For by grace you have
been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 WEB

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Our God in the Heights

His Triumphant Resurrection

Without the resurrection we have no religion worth shouting about, no hope of heaven, no escape from our sins or our sin nature. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead we wouldn’t have a living and Risen Lord to know and to follow. Without His resurrection we wouldn’t even know how powerful a victory was won by the cross. Where would our faith be then? Funny thing is, it was the one thing He didn’t do…

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

Because life and death issues are so dear (and fearful) to us, we really need to know for certain that we have a Savior in Jesus of true resurrection power and experience to count on. His triumphant resurrection is intended to free us from all fear of death, as well as bring to us a whole host of other divinely inspired benefits.

That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV
 

Facing the FACTS

Believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not optional for a Christian. It is the defining thing about us.[1] That Jesus rose from the grave means that the Savior of the world is Alive. Jesus Rising from the Grave : His Triumphant ResurrectionThis is the first astounding FACT on which our faith is built. The second flows from it: This Risen Lord can be known by faith. This too is a FACT. By fact I mean that these are indisputable truths for those who have had their spiritual eyes opened to the eternal Reality that surrounds us, comparable to knowing that there is a sun in the physical heavens encircling the earth. On these two FACTS all of Christian believing is established.[2]

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone[3] upon which we build all of our understanding of the world we live in. Every scripture, every event, every person, is now interpreted through the lens of these two outstanding FACTS: Jesus is alive and can be known!

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV
 

Suppose Jesus were Risen and, yet couldn’t be made known to us? Everything that the gospel and the Bible asks us to believe would be a stretch, requiring huge “leaps” of faith on our part. Because He is risen AND can be known, everything else we need to believe becomes far more readily believable. By receiving genuine faith in Jesus, we “know that we know that we know” that He is alive and that He is Lord. This settles a lot of issues.

For instance, if Jesus can be known by anyone (ourselves for instance), then He can (theoretically) be known by everyone. They must be told! It also follows that because Jesus can be known, every denial of faith by skeptics and atheists is exposed as a lie promoted by people who have no real desire to seek God. We know that all who truly seek Him will find Him (or be found by Him as the case may be).[4] Not only that, but all who believe in a different deity than Jesus Christ and the One He calls Father are shown to be tragically deceived. There is only One Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.[5] Along with Father and Holy Spirit, He is God all by Himself. There are no other gods besides Him.[6] These are the new facts.
 

Look at the Disciples

So important is the Resurrection that the disciples were not even called “believers” until after they received faith in the Resurrection. Unquestionably, what the Holy Spirit inspired and anointed Peter to preach on Pentecost Day was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it… This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Acts 2:23-24, 32 ESV
 

Please note what Peter didn’t preach. The one thing that Jesus didn’t do for us in His great Work of saving us through His life, death and resurrection, was resurrect Himself. The New Testament writers are unanimous in attributing the Resurrection to the Father, not Jesus. They saw this as the Father’s vindication of His Son. Jesus was innocent of all charges leveled against Him, He truly bore our sins as a spotless Passover Lamb, and the powers of darkness were stripped of their legal authority. It also proved that the entire plan for our salvation was the Father’s initiative. The Father attested to all of this by raising Jesus from the dead, openly rewarding Him with a Name above every name and further exaltation in Glory. The resurrection was the Father’s Master Stroke, unmistakably revealing His Hand upon His Son’s entire mission of salvation.

The significance of this is important for us to grasp, since we are to be raised the same way. Just as Jesus hoped in God, so do we. Just as Jesus put no effort of His own into being raised from the dead, neither do we. Just as He committed His Spirit to the Father, for the Father to raise Him up from death, so do we. Just as the Father raised Jesus and bestowed upon Him a glorified Body and an eternal inheritance, so we too will receive a glorified body and an inheritance in heaven. All of this will happen with no effort on our part, but to trust and believe. Jesus' triumphant resurrection shows us the way to enter into the same triumphant resurrection that the Father offers us.

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... So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:4-5, 11 ESV
 

Faith in the Resurrection carries over into all manner of things in this life as well. Paul says that just as Jesus was raised by the glory of the Father, so too, we are raised in “newness” of life.[7] As we by faith grow to see the glorious love that Jesus and God have for us, this faith vision is used by God to raise us again and again out of our captivity to darkness into greater light and freedom. Please see Beholding the True Image for understanding how God “raises” us into His higher, peace-filled way of living by getting us to look through the veil of circumstances and get our eyes back on our glorious Lord.

