The Power of His Resurrection
Leaving the Grave BehindPastor Jerry Gillis - April 8, 2018
Community Group Study Notes
- Based on what we heard in Sunday’s message, what does it mean for us to have the power to live a new life? What does that look like?
- In what ways do we also have the power to be a witness? Why is this necessary?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday’s message?
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)
Famed theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Dr. Stephen Hawking, died a few weeks ago on March 14th. It was interesting because he's maybe the most famous scientist that was living. I think as far as scientists go, he might be the one most known around the world. I mean, movies been made about him, all of those kinds of things, so you probably remember him, had ALS, bright, bright man. You might find this coincidental or ironic, but he was actually, Dr. Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death and then he died on Albert Einstein's birthday. Do with that what you want. It seemed at least very interesting to me. One of the things that I found interesting about Dr. Hawking, and there's a bunch of them, is how he had a deep, deep quest for knowledge. His knowledge was aimed in a very specific direction.
He even talked about that some in one of his most famous works, called, A Brief History of Time, that he wrote in 1988. In it he said this. He said, "Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlined order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity's deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest and our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in."
He certainly wasn't shooting low, right? His desire was a desire for knowledge and that knowledge was about the universe and having a complete understanding kind of, of the knowledge of the universe. You see, here's what I found just in thinking about that, that everybody wants to know something. Everybody has a deep desire for knowledge of something. For Dr. Hawking, that may have been how the universe operates and how it works. For other people it might be something very, very different than that, but you've got a desire to know deeply about something. Maybe you specifically have some things that you want to know deeply about.
Well, when we turn our attention to the New Testament and we see one of the writers of the New Testament who wrote about two-thirds of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, we come to a, kind of a quick conclusion as to what Paul had a passion for knowing. In fact, we see it very clearly in Philippians chapter number 3, particularly in verses 10 and 11. It says this, Paul says, "I want to know Christ. Yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow obtaining to the resurrection from the dead." What's really clear to us is that Paul wanted to know Christ. In fact, when we bump up just a few verses before that in Philippians chapter 3, listen to the words that he uses. He said, "What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ."
See, Paul talks about the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, his Lord. He says, "I want to know Christ." I mean, this kind of idea that we're talking about here is a startling one indeed when we hear Paul talking about that, because if you are maybe knew to the Bible or maybe you're kind of new to all of this, and you're reading this maybe for the first time, or maybe the first time in a long time, there might be a natural question that you're asking. You might be saying, "Okay, I hear Paul saying, 'I want to know Christ,' but didn't he already know him?" That might be what runs through some of your minds, right? Didn't he already know him?
Well, certainly Paul was kind of arrested when he was making his way to Syria, Damascus specifically, and he was on the road headed that direction. He came into confrontation, kind of face-to-face with the resurrected Lord Jesus, who said to him, "Well, why do you persecute me," you know? They're having this conversation and Paul is transformed at that point. He went from being known as Saul to being known as Paul and he was transformed, so certainly he knew him in the sense of meeting the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. But I wonder, have you ever thought about, did Saul/Paul know Jesus before then? I have a tendency to think that he did, if I'm being quite honest with you. I can't slam dunk prove it from the Bible and I'm not necessarily going to try and slam dunk prove it, but I'll show you why I think that's the case.
See, they weren't separated in age very much. Paul was just a little bit younger than Jesus and he grew up, Saul did, in Jerusalem itself, and by his own admission in his own testimony, when he was in Jerusalem, in fact, in the book of Acts chapter 22, notice what he says. He says, "I'm a Jew. I was born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city," Jerusalem. "I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today." What he's talking about, he's talking about his background, right? Even though he was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, he grew up in Jerusalem. Growing up in Jerusalem, he had the opportunity to be trained, and mentored, discipled so to speak, by kind of the rock star of rabbis in that time, Gamaliel. Paul was a cut above. This wasn't just an ordinary kind of man, this rabbi, Gamaliel who was discipling him. You had to be a cut above to be kind of under his apprenticeship. Certainly Paul was thinking about the law and all of those things growing up in Jerusalem under Gamaliel.
We know that Jesus, during his ministry, made a number of trips to Jerusalem. You couldn't help, you had to maybe have your head in the sand if you would not have heard of Jesus and maybe not have seen Jesus, and ultimately would have know what had happened to Jesus in his crucifixion, in his beating, and ultimately in the news about his resurrection. Paul/Saul was there during all of that time and I can't help but believe that anyone who was such as student of the law, and who was so very zealots for the tenants of Judaism, and Saul, one who he felt like was a blasphemer and somebody who wasn't honoring that, I can't imagine that he didn't know that. Some scholars have actually argued that Paul was one of the unnamed lawyers who, in the gospels, were questioning Jesus from time to time. I don't know that to be true. I think it's purely speculative. There's no way to actually know that, but it's certainly a possibility because he was in the same place at the same time.
