Rebecca Stark is a woman who has challenged many of us to study God’s Word. She has invested a great effort into a project of several years, and her arduous study is clearly seen in her project: The Theological Term of the Week.I encourage you to subscribe to her blog, you will be blessed indeed.
If you are a believer in Christ, then the good news of Easter brings you wonderful personal benefits. Yes, Christ’s resurrection makes a bold statement to the whole world, declaring to everyone everywhere that Jesus is ruler and judge of all and that he ought to be worshiped. But for believers, the resurrection is more than that, because we are united with Christ in resurrection, and that changes things for us.
For one, the resurrection means that we can look forward to a glorious future. Christ’s present resurrected life is a promise to those who belong to Him that when He returns, they will be brought with Him into the same resurrected life.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 20-23 ESV)
Death, says Paul (quoting Isaiah), has “no sting” for the believer. Not that death, both our own and that of our loved ones, doesn’t hurt, because of course it does. But the hurt of death is temporary, like the pain of childbirth. Death ushers in a brand new eternal reality—the reality of resurrected life—and in the end, all our tears will be wiped away and forgotten in the glory of what will be.
I could go on and on about the resurrection life to come, but I won’t. I’ll just say that I am eagerly anticipating my resurrection body. Paul tells us that the kind of body that Christ had when he walked the earth after His resurrection and with which He ascended and now rules from heaven is the same kind of body that we will have when we are raised at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). Our resurrected bodies will be a reproductions of the one the man of heaven has. Just as our identification with Adam brought us perishable bodies, our identification with Christ in his resurrected life will bring us imperishable bodies.
There is a time in our lives, if we are healthy, when our bodies are getting stronger and better.But we all have a turning point when we begin to see from experience that our bodies are perishable. We can’t help but understand that we are dying, little by little, and that our bodies will just keep on withering away for the rest of our lives. I am still strong and healthy, but I’m not what I used to be. I look forward to what call Paul calls a spiritual body, which might sound like something wispy and unsubstantial, but is truly more real—stronger, healthier, and more substantial—than the body I had when I was in my prime. Best of all, my spiritual body will be incapable of any withering. “When I was in my prime” will be a nonsense phrase in the age to come.
We have a future: We will be raised with him. Hooray (or better yet, praise God!) for a future resurrection and imperishable resurrection bodies!
And there’s more. We look forward to being raised with Christ when we enter into the life to come, but there is also a sense in which we have already been raised with Christ.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”(Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV)
The resurrected life that comes into completeness at our glorification when we receive our resurrected bodies is already within us. We have been made alive together with Christ and a new sort of life—not resurrected physical life, but resurrected spiritual life—has begun. Our new life is grounded in our union with Christ’s resurrection.
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. (Romans 6:4-5 ESV)
If you are a believer, you have already begun to live in the realm of the resurrection. This new life you live in the power of the Spirit came to you because you have been united with the risen Christ.
I’ll admit that it doesn’t always feel like I live in the reality of resurrected life. I’m guessing that I’m not alone or Paul wouldn’t have had to write letters urging believers to live lives that are true to their new reality.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is,seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1-5a ESV)
Here’s what I think this means: If we have been raised with Christ, then our minds and hearts should be where he is, and he’s in heaven. How can we live in our new raised-with-Christ reality if we still love the earthly passions that are in us? Being what we are means that we must put aside the things we once loved and the passions we once followed as the old kind of person we once were. We are called to have new loves, to seek heavenly things, and to live according to the fruit the Spirit produces within us.
Are you a woman who is raised with Christ? Then Paul calls you to “present yoursel[f] to God as[one] who ha[s] been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13 ESV).” This, you see, is where the doctrine of our present resurrected life gets practical. Yes, it’s a command, but it’s a command with resurrection power behind it. It’s a command with a reason, and the reason is what fulfills the command. It’s a command, you might say, to go ahead and be what you already are in Christ. It’s a command to live out the truth.
Hooray (and praise God!) for this, too: Resurrection now and the power of the Spirit to live as new women with new lives!
Consider sharing the goodness…