He is Risen: 5 Reasons the Resurrection Matters

 

West Country Safari

This Sunday is the highlight of the Christian year: Easter. Even though Christmas gets most of the attention, Easter is just as, if not more, important. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior from the dead, a feat that no other person has ever accomplished on their own. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus three days after His crucifixion is the event that our entire faith and hope hinges on. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul refers to it as a matter of “first importance” and says that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain.”

Here are five reasons that the resurrection matters:

  1. Ensures our faith is legit
    The entirety of the Christian faith is dependent on the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:12-26). We believe in a living, reigning Savior who is now the exalted head of the church, who is to be trusted, worshiped, and adored, and who will some day return in power and glory to gather His Bride the Church and reign as King over the earth.
  2. Ensures our regeneration
    In His resurrection, Jesus secured for us a new life like His: a human body and spirit perfectly suited for fellowship and obedience to God forever  (1 Peter 1:2-5). We have been “made alive together with Christ and raised up with Him” (Ephesians 2:5-6). The reality of the resurrection gives us the power needed for Christian ministry and obedience to God (Philippians 3:10). This resurrection power also allows us to gain more and more victory over the sin that remains in our lives (Romans 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:17). In baptism, we see this pictured (Romans 6:4,11).
  3. Ensures our justification
    By raising Jesus from the dead, God declared His approval of Christ’s work of redemption on the cross (Romans 4:25). God was essentially saying there was no penalty left to pay for sin, no more wrath to bear, and no more guilt or punishment. All had been completely paid for by the substitionary, atoning death of Jesus. In saving us, by virtue of our union with Christ, God’s declaration of approval of Jesus is also His declaration of approval of us.
  4. Ensures our future resurrection
    Jesus is the “first fruits” of the new humanity, with bodies that have been made perfect and are no longer subject to weakness, aging, or death (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, 42-44, 53). In fact, Jesus refers to Himself as the “resurrection and the life” in John 11:25-26. The New Testament connects Jesus’ resurrection with our final bodily resurrection several times (1 Corinthians 6:14, 15:12-58; 2 Corinthians 4:14)
  5. Ensures our eternal reward
    Because of the resurrection, everything we do on earth has eternal significance, both for us and for others. Though we may face struggles and trials here on earth, we are promised a heavenly reward where our suffering for Christ will be repaid (Colossians 3:1-4).

This Easter, remember the vital importance of what we are celebrating: Christ, as an innocent substitute, died the death that we should have died for our sins and then, to show His acceptance of this sacrifice, God the Father raised Jesus from the grave three days later, accomplishing the final victory over sin and death and making the reconciliation between God and humanity possible. What an amazing day!

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

[image credit: Wurz on Flickr]

Jesus>Religion [Book Review]

Christianity in America has an image problem.

Unfortunately, when many people hear the word “Christian,” they often envision one of three types of person: 1) an angry legalist who holds signs, burns Qur’ans, and gives you a list of things you can and can’t do to be a “good Christian” [ie the Westboro cult] 2) a person who claims to be a Christian (or wears a cross around their neck) for the benefits, but who’s life is no different than any ordinary person who doesn’t follow Jesus [ie celebrities/artists/athletes] 3) an individual who’s theology is so watered-down that it sounds more like the phrases at the bottom of motivational posters than anything Jesus would say [ie Joel Osteen]. In our culture, it is these so-called “Christians” that get the loudest voice in the media because they are easy to refute/mock (for example, Joel Osteen makes the rounds on the talk and news shows, but you rarely see a true Christian intellectual like Al Mohler). As a result, those that are truly following Jesus must overcome these false perceptions as they seek to fulfill their mission: to make disciples of all nations through the power of the gospel.

Enter Jefferson Bethke. You may remember him from this: The above poem went viral and became a major topic of discussion on social media sites as well as in the blogosphere (including one of my blog posts). When a video goes viral it’s usually for one of three reasons: 1) it’s dumb, ridiculous, and makes us laugh 2) it inspires awe in the viewer 3) it strikes a chord with many in a society. Jefferson’s video falls into that third category. It brought out something that many Americans felt was important and wanted to discuss: Some have been hurt by false moralistic or legalistic religion. Others think the church is broken and beyond repair. Still others genuinely want to pursue Jesus Christ with everything they have.

I’ll admit: I had mixed feelings about the video when it came out. As Kevin DeYoung put it, “There is so much helpful in this poem mixed with so much unhelpful.” However, it is evident that Jefferson has matured a lot since posting the initial video (thanks to the discipleship of Christian leaders and his humility). In order to flesh out his views on Jesus, Christianity, and religion, Jefferson has written the book Jesus>Religion (which launches today). The book uses the contrast between Jesus and religion to accomplish the dual goal of addressing false perceptions of Christianity while presenting a true picture of what followers of Jesus look like.  Read more of this post

In His Image Part 2: Gospel-Centered Singleness, Dating, and Marriage

Mom and Dad

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry youth group on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. It is the second of a two-message series about a Gospel-defined view of gender and relationships. To read part 1, click here.

The way that we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a testimony to a life transformed by the gospel. The distinctions in our relationships flow from a desire to serve the needs of others and encourage them as they become more like Jesus. As God’s image-bearers , men and women have been created with unique roles that reflect the relationship between Jesus and his bride, the Church. The way we think about manhood and womanhood, singleness, dating, and marriage are rooted in true understanding of the very nature of God.                 Read more of this post

In His Image Part 1: A Gospel-Defined Vision of Manhood and Womanhood

Husband & Wife Walk . . .  (to divorce court)

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry youth group on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. It is the first of a two-message series about a Gospel-defined view of gender and relationships. To read part 2, click here.

The way that we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a testimony to a life transformed by the gospel. The distinctions in our relationships flow from a desire to serve the needs of others and encourage them as they become more like Jesus. As God’s image-bearers , men and women have been created with unique roles that reflect the relationship between Jesus and his bride, the Church. The way we think about manhood and womanhood, singleness, dating, and marriage are rooted in true understanding of the very nature of God.  Read more of this post

“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Palm Sunday 2007

Today Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday, kicking off what is known as Holy Week. The week begins with the commemoration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey with crowds waving palm branches, laying down their coats, and shouting “Hosanna!” (Matt 21:9). Other days during Holy Week have significant meanings: Maundy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper, Good Friday reflects on the trial and death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary, and Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

One of the sobering things about Holy Week is the attitude of the crowds toward Jesus. As you read from Matthew 21 to Matthew 28, the crowds of people go from enthusiastically chanting “Hosanna!” to angrily yelling “Crucify Him!”  What caused this sudden change?

A Grand Entrance

Imagine the scene recounted in Matthew 21:1-11. The city of Jerusalem is a bustle of energy as Jews from all over the Mediterranean area are in town for the upcoming Passover celebration. The sound of animals can be heard all over the city as traders bring their livestock to sell in order to be sacrificed as an offering to the Lord. Vendors are crowd the streets selling their goods to all the visitors to the city. Priests and religious leaders are hustling around getting the Temple ready for the big day. Read more of this post

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