The Significance of the Resurrection
Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:3
Hello once again to all of you. If you are listening on Sunday morning, April 12, 2020, let me just say Happy Easter to you, or Happy Resurrection Day. This is going to be an Easter unlike any other we’ve had as a church so far.
A couple of passages that come to my mind with all this are Proverbs 16:9 and James 4:13-15.
Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
James 4 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Just a few months ago, I don’t think any of us imagined we would be here, constrained in our homes. But God is still on His throne, and this is a good reminder that He is in charge, not us. We can make plans, but God’s the One with the final say.
Along those lines of planning, I just want to let you know that we elders are discussing various topics during this time. Those topics include meeting the needs of our members, watching over the finances of our church, and planning for what things will look like once we’re able to gather again, whenever the Lord lets us.
Along those lines, I just want to let you know about a couple plans we’ve made. First, I’m planning to start a live, Zoom Bible study soon, and I’ll be sending an email out with that information, once I’ve finalized some of the details.
Also, I would like to remind you that tonight we are having a Zoom fellowship and prayer time. If you’re a member on our email list, you should have received an email with that information. If you didn’t get that email, feel free to reach out to any of our members, or your FLG Leader, or an elder.
We’ll have a Spanish meeting from 6 to 6:45 tonight, and then the English meeting is going to be from 7 to 7:45. We’d be glad to have you join us for that. I hope it’ll be a good time to be encouraged by one another, and to unite as we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection.
Along those lines, it’s time now to turn our attention to our study for today. And we are going to be looking at First Peter, chapter 1, verse 3. First Peter 1:3. Remember, this is Peter writing to Christians scattered across the Roman Empire, and they are going through a time of great suffering.
The opening 2 verses are Peter’s introduction, and they serve as an encouragement to his readers. Once that’s done, the first thing Peter moves into is praise. And just so you know, in the original Greek, verses 3-9 are all one very long sentence. This is an extended praise, and we’re going to be looking at it for the next few weeks. For today, though, we’re just going to look at verse 3. And here’s what it says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
What a great passage to be looking at for an Easter message. As you can see at the end of the verse, Peter’s praise is rooted in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, what we’re going to do today is see some of the lessons we can learn and apply with regard to the Resurrection.
And to do that, we’re going to work our way backward through this verse, which I think will help us see the connections Peter is making.
Our first lesson for today is this: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact. It’s a historical fact. This is one of the dividing lines between genuine Christianity and everything else.
Peter understood this, and He embraced it with the entirety of his life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of Christianity. It’s the sine qua non, which is a Latin phrase which means “without it, there’s nothing.” If there were no Resurrection, we would not have a Christian faith.
The physical resurrection of Jesus isn’t some feel-good fairy tale to help inspire us. It’s a historical fact. Whenever you share the message of Jesus, you have to include the fact that He died and that He came back from the dead.
The death of the spotless, perfect Son of God paid the price for sin. And His Resurrection was the authenticating stamp of His entire message. All four gospels bear witness to the Resurrection. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell us that the tomb was empty, and that Jesus appeared to His disciples afterward. And then, the book of Acts demonstrates the change that brought about in the disciples. Jesus died, and then He came back from the dead.
One of the most significant chapters in the Bible dealing with the Resurrection is First Corinthians 15. Let me read some of the verses in that chapter. Verses 3-7 say this:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles
The Resurrection was prophesied by God, and it was witnessed by the disciples. Verse 14 adds:
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
Whether you are a Christian or not, you need to recognize that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity is meaningless; it’s empty. Verse 19 says:
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But what is the flip side of that? If Christ did not rise from the dead, we should be pitied. But since He did rise, what does that mean for us? The Resurrection of Jesus is not just something we’re called to accept and believe; it’s something that affects our life.
Going back to First Peter 1:3, and again, working our way backward, here’s what we find. This is lesson number 2. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us living hope. It gives us a living hope.
That’s what Peter says. We have “a living hope [which is] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
I think that, for the most part, when people use the word “hope” they’re using it as a verb. It’s something you do. You hope you get to work on time. You hope the store has paper towels. You hope your kids don’t make a fuss at the dinner table. You hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. In that sense, it’s something you would like to happen, but aren’t certain that it will.
In the Bible, however, hope is usually a noun, not a verb. It’s not something simply that you want; it’s something you know will happen. It something you are waiting for with certainty. It’s something you have.
Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have a living hope. We know the end of all this—the end of our lives and the end of human history. Christ who died, and who was raised from the dead, will return. And He will judge the world in perfect righteousness. He’s going to eternally condemn the wicked, and He is going to eternally save those who have loved Him and cried out for salvation.
First Peter 3:21 talks about the heart of a person getting baptized. And it says that person is saved by “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”
As sure as Christ rose from the dead, He has forgiven us, and He will save us forever. And that fixed hope impacts our life now. That’s what it means to have a living hope.
Romans 8 tells us that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
No matter how difficult life is right now, we know that it will be nothing compared to the eternal joy that awaits us—free from corruption, free from pain, free from the daily fight, free from our enemies, free from death, and free from sin.
And it is the risen Christ who now sustains you. Since Jesus is alive, so is our hope, because He is our hope. He is the One who sustains us.
This is one of the themes you see repeated in First Peter. Christians, no matter what life looks like for them, will live by hope. And that hope is visible to the rest of the world because it doesn’t have an earthly explanation.
That’s why later in First Peter, he says we need to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
That’s the living hope Peter is talking about. And it is only made possible because Jesus rose from the dead. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us a living hope.
Now, let’s move on to lesson number 3 regarding the Resurrection. Here it is: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ brings about the new birth. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ brings about the new birth.
Again, going back to our verse for today, it says that God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
When you first read that, it can sound like the new birth gives us a living hope, and that living hope is rooted in the Resurrection. And that’s true. But it’s also possible to say that the phrase “through the Resurrection,” is describing our new birth as well. So, we have hope because of the Resurrection, and we have been born again through the Resurrection.
And this is something that the Bible supports. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, is the power that granted us the new birth. Romans 6:4 says it like this:
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
When you came to Christ, you died. Your old nature died with Christ. That’s what we picture when someone gets baptized. They go under the water, like a dead person goes under the ground.
In that same moment, though, something else happened. Your old nature died with Christ, and your new nature came to life with Christ. Colossians 3 says we have been raised up with Christ.
Being raised up with Christ is not some later experience in your Christian life. It’s a reality at the moment of your conversion. You became a new creation of God. Just like Jesus was raised to life physically, you are raised to a new life spiritually.
And that new nature is what walks in newness of life. The first step of that new nature is to respond with faith and obedience to Christ. It’s what compels someone to repent of sin. It’s what compels someone to get baptized as a public profession. That new life can be seen.
Describing our conversion as a new birth emphasizes, once again, that salvation is something God does, not us. In a physical birth, when a baby is born, the kid is obviously involved. She’s a part of what’s happening. But she is not the one who decided to be born. She didn’t decide to come into this world. That decision was made apart from her.
And it’s the same way with spiritual birth. We are born again because of God. He causes it to happen. He brings it about. And why does He do that? Why does God choose to take a rebellious sinner, and give him a new nature, and forgive him for his sin, and make him part of God’s eternal family? Why does God do that?
Here’s the fourth lesson for today. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ points us to God’s great mercy. It’s a historical event. It gives us a living hope. It brings about the new birth. And it points us to God’s great mercy.
Look again at First Peter 1, verse 3. It says there that everything we’ve been given is “according to [God’s] great mercy.” That’s why He chose to cause us to be born again.
Parents choose to have children for a variety of reasons, or it’ll even happen when you didn’t plan for it. But God is never surprised by our conversions. And He didn’t save people because He was lonely. God chose to save sinners because He wanted to, because it’s an expression of who He is, because it serves His glory. Salvation is the mercy of God on display in the real world.
