The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

lily.jpgMy Savior, through His death and resurrection, has given me the opportunity to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  I have accepted that opportunity of grace through faith.  It is because of nothing I am or have done, but only because of His love and goodness. 

However, the resurrection, for me, has other implications as well.  It is not simply the instrument by which I get eternal life, as wonderful and essential as that is.  Consider just two texts with me that have been stirring in my mind in this season of reflection:

1) Philippians 3:8-11

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

What does Paul mean when he says that he counts all things as dung in order to know the “power of his resurrection”?  Paul already was the possessor of eternal life so he was not just speaking of an acquaintance with that.  Resurrection power seems to be connected to self-sacrifice.  Pastor John MacArthur’s comments on this verse provides some insight:

“…he wanted resurrection power to continue to be his resource. He wanted that power that he talks about many times in the epistles, the power, for example, to conquer temptation, the power for service to Christ, the power to overcome trials that makes you strong when you’re weak, the power for witnessing and boldness. He wanted to be strengthened by the spirit in the inner man, he wanted to know Colossians 1:11, the great might of Christ. He wanted the expression of that power of which he spoke of in Ephesians 3:20 when he said, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think according to the power that works in us.” He said why did I take Christ and say no to this? Because in Christ there’s power, there’s power over sin, there’s power over temptation, there’s power for service, power for witness, power over trials. There’s power in my otherwise impotent life. That’s why I count it all loss for the power that’s in Christ.” (http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/50-32.htm)

Sometimes, like Paul, my list of personal accomplishments and trophies can seem like a big deal to me.  But, if I truly want to know Christ and His resurrection power, I must choose to lose.  Precious accomplishments and reputation will do me no favors in battling sin or overcoming trials with joy.  I must value the power of Christ as more precious and more necessary than my own filthy rags.

The most humbling part of this truth to me, however, is the fact that the power of Christ is always with me.  The bookends of Matthew’s Great Commission teach us that (1) Christ has all power in heaven and earth and (2) that He will be us always.  Thus, I conclude that all power in heaven and earth is with me all the time.  The appropriation of that power, however, seems to be linked to my pursuit in denying myself and knowing Christ.  This is something I must deliberately work on.  The struggle is real but the power is limitless.

2) 1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ should also motivate my labor for Him.  The word “abounding” refers to the idea of superabundance, of excess above what it necessary.  I can guarantee you that most Monday mornings I am not motivated to be “superabundant” in ministry labor.  The verse though gives us a clue as to why we should be so extra diligent.  The “therefore” in this verse refers really to the entire proceeding chapter.  What can we learn there that would give motivation for a superabundant ministry work ethic?

Paul begins the chapter with a summary of the Gospel: Christ was crucified, buried and did rise from the dead the third day.  The apostle asserts that if Jesus is not alive, then why bother with the Christian life at all?  But, he insists, Jesus is alive.  He then launches into an apologetic for our own resurrection from the dead.  Our eternal destiny is sure.  [I have never used 1 Corinthians 15 in my teaching of eternal security or assurance of salvation; however, that is to shame.  It will become a primary text for me in these areas.]  Christ’s victory over death for our sins gives hope to us that there is no sting in death for followers of Jesus.

However, it is the final clause of verse 58 that brings the application home to my Monday morning sloth.  Our labor is not in vain in the Lord.  If our labor in ministry is always worthwhile and always fruitful, then why should there be any excuse for not being superabundant?  The fact is that, practically, we often live as though we believe that some of our labor is in vain.  “It’s just paperwork.”  “It’s just follow-up.”  “They’re only children.”  “They’ll probably not listen to me.”  “They’re not grateful for the work I do.”  The sinful, pride-filled excuses work harder and more diligently on most Mondays than I do.

Why should I work as hard and as superabundantly as I can today?  Because, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has sealed my eternal destiny, has taken the fear and power of sin away, and empowers me to the extent that everything I do in the work of the Lord will be valuable and productive.

So, let’s get to work!  May the Lord strengthen us, protect us, and use us this week to shine His glory and His righteousness brightly and broadly!

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