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preaching article The Secret Power of Easter Still Available Today

The Secret Power of Easter Still Available Today

based on 12 ratings
Apr 7, 2012
Scripture: none
(Suggest Scripture)

What will Easter Sunday mean to you?  Choose carefully: how you celebrate Easter is an indicator of your potential as a student of Jesus. This “Holy Week”  is filled with powerful images of the Christian life: Jesus gave us a covenant meal on Thursday night—the very night he was betrayed. He suffered torture and death on Friday—a substitutionary death that paid the price for the sins of humanity. On Saturday he descended into the depths of Hades and kicked in the gates of Hell itself. And, of course, on Sunday he was resurrected with power, receiving the vindication of the Heavenly Father.

We can (and should) celebrate his death. His death on the cross is unique because of who he is—the sinless perfect Son of God: the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. No one else could accomplish what Jesus accomplished on the cross, because his perfect sacrifice came by virtue of his identity as God come to earth.  His sacrifice was for the sin of all people, in all times and in all places. His death was unique. One time. Once. For all. But I would like to ask a difficult question: Is Friday’s sacrifice enough?

When we concentrate on the substitutionary death of Jesus to the exclusion of his life and teaching we limit his ministry to a divine rescue mission—a rescue mission that only becomes effective for us when we die. Many Christians understand that they have no hope of heaven apart from the price Jesus paid on their behalf.  But apart from gratitude for his kindness there is little connection between what Jesus did then and how we can live today. Our appreciation for what he did does not empower us to fulfill his teaching. Our gratitude for his suffering does not release the wisdom, insight, or strength for each one of us to live as a new creation, a new kind of person.

Here is one of the secrets of the resurrection: on that first Easter Sunday Jesus opened not only the tomb, he opened new possibilities for everyone who would follow him. The resurrection was not only a supernatural event for Jesus, it also opened up the resources of heaven for all who would follow him. Jesus opened the womb of heaven. Picture him emerging from the garden tomb: something new came forth that day—the power of resurrection life operating in a human being. Resurrection life flowed into Jesus that day, but the Scripture reveals that it is now available to us as well: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Roman 8:11)  This verse is not about being raised up after we die, it’s about the power of the resurrection working in us now. Jesus was not only our model during earthly life, he is also a model of new creation operating in us even now: the nature and power of the resurrection dwell in each new child of God.  This is no mere formality. The womb of heaven has been opened by Jesus, and each believer has the potential to bring heaven to earth. Those who are born from above receive heaven’s DNA in them here and now. First Jesus, then us. Not only in resurrection from the dead but also empowerment for ministry.

Our ability to see Jesus as the firstborn among many is more than a Bible-study lesson.  Once we see him in this light, our role as children of God takes on new meaning, new possibilities, and new responsibilities.  He opened the way for us to continue his Kingdom mission.  Heaven’s resources poured into us.  Jesus relied upon the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience, and he sent the Holy Spirit to help us do the same.  He relied upon the Holy Spirit to do powerful works that authenticated his message, and he sent the Holy Spirit to do the same for us.

Jesus indeed came to save us from our sins; he also came to empower us to live Godly lives that can look substantially like his life. That empowerment burst forth from the grave on Easter Sunday. His mandate to disciple the nations is not possible apart from the power of the resurrection. The Book of Acts reveals what happens when students of Jesus operate in the power of the resurrection.

We must choose wisely during this Holy Week.  Are we celebrating sacrifice apart from empowerment? Are we celebrating history without receiving the gift of the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead? The open grave stands as a portal through which heaven flows into earth—not only on that first Easter Sunday, but everyday.

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Talk about it...

