“So what reality are you living in?”

Asked that question rather bluntly (as above), what would you say? My immediate thought was what I’m going through right now. That’s my reality; it’s having to deal with family, job and health needs, and the reality of living in a world that’s getting crazier by the minute pressing in on me mentally, emotionally and financially. 

But what’s a Christian’s answer to that question? 

Scripture tells us we’re living in two realities: the reality of living in this “present evil age” (Galatians 1:4), but also the reality of being “hidden with Christ” now too (Colossians 3:3). As Christians, then, we’re living in two worlds at the same time. On the one hand, we’ve “been raised with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6), but on the other hand, Jesus prayed that we not be taken “out of the world” (John 17:15). So, we’re stuck here in this world still, but we’ve also been raised into the world where Jesus is. 

But why would God do that to us? Why leave us in this world when Jesus’ resurrection lifted us into his world? Surely, it would be better to get us out of this world into the eternal security of Jesus’ world, so this world doesn’t overwhelm us. 

It’s a dilemma, echoed by Paul in Philippians 1:23-24 when he wrote, “I am torn between the two; I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” – and stay in this reality here. 

So Paul would agree that, yes, it would be “better by far” to “be with Christ” forever in his world – but – he also realized there was a purpose in him staying in this world, and a reason why Jesus prayed for us to remain here physically too. And Paul gives us the reason too, in verse 20, “that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.” 

This was the reality Paul “always” lived in, that while he was still in his physical body Christ would be honoured and magnified – or “more accurately known,” as one translation phrases it. And who would Paul be doing this for? “For you,” he said in verse 24. Paul lived to see people grasp the greatness of Jesus. And it worked in Ephesus, because “the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour” (Acts 19:17). 

This was why it was “necessary” for Paul to “remain in the body,” as he phrased it, so that in how he spoke and acted he could be a visible reflection of Jesus to people. If Paul, then, had been asked just as bluntly, “So what reality are you living in?” he would likely have replied, “The reality of reflecting Jesus in my life, so people get to see and understand just how great he is.”  

But if asked, “How is that possible? How can you accurately reflect Jesus when you aren’t Jesus?” Paul could handily reply, “Ah, but I live in another reality too, that of being raised with Jesus where he fills me with himself (Colossians 2:10).” 

This explains why we live in two realities at the same time. We remain in this reality so people get to see how great Jesus is in us, but we also experience the reality of Jesus filling us with himself so people CAN see Jesus in us. And that second reality becomes more real as Jesus does fill us with himself, and we sense we really are reflecting him more accurately in how we speak and act.

And to think that God set it up this way, that while we remain in these physical bodies of ours, Jesus is being made real in us. And that’s the reality we Christians are living in. 

Is sorcery just as real today?

It never ceases to amaze me how a leader can pretty well say and do anything he likes, including blatant hypocrisy and lies – and be rocked by numerous scandals too – and yet people still fawn all over him.

It doesn’t matter if he’s a fat slob living in luxury, or if he presents himself as a caring person while making it obvious he cares for nothing but his own quest for power and control. It’s as if he’s cast a spell on people, bewitching them into sycophantic flattery and total submission.  

There are many such leaders littered through history, but they’re just as real today. So how is it that these abhorrent and tyrannical leaders are able to command such power and devotion, and make people so fearful that they daren’t say a word against them? 

Two clues from Scripture came to mind to explain how. The first was Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 who “amazed (mesmerized) the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great,” verse 9. What drove Simon was wanting god-like status, and he was given the power of magic to make it happen, which very much fits the definition of sorcery as “the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits.” Well, with that kind of power behind him it’s no wonder that Simon could hypnotize people into total adoration (verses 10-11).  

The second clue is Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13, a deliberate deceiver and liar, who knew what was right and true, but twisted it into making it seem evil instead (verse 10). And that, to Paul, made Elymas “a child of the devil.” Elymas’ ability to so convincingly deceive and lie clearly revealed that he too had the “assistance of evil spirits.”

