Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why I Am a Lutheran, Chapter 7 We Will Live Forever (Resurrection)--Daniel Preus

“Jesus conquers death by raising Himself from death to life. The importance of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be overestimated. The Christian faith stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus. Any faith without the resurrection of Jesus is nonsense. If the one who came to save us from death lies still and cold forever in the grave, Christianity is a sad joke. St. Paul says: ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). Those who would deny the resurrection of Jesus and who would reduce Christianity to a set of moral principles have little to do with the apostle Paul, who declares: ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:9). Paul even said that if Jesus did not rise, he, Paul, was a false witness and a man without hope (1 Corinthians 15:14-15).

Either Jesus rose from the grave or He did not. If He did not, there is little in life that really matters. We can have no hope. We can have no lasting joy. We can have no solid foundation on which to base our faith and our lives. But if Jesus did rise, the future has hope, our lives have meaning, and His Word provides a strong foundation on which to build and by which to live. And Jesus did rise! St. Paul declares: ‘But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). Again, in reference to Jesus’ resurrection, Paul exclaims: ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57). And Jesus’ resurrection is a victory for us.

Frequently, it is difficult to believe that our lives contain anything victorious. It is difficult to believe that evil does not triumph over good. It is difficult to believe that Jesus really accomplished anything for us when we see how faithful Christians suffer and our faith seems at times to be futile. Then we look at the passion and death of Jesus. History has known many dark hours but none as black as those hours when the Son of God was on the cross. There the powers of evil converged on Jesus and released their full fury. Who could have believed that any good could have come out of this? But God took this darkest moment and out of it He brought forgiveness, life, and everlasting glory. That is why our faith ultimately can conquer evil in this world—not because nothing will ever go wrong for us and we will never suffer, never sin, and never succumb to temptation, but because the Son of God took on Himself our human flesh and through His suffering, death, and resurrection robbed the devil and his evil forces of all hope for a final victory. In fact, Jesus’ resurrection is the declaration that God already has defeated all evil through Christ, His son. In the resurrection God has passed sentence on Satan and on all the evil that nailed Christ to the cross.”

What an amazing passage from an awesome book! This beautifully expresses what the Resurrection means to us as Christians, and what joy and peace we have because of it.

No comments: