Seeing the Invisible (This is why the Church is so Important!)

I think that the Church is important.  More than that, the church is necessary for all believers and this audio will explain why:

Seeing the Invisible Presence of Christ with the Church – Revelation 1:12-13a (For a “Pirate Jesus” listen at 35:00)

This is a sermon I preached last Sunday on Christ presence with the church, and these truths are why I love the church.

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Here’s the outline:

 Revelation 1:12-16 reveals 10 images of the invisible presence of Christ.

1. The image of the Lampstands – Jesus with the Church

a. The presence of Christ is displayed in the local church

• Here John looks to see the source of the voice, and sees lampstands. Like John, the people see the church when they look for Jesus. (SCARY)   Matt 5:15 – Jesus is the light of the world and He does not intend to be hidden.

b. The presence of Christ is experienced in the local church

• The lampstands were not the only thing that John saw when he looked for the voice.The Son of Man was in the middle of the lampstands. In other words, Christ’s presence is not only displayed, but also experienced in Church. It makes sense!  The church is the body of Christ. How could you be more present with Jesus?  All the practical benefits of Matt 28:20 are found in the local church (Spirit & Gifts // Under-shepherds // Word & Ordinances). If you are NOT in church then Christ presence will result in chastisement (Heb 10:25). If you run from the church you are running from the presence of Jesus.

Conclusion:
Christ uses practical means to display his effects of his presence, the church where we see and experience these ordinary means. The first image of the lampstands teaches us that the presence of Christ is displayed and experienced in the local church.

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Here’s a look at my sermon notes  is used for preaching (for those interested):Sermon Note rev 1.12-13a

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Men’s Meetings, Quarrelsome Wives, & 1st Grade Philosophy

A favorite verse in any men’s meeting at church is always Proverbs 21:9:

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife

All you have to do is read that verse in a room full of men and you’ll get the head nods, an Amen or two, and a bunch of guys who are so impressed with the applicability of the Bible.  Then, if you really want to impress the men with the usefulness of the Word, you can skip down to Proverbs 21:19:

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

Before you know it you’ll have a bunch of men who love the bible and what it says about their wives.

Here’s the problem, we often love what the bible says about other people but we conveniently forget about what it says about us.  Men, I’m speaking especially to you, the bible is true when it teaches that you don’t want to share your life with a fretful & contentious women.  But it is is just as true when it tells YOU that it is your responsibility to shepherd your wife through these heart issues.  She may be fretful and contentious but God gave you the job of patiently love her through those issues.  For you to abdicate your duty or uses these verse as an excuse to move the bed to the roof or take a desert vacation is just as wrong as what she is doing.

Think about several verses that we men often skip over in Proverbs 21 so that we can talk about our wives:

v. 2- Every man is right in his own eyes…

How often to you assume that you are right and your wife is wrong?

v. 4 – Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin

How often does your proud heart frustrate your wife and encourage conflict?

v. 23 – Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble

How often do you loose control of your tongue and not only hurt your wife, but also set a standard of contention for your house?

How about a few other verses:

Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath

If an angry wife is so bad, then why do you keep encouraging anger with harsh words and tones when a gracious Spirit-filled answer would disarm the situation?

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers

How often are you seeking to make peace with your wife rather than running to the roof tops? By the way, the point of the 2 verses in Proverbs 21 is not to run away from your wife.  The point is 1) don’t marry a woman like this, OR 2) if you are married to a woman like this then graciously help her not to be like that.  Running away is not an option.

Ephesians 5:25:-27 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 

Are you having a sanctifying impact on your wife like Christ has on the church?  Are you washing her in the word? Do you even read the bible with her?  This verse makes it clear that if you love her your goal will be to see her grow in these areas.  Not so that you won’t have to sleep on the roof, but so that she will might be holy. Your job is to lovingly help her to care more about the wrinkles in her sanctification than the wrinkles on her face.

