The Transforming Power of the Resurrection
Topic: Resurrection Passage: 1 Peter 1:3–1:5
Please turn with me to 1 Peter chapter 1. Recently I finished reading the new biography of Steve Jobs and in the last chapter, entitled Legacy, Job’s muses about his thoughts of an afterlife in light of his cancer. Here is an excerpt of what he said:
"I’m about fifty-fifty on believing in God. For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye…I like to think that something survives after you die…It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures.”
After a very long silence, Steve Jobs then continued. “But on the other hand, perhaps it’s like an on-off switch,” he said. “Click! And you’re gone.”
Jobs paused again and smiled slightly. “Maybe that’s why I never liked to put on-off switches on Apple devices.”
Click! You’re gone.
Steve Jobs wasn’t a Christian, I think if anything he would have considered himself a Buddhist, but I appreciate his honesty as he wrestled with what he believed about death and the afterlife as he came face to face with his own impending death. He could admit what he wanted to believe happens after death and he could admit that what happens after death may be very different than what he wanted.
So on this Easter morning, let me ask you to consider a very personal question: what do you think happens when you die? Do you think there’s an afterlife? Do you think we continue after death? Or do you think life is like an on-off switch and when you die it’s click! you’re gone!? Are you not sure what happens after death? Do you think that it’s impossible for anyone to know?
The Bible speaks clearly and authoritatively about what happens after death and tells us we don’t have to live in uncertainty – we can know. The Bible is full of strong and specific promises that this life isn’t the end for those who trust in Jesus Christ. Promises that go beyond death, beyond the grave. Promises that when death hits the “off” switch on our lives, God reaches out and hits the permanent “on” switch and we live again, never to die. It’s called “resurrection” and it’s an amazing hope that is based entirely on what we’re here to celebrate this morning – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So this morning I want us to look at a passage that is full of “on” switch promises for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-5
In verses 3-5 we see that God has turned the power switch on so that the life of the believer is transformed and transformed in every direction: our lives now, our lives after death, and everything in between now and then. So we could break up these verses this way:
Verse 3 –deals with Now
Verse 4 –deals with Then (what awaits us after death)
Verse 5 – deals with everything Between Now and Then
These verses describe God turning on an “on switch” of life that can never, ever be turned off and Peter is clear about where all this life comes from and what it is based on. Look with me at the flow of thought in verses 3-4
According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…
I. The hope of the resurrection is possible only because of Good Friday
On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but to understand what Easter is we need to understand Good Friday. Jesus could only be resurrected from the dead because he died. But why did he have to die? In the OT God condemns the shedding of innocent blood – so how could it have been His will that Jesus die? And not just die, but die an excruciating, shameful death? Crucifixion is the cruelest death ever invented and the OT says that everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed by God. John Ensor in his book, The Great Work of the Gospel asks a good question: why is Good Friday good?
The Bible tells us that all mankind is fallen. We are sinners separated from God and cursed by God because of our sin. It is appointed to man to die once and then the judgment. What comes after death? Judgment. Eternal judgment for our sin. Why was Jesus cursed? Why did he die? The answer is he took our place, he took our punishment, the Innocent for the guilty. John Ensor writes:
Why is it called Good Friday? It is called Good Friday because, on the cross, God glorified Himself by demonstrating His wrath against guilty sinners and by manifesting His love for them at the same time. It is called Good Friday because on the cross we see the justice of God maintained and the mercy of God obtained.
Let me say a word to anyone here who isn’t a Christian. I would not want you to leave here with a false sense of hope. There are a lot of reports from people who have had near death experiences where they claim to see a beautiful light and feel peaceful and warm and loved inside. It would be a terrible mistake to think that the message of the Bible is “there’s a loving light waiting for everyone after they die, and that light is Jesus”. The Bible says that judgment waits for all those who die apart from Christ. Someone will pay for our sins, either we will pay, or we will reach out in faith to Christ and receive mercy purchased for us at the cross. If you haven’t yet done that, as I share the promises that God gives to the one who trusts in Christ, please open your hearts to consider Christ, consider the love that sent him to the cross, consider the wrath that awaits those who carry their sins on their own shoulders, consider the mercy he offers you as a gift, and consider receiving that gift from him by faith.
And for those who trust in Christ, God turns the power switch of transforming life on in every direction: now, then, and everything in between now and then.
II. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God turns on the power to the new life of a living hope (Now)
According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…vs 3
Notice that God’s life-transforming power isn’t limited to when we die: He has caused us to be born again now. We are made alive now in a way that we weren’t before. Going back to the Fall, God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate the forbidden fruit, on that day they would die. Not physically, but spiritually. We were all born into this world spiritually dead.
