by Shawn Brasseaux
In religion, Easter is the time of year when pagans celebrate fertility, reproduction, and life (the heathen counterfeit of the God-given festivals Passover, which typified Christ’s death on Calvary, the Days of Unleavened Bread, symbolic of Christ’s burial, and Firstfruits, a type of Christ’s resurrection). Beloved, our desire is not to participate in faithless religious activity. We need sound Bible doctrine, for our faith needs to rest in this alone. Sound Bible doctrine—not religious tradition—is the only information that will matter in eternity.
Our goal in this Bible study is to show from God’s Word that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a story found in the pages of Scripture, and it is not to be remembered only once a year (Easter). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reality that should be in the minds of us Christians every day of the year.
* * *
Today, all professing Christians make reference to Christ’s crucifixion, but most of them do not respect the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. They talk about Calvary, they mention “Jesus died for our sins,” but this is merely a head knowledge. To the multitudes of these precious church members, Jesus dying on Calvary is just a historical fact. They have not placed their faith in that finished crosswork alone as the only way to heaven.
Instead, they exalt their religious performance above Jesus Christ’s crosswork—they never place their faith in Christ alone for salvation (religious people always want to work for salvation, so they ignore the sufficiency of Christ’s finished crosswork).
Let it be known that we Bible-believing Christians are saved alone by God’s grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ alone, and we celebrate Christ’s resurrection every day (not just on Easter).
CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION: NOT JUST HISTORICAL FACTS
Historically, there was a (God-)Man named Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, who was condemned under the administration of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate after Israel shouted, “Crucify Him!” He was literally nailed to a Roman cross, He literally and physical died, and His body was literally buried in a rich man’s tomb. Three days later, He literally and physically resurrected.
But, this account is not simply historical fact—it is a spiritual reality that affects us today, nearly 2,000 years later. On that resurrection Sunday nearly 20 centuries ago, when Jesus Christ triumphed over Satan, sin, and death (Acts 2:24; Colossians 2:14,15; Hebrews 2:14), we too triumphed over Satan, sin, and death.
GOD’S WILL FOR US
God’s will is that “all men [all people] be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:4a). Friend, do you want to do God’s will? Then, get saved! Trust Christ Jesus alone as your personal Saviour (Paul’s Gospel) and receive eternal life in heaven. God the Holy Spirit will then take you and place you into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Salvation is that simple!
Once a person is saved, God’s will for this person is for he or she to learn why He saved them: He wants them “to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4b). God wants to teach us His overall goal for creation and our role in accomplishing that purpose (we learn this by studying His Word, the Bible). Do you want to do God’s will as a Christian? Follow the Apostle Paul as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)! Learn about God’s will for you in this Dispensation of Grace by focusing on Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.
The Bible says that God’s “eternal purpose”—His overall will for creation—is to exalt Jesus Christ in the heaven and in the earth. This “eternal purpose” was something that God “purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The whole issue is Jesus Christ! Let us notice Ephesians 1:9,10 KJV: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” What are these “all things?” God the Father wants His Son Jesus Christ to be glorified in the governments of heaven and earth. Consider Colossians 1:16-20 KJV:
“16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
HOW WILL JESUS CHRIST BE EXALTED IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH?
Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote: “[Christ] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect [spiritually mature] in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:28,29). The same Spirit of God that worked in Paul to accomplish his ministry now wants to do that same work in and through us! What was this work God did in and through the Apostle Paul? It is the same good work He wants to do in and through us today!
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). It is God’s “good pleasure” to work in us to so that our Christian lives will bring Jesus Christ glory and honor. However, we are members of the Church the Body of Christ, so God’s primary goal is to one day take us to heaven and bring Him glory there (Ephesians 2:6,7).
Epaphras prayed that the Colossian believers “would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (4:12). Compare that to Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonian believers: “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11,12; cf. Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11). The goal of God’s working in and through us is to glorify “the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in [us],” and to “glorify [us] in him.”
According to Philippians 2:13, God’s “good pleasure” is to work in and through us to accomplish His will. When we place our faith in the sound (dispensational) Bible doctrine that tells us what God is doing today (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon), then God the Holy Spirit will use that doctrine to transform us from the inside (soul) out (lifestyle)!
Once you study, learn, and believe the King James Bible rightly divided (dispensationally), the indwelling Holy Ghost will use that sound Bible doctrine to work mightily in you. “…The word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). What is God’s purpose in working in and through us? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.
