A Resurrecting God
There are few things more integral to the teaching of the New Testament than Christ’s resurrection. It’s a part of the core gospel message, as Paul reports to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). But this belief was more to the first disciples of Christ than a mere credal statement of faith, and it should mean much more to us as well.
Jesus, being God, is uniquely capable of bestowing life. John argues as much at the beginning of his gospel as he speaks of Jesus as the very word and power by which God created all things (John 1:1-4). But God’s ability to grant life extends beyond initial creation. Not only is He a God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist,” as Paul states, but He also “gives life to the dead” (Romans 4:17 ESV). God can bring new life to what is currently lifeless, and He can make that new life one that will never end.
Scripture paints a picture of the Lord as a resurrecting God, long before Jesus’ death and resurrection. Abraham trusted “that God was able even to raise [ Isaac ] from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19 ESV). Jesus Himself raised Lazarus, who, according to the account in John 11, had been dead for four days! And just prior to Jesus’ miraculous
display of divine power, He uttered these words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 ESV) Christ as the epitome of God’s resurrecting power exemplifies the fact that death is not the end of the story for anyone who entrusts himself to the God who gives life.
God’s ability to bring the dead to life does not apply only to people, though; it applies to anything and everything that has lost its life and liveliness. Paul’s exhortations to the church in Ephesus demonstrate that the true power of resurrection primarily pertains to restoring relationships—first with God, and then with others through the unity found within Christ. Paul’s expressed desire was for the Ephesians to truly comprehend “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). Paul spends the entirety of the following chapter, though, talking about the restoration of a dead relationship between man and God, and between Jews and Gentiles. It isn’t just a new body to experience a new world that God promises us when He speaks of resurrection; the resurrecting God of life promises and grants a renewed relationship with Him, and with His people, that will never end.
It’s this reality that motivates us to form relationships with members of Christ’s body that similarly illustrate God’s amazing power of resurrection. The connection between brothers and sisters in Christ should never just die. If God could bring a dead body and relationship back to life, then He can enable us to keep our connection with each other alive and well. So if I’ve received new and eternal life, and you possess the same, and we both serve a God who brings what is dead back to life, then what should we allow to come between us? Friends, the answer is “nothing.”