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Resurrection Life in Christ Jesus
By David A. DePra
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. (Eph 1:19-20)
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (Rom 1:4)
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. (Phil 3:10)
According to Ephesians 1, God created, "great power," IN CHRIST, when He raised Him from the dead. We see this echoed in Romans 1, and in Philippians 3, we find the direct statement, "the power of His resurrection." But we dare not misunderstand and assume that Christ was merely given power. No. Christ IS the power. For Paul writes, "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. " (1 Cor. 1:24)
You cannot separate the power of the Holy Spirit from Christ, and make IT a THING that works and does stuff. No. Christ is the power of God, indeed, the power of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit are as one. Could there be even the slightest conflict, or dissidence, in the purpose and working of the Holy Spirit – as opposed to the working of Jesus Christ? No. In fact, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to reveal, glorify, and testify OF Jesus. That is what He does. Thus, any attempt to make a difference between what the Spirit is doing, and what the Person of Christ is doing is nonsense.
Really, if we would just read the Bible, we would find that Christ dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. And that indwelling of HIS LIFE is RESURRECTION life. Thus, in Christ we have resurrection life, which is eternal life, and we have read that in His life – in Christ Himself – there is power.
So the question is this: What is this power? What is the power of resurrection life? Some Christians think that it is power to do things for God. Or to work miracles. Well, those things are quite secondary. The power of His resurrection is much more profound.
Imputation and Impartation
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was victory over what the Bible calls, "the last enemy," DEATH. But why was the resurrection of Christ victory over death itself – in a way that had never happened before? I mean, others had been raised from the dead – how about Lazarus? He died and Jesus raised him. Wasn’t that victory over death?
No. Not really. What the resurrection of Lazarus amounted to was a temporary reversal of death, back again to the life he had, unto the end that he would die again. Not so with Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus was an abolishing of death, and the ushering in of a new creation – a new kind of man, if you will, over whom death had no power. In other words, the raising of Lazarus began no new creation. He was not raised to incorruptible, everlasting life. But when Jesus walked out of that tomb, He not only swallowed up death with victory, but He became the embodiment of a brand new creation.
Actually, it is not possible to get a handle on this unless you understand the DEATH of Christ. Most Christians do NOT understand this – we limit the death of Christ as that which merely fulfilled the legal demands of God’s law. We say that Jesus died in our place – that God legally imputed our sin to Christ, and His death to us – and that because of this we are justified by faith. That is good as far as it goes. Justification by faith IS an essential Christian Truth. But there is MORE. Justification by faith explains the Redemption in legal terms. Yet in all of it, where is explained the reality of the resurrected Christ within?
Think about it. If ALL God does is IMPUT to me – in a legal sense – the death of Christ, how does Christ dwell within me? If all God does is IMPUT to me – in a legal sense – the righteousness of Christ, how does this actually make it possible for me to BECOME righteous? It doesn’t. In fact, if we limit the work of the Cross to only satisfying legal demands, I emerge from this as exactly the same sinner as before, only now legally justified, declared righteous, and forever forgiven. In other words, if the Redemption of Jesus Christ is LEGAL ONLY – if I am forgiven for sin in a LEGAL sense ONLY – then God has done nothing to actually set me free from sin. Legal forgiveness is one thing, but deliverance from sin itself is an entirely OTHER issue, and one which could never be accomplished by a legal declaration only.
Legal justification does IMPUT to me the righteousness of Jesus. The death of Christ certainly includes that! But God has done more than merely IMPUT to me the righteousness of Christ. Through the resurrection of Christ God made it possible to IMPART to me Christ Himself.
Unless Christ Himself is IMPARTED to me, I am not really born again; I am not really a new creation. At best, I am legally declared one, but I do not have WITHIN ME resurrection life. Does that sound like the Christianity of the Bible? No. In fact, if legal salvation is all there is to salvation, then there really isn’t any such thing as, "the POWER of His resurrection." And there is no real new birth. In that case, Christianity is mere religion. It is all, "on paper." It is not LIFE IN CHRIST.
What is Christianity?
It is not possible to overemphasize the importance of knowing the meaning of Christianity. If you and I don’t get this straight, everything else is going to be open to error. But if we get it settled once and forever, then all else becomes clear, explained, and solid. So the question is: What is Christianity?
Colossians 1:27, I believe, is probably the best one sentence answer: Christ in you, the hope of glory. That is Christianity – the living Christ dwelling IN US, and all that this means. Of course, we can include HOW Christ comes to dwell in us, and where it is supposed to take us, but in the end, when everything is said and done, Christianity is CHRIST IN US.
How is Christ, "in us?" Well, He is obviously not in us physically. Rather, He is ONE with our spirit. Sure. I Cor. 6:17 says, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." The seat of salvation is our spirit – in union with Christ through the Spirit of God. The NEW MAN or NEW CREATION is the union of our spirit with Christ.
