Any study on the Cross of Christ is incomplete without touching
on the resurrection. Not only was the resurrection of Christ everything to His disciples,
but it plays a vital part in our redemption and, in this concluding chapter on the
Cross of Christ, we will see four important reasons why the resurrection of our Lord
Jesus Christ is significant to Christians in terms of our salvation.
But first let us look at the resurrection through the eyes of
the disciples. Remember, these disciples were Jews. They were victims of Judaism.
They were raised up with the idea that the Messiah was not to be a suffering servant
but a conquering king. He would destroy the Roman Empire, establish His kingdom. The
disciples had this hope as they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
In spite of the fact that the disciples were told more than once
by Jesus Christ Himself about His death and resurrection, they were so much engrossed in
their preconceived ideas of the Messiah that they failed to see the significance of His
death and His resurrection until after the event.
After Christ arose from the dead, you will notice that the first
disciples to see Him besides Mary were the two men walking to the village of Emmaus
recorded in Luke 24. Beginning with verse 13, we are told that these two men traveling
to Emmaus, which was approximately seven miles from Jerusalem, were very discouraged men.
They were so discouraged that when Jesus joined them, they did not realize who He was.
When He asked them the question, What is this communication all about? What is
this discouraging talk I hear from you? they responded by saying, You mean
to say you dont know what has happened? This man, Jesus of Nazareth, we thought He
was the one, the Messiah, the One that the prophets spoke about. But our rulers crucified
Him and our hopes have been dashed to pieces. And indeed, what has happened has taken
place about three days ago.
Then Jesus, as they drew towards the village, began to expound
to them. Listen to what He says to them in Luke 24, verse 25-27: Then He [that is,
Jesus] said to them, O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the
prophets have spoken. Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter
into His glory? And then, beginning with Moses, going through all the prophets,
Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
In other words Jesus was telling these two disciples: Look,
its all there in Scripture. Why havent you seen it? And the reason
they had not seen it was because they were blinded by their preconceived ideas, a problem
that we also face today in terms of learning about truth. Later on at the table, when
they were having their supper, when Jesus raised His hands to bless the food, when they
realized who was talking to them, they became extremely excited.
We are told in Luke 24:23-33 that they rose up that very hour and
returned to Jerusalem. They returned back seven more miles and found the eleven and those
who were with them gathered together, saying: The Lord has risen indeed and has
appeared to Simon. Then they told about the things that had happened on the road
and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Imagine these discouraged,
disappointed disciples, their hopes dashed by the Cross, and suddenly the resurrection
changed the situation. They realized that this was the Messiah, that Jesus had come not
to conquer the Romans but to conquer sin and to deliver them from the grip of death.
With this in mind, let us now turn to the four important reasons
why the resurrection is extremely significant, important, vital, and crucial to Christians.
The first one is that the resurrection of Christ vindicated Christs righteousness
which He obtained for us so that we may be able to be qualified tor heaven. In Romans 1,
in his very introduction, see what Paul has to say about the gospel and about Jesus Christ.
Having introduced himself in Romans 1:1 as the apostle called by God, separated to preach
the gospel to the Gentiles, in verse two he tells us this gospel was promised beforehand
through their prophets, through the Old Testament, but now it is no longer a promise
because it is the reality. And the reality concerns Jesus Christ, the Son of man according
to the seed of David and the Son of God according to the life of holiness he lived. In
other words, Jesus Christ was both man and God so that He might be the Savior of the world.
By his humanity He joined Himself to us, the human race that needs redeeming, and through
His divinity He joined us to the Father who is in heaven.
Then, having declared the righteousness of Christ in verse four,
he gives the reason of the proof of that righteousness. Romans 1:4 says: And
declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the
resurrection from the dead. Now what did Paul mean by that? What has the
resurrection of Christ to do with the spirit of holiness or righteousness which was
revealed in the life of Christ? If Jesus in any form had sinned either in thought, word,
or deed, the Father would have had no right to raise Him up from the dead. The ultimate
power of sin is death. In Romans 6:23 Paul says: The wages of sin is death.
The law says the soul that sins, it must die. Christ did bear the sins of the world but
He Himself had no sin.
When He died, when our sins put Him into the grave and He paid
the price for our sins at the Cross, sin could not keep Him in the grave because He
Himself had lived a perfect, sinless life. He rose from the dead to prove that He had
obtained perfect righteousness in His earthly mission. If Christ had sinned in any way,
thought, word, or deed, God would have no right legally to raise Him up. But the fact
that God raised Him up f rom the dead proved that the righteousness that Christ had
obtained in His earthly mission, in His humanity during those 33 years that He was here
before the cross, was perfect.
