Title: Resurrection Sunday: Unlimited power and hope.
An article was written for Easter in 1966 on the meaning of resurrection in a periodical called The Outlook, the periodical of the Presbyterian church. The article was written by the Principle of Knox College in New Zealand in which he states that he attempted:
"to sketch the difficulties of relating the Resurrection narratives of the New Testament to the kind of world in which we live, and to show that, in spite of these, the Resurrection faith of the church can still have meaning for men who have left behind the world view of the first century …. we may freely say that the bones of Jesus lie somewhere in Palestine … Christian faith is not destroyed by this admission."
This was not a new idea by any means, but new to the Presbyterian church. One can only imagine why anyone claiming to be Christian would cling to such an idea. I'm sure some wanted to make Christianity more palatable to an increasingly scientific world where all possibility of miracles is rejected. I'm sure some of them are not Christians at all but who wanted to be a part of the Christian moral code or code of ethics. Some are likely duped and confused. But “the why” is not important to us this morning, though it makes for an interesting look into the problems of the human soul.
As I said, this isn't new. It happened right at the beginning of the church.
2TI 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
2TI 2:16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
2TI 2:17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
2TI 2:18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.
We cannot say for sure what form Hymenaeus and Philetus' heresy took place, but we can guess that it was from the popular Gnostic teaching of the day, which has never really gone away, that the resurrection of Christ was only spiritual.
The heresy: the resurrection of Christ was only spiritual, as a spirit or ghost. He did not rise bodily or physically.
It is likely that they taught that after death, being released from sin, the Christian went off into a spirit world in a spirit body, but that there was no physical, real, and tangible resurrection from the dead, and for this reason, not even Christ was raised in this way.
I don't think we have to turn to the passages in the Bible that show Christ's resurrection to be bodily, tangible, physical, and real. They touched Him. They touched the scars of His incredible suffering which He still bore. He even ate with them.
Resurrection witnesses: the women, the disciples, the guards, and 500 others of which some were still alive at the writing of the epistles.
The philosophy of great minds, so to speak, and their dualism, infiltrated the church very early on, which taught them to deny the bodily, physical resurrection of Christ, but with so many witnesses of Christ's resurrection, including the Roman guards, the women, the disciples, five hundred others who still lived at the writing of the New Testament and who could easily been found amongst the Christian community, the deniers turn away from the resurrected Christ in confusion and at a loss. Some wanted to retain the good faith of the apostles and said that is was just mistaken identity; that they saw someone who looked like Jesus. Others said that it was only a hallucination; that they wanted to see Him so badly that they conjured it up in their minds. Is this how they described it? Would they have actually written about themselves that they actually didn't believe that He would rise again?
This is nothing more than Satan trying to destroy one of the most important foundations of the gospel, which is also one of the most important foundations of our faith and confidence.
He is risen! And there is a very important reason why, and that is the subject of this morning's lesson.
2TI 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David;
He does not say to remember that Christ rose from the dead, but remember Him risen from the dead. It is an admonition to see Christ alive, outside the empty tomb, in resurrection body, victorious.
When Timothy is called to be faithful in the greatest challenge of his life, he is admonished to remember Jesus, risen from the dead.
Paul specifically calls Timothy, who has to face the daunting task of taking the reins of Paul's ministry and who is somewhat passive in personality, to remember Christ risen from the dead - not Christ on the cross, or Christ seated in heaven, or Christ returning. Of course these have their place, very great places, but in facing such a great challenge it is the risen Christ that the eyes of his heart are directed towards.
Prior to this admonition, is an exhortation to faithfulness.
2TI 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2TI 2:2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
2TI 2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2TI 2:4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
2TI 2:5 And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.
2TI 2:6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops [fruits of the gospel].
2TI 2:7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
2TI 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David;
Paul was imprisoned in Rome with only his death looming in his future. The churches everywhere had been beset with false teachers of either Gnosticism or Judaism and in leaving the leadership of the church in the hands of men like Timothy, who would be tempted on every side to compromise sound doctrine with falsehood or popular opinion; he admonishes them to remember the risen Lord.
