With the advent of the Christian holiday which we normally call “Easter” or “Resurrection Sunday” coming upon us, I thought it would be fitting to express some specific thoughts we can contemplate as this important day approaches.
The Real Meaning of “Easter”
Actually, one of the reasons I am writing about this subject is to point out that the origins of “Easter” (also, “Christmas” that we traditionally celebrate on Dec. 25th) are rooted in paganism going back to ancient Babylonand other ancient societies. Essentially, these elements we still allow to be mixed in with Resurrection Sunday are “Resurrection/Easter Eggs”, the “Easter Bunny”, “Hot Cross Buns”, “Lent”, the “Easter Ham”, and the like. For more information and your perusal, go to Last Trumpet Ministries where you will see a tract that has been written on the origins of Easter.
However, although it is important to recognize that Easter as such is a pagan holiday and it is advisable to not participate in those man-made customs, we do need to instead focus on the Biblical principles of Christ and His death, burial, resurrection and ascension with its implications for us as Christians. In fact, this is the pivotal part of our faith as Christians: because if it wasn’t for Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension, none of us would have any hope of eternal life. (Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7; 1Cor. 15:19)
Okay, that being said, let us break this down into finer points to get a really clear understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension is to see what it does for us. This is why we should recognize this as “Resurrection Sunday” and celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen and alive, instead of the pagan “Easter” that has been traditionally practiced.
Jesus’ Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension
In order to have a real understanding of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension, to begin with we really need to know Who Jesus is.
So, who is Jesus anyway?
A good man, who happened to be sinless? A prophet? A founder of a religion? A created being? Or the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world? If we are Christians, it should be obvious what the truth is: Jesus is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) He is the perfect, sinless Lamb of God who offered up Himself on our behalf. (Heb. 7:27) He is also our Creator (Eph. 3:9), Mediator (1Tim. 2:5), and the Second Person of the Godhead who came down from heaven (John 6:38-48) to humble Himself to walk among men and who chose to be in subjection to the Father while in His earthly ministry. (John 5:19) He was God in the flesh who dwelt among us (John 1:1-14), who was in the likeness of sinful flesh, but who knew no sin. (Rom. 8:3)
When did Jesus die and why? Many Christians still believe and remember that He died on “Good Friday”, which is not the case. Remember, Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights. (Matt. 12:40) Since He was raised from the dead on the first day of the week (Sunday, on the Feast of “Firstfruits”), He was therefore crucified in the middle of the week just before the start of Passover at Sundown. (Mark 16:9) So, this is another erroneous tradition handed down as truth when in fact, it is untrue as to the day. But again, the focus should be on the fact that He died by crucifixion FOR US on our behalf more than that “Good Friday” is the wrong day. It would be a mistake for us not to remember Jesus’ death because it is traditionally held on the wrong day.
The most important reason for remembering Jesus’ death is as the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world, He died in our place because of His love for us and also we cannot take away our own sin. Because we are frail sinners with a sin nature, we cannot possibly get to heaven without first being cleansed before a Holy God. The prescribed way in God’s Word is that Jesus had to die and we must apply His death to our hearts and pledge to live a new life in Christ that He gives to us. Does that sound barbaric? Well, in God’s eyes, sin is VERY barbaric, and punishment for that sin (which we choose to commit) must be meted out to those who do not truly repent. Because of God’s absolute holiness, there is no getting by with sin. No one will be let into God’s heaven by their own merits or without judgment on their sins. It is only when we have been cleansed by the perfect Blood of Jesus by accepting Him as our personal Saviour is our soul cleansed of sin and only then can we stand before a Holy God without fault do we have the right to eternal life in heaven. However, even though this is the truth, we must bear in mind that all sin which we commit while in our current human state has consequences to one degree or another. We must bear responsibility for our actions or inactions, repenting and asking forgiveness, because God expects it of us. (1John 1:9) The wonderful Grace of God is always willing to forgive us when we do wrong.
Jesus’ mission as the Son of God coming to earth from heaven in the form of a man was to atone for our sins. In the process of the crucifixion, He was able to destroy the power of the devil that separates us from God. (Heb. 2:14) His finished work on the Cross meant that He had accomplished our atonement for us and has defeated Satan by giving us eternal life with Him. (John 19:30) Therefore, there is nothing we can do to personally earn our own salvation other than accepting what Jesus did on our behalf as the sinless Lamb of God and surrendering our lives to Him.
