Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Ultimate Purpose of the Resurrection, Part 4

The title for this short series of blogs could be taken to imply that there is a simple and short means of identifying exactly what is the “ultimate purpose of the resurrection.” If you, the reader, thought this was the case, I think you would be half correct. For I have proposed what I think is the straightforward and simple end goal of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: To make it possible for our whole selves (including our bodies) to be united with him spiritually and to receive all the fullness of God’s gifts and thus be able to serve him in the way he intended when he created human beings.
However, the writers of Scripture tell us that this end goal can only be reached through a process. That is, God in Jesus Christ had to go through a process of suffering, dying and being raised back to life. And we who believe, through the engagement of our wills, must go through a process by which we abide in our Lord, the Vine, and receive all we need for “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Further, I contend, that Scripture tells that there is an orderly process by which God makes the provision of spiritual life (Greek, zoe) flow from God himself into our finite beings.

Here is what I believe regarding that orderly process: The resurrection of Christ makes it possible for God the Holy Spirit to gift to believing humans the full effects of the death of Christ on the cross as our substitute. The source of the God-human life that the Lord Jesus offered up for us is the “blood of Christ”; the divine power of God Father, concentrated in the life-blood of Jesus Christ himself, was released through Christ when he died. The chosen means of directly imparting or transferring divine life to redeemed human beings is through the Blood. And thus it is the blood that makes spiritual transformation happen; while the death and resurrection are God’s chosen means of releasing that divine power; we receive divine life and power through union (abiding) with Christ.  

I am indebted to the writings of one of God’s faithful servants from a prior generation (Andrew Murray) for this insight regarding the Blood. Since I cannot articulate this truth any better than he did, I will cite a few choice quotes from him.

“The life which dwelt in that blood—the heart from which it flowed—glowing with love and devotion to God and His will, was one of entire obedience and consecration to Him. And, now, what do you think? If that blood, living and powerful through the Holy Spirit, comes into contact with our hearts, and if we rightly understand what the blood of the cross means, is it possible that that blood should not impart its holy nature to us?" (Andrew Murray, The Blood of the Cross [Martino Publishing: 2012], p.38.)

The Lord Jesus frequently spoke of the centrality of the human “heart” and that to really know God one’s heart must be open to, yielded to and filled with God himself. This is how the Lord himself lived during his earthly journey that led to his death on our behalf. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, ESV) And it is the human heart that needs to be re-created in order for us to love God and be a neighbor to others.
If I treasure God and thus all that he has gifted to me “for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) then I will love the Blood! For this is God’s all sufficient provision for my redemption (which includes my resurrection), the means of reconciliation (healing) of relationship with God and others, the medicine for forgiveness (cleansing) of my sins, the means of making me holy to God (useful for his purposes), the means by which I have free access to God’s throne (Presence), the source of God’s life to me for victory and joy now and for eternity.  

“But as the blood could not have been shed apart from the sacrifice of ‘self’ on the cross, so it cannot be received or enjoyed apart from a similar sacrifice of ‘self.’ That blood will bring to us a ‘self’ sacrificing disposition, and in our work there will be a conformity to, and an imitation of, the crucified One, making self-sacrifice the highest and most blessed law of our lives. The blood is a living, spiritual, heavenly power. It will bring the soul that is entirely surrendered to it, to see and know by experience that there is no entrance into the full life of God, save by the self-sacrifice of the cross.” (The Blood of the Cross, p.38)

I have struggled most of my teen years and adult life to consistently live with full integrity in relationship to God and others. And my positive response to that struggle has mainly consisted in trying to find some kind of means (I will call them “tools”) for righteous living—service through the local church, intensive study of Scripture and other great Christian books, many failed attempts to establish daily time for prayer and quiet before God and to will to be self-disciplined in my thoughts and behavior. What was I missing? What have I been so blind as to not understand? 

Surely I have been blind to the power of the Blood. And this has been due to my choice to seek what I thought were spiritual solutions to my own agonizing personal failures. The only spiritual solution available to any of us is found in the Lord Jesus! Specifically, in the power of his life-blood. And for his life-blood to give deliverance and wholeness I must be willing to believe that I have no power in myself to save myself in any way. Even my ability to give myself as a “living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1, NASB) is only possible because Christ gives me the power to do so through his own “self-sacrifice of the cross” (Murray). 

This whole series of blogs, due to the need to elaborate and clarify the several layers of important biblical affirmations (and their theological implications), could be interpreted as theoretical and not useful for how we actually live day to day. I urge the reader to be open to consider how eminently practical and helpful the biblical teaching is on the death, resurrection and the blood of Christ. The Lord and the apostles taught it as transformative truth to all who would hear. Holy Spirit grant us revelation to understand what the Father wills to give us through the blood of Christ’s cross!

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