Timothy, and all the church, would need unlimited power and hope to remain faithful. "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead."
The Roman persecution of Nero would soon break out and this coupled with the temptations of false teachings would fully assault the church in search of its ruin and removal from the earth. More than anyone alive, Paul fully understands what is coming. Timothy and all the members of the body of Christ would need power, and not human power which is no match for such attacks, but divine power. The same power through which Christ was raised and which even death could not overcome.
The same body that was laid in the tomb was the one that walked out to sit in all power and authority. "Remember Him, risen from the dead."
The royal seed of David walked out of the tomb alive. The Roman's didn't destroy Him, the unbelieving Israel didn't vanquish Him, the penalty of sin did not capture Him, and death did not ruin Him. The royal seed of David, Messiah, Savior, Lord would live in the same body that went into the tomb and sit in all authority on David's throne as King of the Jews and the heavenly throne as King of kings and Lord of lords. This is a display of eternal and ultimate power.
EPH 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
EPH 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
EPH 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
EPH 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.
EPH 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
EPH 1:23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
Who can overcome your calling, your inheritance, your power, and your hope if the One who gave them to you has such power?
2TI 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David;
Paul is not pointing to Christ in this passage as an example. Christ is our example in so many other passages, but not here. We are not to resurrect ourselves this morning and ascend to the right hand of the Father. Paul is pointing to Christ as our Lord who has Sovereignty and power and has all rule and authority. This one, a man, is our Husband, our Friend, as well as our Master and King.
He is not trying to prove the fact of the resurrection to Timothy. He is calling Timothy to its implications. Think of the one who could not be held by the grave and has burst the bonds of death in the real, physical world.
If we did not know Him resurrected how would we endure and reign with Him?
If Paul did not know Christ as the resurrected One how could he exhort others to, along with himself, to die with the Lord that they may live with Him, to endure with Him that they might also reign with Him?
2TI 2:11 For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;
2TI 2:12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;
This isn't living as spirits with the great spirit in some spiritual kingdom, but this is a real and physical life with Him, ruling with Him in a very real kingdom.
Paul flatly declared that if Christ had not been raised from the dead then our faith is totally in vain.
if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
It was Paul who said that all things in his life were only piles of refuse, only that which is left over after the feast has been cleared away, in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ and to be found in Him a righteousness which comes by faith, that I may know Him and:
Php 3:10 that I may know … the power of His resurrection…
What is such power and how to we know of it? I cannot today become literally resurrected, but it is not talking of my resurrection in any case. How may I see the power of His resurrection in my life today?
What does His bodily resurrection give us? It promises that our Lord has all power and authority and this gives us solid hope.
It gives us the hope that in Him even the power of death has been broken for us and therefore, whatever we face in life, or death; powers, peril, sword, etc., in Him they cannot break us.
ROM 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
ROM 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The love of God took our sin. The love of God broke death. The love of God broke the neck of all enemies. The love of God is Christ Jesus and He is alive.
Could we call Christianity supernatural if He were not raised? Could we believe His claim to be the Son of God or the bread of life come down from heaven?
From the empty grave the enemies of Christ turn away in a dismay that cannot be concealed.
MAT 28:11 Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.
MAT 28:12 And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
MAT 28:13 and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.'
MAT 28:14 "And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble."
MAT 28:15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.
They thought they were doing this in secret, but God had it written in the most published book in the world.
Christ has risen from the dead!! After two thousand years of the most determined assault upon the evidence which established it, that fact still stands.
Besides apologetics, the resurrection has a fundamental place in the life that it brings to dying world. The whole relation that life had with death was revolutionized when Christ walked out of the tomb.
Death no longer had any terrors for the believer in Christ.
There was no longer any reason to imagine that there was actual life beyond the grave. Christ's resurrection made the grave only a sojourning place, and though the earthly tent decays, each one has a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
We, who have not witnessed His resurrection, witness it through our brethren, the apostles.
1JO 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life —
1JO 1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us —
1JO 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship [with Him] with us;
We no longer speak of a place after death, mysterious, alien, and from which no traveler ever returns. He will return and we will all be united as one body in bodies just like His.
