Yesterday we celebrated the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to the honor and majesty of His Father in heaven. On the first Easter Sunday, death and the grave could not hold our Lord. The Roman soldiers and the religious leaders could not scheme to keep Him in the tomb. No power in the universe was powerful enough to render Omnipotence impotent. Paul prayed for all believers:
[T]hat you may know . . . what is the immeasurable greatness of [the Father’s] power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:18-20)
When Jesus was raised from the dead, death was driven into the ashes of defeat once for all. Death, which for a little while held Him in the grave, is now rendered powerless forevermore. And the power that raised Jesus from death to life is the very same power that raised you from death to life. Charles Spurgeon wrote:
The resurrection is the cornerstone of the entire building of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch of our salvation. It would take a volume to set forth all the streams of living water which flow from this one sacred source, the resurrection of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; but to know that He has risen, and to have fellowship with Him as such—communing with the risen Savior by possessing a risen life—seeing Him leave the tomb by leaving the tomb of worldliness ourselves, this is even still more precious.
Because we have been raised with Christ, we have been given the power to live a risen life. Peter assured us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). Having been buried with Christ in the grave we have been raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
To be sure, there is much that can be said about this risen life, but one fact reigns supreme: this life you have been given was a gift of grace and not due to any of your good works—regardless of how “good” you think they may be! Mercy sought you; mercy caught you and bought you. It had nothing to do with your merit. Every time we seek to find our acceptance—not in the Beloved, but in our behavior—we wander back into the dead works of religion . . . we wear the grave clothes of self-righteousness. A risen life is a life that rises above seeking God’s favor and blessing based on how we relate to Him.
Who reading this right now would feel any confidence in approaching the Great White Throne on the basis of your own performance? On your “good” days, perhaps you don’t feel too badly about it. But what about on your “bad” days, which (if you are anything like me) far outweigh your good ones? God’s favor and blessing do not flow to us based not on how we relate to Him, but rather on how Jesus related and continually relates to us. It was His perfect, obedient life and sacrificial death that causes God to look upon us with pity, compassion, and love. It was the precious blood of Jesus that cleansed us and connected us to the Father. The just (Jesus) died for the unjust (you and me), giving to the unjust what only the just could give.
- His death is our death, which frees us from sin and death.
- His resurrection is our resurrection, which frees us to walk in the newness of life.
A risen life is not a life that is busily engaged in doing more and trying harder to please God. It is a life that dives more deeply into the truth of the Gospel, applying it to every area of life, knowing that we are already pleasing to God because of Jesus. As my good friend Steve Brown likes to say, “God is not angry with you. In fact, He is quite fond of you!” Only the truths of the Gospel can free us to live a risen life, where we live out practically (obedience and holiness) what we already are positionally (a child of the Most High God).
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
Augustine profoundly pronounced this truth more than 1,500 years ago when he wrote in his Confessions, “Give me the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what you will! . . . [W]hen your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we receive the power to obey them.”
Our salvation and our sanctification are all the work of God’s grace and power. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!