What's Life got to do with it?
Robert was searching for answers. He had an interest in “spiritual things” and often came to Bible study. I talked to him about Jesus Christ as the answer to his search. He could not see however, how someone who lived two thousand years ago could help him today. In exasperation, Robert said, “I’ve asked God for help many times!”
My response was a total surprise to him.
“Robert, “I said, “ a dead man doesn’t need help ....A dead man needs life!”
With this answer, Robert finally stopped protesting and listened. As I explained, we are born into this world spiritually dead: “ As for you, you were dead in your sins…” (Ephesians 2:1). What we need is life. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to give us life.
That is the meaning of the resurrection, the restoration of life.
Many people are like Robert...searching but never finding, trying to live this Christian life can become busy and barren. People try to live for God, and like Robert, cry out for God’s help. Christ did not come to give us help, however. The bible is clear that we are not saved by the death of Christ alone; we are saved by His life. Romans 5:10 says “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!”
Salvation: A Life and Death Issue
If you were to ask a group of Christians, “what does it mean to be saved?” Most would answer something like this, “Jesus died for the forgiveness of my sins, so there is a place for me in heaven when I die.” While this answer is not wrong, it is incomplete. Jesus said, “ I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full “ (John 10:10) The problem of mankind is not just that we are sinners in need of forgiveness; it is that we are dead and in need of life. When Adam ate the fruit in the garden, sin and death entered the world. God had said, “ when you eat of it you will surely die. “ Adam did not die physically that day. He died spiritually.
Because of Adam’s sin, the book of Romans declares that “ just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men…as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:12,18,19). Adam passed death to you and me. When we are born into this world, we are born spiritually dead, separated from the life of God.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:1
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh. Colossians 2:13
For the wages of sin is death.. Romans 6:23
Whoever believes in the son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on Him. James 3:36
That is why salvation is more than forgiveness of sins. Salvation is a matter of life and death. Our sins did need to be forgiven. That is why Jesus Christ went to a cross on your behalf.
“ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
Yet, the cross was not an end in itself. It was God’s means of “clearing the decks” for the divine action of raising men to life spiritually through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Understanding salvation as a life and death issue made me see the New Testament in a new light. The word “Life” seemed to be everywhere and I finally understood what Jesus meant when He said such things as:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes (trust) him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. John 6:33
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? John 1:25,26
I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6
Because I live, you also will live. John 14:19
Christ’s resurrection is the answer to our deepest need: Life!
Pascal the French philosopher, said, “ There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that God can only fill through His Son, Jesus Christ.” We search and search for something to fill this emptiness. Our search ends though, when we turn to Christ."
John writes, “ And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has Life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11,12)
If our salvation were only the forgiveness of sins, we would still be empty inside. Salvation is much more, however. When we turn to Christ, God restores to us what we lost in Adam, the very life of God.
Salvation is passing from death to life.
Ephesians 2:4,5 puts it this way, “ But God, being rich in mercy , because of His great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgression, made us alive together with Christ; by grace you have been saved."
Salvation is Receiving the Life of Christ
Salvation takes on a new meaning when we understand that it is a life and death issue. But how do we pass from death to life?
Jesus described the process of receiving life as being “ BORN AGAIN ” When Nicodemus came to Jesus during the night, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to Spirit…..you must be born again” Jesus said to him. (John 3:5-7) When mom and dad brought us into this world, they passed on to us physical life. BUT ONLY GOD CAN GIVE US SPIRITUAL LIFE. That is why Jesus said that we must be born of the Spirit. We receive this Spiritual Life (Being Born Again), when Christ comes to live in us through the Holy Spirit. Biblically, this is the definition of a Believer.
“If Anyone Does Not Have The Spirit Of Christ, He Does Not Belong To Christ” Romans 8:9 The Bible is clear that Only those that are born of God are children of God.
Ephesians also tells us that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance to come.
“ And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed (Trusted), you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13,14)
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we are born again of the Spirit of God.
“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Christ has come to live in us, giving us eternal life:
“the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Our security and assurance as children of God rests on this fact.
Salvation is “Christ in You”
The meaning of the resurrection answers another question, “ How do we live the Christian life?” I have met sincere Christians trying to live the Christian life. “It’s too hard,” they say. When they fail, they either redouble their efforts, or simply give up, saying, “It doesn’t work!”
Actually the Christian life isn’t hard to live. It’s impossible! Only Christ can live it. Our only hope is to learn that Jesus Christ did not come just to get men out of hell and into heaven; He came to get himself out of heaven and into men! The power to live the Christian life is Christ. That’s why the Bible describes the gospel in terms of " Christ in you.”
Paul summed up his ministry in the book of Colossians with these words." I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory". Colossians 1:25-27
Our hope of living the Christian life is Christ living His life through us. Failure to grasp this truth dooms us to the impossible task of trying to live the Christian life through our own strength and energy. Whenever I talk with someone who is struggling who says they have received Christ, yet has seen very little change in their lives, I ask them their understanding of the gospel. Invariably, they have heard all about Christ’s death for them. It’s no wonder that so many Christians burn out. We view salvation only as something Christ did for us, instead of new life given to us. The Christian life is Christ.
Paul describes it this way:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galations 2:20
Jesus Christ never intended for us to live the Christian life. He simply ask us to live by faith, to trust Him to live His life through us. We are to live in the same way that Christ lived when he was here on earth. He trusted the father to live through Him. “Don’t you believe that I’am in the father, and the father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the father, living in me, who is doing His work. Believe me when I say that I am in the father and the father is in me...” (John 14:10,11). Just as Christ lived in dependency upon the father; we are to live in dependency upon Christ. Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing. We can do so, knowing that in Christ “ His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3) Not only was Christ raised from the dead to give us life; He was raised to live His life through us here and today. This is the life Jesus was referring to when He said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This Christian life is not a ‘changed life’. What God offers us is an ‘exchanged life,’ a ‘substituted life,’ and Christ is our Substitute within.
This message of the gospel is not the story of a dead religious founder, nor is the Christian life an attempt to be like Jesus. The message of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means for you and me. It is God’s way of restoring life to man, and that life comes through Jesus Christ, Himself, living in us!
Therefore, the gospel can be summed up like this:
Jesus Christ laid down His life for you, so that he could give His life to you, so that He could live His life through you!