Resurrection: GOD’S Design
Text: 2 Corinthians 5:21
Proposition: It is by the Resurrection of Jesus that we are enabled to be and to become what God intended before the world was ever created!
Introduction : Dr. George Sweeting tells of an incident in the early 1920s when Communist leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address an anti-God rally. For an hour Bukharin abused and ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Then questions were invited. An Orthodox church priest rose and asked to speak. He turned, faced the people, and gave the Easter greeting, "He is risen!" Instantly the assembly rose to its feet and the reply came back loud and clear, "He is risen indeed!"
The Resurrection of Jesus is deeper than just a theological belief, it's more than just a view point.., it goes to the deepest part of man's heart and speaks life into him. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just supposition arrived at by traditional belief or oral history handed down over the last two thousand years. It is evidential truth that has purpose sheathed in it, like a scabbard holds a sword. What's the evidential truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? If you are sincerely wanting an answer to that question, the evidence will be overwhelming.
What's the oldest known written record of man's history... let's begin there. Before the writings of Aristotle, before the records of Augustus Caesar, before the inscriptions of the pharaohs of Egypt, before even the writings of the Chinese, we have the record of the history of mankind in the Bible. One of the very earliest books of the Bible is the book of Job. What was his conviction... "I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And... in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25,26) Time progressed and others said the same thing... Danial wrote, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earthshall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). Abraham, David, Isaiah, and many others refer to resurrection.
So by the time of the incarnation of Jesus Christ the concept of resurrection was well established. Jesus Himself referred to His resurrection many times such that not only did His disciples know of it, so did His enemies. 1 Corinthians 15 says that the risen Jesus appeared to a crowd of 500 people, Acts 1:3 says that Jesus continued on in the presence of the disciples and the people for a period of forty days. They touched Him, He ate with them and spoke with them. The evidence of the resurrection so stirred the church that Sunday became the day of meeting, it being the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection. The lives of the disciples turned around. They said and did things that brought transformation to the whole world! There's much, much more proof, but that's not my main point this morning. Remember when I said that the resurrection of Jesus is evidential truth that has purpose sheathed in it, like a scabbard holds a sword? Let's unsheath the purpose of the resurrection, let's take the sword out of it's scabbard. The reason behind the resurrection is summarized in a particular verse of Scripture. Let's turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21, where it says this... "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Let's magnify this verse as we search for the reason behind the resurrection.
I. He made Him... God Purposed Resurrection.
Who does the term 'He' refer to? Why it refers to God the Father. Then who does the term 'Him' refer to? It refers to Jesus Christ. This clause refers to the work of Jesus. God the Father purposed that the Son would incarnate, that means to enter into the condition of humanity, being conceived born and raised as a man. In all respects He would know existence as a human being and yet still would retain His deity, His sinless nature. Jesus incarnated into a sin flawed, messed up world. This clause refers us to the intention of God towards us. The Father intended to bring rescue, the Son intended to be that rescue, the Spirit intended to communicate that rescue. The beginning of the reason behind the resurrection is that God, Almighty God, purposed it. Is God greater than us, is His sense of wisdom greater than ours, is His perspective of time clearer than ours? If you find yourself saying yes, then let's begin with the simple truth that if God has a purpose I need to know it!
II. Who Knew No Sin... God Pursued Resurrection.
Have you ever gone to job interview? They ask all kinds of questions, some are related to your level of skill but others are related to your ability to solve problems. I remember hearing about one interview where the candidate was kept waiting for three hours for the interview to start. When they finally let him in, they asked questions that were almost insultingly simple. Then they further requested that he come back to their office the next morning at 4am! Such demands would frustrate most people, but they were searching for more than just skills, they were screening for humility, patience and obedience. These would be the qualities that made a person eligible for the work ahead. What were the qualities that made Jesus eligible for the work ahead of Him? What enabled Him to be eligible to endure the cross, become the sacrifice for all sin, move through death and be resurrected? God pursued the resurrection through perfection... He made Him Who Knew no Sin. The eligibility of resurrection to eternal life hinges on sinlessness. Are we sinless? No! Then the One who is our rescuer must be sinless. God pursued the resurrection through the sinless person of Jesus Christ.
III. To Be Sin On Our Behalf...God Prepared Resurrection.
The greatest barrier to the resurrection of eternal life is sin... that means sin must somehow be taken out of the way. So what's sin? Charles Ryrie states that, "... sin is more than just selfishness, it's more than just a violation of God's Law. Sin is anything contrary to the character of God." Inside us is a nature that is contrary to the character of God. The taking away of that sin required three things: 1.substitution, 2. death of the substitute, 3. a regenerating resurrection. If you've ever played baseball and had someone `pinch hit' for you, then you've had a substitute. If you've ever gone to school and had a new person teaching you for the day, you've had a substitute teacher. If you've ever gone to the doctor's office and there's a doctor doing locums, that means he's substituting for your doctor. But you'll never have a person who will substitute for you on death row, you'll never have a person who substitutes for the deceased at funerals. Yet there is a greater substitute than this prepared here, for this Jesus Christ substitutes His divine life for me, His purity takes on my sin, and He takes that sin to a place where it can never conquer me again... He takes it to death! Why? That I might experience a regenerated life apart from sin, a resurrected life. God prepared resurrection.
IV. That We Might Become The Righteousness Of God...God Provides Resurrection.
Are you ready to hear about the greatest risk ever heard taken? Jesus died for the sins of all people whether they would accept that gift or not. 1 John 2:2 says, "and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world." You mean He was willing to experience the cross and death knowing that some might ignore it or reject it? Absolutely! There are only two things that are required for resurrection to eternal life... the cross of Jesus Christ and our faith in that sacrifice as being absolutely sufficient for us. Why did God provide resurrection? It was that we might become the righteousness of God. Forget the streets of gold, forget the images of angels playing harps... what eternal life is all about is the resurrection of man to the state of being the righteousness of God. There's volumes behind that phrase, but for now recognize that it's the process of resurrection that brings it into a final state of completion.
V. In Him...God Proclaims Resurrection!
In Him, these are perhaps the greatest words yet. It's not dependent on us, but in Him. Let me share briefly what we have in Him, the things referred to in the preceding phrase ... "that we might become the righteousness of God".
In Him :
1. We are made alive spiritually, we are literally born again in this realm.
2. We are enabled to live with eternally lasting purpose. (Sanctified)
3. We are empowered through our faith to reveal the God Who Is. (Holiness)
4. We are called to prepare and to help others prepare for the times to come.
5. We are invited to enter into God's plan that spans past creation, past mortality, past sin and Satan, past all time.
Resurrection... God Purposed It; God Pursued It; God Prepared It; God Provided It and God Is Now Proclaiming It... to you and to me.