[Willow Creek Association] 1998-04-08 - The Resurrection

The What is the Gospel Series, Part 4

The past three devotionals, I have been focusing on just what the Gospel is and expanding on the list of four basics of the Gospel that Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians Chapter 15. For your reference here is the list once again:

  1. Jesus died for our sins. (He did not just die; He died for us, in place of us.)
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus was raised on the third day.
  4. He appeared to many people.

Today we will look at items #3 & #4 and how they apply to us.

1 Corinthians 15:4-6 (NCV) that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day as the Scriptures say; and that he was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. After that, Jesus was seen by more than five hundred of the believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.

No other "religion" claims to have had their leader resurrected from the dead. Christianity is based solely on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank God it is not based on any of us! Notice in the above passage, that Paul states that many of the witnesses were still living at the time this letter was written. Think about that a moment. If I was to write today a man with a crossbow assassinated that Dr. Martin Luther King, my email box would be overflowing with comments telling me at best that I am mistaken, and at worst that I am a liar and a fraud. Seems to me that if the resurrection were not true, at least one of these five hundred witnesses would have spoken up and said, "Whoa, this Paul guy is a liar and a fraud." The resurrection is the final conclusive evidence that Jesus is who He claims to be, the Messiah.

So great David, what does this mean to me? Glad you asked! It means that we too can conquer our number one enemy, death. Without Christ as our Savior we have two deaths, one physical and one spiritual. With Christ we have two births, one physical and one spiritual, and the victory is that we experience only one death, the physical. Our spiritual life will continue on forever. You know what I think Heaven will be like? Do you know that wonderful feeling you have when you feel God's presence? That feeling of overwhelming love for you. It's that feeling of indescribable gratitude for Him? I get that feeling when I am closest to God, close to His will for my life. My whole body relaxes and I feel one with God. That's the feeling I think heaven is going to be like, a feeling of oneness with God. And in Heaven, the feeling never goes away.

1 John 3:2 (NCV) Dear friends, now we are children of God, and we have not yet been shown what we will be in the future. But we know that when Christ comes again, we will be like him, because we will see him as he really is.

As I stated last week, we will go from being carbon copies of Adam, to being carbon copies of Christ. So what does that mean? We will go from struggling with sin every day, to not having sin. We will go from having physical and mental ailments to not having any. We will be transformed into a new life, a perfect eternal life with our Holy God.

It is our destiny to be like Christ. We struggle everyday to become just a little more like Him while we are here on earth. We will never succeed here on earth, but we will in Heaven. Christ's resurrection and ours are intermingled; to deny one or the other, is to deny the Gospel. When we accept Christ, we have an inner-transformation. Our heart changes; our priorities, our values, and our purpose and meaning in life change. God constantly refines our inner beings. When we are resurrected we will be made complete. Our perfect spiritual bodies will replace our physical bodies. Then we are complete, new on the inside and new on the outside. That is our destiny as Christ-followers. John sums it all up well in Revelation:

Revelation 21:4 (NCV) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone."

Finally this week, do me a favor: Anytime you see a cross, I want you to picture the following spikes being put in place to hammer into your hands and feet, and then at the last minute as the hammer is about to slam a piercing nail into your hands, a voice yells from the crowd, "STOP!" You are startled. The man with the hammer stops, the crowd around you looks toward the one calling for a halt as he approaches the Cross. The man tells the guard "Release this person on that Cross; I will go in His place." Of course that man is Jesus Christ, who did that for us. He took our place on that cross for our sins, so that one day we could be like Him and with Him in Heaven. What an Awesome God!

Lord, we are overwhelmed by Your grace, Your mercy and Your love for us. We thank You with our praises, we thank You by trying to be more like You here on earth, we thank You for providing us a way to defeat our number one enemy, death. Help us to live a life full of hope and full of confidence that one day we will have no more tears, no more pain, no more death, no more sadness and no more old ways. In our Savior's precious name we pray, Amen.