As we come to the end of our month of Easter celebration, I find myself thinking about the last stanza of Keith Getty’s and Stuart Townsend’s modern hymn, See What a Morning. The last stanza reads:
And we are raised with Him
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered
And we shall reign with Him
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!
Consider the phrase “we are raised with Him.” Have you ever wondered whether this is true biblically, and, if so, how? The marvelous truth is that our Lord’s resurrection is not merely a stunning historical fact or a crucial element of the saving gospel. Actually, because of the believer’s mysterious union with Christ obtained by faith, Christ’s resurrection is a reality which the believer himself shares with his Lord. According to the New Testament, believers share in Christ’s resurrection in three main ways.
The first way that believers are raised with Christ is in a past sense. The clearest explanation of believers’ past resurrection appears in Ephesians 2:1-10. Right after detailing how dead, damned, debased, and distant we believers once were before God because of sin, Paul declares that God, in great love and mercy,
Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:5-6)
Notice all the past tense verbs in the NASB translation; Christ’s death and resurrection fundamentally changed the state of believers! We were raised up with him, which means that we who were dead are now alive, we who were damned are now rescued, we who were debased are now cleansed and exalted, and we who were distant are now brought near—even seated in the very throne room of God in heaven! Our resurrection with Christ means that our salvation is full and forever secure, which is a cause for utmost joy, peace, and praise!
But past resurrection flows right into another aspect of resurrection that believers share with Christ: present resurrection. In his Sunday sermon on baptism, Pastor Babij mentioned Romans 6:4-5, where Paul talks about how believers experience resurrection life now:
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
In other words, Christ’s resurrection didn’t just affect believers positionally but also practically: we have been given new life in Christ to walk differently in the world right now! How exactly? Paul clarifies later in Romans 6: by considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus and by no longer presenting our bodies as instruments of sin but as instruments of righteousness (Rom 6:11-14).
Really, our present resurrection with Christ not only enables us but also obligates us to walk in a life of new holiness (cf. Rom 8:12-13). Thus, there is a participatory aspect to present resurrection in which we must choose by faith to walk in the resurrected life we have from Christ, with resurrected thoughts, words, and actions (cf. Rom 6:17-19; Col 3:1-5; Eph 4:17-24).
The third and final way that believers are resurrected with Christ is the one we probably talk about most: future resurrection. Paul asserts memorably at the end of his argument for believer’s future resurrection in 1 Cor 15:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Cor 15:51-53)
This is the aspect of Christ’s resurrection we have not yet experienced. We still live in weak bodies that are subject to pain, futility, and death (cf. Rom 8:22-23). But Paul declares that one day—no longer! We shall be changed! We shall be clothed just as our Lord was in his resurrection: with powerful, glorious, and immortal bodies (1 Cor 15:42-49).
And how should this fact of future resurrection affect us now? Paul gives the answer throughout his letters: by filling us with hope and perseverance amid all the toil and trials of life (1 Cor 15:58; 2 Cor 4:13-18; Rom 8:24-25).
Though our special season of meditating on Christ’s resurrection is ending, the reality of our shared resurrection with Christ is not. Christ has been raised, and so have we who have believed in him. We were raised, are raised, and will be raised in Him. May these truths now fill us with confidence in our once and for all salvation, with a commitment to live out the resurrection life we have received, and with a perseverant hope that our suffering is not in vain in the Lord.
Questions to Consider:
1. If your resurrection was fully accomplished for you in the past in Christ, can you add anything by good works now to complete your resurrection?
2. Do you walk in holy resurrection life right now? If not, what does this suggest about your spiritual state?
3. Are you looking forward to the resurrection life to come? How will it be so much better than what you know right now?