Dluxe's World

Thursday, April 13

He is risen!

Easter will soon be upon us… Today I came across this post at TBHT which made me stop and ponder. Can we have Christianity without a literal, physical resurrection of Christ? Some people, like Marcus Borg, like to think we can...

I usually cite other, smart people left and right when I approach a topic like this. However, I thought answering this from my own memory banks would be an interesting exercise. So, get ready for philosophical messiness from me!*

It strikes me that we need to recognize, affirm, and worship Christ’s fullness if we are to be called His followers. To do anything else is to worship a false Christ and become followers of another gospel. To my eyes, I see Christ’s life, death, and resurrection as inseparable elements of the Gospel…

I would imagine that even people who deny the atonement of Christ would affirm the parallels between the Christ of the NT and the sacrifices of the Old Testament. According to Exodus, the Passover lamb was to be without blemish. In Leviticus, the Lord reiterates that perfection is the standard for any offering before him.

Almost all these essentially perfect offerings were then killed… The only exception I can think of is the scapegoat for the Day of Atonement. However, the other goat and a ram are killed on the same day by the high priest. Their blood is sprinkled all over the altar as sin offerings - atoning for the wrongs of both the priest and the people. The author of Hebrews unpacks this all through chapter 9. Finally he summarizes that “under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22, ESV).

How does this apply to us, to Christ, and ultimately to Easter?

First off, we see the need for Christ to have led a sinless life. If Christ was to be a sacrifice for our sin, we know that a blemished sacrifice would be insufficient for our redemption. Worse, a blemished sacrifice is actually an affront to our holy God! What Christ suffered for on the Cross was not any sin of his own… Rather, He came to suffer for your sin, mine, everyone who lived, and everyone who will ever live (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:14-15).

So, Christ’s death is an effective substitute and offering for us because of his sinless life. What an amazing plan of grace! That God’s eternal Son, who knew no sin, would wrap himself in our weak flesh, live like one of us, and bear the sins of those He'd ransom in His suffering. Like the scapegoat above, Christ had our iniquities laid on Himself… And His blood, like the many sacrifices, offers atonement for our wrongdoings. If that doesn’t make you marvel, shiver, and feel good, I don’t know what possibly could. There are so many scripture references, I’ll just throw out this little list: Romans 3:21-26, Romans 5:6-11, Hebrews 9:11-28, Ephesians 2:11-17.

How do we know this offering, this perfect sacrifice, was accepted by God? What’s our assurance of our adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5)?

Paul’s salutation in Romans says it well:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and 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, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ… (Romans 1:1-6, ESV)

Remember Christ’s words to the Jews?
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18-22, ESV)

The raising of Christ from the dead was the stamp which proved His identity as the Son of God, the validity/acceptance of the atonement on the cross, and gives us the blessed hope that we will be united with Christ in Heaven. I can’t say much, since the Bible says it all for me.

Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are all critical elements of the Gospel. You can’t pull one element out and still present the same message. It’s really an all or nothing proposition. And so we can rejoice always, but especially at Easter, in the knowledge that this Jesus will return again as He promised… And He’ll come as King of all, bringing us to eternal life!

In 1 Corinthians, Paul says:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

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. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22, ESV)

He is risen indeed! A blessed Easter to one and all…

*Though I wanted to think on my own, I would've posted any of this without some review by an elder. Thanks to coramdeo for the theological review!

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