The Power of Jesus' Resurrection

by Eric Love
Notes from teaching on May 17, 2009
Podcast available.

Jesus’ Resurrection: Background

Acts 2:24
Peter is addressing the resurrection of Jesus here. It’s on the day of Pentecost, The 120 disciples who had been waiting in the upper room have just experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the first time.

In his “message” to the thousands of gawkers who had gathered to watch these crazy drunk Jews hidden out in an attic on an early morning feast day - and then were astounded to hear these same drunk Jews speaking their native languages, Peter declares to them, “...godless men put [Jesus] to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”

Basically, God killed death by raising Jesus from the grave. We see the power of death and the grave broken by Jesus’ resurrection throughout the scripture.

A great debate in the gospels (particularly Matthew, Mark and Luke) was the concept of resurrection: before Jesus was resurrected. The ancient Greek religion said there was no such thing. (The Illyad and the Odyssey are greatly considered to be the “bible” of the ancient world, and both corroborate this belief - that there is no resurrection.) Even before Jesus was crucified, the debate over the possibility of resurrection was a hot topic. After His resurrection, it became THE great debate: if Jesus wasn’t actually resurrected, then all this stuff is pointless. (Even Josephus, the great Jewish historian, does not refute Jesus resurrection - he can’t. All he can do is try to say that Jesus was an imposter.)

Even today, that debate is the quintessential issue nonbelievers have with Christianity: that Jesus could and was actually resurrected from the dead. And it is the key foundational belief which the entirety of our faith rests upon. (For reference: 1 Cor. 6 and 15, 2 Cor. 4, Matt. 22, Luke 20, Mark 12, Acts 23)

What are Jesus’ thoughts on the matter?

John 11:25-26
Lazarus has died, a dear friend of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus had said earlier in verse four, when he decided to hang out where he was rather than go and heal his sick friend, “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified.”

Later, when it had been reported to Him that Lazarus had died, He told the disciples that Lazarus was “asleep.”  If the sickness wasn’t “unto death” and dead Lazarus was only “sleeping,” and Jesus intended to simply “wake him up,” then clearly Jesus perspective on death is vastly different from ours.

Finally, he gets to the town where Lazarus had lived and he says to his grieving sister, Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Do you believe this?” Now, that’s a good question...

Of course, he proceeds to call Lazarus forth back into the land of the living, even though he stunk from being dead four days. The result was the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus and Lazarus, because so many Jews were believing in Jesus because of this.

But Jesus’ question to Martha is fascinating: “Do you believe this?”

Fundamentally, that is the question we must answer ourselves. Do we really believe that Jesus IS the resurrection and the life? (Surely, we will die at some point, right? The bible says every man dies and after this, judgement. So Jesus must be talking about a different kind of death.)

Believing in His resurrection is essential to our salvation.
Romans 10:9
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

But how far beyond that are we willing to go?

Putting on the New Self

Colossians 2:9,12:
“For in HIm all fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete... having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

Jesus has made us complete and we have been raised with Christ in the same way that Christ was raised: but we weren’t physically dead. So what does our current resurrection look like? (At one point Paul said, “You’ve been raised from the dead. Act like it!”)

Move on to chapter 3:1, 2
“If then you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above... (this is talking about a mind set, much like Teri’s word last week “Hope happens in the heart. Faith happens in the mind when we choose to transform the way we think.” Paul calls this transformation the “new self”.)

vs. 10
“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is BEING RENEWED TO A TRUE KNOWLEDGE according to the image of the One who created him.”

It says to think on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. In Ephesians, we are told that WE are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Part of the TRUE KNOWLEDGE we are being renewed into, the new self, is one that recognizes our place with Christ through the power of His resurrection.

This IS the life that we do not die from. In Christ, we become something more than simply human. Our bodies may know death, but our true selves never will. It is a matter of BEING RENEWED TO A TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR GOD-GIVEN DESIGN.

Think of the eagle who was hatched in a chicken coup and would stare up into the sky at the eagles and wonder why he had been born a lowly chicken...

Or the ugly duckling that was so much uglier than all her brothers and sisters, and had no idea that she was actually a swan, the most beautiful of all the birds on the lake...

Or Buzz Lightyear, in Toy Story, who lived under the delusion that he was an actual space ranger sent to save the galaxy from Zerg, when in fact he was “just a toy,” as he put it when he found out. But by embracing his true self he came to know deeper satisfaction in being alive - he belonged to a boy named Andy, and Andy loved him. Buzz no longer searched the far reaches of space for hidden dangers all alone. He was now part of a tight-knit and curiously odd band of family.

The true knowledge of ourselves (wether it is freedom from some self-defacing insecurity or grand-delusional idea of our own personal greatness and self-importance), according to Him who made us, is an essential part of us being in Christ, in us KNOWING Christ (interestingly enough, I believe us knowing Him and us knowing our true selves are both proportional and inter-dependent.)

The Likeness of His Resurrection

Romans 6:5
This chapter begins by saying: “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

The New Testament definition of sin is “lawlessness,” living out from under the authority of God. Part of living under the authority of God is in living according to the identity we have in our “citizenship” in the Kingdom as an “ambassador” of Christ.

This verse is talking about a mindset: if we are dead to something, how can we continue to live in it? It’s a type of deception, really. It keeps going to talk about our “baptism” into Christ’s death and our subsequent “resurrection”  with Him as a result. (It’s verse 13 here where Paul says, and I paraphrase: “You’ve been raised from the dead. Now act like it!”)