David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
Good message. The Holy Spirit is so necessary to us all.
Robert Sickler avatar
Robert Sickler
0 days ago
Good point. Jesus' sacrifice made salvation available to all but all do not embrace salvation. Salvation is not found in the execution of some ritual! Salvation is what empowers rebirth and enables our servant relationship with Jesus.
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
I believe that there is a somewhat confused message in this article. On the day after His death Jesus did not desend to Hell. This wrong teaching based on a false interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19. That verse refers to the divine testimony given to the inhabitants of the world in the days of Noah. If you read the scriptures carefully and study the accurate translation for example in the NASB this becomes clear. The Lord's spirit went into the safe-keeping of the Father's bosom according to His words on the cross. Also His promise to the repentant thief was, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise". He did not tell the thief that there was work to be done on the next day in Hell, He promised him the enjoyment of His presence that very day. The Lord cried, "It is finished!" His work of atonement was complete. To go back to 1 Peter 3:19, Peter explains the truth that he was teaching there in his second letter. In 2 Peter 2:5 he explains that God through Noah, a preacher of righteousness, witnessed to the ungodly inhabitants of the world in his day. The people to whom Noah preached are "now in prison" according to 1 Peter 3:19. Nobody gets a second chance after death, having rejected the testimony that gos renders to them in their life. The question, "Is Friday's sacrifice enough?" verges on dangerous heresy. The atoning work of Christ was completed in the three hours of darkness on the cross when The Father made Him the very article of sin. The cry, "It is finished", is the divine gurantee of that. His resurrection is the proof that the Father accepted His perfect, sinless offering of Himself to God and the eternal value of His precious blood. We are not saved by His sinless life, we are saved by repentance toward God and faith in His Person and work on the cross."Jesus opened the womb of Heaven>" This is fanciful but totally unscriptural language. The word of God does not require the extravagant embellishment of human imagination. The question, "Are we celebrating history without receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a good one if it is direct to those who have not received Christ and believed on Him. It cannot be directed to believers. Scripture teaches clearly that we are sealed with the Spirit when we believe (2 Cor.1:22, Eph.1:13, Eph.4:30).
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
I believe that there is a somewhat confused message in this article. On the day after His death Jesus did not desend to Hell. This wrong teaching based on a false interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19. That verse refers to the divine testimony given to the inhabitants of the world in the days of Noah. If you read the scriptures carefully and study the accurate translation for example in the NASB this becomes clear. The Lord's spirit went into the safe-keeping of the Father's bosom according to His words on the cross. Also His promise to the repentant thief was, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise". He did not tell the thief that there was work to be done on the next day in Hell, He promised him the enjoyment of His presence that very day. The Lord cried, "It is finished!" His work of atonement was complete. To go back to 1 Peter 3:19, Peter explains the truth that he was teaching there in his second letter. In 2 Peter 2:5 he explains that God through Noah, a preacher of righteousness, witnessed to the ungodly inhabitants of the world in his day. The people to whom Noah preached are "now in prison" according to 1 Peter 3:19. Nobody gets a second chance after death, having rejected the testimony that gos renders to them in their life. The question, "Is Friday's sacrifice enough?" verges on dangerous heresy. The atoning work of Christ was completed in the three hours of darkness on the cross when The Father made Him the very article of sin. The cry, "It is finished", is the divine gurantee of that. His resurrection is the proof that the Father accepted His perfect, sinless offering of Himself to God and the eternal value of His precious blood. We are not saved by His sinless life, we are saved by repentance toward God and faith in His Person and work on the cross."Jesus opened the womb of Heaven>" This is fanciful but totally unscriptural language. The word of God does not require the extravagant embellishment of human imagination. The question, "Are we celebrating history without receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a good one if it is direct to those who have not received Christ and believed on Him. It cannot be directed to believers. Scripture teaches clearly that we are sealed with the Spirit when we believe (2 Cor.1:22, Eph.1:13, Eph.4:30).
