He's Alive (Dolly Parton)


Easter--Renewal, Regeneration, Recreation

Easter is the day on which Christians celebrate the most significant event in human history--the resurrection from the dead of the crucified God-man, Jesus Christ. It's an event that forever changed the course of humanity! That day was the first day of God's new creation. Let me explain.

God created all things, including man, and when He was finished He looked at all He had made and it was "very good."[1] His original very good creation was changed, however, with the entrance of sin. Once Adam chose to go against God's will, sin entered God's created world and sickness, decay, and death were introduced to humanity. From that time forward, people would return to the dust from which they were taken.[2] Adam, the first man, brought sin and death into the world, and God's creation has suffered sin's effects ever since.

Fast-forward to the time of Jesus' life on earth. God the Son, the Word of God, entered humanity as a child born of Mary and of God, without a human father.[3] He was fully God and fully man, the God-man.[4] His mission was to defeat the sin and death which had entered humanity through Adam. He lived a sinless life, was condemned and executed as a criminal, and was buried in a tomb. Three days later, He rose from the dead! He was resurrected!

His resurrection was the first phase of God's new creation. Jesus' body was changed and was no longer under the effects of the first creation--the effects of sin and death. God created a new kind of human existence--a human body which was raised from the dead and transformed by the power of God into a body that is no longer affected by death, decay, and corruption. Nothing like this had ever happened in human history! And it will happen again for all of those who believe in Jesus, as believers will be resurrected with their new bodies at the time of Christ's return (or changed in the twinkling of an eye if they are alive at the time of His return). This will mark the second phase of the new creation.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.[5]

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.[6]

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.[7]

Jesus' resurrected body no longer suffered from the torture He had undergone--His back having been torn to shreds from the whipping, His head bloodied by the crown of thorns, His hands and feet and side pierced. He was no longer battered, nor was He exhausted from all He had endured days earlier, but He was alive and vibrant.

His risen body wasn't a spirit; it was physical, made of flesh and bones, which His disciples touched. He taught them,[8] He walked with them,[9] He cooked for them,[10] and ate with them.[11] He was once together with 500 of them at one time.[12] After 40 days,[13] He ascended bodily into heaven,[14] where He in His new body sits at the right hand of God.[15]

[The disciples] were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."[16]

As Christians and as part of God's new creation, we can look forward to the time when, upon Christ's return, He will raise our bodies from the dead! We will receive resurrected bodies like His. The apostle Paul speaks about our bodies raised from death in terms of a seed that is planted, and from that seed the more complete plant grows. The plant is a continuation of the seed, but is different from the seed. He goes on to explain that these new bodies will be imperishable, raised in glory and in power as spiritual bodies. Being imperishable means no aging, sickness, or weariness; we will have bodies that remain forever young and healthy. Our bodies will not have the weaknesses they have now, but will have the full power the human body was meant to have. They won't be affected by sin and fallen human nature as the natural body is today, but will be fully yielded to and guided by the Holy Spirit as a spiritual body. As one author wrote: In these resurrection bodies we will clearly see humanity as God intended it to be.[17]

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.[18]

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.[19]

Someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as He has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.[20]

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. ... Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.[21]

God's new creation will not end with the resurrecting of our bodies, but will continue on beyond that. The third phase will involve all of creation being renewed as well. When Adam sinned, God cursed the ground. The world was no longer the sublime place God made it to be. Sin changed that. But as a result of Christ's death and resurrection, His victory over sin and death, God will renew the entire world.

The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.[22]

Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.[23]

According to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.[24]

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away[25]

When Jesus died on the cross as an executed criminal, in the eyes of the Jewish people this made Him a failed Messiah, as He had promised the kingdom and didn't come through. But three days later, when He rose from the dead, that picture changed completely. The truth of His messiahship was evident to those who would accept it. He completed His mission by taking our sins upon Himself and thus reconciling us to God. This mission required His death, but once it was completed, God raised Him from the dead, and in doing so showed the world His approval of what Jesus had done.

Being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.[26]

After 40 more days on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven, and ten days later a new dynamic was sent into the world--the Holy Spirit. Prior to this time, the Holy Spirit was present and was manifested at times, such as at creation,[27] as well as when empowering certain people to prophesy,[28] or with extraordinary skills[29] or leadership abilities.[30] However, the Spirit wasn't available to all of God's children.[31]

After Jesus' ascension, He sent "the promise of the Father," which was the Holy Spirit, to dwell in believers in fulfillment of the prophecy in the book of Joel.

Behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.[32]

While staying with [the disciples], He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, "you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."[33]

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.[34]

It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out My Spirit.[35]

When people receive Jesus as their savior, they enter into the new creation, and this makes it possible for the Spirit of God to dwell within them. The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers is a continuation of the first phase of the new creation that began with Jesus' resurrection. The effect of salvation and the Holy Spirit dwelling in humanity is expressed as new birth, renewal, and regeneration in the lives of believers. The new birth refers to being born of the spirit as contrasted to being born of the flesh. Renewal is a renovation, a complete change in the believer for the better. Regeneration is the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind.[36]

Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself."[37]

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[38]

When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.[39]

Jesus resurrecting and ascending into heaven, His sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within believers, was the first phase of the new creation, with the second phase to come at Christ's return, and the third phase being the new heaven and the new earth.

I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God."[40]

As part of the new creation, God's Spirit is regularly renewing us, changing us, helping us to put on the mind of Christ, as we develop and reflect some of God's characteristics by growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we continually grow and mature in our spiritual lives; we are renewed and become more Christlike. This is part of the new creation process within us, as we are gradually transformed by the Spirit.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.[41]

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.[42]

The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.[43]

The original creation was altered due to Adam's disobedience. Through him, sin and death and all of their consequences have affected mankind and the world as we know it. Through Jesus' obedience, through His death and His resurrection, both we and creation are ultimately redeemed; the process of the new creation has begun and will culminate in the new heaven and the new earth.--And you are part of it!

The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.[44]

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.[45]

Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus is celebrating the newness of life. Easter is a celebration of one of the major tenets of our faith; it's a celebration of the ongoing process of God's new creation, as we await its culmination.

Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.[46]

If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain ... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins ... But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.[47]

We have so much to celebrate!--That we live today with God the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and helping, guiding, and renewing us; that we are part of His new creation; that we will live eternally in our new bodies, with perfect health and no effects of aging, with no sickness or disease; and that we have the honor and privilege of sharing this wonderful news with others. For this is the good news of the Gospel: the love that God has for each individual, the offer of everlasting life, of resurrection from the dead, of being a new creature in Christ Jesus today and a part of the overall new creation for eternity.

Our commission is to invite as many as we can to become a new creation, to usher them through the door of salvation, bringing them into a wonderful new world now, and an eternity of happiness in the future. As invitation bearers who go through the highways and hedges of life, may we be motivated by the beauty of God's gift through Jesus to share it and its blessings with all we can. Happy Easter!

[1] God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 ESV.

[2] By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19 ESV.

[3] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 ESV.

The angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God." Luke 1:35 ESV.

[4] See the following articles in The Heart of It All series:The God-Man, Part 1The God-Man, Part 2.

[5] Romans 6:9 ESV.

[6] 1 Corinthians 15:51 - 52 ESV.

[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:16 - 17 ESV.

[8] Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24:27 ESV.

[9] Two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. Luke 24:13 - 15 ESV.

[10] When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. John 21:9 - 13 ESV.

[11] While they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them. Luke 24:41 - 43 ESV.

[12] He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:6 ESV.

[13] He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 ESV.

[14] As they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven." Acts 1:9 - 11 ESV.

[15]The Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19 ESV.

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. Acts 2:32 - 33 ESV.

[16] Luke 24:37 - 39 ESV.

[17] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 832.

[18] Philippians 3:20 - 21 ESV.

[19] 1 John 3:2 ESV.

[20] 1 Corinthians 15:35 - 38 ESV.

[21] 1 Corinthians 15:42 - 44, 49 ESV.

[22] Romans 8:21 ESV.

[23] Isaiah 65:17 ESV.

[24] 2 Peter 3:13 ESV.

[25] Revelation 21:1 ESV.

[26] Philippians 2:8 - 9 ESV.

[27] The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 ESV.

[28] The Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to [Moses], and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. Numbers 11:25 ESV.

[29] I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. Exodus 31:2 - 5 ESV.

[30] Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. Deuteronomy 34:9 ESV.

Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [David] in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. 1 Samuel 16:13 ESV.

[31] A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, "My lord Moses, stop them." But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!" Numbers 11:27 - 29 ESV.

[32] Luke 24:49 ESV.

[33] Acts 1:4 - 5 ESV.

[34] Acts 2:32 - 33 ESV.

[35] Joel 2:28 - 29 ESV.

[36] Strong's definition of the Greek word paliggenesia: regeneration.

[37] Acts 2:38 - 39 ESV.

[38] John 3:5 - 6 ESV.

[39] Titus 3:4 - 6 ESV.

[40] Revelation 21:1 - 3 ESV.

[41] 1 Corinthians 2:14 - 16 ESV.

[42] Galatians 5:22 - 23 ESV.

[43] 2 Corinthians 3:17 - 18 ESV.

[44] Romans 8:19 - 23 ESV.

[45] 1 Corinthians 15:22 - 26 ESV.

[46] Romans 6:4 ESV.

[47] 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20 - 21 ESV.

A Spirit Hath Not Flesh And Bones

A discussion about Luke 24:37-43 by Dr. Timothy Keller.