Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Resurrection of Christ

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss asks, “Is there any need to worry?”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Listen, if Jesus is the resurrection and the life—and He is—what do we have to fear? What’s the worst that can happen to you? You say, “I can die!” Well, the good news is that He has overcome death.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, April 6, 2015.

Nancy: Even though the Lenten season is officially over, we’re going to continue one more week in our study of "The Incomparable Christ." I’m so grateful for how God has been using this series in people’s hearts, from many of the responses we have received over the past weeks. Let me read a few of those to you.

One woman said, “I have never before had such a heart for celebrating Easter.”

Another woman said,

I didn’t realize how much I have taken for granted what Jesus has done for us. It’s been about works, but not about Jesus. My heart is moved to repentance and is now starting, for the first time in a long time, to feel the longing for the relationship with Jesus.

Here’s another one I loved that came in recently. This lady said,

I've wandered my whole life in doubt and fear (even while in church and surrounded by "spiritual" things). I finally found the treasure I've been searching for all my life. It's Jesus! He's that treasure, that pearl of great price.

Amen, and amen! We would love to hear how this series has impacted you. So please log on to ReviveOurHearts.com and post a comment on the Comment Blog at the end of the daily transcript, or send us an email, or tweet, or Facebook post—or all those things that some of you know more about than I do. Just let us know how God has used this study in your life. We’d love to hear from you and let you share those with others as well.

Over the past few days, we have celebrated two events—monumental events—that form the hinge of human history. These two events set the Christian faith apart from all other religions. It’s these two events that showcase the incomparable Christ!

The first of those events—the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus—was both the greatest crime and the supreme act of sacrificial love in the history of mankind. Would you agree? Absolutely! The second event—the Resurrection, which we celebrated in our churches yesterday—turned despair and apparent defeat into eternal hope and victory. Thank You, Jesus!

Now, I think that most of us realize that the death of Christ is central to our redemption, but we might ask: Is it just as crucial that He rose from the dead? How much does that matter? Yes, I believe it, but is it as essential as the cross that Jesus rose from the dead?

As you read the New Testament, you realize that the resurrection matters supremely. For example, in Romans chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, we see that the incarnation of Christ, when He was born to this earth, validated His humanity, but it’s His resurrection that validated His deity, that proved that He was God.

Listen to Romans 1:3 and 4. It says that,

[Jesus] was descended from David according to the flesh [that’s His humanity; proved by His birth as a human being], and [He] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.

It’s the resurrection that validates the deity of Christ. There’s no way we could overstate the importance of Jesus’ resurrection to those first century followers of Christ. Before the resurrection they were timid; they were fearful. The thought that their lives might be at risk caused them to run for cover. None of them but John even showed up at the cross; they were all in hiding.

But then came the news of the resurrection and then the gift and empowering of the Holy Spirit. The combination of those things transformed those first disciples into a bold band of believers who were willing to lay down their lives for Christ’s sake. The church was birthed and it spread through the proclamation that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

If you don’t believe that, just read through the book of Acts, the acts of the apostles and the early church, and see how often the resurrection is referenced, how often it is at the core of the messages that were preached there that gave birth to the early church.

Apart from Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we have no hope of eternal life. First Peter 1 says that, “according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (v. 3).

So there’s no doubt that the resurrection matters. But now that Resurrection Sunday is behind us, what difference does the empty tomb make in our lives this week and the next week and the week after that?

Virtually every day we hear from Revive Our Hearts listeners who write to share with us about different struggles and burdens they are facing, different heartaches and challenges. So what difference does the reality of the resurrection make for those listeners? What difference does it make for people who are facing problems and pain, failure, and fears?

I want to talk today about seven implications of the resurrection for those who have placed their faith in Christ. Again, if you’re listening to the audio of this, don’t try and jot all these things down or keep them all in your head. You can go to ReviveOurHearts.com and there you can get a word-for-word transcript that will give you this outline and the notes as well. So you can go back and reflect on these implications of the resurrection—not only on Easter Sunday, but throughout the course of the year.