Verse 5 puts it this way:
“For if we become united with Him in the likeness of His death (death to those things of the “former, un-renewed self”) certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”

verse 7: “...for when a man dies, he is freed from the power of sin.”

Our identity in Christ is as REAL as HE IS. We can be united in the likeness of His resurrection. This is not just in principle. It is in reality. (We begin to look like the resurrected Christ!)

Philippians 3:10
Let’s look at Paul. Toward the end of his ministry, and indeed the end of his life, he became reflective of his identity, of who he was in Christ. In much of his earlier writings, there is a real air of arrogance when it came to his credentials. He even boasted at one point of not needing the teaching and guidance of the leaders of the church, like Peter.

But here in Philippians, his attitude is quite different. He begins by listing his credentials as a Jew (and therefore his “natural” excuse to have confidence in himself):
circumcised on the eighth day
an Israelite, a Benjamite, a Hebrew among Hebrews
a Pharisee whose zeal was unmatched (see his persecution of the early church)
his righteousness according to the law was blameless

Then he follows this up in verse 8 by saying:
“I count all [of these] things to be loss in view of the surpassing VALUE of KNOWING Christ Jesus my Lord.” Notice he speaks of the value of knowledge. What knowledge? Knowing Christ.

He continues:
“...that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him... that I may know Him, and the POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

We’ll get into the “sufferings” a little bit later. Here, let’s look specifically at the power of His resurrection. Paul makes it clear here that, to him, the power of Jesus resurrection was integral to his faith - and not just in the sense of being saved, but in the sense of KNOWING Christ. And he clearly says in the next verse, “Not that I have obtained it.” He wasn’t “there” yet. This was a work in progress for him. But listen to how he puts it.

vss 12-14 (portions)
“I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which I WAS LAID HOLD OF by Christ... (see the parallel between knowing Christ  - laying hold of - and knowing his own true self - of that which lay hold of him... this is HOPE: keep reading and you’ll see) forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus.”

Paul pushed forward to gain something that he had seen only by faith. This pushing was as much conforming his MIND to the reality of it as it was disciplining his body to keep moving. He had to believe in order to see. In order to believe, he had to HOPE: he had to expect something. And He understood how this transformation would take place.

He said it in verse 21:
“[Jesus] will transform the body (not physical body, but body as in “the whole”) of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

He follows this up in chapter four by saying “Stand firm in the Lord.” Stand in the reality that our hope is this: our transformation happens in the power of Jesus resurrection to conform us to the glory of God.

Paul saw the absolute completion of his transformation into the glory of Jesus being exacted by the Lord’s power was the direct result of his own consistency in holding on to the hope of it (something he had not yet seen the fulfillment of).

Power. Glory. And Hope.

1 Peter 1:3
“Blessed  be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. (don’t confuse this reservation as something that can only be cashed in once your dead: remember in Ephesians Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, certainly more so the ones reserved specifically for us)”

We have been born again into a living hope: a confidence and expectation that is “living”. Our hope is alive. Growing. As we are renewed in our minds and continue to believe in our hearts, we grow more and more into the likeness of His resurrection (or, becoming more solidly fashioned after our Father’s true design for us - not human any more, aliens, a race of which Christ was the first).

In verse 23, Peter explains it this way: (Amplified)
“You have been regenerated - born again, not from a mortal origin, but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting word of God.”

We have been born again by an immortal seed. If our Father is immortal, so are we. We cannot die in the new self.

Romans 8:11
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit who indwells you.”

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The power of the resurrection is something we can lay hold of. The same Spirit that raised Christ form the dead now LIVES in US! There is something key, something essential, something PROVISIONAL about the power of the resurrection!

vs 15: “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption...” (think back to us hoping for an inheritance reserved for us in heaven)

vs 18-25:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. (This suffering is a part of life, but it is nothing compared to the glory that is coming.)
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. (The manifestation of us walking in the reality of our NEW Selves, our immortal origin)
For the creation itself was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (we see freedom here again, and the glory of God revealed through His children)
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, (Jesus being the firstborn of a new race of being - the word says we partake of this nature)  even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly (this is hope) for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

Here is the suffering again: life brings suffering, but we have a choice. We can suffer till we die or we can suffer with Christ, clinging to the hope in which we were saved, and be resurrected again and again and again and again into LIFE.

We hope for this not because we have it already, but because we are CONFIDENT that we will know its completion. It’s okay not to have all of this stuff in life worked out. It’s okay. But we press on, we keep our eyes on the things above, we fight to lay hold of that thing that - through hope - has laid hold of us. And through this, we experience life after life after life in the reality of our new selves.

This is the power of the resurrection.

Word of Encouragement

I felt like I heard the Lord say He wants to resurrect HOPE in us. I believe some of us have lost hope, have allowed it to die and our hearts have grown sick because of it.

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

As our hope has been put off and put off until its been lost, we’ve grown heart sick. Maybe our hope has been misplaced (we’ve hoped for things that we just can’t have - we can’t be a space ranger) and now we are afraid to hope for anything. We’ve resigned ourselves to live out life in the miserable conditions that we’re in now.

And I heard the Lord say the power of Jesus’ resurrection can resurrect our hope. And our desire can be renewed and fulfilled. And once our desire - our hope - is properly placed, we’ll be healed. And we will have a tree of life where we are sustained from a deep seated contentment from within and we don’t have to look outside ourselves for satisfaction or fulfillment. It will be in our relationship with the Father.

Eric Love, 5/20/2009