Tuesday, April 26, 2011
As I hope you understood on Friday evening, the death of Jesus, by itself is meaningless. Left alone, if Jesus had died and had been buried and left in the grave, we would still be in our sins. Our philosophy should be, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15: 19, 32).
But as Paul goes on to say, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. It was impossible for him to be held in the grave by death (Acts 2:24). And that changes everything.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Cor. 15:3-8).
Paul tells the Corinthians that what he told them in the beginning is of first importance (v.3). Not only was it what he passed on to them, but it was what he had received and what made his ministry authoritative (v. 3). The important thing, called the Gospel of Jesus Christ, included that Christ died for our sins (v. 3). That he was buried (v. 4). That he was raised on the third day (v. 4). And that he appeared to Peter, the 12 (v. 5). He appeared to over 500 people at the same time (v. 6). If you doubt me, you can still go and chat with most of them (v. 6). Then last of all he appeared to James and then finally to Paul himself (v. 8). Notice that in all of this the events occurred according to the Scriptures (vss. 3, 4).
We focused on the death part of Jesus’ ministry on Friday evening. This morning I would like to focus on the resurrection of Jesus and how that event, or part of the event, impacts the world.
The Resurrection Secured the Redemption of Christ
Redemption, in its more general sense, means salvation or deliverance. We see this meaning in passages like Romans 8:23 “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Or again, in 1 Cor. 1:30, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” See also Eph. 1:14 and 4:30.
As you probably notice, it is our salvation that Paul is referring to in these passages, but I would like to point out to you some of the things we mentioned Friday evening. Jesus, as fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system, took our sins as our representative on his own person. He became sin on our behalf. He suffered and died because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). He really died. And He really stayed dead, lying in a tomb for three days. He really needed saving. If nothing had happened at that point, he would have been lost. Even though he never committed any sin himself, our sin caused him to die. He needed saving.
It is important for us to “get this” because the fact of Jesus need for salvation is tied to the relationship between Adam and us, Christ and us, and how all of this works together for the salvation of the world.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:18-21)
If there had been no resurrection, death would have won, Satan would have been triumphant. The resurrection of Jesus saved him from death and it defeated death. It brought Jesus from wrath to grace. It made his death a true death to sin. If we move from Jesus’ death to our salvation without discussing or understanding the resurrection, we jump the gun and don’t get the full import of the event. Richard Gavin says, “For him [Paul] the accomplishment of redemption is only first definitively realized in the application to Christ himself (by the Father through the Spirit) at the resurrection of the benefits purchased by his own obedience unto death.”
There are four aspects, or facets, of salvation I would like to discuss for a few moments that illustrate the fact that Jesus’ resurrection was his salvation.
The adoption of Christ
Romans 1:3-4 says, “concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…” This verse is usually used to show that Jesus was shown to be who he said he was when he was raised from the dead. But there is more going on here. Notice that verse 3 tells us that Jesus was “descended from David according to the flesh.” This means that Jesus was, from a human standpoint, in the line of David. He died as a David, but he died as the Son of God.
The resurrection declared that Jesus had been adopted into God’s family to be his son. He had been taken out of David’s family and moved to God’s family in the resurrection. He died to David on the cross and was raised in God’s family. The son of God. See Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5, 5:5, and Phil. 2:6-9. Not only is Jesus adopted, he is given a name above all names.
Romans 8:23 tells us that we have been adopted by God and eagerly await the realization of that adoption when we are finally redeemed. Rom. 8:17 tells us that we are heirs of God with Christ because we are children of God. This can only happen because we are covenantally linked to Christ and therefore in Christ when he was adopted at his resurrection.
The Justification of Christ
1 Timothy 3:16 tells us that Christ was “manifested in the flesh and justified in the Spirit.” Historically there have been several views expressed concerning what this verse means, but if taken in the light of 1 Cor. 15:42ff and Rom. 1:3ff we see the same pattern of earth and heaven, flesh and spirit, death and life, the old age and the new age, incarnate Christ and ascended Christ. Understood this way, then, it would appear that Christ was proclaimed to be righteous, despite the sins of mankind, in the resurrection.
Once again, we see the covenantal connection. Christ was identified with man and his sin, made sin on our behalf, bore our guilt, suffered the wages of sin, was condemned, and dead. As long as he remained dead, there would be no salvation for Jesus, nor for mankind generally. Therefore as the Vos said,
Christ’s resurrection was the de facto declaration of God in regard to his being just. His quickening bears in itself the testimony of his justification. God through suspending the forces of death operating on him, declared that the ultimate, the supreme consequences of sin had reached its termination. In other word. Resurrection had annulled the sentence of condemnation.
