October 30, 2022 Preacher: Kevin Godin Series: Growing in Grace
Topic: Resurrection Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:14
This morning we continue our series Growing in Grace, working our way passage by passage through the letter of 1 Corinthians, seeking God’s wisdom for our lives. Last time we looked at why resurrection is essential to the truth of the gospel. This week, I want to dig deeper into how the resurrection of Jesus is applied to us as individuals.
In chapter 15, verse 14 Paul says,
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
So, the resurrection is personal. This is not merely a historical fact or even only a theological truth. For a believer, to say that Jesus is risen is not only a claim about Jesus, but a claim about us. Paul says, if Christ has not been raised then OUR faith is in vain. Our faith is useless. If you are a believer in Jesus then he died for YOU, he was raised for YOU.
What God did in Jesus becomes part of the experience of our lives through faith. Paul says in Romans 10:9,
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.
The benefits of the resurrection apply to us in at least three ways which are also the three main points of the message today:
- The resurrection of Jesus proves that God’s justice has been satisfied for believers.
- The resurrection of Jesus proves the power of God to give new life to believers.
- The resurrection of Jesus proves that believers will also be raised.
These three things correspond to the three aspects of personal salvation. In Christ, God’s justice has been satisfied, so believers are declared righteous before God. That is justification. In Christ, we have been given new life and are being transformed by the power of God. This is sanctification. In Christ, we have overcome death and will be raised with him in glory. That is glorification. The resurrection of Jesus applies to each aspect of salvation.
First, the resurrection of Jesus proves that God’s justice has been satisfied for believers. It proves God is just in how he forgives.
Imagine there was a man who murdered several people in cold blood. Let’s say he was arrested in the act; the whole thing was on video. He was 100% guilty, no doubt about it. What would happen if a judge decided to simply be merciful and released him?
That would be outrageous, right? There would probably be a recall campaign to remove the judge because a judge who does not apply the law equally is unjust and unrighteous. But here is the problem, God is perfectly righteous and we are all guilty of breaking his law.
Jesus says that the extreme sins that horrify us, like murder, adultery, etc. actually are just mature forms of the same sins we all commit. It is anger, greed, lust, indifference, and pride that lead to the great pain and suffering in the world. Our sins are no less a rejection of God’s law as the sins of others that offend us.
Our hearts are not pure before God and Given the right circumstances every one of us is capable of the most horrific acts. I know that because the sins we have already committed make that clear. So, how is God a just judge if he forgives any of us?
The answer cannot come from us. It is true that once we become believers, the Spirit of God does produce goodness in us, but even that goodness doesn’t erase the sins we have already committed and even as believers our best works are not righteous before God because in this life they are always mixed with imperfection.
We like to compare ourselves to other sinners rather than to the perfect Law of God. We don’t think we are really that bad because we know people who are worse. We think, “yes, I’m not perfect, but I am mostly good. I try to be a good person.” But there is a vast difference between innocent and mostly innocent.
Think of it this way, if you had a big glass of clean, pure water and I came along with a capful of toilet water and dumped it in there, would you drink it? It’s mostly pure, mostly clean, wouldn’t that be good enough? Of course not, once filth enters, the whole thing is defiled. That is how it is with us.
Trying harder to won’t solve the problem because mixing in good with the sin won’t remove the sin. We cannot be the source of our righteous before God because it is we who need to be cleansed. The only hope is a righteousness that comes from outside. That is exactly God offers in Jesus.
The Bible says God sends Jesus as the representative of everyone that puts faith in him. Those who believe are judged based upon what Jesus has done rather than what they have done. Believers are not justified in themselves, but in Christ. The resurrection of Jesus proves that God’s justice has been satisfied for believers.
Justification means to be declared just or right. It is essentially a verdict rendered in God’s courtroom. When a defendant is pronounced innocent by a court, they are justified before the law. Justification is a declaration that believers are righteous according to the law.
But unlike an unjust judge, God is righteous because the sin isn’t overlooked, God takes our sin and transfers it to Jesus who is punished for it on the cross. No sin goes unpunished, every law is enforced. God’s justice is satisfied, and we are accepted, based on the righteousness of Jesus that has been given to us. The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that God’s justice has been satisfied and we have received this justification. Romans 4:25 says it is Jesus
25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Romans 8:33–34 says,
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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.
The death of Jesus contributes to our justification because in it our sin is punished. The resurrection contributes to our justification by showing the full price was paid.
The Bible says that death is wages. It is what we earn for sin. Death is a constant reminder that we are under God’s condemnation because of sin. Ezekiel 18:4 says, “the soul that sins will surely die.”
