For our word feature on this Wednesday, we turn to the latest Standard Bearer – April 15, 2015 – and post the most recent contribution of Rev.W. (Bill) Langerak to the “A Word Fitly Spoken” rubric. This one ties in nicely with our recent commemoration of Easter and our Lord’s resurrection.
Rev. Bill Langerak
The gospel is that Jesus is risen from the dead. The good news is not merely that Christ died. Indeed, Jesus must die for our sins according to the Scriptures (1Cor. 15:3). But He must also rise (John 2:22). For if Christ is not risen, our faith is vain (1Cor. 15:14). A dead Jesus does us no good. A dead Jesus is no different from any other human. And Christians who believe only a dead Jesus are themselves still dead in sin (1Cor. 15:17). The complete, comforting, pure and powerful good news of salvation is that Jesus is risen from the dead, and if we confess this with our mouth and believe it in our heart, we also shall be saved (Rom. 10:9).
The good news of this gospel is derived from three truths concerning the resurrection. First, we are repeatedly taught (17 times in Acts alone) that God raised Jesus (Acts 2:32). This proves the impossibility of any salvation by the will or worth of man. So completely is salvation from beginning to end the work of God, even Jesus did not raise Himself up. God must raise Jesus by His Spirit (Rom. 8:11). Likewise, the same God who raised up the Lord, must also raise us up by His own power and grace (1Cor. 6:14). Eternal life is the gift of God (Rom. 6:23).
Secondly, Jesus is risen from the dead. This is why God must raise Him. Dead is dead. God raised Him because, having paid the wages of sin, it was impossible for death to hold Him any longer (Acts 2:24). And being raised, death has no more dominion over Him (Rom. 6:9) and this enemy will be destroyed (1Cor. 15:26). The Lord is risen to scatter His enemies (Num. 10:35), rule His adversaries (Num. 24:17), and stand over His fallen foes (Psa. 20:8). Risen, He has abolished death and brings life and immortality to light through the gospel (2Tim. 1:10).
Thirdly, He is risen. On the third day, God did not raise merely His body. But God raised His Son (1Thes. 1:10). He raised up Jesus and showed Him openly (Acts 2:24). Likewise we shall be raised. It is true this includes the quickening of our bodies (Rom. 8:11)—the same natural body sown in corruption, dishonor and weakness, is raised a spiritual body, incorruptible, glorious and powerful (1Cor. 15:42-44). But the really good news is God raises persons—and that if His Spirit dwell in us, then He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up (2Cor. 4:14).
Because God raises persons from the dead, the good news is that we need not wait until He raise our bodies to enjoy the benefits of His resurrection. Indeed it is true, that Christ is risen as the first fruits of them that sleep, so that when He returns we will awakened from slumber by trumpet sound, and in a blink of an eye raised incorruptible (1Cor. 15:20, 52). But the really good news is we are already risen. As we are buried with Him in baptism, we are now risen with Him through faith by the operation of God (Col. 2:12). And whosever lives and believes in Jesus shall never die (John 11:26). God is not the God of the dead, but God of the living (Mark 12:27).
God has given us assurance in that He raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:31). Jesus is risen that we might have a living faith and hope in God (1Pet. 1:21). Faith believes that, as He was delivered to death for our offences, so He was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25). Hope is certain that God, having raised up His Son, has delivered us from the wrath to come, and sent Him to bless us in turning us away from our iniquities (1Thes. 1:10; Acts 3:26).
Such faith worked by the Spirit of the risen Christ is powerful to make us alive unto good works. Now. It is as impossible that a living faith leave us unfruitful and remiss in a holy life, as it would be for those who believe this gospel to ignore Jesus at the trumpet’s call and remain unchanged in the grave (B.C., Art. 24). Christ was raised by the glory of the Father that we should walk in newness of life, and bring forth fruits unto God (Rom. 6:4; 7:4). As those alive from the dead, we yield our members instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom 6:13). Risen with Christ, we are made to sit together in heavenly places, to seek those things which are above where He sits on the right hand of God (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Good news indeed!
For more word studies like this, visit this page on the PRC website. They make for fine devotional material.