Saturday, March 26, 2016

7 Ways that Believing in the Resurrection Should Change How We Live

This is my third and final blog post in my mini-series on Easter related themes this year.  The first was on ten reasons Jesus had to be crucified, and the second was on why I believe the resurrection is real.

In this post I want to share some ways that knowing the truth about the resurrection should change how we live.    When I say “the truth about the resurrection”, I mean both the fact that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and also the promise that because of His resurrection, all of us who follow Him will also one day be raised from the dead.

Like all “theological truths”, if we really get the truth of the resurrection, not just as a theory to be affirmed, but as a precious and beautiful reality worked deep into our hearts and minds, it will radically change how we live.  If some who call themselves Christians seem not to live much differently from their secular neighbors, part of the reason is that the truths of the Christian faith, including the resurrection, have not penetrated deeply enough into their hearts.

So, I offer 7 ways that believing in the resurrection should change how we live.

1.  Believing in the resurrection gives us assurance that Jesus Christ really is Lord and Savior.

When they were sharing the gospel, the Apostles constantly focused on the resurrection both as a reason to believe the gospel and as a key part of the gospel (Acts 2:32, Acts 3:15, Acts 4:2, Acts 4:33, Acts 10:40, Acts 13:30, Acts 17:18, 1 Corinthians 15:14, 1 Corinthians 15:20, 2 Timothy 2:8-9).

2.  Believing in the resurrection motivates us to live for Jesus, not ourselves.

NIV  2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

His death motivates us to live for Him because of His amazing example and our grateful response.  But His resurrection also motivates us to live for Him because it proves that in the end living for Him will be worth it!

3.  Believing in the resurrection causes us to desire Heavenly rewards, not earthly treasure.

NIV  Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

4.  Believing in the resurrection causes us to be willing to suffer and make sacrifices for Jesus and His gospel.

NIV  1 Corinthians 15:32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."

There is a way to live that makes sense if there is no resurrection.  It basically involves seeking as much safety, comfort, and pleasure as possible in our short life on earth while avoiding as much as possible pain, danger, and suffering.  That is how I would live if I did not believe in the resurrection.  That is how most people in the world live.  Some work this out by wild partying and drugs.  Some seek worldly security, comfortable homes, big IRAs, and avoiding danger and risk at all cost.

But there is a very different way of living when we really believe in the resurrection.  We become willing to risk everything in this world for the sake of the gospel.  We give sacrificially.  We suffer for His Name.

5.  Believing in the resurrection motivates us to give to the poor.

NIV  Luke 14:13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

The principle here applies to much more than banquets.  Because the resurrection is real and God’s promises are true, it makes sense to give to people who can never repay us.  It makes sense to give money to the poor.  It makes sense to give our time and energy to care for the sick, the elderly, and others who will very likely never be able to repay us in tangible ways.

6.  Believing in the resurrection gives us strength to keep going when the going gets tough.

This point is best illustrated by an extended quote from a man who kept going for Jesus when the going got really tough:

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
 13 It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,
 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.

7.  Believing in the resurrection gives us hope when our loved ones die.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

At the church where I now serve, God has given me an important ministry of helping quite a few families go through the process of losing a loved one.  I can tell you from their example that what Paul wrote is true.  Christians do grieve when we lose someone we love, but even our grieving is full of hope.  Hope of a glorious future.  Hope of the resurrection.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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