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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:Christ was raised on our behalf
Text:LD 17 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation
 
Added:2016-11-22
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Old Book of Praise (2004)

Ps. 90: 1, 8

Ps. 34: 1 – 3  

Hymn 51: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8

Ps. 118: 4, 5, 6, 8

Ps. 16: 1, 4, 5

 

Scripture reading:       1 Cor. 15: 1 – 23, 42 – 58

Text:                            LD 17

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

Ps. 90: 1, 8

Ps. 34: 1 – 3  

Hymn 51: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8

Ps. 118: 4, 5, 6, 8

Ps. 16: 1, 4, 5

 

Scripture reading:       1 Cor. 15: 1 – 23, 42 – 58

Text:                            LD 17

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

What would we have if we did not have the hope of the resurrection?

If this life was everything, and if there was no life beyond the grave, what would then be the sense of our very existence?  

Then the sole purpose of our existence would be to try and enjoy this life as much as possible, for tomorrow, when we die, it is all over.

Yes, life would have no meaning at all, except for a fleeting chase after enjoyment.

 

There are indeed many who do not believe in the resurrection.   They have their own motto for life: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Cor. 15: 32)

It is the same slogan that we see on T-shirts today: “Live life to the extreme – you only live once!”

The idea is: Enjoy today as much as possible, because that is all you have!   Tomorrow it is all over.

But the apostle warns us: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil compony corrupts good habits’” (1 Cor. 15: 33)

Such an outlook on life, living for the enjoyment of the here and the now, seeking to get as much as possible fun and pleasure out of today, is not only empty; it corrupts life.

 

Over against these mottos of heathendom, he puts forth the true Christian faith: we shall be raised, and therefore, our labour in the Lord is not in vain.

 

Do you see the contrast?

Those who do not believe in the resurrection, have no other purpose in life than to please and entertain themselves as much as possible.   But, those who live in the expectation of the resurrection, abound in the work of the Lord.

What a difference!

Yes, the life of the unbeliever is futile, empty and corrupt.   Such a life ends in death.

But the life of the believer is lived in the glorious hope of the resurrection, and is therefore godly and fruitful, and proceeds to everlasting glory.

 

Brothers and sisters, if we did not expect the resurrection of the dead, we too would start to live like heathens.  

Sadly some who call themselves Christian do in fact start to live like gentiles.   They start to live for the day of their retirement – so that they can still enjoy the last part of their life before they die.

Or, when they are young, they life for fun and entertainment, wasting their time in pursuit of self-enjoyment.   For: “You live only once!”

 

Why would church members start to live that way?  

Not because they do not know about the resurrection, but because it is no reality to them.

They know about it.   They have heard about it.   But it all remains just talk to them.

For them this life is all they can see.   For them the here and the now is the only reality for which they live.

 

Brothers and sisters, you realise then the importance of this doctrine – the importance of this doctrine for our daily life.

If the gospel of the resurrection is indeed a reality to us, then it also transforms our whole life.   Then the whole purpose of our life is directed towards serving and glorifying God, as we live in the expectation of that great day when Christ will come on the clouds of heaven, when the trumpet will sound and the dead be raised, when Christ will sit to judge the living and the dead.

The assurance of our resurrection on that day changes the whole way in which we live this life, and how we spend our time here and now.

 

The apostle says, without the resurrection our faith would be futile and empty.

Then the believer would have been the most pitiable of all men.  

If there was no resurrection, then it would have been much better for us to join the ungodly and to eat and drink and be merry and to perish with them!

 

But now, Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  

 

Therefore…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

 

I proclaim this gospel to you with the theme…

Christ was raised on our behalf

 

We will note…

1.                  That by His resurrection we are justified

2.                  That by His resurrection we are made alive

3.                  That by His resurrection our glorification is guaranteed

In the first place we note that...

By His resurrection we are justified

 

Dear congregation, when Adam had to leave the garden of Eden he was excommunicated from the glory of God’s presence.  

God drove Adam out of Paradise.

And when Adam was excommunicated from God’s presence, we were excommunicated from the presence of God’s glory.

 

After Adam sinned, he and his wife became afraid of God’s presence, and they hid themselves from His presence (Gen. 3: 8).

The presence of God terrified them.   And rightly so!    For: they were guilty; guilty to death.  

And thus Adam’s excommunication was more than just leaving the garden.   He was excommunicated from the glory God’s presence.  

In order to symbolise this, the way to the tree of life was closed off (Gen. 3: 24).

 

That excommunication from the presence of God meant death, for that is exactly what death is.   Death is separation from God.  

It is not by coincidence that death is the wages of sin.   It is not by coincidence that God chose to send Adam away.   The separation became a necessity, for God can have no communion with sin.   Therefore the sinner must depart from before Him.  

And any departure from God means death.

 

As long as we are in sin, the gate to the presence of God is locked.   And so, in Adam, we face nothing but death.  

But God sent His own Son to become man, the second Adam.   The gospel of salvation is that God provided us with another Head: our Lord Jesus, who did not only die for our sins, but was also raised for our justification.  

 

Before the gate of Paradise was closed behind Adam and Eve, they received the promise of victory.   God revealed to them the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus there in Paradise.  Through Christ the gate of Paradise was opened again.   Through Him we may again enter into the glory of God’s presence.  

Yes, through Christ we may see God’s face and live.

 

Now, the apostle Paul tells us that God has done this for us through the resurrection of Christ.  

He speaks about Abraham, and says:

 

“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.   And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness’.  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us.   It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised for the sake of our justification” – Rom. 4: 20 – 25 (the Greek text may and should be translated “for the sake of” and not “because of”).

 

Christ was raised from the dead for the sake of our justification.

 

Justification is to be declared just and righteous before God.

But how could we again enter His holy presence as just and righteous?

 

Excommunication from His presence is the punishment for sin, and therefore there is only one way back, only one way to enter again.  There is only one way to life, and that is: to remove all sin and guild from us!

As long as we remain in sin, death has the victory over us.  

But, when our sins are forgiven, death has no power over us.

 

This is illustrated by the apostle Paul in the passage that we read from 1 Cor. 15: 56 where the apostle says: “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law”.

 

Death is called our enemy, and death itself is compared to something that attacks its pray with a sting full of deadly poison.   And the apostle says that the poison whereby it kills us, its very sting, is our own sin:   

           

“The sting of death is sin...”

 

The apostle adds to this that the strength of sin is the law.   That means that sin is powerful to destroy us, because the law says: if you sin you shall die.  

God’s law provides the legal ground and the power for death to destroy every transgressor of God’s law.  

 

Yes, our own sin is the sting of death.   It has great power to kill us, for the law says: if you sin, you shall die. 

The law of God pronounces God’s curse on everyone who departs from God. 

 

How then does God deliver us from death?   How did Christ procure our victory over death?

    

There on Calvary death made its attack on Christ.   And never has death ever found a man covered with so much sin!   The sin of the whole world was on Christ.   He became sin for us – 2 Cor. 5: 21.   

Never was the sting of death loaded with so much power to kill.   There on Calvary it became death’s fiercest attack ever, when the sting of death was loaded with all the deadly poison of the sins of the whole world.  

But what happened?

There on the cross all the demands of the law were completely satisfied, and our guilt paid to the full.  

There on Calvary the sting of death has been removed. 

 

Christ stripped death from its armour by removing our sin.

 

But, you may ask: What does this have to do with Christ’s resurrection?  

Well, when the Catechism simply states that Christ has overcome death by His resurrection, we have to understand His resurrection in the context of the death He died for us.  

Christ’s death and resurrection is one package, one salvation.    Whenever the death of Christ is mentioned, His resurrection is implied; and whenever His resurrection is mentioned, His death is implied.  

 

It was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that completely satisfied God’s wrath against our sin, and through His obedience He fulfilled all righteousness, and for that reason He was raised from the grave.

 

He rose again, because death had no claim on Him.  

Death has no claim on a righteous man. 

Therefore He rose from the grave.

 

Now, when the apostle Paul says in Rom. 4:25 that Christ was raised for the sake of our justification, it is another way of saying that Christ’s resurrection is our resurrection, and His justification our justification. 

His resurrection, which is the victory of a righteous Man, has become ours.   It became our own when we were grafted into Him through faith.  

Christ did not only take our guilt away, He did not only conquer death on our behalf, He also arose from the dead in a perfect and glorious life on our behalf!

He was our Mediator not only when He was hanging on the cross, but also our Mediator when He rose that Sunday morning.   He did not only die on our behalf, He was also raised on our behalf.   He has risen on our behalf to clothe us with the perfect and glorious life which He has gained by His righteousness before God.

That was the reason for His resurrection: death could not hold Him, for He was righteous.   And now it has also become the reason for our resurrection unto life.   Justified in Christ, we are counted righteous before God and may enter again the glory of His presence.

 

Brothers and sisters, through faith in Christ His resurrection has become our resurrection.

And the reason for His resurrection – namely: His perfect righteousness before God – has also become the reason for our justification.   

That is why the apostle is able to say that we were justified by the resurrection of Christ.  

 

But, there is still more to be said about Christ’s resurrection.   His resurrection does not only provide us with the proof of our legal status before God, the proof of our acceptance before God; the resurrection of Christ has also become an active power within us, restoring us unto life.  

We note that in the second place, that...

By His resurrection we are made alive

 

We live, because Christ lives.   From Him, the Head, life flows to His whole body.

By His death we are saved from death, but by His resurrection we receive life itself. 

By His resurrection we were raised to a new life in communion with God.

This is the very fulfilment of the covenant promise: true life in communion with God in the glory of His presence.

Now, it is through Christ’s resurrection from the dead that we were made alive unto God.  Our ongoing sanctification from day to day flows forth from Christ’s resurrection.  

Yes, the power of His resurrection is at work in us.   The same Spirit by which He was raised from the dead also dwells in us to raise us up to a new life unto God.

By the power of His resurrection we are also from day to day being raised up to a new life.  

