Priceless Gifts from the Empty Tomb
There are a number of priceless gifts that are a part of the believer’s inheritance. All these gifts flow from an empty cross, an empty tomb, and an occupied throne in Heaven.
The good news of the gospel, as declared by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, is that five of my deepest longings are being met by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul states these in negative terms (if Christ isn't resurrected my faith is in vain, preaching is in vain, etc.). However, I want to restate each of these five truths in positive terms so that we can see what God has really done for us in raising Jesus from the dead. Putting all these negatives into positives will make it more obvious what deep longings are satisfied in Christ’s resurrection.
The Longing to Know that the Problem My Sins Had Created Has Been Satisfied
1 Cors. 15:17,"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins."
For every believer, instead of saying negatively that we are not still in our sins, we can say positively that because of the resurrection we are forgiven all our sins.
This is first and foremost because if God holds our sins against us - and we all have sinned - then there is no hope of receiving anything else from God. The foundation for every other blessing from God is that He won’t hold our sins against us. We long to know that the problem of our personal sins is fixed.
How did the resurrection of Jesus fix our sin problem and secure forgiveness? Most believers think only in terms of the death of Jesus on the cross as that action which has taken away our sin, because he bore our sins and took our judgment (1 Cor. 15:3). True, but we must remember that the cross can’t be separated from the resurrection. Romans 4:25 says: “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
By His resurrection, Jesus has paid our sin debt in full, loosed us from Satan's bondage, broken down all the barriers that separated us from God, destroyed the power of the devil, dissolved the claims of the broken law, and detoxified the sting of death by blasting a cross-shaped hole through it!
Paul says because we believe God’s record that Christ rose from the dead, we are no longer in our sins.
“My sin, Oh the bliss of this glorious thought, - my sin not in part but the whole was nailed to the cross and I bear them no more! Praise the Lord! It is well with my soul!
The Longing to Know that There is Someone I Can Trust Absolutely is Satisfied
1 Cors. 15:14, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."
Instead of saying negatively that our faith is not in vain, we can say positively that because of the resurrection of Christ our faith is well-founded and well-grounded – not in a mystical, mythological way, but historically and truly. But to state it even more powerfully and personally, we can know that because of the resurrection of Jesus there is someone we can trust absolutely.
In an age of skepticism toward confidence in anyone and infidelity in so many relationships, there is deep in the heart of every person a longing for someone that you can always trust and always count on come what may. We long for someone who is absolutely trustworthy; someone who, if you put your faith, your trust and reliance in them, you know that it won’t be a futile and fractured trust; someone who won’t let us down, that will always be there. This is a part of our DNA. When God put man and woman in the Garden of Eden, they had an implanted desire to glorify God by trusting him for everything they needed.
In spite of sin, that need has never changed. And now that we as Christians are no longer in our sins, this longing is also satisfied by the resurrection of Jesus. The death of Jesus proves his love for us, and the resurrection proves his power over every enemy of life. And so there is someone you can count on. Someone absolutely trustworthy. Someone who will never let you down. Jesus is alive to be trusted. “The life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
The Longing to Know that God has a Big Story that Is True is Satisfied
1 Cors 15:15, "We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised."
Instead of saying negatively that because of the resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles were not false witnesses, we can say positively that what the Apostles taught is true. Jesus came into the world to reveal that He was, “the way the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). When Father God raised Him from the dead, He vindicated his claim. Thus, Jesus has a right to tell us what is absolutely true because in the resurrection God proved him to be absolutely true.
The resurrection of Jesus validates His claims that Truth is not to be found in a philosophy, but in a person. The resurrection of Jesus confirms that He is not just another truth-teller, but that He is the Truth. He is the center and circumference, the core and crown, the sum and the substance, and the fount and the fullness of all truth. Jesus reveals God and exposes man. Anything that contradicts what he says is false, and that’s the Gospel truth!
The resurrection makes the “Metanarrative”of God’s Big Story of Redemption Complete. “Metanarrative” means a big, comprehensive story that explains who we are, how we got here, why we are as we are, and where we are going. A metanarrative shapes who we are, what we believe, what we aspire to be, and what is our vision of truth. When we lose it, we lose our identity, we lose ourselves.
The good news of the gospel is really an invitation to tear up all our own little scripts and self-made stories, and enlist, with a clean start and a strategic part, as members of the cast in God’s big redemptive story.
If the bodily resurrection of the Jesus is only a fable, a fictitious story, a fanciful parable, then the postmodernists is right - there is no Big Story, and the Hindu’s story, the Buddhist’s story, the Muslim’s story is just as good as the Christian’s story. If there is no resurrected Christ, then the road to the grave is a one way dead-end street and life is a hopeless riddle, with no unity of purpose, and we Christians are of all people most miserable.
The Longing to Know that I Have a Vital Part in God’s Story and that My Life will Count for Something is Satisfied
1 Cors. 15:19, "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."
Instead of saying negatively that we are not to be pitied, we can say positively that because of the resurrection we are to be envied. Our preaching, teaching, and witnessing is not in vain - it is full, meaningful, valid, valuable, significant.
John Piper was ever so right when he said, “If Christ is not raised then living for him, doing what he says, following his will is a great delusion. We should be pitied like insane people who live by hallucinations. But since he has been raised and is alive and reigns as king forever, all our obedience, all our love, all our self-denial is not just not-to-be-pitied, but is positively enviable.”
The Longing to Know that I will not Come to an Empty End after a Full and Valuable Life is Satisfied
1 Cors. 15:18, "Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished."
Paul says that if Christ wasn’t risen from the dead, then those who have who have died in faith have perished. Or to state it positively, since Christ is raised from the dead, they are alive with a never-dying life! They live the way Christ lives. They have entered into the eternal joy of their Master.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God has given those who trust Jesus forgiveness, and by this He has glorified Jesus as the all-sufficient forgiver, redeemer, reconciler, Savior.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God has given us an Elder Brother; a friend that sticks closer than a brother; a friend that we can always count on, and by this He has glorified Jesus as utterly reliable, and trustworthy.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God has given us guidance and unchanging truth and by this He has glorified Jesus as the absolute foundation for truth and righteousness.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God has given us a life that is not pitiable but enviable, a ministry that is not in vain but fruitful, a significant part to play in God’s Big Story, and by this He has glorified Jesus as the source and goal of all life and all ministry.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God has given us everlasting joy that will not be ended by death, and that can’t be stolen by the devil, and by this He has glorified Jesus as the author of life, the victor over death and the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Are you living in the power of His resurrection? What difference does the resurrection make in your life? Are you thrilled at the thought and implications of what it means for Jesus Christ to be resurrected from the grave?
What will death and resurrection be for you? Will it be a resurrection unto life eternal or unto eternal damnation? If you have not faced the empty tomb of Jesus and looked beyond by faith to embrace Him as the Risen, Living Christ of God, the Lord of Glory, your death will be a terrible scene of darkness, despair and hopelessness. Death will become the vestibule of hell for you.
You can experience resurrection life, peace, purpose and joy beginning today. How?
Romans 10:9,“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”