Jesus died because of sin. Not his, but ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says,
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin…
When our sin and guilt were placed on Jesus, the curse of death also fell upon him. The penalties of the Law were put on him in the place of those he represented. On the cross, Jesus became the embodiment of God’s wrath against sin. It was therefore necessary for him to be raised to prove God’s wrath was turned away.
If Jesus wasn’t raised, we would have no assurance God’s justice had been satisfied. But the empty grave proves that the curse has been exhausted. The resurrection of Jesus proves that God’s justice has been satisfied for believers.
That is alone is good news, but our salvation involves more than justification. God doesn’t just declare us righteous and leave us as we were. He also works righteousness in by the Holy Spirit working in us to make us like Jesus. We are accepted solely based on the perfect righteousness of Jesus, but, if we have saving faith, God is also working in us to produce good works that come from our new life in Christ. The resurrection of Jesus proves the power of God to give new life to believers.
There has been a recent resurgence of teaching on the doctrines of grace for which I praise God. But the devil is crafty. If he cannot prevent the preaching of grace, he will confuse it so that it becomes grace without holiness. But it won’t do to preach the power of grace in justification without also preaching the power of grace in sanctification.
Believers stand holy before God because of our union with Christ. We have a new identity. We are no longer condemned sinners under the wrath of God, we are his adopted children but we are not yet without sin. We are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, based on Christ alone but Grace doesn’t end with justification.
God does not stop working in us when we are accepted and adopted into God’s family by faith alone. He will continue the good work he began in us until we are perfected in glory. In this life, believers are at the same time sinners and saints. Justified before God but still striving against the flesh by the Spirit.
Writing to believers, in 1 John 1:8 the apostle John says,
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Even the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:12,
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
John 16:8 tells us the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin,
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
This verse is not talking about believers as we are no longer in the world, but the Holy Spirit works both in the world and in believers to bring us from sin to Jesus. Believers are not condemned by conviction of sin, but the Spirit uses conviction of sin in our heart to make us more like Jesus. This word translated convict is the word ἐλέγχω.
8 And when he comes, he will convict [ἐλέγχω] the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”.
In Revelation chapter 3:14-22 when God is addressing the church in Laodicea, he uses the same word. He does not tell them not to worry about sin because they are under grace. Rather, he warns and rebukes them for being lukewarm and verse 19 says,
19 Those whom I love, I reprove [ἐλέγχω] and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
Verse 22 makes clear that it is the Holy Spirit who is speaking these words,
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The word is used again in Hebrews 12:5–8,
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved [ἐλέγχω] by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
The convicting work of the Spirit in believers is the evidence we have been adopted by grace. Sin in the life of a believer is like rust on metal. It is a corrosion that weakens and doesn’t belong there. The Spirit works in our hearts to scrub that away, bringing repentance so that nothing separates us from the joy of our walk with Christ.
Godly sorrow over sin is God’s work, calling us to live as new creations, rather than according to the old patterns of the flesh that has been crucified with Jesus.
Listen to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10,
8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
We cannot claim to be justified if we are not also being sanctified. God will not be mocked. If Jesus is in our heart, we will increasingly desire to do things that please him. When we don’t, he will discipline us because he loves us. God doesn’t let his kids play in traffic.
On the other hand, the devil convinces so many believers they are helpless to overcome the power of sin until they get to heaven. We will not be perfect until then, but we already have victory over sin now. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 6:4–6,
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Believers are no longer slaves to sin. The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome sin. Romans 8:13-14 says,
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
The message of the New Testament is a message of hope for sinners. In Jesus, we are not just forgiven but have been born again by the spirit in power. We are accepted by God and free, through his power to overcome the pull of the world and grow to be more like Jesus. This is a promise to all the children of God.
Sanctification is a work of God's free grace, by which believers are renewed after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live in righteousness. It is a process of continuous change that God does in us, freeing us from sinful desires and habits and forming in us godly affections and good works. It doesn’t mean that sin is instantly removed, but that it is progressively weakened. God commands us to be holy, then graciously works in us to bring about what he commands.
The Bible says this transformation is the evidence we have been united to Christ. When the spirit of Christ is in us, we will no longer be at peace with sin. Paul says in Galatians 5:24,
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The gift of the Holy Sprit that enables this comes to believers through the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection began a new age in the ministry of the Spirit. That is why the Spirit is also sometimes referred to as the Spirit of Christ.
Romans says Jesus was “…declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” A bit later in this chapter Paul says through his resurrection, Jesus “became the last Adam who is a life-giving Spirit”.
