Alleluia Christ is risen…. he is risen indeed alleluia!
Praise God! While every Sunday in the Christian year is a celebration and remembrance of the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ today is a special remembrance.
Those of you have been in the church for years know how Christians can poke a little fun at those who we affectionally call C Of E’s or C & E’s – those who only ever go to Church at Christmas and Easter but this morning I want us to think about us who have gone to church for years and ask whether we are actually living and moving in the power of the resurrection?
Even sadder than those who come to church only at Christmas and Easter are Christians who attend every week but never live out or live in the power of the resurrected Christ and live their faith as resurrected Christians. You can be alive and still in the grave and for many Christians that is the case.
In the pagan world of the 1st Century personal morality in connection with your religion was virtually non existent. As long as a pagan gave his offering to his god he could return to his life unchanged and without any guilt.
What a person believed and how he behaved was unconnected.
It is very different for us as Christians. What we believe MUST have a definite connection to how we behave, not because our philosophy is stronger but because of the real power which came with the resurrection.
We saw on Good friday that the greatest cosmic battle which took place on the cross saw Jesus break to cycle of sin and death which had held humanity in bondage. Jesus set us free by dying on the cross, and his resurrection means we have power to live in that freedom.
You know, what shocked Peter and John was not that Jesus was resurrected – but WHEN he had resurrected! We saw a few weeks back in the readings about Lazarus that Martha believed in the physical resurrection of her brother. The issue is when would that happen. Jewish understanding was that the resurrection would happen at the end of time because at the resurrection all who believe would be empowered to live in the resurrected life.
The fact Jesus is resurrected in the middle of history is what shocks Peter and John as they stare into the tomb – because it began to dawn on them the consequence of what had happened – the resurrected life had begun. We as Christ followers live everyday in the light and power of the resurrection and in the resurrected Christ. For you and I the resurrected life is not something we WILL experience. It is something we ARE experiencing. At least, we SHOULD be experiencing it now.
Pentecostals use a phrase which many cringe at but I like it – they would ask you, are you living the victorious christian life?
Another way of saying this is Are you this morning living in the light and power of the resurrection. Are you experiencing NOW the resurrected life? Do you know what that means?
Paul knew exactly what it was to live in the power of the resurrection and in our epistle reading this morning he gives four effects of the resurrection on us:
- We are alive in Christ. In other words, Christ is our life. You know the Bible tells us that eternal life is not something we have or a concept – it is Jesus Himself. If someone says to you What is eternal life the right answer is Jesus Christ. 1 John 5:12 says And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. And 1 John 5:20 says We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Do you live every day knowing you are alive in Christ? What drives you each day? Is it Christ? Christ was Paul’s life and he was alive to anything that related to Christ. Can we say that of ourselves this resurrected morning? You know something, our happiness has to be rooted in our life in Christ. If you rely on anything else to make you happy, you are relying on the wrong thing. For example, for those married here today, if your happiness is found in your spouse, or in what your spouse does or provides you are going to have problems. A married persons happiness must never be found in their spouse – my being happy should happy should have nothing to do with Kitty – it must be found and rooted in God. Because when your spouse hurts you, or lets you down, or makes a mistake, if your happiness is rooted in them you will lose your happiness. As Christians we cannot place our happiness in external things like our jobs, our income, or level of living, or even in church, or other people, because these things will fail and therefore so will your happiness. This is why Paul can remain joyful despite experiencing the hardships he experienced and say they are nothing compared to what he will receive when he goes to be with Jesus. His happiness was never based on the things of this world or in other people – it was rooted in Jesus. Are we alive in Christ this morning?
- We are raised with Christ. Do you know you have been resurrected and risen with Christ. Paul says in Ephesians that God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Do you feel raised this morning? It is tragic and sad when Christians live as though they are still in the grave. Yet our destiny has begun already. We are no longer destined to remain in the grave – death has no hold on us. And yet the church can be so lacking in joy. Are truly laughing, joyful, happy people because we know the reality of what happened today? Non-Christians tend not to see the church as a place of vibrant, joyful, happy people but where boring, and out of touch people who seem to be angry with the world meet. That is terrible in light of the resurrection. We are able to live life without fear. We serve a God who can do accomplish everything he purposes to do – a God who broke the seemingly impossible cycle of sin and death which the devil trapped humanity in. And yet the Church, and Christians walk in fear and concern about the things of this world.
- We are Hidden in Christ. We no longer belong to this world but to Christ. This should give us an incredible peace and sense of security. One theologians has written So here we are in Christ, who is in God and no burglar, not even Satan himself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our sphere of life is not this earth but heaven and the things that should attract us and excite us should belong to heaven. Paul says elsewhere that whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
- We are Glorified In Christ. The resurrection shows us that our destiny is to be with Christ. While here now we have the down payment of the Holy Spirit within us, we are to look with eager expectation to the fullness of that promise. Either when Christ comes again or when we die, we shall be united with him in his glory which he willing shares with his people. And to share in God’s glory is to attain to his likeness – and that means full sanctification, that is, we will be free of our sinful natures, of the things we have struggled with – we will become fully sanctified and become what God intended we should be. 1 John 3 promises that we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And although we are waiting for this day the resurrection tells us that its arrival is as sure as if it was already here!
The fact that today, as followers of Christ we are alive in Christ, raised with Christ, hidden with Christ and glorified in Christ means we should be transformed and changed in how we live our lives? If we are not changing and being transformed – if we are not discerning spiritual growth amongst us we are not living in the light of the resurrection.
It should mean that the practical, everyday affairs of our life get their direction from Christ. It means that everything we do or experience or encounter must be looked at from the heavenly point of view and not an earthy point of view. Paul tells us to habitually set your mind – your attention – on things above not on things on the earth. Are we fixated on the things of the earth rather than heaven? Do we need to reset how we think this morning?
This is so important for us who live in the light of the resurrection and it is so important for this church. There is a spiritual principle here: What we set our minds on determines our seeking and thus the direction of our Christian lives. Unless we set our minds on the resurrection and what is means for us, we will not seek or walk in the light of the resurrection. And this is why even Christians who have come to church all year are not walking or living in the power of the resurrection each day. They have not set their minds on it, but on other things.
The resurrection means we should be transformed, living out our new life – each day, each week, each year. If we are not being transformed, if we are not slowly becoming more christ like each day, each week, each year, we are not living in the power of the resurrection, we are Christians who are still in the grave and that is tragic – it is a waste of the gift of life which God has bestowed on us and we are in no better state than those who come to church at just Christmas and Easter.
So, let us this morning say with Paul I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection.