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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at Life BPC, Combined Easter Sunrise Service, 2004-04-11

Text: Philippians 3:10

You may have noticed that the mood of our worship service here this morning is quite different from the one we had on Good Friday night. Our singing of praise is much more spirited and lively today. The reason for this difference is that we are commemorating the greatest event that has taken place in the history of redemption - The glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead! And we have every reason to rejoice with great joy over this, because of the awesome power of God that was displayed in His resurrection. Such power must surely evoke the highest expressions of praise!

Dearly beloved, do you know this power of the Resurrection of Christ? Do you want to know exactly what it has accomplished? The apostle Paul expressed his desire in Philippians 3:10,11 'That I may know Him [Christ], and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death' 

If you have known Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you too should be expressing the same desires that are mentioned here. The Christian life is a lifelong experience of knowing Jesus Christ and living for Him. This verse is in fact the theme of our Church for this year 'That I may know Christ.' But this verse also tells us that we can only know Christ fully when we know the power of His resurrection. We will now consider three glorious things that have been accomplished by the power of Christ's Resurrection. 

I.. The Power to Reverse an Irreversible Change in His Body

The first thing accomplished by the power of Christ's resurrection is that it has actually reversed an irreversible change! The change that takes place at death is irreversible. Death is the total cessation of life. To a doctor, death is said to have occurred when a person stops breathing, his heart stops beating, the pupils of his eyes do not respond anymore to light, and all his muscular responses are gone. All efforts to revive him by applying cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or electric shock, fail to reverse the process of death. 

Within a matter of hours, the body becomes cold and stiff, and the cells and tissues begin to break down into simpler substances through the action of fungi and bacteria. The only things that may remain after decomposition is over are the bones. Now, all these are only the visible effects of death. 

What cannot be seen, is the separation of the soul from the body that occurs at death (cf. Genesis 25:8; 35:29; Mark 15:37). The soul leaves the body at death, and cannot return to it at all. All capabilities and organic functions are irreversibly lost in death. All the changes that have taken place in that body render it incapable of sustaining life. Therefore, to resurrect the dead back to life is to do the impossible, and to work a mighty miracle of immense proportions! The power to reverse this irreversible change belongs to God alone. And the resurrection thus becomes a tremendous demonstration of the awesome power of God! 

The Bible records that there were three people who died and who were resurrected to life by Jesus Christ - The 12-year old daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:41-56) had just died when Jesus came and raised her back to life. The raising of the son of a widow at a city called Nain (Luke 7:11-15) went a step further, because his funeral was already progressing when Jesus raised him back to life. But the most remarkable of these three is the raising of Lazarus at Bethany, because his body was already decomposing after being buried for four days. And yet Jesus was still able to raise him back to life! 

Now, these three miracles of resurrection that Jesus performed were only the prelude to the greatest resurrection miracle of all - the one that Jesus performed on Himself! Jesus testified of this power to raise Himself back to life, in John 10:17,18, when He said, 'Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.' Jesus also said, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' (John 2:19) And the 'temple' that Jesus mentioned here was His own body. 

You know, it is truly the supreme demonstration of power for One who is dead to bring Himself back to life. As Romans 1:4 tells us, Jesus Christ is 'declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead'. 

This means that nothing else can ever provide such final and convincing testimony to who Christ is, but His resurrection from the dead! That event declared once and for all that Jesus is truly the Son of God. This brings us to the second accomplishment of the power of Christ's Resurrection:

II. The Power to Convince Sinners about His Identity

This miracle is of such great magnitude that it has been the most persuasive reason for many skeptics to consider the claims of Christ. So important is the testimony of the Resurrected Christ's identity, that the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then our faith is empty, we are still in our sins, those who have died believing in Him are all perished. And He says, 'if in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.' (v.19) This means that the Resurrection is the central tenet of the Christian Faith. If anyone can ever prove that Jesus is still dead and has not risen, Christianity would be demolished forever as there would be no more grounds to believe in Him.

This is why many have tried very hard to disprove the Resurrection of Christ. Fanciful theories have been concocted and offered by unbelievers. Some said that the disciples stole the dead body of Jesus from the tomb and then fabricated stories that many people had seen Him alive and well (cf. Matthew 28:11-15). Others said that Jesus did not die on the cross but merely fainted, and then the cool air of the garden tomb revived Him. But none of these theories can stand under scrutiny. The fact remains that no one has ever been able to successfully disprove the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. A former chief justice of England by the name of Lord Darling, said this, 'In its favour as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.'

An English journalist with a law degree by the name of Frank Morison, at first thought that the resurrection of Christ was nothing more than a myth or fairy tale. He attempted to write a new version of the end of the life of Christ, removing anything miraculous from it. But when he studied all the facts of the case, Morison had to change his mind. In the end, he called the book he wrote, 'Who Moved the Stone?' and the first chapter is significantly entitled, 'The Book that refused to be written'. It shows that the evidences that Morison found for the resurrection of Christ were so compelling that his book was changed from an attack of the Resurrection of Christ to a defence of it!

Of the many evidences for the resurrection of Christ, the one that is probably the most convincing is the changed lives of His disciples. If Jesus had not resurrected, how do we explain that His disciples could suddenly become strong and bold witnesses for Christ, even willing to die for what they believed? How can a group of weak, discouraged and demoralised disciples who had lost their beloved leader, and who locked themselves in the upper room for fear of the authorities be changed so drastically and so suddenly? This brings us to the third accomplishment of the Power of Christ�s resurrection:

III. The Power to Change the Lives of His Disciples

Nothing but the real bodily Resurrection of Christ from the dead could have produced such an amazing change in them. Nothing but His resurrection could have produced the change in one of them, whose name was Thomas. This was the disciple who doubted all the reports that he had heard on the first day, that Christ had been seen alive and well. Doubting Thomas could not be convinced by any of them. He said, 'Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.' (John 20:25) 

But when Jesus appeared to Thomas in person and allowed him to do all these things, the only response that Thomas could give was to believe with all his heart that Jesus had truly returned back to life! (John 20:28,29) Thomas went on to become a fearless witness of the resurrected Christ, bringing the Gospel all the way to India. Can you see how powerfully Christ's resurrection had changed his life? 

There is person whose life was changed even more dramatically than Thomas. Nothing but the resurrection of Christ could have produced the amazing change in the life of Saul the Pharisee. Although he was so zealously persecuting Christians, he was changed into Paul the Missionary, who zealously promoted the Gospel of Christ to the far corners of the Roman Empire! The change came when the Resurrected Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

Today we can still see the lives of countless men, women and children being changed in a similar way. That includes those who were baptized and who reaffirmed their faith in Christ today. Read the testimonies that are printed in our weekly and you will see how they have been changed. All this cannot happen if Christ is still dead. Only a Risen Saviour could have such transforming power in a person's life! The testimony of millions of people has proved Him over and over again to be the Risen Saviour, alive and well! 

And if there is anyone here at our Easter service this morning who has not yet known Christ as his or her Risen Saviour, please listen carefully to what I say to you now: You can come to Jesus Christ right now, to experience His transforming power in your life! Turn away from your sins and ask Him to save you now. And when you are saved, then you will have every reason to rejoice with all of us in the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ, because you would then have experienced that power for yourself, in your own life! Will you come to Christ right now?

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11