These seven benefits of faith in the Resurrection are appropriately shown us by Peter, who was the first to preach on the Resurrection. (See 1 Peter 1:3-9 in the Scripture section.)   

1) A new birth. Through forgiveness and regeneration we are “new creations.”
2) A living hope. No need to fear death—our hope cannot die.
3) An inheritance that is imperishable...kept in heaven. Our eternal future is secure.
4) A salvation yet to come. There is a glorious destiny that awaits us.
5) A love for Jesus. No earthly love can compare with loving and being loved by God.
6) A joy that is filled with glory. When our faith is activated, joy springs to life.
7) The salvation of our souls. Even now our inner life can experience true peace and freedom.

 

What about Us?

As it was for the disciples, faith in the resurrection is our key of entrance to the new life God desires to give us. Because it is so important and because we have an enemy who tirelessly attempts to undermine our faith, let’s focus on two ways to establish this FACT as a convinced belief in our hearts.

1) Searching for the Truth. The basic strategy is to fill your head with truth while praying it into your heart. When truth reaches your heart, revelation has come. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Our part is in the searching to discover the truth. Be honest about your doubts, but not with the intention of defending your doubts, but of sincerely seeking to move beyond them into truth. Bring your doubts and reservations to the scriptures and to those in the faith community around you who truly believe. There are many good explorations of the facts concerning Jesus’ resurrection which will absolutely convince any honest skeptic. Combined with even a little openness to faith in Jesus, they will destroy all doubts. (See the three companion articles, begining with Resurrection Proof: The Empty Tomb)

 2) Seeking the One Who Is Truth. You cannot know truth fully until you open your heart to God, because God is the ultimate Truth to be known and His life enters into and “informs” all truth.[8] Therefore, the most powerful way to become convinced of the Resurrection is to live for Jesus. The Lord promises that He will allow you to find Him if you seek Him with your whole heart. This doesn’t just apply to a one time conversion experience. Seeking to know Him includes seeking His will and His help in each and every situation you face that holds anything of a problem or temptation for you. The more you cling to Him and call upon His Name, the more you will be able to see Him prove His power and presence to you. It’s that simple!
 

Most of us entered into faith in our Risen Lord by calling on Him for mercy and saving help. Our need for Him didn’t end with being saved for heaven. That’s just the beginning. The more you learn to lean on Him, the more convinced you will become that He is alive and well. That’s a FACT!
 

More to Explore about Jesus

Resurrection Proof: The Empty Tomb  This is a rare “argument from silence” that still speaks volumes to anyone giving it serious, open-minded attention. One of the most well attested facts of history is the unexpected disappearance of Jesus from His own tomb. It literally pushes doubt and unbelief into a corner where the only way out is to acknowledge resurrection as the only possible explanation.   

Resurrection Proof: Visible Appearances  In any court of law the testimony of eye witnesses is crucial to establishing the facts of the case. In this “case” we have a super-abundance of testimonies. What really compels faith in these accounts, however, is not the number of them, but their unexpected character. True to form, the resurrected Jesus didn’t act in a way anyone could predict—even though He was the One who most frequently predicted it.

Resurrection Proof: Transformed Lives  The evidence keeps mounting up. You may already be one whose transformed life is evidence to your friends and family that something or Someone has powerfully been at work in your life. Let’s hope that you’ve told them (in so many words) that Jesus is Alive—that’s what’s changing you!  A changed life can be tremendously convincing. The testimony of changed lives after the resurrection of Jesus is just as powerful a witness today as it was then.
 

Scriptures on His Triumphant Resurrection

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 4:33 ESV

Concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead. Romans 1:3-4 ESV

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 ESV

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. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV


Scriptures and Foot Notes

[1]   I have met people (perhaps you have too) who believe that they are Christians, who have been baptized, who go to church, who believe many of the articles of faith, even some who teach at seminary, who do not deeply believe these FACTS. They are like caterpillars who haven’t yet become butterflies—they are growing in the right direction, but they are still far short of their true calling as “New Creations.”
[2]   On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus not only predicted His resurrection and return, He stated that his followers would “know" Him in a deeply intimate and personal way, since He would be “in” them: Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.  John 14:19-20 ESV
[3]   So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV
[4]   Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:12-14 ESV
[5] 
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
[6]   Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Isaiah 45:21 ESV
[7]   His triumphant resurrection opens the way for us and shows us the way to go—trusting our lives as He did to the Father's marvellous grace and power: Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 ESV
[8]   Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also." John 14:6-7 ESV