Published March 31, 2015
That's what we celebrate each year at Easter (and, one would hope, in our hearts throughout the year). We celebrate the fact that because Christ sacrificially died on the cross and then showed His power over death when He rose from the dead, we, too, shall have "life everlasting."
Now, usually we think of "life everlasting" as the eternal life we as Christians will enjoy in heaven. But sometimes we forget that, for believers, "life everlasting" has already begun. When you became a Christian, "life everlasting" began for you. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). "Has passed!" For the believer, that new life has already begun.
Romans 6:4 reminds us that Christ was raised "so that we, too, might walk in newness of life." And that certainly includes our "walk" in this life. In fact, only Christians can be truly alive: "He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:12.). Timothy reminded us that "godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is [as well as] of that which is to come." (1 Tim. 4:8.)
Christ said, "whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (John 11:26.) Are you alive? Do you believe? If so, Christ says you will never die. Oh, sure, unless we're in the generation that will see the saints "changed" and taken alive to glory (and I certainly wouldn't rule that out) we will all have to pass through physical death. But that's merely a transition from this physical life to life that's even much more real. For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8.) And that's as "real" as "real" gets!
Paul said, "For me to live is Christ..." (Phil. 1:21.) In Galatians 2:20 Paul wrote, "the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (LB paraphrase). And because Christ loves us, He promises to help us as we live for Him. Luke, writing in Acts 2:28, quotes David, who wrote in Psalm 16, "You will teach me how to live a holy life. Being with you will fill me with joy" (NCV).
Now that's living!
We need to remember that Easter isn't just about something that happened about 2,000 years ago, as eternally significant as that is. It's not even just about what will happen at some time in the future, although that's the essence of our hope. It's about, in a very real way, what's happening right now in our lives. Speaking of Christ, Peter tells us, "By His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3 NRSV).
That "living hope" if we properly understand it cannot help but affect each and every moment of our lives. It's not just "hope." It's "living hope." It's alive! It lives within our souls. And what does this mean for us? "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Heb. 6:19. NIV.) This hope becomes the context in which we see and evaluate everything that's going on around us. It is our "anchor" in turbulent times. And, as the old hymn says, "My anchor holds!"
When Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10) He was talking about the here-and-now as well as the hereafter. God wants you to reach out and grab that "hope" that He's provided. He wants you to "live" that hope. And, in turn, He wants to bless you for living for Him regardless of your apparent circumstances.
This "living hope" is powerful evidence that Christ is alive and working on, in and through His church, the body of believers. If you're a Christian, that includes you!
Bill and Gloria Gaither's classic song, "Because He Lives," really explains simply and to-the-point the essence of this "living hope" that we as Christians can enjoy:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.
Christ rose from the tomb to give us a living hope. The evidence of that is all around us.
- Just ask those for whom the power of a risen Christ has completely transformed their lives.
- Just ask those who have seen the power of God perform miracles in their lives.
Just ask those who now have living hope, who once merely existed day-to-day in hopelessness.
Just ask those who have learned what it is to have what Christ promised life, and life more abundant.
Just ask those for whom life has truly become worth living.
And it's all ... because He lives.
Note: This column first appeared here March 29, 2005; updated.
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