Here's what we do know. We do know that Saul was there when right after kind of the resurrection time frame, and the early church's beginning, and now the early church folks are starting to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the various places they are. People like Stephen and then Stephen is actually persecuted for preaching the gospel, and he's stoned to death there in Jerusalem right outside of the city walls, and you kind of see who was there. Acts chapter 8 says this, "Saul approved of their killing Stephen." He was right there. He was paying attention the whole time and a few verses later it says that Saul went actively about persecuting the church of Jesus Christ. I have a tendency to believe that he knew who Jesus was prior to the time of his seeing him at the resurrection. In fact, when Paul or Saul, when Paul at this time wrote his letter to the church at Corinth, he said something that I think might also be indicative of the fact that he knew Jesus prior to the time of the resurrection.
He said this in 2 Corinthians 5, "So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer." I have a tendency to think that maybe it's possible that what Paul is referring to there is the time before the time of the resurrection, before the time where his life was actually transformed and the way in which he viewed Jesus, having knowledge of him and having knowledge of him in a bit of a worldly way. All of that to say, I think that it's certainly possible and I would even argue that it's probably that Paul knew Jesus prior to the time of the resurrection appearance on the road to Damascus. Either way, though, here's what we do know. We do know that Paul knew Christ. If Paul knew Christ, why is Paul saying, "I want to know Christ?"
Well, I think he's saying, "I want to know Christ," because the idea of the word knowing there is an intimate knowledge. It's not just some knowledge of the facts about someone. This isn't the idea that he has an acquaintance. This is the idea of getting to know, at the most intimate level possible, at the deepest connection possible, the whole of who Jesus is. He's not talking about, "Hey, I've accepted a friend request from Jesus," or, "I've got a follow from Jesus." This is not what he's talking about. He's talking about a knowing that is rich, and is deep, and is intimate, and this is what Paul is trying to help us understand. I think it's amazing that Paul, who knew the resurrected Christ, writes, "I want to know him." That this is his chief affection above anything in the whole world, is knowing the resurrected Christ. There's nothing that comes before that.
I can't help but be honest with you. When I was studying and I was reading this, I was asking myself the question, is that really my chief heart passion? Is knowing Christ my chief heart passion in all the world? Is it yours? I mean, the Apostle Paul, who knew Jesus; who wrote about him by the revelation of the Spirit, who knew Jesus to be the one born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life, who knew Jesus to be God with skin on, who knew Jesus to be the one who would rescue the world through his perfect sacrifice in our place by his death on the cross, who knew Jesus as the one who resurrected from the dead, who knew Jesus as the one that ascended back to the Father, the one who is going to come, the one who holds everything together, who made the cosmos and who holds it all together, the one who not only made it, but will renew it. The one, Jesus, that Paul knew, he said, "I want to know him above everything.
Ladies and gentlemen, if Jesus is everything that he said he was, if Jesus has done everything that he's done, who else would we want to get to know more deeply than him? Who else? Yet, we allow, so often, so many other things to take place of that. That we want to get to know human relationships in a deeper way than Jesus. Then I've had people actually say to me, "Jerry, I struggle when you say that Jesus has to be my greatest love because I mean I love my husband," or "I love my wife in such a deep way." Or, "I love my kids in such a deep way." Or, "I love my grandkids in such a deep way. I can't imagine anything comparing to that." Listen, you are doing yourself an extraordinary disservice, because, listen, to love Jesus first is to love others best, because that's the only way that we'll actually be able to love them with his energy, and with his love. We can't manufacture these kinds of things. It comes from him, and so, to love him first and most is to actually love others best.
This is what we have to be able to grab hold of and Paul, I know understood this completely. But what Paul talks about here, when he says that, "I want to know Christ," is he talks specifically about what he wants to know regarding Christ. Listen to what he says in verse number 10 of Philippians 3, "I want to know Christ, yes to know the power of his resurrection. I want to know Christ and yes, I want to know the power of his resurrection." You see, I think it's interesting here what Paul does. You see, Paul is actually contrasting the power that he used to live in with the power that he now lives in. See, he says, "I want to know the power of his resurrection, because what I've done up to this point, prior to knowing Christ and having him transform my life, I lived in the power of the flesh. I acquired power in a different way."
