How do we know God will raise us from the dead?

God’s speciality is raising dead people, like Lazarus, Dorcas, and those who came out of their graves after Christ died. We’ve also got Colossians 3:1 that says we’ve ALL been raised with Christ, and Ephesians 2:5-6 that we’ve all been made alive in Christ and we live in the heavenly realms already.

So God loves raising dead people, which is good to know because “We were dead in transgressions,” Ephesians 2:5, we lived in “bodies of death,” Romans 7:24, we were “dead because of sin,” Romans 8:10, and we were totally under the power of “the law of sin and death,” Romans 8:2.

But to those who accept this is the awful state they’re in, there’s hope. How? In Jesus Christ, because “If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection,” Romans 6:5. To accept that Jesus took us all with him to his death to free us from the law of sin and death (verses 6-7) is to realize he took us all with him in his resurrection too. And what happens then? Verse 11 – “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead raises us from the completely dead state we are in too.

So it’s great being dead, because raising people from the dead is God’s speciality. He loves it when we’ve finally reached the stage “we despaired even of life” and “felt the sentence of death,” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, because we’re at the point (at last) we can experience something truly extraordinary – mentioned in the last part of verse 9 – “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” When we’re at the end of our rope and we cry out to God for help, that’s when we experience God himself lifting us out of our despair and hopelessness. And after we experience that a few times, it dawns on us that this is how God works. This is his speciality. This is what he’s brilliant at. And this is what he loves doing any chance he gets.

Paul gained so much confidence from God rescuing him from his pits of death that he knew in the future “he will deliver us” too, verse 10. But that’s what this life is for, it’s to experience the proof again and again that God raises the dead, so that there’s no doubt in our minds that when we die our final death, he’ll raise us from that death too.

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Is Jesus alive right now?

Jesus had better be alive right now because “he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies,” Romans 8:11. God raising Christ is the proof he’ll raise us. It’s also vital that Jesus is alive because HE’s the one who resurrects us, John 5:21, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” Jesus being alive is both the proof and the source of our being raised from the dead.

And if he ISN’T alive? Well, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins,” and in verses 14, 15 and 19, “our preaching is useless,” we’re “false witnesses about God” for saying he “raised Christ from the dead,” and “we are to be pitied more than all men,” because we put all our hope and trust in Christ for nothing.

It’s critical to both our credibility and belief, therefore, that Christ is alive, but how do we prove he’s alive? Well, Paul continues, it’s easy to prove that God “did NOT raise Jesus,” verse 15 – the proof being? “IF IN FACT THE DEAD ARE NOT RAISED,” verse 15. We’ve got no evidence at all that Jesus was raised from the dead if people aren’t being raised from the dead, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either,” verse 16.

So where’s the evidence that dead people are being raised?

Look no further than our own experience, Paul says, because “you were dead,” Ephesians 2:1. Remember what our lives were like before we became Christians? Our lives were utterly useless – we simply “followed the ways of this world” and the “spirit” that ruled the culture, verse 2, merely “gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts,” verse 3. We were dead fish floating downstream with all the other dead fish, living for ourselves in a useless, dead existence, and at death we disappeared, as though we’d never existed at all.

“But,” verse 4, “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” God raised us up out of that dead existence to a life of “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” There’s our proof that God is raising people from the dead: He’s raising human beings from a dead existence to a completely new life. And it also proves Jesus is alive too, because it’s only being “alive in Christ” that made it possible.

“You’re forgiven, you’re forgiven!”

I wonder how many kids grow up in homes (and schools) where they’re constantly yelled at and punished for making mistakes. I wonder how it affects them in later life, too.

I know how it affected me, because much of my childhood was spent in a British Boarding school and I have vivid memories of how I was treated. I remember being locked in a room for bad behaviour and being left in total isolation, and many times being hauled out of bed at midnight to stand outside in the corridor, shivering with cold for hours. And during my teenage I was constantly being punished, the punishment sometimes extending for weeks.

I learnt that the only way adults could deal with my lapses and stupidity was by punishment. They weren’t the least bit interested in my apologies or explanations for my behaviour, and there was never a hint of forgiveness. The only time I remember an adult even mildly accepting my apology and reason for my behaviour, the punishment was meted out anyway. So I assumed that even if I was forgiven, I’d still be punished.

Not surprisingly then, when I became a Dad, I thought this was the way I should deal with my own children. I based my relationship with them on their behaviour. I didn’t forgive easily, if at all, until I realized how God operates. It was an eye-opener! All I could hear from God’s word was, “You’re forgiven, you’re forgiven!” Every stupid mistake I’d made, every lousy action I’d done, every rotten mood I’d ever been in, all of them had been erased by Christ’s death and wiped from God’s memory forever, Hebrews 8:12.

Years of guilt and self-loathing evaporated in seconds. My head was clear of it. It was so freeing that when I heard a crash in the kitchen and found my granddaughter cowering in the corner, crying her eyes out because she’d broken one of our dishes, I knew exactly what to do. I grabbed her by the shoulders and I yelled at her, “You’re forgiven, you’re forgiven!”

The effect was electric. She looked up at me, stopped crying, and said, “OK,” and off she went, as happy as can be. It was amazing. I’d never experienced the power of forgiveness on someone else like that before. Her mind was completely cleared of all guilt and self-loathing and off she scampered as if the incident had never happened.

“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven,” Jesus said in Matthew 9:2 – or – “Cheer up, kiddo, it’s already forgotten.” Imagine growing up in a home (and a school, and a church) like that.