Monday, April 13, 2009

4/13- Importance of the Resurrrection for this life

(Van Eyck- Adoration of the Lamb)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

4/13- The Importance of the Resurrection for this life

I Cor. 15:3,4- For what I received I passed onto you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.

Inst. II.16.13
Calvin: Without [the resurrection] what we have said so far would be incomplete. For since only weakness appears in the cross, death, and burial of Christ, faith must leap over all these things to attain its full strength. We have in his death the complete fulfillment of salvation, for through it we are reconciled to God, his righteous judgment is satisfied, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid in full. Nevertheless, we are said to “have been born anew to a living hope” not through his death but “through his resurrection” [ 1 Peter 1:3 p.].

Self denial and carrying the cross are not the end of the Christian faith, nor is it the only tool or means we have to get closer to God. We are called, Calvin believed, to be participants in his resurrection. Only when our minds are directed to the resurrection can the Cross of Christ triumph over evil in the hearts and lives of those who believe (3:9:6). We find the beginning of our salvation in the cross, and we find the completing of our salvation in the resurrection (Comm. On I Cor. 15:4). The resurrection has already begun to exert its power in us, and this shows by the power of God to change a life (regeneration). Conversion is the actualization of the risen life of Christ in a believer. God’s power can change us. Today, I think we underestimate that power. We overestimate the power of genetics, education, and environment , as if our lives were only a combination of these factors. We underestimate and leave out the power of God to change someone.
There is a real sense that we are able to triumph over our problems, our sins, the guilt of our sins by the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection secures the message that we will ultimately triumph and good will win over evil. No matter what happens to us in this life, when we tie ourselves to Christ by belief in him, we will ultimately win- even over death, sin, and our problems here. This assurance alone is important. It gives us hope when we think that resisting evil is hopeless. But the resurrection power is more than just giving assurance and hope.
The power shown in the resurrection is the power at work in our day. It is the power to heal. Christ showed that power on earth when he healed the sick. He gave that same power to his disciples. The ultimate healing is found when the dead Christ came back to life. That amazing power is at work today. Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of the resurrection (Phil. 4:10).” This is not just about physical healing- though I believe (and have seen) that God still heals people through prayer. It is also about the power of God to change an individual. It is the power of God that gets the drug addict away from drugs, and the alcoholic away from alcohol. It is the power to soft the harsh person. It is the power to reconcile estranged relationships. It is the power of forgiveness. It is the power of God to transform. Years ago Richard Niebuhr wrote “Christ and Culture.” It still is a classic small book. One of the things he said (if I can super-summarize) is that the church chooses how it will interact with culture. Some adopt culture seeking to transform the church (liberalism, Schleiermacher). Some fight against culture putting up walls (fundamentalism, monasteries). But in general Calvinism seeks to transform culture. We believe in this because of the power of God (the power of the resurrection) to change people, groups, churches, and the world. The power of the resurrection is the Holy Spirit at work (the Spirit was certainly at work in the resurrection) to convict, convince, heal, help, and guide. Christ is not dead. We don’t just look back to a dead philosophy for ethical guidance. Rather we look around us to the living Lord who is at work, and ask Him to change us into new creatures in this life (II Cor. 5:17) as well as in the life to come.

Prayer: Today, Lord, change me by your power. Work through me, enable me, transform me and the world around me.

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