Session Three - Bible Study on the Work of Christ

This study was originally presented over a five day period in July 1998 as a series of radio talks by Pastor Keith Graham. The material will be more profitable if digested in its five separate sessions, of which this is the third.

The joy of the forgiveness of our sins...personal assurance of salvation...a sure hope of eternal life in heaven, which empowers our life on earth - these are just some of the blessings of God's love and grace that Christians experience. In this series of studies, we have been looking at what the Lord Jesus Christ has done and is doing to bring those blessings into the Christian's experience. That to which Christian faith looks is the Person of Christ, and what He has done.

In the 16th Psalm, David writes about his buoyant confidence that God would not leave his soul in hell, and that God would not allow His holy one to see corruption. In his sermon recorded in Acts 2, Peter explains that David spoke as a prophet. David knew that God had sworn with an oath to him, that one of his descendants according to the flesh would be raised up to be the Christ - the Anointed One to occupy David's throne. Peter says that David, seeing this before hand, spoke of the resurrection of Christ. Christ's soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption, that is decay, during the time of His burial.

Having considered the sinless, meritorious life which Jesus Christ lived under the law of God, as well as the death He died, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sins, we will now look at His resurrection. As Paul writes in Romans, Jesus Christ was "...declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Before considering the infinite spiritual importance of this central event of all human history, the resurrection of Jesus, it is necessary to affirm some important truths about the physical aspects of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

It must be unwaveringly held that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh - that is, the almighty, sovereign Creator taking to Himself a real human nature in which He lived and died to become the almighty, sovereign Redeemer. Even so it must be unwaveringly held that the Lord Jesus Christ rose in the very body in which He died. We speak unhesitatingly and in direct opposition to any who claim that His rising from the dead was not actual and in the body, or that He actually arose, but as a spirit being with no material body. These are dangerous, false teachings.

Biblical truth is that Jesus arose physically in the body in which He had died. When He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He told Thomas who had doubted His resurrection to touch His wounds. Not only did He have His own body, but His body still had the wounds He received in His crucifixion! The body of Jesus Christ was taken down from the cross, lifeless, and given by the Roman Empire's local governor, Pontius Pilate, into the custody of Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph and Nicodemus the Pharisee enbalmed Jesus with spices, wrapping Him in linen cloths. After three days, Jesus was seen by over five hundred people during a period of forty days before He ascended into heaven. Roman soldiers were paid off to lie about what they knew had occured. A huge stone at the mouth of the grave where Jesus had been placed was mysteriously rolled away. These are undeniable historical facts. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, bodily.

It must also be said that the Lord Jesus rose to a new kind of life. During His ministry on earth before His death, he had raised people from the dead, such as Lazarus. Even in the Old Testament, both Elijah and his successor the prophet Elisha each raised a person from the dead. In Acts, Peter raised a young girl from the dead, and Paul raised Eutychus. All of these were truly and miraculously restored to life, but it was to the same KIND of life which they had before death. Not so with Jesus. He was raised to a new kind of life that can never end, and He entered with His real human body into a glorified state of existence. Peter, James, and John were given a glimpse of this glorified state when they witnessed Jesus' transfiguration on the mountain. Matthew records that on that occasion "His face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light."

Also, in each of the cases in which others rose from the dead, the raising was done at the hand of Christ Himself, or by one of His chosen prophets or apostles. Those resurrections were done as signs, confirming the Divine and inspired nature of the message preached by those who raised the dead. In the case of our Lord Jesus, it is said that God His Father raised Him with no human intermediary, AND that Jesus raised Himself! Jesus said of His life, "I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." In the book of Romans, the Holy Spirit is also intimately linked to the resurrection of Jesus. Thus, Father, Son and Holy Spirit were active in it as surely as we see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit involved in creation and the baptism of Jesus. Indeed, the whole Trinity is involved in all the works of God. As we consider the victorious resurrection of Jesus, let us never forget then that it was a real, bodily resurrection, that the Triune God - the Holy Trinity - raised the Man Christ Jesus with no intermediary, and that Jesus rose to a new kind of life.

It is that word "victorious" which begins to express the infinite, eternal importance of Jesus' resurrection. A decisive victory is what He accomplished. Over what did Jesus gain victory?

In the first place, our Saviour Jesus Christ "has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). Speaking to the apostle John at the beginning of the Revelation, Jesus says, "I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." The writer to the Hebrews instructs us that Jesus' present high priestly ministry, His intercession for His people at the Father's right hand, is established "...not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." The same book of Hebrews speaks of those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. The Lord Jesus Christ has brought into being that which human hearts crave, life that never ends. Those that belong to Him may die physically in this world as He did, but they will rise again, actually and bodily, as He did. Jesus killed death itself! Blessed be His name!

Jesus conquered death because He conquered sin. Paul writes in Romans 5, " one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Death came into the world as a judgment from God because man rebelled against God. Death was the penalty for disobedience. By bearing the penalty for the sin of His people, Jesus cancelled the debt they owed. By earning for them the reward they could not gain because they were guilty and in bondage to sin, He gave them a righteousness not their own. Because He dealt radically, effectively, and eternally with sin by His own sinless, meritorious life and His substitutionary death, nothing was able to hold Jesus in the grave. Hence, nothing is able to hold His people under the power of death.

Paul expresses this in Colossians 2 when he writes, ", being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." That last part of the passage, referring to principalities and powers, is about the unseen evil spirits, the devil and his demons. By His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus got victory over the devil. It was the devil who had tempted Adam and Eve to sin, and when they fell, he gained power over man. When Jesus rose from the dead, all the principalities and powers saw that their age long power had been broken forever.

Finally, we find that Jesus overcame the world. He said, " of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Although He spoke these words before His resurrection, He looked ahead, knowing that He would accomplish His mission, that He would be victorious. He knew the prophecy about Himself in the prophet Isaiah, " pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He has poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. In our next session, we will consider what the resurrected Lord Jesus is doing NOW, seated there at the Father's right hand in glory.

Go to Session Four - Bible Study on the Work of Christ

Go to 2 Timothy 2:15 Dept.

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