There are two dates this month (Sunday, March 10th and Sunday, March 31st) that affect our daily living; but there’s a danger that both become sim-ply something we remember once and then go on with life almost as if nothing has changed. Of course I’m talking about Daylight Savings Time beginning and Easter. I’ve found in my own life that the ‘springing forward’ is prepared for by changing all the clocks, and cele-brated because it means Spring is close and we’ll enjoy more sunshine as well as warmer weather and budding flowers, etc. But after a couple of days adjusting my sleep schedule, the fact that the clocks have changed fades into the background and it’s just ‘normal’ until Fall rolls around. Now I’m not suggesting we should always be thinking about the implications of the government’s decision regarding our clocks! But too often, celebrating Easter is just like turning our clocks ahead: after celebrating the empty tomb and singing wonderful res-urrection hymns, that truth fades and no longer impacts our daily living. But Je-sus’ resurrection is a Truth that absolutely does have daily implications and we need to understand that!
Not only is the resurrection of Jesus Christ a core doctrine of our faith, it is essential to our life here and now. The truth of Jesus’ physical, historical res-urrection has immediate and lasting con-sequences for all who trust in Him. It is a foundational part of who we are in Christ – “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). And, “We were therefore buried with him through bap-tism 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” (Rom. 6:4; cf. Col. 3:1; Eph. 2:5-7). There are tremendous implica-tions to having a Risen, Living, Reigning Savior! Do we understand how that affects our daily lives?
If Easter is going to be more than just a date on the calendar we’ll have to take some time on other days thinking about what and why we celebrate that day. Every Sunday we gather to wor-ship we ought to remember Jesus’ resur-rection since that’s why we meet on the first day of the week. But it’ll take more than that if we really want to dig out the precious truths from this goldmine of His resurrection. Just like diet and exercise, we won’t see good results and lasting change unless we stick with it and change some habits.
So I want to strongly encourage you to take time to really dig into and seriously think about two things: (1) That believers are not Zombies -the reality of Christ’s resurrection means that we are finally alive if we are united to Him through faith; and (2) That every morning we should wake up and remind ourselves that Jesus is Risen! That truth makes all the difference in the world to us that very day! The fact that Jesus has won the victory over sin and Satan, death and hell should transform my daily life.
My challenge to you last month was to take ad-vantage of some wonderful opportunities for preparing and reflecting together as we remember the Passion of Jesus, and more deeply understand why He came – that is, He came to die as a substitutionary sacrifice for sinners like me. And it’s not to late to join us on that journey of intentional thinking about repentance and faith: that’s the subject of the sermons through Easter as well as the Lenten services on Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons. The book discussion on the third Sunday after worship will also focus on Christ’s crucifixion as we examine the meaning of the Atonement.
Here are four books (none of them deeply techni-cal or difficult) that have helped me recently. I’ve read the first two and wholeheartedly endorse them, having profited from them greatly myself; the other two I’m currently reading and would love to get together with anyone to talk about either of them over a cup of coffee. I’ll quote the blurbs from the back of the book’s cover to give you a sense of what each is about.
The Resurrection: The Unopened Gift by Gerard Chrispin (Day One Publications, 2nd edition 2002).
“Many accept that there is overwhelming evidence that Jesus rose from the dead (though chapter one of this book summarizes that for anyone in doubt). Christians rightly rejoice that ‘He is risen!’ But how are our daily lives and understanding of the Chris-tian teaching affected by the resurrection?
Gerard Chrispin feels that many walk away from a priceless gift, just there for the unwrapping. We can live like paupers although God’s untold riches are within reach. … we must be ‘resurrection peo-ple’. He is convinced that a grasp of [the resurrec-tion’s] significance can help an unbeliever to life-changing faith, restore a wayward Christian to walk with the risen Lord, and encourage all who know Christ to serve and worship Him.”
Lifted: Experiencing the Resurrection Life by Sam Allberry (P&R Publishing, 2010).
“For many people the resurrection is a nice thing to believe in; a handy subject to return to at Easter time or when discussing apologetics. Otherwise we treat it as an event that happened long ago and far away – a ‘happy ending’ to the gospel, after the darkness of the cross. But Sam Allberry shows us that the resurrection is far more than a mere event. It isn’t just for Easter; it has overwhelmingly positive implications for our lives every day. The resurrection gives us real assurance of forgiveness and salvation, power to live new and transformed lives, and hope for life after death. Our lives are now different; we have been lifted.”
Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Eve-rything by Adrian Warnock (Crossway Books, 2010).
“Jesus truly is alive today. But compared to his atoning death, Jesus’ resurrection sparks relatively little discussion in the church. Inadvertently, we can become so focused on the good news that Christ died for our sins, that we almost for-get he was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
In Raised with Christ, author Adrian Warnock exhorts Chris-tians not to neglect the resurrection in their teaching and experience. Warnock takes his cue from Acts, where every recorded sermon focuses on Jesus’ resurrection. He stresses that Christians who faithfully proclaim both the death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and live out the implica-tions of that message in vibrant, grace‑filled churches, will be enabled to reach a world that lives in death’s dark shadow.
The power of the risen Christ is active in every true Chris-tian, transforming our lives. Raised with Christ will help you discover afresh the massive implications of the empty tomb. Jesus’ resurrection really has changed everything.”
Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Eve-rything by Steven D. Mathewson (Baker Books, 2013).
“Have you ever wondered why it’s important that Jesus didn’t just die on the cross but also rose again? In fifty brief chapters, Risen answers your questions and offers faith-filled meditations on the resurrection, taking these ancient truths and applying them to contemporary life. With compelling insight, Steven Mathewson shows not only why Jesus had to die but why his resurrection was neces-sary – and how our lives change when we understand and embrace this essential truth of the Christian life.”
Can I ask you to take even just 5-15 minutes twice a week for a month at the dinner table to read a few pages of one of these books? Read it, think about it, discuss it, pray about it and let’s see how the Holy Spirit uses these insights into the marvelous resurrection of our Lord and Savior to change us from the inside out!
Praying that we celebrate and experience the benefits of Christ’s resurrection every day,