Resurrection and Redemption

The following is based upon the Adult Bible Study that I led on Easter Sunday:

The Theological Implications of the Resurrection

If when Jesus said, in John 19:30, “It is Finished” redemption was indeed finished, why then was the resurrection necessary? Have you ever wondered that? Well, one answer is that the resurrection was the visible proof that the work of redemption was finished. The empty tomb showed that the atoning sacrifice of Christ was indeed accepted by God. It is was His seal of acceptance and approval. The resurrection, therefore, is part and parcel with the crucifixion, the other side of the proverbial coin. But there is more to it than that.

empty-tombWe must also understand that the resurrection itself actually does something for us. It plays a vital part in our redemption. There is a subtle in danger lurking in our churches whereby we fail to focus sufficiently on the resurrection itself. Our understanding of depravity naturally leads us to focus greatly on the cross and all that Christ suffered for our sake, but we cannot let a necessary focus on the cross unintentionally cause us to lessen our attention to the resurrection and what God did for us through it.

One way to understand at the dynamic relationship between the cross and the empty tomb is to see that what was finished at the cross was applied at resurrection of Christ. Christ’s righteous life and death accomplished our redemption. Christ’s resurrection, however, is the application of that redemption. Redemption means “to be bought out of bondage and set free.” The purchase was made at the cross, the application was secured at the open tomb.

Hang with me a bit as I try to show that Jesus’ death and resurrection and inseparably linked, and then I will share with you six aspects of our redemption that would not be possible without the resurrection.

Hebrews 2:9 reads, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels (incarnation), namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor (resurrection) because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

From this text and others, there is a sense in which we can say that Christ’s resurrection was His own redemption. As 100% human, His righteous life and death bought Him out of bondage to the curse of death that all mankind was subjected to and freed Him to resurrection and eternal life. The curse of death was the just sentence for sinners, but Christ being without sin was freed from the sentence and thus the grave had no claim on Him and could not hold Him. Jesus’ perfect life and substitutionary death fulfilled God’s law, satisfied God’s justice, and therefore deserved to be rewarded with resurrection to eternal life.

The word “because” in Hebrews 2:9 shows that Jesus’ suffering and death was the ground of His resurrection. Jesus’ righteous life and substitutionary death satisfied the demands of the law. God was therefore legally bound by His own justice to raise Jesus from the dead.

Now look at Hebrews 13:20: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant…” Don’t miss the significance of little words in the Bible, in this case the preposition “by.” God brought Christ back from the dead “by” the blood of the eternal covenant. Christ’s blood was, therefore, instrumental in His resurrection. His blood was the causal means of His resurrection. In other words, the shedding of Christ’s righteous blood made Him legally deserving of, and ensured His own resurrection.

Similarly we see in John 12:24 these words of Jesus: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The death of a seed is the source and cause of its new life. In the same way, our Lord’s righteous death is the source and cause of His own resurrection to eternal life. We see something similar in Phil 2:8-11.

849-crown-of-thorns-nails-600x399On a theological note, this means that the atonement is definite. It accomplishes something. The resurrection proves that Christ’s blood definitely produces resurrection and life. This means everyone for whom Christ bled and died will definitely be raised to eternal life with Him. None of Christ’s blood fails to accomplish life because it is powerful to redeem. That means that not a drop of Jesus’ blood was spilled uselessly. It saves all whom God intends to save. If any of Jesus’ blood would have fallen to the ground uselessly, then theoretically the resurrection could potentially never have taken place. But the blood was righteous therefore it had to produce vindication which means the grave could not keep Jesus in it’s clutches, it had to release Him because every drop of His blood was righteous.

So what does this mean for us? Well, it means that for us the death and resurrection of Christ simultaneously accomplishes and applies every aspect of our redemption. For, if we are united to Him, then His death is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection. Romans 6:5: “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.” So we have to see that our full redemption could not have happened without the resurrection. Here are six ways that the Bible shows us that the resurrection was necessary for our redemption:

1. Without the resurrection we wouldn’t have regeneration

Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”

1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

2. Without the resurrection we wouldn’t have repentance

Acts 3:26 “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness”

Acts 5:30-31 “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”

3. Without the resurrection we wouldn’t have justification

Romans 4:24-25: “It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

1 Corinthians 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

4. Without the resurrection we wouldn’t have sanctification

Romans 6:6-11 “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. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 7:4 “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. Without the resurrection we wouldn’t have perseverance

Ephesians 2:6 “…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”

1 Thessalonians 1:10 “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

6. Without the resurrection we wouldn’t have glorification

Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 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.”

