A friend of mine, who is a preschool teacher, overheard an animated conversation among her students. Little Maria threw out the question: “Who loves God?” All of them responded, “I do! I do! I do!” Billy said, “I love Jesus.” Kelly protested, “But He died.” Billy said, “Yeah, but every Easter He rises from the dead!”
Obviously, young Billy’s understanding of the meaning of Easter is still developing. We know that Jesus died once for all (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 10:12) and, of course, rose from the dead once. Three days after paying the penalty of our sins on the cross, the sinless Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave and breaking the power of sin. It was this final sacrifice of blood that opened the only way for us to have a relationship with God now and a home with Him forevermore.
“Christ died for our sins, . . . He was buried, and . . . He rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He has promised that He is preparing a place for us (John 14:1-4), and He will someday return. One day we will be with our risen Savior.
That’s why every year at Eastertime—in fact, every day of the year—we have reason to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps. 34:1).
Christ’s resurrection is cause for our celebration.
In Hebrews 10:14 we see this remarkable statement: “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” How is this possible? Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth answers this question. Since being “good enough” through personal effort is futile (Rom. 7), only a transfer of account from a righteous person to a sinner could remedy the problem. “He made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ’s atoning death on the cross appeased the wrath of God (Rom. 3:24-26), and His righteousness was attributed to us that we might be declared justified before God.
I’ll never forget the Easter Sunday in 1993 when Bernhard Langer won the Masters golf tournament. As he stepped off the 18th green to receive the green jacket—one of golf’s most coveted prizes—a reporter said, “This must be the greatest day of your life!” Without missing a beat, Langer replied: “It’s wonderful to win the greatest tournament in the world, but it means more to win on Easter Sunday—to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior.”
Langer had an opportunity to boast about himself, but instead he turned the spotlight on Jesus Christ. It’s exactly what Paul was talking about when he said, “We also rejoice [boast] in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11).
It’s easy to look for ways to draw attention to our own accomplishments, making mental lists of things that are “cool” about ourselves. Even Paul admitted that he had a lot to brag about—but he considered all of it “rubbish” for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). We would do well to follow his example.
So, if you really want something to boast about, boast about Jesus and what He’s done for you. Look for opportunities to turn the spotlight on Him.
Naught have I gotten but what I received, Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed; Boasting excluded, pride I abase— I’m only a sinner saved by grace! —Gray
You can’t boast in Jesus while you’re preoccupied with yourself.
In Romans 5, the apostle Paul reminds us of our great blessings and privileges as followers of Christ. In verses 1-2, he says that in Christ we have “peace with God” and “access” to God through our faith relationship with Christ. This is part of what he would later call our “reconciliation” to God (vv.10-11). We’ve been restored to relationship with Him through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, didn’t know it but she was one of 14,000 people in 2011 whose name was incorrectly entered into the government database as dead. She wondered what was wrong when she stopped receiving disability checks, and her loan payments and her rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to clear up the issue, but the representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead! Obviously, they were mistaken.
The apostle Paul was not mistaken when he said that the Ephesian believers were at one point dead—spiritually dead. They were dead in the sense that they were separated from God, enslaved to sin (Eph. 2:5), and condemned under the wrath of God. What a state of hopelessness!
Yet God in His goodness took action to reverse this condition for them and for us. The living God “who gives life to the dead” (Rom. 4:17) poured out His rich mercy and great love by sending His Son Jesus to this earth. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are made alive (Eph. 2:4-5).
When we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we go from death to life. Now we live to rejoice in His goodness!
I know I’m a sinner and Christ is my need; His death is my ransom, no merit I plead. His work is sufficient, on Him I believe; I have life eternal when Him I receive. —Anon.
Accepting Jesus’ death gives me life.
Twice in today’s passage, Paul affirms that our salvation is God’s gift, for “by grace you have been saved” (vv.5,8). He reminds us that we are saved so that we can do good works (v.10). In other epistles, Paul encourages us to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14), to be “fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10), and to demonstrate “an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Martin Luther put it this way: “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”