Faith in a Resurrected Christ Rescues Us from Misplaced Faith — An Excerpt from “Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection”

Jeremy Bouma on April 17th, 2014. Tagged under ,,.

Jeremy Bouma

Jeremy Bouma (Th.M.) has pastored on Capitol Hill and with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan. He founded THEOKLESIA, which connects the 21st century Church to the vintage Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and makes the vintage faith relevant at jeremybouma.com.

9780310517351In a few days many of us will teach on the most monumental event in history: Christ's resurrection. As I prepare for this honor myself I have been referencing a new resource on the subject, Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection.

Today we are excerpting from this book not only to provide you a personal reflection. We also want to help you help your people replace their misplaced faith with true faith.

The authors argue a resurrected Christ rescues us from misplaced faith in 3 ways:

  1. The resurrection implies his death, which forgives us for the cosmic crime of treasonous faith in other things.
  2. Jesus is the right place for our faith because he is “the resurrection and the life.”
  3. The resurrection tells us that Jesus can satisfy our God-sized desires in this life and the next.

May this excerpt bless you and your people as you prepare for and preach Christ's resurrection.

-Jeremy Bouma, Th.M. (@bouma)

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WHO IS CHRIST?

Paul wrote that if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. How, then, does faith in a resurrected Christ rescue us from this futility? How does the resurrection remedy the misplaced faith of secular and religious sin?

Let’s think about this in three ways.

First, Jesus’ resurrection implies his death, which forgives us for the cosmic crime of treasonous faith in other things. We have all betrayed God by trusting the fleeting promises of the world or our own religious performance. Simply put, we all cherish things, people, and objects more than God. Coming to grips with this would be dismal, a reason for hopeless despair, were it not for the hope of the cross. Through the cross Jesus obtains forgiveness for our sins: “In him [Christ]we have redemption through his blood [the cross], the forgiveness of our sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7 NIV).

This is a marvelous truth. Jesus alleviates our treasonous guilt by bearing our onerous sentence — the curse of death. The crucifixion tells us that our rightful guilt is relieved by his wrongful death in order to grant us a grace-filled life. At the cross, Jesus mercifully bears the punishment for our crime. The resurrection points us back to the cross, where we receive profound mercy. This should floor us. Such an undeserved act, shown by a God deserving of our every devotion, reveals the depth of his devotion to us as his Son suffers and writhes in our place. This is not only mercy (not getting what we deserve); it is grace (getting more than we deserve).

The cross is not just about sinners avoiding punishment—it is about God showing us love. The resurrection reminds us of the mercy and grace that is bound up in the cross, grace that has the power to change a person through and through, even if that change is a gradual process. Receiving this divine mercy that forgives your sins and transforms your life is your first step into the resurrection.

The second reason Jesus is the right place for our faith is because he is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). It is important that we grasp that believing in Jesus is not just faith “in the resurrection” as a supernatural, historical event;it is faith in a resurrected Christ, a person. Here is why faith in the resurrected Christ makes all the difference. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates his power over death, which proves that he uniquely has the power of life.

By rising from the dead, Jesus is saying to both the secular and the religious person: “In your search for meaning, worth, acceptance, and love, I’m what you’ve been looking for. I alone can give you life. All the greatness, acceptance, beauty, and love you desire is found in me. Your God-sized desire for intimacy is meant to be fulfilled in the God of life. Faith in ordinary things can’t give you that. That’s futile faith because it demands the extraordinary from the ordinary. Futile faith can’t give life. But a God-sized person who defeats death has all the power to give you what you are looking for. I can fulfill your heart’s desires.”

When we put our faith in a resurrected Christ, we redirect all our desires back to their origin. Like tracing divine threads of joy, meaning, and purpose all the way back to the source, the door of desire swings wide open and there stands a resurrected, radiant Jesus, full of never-waning life. Jesus isn’t standing there with his finger wagging, scolding us for our desire to be loved, accepted, and beautiful. He’s showing us that he, together with his Father and the Spirit, is where we find true love, acceptance, beauty, and greatness. The resurrection shows us that Jesus alone can give us life because he is the life: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Receiving this tremendous, radiant life is how you step into the resurrection.

Third, the resurrection tells us that Jesus can satisfy our God-sized desires not only in this life, but also in life after death. Those who put their faith in Christ are promised a resurrection body like his to enjoy his love, acceptance, meaning,beauty, and greatness forever. If Christ has not been raised,we are not only stuck in a tailspin of desire in this life, but we are denied finding fulfillment in the life to come. However,if Christ has been raised, we will forever have fulfillment of our desire and the final target for our faith.

There is no greater step into enlightenment than Jesus; he is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6). The resurrection tells us where to find never-ending life and joy — in the resurrected Christ. Faith in Jesus will bear fruit not just in this life but also in the life to come. Receiving this promise of bodily resurrection life will be our final step into the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, we remain in our sins and our faith is futile. But Christ has been raised; therefore, your faith in him will be forever fruitful. 

With faith, sin, and Christ cleared up a bit, what do you think? …

Do you see where your faith may be misplaced? Do you see that sin is deeper than morality, that it distorts our sense of where true meaning, joy, and purpose come from? Jesus wants to rescue us from this and restore us into true joy, profound meaning, and eternal purpose. If you want this, acknowledging it to God and exchanging your misplaced faith for faith in the risen Jesus will bring you into his saving grace. If you still doubt, we want to grant you the dignity of your own beliefs and leave plenty of space to wrestle through doubts, but we hope that we’ve helped you do that with greater integrity and clarity. Wherever you are, stick with us through the final chapter to see the benefits of the resurrected life. (pg.. 72-75)

Raised?

Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection

By Jonathan K. Dodson and Brad Watson

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