What do I mean by that?
I mean that Christ's resurrection is so powerful that He not only was Himself raised from the dead, but that He uses this same power to bring forth from the dead all whom He chooses, and that this same power is constantly at work within us who call upon Him as Lord.
Christ's Resurrection Power for the Dead Believer-To-Be
Did you know that before you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, you were dead? And being dead, you weren't even able to believe in Him at all?
While some of you know this already, some of you might be saying, "Well, no - I was alive. I ate, I drank, I worked, I slept. ... I believed."
But the Bible says otherwise. Sure you ate and drank and worked and slept, etc. But spiritually you were dead (Eph. 2:1, 5). And that means you were completely unresponsive to spiritual truths (1 Cor. 2:14). Truths such as, "Jesus provided the ultimate and final atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who trust in Him" were completely lost on you. They meant nothing. You would not and could not understand them, let alone put your trust in the Lord who promises them.
But that is part of the greatness of Jesus' resurrection. Not only was He Himself raised from the grave, guaranteeing eternal life to all who trust in Him, but that same resurrection power also raises us from our spiritual death so that we will actually put our trust in Him as our true and only Savior and Lord.
How is this so? Let's look at just one passage:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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
We were dead. We did nothing - not a thing. We didn't do good works (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:12); we didn't try to please Him (Rom. 3:10-12); we didn't even have faith on our own (Isa. 64:7; cf. Eph. 2:8-9). We couldn't. We were dead; and dead people do not have faith.
The text is pretty clear - we didn't do anything because we were dead....
"But God...made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up with him"!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ does not merely guarantee us an eternal inheritance of living in bliss with Him after this life is over...though that's certainly an enormous aspect for which to be eternally thankful.
But the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very same power that enables us to even understand salvation at all, by raising us up from our spiritual death so that we will actually trust in Him through faith and receive the gift of eternal life.
If you ever think to yourself, "Boy, I sure am glad that I chose Jesus," think through the following passages to help you realize two things: (1) you were too steeped in sin and death to choose Jesus for yourself; it was God who chose you, and (2) it was the power of Jesus Christ's resurrection that brought you to life, that raised you from your spiritual death, in order that you would in fact believe in Him.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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.
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, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
That last verse shows not only that it was because God chose us, and because Christ rose from the dead that we believed the gospel, but also that He is the one who guards our faith and keeps us in the gospel even unto eternity.
But there is more. Not only does Jesus' resurrection raise us from spiritual death so that we who were chosen by God from before the foundation of the world will actually put our trust in Him, but that same resurrection power is what enables us to live a godly life and continually grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
Christ's Resurrection Power within the Living Believer
We will never be able to live out the Christian life in our own strength.
Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5).
And Paul likewise asked rhetorically, "Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). "The flesh" in this instance is referring to human effort. (See the NET translation of this passage: "Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?")
So how is it then that we are able to live the Christian life? We live out the Christian life by means of the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. That's Paul's answer anyway:
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 bodes through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Or consider another passage in which Paul is praying for the church:
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
The immeasurable greatness of God's power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God - is the same immeasurable power that He works in us who believe!
That is why later on in this same letter Paul is able to say: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Eph. 3:20-21).
The power at work within us is the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
How do we tap into that power? How do we use the power of the resurrection in our daily lives?
That's probably a post for a later time...
Suffice it to say, the main point here is for us to merely realize and reflect on the precious truths: (1) that when Jesus was raised from the dead, He accomplished not only a future physical resurrection to life for us, but also a spiritual resurrection for us, which He used to bring us to Himself; and (2) that the same power God used in raising Jesus from the dead is the very same power He has put in us through His Holy Spirit and uses in our daily walk as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
The Lord Jesus Christ is risen!
Not only does that mean He has defeated physical and eternal death for us in the future (1 Cor. 15:54-57); He has also defeated spiritual death for us right now (Eph. 2:1-7)! The very power that God used in raising Jesus from the dead, is the very same power that raised us from spiritual death and caused us to place our faith in Christ (1 Pet. 1:3-5); and it is the very same power that even now resides within us by the Holy Spirit, to accomplish all the works God has prepared for us in this world (Rom. 8:11; Eph. 2:8-10).
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