It is stated in the Bible that Jesus was buried in a new tomb, which was borrowed. (Matt. 27:57-60). After the crucifixion, they took down His body right away (as Passover was approaching that evening at Sundown, when no bodies were allowed to be left on crosses). He lay in the tomb for three days and three nights. It is recorded that during this time, Peter says He “preached to the spirits in prison”. (1Pet. 3:18-19) What does this mean? It would be better translated “preached to the spirits who are now in prison”. In other words, when Jesus was preaching during His earthly ministry, He was preaching His righteousness to those who were lost and needed to hear what He had to say so they could be saved. Apparently they didn’t, because by the time Peter records this passage, they had died and were now in the “prison” of Hades, or the underworld. This passage has been erroneously quoted to mean that after Christ died, he went to “hell” to be with the departed spirits. Not so! We find that He was in heaven, in the presence of God, because when He and the thief were hanging on the cross, Jesus declared to him, “Verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43).
We also note that after Jesus died and they had laid Him in the tomb of Joseph of Aramathea, the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate to seal the tomb and set a watch because they didn’t want to believe the words of Jesus that He would rise from the dead. (Matt. 27:63-66) They did this because of their own doubt and unbelief. But we know that in truth, Jesus did rise on the third day, walked among the disciples, and ascended to His Father 40 days later. Then He sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost 10 days later to indwell the new believers, which was the start of the Church Age. It has been that way ever since, for two thousand years. So, Jesus overcame all the doubt and unbelief of man and His power is shown in the Resurrection.
Early on resurrection morning, the first day of the week when the women came to the tomb, they found an angel there but no body. They were in mourning and wanted to know what happened to it. The angel declared to them that He had risen (Matt. 28:6-8) as was evidenced by the linen clothes He was wrapped in for burial that lay there by themselves.
We need to emphasize here that the act of Resurrection is decidedly a supernatural event. In fact, Jesus as the “founder” of Christianity is the only One who was resurrected and lives forevermore. No one else on this earth who has been a “founder” of anything has been able to do that. But only the Son of God who said that He would lay His life down and after three days take it back up again. (John 10:18) Only Jesus has that power, no one else. This is so significant, because as we know there are so many religions of the world and they each have a “founder”. And each one of these founders has died and has stayed dead. Not one has been raised bodily from the grave and ascended to God. This gives us cause to rejoice! As Jesus was raised, so now we can be raised when we place our faith in Him. It is essential to know that our faith and connection with God is eternal. It is not temporary, or limited to just “this life” in this corrupt world. What’s the point of that? (1Cor. 15:19-21)
It is recorded in (Matt. 27:52-53) that after Jesus was risen; many bodies of the saints also rose and went to Jerusalem and appeared unto many. This is another testament of the power of the resurrection, and this happened all because of Jesus. Also, these risen saints who went to Jerusalem were witnesses for the Lord. This is probably one reason why on Pentecost 50 days later, there were 3,000 converts who had screamed for his crucifixion several weeks earlier.
Before His death, Jesus had told His disciples that He would not be with them forever. In fact, He told them He was leaving, and they were devastated as they were fearful and didn’t understand why He needed to leave. The discourse in John Chapters 14 and 15 basically was an exhortation to the disciples to inform them He was going away, will send a “Comforter” (Holy Spirit) in His place, to abide in Him, to love one another and keep His commandments. Up until that time, the disciples had Him physically with them to walk along side of them; but once He ascended to heaven ten days before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit subsequently descended on Pentecost to indwell each new believer and minister to them throughout the whole Church Age. So in that sense, it was good and right that Jesus ascended from earth to heaven physically and out of view. But if we are Christians, we know He is present with us in our walk because His Spirit indwells us. He never fails us; it is us who fail in our walk at times. In the meantime, Jesus is preparing a place for us that where He is, we may be there also. (John 14:1-4) Isn’t that exciting news?
