As we just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, let us resolve to live by this truth. Spurgeon once said, "Very few Christians believe in the resurrection." When I read this, I thought it was a misprint, but I immediately had the witness of the Holy Spirit that it was true. We are told in Romans 10:10 that we must believe in our hearts, not just our minds, for it to result in righteousness. We believe in the doctrine of the resurrection, but if we really believed in the resurrection in our hearts, our lives would be radically different.
How would they be different? First, we would not be so consumed with the things that are temporary, but rather with the things that are eternal. There is a saying that some are "so heavenly minded that they are not earthly good," but the truth is that many Christians are so earthly minded that they are not doing much good for Heaven or earth. The historic truth is that those who were the most heavenly minded are the ones who have always done the most good for this present world.
Those who are heavenly minded, who are obeying the exhortation to seek first the Kingdom, are the freest people on the earth, and they will become more and more obvious in the times to come. We are told in Colossians 3:1-4:
Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
A nurse once asked why Christians did not die in a better way. She could not understand why they were so fearful if they believed in Christ and had eternal life. This is a good question. Every Christian should die with the greatest joy and expectation. We should also live the same way, as the most free people on earth because we are not bound by the ultimate yoke of bondage – the fear of death.
The resurrection is the greatest hope that even the worst thing that could ever happen will result as a victory. As we are told in II Corinthians 2:14: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." So for those who follow Him, it is not a matter of if they will have victory, but how. If we follow Christ, we cannot lose.
Just as the most celebrated victories in war or sports are those that are won against the greatest odds, the same is true in Christ. We want to see the supernatural power of God, but we just don't want to be put in a place where we must have it. We want to see the great victories, but we don't want to find ourselves in the place where we must have them. We are in the times when we must, so let's embrace the opportunities.
Even the great heroes of The Bible grew in the faith until they could be used this way. David fought with the lion and bear before he faced Goliath. The same is true with us. He may one day lead us into a great and historic conflict and victory, but we must not miss the little ones today that are intended to prepare us for what is to come.
Rejoice in every victory regardless of how big or small. Embrace every trial regardless of how big or small. If we are following Christ, it is impossible for us to not experience victory in everything – that is the only way He will ever lead us. Even so, as the Scripture reads above, it is "triumph in Christ," not just ours. What did His triumph look like?
The Greatest Victory
The greatest victory there will ever be was the Cross. However, it did not look like a victory. When Jesus was nailed to the Cross, it looked like evil had prevailed against the greatest Good to ever walk the earth, but what looked like the greatest defeat was the greatest victory. So great victories may not always look like great victories at first. Therefore, we cannot give up hope regardless of how it may look like evil has prevailed. Evil may appear to win for a time, but it cannot last. The ultimate victory of Christ is sure and it is for eternity.
Those who believe in their hearts in the resurrection are freed from the ultimate fear, and therefore they will be the most free and happy people on the earth. As we come to believe in our hearts that Christ always leads us in His triumph, that in everything there will be ultimate victory, then how can we fail to face every battle with courage?
We are promised by the Word of God in Romans 8:28 that all things will work out for our good. If we believe His Word is true, then in every battle we should become joyfully expectant of a victory, which is what we are told in James 1:2-4:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" that he speaks of here is Christlikeness. Everything in our lives is intended to bring forth the nature of Christ in us, and by this one thing we can understand all things. This is also stated in the verse right after Romans 8:28 when we are told that all things will work together for our good. Let's read these two verses together:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren (Romans 8:28-29).
We are called to be heirs of God in Christ. There is no higher calling in all of creation. Everything happening in our lives is intended to prepare us for this high calling by working in us Christ's nature. Christ is the answer to every human problem, and He is the answer to every problem we're now facing. It is not just that He has the answers, but He is the answer. If we are living in the knowledge that the One we serve is over all rule and authority and dominion, how can we fear? Every challenge is an opportunity to grow in faith, so a key to the victorious life is to not waste our trials.
The Hallmark of the Saints
In Romans 14:17, we are told that the Kingdom of God is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." If we are doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, we will know a peace and joy that is greater than can ever be known in any other way. As the troubles, fears, and darkness in the world increase, those who are living in the Kingdom will stand out even more because of their peace and joy. Peace and joy will be one of the greatest signs that one is a true citizen of the Kingdom in the times to come. How can we fail to have peace and joy when we know and follow the King of kings who sits above all rule and authority and dominion and whose Kingdom is surely coming?
It is written that "there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace" (see Isaiah 9:7). Would you like to invest in a stock that could never go down, but would always increase in value? Invest in the Kingdom and your investment will forever increase.
Those who seek His Kingdom first will be increasing in the peace and joy of His Kingdom. As we are told in Proverbs 4:18, "the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." The normal Christian life is one that gets brighter and brighter. Regardless of how dark things may become in this world, we have a different reality that is getting ever brighter.
The times in the world will get darker, but this world is not our reality. As we are told in Isaiah 60:1-2, when darkness is covering the earth and deep darkness the peoples, His glory will rise on His people, and His glory will even appear on them. Those who stay on "the path of the righteous" will only know increasing light.
The time of the greatest darkness in this world will be the time when we will see His glory on us. Then we are told in the next verse, Isaiah 60:3, that the nations will come to the brightness of your rising. The light will win and the nations will come to it. It is darkest just before dawn, and it is getting darker for a time, but this will only make the glory brighter when it is revealed on God's people.
Our Purpose in These Times
The fear of death is the ultimate fear, so once this fear is overcome by the assurance of the resurrection, breaking the yoke of any other fear will be easy. This is why the celebration and remembrance of the resurrection is so crucial to the Christian life. As we abide in the knowledge of this truth, we can more easily overcome any other fear.
The devil uses fear to oppress and control. In Christ, we walk by faith not by fear. Fear is fundamentally a device of satan, and those who let fear control them are serving him more than Christ regardless of what they may say. This is made obvious in Revelation 21:8:
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Here we see that the cowardly is listed before the abominable, murderers, immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars. The fact is that those who are led by fear, so as to be cowardly, are not Christ's because we are told in Revelation 20:14-15 that those who are cast into the lake of fire are those whose names are not listed in the Book of Life.
Those who truly believe will be courageous, and they will not be controlled by fear. There is no place for cowardice in Christianity. In this way, those who truly believe in Him will soon be distinguished. Let us resolve now that fear will not control us, but we will live by faith in the risen Son of God. We are called to be dead to this world, and what can be done to a dead man? A dead man does not have fears of failure, or rejection, or any other fear. If we have died with Christ, we can now walk in the power of His resurrection and should have no fear.
The prophets and righteous of old desired to see the times that we have been privileged to live in. Those who have dreamed of the time when we get to meet and talk to the great heroes of the faith will be shocked to see that they were even more desirous of talking to the saints who lived in these times. The greatest faith and the greatest exploits will soon be demonstrated by those who have not wasted their trials, and therefore will not waste this greatest of opportunities to walk with God.
Many things will shake in 2012, but we have a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, and all that is being shaken is in order to reveal the Kingdom. Build your life on what can never be shaken, and the hope that can never disappoint us. Resolve that you will live in faith in the resurrection.