For example, Paul, speaking about Christ in Romans 4:25 says:
Who [that is, Christ] was delivered up because of our offenses. On the cross
He bore the guilt and punishment of our sins and was raised because of our justification.
In other words, God delivered Christ to bear the wages of our sins so that we could be
justified from our sins. Then He raised Christ up as evidence that that justification
was perfect. He was raised because of our justification. The price for sin
was totally paid on the cross and, therefore, God had the perfect right to raise Him up
from the dead since He Himself had no sin.
Number 1. The resurrection of Christ vindicates
Christs righteousness which He obtained for the sinful human race.
Number 2. The resurrection of Christ guarantees our
resurrection. You know, it is important that we become very clear that every subjective
experience that we Christians will experience in this world and in the world to come is
based on a perfect and finished work in Jesus Christ. In other words, there is nothing
that you and I will experience as Christians, whether we think in terms of the new birth,
or our standing before God as justified, that brings us peace and joy and hope and
assurance. Whether we think in terms of Christian living, holy living, all the blessed
hope which is the resurrection from the dead and the ascending into heaven where Christ
is, all of this is based on the fact that we have already received this in the
holy history of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In other words, in Christ Jesus, God has redeemed the whole
human race. We were in Him by the incarnation. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:30 that
it was by His [Gods] will that He put us into Christ and made Christ to be our
wisdom, our righteousness, our redemption, our sanctification, our everything. Therefore,
since Christ is the source of our Christian experience, His resurrection guarantees
our resurrection. In other words, we shall experience the resurrection because
in Christ we have already been raised from the dead. In fact, Paul tells us in
Ephesians 2:6 that we are already sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
But now turn to 1 Cor. 15:12 and notice Pauls argument
in this passage. In verse 12 Paul exposes a theological problem that was being
experienced by the church members in Corinth. There were some in the Corinthian church
who questioned the resurrection of the believers. This is how Paul puts it: Now
if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say
that there is no resurrection of the dead? Can you imagine believers without a
hope of a resurrection? But listen to Pauls argument. He does not defend the
resurrection of the believer by using the proof text method. His proof that the
Christian has the hope of the resurrection is the resurrection of Christ Himself.
Look at verse 13 onwards: But if there is no resurrection
of the dead then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen then our preaching is
vain and your faith also in vain. In other words, if the source of our
resurrection, which is Christ, did not rise from the dead, then there is no hope for us.
But if Christ rose from the dead then we have a hope. To go one step further, Paul goes
on to say: If Christ did not rise f rom the dead, then our preaching is a lie,
but if Christ rose from the dead then our preaching is true and the Christian has
In fact, in 1 Cor. 15:19 Paul says: If in this life only
we have hope in Christ we are of all men the most miserable. Why? Because
the Christian hope is not in this world, it is in the world to come. And the beginning
of the world to come is the resurrection of the believers.
But now, says Paul in verse 20, Christ is risen
from the dead and has become the firstfruit [or the prototype] of those who have fallen
asleep. And then in verses 21,22 he makes those tremendous statements about
in Adam and in Christ. For since by man came death, by man also
came the resurrection of the dead. Please notice that the word man, used twice
in this verse 21, is in the singular. Who are these two men, one bringing you death and
the other bringing the resurrection? The answer is found in verse 22: For as
in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Now please remember the context. Here Paul is not discussing
the whole human race in Christ. In other words, he is not dealing with the
objective truth of the gospel. He is dealing with the subjective experience of the
believer. Do Christians who have accepted the truth as it is in Christ have a
hope of a resurrection? And the answer is Yes. Why? What is the guarantee of our
resurrection? The resurrection of Christ. Look at verse 23: But each one in his
own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterwards those who are Christs at His
The resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of the resurrection
of every believer. To bring this out, listen to 1 Thess. 4:14 where Paul tells the
believers in Thessalonica, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose
again.... Paul is not using the word if as if to doubt the
resurrection of Christ. What Paul is really saying is: In view of the fact that
we believe Jesus Christ died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who
sleep in Jesus. In verse 15 onward he goes on to explain that the Lord Himself
will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and the dead
in Christ will rise first. Then we who are living will be transformed by the
twinkling of an eye from corruption to incorruption.
But the fact is that, because Jesus conquered the grave, we
believers have a hope of the resurrection. Just one more text, 1 Peter 1:3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to His
abundant mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of
Jesus Christ from the dead. In other words, the resurrection of Christ is our
hope. Our hope is not in this world. Our hope is in the world to come. Yes, we
stand perfect in Christ today but because we have a mortal body all of us are
subject to death—what the Bible calls the first death. But, to the Christian, that
death is not the grim reaper, it is simply sleep and sleep means resting.
A Christian who dies is resting in Christ and when Christ
comes from heaven and He makes the tremendous cry at the trump of God and says Let
the dead in Christ be raised, all the believers who have died in Christ
will conquer the grave because their victory is the result of the victory of Jesus Christ
who conquered the grave.
And so, Peter is saying, Blessed be the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to His abundant mercy, has given us a hope through
the resurrection of Christ.
Number 3. This brings us now to our third position, a
third reason why the resurrection of Christ is important to us. The resurrection of
Christ makes Christs intercessory ministry in the heavenly sanctuary possible.
When you and I accept Christ we still are sinners saved by grace. The acceptance of
Christ, the new birth experience, does not change our nature one iota. We are still
potentially 100 percent sinners. Therefore, as long as we are living in this world,
as long as we are in this world, condemned by sin, we need a mediator, we need an
Advocate, Christ the righteous. As long as we are sinners, we have a Mediator, because
Jesus conquered death, went to heaven, and is now sitting at the right hand of God
interceding for us.
Notice what Paul says about this wonderful gospel in Romans 8.
Paul spends several chapters in Romans discussing the gospel from every conceivable
angle. He begins in chapter 3, verse 21, and he ends in chapter 8 verse 30. Then,
having done that, he concludes this exposition of the gospel in chapter 8, verse 31,
by asking a question: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us,
who can be against us? Oh, what a tremendous statement. If God is on our side,
it doesnt matter who is against us.
Yes, the devil can accuse us day and night as Revelation 12:10
says, but we have an Advocate, the righteous. Look at Romans 8:34: Who is he
who condemns? Yes, it is the devil who condemns, but listen to the good news:
It is Christ who died. Remember, He died to remove our condemnation,
And, furthermore, is also risen who is even at the right hand of God who also
maketh intercession for us. Jesus was raised for our justification, says Paul
in Romans 4:25. In Romans 8:34 he says: Christ who conquered the grave is now
sitting at the right hand making intercession for us.
In 1 John 2:1 the apostle John says the gospel is good news
but please dont allow the good news of salvation, which is a free gift to sinners,
lead you to cheap grace to condone sin because the gospel does not give us license to
sin. But John realizes that we are still living in a sinful world; we still have sinful
Because of our inability to have learned to walk fully in the
Holy Spirit, we will fall, and so he says in 1 John 2:1: My little children, I
am writing this good news to you not that you may condone sin [he uses the word sin in
the present continuous tense the first time] but if anyone sins [this is in the aorist
tense, the past historical tense] then we have an advocate, Christ the righteous.
So the resurrection of Christ makes it possible for us to have an intercessor, Jesus
Christ, at the right hand of God who is representing believers.
One more text regarding this is in Hebrews 7. Now Hebrews was
written or was addressed primarily to Jewish Christians who were in danger of turning
their back to Christ and returning to Judaism. The writer of Hebrews, whom I believe
is Paul, is making it very clear in this wonderful epistle that Christ is the reality
of everything that was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. And because He is the reality,
He is better than all that was given to the Jews in the Old Testament, the old covenant.
Now look at Heb 7:24, 25 in this context: But he, because
he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore, He is also able to save
to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He ever lives to make intercession
for them. The Levitical priest in the Old Testament could not really intercede for
the Jews in the true sense of the word. Why? Number one, because they themselves were
sinners. You remember on the day of Atonement they could not enter the Most Holy Place
without first offering a sacrifice for themselves and for their family. Jesus did not
have to offer a sacrifice for Himself because He had overcome sin. He had not even sinned
by a thought and, as we saw earlier, it is because of this God had the legal right to
raise Him up from the dead. But Jesus Christ is a priest who has never sinned, who has
conquered sin and conquered the grave.
The second difference is that the Levitical priests were limited
in their intercession because they were human beings that were not only sinners but who
were also mortal. That means their life span was no different from the life span of the
average human being at that time. But Christ, when He rose from the dead, rose never to
die. And because He is now an everlasting Savior, He is able to intercede for us from
the time of His ascension right up to the time of His Second Coming. We have an Advocate;
we have a Priest Who is able to save us to the uttermost not because we are good but
because He is our Righteousness and He is at the right hand of God, vindicating,
defending His believers.
