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

Because Christ lives...we are

3) Assured of Spiritual Power:

The Apostle Paul connects the resurrection of Christ with the spiritual power at work within us when he tells the Christians in Ephesus (Eph.1:19-20) that he is praying that they would know God’s “incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Paul is saying that the power that God used to raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same power at work within us. Isn’t that great? And how great is that power? How much power do you need to raise a dead person to life? Paul uses the word “immeasurable” or “incomparable” to describe this resurrection power. Now, if such power is at work within us who believe, where is it being demonstrated? And why are so many Christians not benefitting from it? Let’s take the first question, where is this power found?

This new resurrection power that is at work within includes our ability to gain more and more victory over sin and its evil desires. This does not mean that we will eventually be perfect in this life, for no one is perfect this side of heaven, except Jesus Christ. Paul declares in Romans 6 and v4: “... just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” This new life we possess as believers is a life no longer dominated by sin; we have been set free from sin. It is our life with God; slaves to righteousness. But being slaves to righteousness do not automatically make us righteous. Our mortal bodies are still indwelt with sin and we need to resist its influence. That is why Paul exhorts us in v11-13: “...count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness...but to God as instruments of righteousness.” Obedience to this exhortation is only possible through the resurrection power that is at work within us.

God’s incomparable power also includes the power for ministry in the work of the kingdom. In Acts 1:8, Christ says to His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” This promise of power to witness, preach, do miraculous acts and gain victory over the enemies who opposed them was given to the disciples after Christ’s resurrection. It was part of the new resurrection power that characterized their Christian lives. Paul talks about this same power that enables him to serve God. In 2Cor.13:4 he says, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power (referring to Jesus Christ). Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.” For Paul the power to minister to God’s people comes from God who by His power has raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.

The one question that haunts us all is this...why do so many of us not experience this power? And if we do they happen occasionally. We are always defeated in our struggles with sin and its evil desires; we lack the zeal for ministry or if we are involved in the Lord’s work, we serve ineffectively. It’s like a can of pop that has been opened for a while- the zip is gone.

In the area of gaining victory over sin- why are we not prevailing? At issue is The Place and Priority of God’s Word in our Life- Ps.119:9,11: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word”. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Gaining victory over sin comes by living God’s word according to v9. Gaining victory over sin happens through hiding God’s word in the heart according to v11. The word “hiding” means more than memorizing, more than knowing- it means “keeping” God’s word. It is allowing its truth to permeate (invade) our life that it affects our speech, thoughts and actions.

In gaining victory over sin, the issue is always the place and priority of the word of God in ones life. In Psalm 1:1-2: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Note that the Blessed Man is characterized by what he doesn’t do (v1) and what he does do (v2). What he doesn’t do are wicked deeds, and what he does do are righteous deeds. The truth is that, the only way to overcome the sin of doing wicked things is by replacing them with righteous things. And what is this righteous thing according to the Psalmist?- law of the Lord. Again, in the area of overcoming sin through the power of the resurrection, the issue is always the word of God. Because it is in the word of God that the power of God is manifested in gaining for us victory over sin and its evil desires. What is the place and priority of God’s Word in your life? Your answer would determine how you gain victory over sin.

What about in the area of Christian service to God and His kingdom? Why do we seldom experience the resurgence of this new resurrection power? Let me answer this by drawing your attention to this analogy (not perfect, but fairly illustrates the point I want to make). Where does the power that lights these bulbs come from? It comes from a power generator. At a rated capacity, the generator produces a constant amount of electric current enough to light these bulbs. We are like these bulbs. And God, the power generator.

Three scenarios may well explain why the power of the resurrection is lacking in our service to God. First, the distance problem. The farther these bulbs are from the power generator, the lesser electric power they get. We call this as “voltage drop.” Thus, we have bulbs that don’t light. The problem is not in the generator (enough power is generated), nor in the transmission line; the problem is distance. They simply are too far from the source. So with us; we have moved ourselves away from God that the power available to light our lamps of service, lies next to nothing- we are not giving light. How does this happen? Inconsistent prayer life, time with God in His word is irregular -- what do you expect?

Second, the connection problem. These bulbs are fairly near the source, yet they don’t give constant light- they are flickering. Why? The connections aren’t tight. Many Christians are quivering lights. They have the resurrection power available, but their connection with the source is loose. What are some of the causes? 2Tim.1:7-8: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So, do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” So what are they according to these verses- timidity (shy, fearful) shame, lack of self-discipline, laziness (v6-“fan into flame the gift of God”).

Third, the cleanliness problem. These bulbs are not far from the source, they don’t have connection problems but the light coming out is blurry, cloudy, hazy. What’s the problem? The bulbs and the accompanying fixtures are full of dust and grime. Christians like these know their Bible more than any one. They are sure of their salvation and secure of their final destiny, yet can’t fully get rid of some bad habits, questionable behavior and worldly practices. Paul writes in 2Tim.2:20-21: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” An unclean life cannot reflect God’s light. You can be sure of that. No wonder we barely see God’s resurrection power manifested in our service to the Lord.

Because Christ lives we are assured of spiritual power. Is it actively at work in you?---Pastor Glenn Diel  continue (Part 2)>>>