Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
It’s hard to believe we are already a week into April. Easter is just two weeks away … and I am excited about the celebration to come. I will address the Verse of the Day above in a moment, but first I would like to explore the topic of the resurrection itself because Paul addresses how we should live and walk under the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. During His time of ministry, Jesus Himself affirmed that the resurrection of our own bodies will occur:
Matthew 22:23; 29-32 (NIV)
23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Cf. Exodus 3:6) He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
Jesus confirmed to the Sadducees that the resurrection is not some foolish hope or religious myth. God has revealed to us the truth of the resurrection through His Word. And later, Jesus shared with His disciples regarding His own power and authority to grant eternal life to those who believe in Him….
John 11:21-27 (NIV)
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Again, from this conversation between Jesus and Martha, Martha professes her belief in the resurrection and Jesus assures her that Lazarus will “rise again”. But Jesus goes on the reveal something much greater than her belief in a theological concept. Jesus claims to be the agency and reality of her faith! “I AM the resurrection and the life.” And then He asks her (and us) a very pointed question: “Do You believe this?” His question was not about whether she believed in the possibility of physical resurrection. His question concerned whether she believed that HE is the resurrection and the life? And her response was indeed the correct one! Jesus IS the Messiah, the Son of God, who came into the world as testified through the Word of God spoken through the Holy Prophets and now revealed to us through His life. (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3)
But in our Verse of the Day, Paul challenges us to living a “resurrected life” now! Since Jesus has already died to take away the sin of the world, Paul indicates that His death became our own death to sin. Likewise, the resurrected Jesus became the new life that we can live through faith in Him who loves us and gave Himself for us. This is an incredible theological construct for us to embrace. And Paul goes on to explain the application for us. In Verse 21 Paul continued, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (Romans 3:20) For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. (Romans 3:28) Salvation and eternal life are not earned, gained, or otherwise merited upon human effort. No human has ever been 100% obedient to the commandments of God except Christ Jesus alone. A blood sacrifice for atonement was required … and God sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sin of the world. Jesus, our Redeemer, was the Lamb of God … without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-20)
So what I believe Paul is teaching in this passage is that the efficacy of His sacrifice should become immediate in the life of a believer. That is, we should individually identify with His sacrifice – specifically to the death of our sinful, human nature and to the resurrection (spiritual rebirth) of our lives through faith in Jesus, the Son of God. The lives we now live in our redeemed bodies, we live by faith in the One who loves us and gave Himself for us…. Look at these incredible words of longing Paul wrote as He contemplated living in light of the resurrection:
Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV)
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and the power of participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
No, Jesus did not die in vain. He accomplished all the Father sent Him to do. “It is finished!” And through His resurrection, we have full assurance of and confidence in His promise to grant us eternal life! We receive this assurance through the Holy Spirit. And as Paul asserted with Timothy, ” For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:17) Yes, we can live in the power of His resurrection now and become vessels of His righteousness in us. So I pray that we will all give deeper thought and consideration to these truths for our lives….