection life will express God through you!

 

The hymn goes on:

 

Death cannot hold the resurrection life,

All of God’s fullness it will manifest;

God’s righteousness and holiness it yields,

His glorious image by it is expressed.

 

You see, the power of his resurrection is for the here and now. The Spirit of Christ is the resurrection and this Spirit is within you if you belong to Him.  When we touch the Spirit of Christ we access the power of the resurrection!

 

When you need resurrection life you just call out to the Lord, “Lord, I need your resurrection life right now! May the power of your resurrection be applied to me right now! Amen!”

 

This power is available to every believer. But there is something more. Remember Paul’s words:

 

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,[4]

 

This is the other point I want you to remember: The full power of the resurrection in this life is released through suffering.

 

The carnation seed shows how the resurrection life is released. Although the seed is very small it contains within it the life power capable of producing a carnation, one of the most beautiful of flowers. Since this life element is already in the seed, there is no need for power to be added to the seed from outside of itself. The only thing necessary is that the seed fall into the earth and die. If the seed passes through death, its shell will be broken, and life will be released!

 

As those who have been reborn we have the seed of God within us (I John 3:9). This seed contains the divine life, and this life is the power of the resurrection. But the outer shell of the seed must be broken. This requires suffering. Our “outer shell” is our human soul with its own desires and self-absorbed thoughts.

 

Paul said he wanted to share in Christ’s sufferings. He knew that sufferings would break him and conform him to Christ. This is why we must suffer if we would know the full power of his resurrection. We can both know and experience the power of his resurrection in our daily living regardless of how far along we are in our Christian walk. If we are a baby in Christ we can know his power to overcome death and darkness. If we are a spiritual youth we can know. If we are mature we can know. Yet, to know his resurrection power in its fullness we must have our outer shell broken.

 

This is why you have suffered and this is why you may have to suffer more. Suffering is part of the Christian life and do not be deceived into thinking it is not.

 

 

 And so, the hymn continues:

 

Death cannot hold the resurrection life,

The more interred the more it multiplies;

All kinds of suffering only help it grow,

And fruits of life abundant realize.

 

A man, when a business recession came, lost his job, a sizable fortune, and his beautiful home. To add to his sorrow, his precious wife died; yet he tenaciously held to his faith -- the only thing he had left. One day when he was out walking in search of employment, he stopped to watch some men who were doing stonework on a large church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. 'Where are you going to put that?' he asked. The workman said, 'Do you see that little opening up there near the spire? Well, I'm shaping this stone down here so that it will fit in up there.' Tears filled my friend's eyes as he walked away, for the Lord had spoken to him through that laborer whose words gave new meaning to his troubled situation.

 

We are not fit for the kingdom of heaven. But the Lord is making us fit. He is chiseling us and removing all the things that do not belong.

 

The outer shell of the seed must die so that two wonderful things can happen. The power of Christ’s resurrection will be applied to our every need in its fullness. If we need power he will become power to us. If we need patience, He Himself will be our patience. This is to know Christ, the power of his resurrection and to enjoy him.

 

The second thing is that we will be made fit to inherit the kingdom. His life operating within us will make us fit.

 

As we celebrate Resurrection Day know that the power of his resurrection is available. Just call out to him in your time of need. You will experience the power.

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 1:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Pe 1:16–18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] Witness Lee, Life Study of Philippians, (Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA) p 183

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.