God’s power makes us alive to God and born again to a living hope. When the Bible speaks of hope it doesn’t mean something we hope will happen but may or may not. It means something that is certain but not yet. We are born again to a living hope – it is a hope that is tethered to resurrection life and it wells up within us now as a hope that’s coursing with the power of life. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus God turns on the power to the new life of a living hope! And that’s not something that will happen, that’s what God has done now in the believer.
III. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God will resurrect us to a perfect and permanent inheritance (Then)
What’s the living hope hoping in? Verse 4 tells us:
…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…
The Christian has this blessed hope: death isn’t the end, it’s really the beginning. We will one day be resurrected in bodies that won’t have an “off” button on them. They won’t even have a “sleep” setting on them – life will so powerfully course through us that we will never wear out, never weaken, never need to be replenished, and never die.
Death is like the ultimate “elephant in the room”. We know we all will one day die, but we don’t like to talk about it or think about it. Funerals confront us with the reality of death, but unless it’s someone very close to us, we tend to move on quickly. We want to move on quickly. And there’s a good reason: death wasn’t supposed to be. Death wasn’t in God’s original creation – death entered after the fall. The Bible describes death as an enemy. In fact it will be the last enemy God destroys. Jesus has removed the sting of death, but it’s still an enemy.
Losing our loved one’s voice
Death severs us from our loved ones and from life with such finality. I was moved to tears recently as I read about a father who lost his daughter to cancer at the age of 14 but had old voicemails from her that he would listen to every time he was missing her or just wanted to hear her voice. Sadly, when the phone company added a feature to his phone, the voice messages were deleted. How sad to lose his little girls voice, but more sad that he lost his little girl and a recorded voice cannot make up for that loss.
Death will eventually silence the voices of all those we love most. One day it will silence ours. But Jesus’ resurrection assures us that if we are trusting Christ as our Savior, we will be resurrected too and reunited with those who also died trusting in Christ. We want to share Christ with our loved ones and pray for them so that their voices aren’t silenced forever – we will be with them forever.
And when we rise, it’s not only to an unending, unfading life that never rots, never rusts, never fades, and can never be taken from us, but also it’s to an “inheritance”. Inheritance has to do with family – Some of us might have received an inheritance from our parents. We hope to leave an inheritance to our children after we’re gone – an inheritance isn’t just treasure, its family treasure passed on with love.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been adopted into God’s family, we have
received power to become sons and daughters of God, Jesus’ inheritance is our inheritance, and heaven won’t just be an amazing destination, it will be home. We will be home.
Yesterday I learned that Thomas Kinkade died at the young age of 54. I know not everyone likes his work – some think it’s kind of smultzy – but I like his paintings. They always depict some warm and inviting place – often a warm and cozy home in the midst of a beautiful but cold winter landscape or an inviting home in a peaceful setting. They exude a sense of peacefulness, warmth and belonging.
Deep in our hearts we all want a home where we belong and where we are loved and we are safe. Some of us experience a degree of that in this life, and sadly some do not. But Jesus came to ransom us back to God so that we would be His beloved children and so that His kingdom would forever be our home. We won’t just be resurrected, we’ll be resurrected to an inheritance – we’ll be home.
Do you doubt the highly personal, deeply loving promise here? Look at the end of verse 4: all of this is kept in heaven for you. Not just kept in heaven, kept in heaven for you. You are being thought of, your entrance is being anxiously awaited, and your inheritance is being guarded for that day. The amazing thing about the gospel is that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. Jesus wasn’t held to the cross by nails, he was held by love. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. When a believer stands on the threshold of death, we can also be assured deep in our heart, we stand on the threshold of life. The threshold of our eternal home.
IV. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s power will guard our lives every step (Between Now and Then)
…who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…
Finally, God’s power has not only turned the on switch to a living hope, and will one day turn the forever on switch on to eternal life, but that power is guarding us every step of the way between now and then.
Often what we fear most isn’t the trial or hardship we’re facing now, but what we might face tomorrow: what if a trial is too much for me to endure? What if something devastates my faith and I walk away from Jesus? What if my children endure suffering? I’m not sure how they would bear up, I’m not sure how I would bear up. Life here isn’t one big Thomas Kinkade painting full of warm and safe scenery – sometimes the scenery is fierce and dangerous and heartbreaking. The path from now to then isn’t guaranteed to be easy or trouble-free.
But our inheritance is being guarded, and so are we. God will keep us between now and then. It’s been said often before but it’s true: we may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds our future. The same personal love that is keeping the inheritance for us is keeping us for the inheritance.
What a glorious hope we have in Christ! What a joyous message that he is not dead, he is risen! And what a strength to know that because of his resurrection God has promised us the power of forever life too – and it doesn’t start when we die, it started the moment we placed our faith in Jesus. As we sing, rejoice in the hope of the resurrection. And if you aren’t trusting in Jesus – don’t leave here this morning without calling out to him to save you, forgive you, and take away all uncertainty about what comes after.