Because He Is Risen
Hope is dying in our land because Jesus Christ is risen. He lives and reigns, so if men turn from truth once confessed, death will come to them. It will also come to churches who do not hold fast to his truth. If we do not draw life from him in place of our deadness, if he is not the vital center of all that we do, we are still Lazarus in the tomb. We stink. Our singing will stink, requiring cheerleading to hide the emptiness of our own souls. Our theology and preaching will stink. We try to hide the stench behind new programs and fresh ways to relate to people and baptized humanism pretending to be the most important thing anyone has ever heard. It is death. The Living One will let nothing live that does not abide in him.
In the best of churches, this is often forgotten. We hold doggedly to the old paths, but at times they seem to be lifeless. Though we worship with our families and tell our children what God has done, it may seem as though we are merely going through the motions. The same is true of our singing, praying, and fellowship. Why is this? We do not seek continual renewal through the risen One. Only he gives joy in truth, vigor in singing, patience in suffering, fervency in prayer, and satisfaction in fellowship. He only is truly, fully alive. He alone is raised from the dead, the conqueror of death, the One who is life and gives abundant life to those who believe upon his name.
We need not wonder why our particular society is dying and dead. Is not blindness and hardness against God’s living truth nothing but a living death? We fight meaningless but deadly wars because there is nothing but death unless men seek life in him. The deadly spending spree we are on is because he lives and will allow nothing to prosper except what is submissive to him. Even when we cure a disease, it is often replaced with the deadlier disease of pride, for we do not cure with his glory and kingdom in mind. Do not be deceived. It is because Jesus Christ lives and reigns that our nation is being judged. Forsake him and die. Reject his law and die. Live as if men have the answers and will pull out an eleventh hour miracle and die. There is no political or social life except through submission to the resurrected King of heaven and earth. What we are witnessing throughout the West is not indicative that the myth of Christianity is finally dying out, as its enemies claim. It is evidence that the Son of God reigns, judges his enemies, and chastens his true Bride that she may “come out from among them, and be separate.”
This is a strange way of looking at the state of the church and the western world. I used to be a handwringer. I used to wonder when the Lord would come down and be the King Scripture everywhere declares him to be. Now, I wring my hands and heart over my own sins and those of the church. I tremble. I realize that the events that so trouble me are startling evidence of his reign. His Father promised, “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you,” speaking of the true church of God and its King, “shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted” (Isa. 60:12). And: “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little” (Ps. 2:12). And again: “For he must reign, until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:25). And also a warning to wayward churches: “Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent” (Rev. 2:5).
It is because he reigns that wickedness simply will not work, that nations cannot war, kill their children, and print money and prosper. It is because he reigns that changing one’s theology and worship to reflect the spirit of the times is always fatal. Spiritual enthusiasm and relevance severed from faith in the risen Savior and his word always make men more immature and less satisfied. They may seem to get ahead for a time, but even within our own lifetime, we have seen rebellion’s consequences mounting, and with startling speed. Why is this? If the world were as the secularists present it – the survival of the fittest, or nothing but a machine – then the fittest and the best masters of the machinery of nature would prevail. They do not; they cannot master. There is a reason. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper…this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, says the Lord” (Isa. 54:17). It is our heritage because the true Servant of the Lord is risen and reigns. This is the age of the power and reign of the risen Son of God (Ps. 110:3). Because he is risen, neither wicked nations nor pseudo-churches will prevail. They cannot. God has spoken.
Because he is risen, those who love him and his truth must tremble not at what the wicked are doing as much as at what he is doing. “When his judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9). Are we learning righteousness? The more we see wicked men rebel, do we obey God the more fervently? The more calamity and perversity we see, do we afflict our souls and possess them in patience? The more we see his word handled casually by his professing friends, are we taking it more seriously and speaking it more boldly, more lovingly? We live in an age that takes nothing seriously but its own comfort. Its god is self. God is toppling this idol. Are we turning from self, taking God more seriously than our own comfort? Are we thinking, talking, even dressing seriously, knowing that God is doing serious things in the world and church? The King is risen. If we are his friends, we must cling to him and adoringly tremble before the work he is doing before our very eyes.
Because he is risen, there is hope and help for us to overcome our sins. He has overcome them. He has freed us from their curse. He rose so that we might walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-6). Therefore, we must seek from our resurrected Lord grace to be faithful in our homes and callings, boldness to share the King’s truth, and humility to bear the world’s reproach with dignity and patience. We can expect him to help us when we call upon him to deliver us from various impurities, worldliness, and fear (Heb. 7:25). He reigns to subdue his and our enemies. Even the most terrible battles against long-standing sin may be faced and fought and eventually won because he is risen. We must bow before his power. With the thrill of covenant fulfilled and hope restored, we must confess with Thomas: “My Lord and my God.”
Given all that we see happening around us, we need resurrection hope and joy. The church must recover her ancient faith that “he is risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6). The glory of that morning fades only as faith grows weak and worldly. Our risen Savior will share his fullness of joy with him (John 15:9-11). He will give confidence, humility, and boldness. We need not fear what man may do to us or wring our hands over the soap opera that is the way of the wicked. Because he is risen, we must love, hold fast, learn better, and speak his truth. Our daily labors, if pursued by looking to the risen Jesus, take on eternal significance, for they are not in vain and follow after us to heaven (1 Cor. 15:58; Rev. 14:13).
Because he is risen, we have a new perspective on life itself. The King reigns! He is subduing his enemies. He is building his church. He is near to us by his Spirit, always hears our cries, rejoices over us, and is working good for us. In our sorrows, he is afflicted (Isa. 63:9). In our sicknesses, he makes our bed (Ps. 41:3). Though we must bear his cross and suffer a little now, the glorious, eternal city of God is waiting for us. We enjoy its brightness now by faith in him. The risen Savior is beckoning to us: be faithful, and I will give you a crown of life (Rev. 2:10); overcome, and I will feed you from the tree of life that grows in God’s paradise (Rev. 2:7); you will rule over the nations with me (Rev. 2:26); I will confess you before my Father (Rev. 3:5). Believe upon his name. Rejoice in his reign. Obey his word. He is risen!