Guys, next time you want to laugh and Amen at Proverbs 21:9 & 19 remember the words of the famous 1st grade philosopher,

For every one finger you point at some one else you have four pointing back at you

(although one of them is a thumb & depending on how you point it may not actually be pointing at you)

Can Jesus Really Forgive Sins?

Introduction: 

Mark chapter 2 begins a new phase in Jesus’ ministry.  Up to this point Jesus has yet to encounter any opposition from the Jews.  But that will all change in chapter 2. One author described it this way:  “Chapter 1 is the chapter of glory; chapter 2, of opposition.”[1]  This new focus on the opposition to Christ begins in 2:1-12 and runs all the way through chapter 3.  In these conflict stories Jesus is the positive example and his opponents are the negative example.  This means that we must positively respond to what we learn about Jesus, and we must negatively respond to how his opponents react to Him.

In Mark 2:1-12 the conflict that arises centers on the subject of forgiveness. FORGIVENESS is an important subject.  Scripture makes it clear that all men have a responsibility to forgive those who have wronged them.  However, because all sin is ultimately committed against God (Psalm 51:4), only God has the authority to forgive sins in an absolute sense.  God is the only one who has the authority to dismiss one’s sins, and free him from the guilt of sin.  The Jews in Jesus’ day would have been very familiar with this concept.  The Old Testament is filled with references that make it clear that forgiveness belongs to the Lord: Isaiah 43:25; Exodus 36:6ff; Psalm 103:3; Daniel 9:9.

It is with this background in mind that we come to Mark 2:1-12.  Here in this passage Jesus declares that He has the authority to forgive sins.  This would have been a shocking claim to the Jews who were present at the time – particularly the religious leaders.  They knew that the Old Testament taught that only God has the authority to forgive sins in this way, and here Jesus is claiming to have this same authority.  As we will see, this claim was not well received by the religious leaders.  However, Jesus not only claims to have the same authority as God he also publicly proved that authority.

So as we look at this passage main point that we must come away with is that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins.  The only question is how will we respond to that authority?

I. Jesus Asserts His Authority to Forgive Sins (vv. 1-5)

a. Jesus draws attention (vv. 1-2)

The first thing that we see in this passage is that Jesus claims to have the authority to forgive sins.  But before we get to that claim we need to understand

the circumstances surrounding this claim.  In verse 1 and 2 Mark writes, “And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.  And many were gathered together, so that there was no room, not even at the door.  And he was preaching the word to them.”

In the last chapter we read of Jesus first coming into Capernaum (1:21), and using the home of Peter and Andrew as a home base (1:29).  However, because the hysteria over Jesus’ ministry had risen to a fevered pitch, Jesus was forced to leave Capernaum (1:45).  Now, here in verse 1, we learn that after some time this hysteria had died down, and Jesus was able to return to His home base in Capernaum (presumably to the home of Peter and Andrew).

This peace and quiet did not last long.  It did not take long for the word to spread concerning Jesus’ arrival.  Once that happened there was sure to be a crowd around Jesus.  Mark tells us that there were so many curious onlookers coming to see Jesus that there wasn’t even any more room to get into the door.  The crowd was massive; the entire town had assembled to see what Jesus was going to do next.  But it was not just the town of Capernaum that had come to see Jesus.  Luke 5:17 tells us that “Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem.”  This was an interesting crowd that had assembled, and we will learn more about them in a few verses.

Once Jesus had drawn a crowd to Himself Mark tells us literally that Jesus “spoke to them the word” (ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον).  Mark’s use of word (λόγον) here is no doubt the same as Jesus’ use of word (λόγον) in 4:1-20.  Jesus took this opportunity to fulfill His purpose (1:38), and preach the Gospel to these people (1:14-15).

b. Jesus becomes the object of faith (vv. 3-4)

From among those in this massive crowd Mark singles out a group of five individuals in v. 3, “And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.”  These men had to get to Jesus. They had seen His power and authority the last time that Jesus had ministered in Capernaum and they knew that He would be able to help them.  They had been waiting for Him to return, and finally He had arrived.  When word got to them that Jesus was “at home” they dropped everything that they were doing and headed out immediately.  Apparently, word did not get to them as quickly as it did to most people though.  Mark tells us that by the time they arrived “they could not get near him because of the crowd.”  You can almost feel their disappointment and

frustration as they realized that the line to see Jesus was longer than the line for Space Mountain—and there was no fast pass.  However, these men did not give up.  They knew that Jesus could help their friend, and this faith led to ingenuity.  Mark tells us that “they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.”

