This last week, I was reading through Romans and taking in all the amazing nuggets of truth as Paul explores the doctrines of sin, faith, and salvation. In chapter six, I came to a screeching halt at a verse that I’m sure I’ve read many times, but this time it jumped out at me. I tried to continue on in my reading, but kept coming back to chapter six to reexamine that one verse:
“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.” – Romans 6:4
What made me stop and think was the second half of the verse. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead…we too might walk in newness of life.” I realized this little sentence was telling me that the power that brought Jesus from the tomb is the same power that gives us victory over sin in our life! That’s pretty amazing! My mind went to 1 Corinthians 15 and the logical ramifications Paul explores if we lived in a world where Christ was still dead. This got me thinking as to what other consequences and influences the resurrection of Christ had on man and history. While I imagine there might be a more exhaustive and eloquent compilation out there, I found some pretty interesting stuff! The resurrection of Jesus bears weight on our past, present, and future.
It is necessary to validate Old Testament prophesies
Most notably Psalm 16:10 speaks of God’s “Holy One” not seeing decay. There is some question as to who the “Holy One” is, but if you read Acts 2, you’ll find Peter taught that passage as applying to Jesus Christ. That’s good enough for me. We also find it the custom of Paul to use the scriptures (which in his day meant our OT) to prove Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrection in Acts 17:2,3. Psalm 68:18 is also worth looking at on this point.
It is necessary to validate New Testament teaching
One of the first points Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15 is that he, the apostles, and many other reputable Christians of the day were going around testifying to their first-hand account of Christ’s resurrection. If he really didn’t rise, they are all liars (1 Cor 15:14). If we’re going to entertain the teaching of liars, we might as well just go pick up the latest edition of Moroni or Muhammad (think that’ll get me in trouble?).
Not only would the teachings of the apostles be called into question, but so would the teaching of Jesus Himself. In Matt. 16:21 and Mark 10:33-34, for example, we see Christ asserting to His resurrection. Again, if we can’t believe Him in one thing, how can we believe all the other fantastic statements He made?
Power for sanctification
There is a mention to this in Paul’s examination of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. In verse 17, Paul writes: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” This begins the discussion, but the greater revelation is in the aforementioned passage in Romans: “Just as Christ was raised from the dead…we too might walk in the newness of life.” Sin has a vice-grip on our lives just as death had a vice-grip on Jesus. The same power that ripped Christ from death’s grips and rendered it powerless is the same power that pulls us from the clutches of sin and wreaks havoc on it’s power over us. Granted, we will need to wait until glory to see freedom from the presence of sin, but every time we walk away from temptation, we should remember God is flexing the same muscles that He used on the third day.
The seal of our birth and inheritance
In the opening of Peter’s first epistle, he writes that God “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.” When Christ rose, he secured the fate for the elect to be born again and he sealed our inheritance. Much could be written about this “inheritance,” but I’ll just say for now that when you consider that we are “co-heirs with Christ“, we have a lot coming our way…
A purpose in our calling
This was the most fascinating of my discoveries. Read Phillipians 3:10-16 very carefully a couple of times. If you break it down, you will find a thought buried amongst the myriad of truths going on here. Paul desires to “know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection.” He says that he has not “already obtained this”, but “[presses] on to make it [his] own.” He then summarizes that he will “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” If you connect the dots, one of the purposes of our calling is to intimately know the sheer power of the resurrection! To fully grasp that, take a moment to read Ryan’s post on the use of the word “know.”
It provides the power to raise the saints
Paul tells the Corinthians that the resurrection of the Saints is contingent on the resurrection of Jesus. He reiterates this thought in 1 Thess. 4:14. There is comfort over the death of loved ones and hope for ourselves in remembering that Christ defeated death, the most cruel of enemies.
It was necessary for God’s ultimate plan
Anyone who has read the book of Revelations can tell you that a lot of exciting stuff happens some time in the future. Rapture, judgement, wrath, blessing, war, and eternal peace. You can forget the whole kit and caboodle without the resurrection!
“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll orr to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ “ Revelation 5:1-5
If it weren’t for the resurrection, John would have just kept weeping and we’d all be doomed. Thank God it isn’t so!
Paul said that he hadn’t yet obtained his full knowledge of the power of the resurrection, so I’m not going to presume that I just figured it all out. The resurrection is a marvelous miracle that will keep us awestruck and will work out our walk with the Lord… but only if we will take the time to really think about what it means.