Colossians 3:3-4 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

All the key elements of our redemption are ensured by, not only the cross, but also by the resurrection. Redemption purchased at Calvary, applied at the Garden Tomb.

You have been redeemed (Identity Matters)

 

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

imagesHow you answer that question is urgently important.  For several weeks now I’ve been blogging through the book of Ephesians which is a book written to Christians to answer that question. Ephesians discloses to us who we really are in Christ. Now, we all have what I suppose we could call, “secondary identities.” “I’m a dad…I’m a mom… I’m a teacher…I’m an American” There’s nothing wrong with recognizing those secondary identities, but when I’m discussing “identity” with you in this blog series, I’m talking about the core of who you are. Identity with a capital “I.”

Who you think you are at your core matters. If one of your secondary identities becomes the core of who you are then you will open up a door to all kinds of problems.

Tim Keller defines sin this way: as building your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than God. Instead of telling them they are sinning because they are sleeping with their girlfriends or boyfriends, I tell them that they are sinning because they are looking to their careers and romances to save them, to give them everything that they should be looking for in God. This idolatry leads to drivenness, addictions, severe anxiety, obsessiveness, envy of others, and resentment.

We all need reminders of what our true identity is bound up in.  So far in our look at Ephesians chapter 1, you’ve discovered three amazing things about who you are!  If you’ve missed any of these three truths, click on the links below.

You were chosen by God the Father

You were adopted by God the Father

You are delighted in by God the Father.

As spectacular as those truths are, Paul is not finished. He’s not done recounting all the ways we are blessed by God and he’s not done showing us who we really are in Christ. So in Ephesians 1:7-10, Paul reveals three more things to us about your true identity as a believer.

1) You are redeemed

2) You are forgiven

3) You are not the main character in the story

For this article, we’ll just consider the first point.

You are redeemed

In him we have redemption through his blood (Ephesians 1:7)

Redemption is not a common word in our vocabulary anymore. But in the 1st century it was often associated with slavery. Sometimes people became slaves through military takeover. Sometimes, because they didn’t have bankruptcy law (no chapter 11 or 13), they sold themselves or their family into slavery because it was the honorable thing to do. There was no other way for them to repay the debt.

But if a relative heard about your slavery he could redeem you.  He could buy you back and set you free.  All the relative had to do was go to the local pagan temple and pay the redemption cost plus an additional cut.  The temple kept the cut and gave the rest of the money to the slave owner.  Therefore, in theory, you weren’t totally free from slavery.  Instead, you were now a slave to that particular god.

 

The New Testament picks up on this language. Paul in Ephesians 2 says we were slaves to sin and slaves to Satan and now we are free. But we are not free to be autonomous and do our own thing. We are free….to be slaves to God!

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)

There is no such thing as an autonomous, independent person. We Americans struggle with that concept because our country is built on the notion of independent freedom. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How we tend to interpret freedom in America is that we have a right to do whatever we want. “Don’t tell me what I can and cannot do. Don’t tell me what I can and cannot say! This is America! I do my own thing and chart my own course.”

That’s how Americans view freedom. That’s not how the Bible sees it.

Every single person on this planet is a servant and has a master whether they realize it or not. And so the Scriptures tell us that man, pre-salvation, is a slave to sin and Satan. If you are not a Christian, your master is sin and Satan. You are a slave.

If you are a Christian, The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6 that you are not your own but instead you were bought with a price. Someone came and purchased you from your old master.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is warning the church to flee from sexual immorality. Now in America, sexual freedom is one of the biggest sacred cows you can think of. You can get away with a lot of things in this country but once you start trampling on someone’s sexual choices or criticizing them, get ready for a brawl!  Get ready for someone to scream, “How dare you tell me what I can’t do with my own body?”