This explains much. It explains why, even though we are born again, that so many aspects of our being do not seem to be born again – THEY ARE NOT! Our body is not yet born again – our body is not a resurrected body. Our mind is not saved – rather it must be renewed according to the Truth. Our emotions are not saved, for if they were, they WOULD act like it. No. We are saved in our spirit, and the rest of us remains NATURAL.
Now, this isn’t the end of the story. As the Holy Spirit, who is united with our spirit begins to work, and we begin to yield, our minds will be renewed. We will see the Truth and be set free from errors about God. And the result of this, if we obey, is that our minds, and our emotions, and our bodies, will be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. They still won’t be saved in this life. But as we come under the Lordship of Jesus, in our spirit and heart, the rest of us will come under Him as well.
Thus, when Christ, through the Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in us, He becomes ONE with us in spirit. It is from there that ALL ELSE operates, and emerges. We are, as some people have rightly noted, saved, "from the inside out." This takes time, the work of the Cross, and much living. But it is a fact.
If we would see this – that Christianity is Christ in us; united with our spirit – it would tell us why the NT teaches what it does. It explains, for example, why, as a Christian, you are completely and forever saved, and yet you may still struggle with works. Sure. Your are fully saved in your spirit; fully united with Christ. But the flesh wars against the spirit, doesn’t it? And you cannot do what you would, and you do much that you hate. Yet none of what the flesh does negates the fact that YOU ARE SAVED by grace through faith. It’s just that it takes time for the, "by grace through faith," part to get to the, "unto good works," part. Paul knew this. That is what he recorded in Romans 7.
So we are born from above in our spirit, when we are united with Christ – when, as the Bible sometimes describes, we are baptized INTO CHRIST. At that point, we are a new creation – it is an inward, spiritual reality. The rest of our lives are spent growing to KNOW HIM, and spend learning obedience – not to determine or merit salvation, but as the RESULT of the Christ who is IN US coming to govern us as personal Lord.
The reality of Christ in us – united with our spirit – draws a clear line between the NATURAL and the SPIRITUAL. The spiritual is our spirit united with Christ. The natural is the rest. It is that simple. Therefore we are able to more fully see why the natural, if we operate in it cannot please God. At some point, Christ is not Lord.
So the Truth is that Christianity is Christ in us. Everything in the NT is based on this Truth. For example, God does not give us a THING called, "eternal life," or merely dub us legally forgiven. No. He gives us Christ. And HE – Christ in us – IS our life; Christ is THE LIFE. Indeed, it is the fact that Christ is in us that provides the moral ground upon which God is able to declare us justified and legally righteous to begin with. God justifies us by faith because Christ – the righteous one -- is in us.
The Bible repeats over and over the Truth of Christ in us. All its teaching is built upon the fact that Christianity IS Christ in us – and that IN CHRIST we possess all things. Note in the following passages the revelation that Christianity does not consist of THINGS God has given us. No. Rather, Christ is IN US, i.e., we are in Christ -- and IN HIM ARE ALL THINGS!
But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor 1:30-31)
Here we see that God doesn’t give us THINGS called, "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, or redemption." No. God gives us Christ, and IN HIM – or HE IS – all of these things! Sure. But clearly, if that is the Truth, then salvation cannot be limited to a legal IMPUTATION of these things to us by God. No. Rather, salvation, and all that is mentioned here, are CHRIST IN US. When we are saved, Christ – His resurrection life – is IMPARTED to us. We become partakers of Christ! We are then saved once for all and forever. But then as Christ is unfolded to us, sanctification, wisdom, and the like, are all made manifest in and through Him.
All that the believer HAS and all that the believer IS, is a reality only if Christ is in us. You are saved because Christ is in you. You can live the Christian life only if Christ lives it THROUGH you. You know the Truth only if you know Christ. You are set free from sin only if you are in baptized into Christ. You are born again only if you are in Christ. We could go on. Indeed, as I said earlier, if you see that Christianity is CHRIST IN US, so much becomes clear. And it will absolutely expose as error so much in the Christian church that ignores, denies, misrepresents, substitutes for, or neglects the Truth that Christianity is CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory.
The Death of Jesus
With an understanding of what eternal life IS, we can more fully go on to see the meaning of resurrection life. Eternal life is, of course, resurrection life. Resurrection life is the only KIND of eternal life there is. They are both terns for the life of Christ.
Resurrection life can only be understood in the light of the death of Christ. That is because resurrection life is a RAISED, NEW LIFE – and that means it is a RAISED LIFE FROM A DEATH. Therefore, we have to ask: What death? What died?
Well, if we are NEW creations due to the resurrection of Christ, this ought to tell us that what died was the OLD creation. If we are to be a NEW man in Christ, then surely this requires the death of the OLD man. But immediately, this brings us to a vital question: We know Christ died for us. How does the death of the old man – of the old creation -- figure in?