Another promise Jesus had made was that He would come back again to reign on the earth for a thousand years. On the day of His ascension, as He was taken up into heaven, his disciples were watching. A couple of angels told them that Jesus would come back the same way they were seeing Him ascend. On that note, the disciples went away rejoicing, because they knew the words of Jesus had been true. (Acts 1:11-14)
What this does: our future with Him
Since Jesus was provided as our Perfect Sacrificial Lamb, and was raised from the dead by the power of the resurrection, the door was now opened to all people who would repent of their sins and surrender their lives to the Lord. People would now have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God, and their future would be a real Hope of Heaven with Christ. What does this mean, a real Hope of Heaven? Well, it means several things: for the Christian who has been adopted into God’s family, as Christ was resurrected and ascended to heaven, the Christian will also be resurrected and/or raptured to heaven at the appointed time. The Christian will shed his/her mortality and put on immortality. (1Cor. 15:53-54) That means no more sin, pain, death, heartache, aging, sickness, etc., that was experienced on the earth. We will all be truly united as one body around Christ, to worship and serve Him forever because He is worthy. (Rev. 5:12-14) Also, in our immortal and perfect state, we will be able to love perfectly and be loved perfectly.
Hope of Heaven for the Christian
Imagine what it would be like to be able to call Heaven your future home! As Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for us in heaven while He was absent, imagine all the wonderful things He has been doing all this time to prepare for His Bride’s arrival! He is currently in what is called the Third Heaven (which is the place of God’s abode). (2Cor. 12:2-4) In terms of miles from earth, it must be trillions of miles but I don’t know and distance doesn’t matter to God. In any case, in order for us to get there, we must be translated/transported supernaturally by God’s power through what is known as the Rapture of the Church in the twinkling of an eye or else when we die, our spirit will be returned to God in an instant (1Cor. 15:52; Eccl. 12:7) Those of our loved ones who have gone before us will be waiting for us there, and we will be reunited with them. What a joyous time that will be! And it’s all because of the wonderful Grace of God that has been provided through the power of the resurrection.
No more sin, pain, death, heartache, aging, sickness, etc.
One of the wonderful benefits of immortality for the Christian is that in heaven, there will be no more experiences or remembrances of the difficult conditions that existed while we were on earth. These things do exist for us because the truth is, we live in a sin-stricken world and we have sinful natures (even though our spirit has been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus). We still struggle with various sins while living with a sin nature, and we learn to overcome weaknesses or failures as we mature in the Lord. But in heaven, all of that will be gone because we will have shed our mortal and sinful nature. This is also due to the power of the resurrection.
We will worship the Lord forever because He is worthy
Jesus deserves all the glory and love we can possibly give Him because He has provided so much for us on our behalf. In heaven, we will be face to face with Him once again, instead of in spirit like we are now. We will see Him by sight instead of by faith. Every knee will bow to Him and every tongue confess. (Is. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10-11) We will render Him due glory for all that He has done, as it is only by His wonderful mercy that He’s extended to us through the shed Blood of Calvary and the resurrection do we have any future with Him at all. So when I think about so many people who say and do outrageous things that spit in His face! It just makes me cringe! That is the work of Satan, so we must run away from him as fast as we can, because he is always waiting in the wings to infiltrate our minds and hearts with the wrong stuff to steer us in the wrong direction. When we get to heaven, however, we will not have to worry about any of that adversarial stuff. We will just be very happy doing the Lord’s bidding for Him without interference. Alleluia!
We will love perfectly, and will be loved perfectly
At that time, nothing at all will stand in the way of perfect love. We will know just as we are known. (1Cor. 13:12) We currently live in a society that is conducive to alienation, division, miscommunication, isolation, loneliness, indifference, hypocrisy, etc. That same spirit is felt in the church at times, too. But in heaven, these problems will be non-existent. There will be no more sins of commission or omission against each other. Wrong and hurtful attitudes will be a thing of the past. There will be no more loss of persons or property that has caused us much pain and difficulty. Crime and poverty will not exist, neither victims of crime or poverty. Judging each other based on partial knowledge or misinformation will be no more. All injustice will be made right; everything that was lost because of Satan, circumstances, or people will be redeemed. Everyone will be equally loved and surrounded by God’s love. There will be no more remembrance of sin that is a harsh reality of life on the earth. (Matt. 24:12) This can only happen because of the power of the resurrection.
As food for thought, here is a quote from Watchman Nee regarding our words being “seasoned with salt” but not “salty”: “Because of unrestrained speech, the usefulness of many Christian workers is seriously curtailed. Instead of being powerful instruments in the Lord’s service, their ministry makes little impact on account of the constant leakage of power through careless talk.” If you’re in need of wiser, more gracious, salt-seasoned speech, here’s a prayer for you: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). That’s good advice for me as much as it is for you
In the meantime, we need to make it our duty to forgive trespasses of others so we don’t carry around bitterness and burdens in our hearts. (Matt. 6:14, 15) That’s not healthy for us, neither is it God’s Will, plus the fact is that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23)
Do you know Jesus personally?
All of this sounds wonderful…but if you don’t know Jesus personally, it’s not going to do you an ounce of good, is it? So, this is a dilemma and you need to find out how you can solve this problem once and for all because Jesus surely doesn’t want anyone to perish. It is vital that you get right with God while there is still a little time left, because the day is fast approaching when God’s patience with man’s grievous sins will run out. None of us has any guarantee of tomorrow, so now is the time to deal with you and God to ensure you know where you will be in Eternity. Here are the steps you need to take in order to fully know Who God is.
We must all recognize that Jesus is a Person of the Godhead (2nd Person of the Trinity) and not some abstract concept or force that is indifferent or unaware of what we are doing. He is the Creator of the world (He made it very good from the beginning, and it was man who chose to sin and bring it down) (Gen. Chapter 3), and He created us for His glory. (Eph. 3:9; Heb. 1:2) As our Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator who created us, we need to be very aware of how deeply He really cares for and loves His creation. But we need to also recognize that He is an absolutely pure and holy God who is all-wise and above any reproach or guilt who judges sin. He is also powerful and has absolute authority and control over what happens in this universe and on this planet. He is the Captain of our lives and knows what is best for us, even if we don’t want to admit it. It is also His nature to love and to be gracious. But because of the difference between the nature of God and man; namely, the absolute purity of God and the depraved nature of man because of his sin, there is a great gulf between the two that was established from Adam and Eve on until now. There is only one prescribed way to solve this problem and bridge this gulf. Jesus the Christ, the everlasting Son of God. (John 14:6). By faith in His shed blood on Calvary for us, we can be totally forgiven of all sins — past, present and future. Then our relationship with Him forever changes from being children of Wrath to children of God. That is, our position in Christ is what changes because we are now adopted into God’s family and He sees us as He sees Jesus. If we sin, we can then appeal to His forgiveness and be cleansed so we can return to fellowship with Him.
Please pray this prayer with me: Father, I humbly come before you now, recognizing that You are pure and I am a sinner in need of redemption. I am hopeless without You and cannot possibly make up for all the sins I’ve committed in my life and will continue to commit. The only way I can be cleansed is by the shed blood of Calvary which you poured out on my behalf. I ask you now to forgive me of all my sins so I can be redeemed and come into a right relationship with You. I rejoice that provision has been made for my forgiveness through Your Precious Son and my Saviour. Thank You for your wonderful Gift of Grace I can have through faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you have prayed this prayer earnestly, you are now a new Christian who has been adopted into God’s family and the Holy Spirit now indwells you. You have been justified by His Grace through faith. Alleluia!
After justification comes sanctification. That is, we need to start growing in Christ so we can learn to be good for His service. But just as a new baby who comes into the world, maturity takes time and it is a process. So at first, we feed on the “milk” of the Word because we cannot handle strong meat. (1Pet. 2:2 ; Heb. 5:12-14) As we go through our daily Walk in Christ, we learn more about Him and what He expects of us. As we grow and learn, we utilize the spiritual gifts He gives us more deeply. The Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God and the character of Christ to us so it makes sense. We progress in sanctification when we learn to abide in Him (John 15:4) and remain steadfast to the end. (1John 5:5) God supplies everything we need so we can live the Christian life. One thing is certain: we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength or by our flesh, it won’t happen as our human resources are bankrupt. We have to be completely dependent on God’s resources to live out the Christian life. So it is important to learn to develop a good prayer life and keep good communications going with the Lord. He wants to hear from us and give us direction in our relationship with Him. Another part of the Sanctification process is to obey God by sharing Jesus with others. This is the Great Commission that was given to Jesus’ disciples (and thus to all of us), and we are all supposed to do our part in witnessing to the lost so they will not end up in hell. (Mark 16:15)
After our time is up on this planet, either because the Rapture of the Church has taken place or because we’ve died and come into the presence of God, we will come to the place of Glory. If we’ve been raptured (caught up), our bodies will be glorified so we will no longer be dealing with human limitations and sorrows. If we have died prior to the Rapture, we will experience the Resurrection at the Rapture. Our spirits will unite with our bodies and we’ll be given a glorified body. (1Cor. 15:50-57) We will still be the same people, but glorified. We will live forever in our new bodies with no more corruption. Until that time, if we’ve died, we will be in the presence of God and enjoying eternal bliss but without our body.
Folks, we need to get ready for Eternity NOW, because every one of us will face Eternity after we leave this planet…whether we want to face that or not. We are not guaranteed a thing in this life, and we have absolutely no security without Jesus. Without Him, we will face eternal doom. (Luke 16:19-31) Anything can happen at any time: an unfortunate accident, an illness, or some other circumstance can cause us to die unexpectedly. If we are not prepared, then what? We will be condemned forever, simply because we did not deal with our sins while we had the chance! I tell you the truth, Jesus loves us deeply and does not want that to happen! Hell is a horrible place and a very real place, which is why Jesus talked about it so often as a warning. It is the place reserved for the Devil and his angels, so that includes all those who have rejected Him and His wonderful offer of Grace. (Matt. 25:41-46) None of us have any excuse to reject Him. (Rom. 1:20) Once we go there, we are there forever and there will be no escape. (Heb. 9:27) Those who have chosen to reject the great offer of Salvation and eternal life, will find themselves facing the Lord on Judgment Day and being rejected by Him. (Matt. 7:22-23; Rev. 20:11-15) That will be a horrible experience enough. But imagine, if you will, the Lord ordering to have you tossed forever into a Lake of Fire? The Lake of Fire is not some imaginary place…it is a real place. Remember, we are all created by God to live eternally: it will be in one of two places. No one is annihilated as that is an unbiblical doctrine devised by man with no foundation. God creates man in His own image: with an eternal spirit that never dies. So everyone who has ever been created will eventually be resurrected. There will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust. (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:33-46) That means those who end up in the Lake of Fire will have to endure unimaginable agony for ever and ever! Why? So God’s justice will be done and He will be vindicated of all unrighteousness by those who have insulted Him through pride, arrogance, hate, lying, greed, immorality, detestable acts of the flesh, deception, indifference, etc. Sin, in God’s eyes, is that dark and that offensive. Those who persist in it are the Children of Satan who have the character of Satan and they will be dealt with. Satan and his cohorts are not in charge and they are already defeated, but those who continue to do evil just don’t know it yet! However, there will come a day when sudden destruction will happen to those who are unprepared. (1Thess. 5:3) When that day comes, it will be too late for them. And I have not even touched on the horrors of the seven years of Tribulation under the Antichrist, which those who are Christians and belong to Christ will not have to endure! (1Thess. 1:10) You can check out my article on the Judgments of the Tribulation to see the details of what life will be like for the unbeliever. You won’t want to go through this, so it’s best to take heed now to avoid that misery, because it will happen sooner than you may expect!
I tell you this so you can be really clear on what your choice should be. This is the most important decision you can ever make in your life. When it’s all said and done, where will secular humanism, atheism, political correctness, or any present day heresies or philosophies be? What will happen to the relationship, the friends, the job, the promotion, the car, the house, the bank account, the vacations, the personal entertainment, the parties, the night clubs, the alcohol, or other symbols of the flesh we put so much stock in during this life? It is like the chaff which the wind driveth away. The Lord and His firm foundation based on His Word is the only thing that will last forever and that we can count on to bring us eternal joy. Let us choose to live for God, therefore, and make wise decisions that will glorify Him rather than serving self, which is eternal death.