In fact, when Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, he's actually trying to warn them so that they don't make the same mistake. You see, there are people that are coming into their midst, these new believers in Jesus Christ, which are mostly Gentiles in Philippi. This was kind of a Roman sub-colony, right? These people are coming to faith in Christ and now these people from Jewish backgrounds are coming in and saying, "Oh, but you not only have to receive Christ, but you have to also be circumcised. But you also have to follow the full tenets of the law. But you. But! But!" Paul says, "Yeah, I want to warn you about that, because that's the kind of religious resume stunting that didn't work for me, and it's not going to work for you."
Listen to how he said it. In the very beginning of Philippians 3, he says in verse 1, "Further my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. It's no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it's a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evil doers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reasons for such confidence." In other words he's saying, If you want to get into a human religious achievement kind of fight, then let's compare resumes. Here's what he says, "If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin. A Hebrew of Hebrews. In regard to the law, I'm a Pharisee. As for zeal, I persecuted the church. As for righteousness based on the law, faultless."
Anybody want to match that? Anybody want to try and put up a religious resume better than that, because when he's talking to these people, he's saying, "You're not going to be able to match my resume. If anybody's got an ability to put confidence in the flesh, it's me. By the way, that's what I did. I put confidence in the flesh and I found that, that power was powerless. It was powerless to save. It was powerless for holy living, and I found that out when I met Jesus. You see, now, as opposed to that power, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection." You see, he's contrasting these things, because he ends up saying, obviously, that this power had no power for righteousness in his own life.
Look in verse number 7. He said, "But whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in him. Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." What Paul is saying is this, "There was a power that I sought after and it was powerless, and it didn't make me righteous. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection."
Now, this power of the resurrection of Jesus is a power that Paul wanted to know, but he wanted the church to know it. He didn't just say, "I want to know this myself." He actually wanted the church to know it and in one of his other letters, he actually prayed very specifically that the church would know by the revelation of the Spirit, the power of the resurrection. Listen to his prayer for the church at Ephesus in Ephesians chapter 1. He says, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know," listen to what he says he wants them to know, "The hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and that you would know His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly realms."
Do you know what's stunning about this passage that Paul prays? That he spends more time articulating the idea of power. He actually expands the idea of power in a way, in the New Testament, that is not seen in any part of the Bible at all. Let me explain what I mean. Paul used no less than six Greek words to expand on the idea of power. In the translation that I've just read from, it actually took seven English words to translate those six Greek words, that were talking about the volume, the exertion, the strength, the force of the power that God demonstrated in raising Jesus from the dead. If I were to ask and kind of take a little bit of a survey, and I were to say, "What is it about God's power that most comes to mind when you think of God's power?" Most everybody, I'm not saying everybody, but most everybody is going to say, "His creation of everything. The cosmos, the universe, all of the universes, the galaxies, all of these things, right? I mean, all of the galaxies, right? You think about God's power and you think of that. Kaboom!
Yet, God's creative power is not talked about in near the degree of specificity with near the verbiage surrounding it about the extent of power that was demonstrated through the resurrection, as Paul uses right there in Ephesians chapter 1. In other words, it's almost as if, many scholars argue, that Paul is actually arguing that it was a greater exertion of Power on the part of God for the resurrection of Jesus than it was for the creation of all things. Think about it with me for a moment. I've been thinking about this. I want you to think with me. When God stepped out onto nothing and created everything, He was unopposed. There was no opposition. He was all that existed. God, in the beauty of His Trinitarian oneness, Father, Son, Spirit, God creates everything. But at the resurrection of Jesus, all of hell, Satan and every demon imaginable was trying to oppose what was happening. Add to that the weight of the sin of humanity that was holding Jesus in the grave.
I want you to pause for a second and think about, do you remember what it was like before you met Jesus? Some of you have forgotten. Hopefully none of you have. What it was like when you walked in darkness as opposed to light. What it was like to feel kind of the full weight of your sin. If you remember feeling the weight of your sin that felt unbearable, imagine if you were to take someone else's sin, one of your buddies who you knew was pretty messed up too, and they took their sin and it became yours? You already know the crushing weight of your own sin and now you're feeling the weight of theirs on top of yours. That's almost too much for anyone to think about or to bear. The Son of God took upon himself the sins of humanity that were holding him in the grave. Yet, the God who made everything unopposed said, "Watch, while everything opposes Me. Watch while all of hell tries to oppose Me. Watch while all sin tries to oppose Me. Get up." This is the power of the resurrection and it is an extraordinary thing.
