In a recent post, I dealt with resurrection and the powerful prayer in Ephesians 1. The passage makes clear the power of the resurrection working in us brings assurance of our hope in eternal life. But eternal life may not be what you think it will be.
Some people think that going to heaven is mostly about going to a place — seeing the streets of gold and pearly gates. But Jesus says in his wonderful prayer for his followers in John 17:1-3 “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is not mostly about going to a place. It is about knowing the Father and the Son — being in greater relationship with them. All the things that distract us from this now will be over. All the limitations we have now in truly experiencing their glory and understanding them will fade away.
What do you think this will look like in heaven? I hope we can have a conversation about this.
We moved here directly from Germany. We immediately noticed quite a difference. We stayed in Seoul several days before heading to U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys. There were signs of poverty, fairly regular, in both the city and the countryside. The streets were far less clean in places. The crowds were much greater than we had ever experienced (we could not believe how many Koreans would cram into a elevator). But there was beauty, too. The azaleas came out that week.
We appreciated the friendliness of the people and the really different food — though a lot is too hot for me. We’ve learned to really love the people.
Before coming, we wondered how Koreans would react to trouble with the North. Most of the time, I would compare it to people in Central and North Texas being told there was a Tornado warning. They just said, “OK” and went about their business — just used to it. Tell them a tornado has been sighted 5 miles away and you have their attention.
As I write this, there is more concern. North Korea has had several nuclear tests recently and tests of longer reaching missiles. Couple this with the local political scene being unstable at the moment and a new U.S. President and tensions are high.
Right now I need to check my NEO bag and put it in the car. I need to travel to another base and think I’ll take it with me, this time. It needs to be ready at all times, in case they evacuate non-essential Americans with the military community. It contains a few pieces of clothing, a gas mask, bottled water, snacks, and a lot paper work, which includes my marriage certificate and my last will and testament. The training has prepared us to drop everything and walk, not drive, to the building on base we are to gather in such circumstances and prepare to helicopter out of here. Training even included a thirty minute ride in one of these, a CH-47 Chinook, which turns out to be the fastest of the locally based helicopters. If we ever need it, we’ll appreciate that.
Next post we’ll explore our reactions to dangerous times.
In the past, I’ve made the mistake of separating out and focusing on v. 19, “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” I considered the mention of the resurrection as being the greatest illustration of that power. I wanted power — in my prayers, power to change, and power to do great things.
Now I realize the passage is saying a good deal more than that. Paul is praying for the greatest of gifts God can give the Ephesians (or us) — a real knowledge of Christ and an understanding, deep in their hearts, that the work done in the resurrection carries on in them — ensuring their eternal future and empowering them to put Christ in his proper place as Lord. They will then actually be the church, demonstrating his fullness.
Truly knowing Christ requires wisdom — perception — in who he really is, what he has really done and what he is still doing. The result is experiencing him in a relationship that truly changes us. We relate to him as ever present friend, companion and as an advocate who is always on our side. But we also relate to him as Lord — he brings life, peace, newness, glory, and joy as we follow his way. He is the good shepherd, choosing our path and guiding our way as we are going through this life and the next. He knows us well, as his sheep and we know his voice and follow it. (John 10:14-16)
As you celebrate Easter and remember the resurrection, I pray you will think of the change it makes in your life. Choose something today that you have been holding back from his lordship, keeping it for yourself. Allow the power of the resurrection to work there. Ask Jesus to come in this area. And allow him to guide you through it to better things.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experience in this, Kent.
Jesus makes it clear to Martha in John 11 that he more than has power to raise Lazarus — he is resurrection, he is life. Then he raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is wanting to pass on this part of his nature to all who believe in him. There is more taking place here than a great miracle done for the sake of Lazarus and his sisters, though that certainly is part of what is happening. There is a demonstration of his being the resurrection, of his being life and an encouragement for his followers to tap into this — eternally.
The more I study about how to overcome sin, the more I see we need the power of resurrection to do so. This is what enables us to be a new creation, to change our very nature. We have no hope of radical change without it.
How can you see the power of resurrection changing you?
When I was young, I attended churches who never had an Easter service (or Christmas, for that matter). This we were told is something denominations did, not churches true to the first century model. The resurrection of Christ was celebrated every week.
Only a small percentage of Protestant churches will have a good Friday service but the Easter services will be the best attended of the year. In spite of this I believe the death of Christ and the power of his blood are preached a good more during the year than the resurrection in the majority of churches.
The death of Christ, indeed should be spoken of regularly — even weekly. It is the blood of Christ that covers our sins and brings us forgiveness.
But the study I’ve done in the last couple of years leads me to believe the resurrection deserves equal attention.
2 Corinthians 5:14-17 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
The death of Christ enables us to die to ourselves but the resurrection is what enables us to live anew — to really change. This is made even clearer in Romans 6, when Paul talks about baptism.
More about this tomorrow.