The Resurrection Power

“That I may know him [Jesus], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” —Philippians 3:10

IN THIS “TIME of the end” (Dan. 11:45 to 12:1) when knowledge is being increased, science is demonstrating in a small way some of the mighty power that is stored up in atoms, the building blocks of nature. Indeed, the world has lived in fear for decades lest the unwise releasing of this power might work terrible havoc upon mankind, perhaps even destroy the human race itself. Yet how little power is actually released by the explosion of nuclear bombs, compared with the almighty power of the Creator, who designed and created all the atoms in the entire universe!

Fallen man, in his selfishness, is prone to use the power created by God to destroy. God can do this also, but his glory is best revealed by his use of power to create and to restore. At Eastertime, much of the world will again be reminded of an event in history which called for power quite beyond the ability of the human mind even to imagine. We refer to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul spoke of this as the “exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlies.”—Eph. 1:19,20

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was even more than an awakening from the sleep of death. It was also an exaltation to the highest plane of life in the universe, even to the divine—“far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and [God] hath put all things under his [Jesus’] feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”—Eph. 1:21-23

While we cannot comprehend the power involved in such a mighty act as this, we can and should rejoice in the many assurances of the Word that this same power stands pledged to help us in our every time of need; not unconditionally so, but in proportion to our faithfulness in laying down our lives as co-sacrificers with Jesus. It is to this that Paul refers in our text. Paul said that he had suffered the loss of all things that he might know Christ, and the “power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”—Phil. 3:10

First, the mighty power of God gives us the necessary strength to lay down our lives, if we yield ourselves up daily as living sacrifices to him. The Lord does not use his power to coerce his people into the doing of his will. But if they show a willingness to sacrifice, he provides the opportunity as well as the necessary strength to endure the fiery trials which his acceptance may entail. Peter presents the proper sequence of thought in this matter. He wrote, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”—I Pet. 5:6,7

When Paul wrote that he counted all things but loss and dross that he might know the power of Jesus’ resurrection, he undoubtedly had in mind the power of the Heavenly Father which is vouchsafed to his people while they are laying down their lives as fellow-sacrificers with Jesus, and also the further and ultimate use of that power on behalf of the church in the “first resurrection.” (Rev. 20:6) It is only as we have fellowship in the sufferings of Christ and are made conformable unto his death, that we will experience the mighty power of God to raise us from the dead and exalt us to his own right hand with Christ.

“Cloud of Witnesses”

In Hebrews 11, we have brought before us what the Apostle Paul described as a “cloud of witnesses”—examples, that is, of men and women who, in previous ages, demonstrated their faith in God and in his promises, sometimes at the cost of their lives. Two groups are listed, one composed of those who had their faith rewarded by outward demonstrations of God’s care and help, and the other of servants who were permitted to suffer and die, yet remaining faithful despite there being no outward evidence that the God of Israel was willing or able to protect them against their enemies.

Of the first group we read, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.”—vss. 33-35

How thrilling it must have been for those dear servants of God in the ancient past to note the miraculous manner in which their God stood by them to help in the defeat of their enemies! Even those who did not accept deliverance from their tormentors, refused to do so because of their faith in the future operation of divine power to raise them from the dead. We also rejoice when we note the wonderful manner in which the Lord is blessing us as we walk in the narrow way of sacrifice.

But Paul reminds us of other experiences in which faith finds it necessary to trust the Lord without knowing the meaning of his providences. In such experiences we are encouraged by the example of another group of the Ancient Worthies. Concerning these we read, “And others had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”—vss. 36-40

How different were the experiences of these latter, compared with those who subdued kingdoms and stopped the mouths of lions. It was as though their God was not near to deliver them from their tormentors. Yet he was near, even though he allowed their enemies to triumph over them temporarily. But their faith was strong. Their viewpoint was the one expressed by the three Hebrews who said to the king that while they knew their God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, if he did not do so, they still would trust him, and would not bow down to the image which the king had erected.

How inspiring this example is to us! They endured with little or no evidence that God was really with them. Besides, their understanding of the divine plan was so very limited compared with ours. And even though they had understood just what position they would occupy in the divine arrangement when raised from the dead, it would have been a modest hope, compared with the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, which has been offered to the Lord’s people of this Gospel Age. As Paul said, God has provided “some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”—vs. 40

‘Some better thing’, yea, even “glory and honor and immortality”! (Rom. 2:7) There have been given unto us “exceeding great and precious promises” (II Pet. 1:4), by which, if we are faithful to the terms associated with them, we will be made “partakers of the divine nature.” (II Pet. 1:4) However, not by our own might, or power, will we attain, but by the power of the Holy Spirit—the Lord’s power, the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

This power of the resurrection fortifies us against every assault of the Adversary; it replaces fear with courage; it gives stout hearts to the faint, and renewed strength to the weary. However, this power of the resurrection will not isolate us from trials; it will not spare us from suffering; but it will help us to bear whatever experiences may come, whether of joy or sorrow. In joy it will keep us humble; in sorrow it will be our comfort. This is the present heritage of the people of God who are walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

Our future inheritance is one of glory—“glory that excelleth.” (II Cor. 3:10) All present advantages, whether wealth, prestige, comfort, or worldly joy, are as nothing compared with it, and to be considered as loss and dross as we contemplate that excellent glory to which we have been called. It is far more wonderful than the human perfection to which mankind in general will be restored, excelling even the “better” resurrection (Heb. 11:35) of the Ancient Worthies. Writing about it, Paul said, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”—II Cor. 4:17,18

Let us, then, by contemplating the power of his resurrection, be renewed in faith and courage to press on for that glorious prize, realizing that victory can be ours through him who loved us and died for us, and to whom all power has been given to succor and strengthen us, as well as to accomplish every other feature of our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. Yes, the power of Jehovah, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, will continue to work in us and for us, until finally, exalted and glorified by that power, we shall enter into his presence where there is fullness of joy forevermore!

And then, with the kingdom established, blessings of peace and joy and life will begin to flow out to the world of mankind. How we rejoice in this bright prospect for the poor, sinsick, and dying world. Millions will formally commemorate the resurrection of Christ, but with hearts filled with fear because of the unsolvable problems which the world faces daily. They will not realize that the mighty power which raised Jesus from the dead is soon to be manifested through Christ in taking control of earth’s affairs, establishing peace, and giving health and life to all the willing and obedient.

Yes, that same power of his resurrection, after having raised up in the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5) those who will live and reign with Christ, resurrected the “great multitude” (Rev. 7:9) to serve in the “temple,” and brought forth the Ancient Worthies in the better resurrection, will ultimately awaken all who are asleep in death that they may have an opportunity to share in the blessings of the kingdom.

Surely ours is a blessed hope, and the more precious because we know that in the divine plan there is a loving provision for all mankind. How we rejoice to realize that in

A little while, earth’s fightings shall be over;
     A little while, her tears be wiped away;
A little while, the power of Jehovah
     Shall turn this darkness into gladsome day.
A little while, ills that now o’erwhelm men
     Shall to the memories of the past belong;
A little while, the love that once redeemed them
     Shall change their weeping into grateful song.
A little while! ‘Tis ever drawing nearer—
     The brighter dawning of that glorious day.
Praise God, the light is hourly growing clearer,
     Shining more and more unto the perfect day.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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