By the way, what resurrection also does, as I've thought about it, in terms of an act of extraordinary power, is it is an act of new creation. When Jesus gets up from the grave, it is as if the old is gone and all things have become new. He is giving us the first fruits taste of what new creation is going to be all about. In fact, when he gets up in a resurrected body, he is not subject to the laws of the old creation anymore, because he can walk through walls if he wants to. Sign me up. We'll talk about that in a few weeks. He can do those things in his resurrected form. He's not subject to the laws of old creation. You tell me, what is harder to do and what exerts more power, original creation or the rescuing and remaking of a broken one?
Here's what I know. Even though creation itself and the resurrection itself required the power of God, God has more than enough, not an issue for Him. Whether unopposed creating everything, or whether completely opposed by all of hell and all of our sin, God still has the power to do these things. When we see Paul talking about the power of the resurrection of Jesus, we are seeing a description of such a mighty power as may not be described in any part of the scripture anywhere at all. This was an extraordinary event of God's power. Now, while that's the case at a very high level when we understand the power of his resurrection, it also, listen, the power of his resurrection was for something as well, that matters to us. It was for some things. I'm going to use a few theological terms, if that's okay with you, and I know it is, because I'm going to explain those theological terms, okay? But let me tell you what the power of the resurrection was for.
Here's the first thing. It was for our justification. You say, "Okay, Jerry, what exactly does that mean?" The idea of justification means that we are now in right standing with God. It's, in effect, a legal decree that says that we are in right standing, that we are now made righteous because of him, not because of ourselves. See, the resurrection is what gives rise to that. Paul said as much very clearly. I'm just stealing from his words. Romans chapter 4 says, "Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our," what, "Justification," right? He was raised to life for our justification. He died in our place, took our sins upon himself, rose from the dead, conquering our sin, conquering the grave on our behalf. Now, by faith in him, we are now declared, listen to this, we are declared not guilty before God, because Jesus has taken it all upon himself. The judge has stood in our place, taken our sentence, paid our debt, and now when we find our faith in him, we are declared innocent and righteous and in legal standing before God as people made right.
This is an extraordinary thing and it comes because of the grace of what God has done in Jesus through his death and resurrection, not based on what we have done. It matters for our justification. In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins." You see, the resurrection is what matters to everything. Listen, if Jesus just died for our sins and stayed dead, then we're dead too! But since he rose, we can leave the grave behind, just like he did. This is why the resurrection is so important for our justification. But it's also important for our sanctification. That's the second kind of theological word. Stay with me here for just a minute. The word sanctification means to be set apart, to be set apart from sin and be set apart to God. This is a beautiful thing for us and the reason this matters is because Jesus lives. The reason he lives is the reason that we can live a life that's separated from sin and set apart to God.
In fact, when Jesus is talking to his disciples in John chapter 14, notice what he says, "If you love me, keep my commands, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him, but you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. Before long the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live." See, these are the words of Jesus. Because he lives, we can live now. We can live, not strangled by sin, not overcome with the guilt of sin, not overcome with the burden of sin, but we can live our lives in a way that demonstrate the glory of God. Paul said it very clearly in Romans chapter 8. He said, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires."
Remember, Paul knows a thing or two about this. "But those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God. It doesn't submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh, but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you, and if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, because of His Spirit who lives in you."
Are you catching this? The same Spirit that got Jesus up from the dead lives in those of us who have put our faith in Jesus and been transformed by him. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in us. This is why we have the power to say no to sin and yes to God, because of that power that resides within us. But this also has to do, not only with our justification and our sanctification, but also our glorification. Jerry, what are you talking about here? Well, I'm talking about exactly what Paul says a little bit later on in Philippians chapter 3 and he makes it really clear. Here's what he says, "Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
I'm going to leave that for now, because I'm coming back to it in a few weeks and we're going to unpack all of that. I'm looking forward to it actually and so are you, and I'm telling you that in advance as a word of prophecy on your behalf, alright? But that's a glorious truth for us, that we will be glorified. Paul is speaking about, not only this idea of how at a very high level how powerful the power of the resurrection is, but he's also speaking as to why it matters in our lives. But let me break that down even further for us, because in a practical way, when Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection," here is, if I could say it maybe a different way for you to grab hold of, here's maybe what I would say. The power of the resurrection is the power to live like Jesus through the Spirit. The power of the resurrection is the power to live like Jesus through the Spirit. In other words, this is a power that we have, that's available to us.