His resurrection is the fundamental fact of our immortality.
It is the foundation of our confidence in all He said.
Equally fundamental is the place which Christ's resurrection occupies to our confidence in His claims, His teachings, and His promises.
Could we believe Him when He said, "Come to me and I will give you rest," if He were still in the grave? That's not the kind of rest I'm looking for.
Could we tie perfect hope to His promises when He said that we would rule with Him and that we should not fear persecution for His name's sake and when He said we should not fear those who kill the body, if He was not raised?
He said that He had the power to lay down His life and then to take it up again? By the fact that He did means He possesses such power and that we need believe every promise given to us through Him.
He forgave sins. Since the wages of sin is death, if He had no power over death through resurrection, His forgiveness is void.
It is fundamental to our assurance of redemption.
Still yet, the resurrection of Christ is fundamental to our assurance that Christ's work is complete and His redemption is accomplished.
It is not enough to say that He was pierced through for our transgressions, but that we should also say, He was raised for our justification.
He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
That He died manifests His love and willingness to save. It is rising again that manifests His power and ability to save. We cannot be saved by a dead Christ.
To save us from death He must Himself pass through it. The wages of sin is death and He accomplished that through His spiritual death which broke the power of physical death.
It is only because He rose from the dead that we know that the ransom He offered was sufficient, the sacrifice was propitiatory, and that we are His purchased possession.
The resurrection is fundamental to Christian hope. In His rising He conquered death and presented to God in His own person the first-fruits of victory over the grave.
1TH 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.
1TH 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
If Christ had not risen, would this statement give you as much hope as it does? Would we look at our bodies, sown in corruption and know that we shall be raised in incorruption; that what was sown in dishonor shall be raised in glory; that what is sown in weakness will be raised in power?
Finally, Paul's words point us to the assurance that Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth whose right it is to rule and in whose hands are gathered the reins of the universe.
Applied to Him, holy takes on its own sanctification that belongs to Him alone. We might imagine a good man, set apart to do things unto God, even a perfect man without sin, but who is still subject to the material universe; to universal law. We would have been able to look to such a man as an example, an example of how to be good and to live the way that our Creator had asked of us. But Jesus is much more than this. He rose above all of the laws of the material universe, as a man who for thirty or so years, submitted to them, but on the Sunday of resurrection, He lived under them no more. We see hints of this when He seems to just vanish or pass through the crowd when they are eager to seize Him or when He walks on water. Those were shadows of the reality that now is. He has broken death and now, as a man, sits at the right hand of God above all rule and authority. It's not just that He has more authority than anyone else. He is all rule. He is all authority.
When we face the parts of our lives that seem to be insurmountable or when we see God's way and we think it likely that such a way is impossible for us, we remember Jesus outside the empty tomb, above all things, and that we are in Him and that we have been called to know that very power.
He is enthroned in heaven and Lord of all. Without resurrection we could not fully know His authority, since He would have been subject to physical death, a prisoner of the grave, and this would not be different from any number of martyrs that had gone before Him.
At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.
He was not to see corruption. At Calvary He defeated Satan and sin and in resurrection He defeated death. It was the last enemy to be put under His feet.
With this last enemy gone, we can confidently say with energy and conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord, not even death itself.
What great comfort, joy, peace, and power this brings to us. The Risen One, the seed of David, has become head over all things; and that He must reign until He has put all things under His feet. Our brother, who has, like us, been acquainted with death - He is the one who rules over the ages. Even if our hearts should fail us and accusers stand around us of all wickedness, let us remember and encourage ourselves as well as one another; Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David.
This is His body that has been given for us. It is now alive. By eating we are reminded that we have mixed our faith with that fact and He is ours and we are His forever. Let us eat together.
This cup is the new covenant in His blood. It is a covenant that cannot be undone or overruled by anyone since the One who made it has all rule and authority as a risen man at the right hand of God. By drinking we are reminded that He accomplished it all and that our faith in Him makes us the recipients of that covenant forever. Let us drink together.
In this way we continue to proclaim His death until He comes.