 

Yes, we were raised with Him, and we are also being raised unto a new life of obedience as we grow in communion with Him and share with Him in the new life of His resurrection.

We have already received the new life in Christ, but at the same time we are still receiving this new life from day to day as we grow in communion with Him.  The power of His resurrection has made us alive already, and at the same time the power of His resurrection also continues to work in us, to raise us up more and more to a new life of righteousness.

Dear congregation, this gospel of Christ’s resurrection does not change our present life into a fairyland where everything goes well and easy with us.   On the contrary, when we receive this new life in Christ, it starts a war within us.   Our flesh is enjoying its own sinfulness until we receive this new life.   Then our flesh starts a war against the Spirit, and the Spirit wars within us against our flesh, causing a constant conflict within us (Gal. 5: 17). 

Christ Himself is warring against the sin of our flesh.

This gospel does not bring us an easy life now and here.  Yet, while we experience this spiritual war, and are fighting sin to bloodshed, we have peace with God.  We fight the good fight of faith not like people who are uncertain, but in the full assurance of victory.  Even in the midst of all our misery and sufferings and temptations and hardships, and while we feel that we have no power to stand, this gospel gives us full assurance as we claim Christ’s resurrection as our own.  

Brothers and sisters, the fact that we were made alive together with Christ also means that it is totally un-Scriptural for the believer to say: “I am unable to do any good”.   We confess in LD 3 that with regard to our natural state in Adam we are unable to do any good, but certainly not with regard to our regenerated state in Christ!

We were made alive with Christ.

Yes, to understand Christian ethics we have to understand our union and communion with the death and resurrection of Christ.  

When we understand Romans chapter 6, then we have a total different view of Christian ethics than the man who says: “Don’t try to be too holy, remember, we are all sinners!”   No, the logic of Romans chapter 6 is totally different: you are dead to sin, and alive unto God, therefore sin shall not have dominion over you.  And: because sin does not have dominion over you, therefore, let it not have dominion over you – Rom. 6: 12.  

 

The apostle is not saying that sin is reigning in the believer and that the believer must now stop sin from reigning in him.   No, sin does not have the dominion – that is a statement.  Let sin not reign – that is the imperative.   The command (not to let sin reign) is based on the fact (that sin does not have the dominion).

 

It is only because sin does not reign in us, that it can be said: Let it not reign!

 

If you would say to a slave: “Do not behave like a slave!” then you are mocking him.  

But if the man has indeed been set free from slavery, and you tell him: “Do not to act like a slave!”, then you are telling him to put into effect the privileges of his liberation.

 

In the same way the apostle Paul is telling us: your old man died with Christ and you were raised a new man in Christ, therefore sin does not have dominion over you, and therefore: do not allow it to reign over you!

 

Yes, our new life in Christ is a present reality.

Through the death and resurrection of Christ sin no longer has dominion over us. 

Through the resurrection of Christ we are alive unto God.

That is what the Catechism is speaking about when it says here that we too are raised up to a new life by Christ’s resurrection.  

We are made alive to live unto God.     

 

We experience now already the start of eternal life, and we enjoy now already the guarantee of the life in full glory which is to come.

We note that in the third place, that...

By Christ’s resurrection our resurrection in glory is guaranteed

 

Christ’s resurrection from the dead guarantees our resurrection in glory.

On the day of Christ’s coming, when the trumpet will sound, we will be raised incorruptible to live with Him forever.   We shall live, because Christ lives.

The apostle Paul speaks of this sure pledge in 1 Corinthians 15 where he calls Christ the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  

It means that He is the first one who received this glorious resurrection.   He is the firstfruits of the harvest, and after Him the rest of the harvest will follow. 

He is the first of many.   And He guarantees the rest of the harvest.

 

Dear congregation, the glory which He entered becomes our own when we are grafted into Him through faith.  As Ephesians 2:6 states that we were raised up together with Christ, and that we were made to sit together with Him in heaven. 

Whatever happened to our Mediator, Jesus Christ, also happened to us.   If He is seated in heaven, then we too are seated in heaven in Him and with Him.

Through faith we were grafted into Him, never to be separated again.

We shall live, because Christ, our Head, was raised on our behalf.

“...if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” – Rom. 8: 11.

Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit joins us to Christ through the very preaching of this gospel when we receive it in faith.

Through faith there is an unbreakable bond between us and Christ.  The same Spirit who dwells in Him dwells also in us, making us to share in all His riches.

O Death, where is your sting?  

Hades, where is your victory?

 

In Christ we have won three glorious victories.   

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus is the proof of our justification, the power of our sanctification, and a sure pledge of that glorious resurrection when Christ will come on the clouds of heaven.

 

Through Christ’s resurrection the gate to Paradise is open.  

We may enter the presence of God’s glory in full communion with Him.  

Yes, our Lord Jesus has become the gate, and the way, and the life.

Therefore our Lord Jesus said to Martha:

 

“…I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.   And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.   Do you believe this?” – John 11: 26

 

Through Christ’s resurrection we were made alive unto God.

And through His resurrection we are living unto God.

And through Christ’s resurrection we shall live forevermore.   

 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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