You Are Risen! (Part 2)

As I said in my last post, a common Christian greeting on Easter Sunday is, “He is risen!,” to which the other person replies “He is risen indeed!” But not only can we say that about Christ, we can say that about each other. Because, as Christians, we are in union with Christ and thus we share in all of his benefits. When it comes to the resurrection, there are three great benefits of being in union with Christ:

  1. Justification: He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Romans 4:25)
  2. Sanctification: We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  3. Glorification: Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of our future bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).

In this post I want to elaborate more on what it means to walk in newness of life and fight the good fight of faith.

SANCTIFICATION (continued)

As I said yesterday, as great as glorification and justification are, we also have sanctification as a great benefit of Christ’s resurrection. If you are in Christ, you are no longer dead in your sins and trespasses but are alive to God. The world, the devil, and the flesh are no longer your masters (Eph. 2:1-3). Your master is now Christ. You belong to him and your new inclination is to follow him now.

And that’s because you have received two great gifts from Christ: his righteousness AND His Spirit. Paul says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14). This is why he prays for the Ephesians that they would know, “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:19-20). What Paul is saying is that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, namely the person of the Holy Spirit, now dwells inside of every believer, including you (cf. Rom. 8:11). And the goal of our sanctification is to know this power more and more until we know it in glory. In other, words we are to become who we are in Christ. We are to die to sin more and more and live for God, being conformed to the image of Christ.

And what this all means for our ongoing walk with God and our fight against sin is that we are not only motivated by the Gospel to resist sin and obey God in thankfulness, but we are also able to do so. God hasn’t left us to ourselves to fight against sin in our own strength. If He had, we would surely lose! But the good news is that because Christ was raised we know three things:

  1. We fight against sin with a free conscience as those who are forgiven.
  2. We fight against sin in His resurrection power, by the Spirit.
  3. We fight against sin knowing that one day our fight will be over.

Often, when people die after fighting against cancer all their life, we say things like “they fought for 10 years against cancer, and praise God that fight is now over.” But if they are Christians we should also say, “they fought for 10, 20, maybe 50 or 80 years against sin and praise God that fight is now over!”

But in the mean time, how do we fight against sin and not give up before then? It’s knowing these three things, and submitting our subjective experience to God’s objective authoritative Word on the matter. You see, we can often feel like we are powerless against temptation and sin. But we need to resist the thought that we truly are powerless and that we just can’t help but give in to sin. Notice how Paul encourages us in our fight against sin in Romans 6:

Rom. 6:1  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

If there is one message that I want to get across to you in this post it’s this: In Christ you are forgiven of all your sins AND you are dead to the power of sin and alive to God as a new creation!

This is no minor thing in Paul’s writings. He tells us this over and over again. He says it in Romans 6 above. He says it in Ephesians Ephesians 2:4-7. He says it in Colossians 2 and 3.

Some of you will object, “but that’s not my experience. I don’t feel dead to sin, I struggle greatly to resist it and I so often fail!” Yes, but God’s Word trumps your experience. God tells you: you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. If you believe your experience above what God’s Word tells you, then you will lose hope. But God’s Word is final on this matter. You must consider yourself dead to sin.

And is there not a desire within you now to hate sin and love God? That’s the Spirit within you (Rom. 7:7-25; Gal. 5:16-17). There is a battle going on inside of you now. The Spirit and the flesh are at enmity with each other. But God’s Spirit must win the battle because He is sovereign. And He is transforming you from one degree of glory to the next. And that’s not an overnight change. It’s a slow and steady process that we can’t just fast forward with a remote control, as much as we would like.

But what we CAN do is actively attend to the means that the Spirit ordinarily uses to change us. What means does He use? Well the Spirit often works in us in a mysterious way. But God’s Word promises us that the Spirit always works with the Word of God. And so, if you long to be more and more free from your sin and more and more like Christ you have to seek out opportunities of being in God’s Word, whether in private devotion or family worship, but especially in public worship on the Lord’s Day. Public worship is the place where the Spirit works through the preaching of God’s Word and the administration of the sacraments, which are the Word made visible (signs and seals of his promises).