This sounds pretty ridiculous to us because of the way that our homes are built, but it is not all that ridiculous when you understand how homes were built during this time.

Most homes in first century Palestine were single story homes with flat roofs that were accessible by a staircase on the outside of the home.

The flat roof for an ordinary house would be constructed by laying beams about three feet apart from wall to wall.  Short sticks were laid closely together across the beams covered with a thick matting of thorn bushes.  At other times, as seems the case here, stone slabs or plates of burnt clay were laid across the beams.  A coat of clay was spread on top of this and rolled hard to keep out the rain.  They would be readily able to dig out a hole large enough for the purpose without damaging the rest of the roof.  Having cleared away the clay, they lifted the tiles to make the opening.[2]  

Now that they had an opening, they had to get their friend down to Jesus.  For this they used their friend’s bed, which would have been like a thick quilt, to lower him down.  Mark does not tell us exactly how they did this, but it doesn’t seem all that hard to figure it out.  They were on the roof of a fisherman’s house so their must have been fishing tackle lying around, including lots of rope.  There were four of them, so apparently each one of them tied a length of rope to the corner of their friend’s bed and slowly lowered him down into the house.  Mark does not tell us what the people did while all of this was going on, but you can imagine what an amazing scene this would have been.

I do not want to push this point too far and miss the major point of this passage, but there is something instructive for us about the faith of these men.  They had faith that Jesus was capable of helping their friend and they did whatever it took for their friend to receive that help.  This conviction revealed that these five men had true faith and they were not just caught up in the hype over Jesus (1:40-45). Jesus himself recognized the faith of these five men.

c. Jesus exercises His authority to forgive (v. 5)

Mark tells us that “when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”  Can you imagine this scene?  The paralytic is lowered down into this room full of pulled.  A hush comes over this crowd as Jesus stands before the man.  Then, when everyone expects Jesus to physically heal this man, Jesus declares that his sins are forgiven.  This was an amazing declaration for several reasons.  First, it reveals that this man’s spiritual need was more important to Jesus than his physical needs.  As much as this paralytic need to be healed from the physical malady causing his paralysis, he needed forgiveness even more.  In fact, forgiveness is the greatest need for all mankind not just this man.

Second, this declaration was amazing because in it Jesus is asserting Divine authority to forgive sins.  He is not simply stating the fact that this man’s sins were forgiven; Jesus is actually forgiving this man’s sins.  As we will see in the following verses, this is exactly how the scribes in the crowd understood Jesus’ statement, and Jesus did not correct them.  In other words, Jesus was not only declaring this man’s sins to be forgiven, he was also declaring himself to be God.

Remember, only God has the authority to forgive sins.  It is against God that we have sinned, and for that sin we must be judged.  We must face the consequences for our rebellion against God.  But here Jesus is providing this man with forgiveness.  He is releasing him from the eternal consequences of his sin and granting him a pardon.  This would have been outrageous to the scribes in the crowd, especially since Jesus granted this man forgiveness based on faith rather than works.  The scribes were more than just a little skeptical of Jesus’ assertion that He has the divine authority to forgive sins.

II. Jesus Authenticates His Authority to Forgive Sins (vv. 6-12)

a. Jesus’ authority is questioned (vv. 6-7)

Upon hearing Jesus declaration to this paralytic the scribes immediately questioned Jesus.  Mark tells us that “the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like this?  He is blaspheming!  Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”  The first thing that stands out in this verse about the scribes is that they were sitting!  In a room so full of people that there was no more standing room, these men were sitting down.  They had taken the places of honor.  They were scribes of the law and religious authorities.  They felt as if they deserved those seats above anyone else.  Jesus would later warn of men like this in Mark 12:38-40 saying:

Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.

