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Because Christ Lives
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Because Christ Lives...Part 1 (Selected Passages)

Introduction

In 1971 Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song that brought tremendous encouragement to many.The song entitled, "Because He Lives" echoes these words- "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives." In itself the song gives us the wonderful assurances that Christ's resurrection brings to those who believe in Him. But really, the resurrection has more to offer than these two experiential assurances. The implications of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ go beyond the emotional and physical part of our life here on earth. Its significance reaches every area of the believer's life- past, present and future. So if you are not a believer, you better listen, and listen well- because you will find out how much you're losing by rejecting Christ. If you are a Christian, realize how much you have because of the resurrection. You'll be surprised how blessed you really are. You'll be amazed by all the advantages and benefits you possess as a child of God because of the resurrection.

Because Christ Lives...

1) Our Justification is insured:

Romans 4:25 says,"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." What this verse says is that Christ's death on the cross was meant to pay for the penalty of all our sins (past, present and future) and His being raised from the dead was to declare that we are righteous (this is what justification means) and not guilty before God with whom we have sinned against. When Christ was raised from the dead, it was God's declaration of approval of Christ's work of redemption, that of paying the ransom money.

Let me show you how this is presented in Scripture-Phil.2:8-9: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name...” Why? Why would God exalt His Son? Because He was completely satisfied by what His Son had done on the cross. So by raising Christ from the dead, God the Father was in effect saying that he approved of Christ’s work of suffering and dying for our sins, that his work was completed, and that Christ no longer had to remain in the grave. There was no penalty left to pay for sin, no more wrath of God to bear, no more liability to punishment- all had been completely paid for. In the resurrection, God was saying to His Son, “I approve of what you have done, and you find favor in my sight”(Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.615).

How does God’s approval of Christ’s work on the cross relate to our justification or God’s approval of us? When I put my faith in Christ as my Savior, Scripture says that I then become one with Him or in union with Him. A Christian is someone who is “in Christ.” By virtue of our union with Christ, God’s declaration of approval of Christ is also his declaration of approval of us. When God the Father by raising Christ from the dead in essence said to Him, “All the penalty for sins has been paid for and I find you not guilty but righteous in my sight,” he was in effect making the same declaration that would apply to us who had trusted Christ for our salvation and for those who would in the future. We can say then that Christ’s resurrection has insured our justification.

Now, since our being declared righteous comes from God’s approval of Christ’s work of redemption, we don’t need to think of what more we can do to increase our approval rating with God. Many Christians still hold the notion that by sacrifice, intense devotion and good works they can make God look at them with greater approval than when they first trusted in Christ. Listen, all of Christ’s righteousness have been imputed or credited to our account, so that when God looks at us, He’s not looking at us with 99.9 of Christ’s righteousness but all of it.

Since God is absolutely righteous, he demands absolute righteousness from someone whom He accepts, and only Christ’s righteousness ascribed to us passed the test. We shouldn’t think therefore, that we can add to Christ’s absolute righteousness- that would be an insult to the Savior. Anything we do for God here on earth, is our response to His great mercy and is done for His glory. Our godly life and righteous deeds lead us to Christlikeness which is the goal of our salvation. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Rom.8:29). Listen my brothers and sisters, our “sanctification” or being Christlike is possible because of our justification in the first place. But this comes purely from God who declared us righteous by regarding (thinking) Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us. He proved this when Christ was raised from the dead.

Because Christ lives our justification is insured.

Because Christ lives our...

2) Resurrection is guaranteed:

1Cor.6:14 says, “By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” From this verse we learn that since Christ was raised from the dead, we too will be resurrected. Although the pronoun “us” refers to believers, unbelievers also will be resurrected- all will be raised to life. This is seen in several OT and NT passages. So what’s the big deal? Believers and unbelievers are resurrected, what difference does it make? A whale of a difference. Let’s look at Jn.5:28-29: Do not be amazed at this (Jesus speaking), for a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” And who are those who will rise to live and not be judged?- of course, the believers. Look at v24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned (judged); he has crossed over from death to life.” Clearly, the difference between the resurrection of the believers and unbelievers is the destination of their resurrected lives. One to eternal life with God, the other to eternal condemnation, separated from God.

Let’s talk about our resurrection as children of God. In 1Cor.15:12-58, the Apostle Paul discusses in length the connection between Christ’s resurrection and our own. In v20 he says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the ‘first fruits’ of those who have fallen asleep (meaning those who have died).” In calling Christ the ‘first fruit’ Paul uses the metaphor from agriculture to indicate that we will be like Christ. Just as the first fruits of the ripening crop show what the rest of the harvest will be like for the crop, so Christ as the ‘first fruits’ shows what our resurrection bodies will be like when, in God’s final ‘harvest’ he raises us from the dead and brings us into his presence.

Now, what kind of body will that be? Scripture don’t have a detailed description of how our resurrection body will look like, but here are some general ones: It will be a ‘glorious body’ compared to our present ‘lowly body’ (Phil.3:21); it will be an ‘incorruptible body’ compared to our present ‘corruptible body’ (1Cor.15:42). Meaning, it is a body that will be free from disease and aging and given fulness of strength to do all that we desire to do in conformity to God’s will.

To sum up, we will live in bodies that possess all the excellent qualities God created us to have from the very beginning when He created Adam and Eve. We will live as resurrected believers in bodies that will be suitable for inhabiting the “new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2Pet.3:13). (W. Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.835).

Having this guarantee of a perfect resurrection body because of the resurrection of Christ, carries some notable practical applications. First, Spiritual takes priority over physical. In 1Jn.3:2: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” The phrase ‘we shall be like him’ surely includes the physical as well as the spiritual. If so, then notice John’s exhortation in v3: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” The content is spiritual in nature- purity, holiness, which tells us that the focus of our earthly life, our priority and emphasis must never be the development and improvement of our physical appearance, but rather that of our inner self- our godly character which is of great worth in God’s sight (see also 1Pet.3:3-4).

Now, I want you to think for a moment, what spiritual life you would have if the amount of time, effort and resources you spend managing your physical appearance is the same as when nurturing your spiritual health. You would probably shout “Hallelujah.” On the other hand, think how physically fit you would be if you apply how you care for your spirit the same way as you care for your body. Honestly, many of us would probably be suffering from “anorexia.” I believe, the physical must never be the primary focus of the child of God, but rather the spiritual (see 1Tim.4:8).

Second,Caring for the physical is indispensable. Although our outward appearance must be treated as less important than our inner person, we must be careful not to ‘stubbornly’ and persistently neglect our physical health to the detriment of our spiritual well-being. Remember, our body is God’s temple and if we abuse or pamper it, the outcome is not a shining witness to the goodness of our heavenly Father. And if our physical body is neglected, there is a danger that our service to God would be hindered due to illnesses resulting from our irresponsibility.

Third, The physical primarily serves and functions for the spiritual, not for itself. Since I will receive a perfect resurrection body when Christ comes, I will not allow my physical disadvantages and deficiencies to prevent me from glorifying God with my whole life. Because Christ lives...our justification is insured. Because Christ lives...our resurrection is guaranteed.  continue>>>