Encourage0gram April 29, 2019
Dear Followers of our Living Lord Jesus Christ!
I see glory in YOU!
I greet you on this dreary morning in Colorado with good news! Jesus is alive forevermore! He died for our sins on a tree, was buried in a tomb then arose out of death on the first day of the week just after dawn! Jesus is our great high Priest, our Advocate and our constant Intercessor. We are blessed to live each day with the certain hope that because He lives we are alive in Him and will live forever with Him!
I was reading, this Easter season, some thoughts by C. S. Lewis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I want to quote from this brief article called “The Strangest Story of All.”
“We come to the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.”
This is certainly NOT what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the Universe. Something new had appeared in the Universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. . . . What are we going to make of it?
“What are you going to make of Christ?” There is no question of what we can make of him, it is entirely a question of what He INTENDS TO MAKE OF US. You must accept or reject this story.”
These words challenged me before our Easter Worship services and continue to challenge my heart. Do I truly believe the Resurrection? It is a truth of history and theology; but is it a truth that impacts my daily life? Am I living with hope that is certain based on the work of Jesus? Or am I just hoping for some distant blessing?
The testimony of Paul in Galatians 2:19-21 reveals his hope is present in his life.
NIV Galatians 2:19-21
"For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
First, Paul confesses that the Law of God which is perfect and forever true, did not help him live for God. The Law only brought Paul death because he was not able to keep it! Therefore, Paul died to the Law – he gave up trying to keep it as a means to gaining the approval of God. As a former conscientious Pharisee, Paul tired very hard to obey all of God’s Law. This effort though commendable did not bring him life but death.
Secondly, Paul believed by faith that he was co-crucified with Jesus. Jesus died for Paul to pay his sin debt. He died with Christ and to sin. His ego and selfishness died with Jesus. Paul continues to be alive spiritually as Christ lives in him. This perspective is true but difficult for many to sustain in the daily struggles of life on earth.
Thirdly, Paul says his life on earth until his physical death is a life that he lives by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. His faith is not in historic or theological truth alone but in a Person! This is a dynamic faith. Jesus guides Paul and he follows. Jesus convicts Paul of sin and he repents. Jesus pilots the plane of Paul’s life. Every thought Paul seeks to take captive and make it obedient to Christ. This is not a boring life at all. This is a delightful life, an abundant life!
Finally, Paul confesses that all of this is by GRACE. It is free! It is totally a gift from God which he cannot earn or improve upon. All glory to Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith! What a joy it is to live by faith in the One who loves us with an everlasting love!
So as Lewis says it: the strange story of Jesus resurrection impacts every day of our lives! We have been co-resurrected with Jesus! We live for Him by faith. This is a totally new life which is seen in the life of one who abides in Christ. It is not our work for Him but His work in us!
As Rob Cupp reminded us yesterday, this is a life which reveals God’s glory! His glory is weighty because it encompasses all of His perfections. His love, His wisdom, His peace, His patience . . . When we glow with God’s Presence the fruit of the Spirit is revealed! This glow does not fade but increases as we daily walk in Jesus.
I see God’s glory in YOU! Thank you!
This Sunday we embark on a new sermon series: “Gracious Conversations.” We will take a moment each week to look at a principle on the value of gracious words from Proverbs. Then we will investigate a conversation in Scripture that illustrates this principle. I am convinced that God will bless us as we grow in our ability to share God’s grace in our words!
NIV Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.