Number 1: The resurrection means there is hope in the most desperate circumstances. It means that God can make a way out where there is no human way out. It means that God is all-powerful and nothing is beyond His control. It means that one day all tears will be wiped away and all sorrow will be turned to joy. It means that He can bring beauty out of ashes and that He can cause even evil circumstances to bring Him ultimate glory.

Think about things that have been done to you or others that you know that have been such heinous, grievous crimes or circumstances, so painful—perhaps in your upbringing. Let your mind’s eye go back to the cross where evil men put Christ to death and realize that evil men never get the final word. God gets the final word. There is hope in the most desperate circumstances.

It’s the resurrection that encourages us to remember that Christ has defeated death—the most ultimate desperate circumstance. He’s defeated death by walking through it and has come out on to the other side. So no matter how many enemies seek to take Him down, He cannot ever die again. That’s what the resurrection tells us.

We think today about news of natural disasters, economic uncertainty, world crises—it can be overwhelming just to read the news. But the resurrection encourages us to take a deep breath and to remember that God is on His throne; He is in charge no matter how dark it gets in your life or in this world.

There is nothing that can happen to us that is not going to be ultimately overcome by His power. The resurrection means there is hope in the most desperate circumstances.

Number 2: The resurrection means that God always keeps His promises.

In Matthew chapter 28, verse 5, when the two women went to the tomb looking for the body of Jesus that was buried there, so they thought, “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said'” (vv. 5–6). As He said . . . Jesus had told the disciples that He would not stay dead, that He would rise from the dead.

Let me just read to you one of those accounts where He’s told them that. In Matthew, chapter 16, beginning in verse 21:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (vv. 21–22).

Now what’s the problem? Peter did not hear the end of the message! All he heard was the part about the Son of Man going to “suffer many things . . . and be killed,” and that’s all Peter heard. Peter goes, “No way, Lord! That’s not going to happen to You!” He didn’t hear “and on the third day be raised.” He heard it with his physical ears, but he didn’t get the promise of the resurrection.

So when the angels said to the two women, “He is not here; He is risen, as He said,” the disciples began to remember things that Jesus had told them, promises He had made that they had just entirely missed. So we think about how much stress and anxiety and fear the disciples had to endure all because they didn’t really hear and lay hold of the promises of God.

It makes me wonder how would our lives be different if we really believed, if we really heard and believed and laid hold of the promises of God? How often are we stressed out: “Lord, no! This can’t happen!” No! We haven’t heard the end of the story. We haven’t heard the promises. We haven’t really heard the promises.

Think of that wonderful promise in 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 10, that says:

After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

How often do we forget that when we’re in the midst of the suffering part? If we would just hear, believe, and lay hold of the promises of God, how much stress and discouragement would we be able to avoid perhaps if we remembered that God always keeps His promises. That’s the message of the resurrection.

Number 3: The resurrection means that death is no longer to be feared. Because Christ overcame death, our separations and losses are only temporary. In the last day, those who are in Christ will be raised from the dead. That’s an implication of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Because He rose from the dead, that means that those of us who are in Christ will one day be raised as well.

Remember those incredible words of Jesus to Martha, who was grieving over the death of her brother Lazarus? In John 11 Jesus said to Martha,

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (vv. 25–26).

That’s what Jesus said to Martha, but don’t you think He says the same thing to us? Do you believe this—that whosever "lives and believes in Me will never die”? Jesus' resurrection forever changed the way Christians view death.

Rodney Stark is a sociologist at the University of Washington. He has observed that when a major plague hit the ancient Roman Empire, Christians had unusually high survival rates. You might wonder, Why? Here's the reason he discovered.

In the homes of most Roman citizens, when someone was stricken with the plague, the sick person would be thrown out into the street so as not to contaminate others. But because Christians had no fear of death, they didn't throw their sick out into the streets; they nursed and cared for them in their homes. Many of those sick survived the plague.

