Learning to Live the Resurrection
Jesus is risen from the dead. Over five hundred eyewitnesses attested to that fact. Two thousand years of church history affirm the continuity of the best news, ever. For us, the climactic Sunday celebration is upon us each spring. Spring break is now in full swing. For too many people life invariably resumes to what it was before the holy week. In fact, it is like this year after year. Are you waiting for something exciting to happen?
People are born, live on a trajectory toward death, die, and enter their eternal reality…for better or worse. Unless God has prepared and caused a radical transformation in a person’s life, she will live oblivious to her need for deliverance from sin. There is a high probability she is not in church on Resurrection Sunday or any other Sunday. Your presence in church may be good evidence that God has begun a good work in you, but one must examine herself to make sure she is not resting in twice per year attendance. In fact, from our perspective, that is a very bad frequency. One thing is sure, that is not living the resurrection.
The human spiral down toward death, judgment, and hell is our human curse. Resurrection Sunday reminds us of Jesus reversing the curse. Whereas the sinner is born once and dies twice, the saint is born twice and dies once. Because we have died with Christ, we are no longer living with the terrifying prospect of being in the hands of an angry God (Ps 7:11). With the second death off the table of possibility, we are set free to live the ascension life. Living the resurrection means we are en route to heaven, and yet, part of us is already there.
Christians are risen with Christ, who has ascended into heaven. It began with the Holy Spirit baptizing us into Christ (Jn 1:8; Acts 1:5; Rom 6). He baptized us into Christ’s death, His burial, and His resurrection. Our union is spiritual. We are united with all Christ is and did. Every blessing secured by Him is ours (Eph 1:3). The apostle Paul points us to heaven to see we are seated with Christ in heaven (Eph 2:6). Of course, he means spiritually present, just as Christ is in us by His Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11). It is a mutual indwelling by the Spirit. Full union, body and soul, will manifest at the bodily resurrection from the dead on the last day (Jn 5:28–29; 1 Cor 15).
Our spiritual resurrection from being dead in our trespasses and sins is the miracle new birth. God has caused us to be born again of His Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). We have new life in Christ (Rom 6:4). We are people made new. We are new creatures in a divine act of new creation (2 Cor 5:17). The season of Spring shows us what God is doing. New life is observed as trees and plants begin to bud. We know the rest of the story, even though it is told to us year after year, all the years of our life. The buds will flower, and then comes the fruit. Biological maturation teaches us spiritual maturation. Creation is our schoolroom, and the Holy Spirit is our teacher in both general revelation (natural world) and special revelation (Bible).
If nature knows how to function, then certainly the Spirit knows what to do. Nature completely functions under God’s care (Dt 11:15; Mt 6:30). Spiritual nurture functions under God’s care, too. Our neighborhood is filled with wildlife of the small variety. Squirrels and chipmunks and rabbits and cats and birds of diverse kinds are all very active. They are actively fulfilling God’s design for their existence. If we learn from the plants, we can also learn from the animals. If they are active, we too, should be active in fulfilling God’s design for our Christian lives.
Spiritual gifts are one indicator of what we should be doing (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4). We have a limited amount of time, and days of active service to God become more difficult as the years go by. Do not put off your labors for a future date. Seek first the kingdom of God…today (Mt 6:33). You may miss out on His design for your labor of love. He has prepared good works for you to walk in (Eph 2:10). You will be frustrated until you embrace your ordained work. The Christian thinker, John Kennett, once said, “You gotta do what the Lord wants you to do.” Never brabble with the lofty wisdom in such a simple statement.
Begin with prayer and just keep praying. Jesus arose early in the morning and found a quiet place to pray. While you are praying, ask God what you should be doing with each day. Because God often answers our prayer through the Word, we should also be meditating on the Bible throughout each day. These, along with attending church, are good indications God is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil 2:12–13). These are means of grace.
Often, during our activities, other things which could be done become apparent. Employing our spiritual gifts through group ministry activities in the local church can also expose other needful areas. As church members help fill needs, they grow in grace to meet those needs. They are in good company, and in a good place for mutual edification. Twice a year? How about twice a week!
Because we are made by God, both body and soul, there are ways of living and serving in both the physical and spiritual realm. As you engage in service to the Lord, the fruit of the Spirit begins to manifest, too. These attributes (Gal 5:22–23) are actually the attributes of God flowing through you. Evidence of God’s life in you comes by way of these fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, along with, humility, a heart of compassion, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other (Col 3:12–13). The life of God is flowing through you because you are filled with the Holy Spirit, who is dedicated to your sanctification (Rom 15:16; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2).
Living the resurrection is about living the Christian life. As one’s Christian life begins, it is a life of sanctification until death of the body. Holiness is God’s desire for us, but holiness must come by grace. Too often people are delivered from religion only to fall into the trap of another form of legalism. At the same time, grace is not a license to live reckless. Living the resurrection is learning to live by the rule of law under grace (Ezek 36:27).
Christ fulfilled the requirement of the law on our behalf (Mt 5:17). He alone is our righteousness before God, so our legal status before Almighty God never changes. We are justified by His blood (Rom 5:9). Our fear of God has become one of loving reverence. Obedience to one we love is never a burden. It is a labor, but it is a labor of love. Our ambition is to please Him (2 Cor 5:9).
Holiness by grace is the after effect of the resurrection of our souls. The storms of life continue, but now you have the lighthouse in the distance. You keep your eyes on Jesus, who is your point of reference in all of life. The wind of the Spirit keeps moving you toward your destination, and the rudder of the Word brings you continual corrections, as you move forward through wayward currents. Instead of wandering aimlessly on the sea of sin, living the resurrection is directional, purposeful. At times, the lighthouse is obscured from view because of a wave or furious gale. These are the moments of your faith being tested. You must stay the course.
Learning to live the resurrection, we remember, the means of grace, the gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, the purpose of the church, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the direction we are headed. Not only these, but you also have the assurance that God, who began a good work of resurrection in you, will bring it to completion. Resurrection…live it!
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 30, 2021