The Profit of the Resurrection

The great profit of Christ’s resurrection for His people is what this article is all about. The writer, Rev. Thomas Vanden Heuvel, is pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Chino, California.

One of the most exciting times on the farm is the time of harvesting. I remember the threshing machines and the crews that came with them. The best part was the chicken dinner with homemade bread. I recall how we harvested potatoes, too. Dad would dig up the mound and we would pick up the new potatoes. At the end of the whole cluster of beautiful new healthy potatoes was the shriveled up shell of the seed potato. It died, and from its death a new plant came forth. What a lesson. Both Jesus and Paul use this figure to describe the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our resurrection.

Let us look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ in terms of what it profits us. It profits us in three ways: It conquers death, It empowers life, and it guarantees our resurrection.

Christ’s resurrection conquers death – There are two things about this conquest that we must see: first that death is overcome and second what is the booty from this conquest.

Death is the cause of much fear and insecurity in the world today. Sorrow is the lot of everyone of liS. If you have not yet, you will buy grave lots sometime.

Christ also died and was buried. The tomb was sealed. It looked as if death had conquered Him. But wait. Listen. “He is not here He is risen.” Death could not hold him.

What did Christ do? He conquered death. How? He bore the punishment against death. He paid the price in full

Death is dead. That can’t be true! Yes, it is true! Christ has through His resurrection conquered death. For those who believe in Christ death is no longer death. It is still the shadow of death, a shadow of fear, but it is not a terror. Psalm 23 says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” You see the sting of death is gone. What is that sting? It is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:56). That sting of death was driven into the side of Jesus Christ. He took the wrath of God upon Himself. Now we do not have to face the sting. We have victory.

We still must die. But for the child of God, death is now a gateway into heaven. We can say that our dear ones went home to be with the Lord. You see the fear of death is gone, because death is overcome. “I would not have you ignorant,” says Paul. “Comfort one another with these words.”

What do we get from Christ’s conquest of death? What is the “booty?” To the victor belong the spoils. After a victory the booty can be taken and distributed. The booty is righteousness. Christ won it and obtained it through His suffering and He distributes it to us and makes us partakers of it.

What is this righteousness? It is the right relationship in which man stands to God, so that nothing is considered to be against us anymore. It means to be in a free and clear and harmonious relation with God. This is the relationship in which we stood with Cod in paradise. But because of sin, this relationship was broken. So completely was it broken that we stood guilty over against God. We could no more speak freely with the Highest Judge. We needed to be reconciled and brought to harmony with this God. This is what Christ has obtained for us through His death. Not for Himself, He did not need to be reconciled. Our death was needed. Christ went into death for us. His sentence made us free. His death gave us life.

What do we receive? God grants to us the perfect righteousness of Christ, so that God looks at me as if I had never had any sin, nor had committed any sin, and as if I had actually done what Christ did, if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart (Heid. Cat., L.D. 23). John Chrysostom nearly 1600 years ago eloquently described the booty we receive in these words:

“Those who were formerly living in the shame of sin are now living in confidence and in justice.

They are not only free, but saints;

“Not only saints, but just men;

“Not only just men, but sons;

“Not only sons, but heirs;

“Not only heirs, but brothers of Christ,

“Not only brothers of Christ, but His co-heirs,

“Not only His co-heirs, but His members,

“Not only His members, but temples,

“Not only temples, but instruments of the Holy Spirit.”

Why was the resurrection necessary to make us partakers of His righteousness? Imagine a traveler lost in the desert. He comes to a well but it is too deep, and he doesnt have anything to draw with. There is the sparkling cool, clear water, but he can’t quench his thirst. So it is with the righteousness of Christ. There it is on Calvary’s cross. All is finished. Everything is now ready. The price has been paid in full. But there is no one to receive it. The wedding feast is ready, but where are the guests? They don’t come, they must be fetched. Therefore is Christ raised from the dead. He, the living Savior, comes to us and calls us to the wedding feast. He gives us the longing for food and the thirst for the water of life. He gives us the mouth to eat and to drink. He gives us the hands to receive. In this way we partake of His salvation. So He applies to us what He obtained for us. This happens every Sunday. Each Sunday, the first day of the week, is Easter. The living Christ comes with His gifts, through the preaching of the Word. He calls us. Through the Word He gives us true faith, by which we become partakers of His righteousness.