Andrew Shields avatar
Andrew Shields
0 days ago
John E. Miller, thanks for defending what I believe is orthodox theology. So crucial to believe that when Jesus said it was finiished that it really was. There definitely is not a two part salvation in which you start with Jesus and hopefully later recieve the Holy Spirit. I do understand that many live like the Holy Spirit does not exist and I spend a lot of time as a pastor teaching against this and, teaching the importance of Living in the Spirit. Rev. Andrew Shields (Baptist Pastor.)
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
John E Miller, I appreciated your response. I agree with your interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19. With great respect, however, I would like to challenge you on one point. You wrote that "[w]e are not saved by His sinless life..." However, the apostle Paul wrote quite clearly in Romans 5:10--"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. " Of course, that is not to diminish the place of "repentance toward God and faith in His Person and work on the cross." This is simply to say that this is not an "either-or" proposition, but rather a "both-and". The point I understand Mr. Hollenbach is trying to make is the same point Paul makes--namely, that the Gospel involves both the life and death of Christ. When Mr. Hollenbach asks if Friday's sacrifice is enough, it is not to cast doubt on the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. It is to caution us not to focus on the cross TO THE EXCLUSION of the rest of his life and teachings, because doing so leads to an incomplete Gospel that has no power to form us into the "new creatures" that Paul describes us as in 2 Corinthians 5:17. May you enjoy God's richest blessings this day!
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
Fernando Villegas, thank you for your post. I believe that it is very important to realise that salvation and being saved are very wide concepts as presented in scripture, specifically in the New Testament. As far as believers in the Lord Jesus are concerned, we have been saved from the guilt of sin by repentance and faith in Christ. That salvation is available to every sinner and rests entirely and exclusively on the atoning work of Jesus in the three hours of darkness on the cross. During these three hours he became sin. He was made sin. God the Father was deaf to his cry, "Why have you forsaken me?" He was forsaken in my place. He became my substitute. My sins were placed on His sinless head and the judgement of a Holy God that should have been visited on me was poured down upon Him. My sins have been put away from the sight of God for all eternity, never to be brought up again in the presence of God for judgement. Satan may accuse me, but I have an advocate with the Father (note the word "with") who can sweep these accusations aside. One day Satan will be faced with the horrendous iniquity of his own sin, but my sins were laid on Jesus and there they disappeared in the blackness of God's wrath at Calvary. Another important truth for me is that when I received Christ as my Saviour and Lord by faith I was born again by the Spirit of God. I became a new creature in God's sight. The work of Christ and my acceptance of it therefore made me as fit for heaven in that instant as I ever will be should I live to be a hundred years old or more. New birth and new creation is not a process. It is an actual event in the life of a believer, as real as natural birth was. Salvation, on the other hand is an ongoing experience. We are save from the power of sin by the service of Christ at the Father's right hand, by the service of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and serving us in His gracious and patient constancy of pointing us continually to Christ, and also by the "washing of water by the word". The life of Christ within us by in the power of God's Spirit is our preservative as it gravitates towards what is of God. Finally we will be saved from the penalty of sin, whether by rapture and resurrection as described by Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonian church. In all this we must adamantly maintain the exclusive and entire foundation of our salvation from sin's guilt as the death and resurrection of Christ and nothing else. That is my belief.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
John E Miller, I appreciate you taking the time to elaborate on what you wrote. I do agree with the statement that salvation and being saved are very wide concepts as presented in Scripture; but I suspect that you and I mean different things by that statement. You seem to imply that the terms themselves--"salvation" and "being saved"--are distinct, with "being saved" refering to the MOMENT of receiving Christ by faith and being born again (based exclusively on what Jesus did on the cross); and "salvation" referring to the PROCESS, or ongoing experience, of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit and released from the power of sin (and in which you acknowledge a role for the life of Christ). Am I hearing you corrrectly? If I'm not, please correct me where I am misunderstanding you. But if I am