Friday, January 22, 2010

Christ’s Resurrection From the Dead



The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the most important aspect of the gospel. If Christ is not raised, then we remain in our sins (see: 1 Cor. 15). Why then do Christians so often seem to totally forget about the resurrection? Occasionally, I will hear (on the radio) "the gospel" presented without any mention of the resurrection whatsoever. For example, have ever you heard the radio ads for 1-800-NEED HIM? The ads always exhort the listener to turn to Christ, because he died for us. Jesus is there, this group asserts, ready to hear the listener's prayers, because he died for them. And that's it: Jesus died for you so that you can have a relationship with him. So, my question, whenever I hear this sort of thing, is: How does one have a dynamic, living relationship with a dead guy?


If you study the book of Acts, you will find that every presentation of the gospel includes, at the end of the presentation, a declaration that God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. There is no example, in the Bible, of the preaching of the gospel without the preaching also of the resurrection of Christ; and the call to repentance. Why, then, do so many Christians neglect the resurrection altogether?


The resurrection of Christ from the dead is scientifically impossible. It could not have occurred, period. Perhaps, in the backs of our minds, we know this; and we know how absurd we will sound if we preach as true something which is impossible; scientifically speaking. When Paul preached the gospel to the Athenians, who had gathered on Mars Hill to hear his message, the majority of them rejected his message when they heard (from Paul) of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This teaching, of the resurrection, was, to these people, ridiculous (see: Acts 17:22-34). Paul, when he was brought before Felix, even went so far as to say that it was: "With respect to the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you this day" (Acts 24:20).


I also think that Christians neglect the resurrection because they fail to understand the link between Christ's resurrection and the regeneration of both his people (us; his Church) and the world. The resurrection of Christ was—and is—the most powerful force ever exerted in time and on earth. Christ's resurrection overcomes death, hell, and the grave and it's both the power behind and the pattern for our new life in Christ:


'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 so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:5-13).


Christ's resurrection has provided both for our own regeneration and for the regeneration of the world:


"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another;
but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7)


"Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first" (Matthew 19:28-30).


The same Greek word: palingenesia; meaning: born again, is used in both of the above quoted passages.


Christ's resurrection regenerates us, and it will also regenerate the world. This doctrine, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, is not something to be casually overlooked. It's very important; even fundamental to our faith. And our faith is built upon the hope we have that Christ has risen from the dead, that he raises us into a newness of (spiritual) life in this world, and that he will usher in a new (physical) world in the life/world that is to come.


"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience" (Romans 8: 18-25).

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