They didn't have a fear of death.

You or someone you love may be facing a terminal illness, as is the case of a couple I spoke with on the phone a couple of days ago. The wife wrote me this week and said, "The nephrologist has told us that there is nothing else that they can do to help my husband. He doesn't know how sick he is." He's in the coronary care unit at the moment.

As I talked with this couple on the phone, to hear their hearts in this very difficult time, to sense the trust and the peace and the rest and even the praise we sang and we read Scripture (we had a worship service there on the phone) . . .

Listen, if Jesus is the resurrection and the life—and He is—what do we have to fear? What’s the worst that can happen to you? You say, “I can die!” Well, the good news is that He has overcome death.

So the resurrection means that those who are in Christ no longer need to fear death. He has delivered us from Satan’s power who, for many years, held us in bondage to the fear of death—Hebrews tells us.

Number 4: The bodily resurrection of Christ assures us of our own bodily resurrection . . . not just His Spirit that rose from the dead, as some liberal theologians will tell you. But His body was raised from the dead. That assures us of our own bodily resurrection to come.

Paul says this numerous times in the epistles. First Corinthians chapter 6, “God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (v. 14). The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise our mortal bodies one day.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have been given a sure hope for the future. His resurrection is a pledge of our own future resurrection, and of the fact (and I love this verse in Philippians 3) that God “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (v. 21). Anybody ready for that? Amen! This is our hope that we have because of the resurrection.

There’s a church cemetery in the town of Newbury, Massachusetts, that has a grave marker that reads this way:

Here lies in a state of perfect oblivion John Adams [not the one you’re thinking of—another John Adams] who died Sept 2, 1811, age 79. Death has decomposed him, and at the great resurrection Christ will recompose him.

Yes! I love that! Death has decomposed him—what a tragedy is that. It’s not intended to be that way until sin came into the world. But at the great resurrection, Christ will recompose him, and you and I have that same hope.

At many of our Easter services over this past weekend, we affirmed that Christ is risen. The minister in some cases would say, “Christ is risen!” And what do we say in response? “Christ is risen indeed!”

Phillips Brooks, who was a writer in the 1800s, said, “Let [us] say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’” I shall rise—that’s a promise of the resurrection.

Number 5: The resurrection means that God has accepted and approves of the work that Christ did on the cross, and therefore He accepts and approves of us. Now this is something you may not have thought about a lot, but it is a huge implication of the resurrection.

The resurrection for Christ meant that His work was finished. The price for sin had been paid; no penalty was left. God's righteous anger against sin and sinners had been completely satisfied. There was no remaining guilt. The resurrection was proof that God had accepted the payment and completely approved of Christ’s death in the place of sinners.

Now, the Scripture tells us that we have been united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Ephesians 2 says that God “raised us up with Christ”—which means that God not only accepts Christ, but He accepts us. He approves of us as He approves of Christ. For those who are in Christ, that means there is no longer any condemnation for any of our sins—past, present, or future. Could I hear a hallelujah?! Amen!

So many believers I meet are plagued with guilt from their past, frustrated with their inability to please God. I wrestle with those thoughts in my own heart so often.

Romans 4 tells us that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (v. 25). It’s the resurrection that allowed Jesus’ righteousness to be credited to us. That justification required the resurrection, and justification is not only “just as if I’d never sinned.” Many of us are familiar with that meaning, but it also means, “just as if I had always obeyed.”

Because Jesus has perfectly pleased His Father, those of us who are in Christ are also pleasing to God. That’s an implication of the resurrection—that we are accepted, we are approved by God because God has accepted and approved of the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross.

Number 6: The resurrection means the power and dominion of sin in our lives has been overcome.

There have been times in recent days when I have thought, Sin seems very powerful in my life. Temptations are so strong. As I was working on this series, I had to remind myself, counsel my heart with the truth that the resurrection means that the power and dominion of sin in my life has been broken.