Christ’s resurrection empowers life – The second profit of the resurrection is that it empowers the new life. Our old nature, the sinful nature in which we were born is crucified with Christ and buried, and we are raised together with Christ. The new life is a radical change from the old life.

Remember the demon possessed man from the land of the Gaderenes? Where did he live? In the tombs and graves. He was exceedingly fierce and no man could bind him. Night and day he cut himself with stones and cried out. Jesus saw him, took pity on him, and healed him. He then sat at Jesus’ feet clothed and in his right mind. What a graphic illustration of the contrast between the old life and the new life.

Even though we perhaps dont experience as sudden a change as this man did or as Paul did, that does not mean that the change and the contrast between the new life and the old life isn’t as great. It is a deep root change. It will show itself all along the line. In business the new life will be a life of honesty, charity, kindness, justice. In education, the new life will see all things from the new life principle. This new life principle must be revealed in everything we do. In the home, in the family, in play, and recreation, the new life will operate. This new life is empowered by the resurrection. It is actually a resurrection.

What is the new life? It is nothing but the life of Christ in me. Galatians 2:20 says it so clearly: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me, and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Christ uses the example of the vine and the branches to describe this. In the believers, Christ lives forth. His life quickens us. The love we have in our hearts will be Christ’s love, then we will be prepared to bend down and wash each other’s feet. Then we can forgive and be merciful, offer ourselves and deny ourselves. We receive power from Him for our new life. Without Him we can do nothing. The new life grows in daily fellowship with Him. Can you see progress in your life?

Christ’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection – The third profit of the resurrection is that it pledges our resurrection. After justification and sanctification comes glorification.

I have never seen a man rise from the dead, have you? How do you know it will ever happen? How can a dead body arise? The bodies are all decayed and turned to dust, or drowned at sea, or burned. How do we know they witl arise? Christ arose and that is the sure guarantee that we will too. Christ‘s resurrection is a historical fact. It really happened on a certain day, at a certain time, and in a certain place that can be spotted on a map and visited. Because Christ arose, we will.

What is the connection between His resurrection and ours? He is the head and we are the body. He is the vine and we the branches. He is the first fruit of the harvest.

Paul uses the example of the seed. Just as the full ear blossoms forth out of the dead grain, so shall the body unfold in eternal glory. The body is sown in corruption, it will be raised in incorruption, sown in weakness, raised in power, sown in dishonor, raised in glory, sown a physical body, raised a spiritual body. Bodies raised in full maturity. In the resurrection all will be perfect and complete. There will be no sickness, no death. Those who are mentally deficient or handicapped will be there in full understanding and full strength. The cripple and the lame shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. J can remember a twelve-year-old girl who had been confined to a wheelchair all her life because of an acute paralysis. Her favorite song was: “When We Walk with the Lord.”

What a glorious meaning the resurrection of Christ has for us. He conquered death and gave us righteousness and we are justified by faith. He empowers us to live the new life and we are sanctified. He guarantees our blessed resurrection and we are glorified.

The natural man knows nothing of this. But we whose eyes have been opened, have seen the grace of Christ, the unmerited gifts of His resurrection. All these blessings are ours by faith in Him. Let us look back on Christ’s resurrection and be thankful and take courage and rest in the firm security that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lives again our glorious King; Where, O death, is now thy sting? Once He died, our souls to save; Where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led, Following our exalted head; Made like Him, like Him we rise, Ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Alleluia!