But Paul did warn us that such devilish people would exist, even “masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light,” and “his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness,” 2 Corinthians 11:13-14. Which can feel very frightening, having people wielding such power over us, but Paul did add in verse 15, that “Their end will be what their actions deserve.” Rest assured, there’s a power far greater than the most cunning deceivers, who won’t let their evil go on forever.    

Peter advised Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:22, therefore, to “Repent of this wickedness” and “Perhaps God will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.” Drop the facade, Simon, in other words, and admit who and what you really are, because the power that’s so much greater than you does forgive, so that you won’t have to receive what your actions deserve. But be advised to get that repentance done soon, so there’s no need to worry when the axe will inevitably fall (Matthew 3:10). 

How well does God know us? 

I like to think God has always known us, because it’s his “pleasure and will,” Ephesians 1:5, “to adopt us as his sons (or children).” And that’s not something I see God taking lightly, nor does any parent when planning to adopt a child. Knowing that child really well is very serious and very personal. 

Human parents, however, may decide to adopt a child later in life, due to circumstances, like not being able to conceive a child naturally. But with God he “predestined” us to be his adopted children “before the creation of the world,” verse 4. That’s an interesting phrase, because Jesus also used it to describe “the glory you (Father) have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world,” John 17:24

So, at what point before the creation of the world did the Father begin loving his Son? Was it just before the world existed, or a billion years earlier, or what? Well, the Father has always loved his Son, right? They’ve been Father and Son for eternity (John 10:30). “Before the creation of the world,” then, is really a term meaning “forever.” And Jesus himself supports that too, when he prays back in John 17:5, “now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” In other words, “Can we now get back to what you and I, Father, always had together before this physical creation existed?”

Adopting us as his children, therefore, has always been God’s plan, but has he always known us individually and by name too? It’s not beyond his realm of possibility, because he tells Isaiah that he “makes known the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). So God has the ability to know everything before it even exists. He could know us individually and by name too, then, couldn’t he? And there are hints of that very personal knowledge he has of us when he tells Jeremiah, “I knew you before you were born” (Jeremiah 1:5). The same is said of Paul too (Galatians 1:15), and of David (Psalm 139:16), and of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1). God knew all these men before they existed, they were that real to him. 

But that’s not so strange on our human level either. A couple dreaming of having children picture having a baby boy or baby girl, and what type of personality each may have, and what names to give them that fit their ancestry and personality. Their children become very real and very personal to them, long before they’re born. Such is the power of their dream of having children. 

But are we not God’s “dream” too? According to Paul in verse 5 we are God’s “pleasure and will.” Does he not think about us individually too, then, long before we’re born? And especially when he knows what he’s got in store for us, like “blessing us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” verse 3

All this is God’s dream, which Jesus knew and prayed about in John 17:24 too, that one day we’ll all be a huge family experiencing being loved by the Father forever like Jesus has always been loved by him. 

So, if we’re loved that much, God must know us extremely well.   

What does it take to redeem a human being?

To begin with we humans had nothing that needed redeeming. But in the span of just two chapters in Genesis we lost everything. And it’s what we lost that God is redeeming. He’s restoring us back to what we had in the Garden of Eden. 

So what did we have back then? In Adam we see that humans had three things: a SPIRIT that enables us to relate to God who is spirit, a MIND that enables us to think and decide for ourselves, and a BODY that enables us to function independently. Put all three together – spirit, mind and body – and they perfectly equipped us humans to become God’s very own children, capable of fulfilling his purpose for his creation with wisdom and love, and in bodies that could last forever.  

I imagine God took whatever time was needed, therefore, to get all this into Adam’s head so that Adam was fully aware of what God had created him with, and what for. He also gave Adam a perfect companion in Eve to talk all this over with, and with their offspring discover just what God had in mind in creating such a world to live in.  

But all that was lost when a crafty creature told Adam and Eve that God was not being truthful with them. And, first of all, it affected their spirit that had given them their wonderful, open relationship with God, because now they wanted to hide from him instead. It affected their minds too, because they felt guilt and fear, and they were embarrassed about being naked. And instead of their bodies living forever, their bodies would die. So in spirit, mind and body they were dealt a fatal blow.

But a fatal blow forever? No, because Jesus took that fatal blow on himself as a human being, by being hit in his spirit, mind and body too. 

Jesus was hit in his spirit, for instance, when he cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” For those few shattering moments his relationship with God was lost. And in the agonizing hours before the cross, his mind was so distressed he appealed to his disciples to pray for him, something he’d never done before. He even resorted to begging God to change his plan. But as God willed, Jesus went to the cross and the death of his body. In spirit, mind and body, then, Jesus experienced the loss of all three as a human too, because that’s what it took to redeem us from the fatal blow on our spirit, mind and body that evil and our disobedience had inflicted on us. But that’s not all that his sacrifice did for us; it also set the scene for the Holy Spirit to restore us in our spirit, mind and body as well. 

We see that in Romans 8. In verse 16, for instance, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children,” so it’s through the Holy Spirit that our relationship with God is restored. And in verse 6, “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace,” so the Holy Spirit restores our minds as well. And then in verse 11, “life” is given “to your mortal bodies through his Spirit,” so “the redemption of our bodies” is included in the work of the Holy Spirit too, verse 23.

So in spirit, mind and body the Holy Spirit is restoring us back to what we humans had in the Garden of Eden – with one major addition in verse 26, that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” We now have the Holy Spirit “interceding for us with groans that words cannot express,” so that we are “in accordance with God’s will,” verse 27. And that’s hugely important, because it was NOT being in accordance with God’s will that caused the loss of everything we humans had in Eden. 

In answering the question, then, “What does it take to redeem a human being (and restore us back in spirit, mind and body to what we had)?” – it took Jesus experiencing what we lost, or “personally taking on our human condition,” verse 3 (The Message), and now it takes the moment by moment dedication of the Holy Spirit helping us to trust and obey God, so that we don’t do what Adam and Eve did.  

“God has the power to stop evil, so why doesn’t he?” 

It’s a good time of year to ask that question, because the traditional Christian celebration of Pentecost gives us an answer. 

Jesus told his disciples in Luke 24:49, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” So the disciples are going to receive “power” – but power to do what, exactly? 

They’re about to find out, because only a few weeks later on “the day of Pentecost” in Acts 2:1 “they were all together in one place” when “Suddenly,” verse 2, “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind filled the whole house where they were sitting,” and “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit,” verse 4. And in verse 38, this same Holy Spirit was also promised to anyone who acknowledged that through Jesus all their sins had been forgiven: “You (too) will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Peter said. 

So, first of all, we have Jesus’ disciples being “clothed with power from on high” as promised, and now the same promise being opened up to “you and your children and for all who are far off,” verse 39. It’s obviously important, then, that the power of the Holy Spirit be given to people, but what for?

That’s answered by Peter in verse 40, when he “pleaded” with his listeners, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Or as another translation phrases it, Peter “urged them over and over, ‘Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture.’” Peter repeated that later too, in 2 Peter 1:4, when he wrote that God “has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 

In answer to the question, then, as to why God, who has the power to stop evil, doesn’t stop it, Peter offers us an answer: God IS stopping evil, by giving US the power to stop it. And what better solution to evil is there, than that? God could, of  course, just blast evil people into oblivion, or sizzle to a crisp anyone thinking an evil thought, but if he did that how many of us would be left? Not me, for a start, because I know what unsavoury thoughts I have toward neighbours whose dogs never stop barking, or toward politicians who lie through their teeth. 

And doesn’t that illustrate the source of evil? It’s what’s going on inside our own heads, just as Jesus said in Mark 7:23, that “All evils come from inside” us. Conquer what’s inside us on a worldwide scale, then, and evil would be eradicated, which is exactly what God had in mind on Pentecost, to give us the chance at last to eradicate evil right at its source, inside ourselves.

The problem with that is the massive influence of the sick and stupid culture we’re stuck in. But “You, dear children,” John writes in 1 John 4:4, “are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 

We have the power IN us, then, to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,” Romans 12:2, and instead “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I can have a mind that can see through the sick and stupid thinking of the culture, and therefore not be taken in or influenced by it. 

So in answer to the question in the title, God IS using his power to stop evil, through his promise of the Holy Spirit filling people with his nature instead. 

Is the Holy Spirit real? 

Is the Holy Spirit real personally, that is? Historically, the Holy Spirit has been extremely real, witness Luke’s detailed journal in the book of Acts. In Acts 2, for instance, he recorded the dramatic arrival of the Holy Spirit to a crowd of thousands in Jerusalem, who saw and felt it. And in Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit spoke to the church in Antioch – and to Paul personally in Acts 20:23. So to all these people there was no doubt the Holy Spirit was real.

But how is the Holy Spirit real to us today? According to Jesus in John 14:16-17, the Father gives us “the Spirit of truth” and we will “know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” The word “know” tells me the Holy Spirit is meant to be real to us, but HOW do we know it’s the Spirit? Are there clear identifiable signs, for instance, that help us know it’s the Spirit? 

Jesus answered that for us in verse 26, when he said, “the Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Well, that’s an easily identifiable sign of the Holy Spirit: it’s finding ourselves with a concentrated focus on Jesus and what he taught, because we believe it’s only in his teachings that “all things” about our human existence are made plain. And that’s observably different, because who today believes that Jesus is the only source of all truth, and only he has the solution to (and the explanation for) all our human problems? Any politicians you know who believe that? Any corporate heads? Any highly credentialed academics? Any religious leaders? Any city councillors? Any neighbours, or even family members? Few there be, I imagine, which isn’t meant as a criticism, but as evidence that there are very observable and noticeable differences we can clue into that identify the Holy Spirit as real in our lives.

Jesus also demonstrated in his own life what those observable and noticeable differences are – things like his deep love and respect for his Father and never straying from his instructions, and his deep love and respect for his fellow humans too, and especially the marginalized and ignorant. He also bristled at anyone who didn’t respect his Father, or didn’t care for others. If we feel the same way, therefore, we can take that as clear evidence of the Holy Spirit being real in our lives too. 

There’s obviously something very different happening in our heads – and noticeably in the heads of many non-Christians too – who also take what Jesus taught seriously and try their best to live good lives, even if it means going against the flow of the culture and being criticized and picked on for it. It is surely evidence of the Holy Spirit being “with” them, because they too are observably (and pleasantly) different. 

But Jesus went one step further, because he talked about the Holy Spirit being “IN” us, and in such a way we’ll “know” that too. So, what’s the difference, then, between the Holy Spirit being “with” us, and the Holy Spirit being “in” us? 

Jesus gave us a clue in the next verse, John 14:27, when he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” 

That’s enlightening, because no matter how much the Holy Spirit has been “with” people, the history of the human race has shown that peace has always been beyond our reach. But verse 27 tells us that Jesus put peace within our reach personally. And Romans 8 tells us how: it’s  through the Holy Spirit (the source of peace, verse 6) living “IN” us, verse 9

So, what does the Spirit living “in” us actually do to make this peace real? According to verse 16, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children,” and when that dawns on us it surely has to make a huge difference in how we react to our human dilemmas, both personal and global. Because as God’s very own children in his mighty and loving care  we have nothing to fear, which is exactly what Jesus said back in John 14:27 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” 

But how is that possible in a world like ours, with crisis after crisis feeding fear and anxiousness? It isn’t. So if we, personally, are becoming less fearful and anxious, because in the depths of our being we know we’re safe in our Father’s care, isn’t that what helps us know for certain that the Holy Spirit is real and very much “living in us”?   

“So that Christ’s power may rest on me”

The quote above is by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, which reminded me WHY Jesus was resurrected from the dead: it’s so that we can experience his power resting on us. And why do we need such help and protection? The context tells us.

In verse 7 Paul explains. He needed Christ’s power to “keep me from becoming conceited,” or to protect him from becoming proud and getting big ideas about himself (verse 6). And why is that important? Because, verse 9, God told Paul “my power is made perfect in weakness.” And because God knows that to be true, Paul “was given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet him,” verse 7. In other words, God purposely allowed Satan to weaken Paul, just like he allowed Satan to weaken Job.  

And he’s given us a world that weakens us too, right? We face endless uncertainty and powerlessness on so many fronts, caused by power and money hungry corporations, media propaganda and lies, and dithering politicians mandating policies that damage our youngsters and pit us against each other. We are puppets exploited by the rich, creating mass hypnosis, neurotic fears, and serious mental problems, all of which we have little to no control over, that leave us feeling weak, helpless and scared.  

And God allows this to happen, and even deliberately causes it? Well, yes, according to Scripture, but at least he tells us why. It’s because he’s motivated by grace (verse 9), that in allowing us to be weakened by a satanically driven world, this is the most effective way we experience God perfecting his strength and power in us. And as Paul explains in verse 10, it is also “for Christ’s sake,” because this is what Jesus in his death and resurrection made possible for us. He opened up a completely new world for us to experience, that operates in radically opposite ways to this world, so that instead of us feeling weak, helpless and scared, we “delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties,” verse 10.  

This was Jesus’ experience too. By emptying himself to be battered by Satan and his world, he too got to experience his Father perfecting his strength and power in him, so that “for the joy set before him” he “endured the cross and scorned its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). And now Jesus has flung the doors open to that kind of joy and power being available to us too.

But lurking in the shadows is the one devilish enemy that can destroy that. It’s conceit and pride in our own strength, and directing our energies to making us think and feel we’re strong too, to give us reason to boast, brag and even believe we are the infallible elite. It’s the kind of conceit that scoffs at other people’s weaknesses, loves judging others as inferior and stupid, looks down on others as merely populist rabble, delights in others’ failures, and complains at every set back to its ambitions and self-image.  

And Paul could have been a conceited boaster like that too. He had tons of reasons for bragging about what he’d accomplished – and what he’d survived (2 Corinthians 11:21-28). “But,” 2 Corinthians 12:6, “I refrain (from doing that), so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.” He much preferred boasting about the “things that show my weaknesses,” 2 Corinthians 11:30 – like readily admitting he was driven way beyond his strength and ability to cope (2 Corinthians 1:8). 

So why was Paul like that? Because he looked to Jesus as his example, who was “humble and obedient to death,” Philippians 2:8, and “God exalted him to the highest place,” verse 9. So this is how human’s deadliest and most devilish enemy is beaten. It isn’t by strength it’s by weakness and humility, because when Jesus was at his lowest ebb and he couldn’t cope either, that’s when he called upon his Father’s strength – and got it (Hebrews 5:7).  

And now we’re up against “the dark powers of this world” too, that are far more powerful than we are, but call on God and his grace for the strength just to survive another day, and he answers. That was Jesus’ experience and Paul’s experience, and now our chance to prove it true as well. And what a punch in the devil’s face that is. So he hits back, like he did with Paul. But all that did was get Paul to call out for more of “Christ’s power to rest on him,” and again God answered. He learnt, therefore – just like we do, and so did Jesus – that “when we are weak, that’s when we are strong.”   

How do we know God will raise US from the dead too?

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? Romans 8:11, “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.

“God who raises the dead” – today and every day

The above (in inverted commas) is a quote from 2 Corinthians 1:9. It’s in the context of Paul feeling like death because the pressure had been so great for both him and those travelling with him (verses 8-9). Jesus went through the same thing when he too was reduced to “loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death,” Hebrews 5:7. And king David too when he talked about “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” in Psalm 23:4.  

