The Power of His Resurrection # 1
Philippians the third chapter and verse ten: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"
There are obviously four statements in this verse:
First, "that I may know Him."
Second, "and the power of His resurrection."
Third, "the fellowship of His suffering."
Fourth, "being made conformable unto His death."
Paul is writing here to the saints at Philippi. Philippi was named by Alexander the Great for his father, Philip. We are told that this was really the birth place of the Roman Empire because of a battle fought here and won. But Paul is considering in this epistle something infinitely greater than any perishing empire of men.
It is wonderful, to me anyhow, that here is this aged man ... battle scarred and worn, but notice his prayer:
his aspiration never dies
his vision never becomes dim,
the fever on his spirit never, in any way, got dull
He does not pray to be released from prison ... he might have done that.
He does not pray even that he might have a ministry here... though I am sure he aspired to that.
He does not pray that his body may be healed ... I am sure that though he was not diseased, he was possibly terribly weak by the suffering he'd endured.
His aspiration is this: First, that I may know Him.
Usually the text gets that weight put on it: That I may know Him, and sometimes, the other part: The power of His resurrection.
Now, there is no question, at least in my mind, about this:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the standard of power in the New Testament.
What is there after that? ... It is the miracle of miracles! I don't think an Easter Sunday goes by, indeed it does not, in that I am not reminded of just a little phrase from an old hymn: "Today he rose and left the dead, and satan's empire fell." Sometimes I hear people say: "Lord, destroy the work of the devil."
He has already destroyed the work of the devil!
The proof, the standard of God's power in the New Testament is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The standard of God's power in the Old Testament was the deliverance of the people of Israel through the Red Sea which brought them finally into the land of promise. In the Old Testament the miracle is the raising of a dead nation, because they were in captivity, in Egypt, which is a type of the world. They were under the dominion of Pharaoh, which is a type of the devil, and they were brought as the Word of God says, "God called them with a strong hand. He delivered them with a strong hand and a stretched out arm."
All the way from Moses to Malachi there is a constant referring to "Look what God did when He delivered Israel." Now, is anything bigger than that? Have you got a problem bigger than that? Can you imagine anything that demands on God more than that? So,
He delivered them.
He brought them out of captivity.
He snapped their fetters, and
He led them by His own hand and His own arm.
In the New Testament the standard miracle, the standard of God's power, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Then, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, there is of course the resurrection of the individual from the dead. We are told so again and again. Ephesians 2 for instance says: "You have been quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins." Now, he does not say that we will die. He says that we were dead. And the same miracle power that raised up Jesus from the dead to the power that raised us up from the dead.
You know, I don't think it put any strain on God to make the words. He just created it. It did not put any strain on God to create light. He just spoke the word and said: "Let there be light," and there was light. But I am going to suggest to you that in a sense it put a strain on God to raise Jesus from the dead. In the sense that it tells us in Ephesians what is"the exceeding greatness of His power to us all who believe according to the working of His mighty power when He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set as His own right hand in heavenly places." There is an awful lot of energy there! He says: "the exceeding greatness." You see, there are measures of God's power exerted through the Word of God. Sometimes a thing doesn't even cost God as much power as others. But it says here: "the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe according to the working of His mighty power which He WROUGHT in Christ when He raised Him from the dead."
There was a very tragic thing happened during the past week. A young couple with a very beautiful child discovered the child missing. Sounded an alarm. Eventually they received a phone call to say that the child will be returned unharmed for JUST a couple of million dollars. The child happened to be the grandchild of one of the great tycoons in South America. A man who has made multi-millions of dollars out of tins. Immediately contact was made with him and of course he got everybody stirred up about this awful tragedy that happened in Europe. A child had been stolen. The demand was two million dollars. He said: "We'll pay it." Now, do you think it took any energy for that man to reach over and take his check book and, having ten million dollars just write out a check for two million dollars? That demands no energy, only to write the check. But what I am going to suggest is that there was nothing in writing the check. There were awful anxieties and problems in his spirit, in his mind, everything was tormenting him. When he thought about all the possibilities that there were in getting that child back.
