Ephesians 2:6 — New Life and True Life
It wouldn't take much to prove Christianity wrong.
Any atheist, any evolutionist, any Jew, any religionist knows it. If I were them, and I were to set out to prove that Jesus, the Bible, Christianity, etc. were all a lie, I would go for the jugular. I would go for the one thing upon which all of Christianity stands, the one thing which validates all other hopes, the one claim of the Bible, about which all other truths orbit.
For if I could show that this one thing, that one doctrine, were not true, it would prove definitively, once and for all, that Jesus Christ and everything associated with Him, was a sham, a myth, a lie.
What is that doctrine? It's not the literal six-day creation. It's not the coming judgment of the world. It's not the existence of miracles. It's not the existence of Satan. It's not hell.
It's the resurrection - the real, literal, bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I. All of Christianity Rests Upon the Doctrine of the Resurrection
Surprised? You shouldn't be. Think of the implications. If Christ were not raised from the dead, that means He's still dead. And if He had died and stayed dead just like every other human being it would mean that He's a liar. Therefore He's a sinner. Therefore, He is not the Son of God. Therefore, He is not God incarnate. If He is not the GodMan, His death did not forgive our sin. That means, there is no salvation through the cross. And that means God failed. If He did not rise again from the dead, Jesus Christ is not the Savior, the High Priest, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Shepherd of the sheep, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
And if Christ had not risen from the dead, that means that the Christian faith is a foolish, childish fantasy. Why? Because there is no eternal life. There is no hope of a physical resurrection. What's more, is that we are liars, because we say that Christ was raised from the dead. We ought to be scoffed and mocked as fools, for if Christ were not raised, it would be insanity to be a Christian. And thus, it would be just plain stupid to try and live a godly life; what would be the point?
Simply put, if Christ is still dead, Christianity is dead. If Christ is dead, and thus defeated by sin, truly we are dead in our sin. If Christ is still dead, if He did not rise again from the dead, there is no hope. There is nothing to salvage from Christianity. As Paul the apostle wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17 says, "and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins."
So then, even Christians know the absolutely critical place the doctrine of the resurrection plays. Indeed, without it, there are no real Christians!
And the world knows it too. Over the 2000 years of church history, the world has come up with all sorts of theories to try and refute the resurrection. And to be quite frank, they are quite lame. [For those interested in the particular, analysis and refutation of theories by Bible.org can be found here.] All of them fail for one critical reason:
Eyewitness. Paul makes it quite clear:
1 Corinthians 15
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised;
14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.
16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;
17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
The essentials of the gospel: Christ died for our sins as the Scriptures prophesied, He was buried, and then was raised from the dead on the third day as the Scriptures prophesied. How do we know He died and was buried? Eyewitness. How do we know that He was raised from the dead? Eyewitnesses - over five hundred in fact. How do we know some of the witnesses didn't lie? Jesus appeared in at least eight different circumstances, (six of which are listed in 1 Corinthians 15).
Paul is so confident in the fact of the resurrection that he even challenges the wavering Corinthians to go and find the eyewitnesses and ask them, for most of them were still alive at the time. Now that's evidence!
So then, we see that the resurrection is indeed not a myth. It's historical fact, with incomparable theological implications. And now, we can finally turn to our text from Ephesians 2.
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
II. The Doctrine of the Resurrection Motivates Us to Godliness
Last time we talked about how we were doubled dead, physically and spiritually through Adam, and yet have been made double alive, physically and spiritually, through Christ. The spiritual resurrection, of new birth in Christ, of being made a new creature alive to the things of God, has already happened. This time, I want to speak a bit about the physical resurrection.
Although there is much to glean from this text, I only want to pull one thing: if Christ has been raised, what does that mean for those who believe in Him today?
The first thing to note is that the words "raised" and "seated" are in the past tense, as if it has already been done. That is how confidently Paul can speak of believers' future - as if it's already done. Elsewhere he elaborates on this truth even more strongly:
10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
The promise is so sure, it is as good as done. He is even so bold as to speak of our future glorification, that is the resurrection from the dead, as if it's past tense!
From this foundation comes an exhortation:
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
In many places, Paul uses the resurrection as a key reminder and motivation for believers to live holy lives. 'You will be raised from the dead to live with Christ on high. You have been born again, out of the death of sin into the true life in Christ. Therefore, what are you doing, indulging in the sins from which you have been saved? Therefore, what possible benefit could you derive from the deeds of death? Those who indulge in sin are dead in sin! But you, Christian, are alive in Christ! You are headed to heaven to be with God! You are a child of God who knows the taste of true glory! So live like it.'
Imagine a man who all his life ate from the gutters. Moldy, filthy, rotting flesh was his everyday sustenance. Yet, by a miracle, and certainly by no virtue of his own, everything changes! He is brought up to dine in the palace with the king, brought into the royal family out of love and grace. How can this man ever go back to eating filth of the streets? If he were to leave his new home for his former filth we would call him a fool.
Such is the foolish Christian who entertains dining on sin when the richest delights of heaven are on his plate. His reason has fled, and his soul is in peril. Beware, child of God! Do not entertain the thought! Those who go back to the world and its lusts reveal their true wickedness.
Taste and see that the Lord is good, O Christian. He is all the best. Knowing Him is true life indeed.
The doctrine of the resurrection convinces us that we must believe the gospel. And, the doctrine of the resurrection convinces us that we must continue to persevere until glory. The promise is guaranteed; we must continue to hope what is already promised to us.
Again, if I were an atheist, or a Jew, or anything other than a Christian, and I were to set out to prove that Jesus, the Bible, Christianity, etc. were all a lie, I would go for the jugular. I would try and disprove the resurrection - the real, literal, bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And I would fail. And I would be faced with the reality-shattering truth: Jesus rose from the dead. The only question that remains is, "What am I going to do about it?" There is only one reasonable response: Repent and believe in Him. He is the Lord of all.