These men viewed themselves as the religious authority for the Jews (even above Scripture; cf. 7:1-13), and as such they were there to keep an eye on Jesus.  There were concerned about His growing popularity, and they were

looking to find some fault with Him.  Therefore, when Jesus declared to have the divine authority to forgive sins their hearts probably began to race.  At a time when they should have been rejoicing over a sinner whose sins have been forgiven they immediately began to question Jesus’ statement in their hearts.  They understood the implications of what Jesus had just said.  He not only declared the paralytics sins to be forgiven, but He also declared that He had the same authority as God to forgive those sins.  This was a major problem in their minds.  Only God could forgive sins, and for anyone other than God to claim that authority it would be blasphemy.

At this point the scribes were probably starting to get excited.  They had come to find fault with Jesus, and in their minds they probably thought that they had found it.  Blasphemy was a capital offense that was punishable by death (Lv 24:10-16).  In fact, this is the very charge that Jesus would ultimately be condemned of and put to death for (14:64).  I can almost imagine the grins on the faces of these individuals as they thought that they had Jesus trapped.  They did say a word to one another, and maybe no one else even noticed.  But none of this escaped Jesus.

b. Jesus’ authority is authenticated (vv. 8-12a)

Jesus knew exactly what was going on, and my guess is that things were going exactly the way that he had planned it.  Mark tells us that “immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts?’”  Can you imagine the tension in the room?  Jesus knew what these men were thinking, and He looked them right in the eye and answered their questioning with a question of His own: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk?’”  The answer to that question is that neither one is easier than the other.  In fact, only God has the ability to do either one.  But, one is easier to validate than the other.  R. T. France put it this way,

A visible healing is ‘hard evidence’, whereas a merely verbal claim to forgive sins invites scepticism. To tell a paralysed man to get up and walk exposes the speaker to ridicule if it is not successful; but how can a claim to have forgiven sins be falsified?[3]

The point is that only God is able to either one of these things, and so if Jesus were able to do one it would prove that He was able to do the other.

Apparently the scribes had no answer for Jesus, and rather than wait for an answer Jesus looked back at the paralytic and said to him, “’Rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’  And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all….”  Talk about proving your point!  Jesus proved the possessed divine power, and the divine authority to forgive sins.  The scribes could have questioned His ability to forgive this man’s sins, but they could not deny his physical healing.

This is an incredible account, and in v. 10 we learn why all of this happened.  Jesus tells us that this happened “that you might know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”  So as we look at this account is reveals to us just who Jesus really is.

  • He is the Son of Man:  This is a Messianic title that goes back to Dan 7:13-14.  In this passage God will send forth the Messiah onto the earth “like a son of man,” and give to Him dominion over the kingdom.  Now we find out that this “son of Man” is Jesus.  This was Jesus favorite self-designation because it reflected His nature and purpose on the earth, and it did not conjure up misconceptions about His ministry like the title Messiah would have.
  • He has God’s authority on Earth:  Jesus has God’s authority because He is God himself.  John 1:14 makes it clear that Jesus is a part of the eternal Godhead who took upon himself the form of a man in order to bring forgiveness.
  • He has the authority to forgive sins:  This is really the main truth of this passage, and it is a truth that has eternal significance.  What we see in this account is that as God Jesus has the authority to forgive sinners of their sin.  In fact, this is the very reason that Jesus came into this world (10:45).

c. The reaction to Jesus’ authority (v. 12b)

At the end of v. 12 Mark tells us exactly how the rest of the crowd responded to all of this: “They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”  So the people were really impressed with Jesus, and what they saw from Him that day.  Unfortunately they didn’t really get it.  The crowd did not understand who Jesus truly was.  In Matthew’s account of this same day we learn that the people say Jesus as just a man who had received power from God rather than as God Himself (9:8).  We must not make the same mistake that this crowd of people made.  They were impressed with what they saw, but they did not truly understand who Jesus is.