2 Corinthians 3:17–18 says,
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
This new age of spiritual power could not come until the justice of God had been satisfied in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In John 16:7 Jesus says,
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
Then listen to what he says about the Spirit a few verses later,
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The ministry of the Spirit is inseparably connected to the victory of Jesus. Listen to what the apostle Peter says in his first sermon after Jesus was risen in Acts 2:32–33,
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
Jesus could not be exalted to the right hand of God if he remained in the grave. The resurrection leads to the pouring out of the Spirit, which results in our sanctification. The seriousness of sin is so great that a supernatural act is necessary to bring our salvation.
To preach a risen Christ means to “preach” a gospel with the demonstration of the Spirit in power. To preach a risen Christ is to proclaim that there is no hope in anything else in the world. Nothing but the power of God to bring new life can overcome the deadness of our hearts. We don’t preach a gospel that only forgives, but one that forgives and provides new life.
Paul is consistent in all his letters pointing to the resurrection of Jesus as a supernatural act of God’s intervention. What is striking is that it is not seen as simply an event that happened at one point in time but something that has continued power.
Referring to our spiritual life, Ephesians 1:19–20 says the immeasurable greatness toward believers is according to the same power
20 that he [God] worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places
We have confidence that we have new life that is victorious over sin and even death because the spiritual life in us is according to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is just as much a miracle that you or I, or any sinner is born again to new life as it was to raise the dead. Because that is what salvation really is.
The resurrection of Jesus doesn’t only apply to our justification and our sanctification. It is also essential for glorification. The resurrection of Jesus proves that believers will also be raised.
The Bible teaches when believers die, they go immediately into the presence of the Lord and enjoy many blessings. As amazing as that is, however, it is not the final chapter. God created people as a union of body and soul and our full redemption occurs on the last day when both body and soul are redeemed. Romans 8:18 says,
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
And a few verses later this glory is described as the redemption of our bodies.
1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us, 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Right now, believers have the first fruits of salvation. Our sins are forgiven, Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, we are adopted into God’s family, we have spiritual union with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is at work in us. But we are not yet perfected. Our bodies age and are subject to diseases and problems. Death has not yet been destroyed; it is very much with us. That final step comes in our glorification.
The souls of believers who die before Jesus returns go to be with Christ and their bodies wait in the grave until Jesus returns, at which point their bodies and souls will be re-united with their newly glorified bodies. Those who are alive will be caught up with Christ as he returns and transformed in glory. That glorified body will be like the glorified body of Jesus.
Philippians 3:20–21 says,
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Not only is our body redeemed, but we will then be made perfectly like Jesus. 1 John 3:2 says,
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
In glory we will no longer struggle to be holy and loving. The appetites of our flesh will be transformed. We will no longer doubt, for we shall see him. We shall have no more pain or sorrow because we will be with the Lord and there will be no death. This hope of glory is sure because Jesus is risen.
Romans 6:5 says,
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
1 Corinthians 15:49 adds,
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
There is a day of glory coming and we know we can count on it because Christ is risen. This gives us hope and purpose not only for the future, but for today.
Through the years I have spoken to many caregivers, pastors, and parents who have poured every ounce of love they had into others until they were physically and emotionally exhausted. They were living for those brief moments of relief from the struggles, but everyday seemed to demand more from them.
There are brothers and sisters here or watching today who are giving themselves for others. Sacrificing their time, energy, sleep, and money so that others can be cared for, and it seems the more they do the more gets piled on. It can be easy to get discouraged. It is natural for us to wonder if the sacrifice is worth it.
If we focus only on the rewards to be had in this world, then for many the sacrifices we are called as believers to make would not be worth it. Yes, there is joy in health, family, success, and those things which are gifts God gives us now, but even they are not sufficient to fuel a life that is willing to turn the other cheek, give without expecting anything in return. To allow enemies to revile us, to give our lives for others, and to endure suffering with joy, even in persecution and death.
It is only by looking to the glories that follow this life that we can live as Christ calls us to live. When we realize that even death cannot stop us that we can truly give everything for the glory of God without reservation. When we look forward to the life to come with Jesus, we can more clearly see the emptiness of all this world offers.
Back in chapter 2, verse 9 Paul said,
9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
He has accepted and adopted us. He is transforming us and preparing us for his kingdom, and he will raise us in glory. We know that we have secured all these things because Christ is risen.
In him we look forward not just to the resurrection of our body, but that we will be made like Jesus. Our spirits will dwell in perfect harmony with God and finally live in the fullness of what it means to be a human being created in the image of God. We will enter our rest and be able to enjoy him forevermore with nothing to separate us from his love.
For that reason,
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23–25)
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