The Hope of Eternal Life
According to Paul, the absolute pillar of hope for the believer in Christ is the resurrection of Christ from the dead. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14). In other words, every hope the believer has of eternal life after death rests solely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul explains in this passage that if the dead are not raised (like some were saying at that time) then Christ has not risen from the dead. If Christ has not risen from the dead, then our faith is worthless because we are still in our sins (vs. 17). Likewise, those that have already perished remain so with no hope at all. As he thinks through the logical conclusions of such a horrible thought, he simply concludes that if Christ has not risen from the dead, we are a pitiable people. Indeed, if this were true, we should be pitied. But I have good news for you. CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! And this fact gives those who are resting in the finished work of Christ real hope!
The Hope of Forgiveness of Sin
Because of sin, we are all consigned to death. “The soul who sins shall die.” In order to maintain the justice and righteousness of God, the law’s righteous requirement of death must be upheld. “The wages of sin is death.” And in Adam all die. But in Christ all shall be made alive.
This is why the resurrection is crucial and wonderful. The condemnation of death that passed to all men because of sin has been fulfilled by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Those that believe on Him are immersed into His death. Our sin was condemned in the flesh. The “record of debt” that stood against us (our record of sins – past, present, future) was set aside as it was nailed to His cross. This death of His satisfied the wrath of God and atoned for sins. But in order for this to be good news, death cannot be the victor. Jesus rose from the dead and nullified death’s finality by granting new life that death has no hold over. Our sins were put to death on the cross with Christ, and we rose to newness of life with Him, completely covered in the righteousness of Christ. Forgiveness of sin has been ensured because Christ rose from the dead.
The Hope of Power Over Sin
We have another hope because Christ rose from the dead. We have been freed from the power of sin as we walk with Christ by the Spirit.
In Romans 8, Paul declares that the basis of the believer’s present hope of power over the affects of sin is the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
In other words, the power of God that was demonstrated by raising Jesus from the dead is promised to the believer in the present tense. The simple logic goes like this: If the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in you, then you have access right now to the same resurrection power of the Spirit to give life to your mortal body. In verse 13, Paul explains that the resurrection power of the Spirit gives life to the mortal body by killing sin.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you, and He is working presently by that same power to give you life by putting to death the misdeeds of the body. The resurrection of Jesus means that you now have power to defeat the sin in your life that so plagues your human experience. Though you groan in this body (for it is dead because of sin – vs. 10), you have present tense power to destroy sin’s hold on your life. And this because of the new life granted in Jesus Christ. Listen to the way Paul sets the stage for this truth in Romans 6 and 7.
Romans 6:1-7 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.
Notice that the death and resurrection that Paul speaks of is a present tense death and resurrection which has a present tense reality – you have been set free from sin. He later explains why this can be in chapter 7. Our death and resurrection with Christ has freed us from the law. We are no longer bound to the law and to sin because we have died and risen with Him. Now we are free to marry another – Christ.
Romans 7:4-6 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
Finally, Paul shows this principle in Colossians chapter 2 and 3. He finishes his argument against holding to human and earthly regulations because “…they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23). He then comes to a simple conclusion based upon what he knows about the resurrection. Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
In other words, Paul looks to Christ and our unification with Him in His death and resurrection as the ground upon which he stands as he pursues “things above” instead of “the things of the earth.” He instructs us to “set our minds on things above…because you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 2:2-3). The resurrection power of the Spirit is the very power at work in everyone who calls upon the Lord out of a sincere heart (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:22), and that resurrection power is freeing them from the bondage to sin.
The Hope of Glory
One other hope that the resurrection brings to us is the hope of glory – the hope that we will one day appear with Christ in the clouds glorified as He is glorified.
Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 6:39-40 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
ay the Hope of the Resurrection encourage you greatly this Easter season. He has risen – and you have risen with Him!
I love you all,