BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
APRIL 24, 2011
“Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.” (Matt. 28:7)
Christians have been celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus since that First day of the week after Passover, when the women who came to anoint the body, heard the wondrous words, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” The angel messenger from God reminded them, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:6-7) They hurried off to tell the eleven, remembering the words which have been our Great Commission ever since Christ spoke it to the disciples and to us as well: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20) And so they did, spreading the Gospel throughout the known world by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we continue to do it today.
The Resurrection also encourages the sick and afflicted for whom I often pray the promise Paul left with us: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11) We have in Christ that same Spirit which raised Him from the dead, and the promise that He will quicken our mortal bodies. As Easter approaches, which the world’s news media declares is “the most Holy Day in Christendom,” I rejoice that the words go out, whether believed by the masses, or not, that Christ, the Son of God, our Savior, rose from the dead. The tomb is empty, the veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place has been rent in twain, and God now lives in the hearts of His children in a brand new way after the Resurrection.
The Resurrection miracle was not only a risen Savior, but deliverance from the ritualistic religion practiced by the Jews of Jesus’ day. They did not serve a risen Savior, but a far off God, and their claim to fellowship lay in their lineage to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The “Voice crying in the Wilderness,” said to the crowds God brought to him, “Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matt. 3:8-9) So much for who you know in the flesh. All that was buried with Christ, and a new and living WAY flowed from the risen Savior to save, heal, lead, and empower all those who followed Him, and ultimately, that power will flow out to all men: “And he is the expiation (atonement) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.” (I Jo. 2:2)
I believe that John the Baptizer’s words have meaning for us today, as he was the voice leading the way to a new move of God. His declaration speaks of the coming change: “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:10-12) This is a blessed promise for our lives, not a threat of hell fire punishment after we die.
Many who seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit want to avoid the fire, but that’s impossible because “Our God IS a CONSUMING FIRE!” (Heb. 12:29) It is our privilege to hear from a lot of people around the world, and they, the elect of God in this hour, are experiencing the flames in their lives, as we have. Paul’s words comfort me. He said we build either on a foundation of gold, silver, and precious stones (Christ) or on wood, hay, and straw (our works). It is fire which determines the value of our works: “each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (I Cor. 12:15) The fire Paul speaks of is the same fire John the Baptist spoke of that we would be baptized with: God Himself. That which God ordains and leads us to do will survive the flames. The rest will not.
That comforts me, because no matter how much flesh is in my works, the fire will burn it off, leaving only that which He brought to pass. The end result of God’s fire is that we are saved by it, cleansed by it, and delivered like gold which the refiner’s fire has purged and made pure and beautiful and very valuable to our Father. He was on that cross with Christ, pouring out His life that we might have Life more abundantly. “He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Pet. 1:3)
The legalistic religion which Moses brought down from Sinai has been swallowed up by the Life in the Spirit which Christ brings us. It came to me that the lifeless stones, which John the Baptist said God could make into sons of Abraham, have become the “living stones” with which God is building “a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 2:5) We are collectively, that house, the church, the body of Christ, in which He ministers His Life to the world today.
The Resurrection IS the Life of Christ offered to every man, woman and child. He poured out His blood that we might live and move and have our being in Him. He said we are a City set on a hill, a light of the world, the handiwork of God Himself. May He open our eyes to see the full measure of what the empty tomb means for us today. I love the anointed song
“I’LL RISE AGAIN”:
“Go ahead, drive the nails in my hand.
Laugh at me, where you stand.
Go ahead, and say it isn’t me,
The day will come when you will see,
‘Cause I’ll rise Again.
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down.
Yes, I’ll rise again,
Death can’t keep me in the ground.
“Go ahead, mock my name,
My love for you is still the same.
Go ahead, bury me,
But very soon, I will be free,
‘Cause I’ll rise again.
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down.
Yes, I’ll rise again.
Death can’t keep me in the ground.
“Go ahead, say I’m dead and gone,
But you will see that you were wrong.
Go ahead, try to hide the sun,
But all will see, that I’m the one.
Cause I’ll come again,
Ain’t no power on earth can keep me back.
Yes. I’ll come again,
Come to take my people back.”
He came again; He comes again every time an open heart invites Him in, and He will continue to progressively, on-goingly, continuously come into the hearts and minds of His children, and one, day as the Apostle John wrote, into the hearts and minds of everyone in the world.
Father, we love you beyond measure, beyond words to say it and beyond our ability to express it. We glory in the cross, and Your triumph over it. Nothing we suffer or walk through can keep us down, for You did rise again and so will we. May the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, quicken our mortal bodies, empowering us to bring Your love to the world. Hasten the day, Father when “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.” Amen.