Jesus’ resurrection was God’s proclamation that Jesus was righteous. He had accepted the sacrifice for sin and made Christ clean and holy.
Also, in Rom. 4:25 says, Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Keeping in mind the Biblical pattern of earthly and cosmic, and the covenantal relationship, we see this verse saying the same thing. Jesus died for our sins and when he was raised he was justified and in him we were justified also. This connection is spelled announced again in 1 Cor. 15:17, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” Christ was raised, and in that resurrection proclaimed to be righteous and holy. His resurrection was his justification and because we were in him when he rose, we are justified as well.
The Sanctification of Christ
We normally think of sanctification as being progressive. We know that we are changing into the likeness of Christ. But the Bible also expresses the idea that sanctification happens at once when a person is brought out of the world and into the kingdom of God. This is the whole point of Romans 6 when Paul was answering the question about whether a Christian who has been saved by grace can continue to live in sin so that grace may abound. His answer is no because the Christian has died to sin and has been raised with Christ. Sanctification is directly linked to Christ’s resurrection and because the resurrection is Christ’s sanctification, he has been set apart, we should live godly lives.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that sanctification does not always mean something like ethical transformation. It also means a changing of status from ordinary to extraordinary. In the Bible, it goes from being worldly to spiritual, from sinful to holy, to be set apart, made different. These metaphors are all different ways of saying that Jesus death and resurrection was central in God’s bringing the history from the old age to the new age. And this brings us back to that covenantal relationship again. Christ had become fleshly, sinful, worldly and in his resurrection was set apart, made holy, sanctified.
The way it applies to us is that we were in Christ when he was sanctified, therefore we were sanctified. When was brought from the world of sin and death, we were brought from the world of sin and death. He has been made holy, and we have been made holy.
The Glorification of Christ
In Rom. 8:29ff. Paul tells us that God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son. Then he lists a number of experiences that believers will pass through as they make this transition. The last transformation on the list is glorification. The interesting thing and one that has stuck in my mind for years is that the list is in the past tense. I believe it is referring to what happened in Christ in his resurrection and God is basing our current transformation on what happened 2,000 years ago in Christ. Christ was glorified then, and because we were in him then, we were glorified in him then.
Normally we think that Christ was glorified when he ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of God. And that is true, but the Bible speaks of his glorification as beginning in his resurrection and continuing on until all his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. You can talk about his being glorified at any point along the way. He was glorified, he is being made glorious, and he will be glorified.
1 Cor. 15:42ff tells us that a seed is sown perishable and raised imperishable, it is sown in dishonor and it is raised in glory. Jesus was buried in dishonor, but was raised glorious. In fact if we were to read through the whole chapter we would see that Paul is calling us to understand that Christ is already glorious and has been glorious since his resurrection. The resurrection made him glorious.
Paul’s main point in 1 Cor. 15 is that because all of this is true for Christ, it is true for you as well. Because Jesus was saved by his resurrection, you will be saved. Salvation includes adoption, justification, sanctification, and glory. Because Jesus was the recipient of all these things and because you are in Christ Jesus as Lord, you will receive all these things as well. Praise the Lord.
He was proclaimed to be righteous (justified), He was declared to be the son of God (adopted), He was set apart as holy and pure (sanctified), and put together, especially when you are talking about the Lord of the universe, is glorious. These are all facets of Jesus’ salvation his redemption. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what saved Jesus.
What does this have to do with us?
The Bible tells us that in Adam all died (1 Cor. 15:22). It also tells us that the last Adam is a life giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). Christ Jesus is that last Adam and thus “in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Because we were born in Adam we were all made sinners. Because God loved us, he sent his son to die for us, in our place. He became sin for us as a fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Because he was God, he could not stay dead and therefore was brought back to life by the power of God. And in the process his sacrifice was accepted by the Father and our sins were taken away from him and thus because we were in him, taken away from us.
This has profound and eternal consequences. If we were in Christ when he died, we are also in Christ now. If we are in Christ now, we must live as Christ lives now (Rom. 6:11-12). In Ephesians Paul tells us to therefore be imitators of God and the first example of what that means is to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 4:2). What a glorious thought.