Conclusion:

In this passage it is clear that Jesus is the Savior—God Himself— and He alone has the divine authority to forgive sins.  The people responded to this authority in three different ways.  The paralytic and his friends had faith and pursued Jesus.  The Scribes and religious authorities hated Jesus and looked to find some fault with Him.  Finally, the crowd was impressed with what they saw, but they missed the full implications of Jesus’ actions.

If we are going to receive forgiveness like the paralytic then we must respond with the same kind of faith that he and his friends had.  We must see Jesus for who He truly is.


[1]William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1975), 85.

[2] Hiebert, The Gospel According to Mark (Greenville, SC: BJ Press), 65.

[3]R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 127.

Finding the Source of Conflict…YOU may be surprised

The bible presents at least four sources of interpersonal conflict.

I.  Your Nature

  1. Passage: Mark 7:14-21
  2. Key Term: Heart – Your mission control center; who you are; your nature.
  3. Explanation: Our circumstances are NOT the cause of conflict.  The reason why we find ourselves in conflict with others is because our hearts are sinful.

II. Your Methods

  1. Passage: Galatians 5:17-21
  2. Key Term: Flesh – The works of the Flesh are the natural methods that we use for attaining our sinful goals.
  3. Explanation – Our natural response to any situation is to depend upon the methods of the flesh in order to manipulate, intimidate, and impose our own will on a situation.

III.  Your Wisdom

  1. Passage: James 3:13-16
  2. Key Term: Earthly Wisdom – Earthly wisdom is reasoning that has been influenced by the lies of Satan rather than influenced by God through the scriptures.
  3. Explanation: Earthly wisdom is self-centered and consequently results in attitudes of jealousy, selfish ambition.  The logic behind these attitudes inevitably leads to disorder and evil interpersonal practices because our thinking has been poisoned by sinful attitudes.

IV. Your Desires 

  1. James 4:1-3
  2. Key Term: Passions – “Passion” refers to the desires of your life that have become sinful idols of the heart.
  3. Explanation: You fight because you don’t get what you want.  Someone else has gotten in the way of you obtaining or keeping the object of your lust.  Because your desire for this object is greater than your desire for anything else (i.e. an idol) you are willing to fight to protect it.

Forget about the nations, why do the people of my house rage?

The reason why we so frequently find ourselves in conflict with other people is because we view them as a threat to our will being done.  It isn’t so much that we are offended that they have impeded God’s will.  No, the real problem is that they have prevented us from getting what we want.  When “what we want” becomes the most important thing in our lives, instead of “thy will be done” we are destined for conflict.  Our kingdoms are being threatened, and so our high king “Lord Lust” is waging a war against anyone who threatens his Lordship.

This is where conflict comes from.  By nature we love ourselves and the idols that we can control.  We will use any and all methods necessary to protect the idols that we have created because they are a part of the kingdom that we are building.  Our wisdom is so skewed by our personal kingdom building that we think that we think that our attitudes of selfishness are justified.  We don’t get what we want, so we fight for what we want.

The ultimate answer for this destructive pattern of conflict cannot be found in a conflict resolution methodology.  There are certainly wise and biblical methodologies that God’s people should employ in the midst of conflict.  But, if we continue seeking after our idols, with our wisdom, using our methods, then the selfishness of our hearts will continue to result in conflict.  The only hope of dealing with conflict is to seek something else.  By replacing the idols that serve our personal kingdom purposes with the God of the bible we can break the sinful pattern of conflict.  When we are worshiping the Lord with humble hearts, and we trust that God will provide us with wisdom from above, His methodology will accomplish His Kingdom purposes, and he will sanctify our hearts.  Plus, the great thing about worshiping God instead of false idols is that you don’t have to fight to protect Him & His Kingdom.