In just this way: Christ did die FOR us. But because He died a death we will never have to die, it was possible for us to DIE IN HIM. In short, all of the old creation, and the old man in Adam, was put in Christ on the Cross. All of that died IN HIM. He BORE in His body all sin – indeed, He bore in His body the very MAN OF SIN. That included US – our old man in Adam – in that sense WE died in Christ.
Most of us haven’t been taught this Truth. Many still think that what Christ bore on the Cross was merely the penalty for sin. We think that once He did, then God was free to LIFT that penalty of death from us, and pronounce us, "forgiven." I’m not saying this isn’t included in what Christ did – as noted earlier, there are these LEGAL explanations of the Redemption that are true and necessary. But as I also stated before, what does this do to set us free from SIN? It might set us free from the penalty OF sin, which is death, but what does it do to set us free from sin itself? Does having someone pay my penalty for me do anything to change ME? Does Christ paying my penalty for me do anything to resurrect ME?
Nope. That is why it is vital to see that what Christ bore in His body on the Cross was exactly what the Bible says: SIN ITSELF. Indeed, it is right to say that Christ BECAME – supernaturally – the embodiment of the entire Adamic race on His Cross. Thus, when HE died, all of us died. Not legally only. But REALLY.
This brings us back to the Truth that we are ONE with Christ if we are saved. That is why the Bible continually says we are IN CHRIST, and that Christ is IN US. When we receive Christ, we embrace our place in Him on the Cross, and DIE – our OLD MAN dies. And that same ONENESS in His death makes it possible for us to be raised IN HIM.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Pet 2:24)
Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. ….Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. …. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor 5:14-15, 17, 21)
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:3-11)
Can we see that the Adam race DIED in Christ? And that since the power of sin is vested in our old man in Adam, that if he died in Christ, then the power of sin is likewise destroyed? You bet. The entire reality of freedom from sin, and of the new creation, depend upon this Truth. When Christ died on that Cross, He not only fulfilled the legal death requirement of the law, but He actually, through that same death, set us free from that OLD MAN OF SIN – from Adam.
Only if we, through death, are set free from Adam, are we set free from the power of sin. Indeed, only if we are set free from Adam are we saved! Paul wrote, "In Adam, all die." Thus, unless we are no longer IN ADAM we are still dead. But no. Christ set us free from the old creation; the old man in Adam through death, but when He was raised from the dead, He was raised as the pioneer of the NEW CREATION.
So unlike Lazarus, Christ’s resurrection was not a restoration to the life He had before He died. No. Jesus Christ left the entire old creation that He bore in His body IN the grave. He was raised a new creation. And guess what? If we are IN HIM, then we are dead to Adam, and alive to God through Christ. Not just legally, but actually, in a living way.
Through all of this, can we see that resurrection life is the result of more than just a legal work that Christ did FOR us? It certainly includes that. But more, resurrection life is the result of all that Christ has done FOR us being made one with us – because HE is made one with us! That means a living IMPACT. We aren’t just new creations in the sense of a legal standing. No. Rather, we ARE new creations. It starts with our ONENESS with Christ in spirit – but it is as true as God in heaven.
This is precisely why Paul was able to write:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
Paul did NOT write, "Christ was crucified FOR me." No, although He certainly was. But Paul takes this Truth to the full end. He says, "I am crucified WITH Christ." Can we see that Paul died? Sure. He wrote to the Colossians, "You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." And we have already been told that we are planted into His death; baptized into His death. His death is our, yes, legally, but His death is ours because in Him WE DIED – our old man DIED. And this is why Paul is able to add, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives IN ME." If we are planted and made one with Him in His death – if we are crucified WITH Christ – then we are one with Him in His resurrection, and He lives IN US. We are ONE with Him. We are IN CHRIST, and He is IN US.
Now it’s possible to understand the nature of RESURRECTION LIFE. Resurrection life isn’t just a pasted on legal position. No. It is exactly what the term says: LIFE.
Resurrection life is life that is found ONLY in Christ. As that, it is life that has passed THROUGH and CONQUERED death. It is NOT death reversed, or removed. Rather, it is death passed through and conquered. Death could not hold Christ. Consequently, all that is of the old creation of Adam has NO POWER over resurrection life in Christ.
I don’t know how many of us really grasp that. Resurrection life is free of the old creation. This means victory over the flesh, the natural, and certainly, all the power of the enemy. Indeed, it isn’t even a matter of resurrection life having the power to fight and fend off the enemy. No. Resurrection life is, by very definition, the result of a finished victory over EVERY ENEMY. That is what resurrection life is – life that IS total victory.
