The Power of His Resurrection

In the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul writes, “…that I may know Jesus and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10).  Have you ever wondered what that power is all about?  What power is Paul referring to?

Last time we were together, I wrote about the Resurrected Life; the theology of Christ living His resurrected life in us.  Today we turn to the power associated with that Life.

Peter writes, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (II Pet 1:2-4).

When you embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, God gave to you a divine nature; sometimes referred to in Scripture as “the righteousness of Christ.”  But did you know that this nature also brought with it “His divine power”?  I don’t pretend to even know how to unpack the whole picture of this, but by God’s truth in His Word, His divine power (can we say supernatural power?) lives inside each of us as part of His divine nature indwelling us.

And one of the primary ways we experience the divine power is in our conflict with sin.  The end of our passage above highlights that His divine nature empowers us “to escape the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  That is a good description of sin; a lustful corruption that is typical of the world and the world system.  But God in His generosity has given us a way of escape from this corruption; this power of sin.

We often hear the phrase, “God will provide a way of escape when we are tempted.”  But we don’t talk much about the “how”.  Am I just supposed to buck up and face the challenge with an increased will power?  Am I to try to quickly plant something positive in my mind in place of the temptation that is facing me head on?  Is there some “path of escape” to avoid this temptation that I need to discover?

I believe the “how” is to recognize who we are in Christ; redeemed sinners who now possess a divine nature in which sin is no longer our master.  Our old nature has been replaced.  Our old man has been replaced.  Our old heart has been replaced.  And your new nature, your new man, your new heart are powered by the resurrection life of Jesus living in you.  And this power is available to us, to bring to bear on those pesky temptations.  It is a power we are to believe, embrace, and walk in, in our hour of temptation.

While this power is always available, it is not automatically in force like some supernatural power of a comic book hero.  No, there is a path to us acknowledging this power, appropriating this power, and experiencing this power.  In its most succinct form, the path to victory is the path of faith.  To bring the promise of this power into our experience, we must believe “His precious and magnificent promises”; one of which is that we have been set free from sin’s power.

So celebrate, and reflect on, the two astonishing miracles of Resurrection Sunday.  Miracle one;  Christ was raised from the dead.  A completely dead body came back to life.  This miracle sealed Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and thus sealed our salvation.  “Jesus was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4).

Miracle two is that this same Christ who was raised from the dead now lives in you, and you in Him (Col 3:3-4, and about two hundred other places in the New Testament).  And in some ways, Christ living His life in us is just as astonishing as miracle one.

These two miracles come together in us when we long with the apostle Paul to “know Him and the power of His resurrection.”  May you experience that power today.  And give thanks to our Living Lord that we have this opportunity to pursue His life in us every day; a powerful Easter dawning in us over and over and over.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’ ” (Jn 14:6).  In this one verse, we have a beautiful summary to the message of John’s gospel.  Jesus said that He is the only way to God, His message is truth, and the reward for believing this is life eternal and abundant.

That Jesus is the only way to the Father is a theme throughout John’s gospel.  In the middle chapters of the book, Jesus specifically reiterated this point over and over with various word pictures and direct instruction.  In fact, the firmness with which Jesus identified Himself as the Christ, the Son of God, the only true path to life made such an impression on me that I wrote a book about it.  Is Jesus the Only Way? is a verse-by-verse look at what Jesus claimed about Himself as the only way.

Another feature of John’s gospel is his focus on the truth.  Quotes like, “I am the truth”, “You will know the truth”, “Full of grace and truth”, “He who practices the truth”, “Worship the Father in spirit and truth”, “There is no truth in him [the devil]”, “I speak the truth”, “When the Spirit of truth comes”, “Sanctify them in the truth”, “Your word is truth”, “The truth will make you free”, and finally, “What is truth?” asked by Pilate.

John makes clear that Jesus’s message should be believed because it is true.  There is no social agenda, no political agenda, not even a theological agenda in Jesus’ words or John’s writing.  The appeal is always to the truth and to the idea that we should believe and embrace the gospel message of Jesus Christ because it is true.

And finally, Jesus is the life; the perfect conclusion to this triplet in John 14:6.  If you believe the truth about Jesus, about Jesus’s identity as the Son of God, about Jesus being the only way to God, you will inherit life itself.  This message is so straightforward and one that we have heard over and over in John’s gospel.  Because it really is the good news, the message of the gospel.

If the idea of believing the gospel message of Jesus is new to you, let me close with this offer.  When Jesus came to earth, He initiated a new arrangement between God and man.  His message of release from the penalty of our sin was totally founded upon His death, as a substitute for each of us, on a cross.  Under God’s old arrangement, the default arrangement for the whole human race, we stand guilty of breaking His moral code.  But that all goes by the wayside when we agree to God’s new arrangement by acknowledging our guilt, accepting the free gift of Christ’s death in our place, and believing what Jesus says is true.  If you wish to say “I’m in” with this new arrangement, tell God in prayer about your decision.  Then, talk to someone about it.  If you would like to know more about God’s offer or talk with us about a decision you’ve made, drop us a line at

Resurrection Life

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies’ ” (Jn 11:25).  Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  I like to put these two terms together and call the life Jesus promised His believers “resurrection life”.  Resurrection life has a longevity (eternal) and a quality (abundant) based on the promises of God.

Resurrection life delivers a promise about our past – we have been set free from the penalty of sin.  Resurrection life holds a promise about our future – life with Jesus forever because our sins are forgiven.  And resurrection life delivers a promise about our present – freedom from the power of sin in our walk today.

Let us focus for a minute on the present promise.  The apostles, over and over, emphasize that our daily walk in the Christian life is empowered by the resurrection life of Christ living inside us.  To develop that theme, let’s take a quick tour through the book of Romans as one example to see what the resurrection of Christ accomplished in us.

First, as the foundation for our faith, the resurrection sealed Jesus’ identity as the Christ, the Son of God.  “…His Son was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:3-4).  Jesus’ resurrection from the dead declared with power that He is who He said He is, Christ, the Son of God.

“For our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom 4:24-25).  The word “reckoned” used in this passage is an accounting term.  On the basis of Christ’s resurrection we can go to the ledger and put ourselves in the justified column; declared righteous and the penalty for our transgressions taken away.  “He was raised for our justification.”

But wait, there’s more.  “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom 6:4-7).

This “newness of life” that we are to walk in is literally the resurrected life of Christ (“in the likeness of His resurrection”) living itself out in us.  And one of the beautiful outcomes of Christ living His resurrected life in us is that “we are no longer slaves to sin”.  We have been set free from sin’s power.  But how do we tap into this resurrected life and experience its power?

“However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, since indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  And since Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  But since 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 indwells you” (Rom 8:9-11).

The Spirit of God who raised Christ from the dead dwells inside you.  It could not be more clear.  Twice in verse 11 alone, Paul refers to the Christ’s resurrection life living in you by the presence of His Holy Spirit.  This is the promise of a life set free from sin’s power.  It is fueled, it is energized by the Holy Spirit living in you.

And all of this is true because Christ is raised from the dead.  The apostles, in their early sermons in the first few chapters of the book of Acts, consistently proclaimed Christ’s resurrection.  The empty tomb is a powerful point of apologetics as we defend our faith and defend the identity of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.  But the resurrection was so much more.  It sealed your past; forgiveness and the penalty for your sins taken away.  It sealed your future; an eternity in the presence of Jesus.  And it has a promise for your present; a life set free from sin’s power.

Life Eternal and Abundant

One of the words the apostle John uses over and over in his gospel is the word “life”.  From beginning to end, the life imparted to us by Jesus Christ – life eternal and abundant – is a constant theme in his book.  Here are just a few of those references to introduce us to John’s development of this topic.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (Jn 1:1,4).  Jesus and the life He imparts was there from the beginning.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (Jn 3:36).  A pretty straightforward if-then regarding belief and eternal life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn 5:24).  Believe and we literally cross over from death to life!

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst’ ” (Jn 6:35).  I wonder what this “never hungry, never thirsty” promise is all about.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:40).  It is not God’s wish, it is not God’s hope that those who believe in Jesus attain eternal life.  No, it is God’s will, God’s determined plan that eternal life is the promise for those who believe in Jesus.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (Jn 6:47).  Another if-then regarding belief and eternal life.

“I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:48).  Jesus is the provision of this life eternal and abundant.

