If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are of all men most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Cor. 15:19,20
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
It is the celebration of the firstfruits of the great harvest.
The resurrection of Jesus is central to the christian faith.
It was so for Paul, who wrote,
"if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins".
It was so for the apostle Peter, who shouted,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead".
(1 Peter 1:3)
Without the resurrection of Jesus
there is no christian faith,
there is no christian hope,
there is no christian joy.
For if Jesus has not been raised then those who believe in Him
will not be raised, and if we are not raised from the dead, we
are done for. Because then our hope in Christ is only for this
life. Then there is nothing after this life. And we are most
to be pitied. For what can Christ's people expect in this life?
O, I know there are sects which, in fact if not in theory, teach that all God's blessings should be received and enjoyed here and now. For them, no sickness, no poverty, no cross, no self-denial; just health and wealth. Prosperity.
But as Chris Kavanagh mentioned in last month's editorial, that is not the teaching of Scripture which warns us that we can expect suffering for and with Christ..
We live in hope, wrote Paul in Romans 8, and hope that is seen is not hope.
We wait for the revelation of the children of God, because, though we are God's children, thanks to God's amazing love in Christ, it does not yet appear (it has not yet been made known) what we shall be. But we know that when Jesus appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3) In the meantime our life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3)
You see, for Paul and the other apostolic writers, the believers share Christ's death and resurrection. Listen to what is written in Ephesians 2: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins .... But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
If Christ has not been raised from the dead, we have not been raised with him, we have not been seated in the heavenly places with him, we are still in our sin.
We have been duped.
But Jesus has been raised!
Jesus is the truth! He said he would die. He said he would rise from the dead.
He was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.
Jesus lives! He is our living Hope. He is the hope, the only
hope of all mankind.
We have a song for ourselves and for our God.
We have a message for the world.
Jesus is risen from the dead!
Face that fact. Get your mind around that astounding bit of information.
Jesus has been raised from the grave.
Make place for that reality in your world view, your value system.
The church has a message of hope for a hope-less world. A world in which people are desperately trying to convince themselves how free and happy they are without God.
A world in which young people are committing suicide.
Let the world know that however desperate the situation may appear to be here and now, there is hope of life and glory in our raised and living Saviour Jesus Christ.
Who knows, someone may ask you to give account, a reason, for
the hope that is in you.
Rev. Bill Wiersma (Hamilton).
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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / email@example.com / revised March 96 / Copyright 1996