Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Ultimate Purpose of the Resurrection, Part 2

I have noticed for some time that in the New Testament the death (on the cross) of our Lord Jesus and his resurrection are (almost) always referred to together. The only exception I can recall is Paul’s elaboration on the meaning of the cross (1 Corinthians 2). Yet even in that portion of the letter, the careful reader will understand, the resurrection of Christ is not absent from Paul’s thought—for he writes about it elsewhere in the letter. It appears that he was focusing on his own preaching of the cross of Christ in order to counter the Corinthians’ tendency toward arrogance and pride in themselves and what they took to be their superior spiritual experience.

I would suggest that in the minds of many persons who do affirm faith in Christ there is a split between the two historical events. Mainly Christians tend to think, based upon what I have read and heard people say, that it is Christ’s death that saves us and the resurrection from the dead is a kind of necessary consequence of him having physically died. Is there not more to the resurrection than that?
Paul states plainly, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10, NASB) So what precisely is the means of our being “saved”? Is it not the self-sacrificial death of Christ and his resurrection from death together? 

Here is my contention: The resurrection of Jesus the Christ confirms and seals his self-sacrificial death on our behalf and makes it possible for all the benefits of Christ’s death to be gifted to us who believe the Gospel. The power of God’s life was manifested in the Lord during his earthly life, in his suffering on the cross and through the resurrection of his body into a eternal embodied existence. The purpose for Christ experiencing all of this was to make it possible for us who believe to be spiritually crucified (die with Christ) and thus to be granted eternal life (live with Christ) in God through spiritual resurrection (see Galatians 2:20). In this way, and only in this way, can anyone actually live to please God and do what he has commanded (see Romans 8:1-13).
What the above paragraph describes is not intellectual abstraction. Spiritual death and spiritual life are as real as physical life and death. And deliverance from the power of sin and from our total inability to do what is right from a pure heart—even when we know what that is and want to do it—is only found in the Person of the Lord Jesus (see Romans 7:21-25). 

True repentance, forgiveness, deliverance from demonic spirits, healing of one’s inner person and body and hope all come through the power of the Living One, the resurrected Lord Jesus. And his power cannot become operational in a person unless he or she has genuine faith. “It is a great and necessary office of saving faith to purify the heart, and to enable us to live and walk in the practice of all holy duties, by the grace of Christ, and by Christ Himself living in us . . .”  (Walter Marshall, Sanctification, or The Highway of Holiness, p.46)
The purpose of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead is this: To demonstrate God’s love and power and to make it possible for human nature to be crucified (killed); in this way God can re-create and live in and through redeemed humans. Again, this is not an abstraction or merely intellectual notion—though it could be in the minds of some persons who have no actual experience of knowing the living God in one’s spirit (heart). This is God’s means and method of doing what for us is impossible—becoming “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Peter 1:4, NASB)

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