This morning, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. A study of the Gospels would give us a unified view of the events surrounding this blessed event. Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, the ladies went to the tomb expecting to embalm our Lord, but they were met by two angels standing at the entrance to the tomb, and the angels said to the ladies, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).
Hallelujah! Christ is risen! The resurrection of our Lord Jesus would be the message of the first-century church – Peter preached it at Pentecost; Stephen preached it before he was stoned to death; Philip preached it at Samaria; Paul preached it throughout Europe. The resurrection of Christ ought also to be the message of the 21st-century church, and the message of every resurrected and born-again believer.
The New Life
God’s eternal plan included not just the nature but also the timing of the death and the resurrection of His Son. In God’s perfect plan, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus would take place at the beginning of spring, when the trees are receiving their new coat of green leaves, the flower piercing out of their buds, and the birds are returning from their winter hiatus. Signs of new life abound in spring, and Christians are reminded again of the new life we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Adam, by his disobedience, introduced the sting of death to humanity. Christ, by His obedience, removed that sting forever.
As one writer says, “The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death.”
The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that gives us new life. The Word of God expressly points to the fact the redeemed person is a “new creature . . . all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Dearly beloved, the resurrection enables us to live differently because we have been remade and transformed. And it is a transformation that touches at the very core of who we are – our values, our attitudes, our thinking, our relationship with people, our perception of life situations. Christ must reign supreme in the heart of the resurrected man. His reality must fill our consciousness and penetrate into everything we do.
The New Love
The new life begins with a new love. The relationship between Christians and the Saviour is primarily determined by the extent of our obedience to His Word. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
The question that every believer has to answer is this – “Do I obey God’s Word?” And we have to be honest with ourselves because ultimately, the answer to this question is the measure of our love for our Lord Jesus. I am afraid that there are too many Christians who love biblical truth, but do not live it. There are too people who wear the label “Bible-believing Christian,” but they do not obey the Bible. They are too many who strive for the purity of the Word, but their works are dead. They are too many who quote the words of Jesus and the apostles, but they do not walk in their paths.
Dearly beloved, the new life in Christ necessitates a new love for Him and His Word. “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23).
The New Lord
It will be a tragic mistake if we look at the resurrected life as just mere enlightenment of the mind. No man can satisfactorily justify the injustices we see around the world today. When a person is saved, he is not given all the answers to the difficult questions of life.
The good thing for the redeemed, however, is that we do not have to worry if we hold on to the fact that our Lord is good and compassionate. Some would say this is fatalistic stoicism. No! There is far cry between stoicism and Christianity.
We must look at this from the perspective of a child-father relationship. A child may not be able to understand why the father takes a particular course of action, but he will always know that the father is good. In the same way, as God’s redeemed people, we may not always know why, but we can always know why we trust God who knows all the why’s.
Just as the child confidently slips his hand into the father’s palm when crossing the road, in the same way, we entrust our lives into the hands of our Lord, knowing that He will also bring us safely home.
It all begins now
The Apostle Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor. 15:19)
Paul was of course addressing the question of life beyond the grave. What is the hope of man, and the meaning of our new life if the end of it all is death? What, indeed, is the purpose of this new life in Christ if it does not go beyond the grave?
This is an important question for the Christian. Consider this, if the benefits of our faith in Christ do not extend beyond this life, then surely, it would have been better for man to seek instant gratification of every carnal desire imaginable. It would been better for him to eat, drink and make merry. But the Bible states there is a life beyond death, and the future of every redeemed person on the other side of eternity is significant before God.
Knowing this truth about our future must surely affect our lives in the present. It makes the struggles of this life meaningful. It also drives home the point that the new life of the redeemed person begins at the moment of his salvation; the new life begins now. Dearly beloved, eternal life is the life of eternity brought forward to start in time. The hope of the Christian is not in the future; it is now.
There are Christians who look at this life on earth with drudgery. To be sure, life on this side of eternity is full of trials and tribulations, as our Lord had warned us, but He also said that we are not to despair because He had overcome the world (John 16:33).
Dearly beloved, a Christian is not one who grits his teeth and endures the adversities of life; that is a defeatist. A Christian is not one who pretends bad things are really good; that is a hypocrite. A Christian is not one who laughs himself silly in the face of sorrows; that is a lunatic. Rather, a Christian is one who lives with the assurance that God will take his problems and trials, his sorrows and discouragements, and weave them together for good – a good which he cannot see as yet.
It is definitely not the purpose and will of God for the redeemed to live defeated lives in the present and only to be equipped for glory in the future. The Apostle Paul said of himself, “by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). He lived triumphantly, laboured abundantly while he was on earth, and now he is rested gloriously in Christ. Paul lived the resurrected life as God had intended for His people. May that be also true of us.
Pastoral Letter by Pastor Isaac Ong – Calvary’s Weekly Bulletin (21 April 2019)