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Text: Acts 13:30 "but God raised (Jesus) from the dead"
Reading: Acts 13:23-
GOD RAISED HIM UP
Resurrection has always been a theme at the very heart of Christian preaching ever since the earliest days of the Christian era. Resurrection had been alluded to in the OT; it had formed a major part of Jesus' teaching about his own life and ministry and it occurred when God raised Jesus from the dead.
Jesus' followers are the men who stand behind the writings that constitute the NT and they made the resurrection of Jesus one of their most important themes. They did so not because they desperately wanted to believe or because they were predisposed to believe – none of them expected Jesus to rise from the dead even though he had clearly taught that he would – but because they met the risen the Christ and could not do anything else but speak and write about it!
The whole edifice of Christianity is built upon the foundation of a resurrected Lord and indeed stands or falls on the historical truthfulness of this claim. Such is the importance of resurrection that without it the Christian message would be empty and vain, unable to offer genuine hope to men and women and leaving them with the unresolved problem of their sin.
It is not just the believer who realises the importance of the resurrection to their faith, many of those who are hostile to the Christian faith have understood the centrality of this teaching and have directed their efforts toward demonstrating the whole idea of Jesus' having been raised from the dead to be a lie. Several in their attempts to discredit the faith have been so confounded and utterly convinced by the evidence they considered that they became no longer critics but ardent advocates.
One such book is Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison and first published in 1930 and reprinted frequently since then. Morison was convinced that the story of the resurrection of Jesus simply wasn't true and set out to prove his case. But in the course of his research he totally changed his point of view and wrote his book in favour of the historical nature of Jesus' resurrection.
Many folk have, however, a closed mind when it comes to the resurrection – they have made up their minds without ever having considered any of the evidence. The Sadducees of Jesus' day were like that and there have always been those prepared to mock as soon as the resurrection is mentioned.
But mockery and unbelief are not good reasons for ceasing to preach the truth that is so clearly laid out for us that the Jesus who died on Good Friday was alive again on Easter Sunday! Again and again in the pages of the NT we are told that God raised Jesus from the dead.
We need firstly therefore to believe this to be true – belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not an optional add-
Secondly we need to understand as much about his resurrection as we can so that we might realise why the resurrection was essential and what it has achieved for him and for us. We're in for something of a whistle-
It is impossible to separate the idea of resurrection from the notion of great power being involved and indeed the exercise of divine power was evident in the actual raising of Jesus Christ from the dead:
But power wasn't only exercised in the raising of Christ from the dead it.
Divine power was set free so that miracles of healing might take place:
Acts 4:10 "let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well."
Divine power established Jesus' identity as Son of God:
Rom.1:4 "(Jesus) was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,"
Divine power characterises the risen Christ who lives now as the writer to the Hebrews makes clear in speaking of Jesus as a priest of Melchizedek's order. He can function effectively as this priest because he has:
Heb.7:16 "the power of an indestructible life."
We've just begun to speak of the powerful resurrection life that Jesus now lives but power is not the only quality of that life. The resurrection ensured that Jesus would be forever freed from corruption and from hades. The life he now enjoys is a life lived without in any way being dominated by death – his life is now an endless life:
Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost made much of this:
Acts 2:24 "God raised (Jesus) up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it."
A little further on Peter added, when speaking about David and how David had spoken prophetically concerning the then coming Messiah:
Acts 2:31 "(David) foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption."
Paul's take on this was just the same:
Acts 13:37 "he whom God raised up did not see corruption."
Rom.6:9 "We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him."
But is there anything that we know Jesus does for us now that he is alive again with this power of an endless life?
Well yes there is!
As our representative and our Saviour he acts as our advocate and he intercedes for us
Rom.8:34 "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."
(If you want to investigate this a bit further my friend Gary Brady has written a book entitled What Jesus is doing now.)
While no human being saw the transformation that took place as Jesus stopped being dead and became alive again there were plenty of people who did witness this newly alive again Jesus and they testified to what they saw.
Acts 2:32 "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses."
Acts 3:15 "and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses."
It was a tremendous privilege and honour to witness the risen Christ but it was a responsibility that came with its own responsibilities:
Acts 10:42 "And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead."
Our salvation secured
The gospel message always focuses and has to focus on Jesus Christ. If the privilege of the witnesses involved the responsibility of declaring Jesus to be the one appointed to be the judge of the living and of the dead there were many other benefits to be described as Jesus secured a full and complete salvation for his people.
In general terms resurrection is a fundamental element of the Christian faith. Do you want to be saved? Then know that believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is necessary. Why so? Simply because there is no other Saviour than the risen Saviour that is Jesus Christ!
Hence Paul writes:
Rom.10:9 "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."
But much more detail is added for us that enables us to grasp something of the importance of resurrection within the whole Bible plan of salvation:
Faith established and encouraged:
1Pet.1:21 " through him (you) are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."
Repentance and forgiveness of sins
Rom.6:4 "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
Rom.8:11"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you."
New purpose in life
2Cor.5:15 "and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."
New ownership and a new fruitfulness
Rom.7:4 "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God."
Guarantee of our own resurrection
1Cor.6:14 "And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power."
2Cor.4:14 "he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence."
Deliverance from wrath
1Thess.1:10 "(the) Son from heaven, whom (God) raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."
How important and valuable the resurrection of Jesus turns out to be. This is no dry and dusty theological idea that has no practical effect on our lives but something vital and life-