But in all three of these men’s lives the “death” they were begging rescue and relief from wasn’t physical death. Paul, for instance, was totally ready “to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). And in one city, where he’d been dumped outside as if dead after being stoned, he went straight back in and carried on preaching (Acts 14:19-20). He even wanted “to become like Jesus in his death,” Philippians 3:10. Physical death, then, wasn’t what he, Jesus or David, feared or wanted escape from.   

But what Paul also wanted to experience was “the power of Jesus’ resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). So when buffeted by “a messenger of Satan to torment me” in 2 Corinthians 12:7, he “boasted all the more gladly” about his “weaknesses,” because he’d discovered by then he would experience “Christ’s power resting on me,” verse 9 – and many times too, according to 2 Corinthians 1:10

And this was the context in which Paul spoke about “God, who raises the dead” in the previous verse, verse 9. It was the experience of Christ’s power getting him through and out of “despairing even of life” and “feeling the sentence of death,” verses 8-9

And this was Jesus’ experience too, because God heard his cries for help and by answering him every time taught Jesus the same lesson he taught Paul that, no matter how tough the suffering got, he could totally trust God to see him through (2 Corinthians 1:10 and Hebrews 5:7). And there was history to back it up too, because “In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed,” Psalm 22:4-5. They too, as Paul would phrase it, were “raised from the dead.” 

David experienced it too, because in the depths of his despair at having disobeyed God so blatantly, to the point of begging God not to “cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” in Psalm 51:11, he was lifted out of his misery, knowing God could “restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me,” verse 12. In other words, he trusted God to raise him from the dead too. 

So, can this be our experience too? 

A resounding “Yes” according to Ephesians 2, because we were all in the same boat of being “dead in our transgressions and sins,” verse 1, but “in God’s great love for us, he made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions,” verses 4-5, and “he raised us up with Christ (from our dead state) and seated us with him in the heavenly realms,” verse 6. So we’ve already been raised from the dead and are now experiencing being made alive, so that we can be “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” verse 10

And when are those good works being done? In this lifetime of ours right now, which is why we can say, and from our own experience too, “God who raises the dead – today and every day.”

What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make?

If the Biblical record is true that Jesus came back from the dead and actually appeared in human form to hundreds of his followers, some amazing things should have happened, right?

Well, billions of Christians since that time is pretty amazing. Without Jesus’ resurrection the movement Jesus began would have fizzled out, Jesus would be just another failed revolutionary leader, and his followers would have disappeared back into the woodwork.

The fact that billions of people believe Jesus was raised from the dead, and many willingly went to horrible deaths because Jesus’ resurrection proved he was who he said he was, surely indicates something remarkable happened back there that still reverberates in people today. But what noticeable difference has it actually made in people?

To answer that I’ve tried to imagine what difference it would have made in me had I seen Jesus alive after he was dead. God gave us an imagination that enables us to think how we might react in a situation, so, after the shock of realizing Jesus was alive again, what would I have done next?

Well, my first reaction would likely be wanting to tell people about it, as anyone with shocking news would, but then it would be down to the business of what Jesus was resurrected for. It would obviously be to continue what he started, so that would take me back to what he spoke about and did in his human form before he died. And in his own words he came to announce the Kingdom that God was creating in this world, how God and his Kingdom operated, and that God was inviting us to join him in the creation of it – and especially now that the resurrected Jesus is fully in charge without anyone being able to stop him.

I’d be studying into the shape of that Kingdom, therefore, and what a citizen of such a Kingdom would look like, as taught by Jesus to his twelve disciples. And the obvious fact that his teaching from Matthew chapters 5 to 7 would change the world if everybody followed it, would surely make me want to live it so well that it would change the world where I lived to prove it was true

And I’d hope for the rest of my life that I could keep that as my focus, rather than trying to argue people into believing in Jesus’ resurrection based on a few sketchy stories from long ago.