By Kjell Johanson | First Published: April 13, 2017
As a Scandinavian I know what it means to pine for the new life of spring to appear every year. Our winters are long, cold and dark. It is the assurance of spring with its abundant life—snow melting, birds singing and thousands of flowers blooming in the life-giving warmth of the sun—that keeps us persevering through the winter months.
When spring and summer come, our countries change dramatically—it is as if we all moved to another country. We change from introverts to extroverts. Even during the most severe winters we are certain spring will come because it has always happened that way before. Since the earth’s axis is tilted toward the sun, nothing in the world can hinder spring from coming.
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Similar to the arrival of spring, a new creation is on its way, and we have seen the beginning of it in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead!
The Apostle Paul puts all his eggs in one basket when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus. Our daily life with God, as well as our whole eternal future, is based on this all-important reality: Jesus, Son of God, died for our sins, and the Father raised Him from the dead. This event changed everything in history. And through the resurrection God showed how He will not just restore the world but that He has a plan and the power to make a totally new creation, the one that we are eagerly waiting for. This is how Paul teaches it:
Our Faith Is True
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that the resurrection of Jesus proves that He is the Son of God and that His message is absolutely true. There is a monumental difference between Jesus and all religious teachers. Jesus does not just teach abstract truths, but He does what He teaches. His miracles are His divine and authentic ID card that assures us who He is, and His resurrection is the final and absolute confirmation from the Father that Jesus is who He claimed to be.
We Can Know That Our Sins Are Forgiven
The resurrection of Jesus is God’s most powerful declaration that our sins are forgiven. Jesus died for our sins. He Himself had no sin. His resurrection is a statement that the atoning sacrifice was completed and fully accepted. From then on, our standing with God is only contingent on our trust in Jesus’ death for us and our receiving Him as Lord and Savior. When we have done that, we are absolutely assured that our sins are forgiven.
And when we doubt, which we might do from time to time, we just need to be reminded that Jesus’ resurrection is God’s guarantee to the world that Jesus’ blood cleanses from all sin.
An Astounding Promise
In Ephesians 1:19-20, Paul writes that the same power that the Father used to raise Jesus from the dead is at work in us. This is a strong message from someone who is chained in a Roman prison while he writes this. That fact does, however, make the promise even more powerful and relevant. Paul assures us that whatever happens in our lives, whatever challenges we meet—even severe persecution—God will absolutely fulfill all His purposes for us and His promises to us. Our lives might sometimes look unimpressive, as Paul’s did at the time, but look at what God has done through Paul’s ministry through the ages! The same power that is doing that today also works in us. This certainly motivates us to pray with Paul that our eyes be opened to see how good and generous God is, how He loves us and how we need to ask Him to help us see our lives from His perspective. No power, human or spiritual, will be able to thwart God’s good plans for us.
Victory Over Sin
In Romans 8:11-17, Paul shows us another result of the resurrection. He has just reminded us about the struggle of temptation that he and we experience. He reminds us that we cannot live in victory over sin by our own power; something that we are too well aware of. So the answer to temptation is not to try harder but to rely on the resurrection power. The Holy Spirit of the God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.
What an amazing reality! That power enables us to say no to sin, frees us from fear, and is an inner testimony to the fact that we are God’s children and co-heirs with Christ. That blows my mind! But it is really, really true, and the resurrection of Jesus is the proof that it is meant for you and me. As in Ephesians 1, it does not imply that we are promised problem-free lives. We are reminded in verse 17 that we might meet suffering, like Jesus Himself did. But the suffering ended in total victory, and so will our lives too as we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to live for Jesus.
It Is Worth it All
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The message of Easter expresses an exuberant and defiant hope. It calls on us to live and serve the Lord with an eternal perspective. It is not in vain. There is a future, a reward and a life of joyous service and worship waiting for us. And think about this—if just one of our friends and neighbors receives Jesus as Savior, that person will be saved from eternal separation from God, will receive all the blessings that Jesus brought through His death and resurrection, and will join us in that fantastic day of resurrection that we ourselves anticipate because of Jesus. ©2017 Kjell Axel Johanson
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Kjell Axel Johanson is the dean of Woodlands Seminary, in The Woodlands, Texas. He is the author of Rise Above Your Chains and the forthcoming Surprising Bible Prophecies: How God Unfolds His Plan in Real Time.