“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life‘ ” (Jn 6:68).  Peter acknowledges that Jesus’ words are the very words of eternal life. 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).  Jesus’ promise of abundant life stands in contrast to Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies’ ” (Jn 11:25).  Jesus’ own resurrection will be a picture of the resurrection life for us.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’ ” (Jn 14:6).  Jesus is the only way (a theme repeated over 20 times in John’s gospel).  Jesus says this because it is true; no other hidden agenda.  If we believe Jesus, the truth about Jesus, we will have life.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn 17:3).  Believing that Jesus is the Christ and that God sent Him is at the heart of the promise of eternal life.

“These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31).  Finally, John reveals his purpose in writing this gospel; that we would recognize Jesus as the Christ, believe that He is the Son of God, and by believing experience life in the name of Jesus.

And these are only scratching the surface.  What I would like to do in the upcoming weeks is explore what kind of life is Jesus advertising in these consistent promises of life everlasting.  Is it only a longevity promise; that is, life that lasts for eternity?  Or is there a quality promise also?  What does Jesus mean by an abundant life?  Is the abundant life for the here and now or only in the far off future of heaven?  And what about His promise of “never hungry, never thirsty” (Jn 6:35)?  Never is a pretty strong word.

These are a few of the questions we will begin to answer next time.

Overcoming … The Devil

The Devil.  Our last enemy to consider is Satan; also known as the devil or the evil one.  Jesus taught us in John chapter 8 that at the heart of Satan’s character is a liar.  “The devil was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44).

At the heart of Satan’s temptations are lies.  Lies about Christ and His character.  Lies about Christ and His finished work on the cross.  Lies about Christ and His promised victory over sin in our lives.  Lies about Christ and His goodness.  Lies about Christ and His living inside us.  Lies about Christ and His love, acceptance, and forgiveness.  Lies about finding our satisfaction in Christ rather than Satan’s idols and ways.

So how do we overcome this last enemy and the temptations that come through his lies?  We overcome the devil by faith.  This is not just some kind of religious answer.  It has tremendous practical application.  The Bible teaches that “greater is He who is in you (God Himself) than he who is in the world (Satan)” (I Jn 4:4), and “this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (I Jn 5:4).  We overcome Satan – ruler of the world system – by faith.

What does this faith look like in practice?  It means that when Satan tempts us with his lies, we resist him by faith; our faith in Christ and our faith in His promises.  When Satan holds up a mirror to our failures and says “failure” is who you are, we rest in God’s promise that we are loved, accepted, and forgiven (Lk 7:36-50).  When Satan digs up our sinful past and says “sinner” is who you are, we believe God’s description of us as “holy and beloved saints” (Col 3:12).  When Satan puts his finger on a current sin challenge and says “go ahead and give in” since this is who you will always be, we trust in God’s promise that change is possible and sin will not longer be our master (Rom 6:6).

This resting, this believing, this trusting is done by faith.  We don’t try to outwork or outwit Satan.  We resist him and experience victory by believing God’s truth in place of Satan’s lies.

On more than one occasion, Jesus prayed that His disciples would be protected from the evil one.  We need that protection because Satan’s ways are so wily.  And one of his sneakiest attacks is to get us off the simple and clear message of the gospel.  Satan is happiest when we add all kinds of heaviness and nit-picking and rule-keeping to the gospel.  And Satan is most defeated when we feast on the true message of God’s grace.

Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians, “”But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (II Cor 11:3).  Satan knows the power of the simple and pure gospel message to not only bring us redemption, but to transform us as well.  And he knows and celebrates the trouble we find ourselves in when we complicate the gospel.  When we add to the gospel with rules or arguments of minor issues or human logic that needs a pigeon-hole for every nuance of Scripture, we are adding a layer of complication that plays into Satan’s hand.

And the outcome of these additions is disunity, divisiveness, and disharmony and the death of our witness to the world.  Jesus promised, in His last prayer with His disciples in John chapter 17, that the world will judge whether or not the Messiah has come based on the unity of His body, the church.  And our witness is clearest when we practice the “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”.  By faith, we believe in the power of the simple and pure message of the gospel.  Christ has overcome the evil one and when we allow Christ to live His resurrected life in us, we will overcome the devil as well.