Friday, March 22, 2013

Experiencing the Resurrection

We're approaching Easter — or as some prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday — and I've been thinking, once again, about the resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection is like a giant billboard proclaiming that he is God's powerful reigning Son (Romans 1:3-4) who has the authority to judge everyone (Acts 17:30-31). Christ's resurrection is a loud pronouncement that he is Lord of all.

But to those who believe in him, Jesus's resurrection is more than a message about who he is. Because believers are united to Christ, they experience resurrection, too.

Those who belong to Christ will experience resurrected life when he comes again. 
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
In the same way being included with Adam brought death, belonging to Christ brings resurrection. It will happen when Christ comes again — after death for believers who die before he comes, and without dying for those who are still alive. Christ's present resurrected life is a promise to those who belong to Him that when he returns they will be brought with him into resurrected life.

Christ's resurrection was a resurrection of his body; so, too, the resurrection of believers. Paul tells us that the kind of body Christ had when he walked the earth after he rose again, and with which he ascended and is now ruling from heaven, is the same kind of body those who believe will have when they are raised at His coming.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:42-49)
Our resurrected bodies will be reproductions of the one the "man of heaven" has. Just as our identification with Adam brought us perishable bodies, our identification with Christ in his resurrection will bring us imperishable ones.

I love this truth more now than I did fifteen years ago because I know from experience how much I need an imperishable body. I have loved ones whose bodies have already perished, and I am reminded daily that mine is in the process of perishing. The annoyances that come as my physical abilities decrease with age have taught me the value of the body. To live life fully, we need to touch, to walk, to work, to hear and to see; yet we live in perishable bodies, bodies that begin to lose these abilities, and bodies that will die.

But there is hope in the resurrection of Christ. Those who belong to him will one day have imperishable bodies just like his, bodies that do not decay or age or die. There is no downhill slide with glorified bodies; they don't even catch common colds! What a glorious day it will be when believers are all raised with incorruptible bodies to live forever with the One who takes them with him in his resurrection!

Those who belong to Christ experience resurrected life already.
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 and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . . (Ephesians 2:4-6)
The resurrected life that comes into completeness at glorification when believers receive resurrection bodies is already here, right now, within us. Believers have been made alive together with Christ and a new kind of life has begun — a recreated spiritual life:
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. 
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. (Romans 6:4-5)   
This new life is grounded in our union with Christ's resurrection. Because we are in Christ, we are new creation. We have already begun lives in the realm of the resurrection. Sin no longer has dominion over us: The old things have passed away and the new things have come. This changed life — the life of the Spirit — comes to us because we have been raised with Christ.

Based on our new reality, we are called to live a new kind of life.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. . . . 
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you . . . . (Colossians 3:1-3, 5a)
Paul urges us to put aside the things we once loved as the old kind of person we once were. We are called to have new passions,  to seek heavenly things. Those who are raised to new life in Christ really can "put to death what is earthly," because the power of the resurrection, the power of new spiritual life, the power of life in the Spirit, belongs to those who belong to the resurrected Christ.

If you are a believer, then there is no reason for sin to defeat you as you work out the victory over sin that has already become reality in Christ's resurrection, a victory that will come to its consummation when you are raised with him when he comes again.


  1. Rebecca, a publisher ought to be begging you to write a book!

  2. "If you are a believer, then there is no reason for sin to defeat you as you work out the victory over sin that has already become reality in Christ's resurrection, a victory that will come to its consummation when you are raised with him when he comes again."

  3. Amen and amen and amen

    And, a big "ditto" to Rosemary and Kim above!

  4. This was great! I was reading in Hebrews 9 this morning and was thanking God that one day Jesus will return for those who eagerly wait. Thanks for the reminder of the victory before his return! -Trillia

  5. Rebecca, This was such wonderful teaching on how to preach the Gospel to ourselves. I agree with the other girls too :) Blessings.