Summary: The resurrection of Jesus has a purpose to be fulfilled in our lives and a power made available unto us. Our knowledge of this purpose and power will make us victorious Christians.
THE PURPOSE AND POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION
There is a purpose for which Christ rose from the dead, and there is a power made available to us through His resurrection. We need to know both the purpose and the power for us to enjoy maximally our relationship with God with the accompanying benefits in this world and in the world to come.
- "I want to know Christ. I want to know the power of his resurrection." This is Paul's primary desire, this is what Paul wants more than anything else in this life:
- To know the living, the resurrected Christ, and to know the power associated with that resurrection.
- Furthermore, if he is not raised from the dead, then he has no power today. He is dead. His words might have some influence -- but he himself has no power.
- This is why the resurrection is so central to Christians: Christianity is not a religion based on abstract principles. Christianity is a relationship with a living Savior, a Savior we can know, a Savior who infuses our life and empowers us, who transforms us into his likeness.
- But what does Paul mean when he says he wants to know Christ? And what is this power of his resurrection?
- First of all, what does "knowing Christ" mean?
- Let us first consider whether or not this desire belongs to Paul alone. Is Paul stating a personal preference, or a truth that is central for all Christians? Jeremiah 9:23,24
- Knowing God is more important than wisdom, or strength, or riches. Think about the people who are most admired in this world. They are admired for these three qualities, aren't they?
- We tend to admire those who are bright, intelligent, and knowledgeable; or those who are physically gifted in strength, talent, or beauty; or those who have amassed great wealth.
- But the Lord says through Jeremiah that none of those are of great importance. What matters more than anything else is understanding and knowing the Lord, the covenant God who delights in kindness, justice, and righteousness.
- And this prominence of knowing God carries over into the gospels. Jesus himself, on the night prior to his death, prays for his followers, saying:
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
- Eternal life is what? Knowing God, knowing Jesus! Without knowing him, there is no true life.
- Peter also emphasizes this point:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
- Our knowledge of him leads to his empowering us with everything we need for life and godliness.
- John makes a similar point near the close of his first letter:
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-- even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
- John says that Jesus came so that we might know him. The purpose of the incarnation was our knowing him. This is central to the gospel.
- So Old Testament, New Testament, gospels, letters, Paul, Peter, John -- all agree that knowing God, knowing Jesus, is central. But what does knowing God mean? We get to know a person in part by being in his physical presence. But how do we get to know Jesus?
- Surely knowing God also is much more than knowing facts about God. How can we come into this deep, personal relationship with God?
How Do We Know God?
- First, surely we must know about him. So we do indeed need to learn about God. How do we do this?
- In part, by listening to faithful preachers of God's word. In part by regular reading and studying of the Bible. In part by witnessing the impact of God on the lives of others.
- But, second, we must go beyond learning facts. We must cultivate our own relationship with him. Let us consider three steps to cultivating a relationship with Him:
1. The first step is putting your faith in him: believing that He is the Son of God, believing that the event we celebrate today, the resurrection, really did take place, and wanting Him to make you into a new creation.
2. A second step is spending time in prayer. Pray alone, and with others. In prayer, you can share all your joys, frustrations, and sorrows with the God of the universe, the God who cares. Talking to God builds your relationship with him.