Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďHIS RESURRECTIONĒ

 

Good morning.

Happy Easter to you all.

Today is the day that professing Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. It is fitting, therefore, that I speak to you about His resurrection.

Before we begin, I should probably define the term resurrection, and then explain to you why I think a definition of this seemingly obvious term is necessary. The word resurrection in the New Testament translates the Greek word anastasiV, which literally means to raise or to rise up.[1] In itself, the word does not give us enough to deal with. For that reason, we must always keep the word in its proper context, the resurrection from the dead. In Luke 20.35, the Lord Jesus Christ specifically referred to the resurrection from the dead. In Acts 4.2, the Apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. In Romans 1.4, the Apostle Paul wrote about the resurrection from the dead. In the context of the Christian Bible, the resurrection from the dead refers to the raising up to life of someone who was once dead, really dead, truly dead. Further, the raising up to life is a real and genuine return to living of the person once dead. Of course, on this special day our focus is on the resurrection from the dead of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such was the Lord Jesus Christís resurrection that when He rose up from the dead after three days and three nights there was no body left behind, since He was raised up bodily in fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies.[2] We are convinced, therefore, that Jesus did not rise from the dead as a spirit, but in a glorified body that could be seen and felt. Keep in mind what Jesus said several days later to the doubtful Thomas, John 20.24-29:

 

24     But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25     The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26     And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27     Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28     And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

29     Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

 

We are convinced, therefore, that if He were here Jesus could be both seen and touched. However, He is not here. He is not here in this room and He is not here in this world. There are more than 20 verses in the New Testament alone that place the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, at God the Fatherís right hand. I will provide a list of those verses to anyone who calls the church office and asks for it.

Why should it be necessary to explain the resurrection of Jesus Christ in such detail in this day and age here in the United States? Two reasons: First, there are an increasing number of people now living in the United States whose religious convictions argue against the death of Christ, much less His resurrection.

Of course, I speak of the rapidly increasing muslim population. The koran speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ as being a great prophet, but certainly does not acknowledge Him as Godís Son and strongly disputes that He died on a cross. Obviously, if you deny that Jesus died, but insist that He went straight to heaven without dying, you are in effect denying the resurrection, a central feature of Christian teaching. In the face of muslim opposition to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians must hold the banner of Christís bodily resurrection from the dead high.

On the other hand, there are professing Christian leaders, most of the pastors in each city in America, who will stand before their people on an Easter Sunday such as today and speak of Christís resurrection. However, when they speak of Christís resurrection, they do not refer to the bodily raising up of Jesus from the dead after three days and nights. They are referring to Jesus being raised up in spirit. You see, it is their way of explaining the dead body they believe was left in the tomb when the stone was rolled away. Such religious frauds are actually denying the Biblical doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, and substituting a view of the Bible and the Christian faith that denies the miraculous. Of course, such pastors dare not tell their people what they really believe lest they find themselves without a job in a hurry, so they use carefully chosen words to mask their unbelief.

Let me state very clearly that I believe the Bible, that Jesus rose from the dead. That is the resurrection. Further, ďif Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.Ē[3] If we are clear on what is meant in the Bible by the term resurrection, specifically Christís resurrection, let me do something differently than I usually do on Easter Sunday. Most Easter Sundays I bring a message from the gospels that highlights one detail or another related to the resurrection of Christ.

Today, however, I want to step back from the first weeks, months, and years following the Saviorís resurrection from the dead, as well as His ascension to the Fatherís right hand on high, to look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead from the perspective of the Apostles, and from the perspective of ordinary Christians.

 

First, NOTICE THE WITNESS OF HIS RESURRECTION

 

Turn to Acts 1.22, where we read the qualifications that were required of that man who would replace the betrayer, Judas Iscariot, as the twelfth apostle. Peter correctly stated that he must be a man who had accompanied the Savior throughout His earthly ministry. ďBeginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.Ē

However, the apostles were not the only ones to bear witness of Christís resurrection. They were merely the ones who could bear witness to Christís resurrection as those who had accompanied Him from His baptism at the hand of John the Baptist. Many others could attest to His resurrection from the dead, though they had not been with Him from the very beginning.

There was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, mentioned in Matthew 28.1. There was Joanna, mentioned with these two Marys in Luke 24.10. Do not forget the two men who walked with the risen Savior on the road to Emmaus, one of them named Cleopas and the other unnamed, Luke 24.13-53. How about all those people who saw the Lord Jesus Christ taken up from their midst and a cloud received Him out of their sight, Acts 1.9? Who knows how many saw Him on that occasion. Certainly, if you saw Him ascend days after His resurrection you could certainly attest that He had risen from the dead. Amen? So many saw the Lord Jesus Christ following His resurrection that the Apostle Paul related to the Corinthians decades later that the number exceeded 500, First Corinthians 15.6, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul was writing.

How might the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead have been refuted, in order to show that these hundreds of credible witnesses were somehow mistaken? Simple. Produce the body. If you produce the dead body of Jesus to show that He did not rise from the dead you show the resurrection to be a hoax. However, they produced no body because His body was raised from the dead, and had been relocated to heaven until the time of His second coming in power and great glory.

 

Next, NOTICE THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION

 

In Romans 6.1-5, the Apostle Paul deals with the correspondence between scriptural baptism and the conversion of the sinner. Turn there and read along with me:

 

1      What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2      God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3      Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4      Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5      For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

 

In short, the Apostle Paul is here arguing that a fundamental inconsistency exists when a Christian engages in the sinful practices that so dominated his life before his conversion to Christ. You see, when the sinner comes to Christ by faith, when the sinner is joined to Christ, a union takes place that results in Christís death on the cross being that personís death to sin, with Christís resurrection from the dead by the glory of the Father resulting in the Christian now walking in newness of life.

Baptism, at least the way baptism is presented in the Bible and the way Baptists have practiced the ordinance throughout church history, is a picture of Christís death and resurrection, and the baptized subjectís identification with Christís death and resurrection. How else can baptism picture Christís death but by plunging the candidate beneath the water, immersing him, and then raising him back up?

Paulís reasoning is that if baptism pictures the spiritual history of the baptismal candidate, and it does if the candidate is truly converted to Christ and not either an infant or an unbeliever, then the ones who have been baptized have been planted in the likeness of Christís death. It is also the case that ďwe shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.Ē

Since this passage is embedded into Paulís treatment about sin in the life of the Christian, read on with me about the baptized Christianís relationship with sin now that he is a new creature in Christ. I read from Romans 6.6:

 

6      Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7      For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8      Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9      Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10     For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11     Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12     Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13     Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14     For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15     What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16     Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17     But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18     Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19     I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

 

Are there times when you are ashamed to call yourself a Christian? I experience those times when I let sin reign in my life, when I allow sin to exercise dominion over me, when the direction of my life is contrary to what I know God wants for me. It is at those times I need to be reminded that by baptism as a Christian was supposed to signify a new direction. I am supposed to live the life of someone who has been affected by Christís resurrection, and like someone who myself will someday experience a glorious resurrection because of my faith in Christ.

 

We Conclude The Easter Service Today By Taking NOTICE OF THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION

 

In our first main point, we focused on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a historical event that was witnessed by hundreds, and which could not be refuted by opponents. In the second main point, we saw Paulís argument that the resurrection of Jesus Christ should make a difference in a Christianís life, as that Christian moves through life affected by Christís resurrection. We conclude by showing that the Christian life is a life that is to be lived under the influence of Christís resurrection as we move ever closer and finally to our own resurrection.

Paulís Philippian letter was written from Roman imprisonment. Despite his harsh circumstances, notice the general tenor and joy in his words in Philippians 3.1-11:

 

1      Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

2      Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

3      For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

4      Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

5      Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

6      Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

7      But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8      Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9      And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10     That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11     If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

 

Notice that, while the man is in prison, he directs his readers to rejoice in the Lord. He warns them of the wrong crowd in verse 2, reviews typical Christian behavior in verse 3, and then presents a brief autobiography in verses 4-11. It is in verse 10 that he refers to the power of Christís resurrection.

Keep in mind that the Apostle Paul is an example every one of us should follow. Do you have a pedigree? Forget it. Things you are proud of in your past? Accomplishments? They are worthless. It goes without saying that your problems, too, should be seen as irrelevant. Do you drive a beater? Is your furniture trashy? Are you unprepared for retirement? Are you in debt?

Paul referred to the Lord Jesus Christ, ďfor whom I have suffered the loss of all things.Ē Paul once had it all and then lost it all and was still focused on the only matter of real importance: ďThat I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.Ē He recognized that knowing Christ, specifically, experiencing the power of His resurrection in his own life, was directly related to suffering. My friend, the reason for the suffering is to enable you to enter into the fellowship of Christís sufferings. It is Godís way of giving you a taste of Christís death while still being alive. In addition, it is Godís plan for your life until you actually experience the resurrection of the dead yourself.

I am such coward that I will not volunteer for any kind of suffering. However, do you have any idea what God is doing in Larry Arnoldís life and in Nancyís life? My friends, they are being squeezed very, very hard. Rosa is being squeezed very hard by what suffering she is enduring. Are you suffering through something financial, something marital, something professional, something related to your health? Maybe it is a level of persecution.

I am here to tell you that the Christianís suffering has meaning. It is one of the ways God conforms His children to the image of His beloved Son, by pressing you into a very uncomfortable mold with pressure of various kinds that is excruciating but beneficial. As the Savior experienced an agonizing death that led to His glorious resurrection, so the Christianís life is planned by God to include suffering as we die to self in anticipation of someday experiencing our own resurrection.

 

Therefore, you see, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was not only a bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day, though it certainly was that. As well, neither was it a resurrection that would result only in a future resurrection for the believer. It was a resurrection that would have an impact of your life from day to day as God works in your life to conform you to the image of His Son and prepares you for your impending resurrection.

As the Lord Jesus Christís real resurrection, His bodily resurrection, was necessarily connected to His suffering that led to His death on the cross, so the suffering of the Christian as we go to Godís school of life to learn to die to self is connected to our own resurrection someday.

Do not fuss and rage against what God has in store for you, beloved, for then you will never be able to rejoice as Paul rejoiced in the Roman prison. Neither will you ever be able to sing hymns of worship and praise as he and Silas sang in the Philippian jail.

If you celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as nothing more than something that once happened to the Son of God long ago, then you have quite missed it all. However, if you know Christ as your Savior, and you find yourself suffering in one way or the other, you can now make sense of it. God loves you. He is working in your life. He is squeezing you like you are in a vice. Keep in mind, however, it is to work to your good and not evil. It is to give you the experience of resurrection life, and to enable you to actually know from personal experience the power of Christís resurrection.



[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 71.

[2] Psalm 16.10

[3] 1 Corinthians 15.17

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org