Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Purpose of the Resurrection

The purpose of the incarnation was to make penal substitution a possibility through the sinless life of the Son of God. The purpose of the baptism of Christ was to show that He would accomplish His sinless life in His humanity without relying upon His deity through trusting His Father with all His heart and leaning not on His own understanding and power. The purpose of the death of Christ was to make penal substitution an actuality through giving His sinless life in the place of sinners, the just dying for the unjust. But that isn’t the whole gospel and it doesn’t end there. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and He did it for several reasons.

It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that makes the story of His sinless life, death and burial, good news. There would be no gospel, no good news, if Jesus Christ had not been resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15). We will look at three major purposes of the resurrection and see that without the resurrection there is no good news.

First, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead served to justify or vindicate Jesus as the sinless Son of God – that the purpose of His death was not for the crimes with which He was charged but that He was sinless, innocent, pure, and undefiled and yet died in the place of others – the just died for the unjust. “[The gospel of God, concerns His Son], who was born of a descendent of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:1-4). The resurrection of Jesus from the dead also served to establish His Lordship – “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET. Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:32-36).

Second, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead served to justify or vindicate God as the righteous Judge of all the earth who does what is right. God would not have been right to allow a Man who had never sinned to die and remain dead. What kind of God would allow His own Son to die for crimes (sins) that He didn’t commit and then allow Him to remain dead? Would God cast His own Son out of heaven forever to make room for you and me? May it never be! This highlights the love of God all the more – that He would even allow His sinless Son, His only Son whom He loves, to die for our sins so that we can be made right with God – “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all…” (Romans 8:32). God was also justified or vindicated as righteous through raising Jesus from the dead so that through Jesus, He could justify sinners and yet be just Himself – “Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).

Third, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead serves to justify the one who has faith in Jesus. There is no other way for men to be justified than through faith in Jesus because it is the only way in which God Himself can justify and be just at the same time. It is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that God can credit the righteousness of Jesus to our account. Our belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows our belief in the goodness, righteousness, and power of God – that He will only do that which is right and that He has the ability to perform what He has promised. Speaking of the faith of Abraham the Bible says, “Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:20-25).

Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we wouldn’t be able to have faith in God and His ability to perform His promises. Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we wouldn’t be able to ask the one who died for us to forgive us. Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we of all men would be most to be pitied – knowing that our sins put to death the Son of God, we would have to tremble at the gloomy prospect of facing God, if indeed Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead.

But Jesus has been raised from the dead and we read, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation….For WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

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