Each year, we celebrate that Christ our Lord has risen — and he is alive forevermore as our Savior, our Intercessor and our King. When we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, we are also reminded of the promise of our own resurrection. When we by faith are united to Christ, then we share in his life, in his death, in his resurrection and in his glory. This is our identity. Notice how often Paul says that we are with Christ:
- Rom. 6:4-8 We were crucified with him, died with him, buried with him and united with him in his death.
- Rom. 6:5, 8 We will live with him, united with him in his resurrection.
- Rom. 8:17 We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
- Rom. 8:17 If we share in his sufferings, we will also share in his glory.
- Gal. 2:20 We have been crucified with Christ, and he lives in us.
- Eph. 2:5-6 God made us alive with Christ, God raised us up with Christ, and seated us with him in the heavenly realms.
- Col. 2:12 We have been buried with him in baptism.
- Col. 2:12-13 God raised us and made us alive with Christ, through faith.
- Col. 2:20 We died with Christ to the basic principles of this world.
- Col. 3:1 We have been raised with Christ.
- Col. 3:3 Our life is now hidden with Christ in God.
- Col. 3:4 When Christ appears, we will appear with him in glory.
- 1 Thess. 5:10 He died for us so that we may live together with him.
- 2 Tim. 2:11 If we died with him, we will also live with him.
- 2 Tim. 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him.
When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, our lives become hidden in him, and we are with him — where he was, where he is now, and where he will be in the future. When he appears, we will be with him. We will be united with him in his resurrection, and we will reign with him in his glory. We participate with him, share with him in his life, as pictured in the Lord’s Supper.
This way of speaking may sound strange today. The scientific worldview trains people to look for things that can be seen and measured with physical instruments. but Paul is speaking of unseen realities, of spiritual truths that are beyond physical investigation. He is saying that there is more to our existence, and more to our identity, than can be seen with the eyes.
Although human eyes could not see us being buried with Christ, the reality is that we were. And human eyes did not see us in the resurrection of Christ, but the reality is that we were resurrected in him. Though our eyes cannot see the future, we know that it is also a reality: we will be resurrected, reigning with Christ, living with Christ forever, sharing in his glory, being served by the angels!
Christ is the firstfruits, and in him everyone will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22). Christ is the forerunner, the proof that the promise will be fulfilled for each of us who are united to him. The resurrection is indeed wonderful news for each of us — a central plank of the gospel message itself. If there is no future life, if there is no reward in store for our troubles, then our faith is fraudulent, our message is a mistake. But it is not a mistake — Christ indeed has risen. He is reigning in glory, and he will come again, and we will be with him in glory.
But notice in the verses above that there is a price that must be paid. We must be with Christ in his sufferings, too. We must endure in order to reign. Paul put it this way: “I want to know Christ…and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11).
Press on toward the goal, Paul exhorts (vs. 14-15). “Our citizenship is in heaven,” he reminds us. “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who…will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” (vs. 20-21).
My friends, I also love you. Press onward, knowing that our reward is being prepared for us in heaven! When the Lord Jesus returns, we will rise to be with him forever — in glory we can only begin to imagine. Stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! Pressing on requires us to have patience, but it is difficult to be patient in the “fast lane, instant food, expressway” society in which we live. But let’s remember that God’s Spirit grants us patience when we draw closer to him.
Jesus commands, “Go and make disciples…and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Disciples of Jesus are followers of Jesus, people who have made a decisive commitment to learn from him and be like him. That is why teaching and learning plays such a vital role in the church. Leaders are entrusted to teach the church what Jesus taught and how it applies to us all, so that we might become increasingly more apt and faithful disciples of Jesus.
Evangelism comes naturally from a body of faithful, devoted, committed and worshipping disciples. Being the people God has called us to be — brothers and sisters of Jesus, led and motivated by his love — is the primary way the good news is spread. It is far more effective for people to come to know and see Jesus at work in his people than it is to merely hear a message from a relative stranger with no concrete demonstration of its real power to bring the joy and peace of God. That is why we continue to emphasize the need for Christ’s love among us.
I know that our brethren want to love God and work together for the kingdom. The devil would like for us to believe that we are defeated, but he is only a liar. God has given us the victory, and we do not have to feel like all is lost. Jesus is risen! He is on his throne, and he loves us as much today as he ever has. He will do his work in us.
Let us stand together with him, and trust him to lead us into knowing God more, loving God more and loving one another more. Our true reward lies beyond the present moment, but we can experience more and more the blessings of the kingdom even now, as we commit to be Jesus’ disciples and walk in his love for the Father and for one another.
Author: Joseph Tkach