Since Jesus Was Raised from the Dead, What Are We to Do?

Empty Tomb

Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The resurrection of Christ is part of the foundation of the gospel. Many remember this event on “Easter,” yet remembering the resurrection should not be limited to a man-made holy day. We should be mindful of this at all times.

Paul explained that through the resurrection of Christ, we have hope: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

How can we realize this hope? We need to recognize that the account of Jesus’ resurrection is not just about what He did, it also includes what we are to do. So let us consider the question: Since Jesus was raised from the dead, what are we to do?

Turn from Our Wicked Ways

For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).

Jesus’ resurrection gives hope to everyone. However, that does not mean we can “come as we are” and “stay as we were.” As Peter explained in the verse above, we are expected to turn from our wicked ways. This is repentance.

When we become a disciple of Christ’s, we are to be different than we were before. We are to “live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). We are “not [to] be conformed to this world, but be transformed” as we give ourselves as “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1-2). The Lord expects us to give up our old life of sin and begin a new life of obedience to Him (cf. Romans 6:12-13, 17-18).

However, many people do not like the rules and responsibilities that come with being a disciple. Yet in reality, this is for our benefit. This is why Peter said Jesus was sent “to bless [us] by turning every one of [us] from [our] wicked ways” (Acts 3:26). By giving up a life of sin, we miss a lot of the consequences in this life that come as a result. After all, the wise man accurately pointed out, “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15, KJV). More importantly, by following the Lord we will also avoid the punishment that is due us for our sin (Romans 6:23).

Walk in Newness of Life

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” (Romans 6:4).

This goes along with the previous point, but really it is the next step. Turning from our wicked ways is about stopping our sinful behavior. Walking “in newness of life” is about starting our righteous behavior.

In this chapter, Paul described what this “newness of life” looks like. He said we are “no longer…slaves of sin” because we have been “freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). We are to “present [ourselves] to God as those alive from the dead, and [our] members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13). We are to obey the Lord “from the heart” and become “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

If we really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we need to strive to live as He lived. Peter wrote, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22). He left the perfect example for us to follow and we must strive to imitate Him in all things.

Affirm the Fact of the Resurrection

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).

Paul addressed the fact that there were certain ones in Corinth who were denying the teaching of the resurrection. They may not have been arguing against Jesus’ resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:13); after all, there was ample evidence to believe this (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Instead, they were denying that we would be raised from the dead. However, Paul explained that we must accept both.

Paul made an implicit point in his statement above. He wrote, “If Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” In other words, if Christ was raised, we must affirm the hope of our resurrection. In his defenses before Felix and Agrippa, Paul affirmed the fact of the resurrection and the hope that exists because of it (Acts 24:15; 26:22-23). We must be willing to affirm the same thing today and always be “ready to make a defense…for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15).

Furthermore, if Christ was raised from the dead, we must affirm His resurrection because it is the basis for our hope. Peter said we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Because we have “such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech” (2 Corinthians 3:12) as we affirm the basis for our hope – Jesus’ resurrection.

Look Beyond This Life

If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32).

As Paul continued to discuss the resurrection, he talked about what happened to him in Ephesus when he “fought with wild beasts.” The implication is that he did this for the cause of Christ. We do not know if the “beasts” were literal or figurative (animals or men), but we do know that Paul defended himself.

Paul explained that all of this – suffering persecution and defending himself – was pointless if there was no resurrection. If this was only done “from human motives,” rather than with faith in Christ and hope for eternal life, what would be the point? Why should anyone suffer for the cause of Christ? Paul’s point was that if there is no resurrection, we should enjoy life to the fullest because that is all there is.

However, since there is a resurrection, we must look past this life. We are to “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is” and “set [our] mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). We must not allow the “worries and riches and pleasures of this life” to distract us from serving the Lord (Luke 8:14). One day, our material possessions will be left behind for someone else (Luke 12:19-21; Ecclesiastes 2:18-21). Because of this, we must be looking for what is coming next.

Wait for the Lord to Return

And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Since these brethren in Thessalonica had “turned to God,” they were now awaiting the Lord’s return (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Jesus was raised from the dead to give us hope. Later in this epistle, Paul wrote, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). By giving us hope, the Lord also saved us from wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Since Jesus has been raised from the dead, we can “eagerly wait” for the Lord’s return (Philippians 3:20-21).

This goes with the previous point about looking past this life. We need to be able to look forward to the Lord’s return with anticipation. We should mimic the sentiment of John: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). It will be “very much better” to be with the Lord in eternity than to be here (cf. Philippians 1:21-23)

Conclusion

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead gives us hope, but it also demands certain things of us. We should always be thankful for the hope that we have through His resurrection, not just during a man-made holiday that was creating to commemorate this event. We need to remember the fact of His resurrection at all times and use it to motivate us to continually serve Him so that we can enjoy the reward of eternal life through Him.


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Blessings, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Social Issues.


Comments

  1. Dave hindman says

    I’d like to discuss your comments below. Much of what you say is very good and seems to be accurate.

    I was wondering, however, if you have a Roman Catholic background. Do you know what the Bible is talking about when it says that unless we are born-again we shall not see the Kingdom of God?

    I see a lot of language related to working and striving but I don’t think I’ve seen anything about trusting, surrendering (to God in Christ), I don’t see anything about being born again, I don’t see anything about walking with Him in relationship, I don’t see anything about following Jesus.

    People can strive all they want but if they aren’t born-again, if they have no genuine faith relationship with Jesus, their “striving would be losing” as Luther put it in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” (No, I am not Lutheran).

    “We need to remember the fact of His resurrection at all times and use it to motivate us to continually serve Him so that we can enjoy the reward of eternal life through Him.”

    Many will “serve” Jesus, or at least think they are serving him, in their own strength, only to find that the Lord never knew them when they stand before Him on the day of judgement. Continually serving Him does not qualify them for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. They can serve Him their whole life long (or think they are) and find at the judgement that they are damned. It is the blood of Christ which pays for our sins and His resurrection which brings us our justification. Without forgiveness in salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ, we can work all we want and still not have our sins blotted out. The only reason a man can do any good at all (for his heart is desperately wicked to the point of the incomprehensible) is if the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in that person’s life through having been “born-again” or “born from above” by surrendering their lives to Christ in faith for Him to become their personal Savior and Lord. But the LORD brings the changes in a person’s life through HIS power. When they are “born-again” they have passed from death to life, have entered into an eternal relationship with God through Christ, and that genuine relationship will bring changes for righteousness in that person.

    Then, they are responsible to daily walk with Christ and depend on God’s power in faith to live the life of righteousness through and in Christ.

    To talk of striving and working with no talk of faith or dependence on God’s power is to make man responsible to save himself in his own strength. This is the mistake the Pharisees made. No flesh shall be justified through the works of the law.

    “If we really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we need to strive to live as He lived. Peter wrote, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22). He left the perfect example for us to follow and we must strive to imitate Him in all things.”

  2. Dave, thanks for the comment.

    No, I am not a Roman Catholic, nor do I have any background in that religion.

    I’m not sure how your comment about “no talk of faith of dependence upon God’s power” applies to this article. The whole premise of the article was about our response to Jesus’ resurrection. This is necessarily implies faith and recognizing the power of God.

    I agree that we are not justified through works of the Law; but in Romans and Galatians, the works of the Law that Paul was talking about were the works of the Law of Moses – not the works that we are to do as disciples of Christ’s. Paul’s mission was to bring about the “OBEDIENCE of faith” (Romans 1:5). James wrote, “You see that a man is JUSTIFIED BY WORKS and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). These are the works that we must do in faith.

    I am not asserting that we can earn our salvation through what we do. However, I am affirming what the Bible teaches. We are saved by faith. This faith must be a working, obedient faith.

  3. Dave hindman says

    Andy, I absolutely agree with everything you just said. If someone has genuinely passed from spiritual death to eternal life by being saved, and the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in the person’s life through that salvation, that person cannot and will not continue indefinitely in sin. I do believe the maturation / sanctification process can be a lengthy and sometimes hard road but, the Lord disciplines the sons He loves. If we don’t obey we’re gonna get clobbered! For me, it was a nearly fatal auto / pedestrian accident, and I was the pedestrian! But yes, obedience to God and love of God and faith in God are, I believe, SYNONYMOUS. I often become concerned when it appears (and it appears I MISUNDERSTOOD you) that the focus is human strength and effort to obey God rather than obedience being the normal outgrowth of walking in a daily relationship with God. I believe that daily surrender to God in Christ is essential to having the ability to love and obey God, as is time with Him in His Word. Fellowship with other believers and prayer are also important factors in having the strength to walk with God. I better understand you now that you have explained. Perhaps you better understand what I am saying? It’s not a cold obedience to a list of rules, trying to jump through the hoops and pass the obstacle course in the hopes that, if you overcome enough obstacles, you get to stand in front of God on judgement day and wait for Him to tell you if you are qualified for Heaven or not. It’s about being born of God through faith in Christ, born into the family of God, and then children of God do what children of God do – they love their Father and seek to please Him because of who they are and because of the relationship. And if they fail to obey they get a trip to the woodshed. (A good pounding)! The children of God obey their Father. The children of the devil obey their father. Am I making sense? I have become extremely concerned, however, that American mega-churches are filled with false converts. I believe the American mega-Church is watering down the Gospel to the extent that people are making a mere mental assent to Christ as if salvation is universal. I believe I have seen people who kind of have this pretense about them where they know how to parrot Christian sounding talk but they have not fallen to their knees before God exclaiming ‘Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!’ – the kind of attitude which throws itself on the mercy of Christ in desperation and under the condemnation of the weight of guilt for their damning sin. I’m afraid they think Jesus is their cool buddy who throws the Sunday rock band concert. We had a couple we rented to who made a great show of their “Churchianity.” Following a nasty fight and break up, he lured a married woman from a bar home one night and brutally raped her in the apartment he was renting from us. We were horrified of course. We believe it was his initiation into MS-13. But right up until then they were quoting Scripture and doing good works. Freaky. I think Rick Warren is one of the most dangerous people to have ever come down the pike. I think he is making a mockery of the Christian church. Apostasy is a horrifying thing to view.