Why is the Resurrection Important? (pt. 3)

IV. The Resurrection is Foundational

A fourth reason that the resurrection is important is because the resurrection is foundational.  Because the resurrection is necessary for our salvation it is the key to the establishment of the church.  It is not a stretch to say that the resurrection is foundational to the establishment, the growth, and the effectiveness of the church.

a. It was foundational the sending of the disciples

The fact that the resurrection is foundational to the establishment of the church is demonstrated by an examination of the church in its infancy.  After the death of Christ the disciples were not exactly thrust to the forefront, at least not yet.  Even though they were prepared beforehand by the instruction of Christ, the disciple found themselves unable chart a course forward after the crucifixion.  After Jesus’ death they did the two things that they did best, the moped and the fished.  Unfortunately neither of these activities was very productive in the establishment of the church.

Then, the resurrection happens and Jesus spent forty days showing himself and explaining the mission to the disciples.  It was during this time that Jesus commissioned the disciples and then sent them out.  Matthew 28:19-20 explains,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19–20, ESV)

 This period between the resurrection and the ascension reminds me of the period after my graduation from seminary and then before I was sent out to pastor a church.  I had spent four years in seminary, but then before I was sent out I needed one last burst of instruction and testing.  Ordination.  It was only after I was thoroughly tested in the process of ordination that I was then ready to go and pastor a church.  Similarly, before the apostle could go out and lay the foundation for the initial church they needed this time with Jesus that was made possible because of the resurrection.  It was only after Jesus left that they were then sent out. Acts 1:10-11 lets us listen in on the end of this period,

“And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”” (Acts 1:10–11, ESV)

The disciples were commissioned to get the world ready for the time when Jesus would return in the same way that he ascended.

b. It was foundational for the sending of the Spirit

In addition to the sending of the disciples, the resurrection also resulted in the sending of the Holy Spirit.  In order for the Spirit to come and empower the church in a new way Jesus first had to be raised and then ascend back into heaven.  This is what Jesus was referring to in John 16:7-11,

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:7–11, ESV)

If Jesus had not risen from the dead then obviously he couldn’t have “sent” the Spirit and he couldn’t have gone to the Father.  As the first chapters of Acts remind us, this work of sending the Spirit was as clear demonstration that Jesus continued to work in and through the church even after his ascension.

c. It’s foundational to the sending of the gifts

Closely related to Jesus sending the Spirit is the fact that Jesus also provided the church with gifts.  These gifts are for the purpose of effectiveness in the ministry that the church has been called.  These gifts, however, would never have come to the church were it not for the resurrection.  For instance, Ephesians 4:7-16 teaches that one of the provisions that Christ has given the church is the provision of gifted men to equip the church:

“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:7–16, ESV)

There is much that could be said about this passage, but for our study look at the basis for this provision.  Paul makes it a point to remind us that it was because Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended to the Father that he is able to provide for the church in this way.

Another provision that Christ provides for the church is the provision of spiritual gifts within individuals who are a part of the church.  1 Corinthians 12 is probably the most recognized passage on this topic of spiritual gifts.  The notable aspect of this chapter is the fact that these gifts are never referred to in isolation.  In other words, you never find a believer by himself exercising his gifts for himself.  Instead, Paul says that each of these gifted individuals is like a part of a body, specifically the body of Christ.  Again, we could go in a lot of direction with this, but for the sake of this topic we will limit ourselves to pointing out that the body of Christ would not be a very good illustration if the body of Christ were still dead!

The resurrection of Christ is foundational for the existence, the life, and the effectiveness of the church.  Were it not for the resurrection the church would consist of a bunch of downtrodden fisherman with no Spirit and no gifts.  

