The Power of His Resurrection

The Power of His Resurrection

John Hay Ritchie

The Apostle Paul first came to know the Lord in a most remarkable way; God’s dealings with him were unique. They were necessary to prove to him the marvels of the power of God manifest in His Son, His Perfect Servant upon earth. Before Saul could be brought low enough for God to save and use him, he required a vision of the Resurrected Lord as the Head of His Church.

The Power of Christ’s Resurrection and Humility

Apart from his conversion to God, the greatest effect of this heavenly vision upon Saul was the demonstration of the puny futility of man, of himself. Consequently, Paul longed to acquire a deeper knowledge of Christ. He knew this to be his daily, his hourly need, in order that the Saul in him be kept mortified, and that his Lord have the wielding of that resurrection power in his life. He was brought down into the very dust, which is every man’s rightful place, when the glory of the Resurrected Lord shone about him.

Such an experience is a primary and constant need in the life of the Christian. The Christian must know Christ not only as Saviour but as Lord and Master. When it is otherwise, and the believer allows matters to follow their natural course, then what is called spiritual power is merely a display of his own prowess, and often nothing but a show of vain traditions. A state resulting from such carnality is disastrous to Christian testimony and service. The key note of the truth of resurrection means that we ourselves, our wills, must be reduced to inactivity, actually to death, so that Christ in resurrection power may be made manifest in us.

In the Old Testament it is recorded that the Lord used this same principle in the lives of his servants. Moses had an experience at the beginning of his career in the school of God: “The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed …. When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses, and he said, Here am I. And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex. 3:2-6).

This experience was the turning point in Moses’ life; he became the meekest man in all the earth, but one of the mightiest in his exploits for God. What was needed to thus change Moses was a foresight of the presence and the glory of the Holy God; it was this that caused him to hide himself.

Isaiah, the evangelical prophet relates a similar experience, one so vivid that he mentions the very date on which it occured: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory … . Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts… . Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isa. 6:1-8).

Isaiah as a man sent by God was useless without this manifestation of the power and glory of God, and the purifying and humbling effect of it upon his life. This vision of power and majesty prepared him for the special and difficult, albeit, thankless task God had for him.

Job passed through the fiery trials of faith, and his testimony on realizing something of the power and glory of God was: “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

We may range through all the Scriptures and find similar instances. It is essential that man become cognizant of the power, glory, and holiness of God before he will humble himself. The Apostle Paul strove to attain and to retain that knowledge of His Lord. He expressed this longing, “That I might know Him.” To know and have Him constantly before us in the glorious might of His resurrection is to know His grace in taking us from the vile base pit of sin and elevating us to sit with Him in the heavenly places.

The Power of His Resurrection and Introspection

The Apostle Paul expresses this deep desire as belonging to the heart of all of God’s people: “That I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:10). Here we have a challenge based on the resurrection of the Lord, a challenge of self-examination. What part does this glory and triumph of the resurrection of Christ play in my Christian life and experience?

In Book of Acts the central theme is expressed thus: “Him (the Lord Jesus) hath God raised from the dead.” Why would the Apostle base his desire so decidedly upon this, the knowledge of the resurrection of Christ?

The Power of His Resurrection and Stability

First of all, it was the resurrection of the Lord that gave overwhelming proof of His Deity. He is indeed the very Son of God. Up to this point there was considerable instability in the belief and behaviour of the disciples. It is true that Peter confessed Him as the Son of God at Caesarea Philippi, but we all know how far short of this he fell when he denied Him with oaths and curses.

Furthermore, the Scriptures record that the body of men that Christ chose to be with Him “all forsook Him and fled” during the hour of His humiliation. Immediately following the crucifixion they manifested fear, fear of the Jews.

A great change in these very men is seen after the first day on which the Lord Jesus arose. The historical fact of the resurrection poured light and power into their hearts and lives. From that time on, the disciples gave every evidence that they not only knew Christ, but they possessed the very power that had raised Him from among the dead.

The Apostle prays on behalf of the Ephesians, “That the God of our Lord Jesus, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: … And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward 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 heavenly places (Eph. 1:17-20).

The power manifested in His resurrection therefore is that for which the Apostle strives through a deeper knowledge of the Lord. This power is nothing less than that which operated in Christ when God raised Him physically from the tomb. Can anyone measure this? Paul does not see this as something to be believed only, but something to be earnestly sought in order that confidence in God be more firmly established.

We recall the grace and silence of the entire Godhead when the Lord was crucified at the hands of men. He submitted to the worst that men and Satan could do. He, the blessed Son of God was put to death. Man and Satan thought that the end had been accomplished, but God forthwith manifested His power. By His mighty power He raised the body of His Son from the grave, and seated Him at His own right hand in glory “far above all principalities and powers.” The victor is not man, not death, not Satan; the Victor is Christ enthroned far above those evil powers against which we wrestle (Eph. 6:12). They have been completely overcome by the power of the resurrection of our Lord. Can this power be thwarted by Satan and all his hosts? Never! This has been proved by the passing of the Victor right through the very heart of their domains, and by His being set far above them in glory and honour. This is the power to which Paul makes reference; this is the power he strives to know.

The Power of His Resurrection and Testimony

In the second place, the resurrection of the Lord signifies the character and purpose of His death. He who died was the Son of God incarnate. Why did He die such a death? Was God, who displayed His mighty power in the resurrection of His Son, devoid of such power when He died on the cross? Here it is well to pause and ponder. Here self and its so-called rights must be placed out of sight. Here is the reason why we are called upon to live in the power of His resurrection. “For,” says Paul, “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

This fact keeps the flesh in the place of death and humility. It is the flesh in its multitudinous aspects that even in handing the Word of God weakens assembly testimony today. Divisions and dissensions among God’s people are the stark proofs that the power of the resurrection of our Lord is not present with us. It is the subtle power of man, and the devil makes him believe that it is spiritual power. The power of the resurrection causes us to cover our lips and our faces because of the holiness of God; it causes us to remove our shoes off our feet for the ground on which we stand is holy. It brings us to the dust and ashes of true repentance. Moreover, it blinds our fondest ambition and zeal by the brightness of its glory. It draws from the surrendered heart the cry, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”

The power of His resurrection in the heart and life is the crying need among God’s people today, especially among the assemblies which gather in His name alone. Is its lack because we do not seek it, or want it? Are we ignorant of its lack in our individual and collective testimonies? Let us face realities. Let us stop dreaming that we possess that which we have actually lost. Let us seek it assiduously. It is to be found only in a closer communion and more intimate fellowship with Him whom God hath raised from among the dead and given glory.