Raised with Christ: How the Dead Come Alive

Over the last few days, I’ve been reading Richard Gaffin’s By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of SalvationHalfway through, the point that has had the most impact on me is his section on resurrection and union with Christ. His major point is that when Christ was raised from the dead, we who are in union with Christ, were raised too. Leaning on the firstfruits imagery of 1 Corinthians 15:20, he shows how Paul understood Christ’s resurrection as of a piece with our resurrection.

The implications of this are manifold, but let me mention three:

(1) In Christ, we experience the resurrection now in our “inner man” as God makes us alive in Christ (Eph 2:5). Thus, the resurrection is not simply a future reality for the Christian, it is a present reality. The future has been pressed into the present, such that Christ’s resurrection becomes ours and makes us alive, when the resurrected Christ sends his Spirit to enliven our dead souls.

(2) The bodily resurrection that we will experience when Christ returns is not a different or second resurrection. Rather, the resurrection of believers in the future is part of the same harvest. Like Christ, we will be sown into the ground, to be raised on the last day (not the third day), but in truth, we have full assurance of this resurrection because Christ has been raised from the dead.

(3) Those who are made alive in their inner man are the ones who will be physically resurrected at the second coming. To say it more forcefully, only those who have resurrection life now (expressed in faith, repentance, spiritual fruit, etc.) will be raised with Christ then, when the harvest is completed.

Altogether, his thoughts have been swirling in my mind as I prepare to preach Romans 4:25 this Sunday: “Christ was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” It is a glorious reality that Christ’s resurrection not only vindicates his righteousness (1 Timothy 3:16), but his justification/vindication is my justification/vindication by means of union with him.

Keeping all that in mind, I came across this video (HT: Glen Scrivener) which wonderfully depicts with “lightning bolt cords” the way that Christ’s resurrection raises me and you (if you are in Christ) from the dead. Take five minutes to watch, and marvel at how God justifies us by the death and resurrection of his Son.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Christmas in Dark Places

Okay, so I must make a confession. I have become quite a fan of spoken word poetry. I didn’t know quite what to think when Jefferson Bethke ripped religion and rhymed for Christ—after all Scripture does commend (some) religion (James 1:27). But I think I am catching up now. And, after learning more, I greatly appreciate Jefferson’s viral video.

Jefferson’s craft (spoken word poetry), an art form which preceded him and has benefitted from his exposure, is a great medium for communicating punchy, lyrical rhymes about any number of biblical truths. At Halloween this year, I ran across Glen Scrivener’s “Halloween: Trick or Treat?” and thus when I heard he was doing a Christmas video, I was surprisingly excited.

Among other things, Glen is a spoken word poet who hales from the land down under (which you will need to know to understand his video) and now lives in the United Kingdom. His poem is very British (or Australian), but the message is right on. My favorite meditation reflects on the fact that the Word who spoke the world into existence became speechless.

What a thought! The Word in the form of a babe was for a time unable to speak. What incredible grace and patience to endure the muteness of infancy in order to speak to me—and to you!

Glen’s poetry, like Jefferson Bethke’s and others is something you should keep an eye out for. It will stir your heart and it is a great medium to share with others, especially unbelievers!

For more on the theme of light coming into the darkness, see my (more theological and less artistic) posts:

Darkness: The World Into Which Christ Was Born

Between Darkness and Light: The Lord Who Ordained the Darkness

The Light of the World Never Fades

Soli Deo Gloria, dss