Let me see if I can be even more specific. I'm going to say this in a straightforward way, and I've already said it in kind of a backdoor way. What does that mean for us? What does that mean? What is available to us as a result of this power? Here's the first thing. We have the power to live a new life. We've got the power to live a new life. You see, ladies and gentlemen, listen, when I came to a place at 19 years old where I stopped saying yes to myself, and by the grace of God and His power I said yes to Him and I yielded myself to Him, there was a power residing in me that I didn't have before, this power to say no to the old way of living, this power to say no to the acts of the flesh, and this power to say yes to God and actually do it.
That this was bigger now than will power, or trying to live some way in just being disciplined, or somehow impressing God with choices that we make, but instead was a power that came from outside of us that was now living inside of us, that we didn't have before. The power to live a new kind of life. This is imperative for us to understand. In fact, when Paul is talking in the book of Romans chapter 6, he says, "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means. We are those who have died to sin. How can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
We can live a new life. Why, because our life, that is now hidden in Jesus, we have been buried through his death with him, and raised in new life with him, because of the power of his resurrection. That is what we have. We have the power to live a new life. I'm going to ask you, if you would, to do away with something that maybe you have held onto. Maybe you just haven't known how to sort it out. We've got people who come from all different backgrounds. Some of you grew up in church and you came with all kinds of baggage. You grew up maybe a different kind of environment and you came with all kinds of baggage. I mean, listen, I've met people who've come to our church. "Where'd you come from," and they tell me all the churches they've been in and it's literally like they're carrying 40 pieces of Samsonite when they walk in the building.
Then there's others of you who didn't really have much of a church background at all and you just kind of came, and you're learning, and you're growing. That's actually sometimes a little easier to navigate, because we can dispense with all the kind of the tradition and the, you know, all the stuff, right, and we can just go, "Look, it's Jesus and it's about loving him, and it's about following him." We can start to get simplified along that line, as simplified as we can be. But you know what I want you to dispense with? This idea that for those of us in Christ, that we are just a sinner. Please leave that in the grave where you found it. You're not just a sinner. You're a saint who sometimes sins. That's what you are. That's what we've been called. That's what the Apostle Paul teaches us.
Now, you didn't here me say, "I never sin. I know." Paul didn't say that either, by the way. But we've got to dispense with this idea that we are just a sinner, because it's an identity that we take on. Think about how the world views it. If you are just a sinner and I am just a sinner, what difference is there between us? It's nothing that really attracts the world around us. Instead however, when the power of the resurrection, the Spirit of God is alive in us and we now have, listen to this, we now have the ability to say no to sin. Do you realize that before you knew Jesus, you didn't have a choice, you had to sin. It was your nature. It's who you were. You didn't have a choice. It's what you were. "I did some good things before I came to Christ." Yeah, you probably did, in pride. Next. Next.
But when we come to faith in Jesus Christ and he makes all things new, listen to this, we now have the power not to sin. Where before we did not have it, now we do, because of the resurrected power of Christ in us. This is what the world needs to see. They need to see people whose lives are new, that the old is gone and all things are becoming new, and we are living out of that reality as opposed to living in the false narrative that we are just sinners. You're not just a sinner. You're a saint. Move the furniture out of the grave! Stop going back and building campfires and living in the grave! You have been set free. Because he lives, you live! We are dead to sin. We are alive by the Spirit that lives within us. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is alive in us. We don't have to sin anymore. We will from time to time, and we will come before him, and we will turn from that. We will let Jesus into that mess and we will repent.
But this isn't a repentance unto salvation. This is a repentance unto fellowship and saying, "I know that, that's not who I am. I know that, that's not what you died for. I want to be who I'm supposed to be." You can be, just like a computer, like a computer that has been made, that will, listen, by all accounts, fulfill what it's been designed to be made to do, as long as it receives power from outside itself. You and I cannot do this thing we call the Christian life in our own power. But now, with the Spirit of God living in us, the power of the resurrection in us, a power from outside ourselves, we can start to live in the way we were designed, in the recreated image of Jesus. If we keep feeding the flesh, that will bear out a really rotten fruit.
Paul said it this way in Galatians 6, "Don't be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows," so does a woman. "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction. But whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." We have the power to live a new life, because of the power of the resurrection. But you know what else we have the power of? We have the power to be a witness. We not only have the power of being a new life, but we have the power to being a witness. By the way, our new lives become a witness to the people that are around us. But I'll remind you that what the apostles did when they were captivated by the resurrected Lord. Jesus had made them a promise prior to that and notice what he links together in Acts chapter 1, verse number 8.
