Easter Sunday has come and gone, but the season of Easter continues. Known as Eastertide in many church traditions, the season kicks off on Easter Sunday, stretching over 50 days until Pentecost, the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.
When we think of Easter, most of us naturally think of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ–but the empty tomb was meant for us, too. According to Ephesians 1:19-20, the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father is the same power at work in believers. Incredible thought, isn’t it? Believers in Christ are meant for so much more than going to church once a week and volunteering for a service project now and then — we were designed to display resurrection power, a power that helps us go beyond human striving and show forth the works of God.
It’s one thing to know this in theory, but quite another to know how to do it in practice. How do we access and reveal this awesome power?
Ephesians 1:19 states that God the Father works the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe…” The word for believe is used almost 130 times by the Gospel writers and means more than intellectual assent, as in, “I believe the earth revolves around the sun.” It carries the sense of trust, reliance, dependence. In order to live the resurrected life, one must be persuaded that Jesus is an utterly trustworthy Savior and Lord of all. “Reliance-belief” plugs into the unlimited power of heaven.
Ouch. This one is tough. The prospect of crucifying your self-serving flesh and dominant old ways is scary. A.W. Tozer wrote, “God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross.”
Tozer’s statement is grounded in the scriptures, of course. Jesus made it clear that a disciple must “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
In the economy of God, death produces life–eternal life that doesn’t begin in heaven, but the moment we die to self and allow the Holy Spirit to birth the Christ-life in us.
“All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection,” Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10 (Good News Translation). Here the word “know” means much more than a passing awareness. It means the knowledge that comes from personal involvement with a person, thing or experience. In fact, the word is sometimes used in the Bible to describe conjugal relations. Our spiritual ancestors knew well the power of intimacy with Jesus. Francis Rous, an English Puritan, preached on “Mystical Marriage” in 1661, describing “a chamber within us, and a bed of love in that chamber, wherein Christ meets and rests with the soul.” (And you thought Puritans were uptight!)
Serve and Sow.
Galatians 6:8-9 states that “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (NASB).
Imagine your every thought, word and deed today is a seed. Is it good seed that will reap an eternal crop? Are you casting spiritual kernels with gleeful abandon (as the sower in Matthew 13 seems to do, scattering them among stones, thorns, the side of the road and fertile soil)? Or are you fearfully holding on to what God has given you, afraid that your blessings will run out? According to Ephesians 4:9-16, Jesus rose and ascended into heaven to shower His church with spiritual gifts. Every believer is given a supernatural talent to edify the Body of Christ and make her an effective force in the world. So sow your gift and be patient as God gives the growth.
Easter isn’t just one Sunday out of the year. It’s not even confined to a season. It is THE event of history that raised the Son of God from the dead, and also ensured that His church would be supplied with endless resurrection power to carry out His work until He returns.
Have you accessed this Easter power? How would your church be different if every member understood Ephesians 1:19-20? How can we tell when we are doing good works in the flesh as compared to good works in the Spirit?