Mercy is when someone with some kind of authority or power decides to show compassion to someone who is in some kind of need. Again, someone with some kind of authority or power decides to show compassion to someone who is in some kind of need.
Well, our salvation in Jesus Christ, which includes His death and His resurrection, is the greatest example of mercy. Nothing is greater. You have God, with the ultimate power and authority—He is the eternal Creator and Judge—and you have us sinners, who had the greatest need a person could have. We needed to be spared from eternal judgment.
And God decided to show us mercy. To put His grace on display. You know, sometimes people talk about the doctrine of election, and they think, “I don’t like that. I don’t like this idea that God chooses who He’ll save.” But that is looking at it from the wrong angle.
All of us deserve death. We deserve to be condemned to eternal, conscious torment. And God was merciful. The amazing part is that God would save us when He didn’t have to.
Ephesians 2 talks about our life before conversion. It says, “We lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us… made us alive together with Christ”
Would you ever show mercy to the rats and the cockroaches who creep into your house and eat and contaminate your food? Would you take them into your home and make them part of your family?
Before God, we were less to Him than those animals are to us. We are created beings rebelling against our Creator, contaminating this world He created for His glory. And rather than let us run to the hell we deserve, God showed us mercy.
And through the church, and through His word, He still extends the offer of that mercy to everyone. God’s arms are open, extended, calling you to come to Him. Turn from your sin. Recognize the authority of the risen Lord Jesus, and believe that He died to pay the price your sin deserves.
All who come to Him will be saved. All who seek Him in prayer and repentance will receive God’s great mercy, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ will be applied to them now and forever.
Let me just move here to the final lesson for today regarding the Resurrection. And it’s a very basic lesson. In light of all that we’ve seen already— in light of everything Peter had in mind when He wrote this letter—how did he respond?
Lesson number 5: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ leads us to praise our heavenly Father. It leads us to praise our heavenly Father.
This is the theme of verses 3-9. It’s a praise to God for all that He’s done. That’s what it means when Paul says Blessed be our God. When God gives us good things, we say He’s blessing us. But when we bless God, it means that we are praising Him. We’re giving Him glory.
Peter doesn’t get very far in his letter before he immediately stops to praise God and to help his readers praise God as well. The rest of this section is the reasons we praise him. We praise Him for His mercy. We praise Him for giving us the new birth.
And so, here’ what I want you think about this Easter: Are you praising God? Are you praising God who caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
It’s very easy at a time like this to be focused on what we don’t like, or to focus on what’s difficult. That’s probably what a lot of Peter’s audience was doing.
Life is tough. Life stinks. Life is grueling, and some days we don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone love others and walk in humility and holiness.
But even in those difficult times, we need to remind ourselves and to remind others, to stop and praise our God for all that He has done in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s not just an Easter message; that’s an everyday message. Quiet the complaints for a moment. Stop thinking about what you wish you could change about your life right now, and praise your Heavenly Father for what He’s done.
Let His praises fill your mind and fill your heart. Let that seep into your day, and may we respond with praise and gratitude to our merciful heavenly Father who has raised Jesus from the dead.
I’m not sure what you’re going to be doing today, if it’s Easter Sunday when you’re listening to this, but above all, it should be a day of praise and a day of joy. Let’s pray.
Father we praise you now, for Your great mercy. We praise You for granting us the new birth. We praise You for giving us a living hope. And we praise You for raising our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead to make all this possible.
Father, this world is looking for hope in all kinds of places. People are hoping in doctors. They’re hoping in the government. They’re hoping in statistics. They’re hoping in their family. They’re hoping in their internet connection.
But we know and we have the only true hope in this world. We have the only thing that will give us true victory. We have the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Father, would you show Your mercy in this season and use us and use the church and use circumstances to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Continue to watch over us, Father, and help us have eyes open to Your great truths and open to the opportunities you give us to love people in the name of Jesus Christ. Give us opportunities to tell others about the hope that is in us because of Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.