Thursday, August 18, 2016

Because He Lives: Conclusion


   (Last of a series sharing my devotional thoughts from almost two decades ago. For the back story & links to other posts, see the first post in the series.)

What does it mean that Jesus is alive? Human wisdom cannot grasp the depth of what Jesus’ resurrection means, but Christians recognize that it is so crucial, so vital, so significant to know that His grave is empty.
God has impressed upon me that this devotional is not complete without touching upon what it means that Jesus not only died for us, but He was also raised from the dead by God the Father. I have come to recognize these truths about the importance of Jesus’ resurrection as God has begun giving me understanding of the Scriptures. I make no claims for the following to be an exhaustive list of the significance of Jesus’ resurrection, but I do know that because He lives ...

            • I am a new creation. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” All of my previous sin and shame have been forgiven, but God’s grace goes beyond that: Romans 6 explains that my old self died with Christ, and I have been raised up with Him and have been made new. Because Jesus lives, I am simply not the same person that I was before I became a Christian.
            • I have an eternal hope. 1 Cor. 15 is a key New Testament passage explaining the importance of Christ’s resurrection. Paul makes his main point in verse 19: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Paul explains that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, we have no hope of a resurrection of the dead, either. If there is no resurrection of the dead, there is no eternal life. Paul goes on in verse 52 to emphasize the truth, which makes our hope a certainty: “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
            There will be a “last trumpet” that calls the dead to life. Those who are not alive at that time will be resurrected from the dead, and we shall all be changed. This last trumpet call will summon believers in Christ to heaven for eternity. It will also summon those who did not believe in Christ on this earth to eternal judgment. Because Christ was resurrected, we have the assurance that someday we, too, will be resurrected.
            • I have an intercessor in heaven: Jesus. Hebrews 7:25 says: “...He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
            Jesus’ purpose RIGHT NOW is to intercede for believers. 1 John 2:1 calls Jesus our “Advocate with the Father”. What assurance it is to know that Scripturally, when I sin, Jesus stands before the Father with the scars on His body from His crucifixion, interceding on my behalf.
            Please listen to these precious words: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness....if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation [acceptable sacrifice] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 1:9, 2:1b-2).
            Becoming a Christian doesn’t make us sinless. But because Jesus lives, His wounds bear eternal testimony that He bore our sins. Because He lives, we know the penalty for our sins has been paid in full.
  • I have an example of God’s limitless power. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he shared part of his heart’s desire: “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings,” (Phil. 3:10, emphasis mine). When God resurrected Jesus, He demonstrated His power over death. Romans 6:9 says, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again: death no longer is master over Him.”
Because Jesus lives, I know that God has power over anything I may face. As Paul explained to the Ephesians: “...These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:19b-21). His resurrection is evidence of God’s power -- the “strength of His might” to which Paul referred.
Never, never, NEVER, do I have to wonder if my circumstance is hopeless or my problem too big for God. Because Jesus lives, I know that God is in control.

            My desire is that as you read this devotional, God spoke to your heart. I pray you have either accepted Christ’s offer of salvation or renewed your commitment to Jesus Christ with a more fervent love. If you are not a Christian, I pray that some of God’s truth from the scriptures in this devotional will take root in your heart, and that one day you will become my brother or sister in the Lord. If you are a Christian, I anticipate meeting you someday -- maybe on this earth, but definitely in heaven ... because He lives.

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