Jesus Christ is our Advocate, our Savior, and He is able to
save to the uttermost, anyone who comes to God through Him because there is no
condemnation for those who are in Christ. In Christ, as Jesus Himself said in
John 5:24, we have already passed from death to life.
Number 4. And now this brings us finally to the fourth
important reason why the resurrection of Christ is crucial to the believer. The
resurrection of Christ proved once and for all that Gods power manifested in Jesus Christ
is greater than all the power of sin that Satan can muster through sinful flesh. We have
a tremendous passage in the book of Romans that expounds our sin problem: Romans,
chapter 7. In Romans 7:14, Paul tells us our predicament. He says the law is spiritual
but we human beings, believers or unbelievers, are carnal, sold as slaves to sin and,
because of this, it is impossible for human beings, irrespective of whether they are
believers or unbelievers, in and of themselves, to live a holy and righteous life. Yes,
they may desire to do that which is good. They may choose to do the will of God, they
may delight in the law of God, but how to fulfill that desire, how to perform that which
they have chosen—impossible.
Remember, in Romans 7:14-25 Paul is not discussing the Christian
controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is clear he is talking about the believer but he is
talking about the believer who is trying to live a holy life in and of himself. How do
we know this? Because at the very end of Romans 7:25, the second part of this verse,
Paul makes it very clear: I myself. The Greek is much stronger than the
English translation. What he actually said is, Left on my own, independent of
Gods Spirit, I can serve the law of God only with my mind. I can choose to obey
the law of God, I can choose to make resolutions, I can make promises to the law of God
but my flesh will not allow me to do what I have chosen to do. That is why every
promise we make to God is like ropes of sand. Why? Because the law of sin is in my
members and I am a slave to it.
Is there no hope of conquering the flesh? Paul says in the
beginning part of verse 25, after crying out his wretchedness in verse 24: I
thank God through Jesus Christ. Oh, what a wonderful Savior we have. Not only
do we have a Savior Who saved us from our sins, but we have a Savior Who saved us from
sin itself—sin as a power; sin as a force. Jesus Christ not only bore the sins of the
world but, as Paul says in Romans 8:3, He condemned sin in the flesh.
What is the greatest proof that He condemned sin in the flesh?
The resurrection. When Christ rose from the dead He proved that His power over sin is
greater than the power of sin in us. Let me explain how this is true. Turn in your
Bibles to 1 Cor. 15. We looked at it a few moments ago but now we will turn to verses
55 onwards. What does it say here? O death, where is your sting? O Hades,
where is your victory? The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What Paul is saying here is that the ultimate power of sin is to
put you and me into the grave. If you or I can conquer the grave that is evidence that
we can conquer sin. And no person apart from Christ has conquered the grave in and of
himself. Yes, Moses was raised from the grave and many at the resurrection of Christ were
raised from the dead, but none of them were raised because of their own righteousness.
They were all raised because they were believers in Christ. They were raised by the power
of Christ Who is the conqueror of the grave. Let me put it this way. Sin, our sins, your
sins and my sins, were allowed by God to put Jesus into the grave. It was not His sin
that put Him into the grave because He had none. It was our sins that put Him into the
grave. But our sins could not keep Him down. And thus Jesus manifested His power against
Let me read 1 Cor 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your
labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Here is an illustration that may help you to understand what I
am saying here. When we were in the mission field there were times when my family was
isolated from society. I had to spend quite a bit of time with my children so that they
would not feel left all alone. One of the games we played was this. I would lie on the
floor and I would make my son hold my feet down and my daughter my hands down. And I
would say to them, Let us see who is stronger. If you are stronger you will keep
me down here. If I am stronger I will conquer you and get up. And of course they
were determined to keep me pinned down on the floor. So I would say, Are you
ready? and they would say, Yes. You could see them exerting themselves
with every bit of strength they had to keep me down. But I would push my son to one
side, push my daughter to the other side, and get up.
That was many years ago, but recently my son said to me,
Dad, why dont we play that game? Now, of course, he is taller than I
and young and very muscular and my daughter is also quite strong and I said to them,
Remember, those were childish games; now you are grown up you should put childish
games aside. And, of course, they laughed, knowing that I could not conquer them
now that they are grown up.
Well, our sins pinned Christ down into the grave but our sins
could not keep Him down there. Through the Spirit of Christ He was raised from the dead.
Thus, through the Spirit that dwelt in Him is revealed the power of God against the power
of sin. In Romans 8:2, Paul tells us that the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me
free from the power of the law of sin and death. In other words, in Christ these two
forces met, the Spirit of Life in Christ and the spirit of sin that was residing in our
humanity that He assumed. These two forces met in Christ and God allowed our sins to
take Christ to the grave but our sins could not keep Him there. The Spirit of life
raised Him up from the dead.
