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RESURRECTION POWER

DR. JOHN WOODWARD

 

Our family used to live a short drive north of Niagara Falls. This awesome sight is one of the major tourist attractions of North America. The Niagara River flows over the American Falls and, on the Canadian side, the Horseshoe Falls. They rate as the third greatest in the world in the power and volume of water that flows over them. Would you believe they average about 212,000 cubic feet (6,003 cubic meters) of water per second?! This flow is regulated by an elaborate control system built about 50 years ago. The vast movement of water has been harnessed for hydroelectric power. A system of canals and tunnels feed two huge power plants several miles downstream from the falls that send electricity over vast networks of power lines.[1]

 

This reminds me of the importance of power–and the major problems that are caused by a power outage. Most of us can relate to times when the electricity has gone out for one reason or another. Hopefully not before backing up/saving that document you’ve been typing on your computer!

 

You may not be bothered by a lack of electrical power, but perhaps you’re really desperate for an increase in personal power for living. This leads us to a text that summarized the apostle Paul’s aim in life:

“that I may know Him [Christ] and the POWER of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10).

 

Let’s take a look at the topic of the resurrection of Christ and its implications for empowering us to live abundantly today. Consider four qualities of the power of the Resurrection.

 

Life-giving power

 

First, the power of Christ’s resurrection is a life-giving power. Recall the profound words of the Lord Jesus to Martha (that He uttered before He miraculously called Lazarus from the tomb): “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26). We are born into this world as descendants of Adam with a fatal problem–spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1;Rom 5:12).

 

No amount of will power, electrical power, or atomic energy can make a spiritually dead person spiritually alive. Thankfully, what is impossible with people is possible with God (Matt. 19:26). When we repent and believe the gospel, we experience the Holy Spirit’s life-giving power:

 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5,6; see Acts 17:30-31).

 

Salvation is not the only aspect of God’s life-giving power that the believer experiences. Paul counsels us, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Although this at first appears to be a reference to our future bodily resurrection (asin Phil. 3:20-21), the context relates this promise to the Spirit’s ministry of giving us a life that is victorious over sin (see Rom. 5:10).

 

Spiritual power

 

Second, the power of Christ’s resurrection is a spiritual power. One of the implications of this is that the need for physical exercise and rest is not cancelled by the spiritual life. For example, when Elijah was chronically depressed after his mountain top victory over the prophets of Baal, God’s prescription was sleep and nourishment (2 Kings 19:5-8).

Another implication is that Christ empowers us to live as spiritual people. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God … he who is spiritual judges all things (1 Cor. 2:12,15).

 

This also means that we are not expected to have the resources to live a life pleasing to God apart from His enablement! Emotional energy, mental effort, and will power are not adequate for abundant life. Paul testified that he and his co-workers were, “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:10,11).

 

Supernatural power

 

Third, the power of Christ’s resurrection is a supernatural power. This has already been implied, but deserves special emphasis. Notice the aim of the apostle’s intercession for the believers in Ephesus:

 

“Therefore I … do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His POWER toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:15-21).

 

Oh that we would prayerfully receive this illumination to grasp the supernatural power that we have received in the risen and ascended Christ!

 

Sovereign power

 

Finally, the power of Christ’s resurrection is a sovereign power. The New Age movement offers supernatural power from an occult source for humanistic ends.[2] Christ’s resurrection power, however, is for those who know Christ as Lord and is intended for God’s purposes (see Acts 2:36-382 Cor. 13:4). Christ’s sovereignty is announced in Revelation 1:18: “I [Jesus] am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” God’s sovereign power is only available for His royal purposes.

 

After His resurrection, when Christ commissioned His disciples to be His witnesses throughout the world, He instructed them: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The book of Acts records this miraculous fulfillment (See Acts 1:8-2:40).

 

Fellow believer, in what ways do you especially need Christ’s resurrection power in your life? Do you need strength to resolve anger? Power to forgive someone who has hurt you? Enablement to be patient in irritating circumstances? Ability to keep your promises? Strength to fulfill your responsibilities? Power to break free from a stubborn habit? Resources to have an effective ministry? All of the above? Then turn to Christ–your Savior, Lord, and Life–and appropriate His limitless strength! How can you do this practically?

1. Confess your spiritual weakness.

 

“He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew [exchange] their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

 

2. Repent of any unconfessed sin.

 

“If [since] we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

3. Fully surrender to Christ’s lordship.

 

Self-will grieves and quenches our source of power–the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:201 Thess. 5:19). Christ calls us to radical discipleship: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

 

4. Depend on Christ’s resurrection power continually.

 

Embrace the assurance of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

As we abide in Christ, His resurrection power will be displayed through our lives. So, let’s share the apostle Paul’s goal to more fully know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Since there is no more amazing source of power in heaven or on earth, give thanks for this endowment and live accordingly!

 

Notes:

[1] “Niagara Falls” in Grolier’s Encyclopedia Americana

[2] for a brief evaluation of the New Age Movement from a Christian perspective, see “The New Age Movement,” by Kerby Anderson. Probe Ministries- http://www.probe.org/docs/newage.html

Article | IOM America | Grace Notes (c) 2000 by John Woodward. 2nd edition.

 

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