hearing you correctly, I would encourage you to think through your belief on this a bit more carefully. I just don't see the Bible making the distinction in terms that you are making. In fact, the quote from Romans that I referenced yesterday uses the term "being saved", which you appear to attribute exclusively to the death of Christ on the cross, in connection with his LIFE: "[W]e shall be saved by his life (5:10)." Again, Paul's statement is a contradiction of what you wrote yesterday: "We are not saved by his sinless life." Well, Paul says that we are. Furthermore, if you reread your latest post, you will discover that you yourself use the terms "being saved" and "salvation" interchangeably. Maybe, I'm just not hearing you right, because your argument, as I understand it, is not coherent at all. And I'm somewhat curious as to why you seem so adamant to exclude the life of Christ as part of the foundation for our salvation. Regardless, I appreciate very much your willingness to engage with me on this discussion, and I wish you God's continued blessing for you this day!
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
Fernando Villegas, if I have not made myself clear I apologise. When I spoke of salvation and being saved I did not differentiate. That would have been an exercise in semantics. They are simply different ways that the Bible speaks of the same subject. My salvation from the guilt of sin was accomplished by Jesus on the cross. My sin was placed upon Him. God made Him my sin and poured out His wrath upon His Son who had become my sin-bearer. That took place in the darkness of the three hours when the Father forsook Christ. The subject is so holy, so eternally wonderful that it is far beyond my human comprehension. I can only bow in thankful worship. The blood that flowed from the dead Saviour's side is my shelter. Christ cried, "It is finished". His blood sealed my pardon. It is my shelter in time and eternity. Nothing can be added to its perfect protection from the judgement of a Holy God and to suggest otherwise is heresy. In my pathway through a sinful world in a body that is susceptible to the temptations of sin, I need salvation from its undoubted power. When I believed, God gave me the gift of His Holy Spirit to dwell within me. The Spirit is not a power or an influence in the believer. He is a Divine Person. His power and His influence is to be known and the greatest feature of that is the demonstration of the life of Christ in the child of God. Christ's risen life is seen and experienced in the walk of the born-again child of God. That is the power to which Paul refers in your scripture in Romans. He is not referring to the work of redemption. When I experience the power of resurrection in my mortal body, should I die before the Lord's return into the clouds (1 Thess. 4:13-17) or should I be among those who are still alive at that moment, I will be saved from the penalty of death. That is what scripture speaks of as "the redemption of the body" (Rom.8:23). Salvation in all its wonder will then be complete. It will not be required in eternity. There will be nothing from which salvation will be required. Two other brief thoughts; firstly my sins were born by Jesus and removed forever from the presence of God. He was the divinely appointed scapegoat that bore my sins away to a "solitary land" (Lev.16:22). My sins will never be laid on anyone else. Some teach quite wrongly that at the end our sins will be laid on Satan. That is totally unscriptural. Secondly, it is solemn to note that scripture tells us that Jesus died for all. He is the sin-offering that even the vilest sinner can claim in repentance and faith. Scripture also tells us in its exquisite accuracy that "He bore the sins of many". It does not say anywhere that He bore the sins of all. He is my substitute only on the basis of my acceptance of the redemption that He accomplished on the cross. I cannot claim that I am saved because I live a Christian life. I am redeemed by the Blood and nothing else.
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
Lest any misunderstand my closing point in the previous post, I will seek to clarify it. There is a great difference in the doctrines of atonement and substitution. On the cross Jesus atoned for the sins of all mankind. He paid the price for our inherited sinful condition, our sins of commission and our sins of omission. No person can ever stand before God and claim that provision for redemption was not within his grasp. No one who eventually will be arraigned before the Great White Throne will be able to claim that redemption as his. He did not accept the atonement that was offered and rejected the Substitute that God had provided. Only those who in repentance and faith turn to Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, and receive Him as their Saviour and Lord can claim Him as their Substitute. His precious blood is their shelter from the judgement of a Holy God whose wrath they must otherwise face.
Fernando Villegas avatar
Fernando Villegas
0 days ago
John E Miller, thank you very much for clarifying your remarks.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.