For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; (Job 19:25)
It’s remarkable how often we encounter believers who have somehow stopped at the point of the cross. Many of them are sincere in their faith, but their Christian walk is often a ‘stop-start’ affair and they struggle with little evidence of growth or fruit. It may be, in more cases than we care to accept, that their difficulties lie in the fact that they were taught an incomplete Gospel.
To live and walk in the full blessing of salvation, we need to grasp two fundamental and equally important truths. The first is that Christ died on the cross, having assumed our sin and everything associated with it, that we might be forgiven and restored to right relationship with God. The second truth, the one often glossed over, is that Christ is the resurrected Lord. In rising from the dead, He brought the fulfilment of the sacrifice – spiritual restoration into a new life, His life, with its accompanying victory over the power of darkness.
While most believers have taken hold of the fact that Christ will come again in glory – and long for that day, as do we all – for many there is a gap between the cross and the second coming. They have missed the real truth that, although Christ is still to come again in His physically manifest glory, He already stands upon the earth in each and every single believer. This is the truth of the resurrection, and without a secure knowledge and assurance of it, many believers are stuck in a kind of spiritual limbo at the cross.
This truth in no way diminishes the awesome reality of the cross and the incredible agony and sacrifice of our Redeemer. Without His death on the cross, without His assumption of our sin and its consequences, and all the other vital exchanges it imbodies, the resurrection would be meaningless. In the same way, without the full truth of the resurrection, the power of the cross is diminished. The reality of the cross and the full victory attained by Christ is embodied and contained in the fact that He rose into new life.
For all the believers who struggle to live the ‘victorious life,’ who struggle with feelings of inadequacy, who live with a sense of not ‘making it,’ this is quite possibly the reason. Before we can walk in the new life of Christ in us, we need to fully take hold of the miraculous resurrection. We need to say, like Job, ‘I know my redeemer lives.’ This is the truth that completes the act of salvation. We need to move beyond repentance and forgiveness into restoration.
Like the cross, which includes the sin, punishment and consequences of mankind in its entirety – the death of every single person – the resurrection includes the restoration of every single person through the impartation of the Spirit. Spiritually, we are already ‘made new.’ Unless we take hold of this truth, we will never learn to walk in victory, we will never fully understand that we can ‘forget the former things’ and look to the coming of Christ as we grow in our new life towards eternity.
This is the fundamental grace embodied in Christ – I died with Him and I live with Him, I died in Him and I live in Him. It can only be complete if we take hold of the truth signified in our baptism – death and resurrection. While we should never, ever overlook the cross, we should live the resurrection. We serve a living, risen Lord. He walks on the earth in each one of us. His life is our life. This is a restoration none of us deserve, yet are given it freely through grace.
His life in us. That is the abiding truth of the resurrection. That is the perfection of the work of the cross, bringing it to completion in us. That is the grace of God at work, that we don’t have to struggle to live as we should, but rather allow the life of Christ that is already in us to manifest and empower us. If we teach an incomplete Gospel we will live an incomplete Gospel, we deny ourselves the full resurrection power of God at work in us.