The presence of the Risen Christ in you means that everything that His victory IS -- is already IN YOU. That is why the Bible says that, "we are seated with Christ in heavenly places." Where He is, we are, because we are IN HIM. And He is seated at God’s right hand, above all other authority and power. Clearly, this means that within us we have VICTORY HIMSELF.
Resurrection life is a different KIND of life than any other KIND of life. It is life that has already conquered death, and which is totally incorruptible. It is life that is separate from, and which is above, the NATURAL. Or, as we have seen, Jesus Christ IS the life – He is OUR life. Jesus said, "I am the LIFE," and He said, "I am the RESURRECTION and the LIFE." We have resurrection life because we are ONE with Him.
Natural vs. Spiritual
All of this helps us define the difference between the natural and the spiritual. The spiritual is Christ in us, and all that He brings in our spirit. The natural is all that is OUTSIDE of that. The spiritual is all that is resurrection life in Christ. The natural is all that is not yet saved or resurrected. As noted before, the natural needs to be brought under control and subjection to the Lord. This is sanctification. But the natural aspects of our being cannot be saved until they pass through death and are resurrected.
God is not going to bless, affirm, or structure anything around the natural. He is going to bless only that which is spiritual, for it is of Christ. This is why the Bible continually speaks of, "edification in Christ," or of, "building up in Christ." It is why we are told to, "put on Christ," or, "put on the new man." Each of us continues living in the natural, but with resurrection life in us. We have to learn which is which, and how to deny the one, and be free in the other.
Fortunately, God has NOT left us to fend for ourselves on this matter. When we were planted into the death of Christ, into the Cross of Jesus, we did DIE. But because we did die, this death of our old man in ADAM will have a continuous impact upon us. Paul calls it, "our outer nature wasting away." (II Cor. 5:1-6) Or, "the bearing about in our body the death of the Lord Jesus." (II Cor. 4:10) This is the work of the Cross – the continual work and impact of the same Cross into which we were planted. We were saved all at once and forever. But it is precisely BECAUSE we were – and precisely because we DID DIE – that now the reality of this must progressively come to be realized in our experience.
And yet this is all UNTO Christ being seen through us – all unto the release of resurrection life in and through us. The power of resurrection life is NOT – and how some people need to see this – the power of resurrection life is NOT the result of receiving some, "second blessing," or, "baptism," from God, in addition to having received Christ. No. Rather, the power of resurrection life in us is the result of the work of the Cross coming to bear upon us. This is not maybe. It is a vital Truth. Indeed, if you see the importance of this Truth, you will see that all of these false notions of how to live in resurrection life are nothing more than a subtle substitute for the work of the Cross.
Death to Adam means life in Christ. The work of the Cross will put to death in our experience what is already dead in Christ REALLY. And as it does, then the resurrected Christ who is already in us will be seen. As Paul wrote:
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor 4:10-11)
Have we yet grasp the importance of the work of the Cross? Jesus is finished with HIS work on the Cross. But now His work must be made manifest IN US – so that the power of His resurrection might be released. There is no substitute for the Cross on this matter. Indeed, any substitute is error that is going to ultimately have disastrous results.
Power in Christ
You and I usually ask God for, "power," to do whatever. Again, we think of power as a THING God gives us. Certainly, today people speak of the power of the Holy Spirit as, "the anointing" – almost as if this is a THING God does, or gives, for a special occasion. But according to scripture, the power of God is not a THING. The power of God is Christ.
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:24)
You can never separate the power of God, or the power of the Holy Spirit, from Christ Himself. When Christ said, "ALL power has been given unto Me," He meant it. POWER is in Him. Where He is, there is the power of God; the power of resurrection life. Where He isn’t, there might be power, but it won’t be of God. It will be either of the flesh, or of the enemy. And as we have seen, any resurrection power that is found in Christ will always be the product of the Cross at work.
Funny thing about the work of the Cross. By the time the Cross has done its work in the life of a human being, they can be trusted with the power found in the resurrection. It just works that way. If any person tries to use the things of God – resurrection life included – for his own agenda or glory, he will meet the Cross. Now, he CAN sidestep that and operate in the power of religious flesh. Many today are completely in the flesh, the psychic realm, and in the emotional life – thinking that it is the Spirit of God. The missing element is the Cross – the Cross hasn’t produced any of it. Indeed, the neglect or denial of the Cross has produced it. That is why the flesh reigns. But if people actually yield to the Cross, the pride and the flesh and the SELF will go. Then Christ can emerge to God’s glory.
Christ said, "I am the resurrection and the life." Thus, if we are IN HIM, we are ONE with the resurrection life of Christ. He will bring a Cross with the intention that the result will be that the power of Christ – the resurrection power – will govern our lives.
Paul said it best:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil 3:10-11)
It is God’s will that God’s people experience – attain unto – the resurrection out from the dead NOW. That is what the Body of Christ is supposed to be all about.
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