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May 23, 2018

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5 Benefits of the Resurrection

March 29, 2018


How does the resurrection affect you on days that aren’t Easter? And how—besides saving you from eternal condemnation—does the resurrection affect your eternal future?


The resurrection of Jesus DOES benefit us daily. And while we’re eternally grateful to be saved FROM eternal condemnation, the resurrection also saves us FOR something profoundly more significant than “not going to hell.” Below are 5 benefits of the resurrection of Jesus in the life of the believer.


Because of the resurrection…


1)     We have power to overcome.


Ephesians 1:18: [I pray that you may know] what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.”


The same power that told Death who its Daddy is lives inside of every believer. When the stone over our heart is rolled away, God’s Light dispels the dark powers of addiction, anxiety, resentment, and depression.


This is not to suggest that every believer lives according to this Light. On many days, I crawl back into the tomb (so to speak), allowing anxiety and resentment to have their way with me. I’m reminded of a statement from Alcoholics Anonymous: “We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”


Now, restated more broadly in my own words: “We’ll never be cured of our dark desires in this life. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent upon the maintenance of our friendship with Jesus.” This is precisely why the Apostle, recognizing our human weakness, prays for the Ephesian believers to know the resurrection power available to them. When we walk in friendship with our resurrected Savior and each other, we walk in resurrection power to overcome.


2)     We are resurrected spiritually.


Ephesians 2:4-6: “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 with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him…”


New life is not just a future goal; it is a present reality. Before we came to Christ we were “dead in our trespasses,” meaning that our hearts were alive to sin, but dead to God. Christ came because you and I needed more than reformation; we needed resurrection. We needed Jesus to say to our dead spirits, just like He said to Lazarus’ dead body, “Lazarus (or Suzy, or Billy, or Michael), Come out!” Just like Lazarus stepped out of his tomb and related to Jesus, the resurrection enables us to step out of the tomb of our old life, so we can be a friend of Jesus, alive on the inside.


3)     We will be resurrected physically.


“[Jesus] will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20).


Plato taught that our physical bodies were like a prison cell from which our spirit would be released upon death to enter heaven. Many Christians share more of Plato’s theology of the afterlife than God’s. Do you remember the old hymn?


…Like a bird from these prison walls, I’ll fly away!


While it’s true that our bodies have been corrupted by sin (Rm. 7:24), our bodies are not evil prisons, and we won’t be disembodied spirits forever. The hope for bodily resurrection is a tangible hope, especially for those with ailing and aging bodies. Here’s what Joni Eareckson Tada wrote three decades after a diving accident crushed her spinal cord and confined her to a wheelchair:


“Somewhere in my broken, paralyzed body is the seed of what I shall become. The paralysis makes what I am to become all the more grand when you contrast atrophied, useless legs against the splendid resurrected legs. I’m convinced that if there are mirrors in heaven (and why not?), the image I’ll see will be unmistakably ‘Joni’, although a much better, brighter Joni.”


Joni’s sustaining hope is not that God will rescue her from her bodily prison, but rather, that He’ll redeem her body through resurrection.


4)     We will live in a resurrected universe.


“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rm. 8:20-21).


Animals, plants, humans, and the universe all have this in common: they are dying. When sin entered the world, “the creation was subjected to futility” of death and decay. But then grace entered the world to reverse that curse. The creation now longs for “the revealing of the sons of God”—that is, our future resurrection, occurring at Christ’s return—because then the universe will be resurrected also. Our eternal home is not “heaven,” but rather, “the new heavens and new earth” (Rev. 21:2). Like the first “heavens and earth” (Gen. 1:1), our future home is physical. This means that we won’t live on a wispy spiritual cloud for all eternity, playing a harp. We will live in a resurrected body with the resurrected Jesus in a resurrected Universe. We will eat, climb, explore, swim, play, and drink really old wine (I look forward to the Baptist Wine Club!).


God did not give up on His material creation; He redeemed it.


5)     We will enjoy our eternal reward.


1 Corinthians 15:32: “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”


The resurrection gave Paul a reason to labor intensely in the face of great pain, rather than merely to enjoy the comforts of being a Pharisee. The resurrection does the same for us. It motivates us to sacrifice a life of ease and comfort, knowing that even though we’re saved by grace, we’re rewarded according to the life we live. This reward is granted at our future resurrection, and it makes all our sacrifices eternally meaningful.


I was reading a New York Times article written on July 31 by Joseph P. Carter about finding meaning in the universe. After acknowledging the scientific reality that our Universe is dying, he makes the philosophical conclusion that life therefore is technically purposeless and meaningless, BUT we can CREATE purpose and meaning for ourselves through good relationships. If Christ is not risen, that’s literally the best the world can do: pretend that life isn’t pointless.


I’ll finish with these words from Pastor Tim Keller:


To the extent that the future is real to you, it will change everything about how you live in the present. For example, why is it so hard to face suffering? Why is it so hard to face disability and disease? Why is it so hard to do the right thing if you know it’s going to cost you money, reputation, maybe even your life? Why is it so hard to face your own death or the death of loved ones? It’s so hard because we think this broken world is the only world we’re ever going to have. It’s easy to feel as if this money is the only wealth we will ever have, as if this body is the only body we will ever have. But if Jesus is risen, then you future is so much more beautiful, and so much more certain, than that.