As far as believers are concerned, Paul thinks otherwise.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Notice that Paul tells the Corinthian church to glorify God in their bodies, to honor him by only expressing their sexuality in ways that God intended.  But notice why.  Paul doesn’t just give you a command in a vacuum. He gives a reason. He is essentially saying, “You may think your body belongs to you.  You may think you are autonomous, but you aren’t. You are not your own. You have been purchased. You have been bought with a price. So for that reason, glorify God in your body. God is your new owner. God is your new master.” This is a huge part of your new identity.

God has bought you. And what price did God pay to make you His own?

 

In him we have redemption through his blood… (Ephesians 1:7)

imagesAs sinners and slaves to Satan, God said the penalty we deserved was death and Hell. There’s no way we could pay that price on our own in this life, which is why Hell is forever. So Jesus comes to earth as a Man and He dies in our place. As Jesus Christ hung on that cross, with blood pouring out of His veins, God the Father poured out the Hellish wrath that you and I should have gotten, on Jesus.

Make no mistake.  The death of Jesus wasn’t an accident or a tragedy. It was planned by God. It was His rescue plan to release you from satanic slavery. Jesus deliberately gave His life for this very purpose.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

His life, His blood, was the ransom price to release you from your former condition. You’ve been bought by God.

Now, think about this. If this is a part of your identity, how might this change your life? How differently might you make decisions in how you live? How you talk?  How you work? How you do marriage?  What you do with your money, your time, your body? How might this alter the way you live, knowing that your life is not really your own but that you are a slave to Jesus Christ?

There have been times in my life where one of the truths that helped me to do what I should is the understanding that my life is not my own and I am not my own Master but I am a slave to Christ.  I have confessed sin to people when I was terrified to admit the truth. I have forsaken sin that every fiber of my being wanted to commit. I have taken paths that some thought were crazy. Why? Because my life is not my own. Because part of my identity is bound up as a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ. He owns me.

If you’re a Christian, He owns you.

As a matter of fact, look down at verse 13

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, (Ephesians 1:13)

imagesThis notion of sealing would bring a few images to the minds of Paul’s 1st century readers. One, is that often seals were stamped in wax on a document to show who it belongs to. Also, the image of animals being branded, being marked, would have gone through their minds. Of course, that’s a practice we can relate to as the branding of cattle still happens today.

And what does cattle branding indicate? It indicates ownership and protection. It was not uncommon even for slaves to be branded, to have a mark put on them signifying who they belonged to and who was responsible for them.

Paul is saying you, as a Christian, have been marked. You have been sealed with the Spirit. God has put His stamp of ownership and protection on you.

This notion of God marking His people is seen elsewhere in the Scriptures.

In Revelation 13-14, you’ll see that everyone has a mark. They either have the mark of the Beast, Satan’s mark, or they have the mark of the Lamb. If you have the mark of the Beast you are protected by the Beast and you can do whatever the Beast allows you to do.  So in Revelation 13 you have people buying and selling in a world that is under the control of the Beast.  You can live in that world and not face the wrath of the Beast.  But guess what?  You do have to face the wrath of the Lamb, who is Jesus.

Alternatively, the book of Revelation shows us that if you have the mark of the Lamb you’ll   be protected from the wrath of the Lamb.  You will be saved in the Last Day, but on the other hand you will face the wrath of the Beast.  In the book of Revelation you see everyone facing someone’s wrath! Who’s wrath you’ll face depends on who you belong to. And of course, the wrath of the Lamb is far more devastating and terrifying than the wrath of the Beast, and unlike the wrath of the Beast, the wrath of the Lamb is forever.

This is why Jesus says elsewhere,

….do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

 But for those of us who have been bought and purchased by the blood of the Lamb, the book of Ephesians tells you that you have God’s mark, God’s seal, which is the Holy Spirit.

…who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)

The Holy Spirit is like a deposit, a down payment, a guarantee that we belong to God and that we will receive a great inheritance from God in the age to come.

imagesNot only that, but the Holy Spirit in us signifies God’s ownership of us and God’s protection over us. And the most important thing we are protected from is the wrath of God, and the reason we are now forever protected from the wrath of God is because God’s wrath has been satisfied in the death of Jesus.  His blood purchased us from our slavery to sin which would have led to Hell.  Thanks be to God that He paid the price.  Jesus, on the cross, said, “It is finished!”  And if it is finished, that means that the purchased ones forever belong to God and are forever forgiven to the praise of His glory!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer