The Apostle Paul writes: You are saved by the gospel if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I received: (1) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (2) he was buried; (3) he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; and (4) he appeared to many people. (1 Corinthians 15:2–8)
If we hold fast to one particular truth that was conveyed to us when we made the commitment to follow Jesus, we will live the Christian life well. Yes, it is important, in living a godly life, to imitate Jesus by being a loving person; or as Peter explained to Cornelius, the Centurion of Caesarea, “to fear God and do what is right.” But in order to do this, we must maintain our certainty that one unimaginable, game-changing event took place two thousand years ago: God raised Jesus from the dead. We might not have grasped this completely when we first encountered the gospel, but this reality must permeate our hearts now. If it does, we will be able to live today as God desires us to live, and as he destines us to live for eternity as we experience unhindered access to the riches of grace that Christ makes available to us.
God amplifies this promise by leavening Scripture with the idea of resurrection: The earth was formless and empty, and God raised it from the dead. Adam and Eve were dead in the garden, but God raised them up and sent them out into the world. God buried the human race under the waves of the flood, but he raised it again through Noah’s family. The bodies of Abraham and Sarah were as good as dead, but God, “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist,” gave them a son to fulfill his promise. He brought Joseph out from the grave of captivity, and after him the whole nation of Israel as well. Throughout Israel’s subsequent history, God brought them back from the brink of extinction. By the time Jesus arrived, most of Israel understood that there would be a resurrection. And Jesus confirmed that this was an essential part of God’s relationship with his people, because God “is not the God of the dead but of the living.” To think otherwise is to be “greatly mistaken.”
So, from this Easter forward, let us heed Paul’s exhortation to hold fast to the reality of the resurrection as we joyfully and eagerly wait for “the salvation that will be revealed” when Jesus returns for us, “the redemption of our bodies.” We will “become like him because we will see him as he is.” He will “transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body.” He will “set us free from bondage to futility and decay into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” As we delight in his resurrection now, God’s grace will flow into and through us for the joyful good of everyone we meet. We will be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work our Lord wants us to do because we’ll know that our toil will not be in vain in the Lord.
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