The struggle to be free from sinful bondages, from addictions . . . Christ has broken sin’s power to control us. That means we don’t have to continue in sin. It doesn’t mean we won’t sin, but it means we don’t have to because of the resurrection.

Listen to this passage in Romans 6, and let it wash over your heart as you think about those struggles with bondages and addictions. Romans 6, beginning in verse 4:

We were buried 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.

Now, before I go on in that passage, that verse reminds me of my own water baptism as a young girl. I remember Pastor Conners, as he would take us under the water, he would say, “Buried with Him in the likeness of His death,” and then as he would bring us back out of the water, he would say, “Raised to walk in newness of life.”

Some of us just live at the cross part and we're drowning. We've got to come up out of that water, and walk with Him in newness of life!

Going on in Romans 6:

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.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

Now, what’s the implication of all of that? You say, “Yes, I died with Christ; I was raised with Christ, but what does that have to do with real life?” Here’s what it has to do with real life:

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions (vv. 5, 9–12).

You’re not a servant of sin. It’s not your master any longer. If you’ve been crucified with Christ, dead with Him and raised with Him, the power and dominion of sin in your life has been overcome. That’s another thing worth saying, “Praise the Lord! Thank You, Jesus!”

Then, number 7: The resurrection means that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to us.

In Ephesians chapter 1, the apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know,

What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places (vv. 19–20).

What does that mean? That’s a long sentence . . . as Paul was prone to do. It means that the very same power that God sent forth to raise Christ from the dead and to cause Him to be seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places, that very same power is at work in us—the power of Christ. The power of His Holy Spirit lives in us. That same power to obey God, to defeat sin, to walk with God, to love Him and please Him—that same power is available to us.

So the question isn’t so much: Does the resurrection really matter? We see that it does. I think the question we need to be asking is: Do we live as if Christ really rose from the dead?

There’s a wonderful hymn written in the mid-1700s that captures how the resurrection changes everything. You may have sung it in your worship service yesterday. I want to read to you all the stanzas and just have us be reminded that the resurrection really does make all the difference in the world.

Jesus lives, and so shall I. Death! thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to live, lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and reigns supreme, and, his kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with him, ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must: Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and by his grace, vict'ry o'er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways, ever to his glory living.
Me he raises from the dust. Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, I know full well Nought from him my heart can sever,
Life nor death nor powers of hell, joy nor grief, hence forth forever.
None of all his saints is lost; Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and death is now but my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just; Jesus is the Christian's Trust.1

Amen!

Leslie: Why is the resurrection of Jesus so significant? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us. That message is a part of the series called The Incomparable Christ. The eyes of many listeners have been opened to who Jesus really is through this series. It’s the kind you could listen to again each Lenten and Easter season. For details on ordering the entire series on CD, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

So many women have written to let us know they’ve encountered Jesus in a whole new way during this series. It’s an example of the way God can use His Word to affect others through faithful teaching.

Do you see yourself as a teacher? If that sounds intimidating, let me put it this way. Are you excited to dig into God’s Word and understand it? And are you excited to share what you’ve discovered with other women? That’s what teaching is. And we want to help you at Revive '15.

Revive '15 is a national conference for those in women’s ministry. So if you teach a class, lead a small group or head up a ministry, we hope you’ll join us. You’ll hear from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Jen Wilkin. You’ll worship with Lauren Chandler. You’ll find it restful, encouraging, and empowering.

Join us for the Revive '15: Women Teaching Women conference. It’s coming to Indianapolis September 25–26. For more details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

When you’ve been traveling for a long time, aren’t you eager to get home? After the resurrection, Jesus was probably eager to return to heaven, but He stayed on this earth for forty days. Nancy Leigh DeMoss explains why this was so significant next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1"Jesus Is My Hope and Trust." Lyrics by Christian F. Gellert.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.