Well, if you are anything like me, yesterday was difficult. We celebrated one of the strangest Easter Sundays of our lifetime. It was quite possibly the strangest Easter Sunday since that first Resurrection Sunday. Celebrating Easter from our homes was far from ideal, but it was nice to see everyone making the most of it. I want to encourage you to keep the benefits of Christ’s resurrection on your mind. I trust you were blessed by the many reminders you received of the goodness and greatness of God. The resurrection is the foundation of our faith.
The Heidelberg Catechism provides us with some very encouraging words to continue to consider. It gives believers three things to reflect upon regarding the benefits of Christ’s resurrection. Celebrating Easter Sunday yesterday should not conclude our meditation on the value of the resurrection for us today (and for all eternity).
Q. 45: What doth the resurrection of Christ profit us?
A.: First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death;1secondly, we are also by His power raised up to a new life;2 and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.3Heidelberg Catechism Q.45
1. Christ’s resurrection confirms His substitutionary death on the cross for us in the past.
“First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death
If Christ has not been raised, then we would remain under the penalty of our sins (Romans 4:25). It would mean that death had defeated Christ. We would have no hope of entering into heaven by way of his righteousness. But Christ was triumphant on the cross. And since he did rise from the dead, we know that his death purchased the righteousness we needed for redemption.
Speaking in a general way, it may be said that all the benefits of Christ’s death are also fruits of his resurrection; for his resurrection secures the effect which his death was designed to have.Zacharias Ursinus
The first of the benefits of Christ’s resurrection is that it proves His defeat of sin on the cross. If you take away the resurrection, you lose redemption too.
The Reassurance of the Disciples
In my office hangs a painting that my wife bought for me almost twenty years ago. It is the work of Eugene Burnand who painted it in 1898. Mine is a printed copy, but it is nicely framed. The painting portrays John and Peter heading to the tomb after they had heard the news of the resurrection. John is young and clasping his hands as if he is full of hope. The older Peter is holding his right hand over his heart while pointing forward with his left hand. They look tired, even a bit anxious.
And it’s no wonder the disciples look tired. For a few sleepless nights, they had been mourning the death of their Master. At this point, they were restless and confused. But the news of the resurrection would confirm everything Jesus had ever told them. It would confirm that the death of Jesus was all part of God’s redemptive plan. They were about to transition from feeling shattered and alone to being reassured and confident in God’s promises.
2. Christ’s resurrection proves that God enables us to live for Him in the present.
“secondly, we are also by His power raised up to a new life”
Apart from the resurrection, we would remain under the power of our sins. We would have no access to the life-giving power of Christ. Our union with Christ in his resurrection is what allows us to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). This is also why we seek to live for things that are above, in heaven, rather than what is earthly (Colossians 3:1). We place a much higher value upon our heavenly rewards than any security we might enjoy here on earth. Although we were dead in our sins, because of the power of the resurrection, we have now been quickened or made alive, by the grace that saved us (Ephesians 2:5).
An Opportunity For Generosity
Think about how that might apply to you and me today. Many of us will be receiving our stimulus checks in the mail this week if we don’t already have them. Maybe you already have a plan for what to do with that money. I want you to consider being generous with this money.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.2 Corinthians 8:9
Christ descended to us, becoming like us, and taking our place upon the cross. And now that He is risen and ascended to the right hand of the Father, we know that he represents us even now. And because He was generous to offer His life, we know that He can cause us to become generous as well. Since He has secured the greatest blessings of eternal life, we can generously use our earthly blessings to support others who are in need.
Probably most of us know of someone who has experienced significant economic hardship because of the Coronavirus. Some have taken pay cuts. Others have lost their jobs. Some of us may not be sure what our future holds, especially as this continues to drag on. I do not know your precise situation, but I can imagine that many of you have not experienced any significant financial impact. Maybe your retirement has gone down some, but depending on your age, there is plenty of time for that to recover.
Introducing the Deacon’s Fund
If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t sure what to do with the money, I want to point you to a new category we have for online giving. We have added a category to designate which fund you would like your donation to go toward. Please continue to give your regular gifts to the “General Fund”. We depend upon those gifts for our regular budget.
But now, whenever you have an additional gift that you would like to give (such as a stimulus check that you did not really need), we have added the “Deacon’s Fund” as an option. Initially, we plan on keeping those funds reserved for supporting others in the church who have a financial burden. You can find our secure online giving portal at the top right corner of our website (or click here to go directly to our giving portal).
3. Christ’s resurrection promises our own resurrection in the future.
“and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.”
If Christ was not resurrected, then no one will be resurrected. So not only would we lose the spiritual benefits and blessings of that resurrection life in the present, but we would also lose the physical benefits of it in the future. However, we know that the same God who rose Christ from the dead will cause us to rise from the dead by his Spirit (Romans 8:11).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.1 Peter 1:3-5
The resurrection gives us a living hope! We have an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that is kept in heaven for us! We rejoice in this truth. Regardless of the trials and difficulties we face right now, Christ’s resurrection guarantees our future.
The benefits of Christ’s resurrection include past, present, and future blessings for believers to continue to meditate upon for all eternity. We are confident that Christ’s death fully satisfied the justice of God. We know that the resurrection enables us to live for him–we can generously give of our earthly resources even though we are in the midst of uncertainties. And knowing that Christ has secured our heavenly reward fills us with an unshakeable hope.