He says, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Here's what he says. You'll receive power, when? When the Holy Spirit comes on you. Same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, be alive in you. Then what will you do? "You'll be a witness to me." This is what he said to his apostles. He said, "You're going to be a witness right here at home and then that's going to just spread. You don't know quite yet how I'm going to do that. You're probably thinking to yourself, 'What? The ends of the earth? How's that going to happen?' Trust me. I've got this all worked out."
By the way, if you look up where the apostles of Jesus died on a map, here's what you'll find. They all started in Jerusalem, and then it went, phew! You'll find them dying in India, and in Turkey, and in other places all around kind of the known world at that point, because the power of the resurrection, the power of the Spirit of God empowered them to testify to the resurrected Son of God. Many of them, most of them testified to their death. Listen to what else they did. They had this power. Acts, chapter 4, verse 33 says, "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and God's grace was so powerfully at work in them." Do you see it? With great power, they testified to the resurrection. With great power, they testified to the resurrection. Do you know how they testified to the resurrection? Because of the resurrection. Because of the power of the resurrection, they testified with great power to the resurrection.
Folks, we're resurrection people. We testify to a resurrected savior. That's the kind of people that we have been made to be. The world is going to press in on us. The world is going to try and shape us into its mold. The world is going to try and intimidate us. There may come a time in my own lifetime that preaching the gospel that I preach becomes criminal. There may come a time in my lifetime that, that happens. I'm not trying to say that to be like all scary guy. Just look at what's happening in the world that we live in. Our neighbors to the north in Canada, there were pastors put in jail for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and saying things that people said, "That's hate speech." Now they're trying to make hate speech of everything that we say related to the gospel. "You don't dare call me a sinner. That's hate speech."
What? That's love speech, because if you turn from your sin and find grace in Jesus, you wouldn't spend eternity separated from God. This is love speech. Yet, the world that we live in is going to press on us hard and it's going to come down to whether or not we're willing to be witness by the power of the resurrection within us. You see, when you read the book of Revelation, you find out, and I know people say this all the time and it's certainly true, we read the book of Revelation and we find out, guess what? We win, right? Jesus wins. The church wins, right? We find that out in the book of Revelation. But at what cost? This is the question we want to avoid. Except when you read Revelation and you can't help but see it, they are dying for the testimony of Jesus, dying for the testimony of Jesus.
But you know why that wasn't a problem? They'd already left the grave behind. They knew what the power of the resurrection actually is. We will know what the power of the resurrection is. How? When we know Christ. That's where it begins, to know Christ. See, this all begins with knowing Christ. We're filled with the power of his resurrection, the power of the Spirit of God. Do you know what it enables us to do? To live like Jesus. That's what the world needs. The world needs people who live like Jesus, not by our own power, not by our flesh, not by our impressive human religious achievement, but by the power of the Spirit of God that resides within us.
Now, here's the thing. For some of us, I think it will take the revelation of the Spirit for us to get this. Here's why I say that, because Paul believed that's what it was going to take when he prayed for the church of Ephesus. Paul prayed for them that they might be enlightened to this reality and to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. That's what I'm going to do for us. I'm going to pray for us using, in many ways, Paul's words for that same enlightenment. Would you bow your heads with me?
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come. Father, by the power of Your Spirit, I pray that You would enlighten our eyes and You would give us a revelation of the reality of what it means for the power of the resurrection to reside in us. That the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in us and that we have the power to live a new life because of Your power.
We have the power to be witnesses to Your glory because of Your power, not because of our flesh, not because of our attainments, not because of our ancestry, not because of our lineage or our privilege, but because of Jesus. May we have a changed desire because You open our eyes, and You, by the revelation of Your Spirit may You give us a changed desire to want to know Christ more deeply, because Jesus, you're the one who has rescued the world. You're the one whose made the world. You're the one who holds it all together. You're the one who has killed and conquered sin and death in the grave. Who else would we want to get to know so deeply? As Peter said when you asked him, "Peter, are you going to leave too," and he said, "Where else will we go? Only you have the words of eternal life."
May You give us a want to, a desire to know You above everything, because what the world needs is to see You in us more than they need to see us. The power of Your resurrection is what's good for us and it's what's good for the world. May we desire to know you above all, Lord Jesus. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.