GOD’S DWELLING PLACE
In Ephesians chapter 2 (which I encourage you to read on your own), the Apostle Paul describes our sinful lifestyles and wicked nature before our salvation in Christ Jesus (verses 1-3). Verses 4-10 discuss how God saved us from sin and His wrath in order to make us His “workmanship” (creation). Verses 11 and 12 explain that when God dealt with Israel in “time past,” we Gentiles were “without Christ.” Verses 13-18 explain “but now,” in our Dispensation of Grace, God has removed the division between Jew and Gentile. God is now forming a spiritual body of believers, Jews and Gentiles.
Why is God forming the Church the Body of Christ? Ephesians 2:19-22 KJV explains:
“19 Now therefore ye [believing Gentiles] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
God is forming the Church the Body of Christ so He can have a house (“an habitation”). The Holy Spirit not only lives in us Christians (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14), He wants to also live through us—to manifest His life living in us, so the lost world can see our new lifestyles and glorify Him!!
THE LIFE OF CHRIST IN US
God wants to fill our minds with sound doctrine, which we gain from proper (dispensational) Bible study, so the Holy Spirit can then take that doctrine and work in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13), “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God wants to teach us Christians His doctrine, so we can then believe that doctrine, so He can then use that doctrine to form Christ Jesus in us (Galatians 4:19).
Literally, the result will be “Christ [living] in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27; cf. Ephesians 3:16,17). “Christ… is our life” (Colossians 3:4). Galatians 2:20: “…Christ liveth in me….” Actually, our life is not our life; it is Christ living His life in and through us (Philippians 1:21).
The Apostle Paul wrote, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:15-18). As people who have trusted in Christ Jesus alone as our personal Saviour, God’s Holy Spirit wants to fill us—not to give us a “charismatic high,” but rather to transform us from the inside out.
God does not want us Christians living carelessly: “walk circumspectly [carefully, cautiously], not as fools, but as wise….” God wants to fill us Christians with His Spirit so He can be glorified in our church families (Ephesians 5:19-21), our marriages and families (Ephesians 5:22–6:4), and our workplace (Ephesians 6:5-9).
God’s will is to “strengthen [us] with might by his Spirit in the inner man [soul]; that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:16,17). The indwelling Holy Spirit wants to strengthen us with sound doctrine so Christ can live His life in and through us (cf. Galatians 2:20). This is “Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith,” and this is God “working in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
God wants “the word of Christ” to “dwell in [us] richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16)—to fill us with sound (dispensational) Bible doctrine that will literally “dwell” (live) in us (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13)! The indwelling Holy Spirit takes the sound Bible doctrine we believe and He uses it to form Christ Jesus in us, so that the sound Bible teaching (Christ’s life) is literally transferred to us, and then our lifestyles better reflect God’s grace (Titus 2:11-15).
The “fruit of the Spirit” (evidence of the Holy Ghost working in us) will then be manifested in our lives: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22,23). The world cannot see Christ’s physical body; instead, they see Him living in us Christians! God wants to live His life and through us, but that will only happen if we understand and believe God’s Word to us.
Dispensational Bible study is important, and the Bible versions issue is important. If Christ is to live His life in and through you, you must have the right Bible and your must have the right information (the doctrine that belongs in our Dispensation of Grace, information that is only found in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). When Jesus Christ went to Calvary’s cross, He did not simply die to shed His sinless blood for our sins. He went to Calvary so that we could die to die with Him, and He was raised again so we could then be raised with Him to live a life pleasing in God’s sight! Romans chapter 6 is the best example of how the death and resurrection of Christ affects us:
“1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 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.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 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.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Eternal life is not something that we gain once we die and go to heaven, but something we have right now in Christ Jesus! The life—Christ’s life—that now lives in us Christians is the life that was given back to Christ nearly 2,000 years ago when He resurrected! The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now causing Him to live His resurrected life in and through us as we walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us.
Jesus Christ died, not simply to help us get to heaven as religion teaches, but He died because our “good” works were nothing but “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) and “dung” (Philippians 3:8). Jesus Christ’s death was the only acceptable sacrifice to God: our good works cannot save us, and our good works will never save us. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to die for us so He could give His life to us when we trust Him, so He can then live His life in and through us! The life of Jesus Christ is anything but “dung” and “filthy rags.”
God’s will is not so much for us to do His will, but for us to allow Him to accomplish His will in and through us as we cooperate by faith in His Word to us (“Without faith it is impossible to please [God];” Hebrews 11:6).
God saved us, not simply to give us sinners an opportunity to avoid the hellfire that we deserve, but to make us trophies of His grace by Him doing the work in and through us (Ephesians 2:10). God (Jesus Christ) wants you to allow Him to live His life in and through you (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21) as your study and believe His Word His way (dispensationally). “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ [the rapture]” (Philippians 1:6).