To interpret that this way: God said, "let there be light," and there was light. But I don't think He said, 'let there be Calvary,' and there was Calvary. You are dealing here with moral and spiritual principles. You are dealing with the powers of darkness. Now, Jesus Christ was a Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. And I think again that we forget so much of the agony of the Father from the time Jesus left the ivory palaces to come into a world of woe. The loneliness was on the behalf of the Father, because He had no one in heaven with whom He could communicate. And He sees His Friend going there to the Cross. His Son is going to bear the whole sin of the whole world. There is only one way to do it ... as the hymn writer says: "Thou didst not spare Thine only Son, but gavest Him for a world undone." But you see, Calvary is the expression of the love of God.
Calvary expressed the love of God.
The resurrection explains the power of God.
You think about all the colossal Epistles that Paul has written. He's got the most amazing track record of any man that has ever lived outside of Jesus:
He has raised the dead, he has opened the eyes of the blind, he has cast out demons, he has written more epistles than all the other men put together. AND YET HE SAYS: "I WANT TO KNOW HIM."
It isn't that he does not know Him; he says there is a fuller revelation of Him. I've been thinking about this text for a few days. Then I read a letter from an old friend - he is 96 years old now - and it just fits right in with what I had been thinking. He said, "Ravenhill, I have been thinking about that word were Paul says "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." "No look", he said, "for sixty years I've been trying to fathom that, but I do not understand the mystery of it. There is something there I can't unearth."
It reminded me of when we were in Ireland. There was a little godly man by the name of Busby in a town called Dungannon. He was a strange character for sure; that is why he liked me, because we were both strange. He had a marvelous ministry of prayer and healing. One day we went to his little house, it wasn't much more than a shack, and he said: "Well, I've got it, I've got it." "You got what?" Remember I told you there is no water around here?" He had started digging a well four feet in diameter. It was a heart breaking job, but he is a muscular man. He had been a weight lifter, though he was only about five feet high and had a tremendous physique. He went down fourteen feet and then he came to a slab of rock. As hard as any rock you ever saw in your life. And his friend said: "Well, Smarty, there you are. What are you going to do now?" He said: "Shift the rock. It's a plug. And when I pull that plug the water is going to come." He just turned that rock on one side and water poured out of the well fast enough.
You know, when I read what my old friend said I thought: that right. There is something in this word resurrection that as yet we have not fathomed. There is a plug here if you like, we've got to lift it and discover what there is lying underneath it.
Look again at Paul. Man I would be intoxicated with joy if I had a ministry like it! I get people sometimes who say: "You wrote me a letter; it turned my life around." Well, I thank God I can be His servant in that ... But Paul has written letters that turned millions of lives around. Starving people have gone to his epistles and found strength. Thirsty people have gone and found something to drink. The weak have gone and found energy in them. The hopeless have gone and found hope. People that were just at the end of their tether suddenly started to live because this man had an inspiration. Yet he says: "despite that, you won't spoil me. I may have written epistles, I may have raised the dead, but let me tell you something I want to aspire: I want to know Him, and I want to reach out in life. I want to know my resurrection Life." You see, no other religion in the world has a resurrection. This is the crowning miracle of God. Paul builds like a pyramid upside down with all his epistles. Fourteen if you count Hebrews as his. And putting Hebrews at the top, he turns them all over and balances them on a fine point saying: "with all I've given you ... about the mercy of God, the majesty of God, predestination, all the future, ALL is balanced on one thing: THE RESURRECTION. And if there is no resurrection you are through, you are yet in your sins!"
Well, what is unique about it? Other folk had experienced resurrection. Didn't Jesus raise people up from the dead? Yes, He did. Because He said: "I AM the resurrection." The resurrection isn't part of my theology, the resurrection IS A PERSON.
(continued with # 2)