Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Centrality of the Resurrection

This past week I woke up in the middle of the night a few times, not immediately able to fall back to sleep. So, as I lay there staring into the darkness of my bedroom, I found myself thinking about, of all things, Jesus' resurrection. For Christians, Easter is our day. It's the day the work of our Savior was validated by His Heavenly Father and, therefore, our faith has now gained an object. We don’t have to have a general, flimsy faith that sometimes works and other times fails us because it's generated from within our own selves. No, our faith has meat. Now, it has muscle because our faith is given to us by the one who did the work - Jesus Christ conquered sin and death in His perfect, righteous life which was given up - and RAISED UP.

The resurrection of Jesus is where the victory was declared. If there is no resurrection, there is no Savior and no redemption. If there is no resurrection, Christianity is just like every other religion in this world – a bunch of people worshipping a dead idol. Even Paul acknowledges this - And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. (1 Corinthians 15.14-15) In other words – if there is no resurrection, we are frauds.

The great puritan theologian, John Owen, said this about the centrality of the resurrection: “This truth is so important that nothing in religion can exist without it. The apostles diligently confirmed it in the first churches; and for the same reason it was attacked by Satan and denied and opposed by many. This was done in two ways: first by an open denial of any such thing – “how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:12); and second, those who did not dare to attack it directly expounded it in an allegorical way, saying that “the resurrection has already taken place” (2 Tim. 2:18). Observe that our apostle in both cases does not only condemn these errors as false but declares positively that their admission overthrows the faith and makes the preaching of the Gospel vain and useless.” Note well – denying the resurrection, or allegorizing it away, invalidates everything else in Christianity.

When it comes to Jesus, people deny everything under the sun – from His deity, to the things He said, to the things He did. You don't have to look long or hard to find someone who has a problem with Jesus in some way. And yet, many of those people will even categorize themselves as a Christian. There are even countless numbers of people who don't take God seriously (I am referring to those who have an awareness of God but live as though they are their own god) and still call themselves Christians. But please understand, this is the reality – a denial, in any way, related to Jesus' deity, teachings, and/or works, or anything less than a surrendered heart and passionate pursuit of God, is ultimately a denial of Jesus' resurrection. The sovereignty and power a resurrection demands cannot expect anything less.

Take the time to just think about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So many words/thoughts will flood your mind/heart – power…strength…completion…finality…approval…victory…commitment…. Note that last word because if Jesus is the reality of your life (the one through whom you see everything else) and His resurrection is the power of your life (Philippians 3.10) there will be no half-hearted pursuit of God. You will strain to live in reckless abandon to Him.