What is Resurrection Life?
As I was contemplating beginning this article on resurrection life, my thought was to start with quotes from Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, when I heard the still small voice of Jesus Christ’s proclamation: “I am the way, the truth and the life!”
Keep this in mind as I take you on a short look at resurrection life: the understanding of resurrection life has a beginning, middle and an end and ultimately resurrection life is a Person! It is vital that you see this as a present reality. If Christ is in you, you may not have noticed but this resurrection power is already happening in your life.
I’d like to start with a scripture many people know, “He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Teachers of some of the Eastern religions talk about quieting the soul, which is the mind, emotion, and will, until it becomes like an undisturbed reflecting pool. As they become still and focused upon God, they watch for a little circle or ripple appearing on the surface of the figurative pool which comes gently and peaceably. For some this becomes a signal to now focus upon what God is drawing attention to in their mind set on the spirit. At this juncture you would presumably be in a somewhat deep contemplative state. For some of you, this may seem too mystical, but in any case, if you let Him, the Creator will bring you into a quiet space, particularly internally, where you can discover a new reason to give thanks, or express spontaneous worship, or receive encouragement, eagerness, revelation or instruction.
No matter how depressed, despondent, or dead, you previously felt, new life dances forth. Your soul is restored. At this point, you may want to stop reading and say, “Is that all he is talking about: some natural process? My strong answer is “No!” Don’t be deceived: Resurrection life is this simple, but it is also much more than this! Perhaps this is the very reason some of us have missed it. The word of God is not only the pages of your bible, but the person of Christ on a white charger in the book of Revelation is also called “The Word of God.” This is significant because the “Kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1Corinthians 3:20) As an illustration you might think of a seven-foot man of 300 pounds who can bench press 800 pounds giving his infant a bottle and a lullaby. He can be ever so gentle but he can also toss half a dozen gang bangers over the fence. The point is to not mistake the seeming gentleness of this expression of resurrection life as weakness because it is the ultimate power.
Receive another familiar idea from Psalms: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and mount up on wings like eagles!” That is usually all it takes. Spend a little focused time ministering to the Lord. Sometimes by simply presenting your body as a living gift to the Holy One, Heaven appears and lifts you back on high. But remember I insisted there is more to this resurrection life than simply turning a frown upside down.
Real transformation is a product, so to speak, of resurrection life. Some people, who don’t know this life, may win the lotto, but it only brings them misery. Their temporary smile may have ended in heartbreak, because it brought no increasing faith or transformation with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson said of the transformational experience: “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen.” Transformation is God’s will for humans and all creation impacted by the fall. Obviously it is, I suspect, a process for everyone and no instantaneous event. Transformation minimally takes a lifetime.
Each time we experience resurrection life, it has the potential to become etched upon our memory and our pleasure responses. But without death, there can be no resurrection. I have watched death at work and it isn’t always a pleasant thing, but the real “abundant life,” is Christ’s resurrection life and it is always mind-renewing, life-restoring, joy-producing, and spiritually invigorating. I presume this is why the Apostle Paul in 2nd Corinthians 4:11 says: “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 bodies.” This word “death,” which is translated out of the Greek, “thanatos,” means death literally or figuratively. Most of us will only experience physical death once, but more likely than not, we will experience figurative death many times over in this human life. God usually doesn’t hesitate to turn us over to situations that are deathlike to our soul, but result in spiritual growth and greater faith in the Faithfulness of our Creator to never leave us or forsake us.
We gain great confidence in the Love of God and begin to understand as Thoreau and Emerson reiterate in various forms: “Reoccurring death is simply a part of the seasonal cycling of life.” Some legalists will say this guy is quoting these two liberal thinkers. If you want to get absolute confirmation of this principle from the Bible, read Psalms 107, it repeats over and over how God brings us into situations that are impossible “killer situations” to our soul life. It explains how we then cry unto the Lord and He delivers us out of all our troubles. Meditate on the final verse, Psalms 107:43: “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.”
When Jesus prepared to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, it says both that Jesus wept and that he loved Lazarus. In John 11:39, Lazarus’ sister and friends were very upset that Jesus waited four days after Lazarus’ death to come to heal him. “He is bloated and stinks,” they lamented. If they felt bad, just imagine how Lazarus might have felt if he was in any way aware of the mess he was in! Jesus asked Lazarus’ sister, Martha, in verse 40, “Didn’t I tell you, that if you would believe, you would see the manifestation of God?” (Just as in Acts the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is referred to as the primary promise of God, here in John Jesus indicates the primary manifestation of God is resurrection life.) We know Lazarus came forth alive, but before this resurrection, Jesus had the following conversation with Martha.
In John 11:23, Jesus tells Martha, “Your brother shall rise again.” Martha said, “Of course he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he was dead, yet he shall live: and whosoever lives and believes and relies on me, shall never die. Do you believe and trust in this?”
Through the repeated exercise of death working in us and the on-going discovery of resurrection life also at work in us we can face death like David looking into the eyes of a grizzly bear and seeing fear in the bear’s eyes…and a smile on our face like we know something that the bear doesn’t! Yes this resurrection life is a principle, but much more than that, it is Christ in us, the hope of this manifestation of God that nothing can hold down. Not bankruptcy, not abandonment, not devils in hell or hells’ angels and not even physical death. This resurrection life is truly the indwelling person of the Christ.
Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal body by His Spirit that dwells in you.” This word “quicken,” which refers to experiencing this resurrection life, means in the Greek original, “to re-vitalize!” If we look at John chapter 11 and Romans 8:11 together, we can see that resurrection life both re-vitalizes and resurrects. Never relegate that which merely re-vitalizes to the common, when it is the same resurrection life that literally raises the physically dead. Whether or not you “like” Kathryn Kuhlman who wrote, “I Believe in Miracles,” I love her answer when she was asked: “How do you perform miracles?” She simply replied, “You will have to ask Jesus. He is the one who does them!”
I have prayed several red hot prayers out of desperation and seen several actual resurrections from the literal dead. I did not do anything supernatural. I could only do the natural: scream for God to bring deliverance from death’s clutches. I cried unto the Lord. He heard and He answered. That is just how simple resurrection is. We cry and God does what with man alone is impossible. We can eliminate much of our unbelief, if we keep in mind what I have been addressing about resurrection life. St. Augustine said it this way: “Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.” A noted French moralist said, “Miracles grow out of difficulties.” To that I can attest. Wayne Dyer says, “I am realistic, I expect miracles.” And personally, I depend on them from time to time, myself. This resurrection life is another expression of the grace of our Lord. If you or I get successfully through this life, it is going to take a miracle…and if we do not, it will be because we denied one.
Like stinky Lazarus, there is absolutely no question that God loves you! If your sins make you feel like the energizer bunny with no batteries, don’t worry about that either. God will give you a renewed and energized spirit that wants nothing so much as him. He died for you, washed away all our sins in His own sinless blood, so that He, as resurrection life, could indwell you forever. He not only loves you, he weeps for you to come to this resurrection life. The only question right now is: have you received Christ Jesus as Lord and Messiah and asked to be continuingly filled, refreshed, renewed and empowered to claim this resurrection life as your own? To as many as received Him, He gave power to become manifest sons of God. The angels are waiting for you to leap into His loving arms. All creation has been waiting. Behold, He, this Resurrection Life, makes all things new!