V. The Resurrection is Guaranteeing 

A fifth reasons why the resurrection is important is that the resurrection is guaranteeing.  In other words, the resurrection provides for us a future guarantee, or hope, in the promises of God.

a. It guarantees the arrival of the Kingdom

One of the guarantees that the resurrection secures for God’s people is the guarantee of the arrival of the Kingdom.  The bible is saturated with references to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom where God triumphantly rules and His will is done by all.  This is a kingdom where injustice and inequity are removed.  This Kingdom is the source of vindication both for God and his people.  As such, this Kingdom is the great hope of the bible and the people of God.  The resurrection guarantees that we will see the full manifestation of this kingdom.  Even now we see a glimpse of this kingdom in a spiritual sense.  As the gospel goes forth and new spiritual life is imparted the kingdom continues to spread in the hearts of God’s people.  But there is a fuller sense in which we await this kingdom.  Colossians 1:18-20 gives us a glimpse,

“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:18–20, ESV)

Here the benefit of the kingdom as it will be in the New Heavens and the New Earth are what Paul is talking about when he refers to “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven.”  What makes this so significant for the topic of the resurrection is the fact that Paul first mentions that “the firstborn from the dead” is the one who will do this.  In other words, it is only the power of the resurrected Lord that can bring about this kingdom.  Even the resurrection itself is a taste and a guarantee of what God’s people can expect in the Kingdom.

b. It guarantees our inheritance

Participation in the kingdom is a part of the inheritance for which God’s people look forward. It is an inheritance that is only possible because of the resurrection of Christ.  Hebrews 1:4 tells us that “having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:4, ESV) One of the reasons he’s superior to the angels is the fact that he had risen from the dead.  This is why he is the one who possess the inheritance, and it is how he can provide us with this inheritance.  As Hebrews 9:15 says,

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15, ESV)

Christ includes us in the eternal inheritance that he has secured through his resurrection.

c. It guarantees our resurrection

Part of the inheritance that has been secured through the resurrection is the glorified bodies that believers will receive.  These are bodies that will be retro-fitted for living in the presence of the Triune God.  We know that we will receive these bodies because this is the kind of body that Jesus had after his resurrection.  Virtually all of 1 Corinthians 15 is about this very topic.  For our study verses 20-21 are the most significant:

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–21, ESV)

Here we see that our resurrection and glorified bodies are guaranteed by the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.  In fact, Jesus is the “firstfruits” of our resurrection.  This of course is a reference to the OT sacrifice of firstfruits.  This was when the first crops that were harvested were sacrifice to God as recognition of dependence and thankfulness.  These first crops represented all the other crops that were to follow.  That the Father raised Jesus from the dead as a “firstfruit” of the resurrection is our assurance that we too will be raised in the final resurrection.

The resurrection is important because it provides with the hope of a guarantee in the future work of God in our live and His kingdom.

Conclusion:

I hope that the next time you have the opportunity to share the gospel with someone you remember to include the resurrection.  It’s absolutely vital for all the reasons we’ve mentioned here, and certainly we could think of additional reasons.  More than anything else, I hope that you are compelled to look to Jesus and his work, including the resurrection, for your salvation and life.

Why is the Resurrection Important? (pt. 3)

III. The Resurrection is Saving

A third reason why the resurrection is important is because the resurrection is saving.  That is to say, what occurred in the resurrection was necessary for our salvation.  It is not just the work of Christ on the Cross that accomplishes salvation for His people.  The bible is clear that everything Christ accomplished on the cross was sufficient to accomplish man’s salvation, but in order for it to be effective Jesus had to be raised from the dead.  Look at just a sampling of the ways that the resurrection saves…

 a. It provides Life

The resurrection provides life for God’s people.  Jesus gave a glimpse of this in John 11:25 when he said,

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” (John 11:25, ESV)

This “lasting” life is significant because the bible teaches that we don’t even have “initial spiritual life.”  Because of our sins we are by nature dead to the things of the lord and completely unable to respond in repentance and faith to the work of Christ (Eph 2:1).  In other words, before Jesus can give us everlasting life He has to first make us alive.  In John 11 Jesus makes it clear that he is able to do this.  In 1 Peter 1:3 we learn how he is able to do this:

“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,” (1 Peter 1:3, ESV)

Just as Jesus was our representative in his death, so too in our resurrection he represents us and consequently is able to provide us with new spiritual life.

