Philippians 3:7-14
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I have come to think of Easter and the resurrection, not only as history or even as a future promise, but also as something that dramatically impacts the present. We’re not simply “going to heaven,” but rather, Jesus has brought heaven to us and has begun His resurrecting work in us now. We live between the resurrection of Jesus and our future, bodily resurrection. The ultimate destination is the new heaven and new earth—Paradise restored. And so, we have a lot to celebrate, and the celebration should begin now.

As we have often said, the church celebrates the resurrection every Sunday. In fact, this is why we meet on the first day of the week to commemorate and celebrate. The resurrection is not incidental to other things we do on Sunday e.g., prayer, communion, teaching, baptism, fellowship, confession. Rather, all that is done in worship springs from the reality of our Lord’s resurrection. Easter Sunday is a good day to remind us of what we’re doing on all the other Sunday’s of the year. As such, we need to know more particularly what it is we’re celebrating. The implications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ should quicken our hearts and fill us with joy.

How did an obscure band of the disciples of Jesus overthrow and transform the world? What drove them? What empowered and enabled them? And not just them, but Christians through the centuries have transformed entire cultures. Francis Schaeffer observed that a hundred years after Christ was nailed to the cross and He rose from the dead, the gospel spread throughout the whole earth. Individual men and women were changed. Marriages and families were changed. In the first few centuries, an obscure, minority, illegal sect changed the world! The Christian faith swept in a new worldview to replace a pagan worldview. All over the Roman Empire people began to abandon their cyclical, self-contained worldview to embrace the gospel. The intellectual reversal was enormous. This is what Easter does. He chose the weak to confound the mighty and to glorify Himself. God loves to use little men and women who have great faith. He makes the dead live!

Sometimes, when we hear about what “God used to do,” we might be tempted to think, “Oh, that was a long time ago.” We imagine that ancient history is somehow different from our own times. We can believe any story, no matter how big, how mighty, how amazing, as long as it happened long, long ago—even a resurrection. Things are different now.  Indeed, things are different, but what does that have to do with God’s ability to act?  Has God changed?  Is He not the same, yesterday, today and forever? Not only can God do today and in the future what He has done in the past, I would suggest that what He has done in the past is a clear indication of what He intends to do in the present and the future. The resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, of Lazarus, and also the many saints at the time of the crucifixion were precursors of the great resurrection of Jesus, and then, there’s the promise of our own resurrections. As Jesus said to Martha, after raising Lazarus:

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? —John 11:25-26

The doctrine of Christ’s resurrection is not merely the central doctrine of Christianity. Perhaps its most significant feature is that it constitutes the transforming power of Christianity itself. Christ’s resurrection inaugurates His universal Lordship, and Christians must press His claims in all areas of life and thought. The old evangelical maxim, “If Jesus Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all” is emphatically true. By recovering the resurrection as the central doctrine of our Faith, we can reverse our spiritually dull and defeated lives and the church can recover its victorious, sin-defeating, world-conquering vision. The vision that once turned the world upside down and gradually, but decisively, brought the Roman Empire to its knees; this vision can vanquish our present secular culture today. N.T. Wright wrote:

…left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present…is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second….[1]

[1] N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, p. 30. This book helped my perspective on the resurrection and this blog post is a reflection of some of what I learned from it.