In view of this, Paul makes a very wonderful, powerful statement
in Romans 8:11 which we must apply to our Christian living: But if the Spirit of
Him who raised Jesus from the dead (or, in other words, the Spirit of Christ that
conquered sin from the grave) dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will
also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. That
is why Paul says in Romans 8:4 that when a Christian walks in the Spirit, the
righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in us not because we are able to do it in
ourselves but because the Spirit of life which proved its power against sin through the
resurrection of Christ dwells in you. It is able to mortify your sinful body and, in
exchange, produce the righteous character of Christ.
Therefore, a Christian has not only the hope of a resurrection
and a ticket to heaven but the Christian, through the indwelling Spirit, has a hope of
reproducing in his and her life the righteous character of our Lord Jesus Christ. But
this, of course, is realized only as we learn to walk in the Spirit.
One of the last letters Paul wrote was Philippians and in
chapter 3:10-14 of that book Paul makes a very interesting statement concerning himself
and this should be the goal of every believer who is struggling with the flesh and with
the sinful nature. First of all, Paul has told the Philippian Christians in verse 9
that he is resting in the righteousness of Christ for his salvation. That is what
every believer should do. Then in verse 10 he goes on to say, That I may know
Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering being conformed
to His death if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead that [what
does he mean by that?] I may attain the victory of Christ in my life. And then
he goes on, Not that I have already attained [He is not claiming to have totally
overcome the flesh or is already perfected] but I press on that I may lay hold of that
for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. In Christ I am victorious. I
have already conquered sin in Christ. Now, in experience, Paul is saying:
That is my mark, that is my goal. Brethren, I do not count myself to
have apprehended but one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind and
reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. One of those prizes, one of those upward
calls is victory over the flesh.
But having said this, I need to say a couple of words of warning.
Victory over sin or victory over the sinful nature is not the same as sinless perfection.
You see, God gives us victory over sin while we still retain our sinful nature. It is
only at the second coming of Christ that we will experience sinless perfection when this
corruption puts on incorruption. In other words, we will always remain sinners on this
earth until we die or until Christ comes. Therefore, we must never look at our subjective
experience for peace and for assurance. Justification is by faith alone in the doing and
dying of Christ.
Victory over the flesh—the purpose of it is witnessing to the
world the power of the gospel in our lives. When the world sees in us the character of
love that Jesus manifested on this earth, this unselfish self-emptying love, unconditional
love; when the world sees that, then they will realize that the gospel is not just a
theory but a power of God unto salvation. Jesus Himself said in John 13:35: By
this shall all men know that you are My disciples when we have love one for
another—the kind of love that He manifested towards mankind. This He brings out
in verse 34.
Secondly, victory over sin or holiness of living does not
contribute one iota towards my justification or towards my ticket to heaven. We stand
complete, we stand perfect only in Jesus Christ. That is the basis of our assurance
of salvation. We must never look at ourselves or our experience or our victory through
the power of the Holy Spirit for our assurance of salvation. Because even though the
Holy Spirit gives us victory, we will never know it fully.
This brings us to point number three. Victory over sin is
Gods part because you and I still have sinful natures and in and of ourselves,
as Paul brings out in Romans 7, we cannot overcome the flesh. When God gives us the
victory we may not know it all the time. Our part from beginning to end is faith and
this is our battle. Paul, at the end of his life, told Timothy, I have fought
the good fight of faith. That is the battle that you and I have to fight.
In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus is describing a parable concerning those
people who are weak in faith. He says, Men ought not to faint but to remain
persevering in their faith. He then gives the parable of the unjust judge. In
verse 8 He ends up with this question, When the Son of man comes will He find
faith on this earth? Can God produce a people whose faith is unshakable, whose
faith in the Word of God is immovable, whose faith in Jesus Christ cannot be shattered
even though the heavens fall? Because when that takes place, when God produces a
people who are walking by faith alone, then the door is opened for Him to produce a
people whose lives will perfectly reflect the character of Christ.
So we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ because it vindicates
Christs righteousness which justifies us; it guarantees our resurrection; it makes
it possible for Christ to be our Intercessor so that even though we are sinners we can
look men and ourselves in the face and know in Whom we believe; that He is able to save
us to the uttermost.
Finally, the resurrection of Christ gives us the hope of
conquering the flesh and living a life that is pleasing to God. And this is my prayer
for each one of you. Amen.