b. It provides Forgiveness

Another way that the resurrection saves is by providing us with forgiveness.  From a biblical perspective forgiveness is essentially letting something go.  We can let something go because we know that God is the ultimate judge and he will work justice.  God, however, cannot forgive unless justice is done.  This is where the cross comes in. Jesus dies on the cross to release us from the penalty of sin and cleanse us.  But just as importantly Jesus also had to be raised for our forgiveness.  Acts 13:37-38 makes a direct connection between our forgiveness and Jesus’ resurrection:

“but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,” (Acts 13:37–38, ESV)

Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:17 says,

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

This is an amazing statement! Had the resurrection never occurred then the work on the cross would have been ineffective.  It requires all the work of Jesus, including the cross and the empty tomb, to effectuate our salvation. This is also seen with respect to our justification.

c. It provides Justification

Justification refers to the work of God whereby he declares us to be righteous in His judgment based the work of Christ.  This is the flip side of forgiveness.  Not only are our sins remitted, but the righteousness we need is supplied to us in Jesus.  If we only had forgiveness without justification we would be in trouble because we still wouldn’t have the positive righteousness that is required in God’s kingdom.  This righteousness comes to us through the work Jesus did for us on the cross… and in the resurrection!   Romans 4:25 explicitly states this:

“who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:25, ESV)

Jesus was raised for our justification.  The cross and the resurrection were necessary to save us.  This is because the resurrection means that Christ’s sacrifice was effective.  It was good enough.  Our sins deserve an infinite punishment because they are transgressions against an infinitely Good God.  This is why hell last forever.  The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead means that he accomplished what we would have spent eternity trying to accomplish.  He was an infinitely good sacrifice, which is why he didn’t have to be punished for an infinite amount of time.  The resurrection makes this clear.  Furthermore, it because of the resurrection that Jesus is able to apply the sacrifice that he made on the cross.  Hebrews 10:12 teaches that Jesus made a once for all sacrifice that will never have to be done again, and then he went before the throne of God with that sacrifice:

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:12, ESV)

Just as the OT priests would kill the sacrifice and then take it into the altar, so too Jesus died and a sacrifice and then took that sacrifice before the Heavenly altar.  As it says in Hebrews 9:23-24

“Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:23–24, ESV)

It is the work of Christ in his death and his life that provides us with forgiveness and justification.

d. It provides Reconciliation

Because the work of Christ has accomplished forgiveness and justification it only makes sense that it also provides us with reconciliation.  If we were formerly at enmity with God, then by the work of Christ we are now reconciled with Him.  This work of reconciliation also requires the resurrection.  Romans 5:9-10 explains,

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:9–10, ESV)

The argument here is from the greater to the lesser.  Since God was able to do the great work of reconciling us to Him while we were his enemies, then it is obvious that He will be able to the lesser work of keeping us reconciled.  This ongoing assurance of reconciliation comes through both the “death of his Son” and “his life.”  He makes provision for our reconciliation and he will continue to do so.

e. It provides Mediation

The continued provision for reconciliation is most notable seen in Christ work as our High Priest.  That is to say, Christ makes sure that we remain in a right standing with God by continually interceded for us.  This is a ministry that Jesus is uniquely qualified for because of the resurrection.  Hebrews 7:23-15 shed some light on this for us,

“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:23–25, ESV)

Because of the resurrection Jesus isn’t like those other priest who kept dying off.  He eternally holds the office and fulfills the duties.  That’s why he is able to “save to the uttermost.”  The resurrection qualifies him for this ministry, and it also allows him to remain continually active in it.  Romans 8:34 puts it this way,

“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34, ESV)

Because of the resurrection Jesus is no at the right Hand of God instead of a tomb in Jerusalem, which means he is able to intercede for us.

The NT clearly teaches that the resurrection is necessary for our salvation, which makes it important.  In fact, in this respect, the resurrection is of the utmost importance.  You cannot be saved apart from the resurrection or without acknowledging the resurrection.  That what Paul taught in Romans 10:9-10:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9–10, ESV)