Resurrection Sunday ~ 20100404 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

4/04/2010 Resurrection: His and ours

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is Risen! (He is risen indeed!) He is Risen! (He is risen indeed!)

So what? What difference does it make? What difference does it make in your life?

We believe that Jesus, existing as God from all eternity, came to this planet and took on full humanity, was born of a virgin girl, lived, taught, performed supernatural signs, offended many, was executed on a Roman cross. We believe he was three days in the grave, and rose from the dead. We believe that Jesus appeared to many during the forty days following his resurrection and gave many convincing proofs to many eyewitnesses of the truth of his death and resurrection. We believe that he ascended into heaven and is alive today at the right hand of his Father, and he is coming back for us. We believe these things to be true authentic historical events. Objective historical facts.

Throughout history there have been many attacks on the fact of the resurrection, and there have been many good books written outlining the undeniable evidence of the historicity of the resurrection. Many honest skeptics have sought to disprove once for all the Christian claims to the resurrection, and upon examination of the evidence, have bowed the knee to Jesus as their living King.

I'm going to assume this morning that we all believe in the historical facts of Jesus and the resurrection. I'll assume if you are a skeptic this morning, that you have the integrity to honestly evaluate the historical evidence for yourself and pursue the historical truth about Jesus. There is nothing more urgent or more important than knowing the truth about Jesus, so if you are a skeptic, if you have doubts or questions, I want to welcome you here – I'm glad you're here – and I want to encourage you in your pursuit of the truth. Don't give up! You can find answers to your questions, and more importantly, you will find God if you seek for him with all your heart.

The question I want to deal with this morning is 'So what?' Assuming Jesus did rise again, what difference does it make? What's the difference between a person that believes in the resurrected Jesus and a person that believes the gospel stories to be full of myth and fairy tale? Or let me put it this way: would someone be able to tell that Jesus is indeed alive by observing my life? What practical effect does the resurrection have on me? What does my belief in the resurrection do for me on Monday morning?

For answers to these questions, we are going to look to God's word. How did the apostles, who followed Jesus and were eyewitnesses to the death and resurrection, interpret the events? What did they teach concerning the resurrection and its practical effects on believers?

Our first step in understanding the significance of the resurrection is to see that the resurrection is inextricably related to who Jesus claimed to be and what he claimed to accomplish. We know that Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, but we don't celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus day or expect his resurrection to have any significance for us. The resurrection of Jesus was unique because Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God and by his death he claimed to be the sacrificial substitute lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The meaning of the resurrection is directly related to the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus was God's final stamp of approval that the work Jesus completed on the cross in bearing our sins was accepted, and it is indeed 'finished'.

Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 17:30 ...God ... commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The gospel message and the resurrection

The resurrection is an essential part of the good news message of Jesus. When Paul summarizes the gospel in 1 Corinthians, he says:

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Paul summarizes the saving events of the good news message as Christ's death for our sins, his burial, resurrection, and appearances, all in fulfillment of God's promises in the scriptures. The resurrection was an essential part of the gospel preaching of the apostles:

Acts 4:2 ...they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Acts 17:18 ... he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

Paul even goes so far as to say

1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? ... 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. ...19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The whole idea of salvation assumes that after this life is over we will be held accountable for our actions, and because we all have sinned against God, we somehow need to find a way to escape the righteous judgment that is coming. The resurrection of Jesus plays a vital role in our salvation:

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Peter connects our new birth to the resurrection power of Jesus.

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Paul here ties our forgiveness and salvation, being raised from spiritual death to life to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus secures the certainty of my future resurrection to eternal life

The resurrection of Jesus is not only an essential part of the gospel message of salvation from eternal punishment, but it also secures the certainty of my future resurrection to eternal life.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus claims not only to be resurrected, but to be the resurrection. He is the one who gives eternal life to all who believe in him.

2 Corinthians 4:14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

Because Jesus was resurrected and is alive today, he is able to secure our future salvation.

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

The resurrection of Jesus and power for Christian living today

But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead does more than secure for me my salvation and a future place in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus is life transforming power for me today.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

My life is not my own. Because I have been given new life by Jesus, that life is to be lived for Jesus and not myself. Paul expands on this concept at length in his letter to Rome.

Romans 6:2 ... How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 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. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

We are united to Jesus in his crucifixion. When he died, we died and the power of sin over us was broken. When he was buried, our old self was buried. When he was raised from the dead we too were raised to newness of life. Through the power of the resurrection, we can live to God. Because Christ's resurrection power is at work in us, our bodies can be presented to God as instruments for righteousness. The resurrection has practical implications for how I use my body.

Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. ...6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

I am under new ownership. I am free - free to bear fruit for God in the new life of the Spirit.

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This is life-transforming truth. The resurrection life giving Spirit of God lives in me. He gives life to this body of death. I am animated by the Spirit of God. I have resurrection power at work in me. The Spirit of God gives life to me right now to live a transformed life.

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Because Jesus died for me, I died with Jesus, and now Jesus lives through me. It is not me anymore, but Christ living through me. I live in total dependence on him.

When Paul prays for the church in Ephesus, he prays that they would know this resurrection power.

Ephesians 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

He calls it immeasurably great power toward us. It is the working of God's great might that he worked in the resurrection of Jesus. That is the resurrection power that is at work in us right now today! In Philippians 3, Paul expresses the incomparable greatness of knowing Jesus.

Philippians 3: 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Paul says he presses into Jesus because Jesus has made him his own. Paul's prime desire is to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. His desire is that the resurrection power of Jesus would be a reality in his life, carrying him through his sufferings, ultimately being found righteous in Christ through faith.

So let's ask our initial question again. Jesus is risen. What difference does it make in my day to day life?

1. The resurrection is good news for me because it means that Jesus sacrifice on the cross as my substitute was accepted by his Father.

2. The resurrection is good news because it gives me confidence that I will find escape from the just wrath of a holy God on judgment day.

3. The resurrection of Jesus assures me that I too will be raised to eternal life on that day.

4. The resurrection power of Jesus is at work in me right now to supply the power for living a God exalting God honoring God glorifying life. Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and because he is alive, his resurrection life is in me to transform me and display his glory through me. Today I live not for myself but for Jesus, because Jesus is alive in me.

He is Risen!