Resurrection Sunday ~ 20100404 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
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'.
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:
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:
Paul even goes so far as to say
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:
Peter connects our new birth to the resurrection power of Jesus.
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.
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.
Because Jesus was resurrected and is alive today, he is able to secure our future salvation.
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.
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.
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.
I am under new ownership. I am free - free to bear fruit for God in the new life of the Spirit.
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.
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.
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.
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!