And so, live out of your union with Christ. Become who you are in Christ. This is what Paul preaches over and over again to us in God’s Word. We are to fight against sin and obey God’s Word on the basis of the fact that we are in Christ through faith. We are forgiven in Christ. We are righteous in Christ. We are adopted as God’s children in Christ. We have freedom in Christ. We have strength in Christ. We have hope in Christ. And based on all the benefits we have in Christ we are to walk. He is our our ultimate identity in this world. If you are struggling with identity issues, Christ is your identity! As Paul put it so beautifully:  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).

CONCLUSION: 

Once again, if there is one thing that I want to get across it’s this: In Christ you are forgiven of all your sins AND you are dead to sin and alive to God as a new creation. And so, walk in newness of life. Bask in the benefits of Christ’s resurrection and be bold in those benefits. Christ is risen! Praise God for that truth. But praise God that because Christ is risen, YOU ARE RISEN! Therefore, let us fight the good fight of faith with a free conscience, in the Spirit’s power, and until we die or Christ comes again and our fight is over. May you know the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe! Amen!

(If you’d like you can listen to my post Easter sermon, “You Are Risen!,” here at our church web-site).

You Are Risen! (Part 1)

A common Christian greeting on Easter Sunday is, “He is risen!,” to which the other person replies “He is risen indeed!” But not only can we say that about Christ, we can say that about each other. Because, as Christians, we are in union with Christ and thus we share in all of his benefits. When it comes to the resurrection, there are three great benefits of being in union with Christ:

  1. Justification: He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Romans 4:25)
  2. Sanctification: We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  3. Glorification: Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of our future bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).

GLORIFICATION:

I think glorification get’s the most attention when we think about how Christ’s resurrection benefits us. And praise God for this great and glorious truth that because he was raised we too will be raised bodily on the last day unto eternal glory (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15; Phil. 3:20-21; et al.).

JUSTIFICATION:

However, let’s not miss out on the other two great benefits of Christ’s resurrection for us. Because of our union with Christ we also have both justification and sanctification. If you are in Christ through faith, a change has taken place both in your status before God and within you. You are no longer declared guilty in God’s sight. You are forgiven of all of your sins and are declared righteous in Christ by grace alone, through faith alone. And His resurrection assures you of that. If He had remained in the grave it would have proven Him to be a sinner. But because He was raised it demonstrates and assures you and me that God indeed accepted His substitutionary atonement on our behalf. And so, take comfort that you are forgiven and righteous in Christ because He was raised for your justification.

SANCTIFICATION

But as great as glorification and justification are, we also have a third great benefit of Christ’s resurrection, namely sanctification. If you are in Christ, you are no longer dead in your sins and trespasses but are alive to God. The world, the devil, and the flesh are no longer your masters (Eph. 2:1-3). Your master is now Christ. You belong to him and your new inclination is to follow him now. And so, you must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11). And on the basis of your new status and your new life in Christ  you are to walk in newness of life.

In my next post tomorrow I will elaborate more on what this looks like to walk in newness of life and fight the good fight of faith. In short it means this:

  1. We fight against sin with a free conscience as those who are forgiven entirely and declared righteous in Christ through faith.
  2. We fight against sin in the power of Christ’s resurrection, i.e. by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
  3. We fight against sin knowing that one day our fight will be over.
To God Alone Be the Glory!

(If you’d like you can listen to my post Easter sermon, “You Are Risen!,” here at our church web-site).

He is Risen!

A Reading for Easter: Luke 24:1-12 (ESV):

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two lmen stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words,  and returning from the tomb they stold all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,  but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

A Catechetical Lesson for Easter: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 45:

What benefit do we receive from the “resurrection of Christ”? First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He has obtained for us by His death.Second, by His power we are also now raised up to a new life.Third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

A Collect for Easter (Approved for use in the URCNA Hymnal):

Holy Father, giver of all perfect gifts, we join the heavenly choir to herald the news that you have defeated the powers of sin, death, and condemnation by the victory of Jesus Christ your Son over the grave. We confess that the circumstances of this present age often rise up to testify against the promise that you have declared in your Word. Nevertheless, we bring the experience of our hearts under your judgment: You have raised Jesus Christ from the dead as the first fruits of the whole harvest at the last day. As in his resurrection you have brought the new creation into this passing evil age, raise us up and seat us with Christ—in this life, through faith, and in the next, beholding with our own eyes the resurrection of our bodies in life everlasting. All of this we pray, with joy and thanksgiving, in Christ’s name. Amen.