Wednesday, October 07, 2015

In Christ...Asleep and Resurrected

At the heart of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then his disciples, either intentionally or unwittingly, pulled off the greatest hoax in history. But if Jesus was resurrected then that is the single greatest event of history. If Jesus conquered death, then we all have hope!

            The apostle Paul had an interesting history concerning the resurrection. When he was a young man he was confronted with the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection and he decided that it could not be true. He held that belief militantly, even to the point of persecuting people who believed the resurrection was true. Then Paul had an encounter with the risen Jesus. THAT will change your mind about the truth of the resurrection like nothing else can. Paul was called by Jesus to be his witness to the Gentiles.

            As Paul traveled throughout the Gentile world, nothing that he taught was more difficult to believe than the resurrection claim of Jesus. In fact, in Athens Paul was laughed to scorn because of his belief in the resurrection. The people of Athens, like all people, were completely convinced of the permanence of death! To hear someone make a claim that a dead person had come back to life, never to die again was more than they could accept.

            In the city of Corinth, where Paul went after leaving Athens, he found a willing audience for his message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But several years later, some of those people stopped believing in the resurrection. In writing the letter we call 1 Corinthians, Paul asked them “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” They could say that because it is not easy to believe. But there are serious consequences if the resurrection is not true! If there is no resurrection then Christ is not raised, your faith is futile, you remain in your sins, those who have died in Christ are simply lost, and we deserve pity because we have built our lives upon a lie.

            If, however, the resurrection of Jesus is based upon truth then there are some good results that flow from that truth. Jesus becomes the catalyst for resurrection for all his people. Those who have died trusting Jesus are merely “asleep in Christ,” not lost forever to us. If Jesus is the resurrected Lord then at his ascension he was truly given the name that is above all names and he is reigning – working on bringing to fulfillment the kingdom of God. When he finally defeats his enemies – dominion, authority, power and finally death itself – he will present the kingdom to his Father. At that point all who trust him will be raised to be with him forever.

            Our greatest enemy is death, but the hope of the gospel is that Jesus has conquered death and brought live and immortality to light! There was a time when Paul could not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. But after meeting Jesus Paul could not wait to share in Jesus’ resurrection! “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so,  somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)

            “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

- Kenny Payne

No comments: