Devotional by Jesse Leland – April 9, 2020

“While they [the women] were perplexed about this [the empty tomb], behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” – Luke 24:4–5

The Christian faith hinges on a single historical event (e.g. see 1 Corinthians 15:17–19).  Around two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ – the only begotten Son of God – was resurrected from the dead. As we celebrate the risen Christ this Easter, I think that it’s important to remind ourselves of the practical outworking of his resurrection in our lives, before considering its importance to our Christian witness. Below are five that are particularly precious:

1) Justification – “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1). In other words, the just wrath of God for sin was poured out on Jesus and we (i.e. those with saving faith) appropriate the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

2) Sanctification – “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22). Because our old self was crucified with Christ and we have been resurrected to new life (i.e. via the Holy Spirit), we are freed from sin and death and are now slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:7 and 18).

3) Deliverance – “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Romans 8:15). When we place our faith and trust in God, and are filled with (i.e. controlled by) the Holy Spirit, we will be delivered from living in fear.

4) Hope – “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…” (1 Peter 1:3). Because Christ is risen and seated at the right hand of the Father, we (i.e. that hope only in Christ) have a living and eternal hope – our salvation is eternally secure.

5) Love – “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8). If we know God (i.e. have an ongoing personal relationship with Christ), we will demonstrate love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ and our neighbours.

Awesome! Isn’t God good to his children?

But, how do the above interact with our Christian witness during these challenging days? Consider the following. This fallen world lies in the power of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), with unbelievers only seeking their way among the dead – i.e., apart from Christ, there is ultimately no: i) meaning, ii) hope or iii) purpose. At present, God is shaking the global population according to his unchanging divine will. From scripture we know that “…[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4).

When we come out of our Coronavirus-induced isolation, I believe there will be new opportunities for sharing the gospel with God-softened people. Before then, I think it wise to reflect on our pre-Coronavirus Christian witness. As Christ’s earthly ambassadors, did our lives bear witness to the process of sanctification (i.e. progressive holiness)? Has our faith in God yielded deliverance from bondage? Were we faithful in proclaiming this glorious Gospel? Was the love of Christ being explicitly demonstrated in every aspect of our lives? If we proclaimed the power of Christ’s resurrection towards those who repent, did our lives bear fruit to support this extraordinary claim?

As for me, I confess that I have fallen short too many times. If you confess the same, please join with me in repenting to our gracious God. Let’s unite in prayer and request His extraordinary blessing on our post-isolation Gospel witness. May the living God, by his Holy Spirit, draw us nearer to himself and enable us to love our neighbours through the proclamation of the living Christ.