The Work of the Resurrection
by Daniel Bramlett
I don’t know what I would do if I discovered that my preaching … my life … had been spent in vain. I’m all in this Jesus thing. I don’t have a plan B. There is no backup. But I am not alone. If Heaven were silent, the Word was empty, and the Spirit was distant, I’d still have the testimony of the Church. Millions of people for the last 2,000 years have lived and breathed this truth. If we look at nothing other than the first century of believers, we have some pretty heavy reasons to believe the resurrection is true. The fact that thousands faced forced death and never wavered in that first hundred years after Jesus went back to Heaven, speaks loudly.
Why would thousands of people across continents choose to put their lives on the line for a lie? All those who have died in Christ … are gone. More than a single tear will pass through my eye if we have all lived in vain. But I tell you, not on my own word, but on the Word of God, we are not living in vain. Today we are going to unpack how we know that to be true and all that means for those of us who have given our lives to Jesus. We are going to look at the resurrection of Jesus. I will caution you, however, at the beginning of this, the resurrection is ultimately a step of faith. While we can prove Jesus was bodily raised, you still have to come to the point where you believe He is who He says He is. It still comes down to the question, “Do you believe?”
Our confidence in God begins at this point. When we come to the place where we can say “I believe in a God who loves me. I believe He sent His Son, Jesus, into this broken world to be a sacrifice/payment for my sin. I believe it was my sin, along with the sin of every other person who’s ever existed, that put Jesus on the cross and it was for my sin that He died. I believe God raised Him from the dead and that Jesus lives today in Heaven. I believe He is preparing a place for me to be with Him there when I die.” When we come to the place where we can say and believe that, a confidence that is unshakeable, irrevocable and unchangeable begins to appear in our hearts and minds.
But the confidence doesn’t end there. Through the resurrection Jesus has robbed death of all its adherents. Not a single one who believes in Him will be left for death to deal with on its own. Death has no power left. The darkness is left atrophied and helpless.
The work of the resurrection is messy business. Rebuilding lives that the the enemy is intent on stealing is all out war. We don’t set people free but we are in on the first floor of the process. Every bit of the day-to-day work is carried out by the church working hand in hand with the Spirit. This is not a work where debates reign. This isn’t a place to argue the placement of a wall or the color of the carpet. The war we are engaged in here is as intense and severe as the war between Jesus and all the forces of Hell. Living out the resurrection is a daily struggle that ends with us saying “I must die daily.”
Much of what we are called to do in south Arkansas is like the work of the church pioneers throughout the ages, pressing into the darkness, confident God had called them there and God was going to lead them through. They didn’t know all of the answers but they pressed ahead with a vision as clear as crystal. We too have a clear vision. We do not operate based on the present circumstances. We move forward based on a vision of a clean town, a strong group of men and women in addiction recovery, parenting strong homes, leading strong businesses and serving as a model for thousands of other towns and churches just like our own all over this country. We must not settle for what we see or have been told to expect. We must not accept all the lies of the enemy that say we will only get worse and not better; weaker and not stronger. No! We are a people of the resurrection! We have the abundant life at our fingertips and the promise that it will only get better forever. What must we do? Paul says “I die daily.”
Do you not see the war that is so plainly before us? Our great enemy is working by the minute to silence, deafen, paralyze and stupefy our faith. He has convinced millions that our mission is our own and not one driven by our Creator. Paul tells us the church in Corinth denied the resurrection. The sin of that church was of its own invention and yet as old as the Garden. They were ceasing to be the Church of God and quickly becoming the church of Corinth. That kind of organization doesn’t save anyone. It imprisons far more than it can rescue. Why? Because it has no supernatural power behind it. It drives itself on its own strength and understanding.
Jesus, on the other hand, says “Behold I am making all things new!” I hate the things of the world. We get so caught up in surviving that we forget we are here for another purpose. We get so caught up in the here and now we think these things must be the only and best available. They are not! The best of them are only symbols of what’s to come. I am ready to fight for what is real and stand on what is right. Will you fight with me? Will you stand with me? Only God knows where this road will lead but we can be promised it is to a better place than we could ever build or imagine on our own.
Doggone it, Church, the night is dark. It’s so dark I’ve thought about just giving up; about just farming watermelons and being done with the struggle against the darkness. But no! the resurrection is real. The night is dark but joy comes in the morning. We can’t give up now. We can’t walk away because it’s hard and bloody. We must stay in the fight because this fight is holy. Because lives are at stake. Because God has called us to it and it will not last forever. In the blink of an eye, we will be standing in radiant white in the presence of Jesus watching as this world is rolled up like a scroll and the new Jerusalem is let down out of the sky. In no time at all we will face the city that has no need of a Temple because the Lord God and the Lamb are its Temple. It will have no need of a sun or moon because the glory of God gives it light. Death and all things associated with it will pass away forever. Jesus and all those associated with Him will live forever. Don’t say to me the resurrection means little. It means everything. It’s time we live as if we are being raised instead of living as if we are dead to Christ and His power.