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But Christ Has Been Raised

As the passage in 1 Corinthians says, Christ's death-and our faith-is meaningless if he has not been raised from the dead

The blood of Jesus covers all our sin and satisfies the Father. The death of Jesus is what enables us to fly, because it's the death of Jesus that forgives us and cleanses us and lifts the curse and the burden and the condemnation of all our sins off of us.

What more could the resurrection of Jesus add to that, that we might be empowered in forgiving? That's today's question.

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins.

I think the answer to that question is hinted at, if not answered fully, in 1 Corinthians 15:17. What more does the Resurrection do if the death of Jesus so wonderfully, sufficiently, fully covers our sins and brings us into a relationship with God? Verse 17 of 1 Corinthians 15 says, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins."

What does that mean, "in your sins"? It is the opposite of "in Christ." If you're in Christ, you get what is Christ's and what he's done for you. If you're in your sins, you get what your sins can do for the wages of sin is death, according to Romans 6:23.

To be in your sins is to be under condemnation, to be oppressed by guilt. It's to have no future and no hope. This text says that if Christ has not been raised, it doesn't matter what Christ did. You're still in your sins.

The resurrection message this morning is intended to be God's thunderclap of an "amen" to his death. It's a big exclamation point on the sentence of Jesus' redeeming life and death. God said "Amen," and the amen reverberated into that tomb and brought Jesus out of the grave.

The point of Easter is that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and therefore everything he accomplished on the cross is successful. It is totally sufficient, and you are no longer in your sins. You are united to him and there is a future of everlasting joy.

[Editor's Note: The main points are in parentheses because this is an inductive outline, so the following point is not stated here.]

(God rewards Jesus's sacrifice by raising him from the dead into glory and seating him at his right hand.)

I want to look at three texts in the Book of Hebrews, starting with Hebrews 13:20.

"Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you with everything good through his will."

Does that sound to you like it sounded to me? Namely, Jesus died in order that he might be raised. God brought him up from the dead through his blood. What does that mean? We know from the Book of Hebrews that Jesus did not need to die in order for his sins to be covered, because he had no sin. Five times in the Book of Hebrews it says he was without sin or he was a perfect priest, or sacrifice. So when it says he was raised from the dead through the blood of the eternal convenant that he had shed three days earlier, it doesn't mean he was redeemed by his own blood. What does it mean?

It means this: his blood, when he shed it for his people, was so completely to do everything that God designed it to do in bringing us into a righteous relationship with God, that now he rewards that blood shedding. He rewards that death and that sacrifice by bringing our good Shepherd out of the grave, so that he has the privilege now this morning of moving among us by his Spirit to apply what he purchased when he died.

He was raised through his blood in the sense that his blood so fully accomplished the covenant purposes of God that God looked down on it and said, "Yes, Amen, Son. You did it. It is finished." And to reward the fullness and the sufficiency of our redeeming is, the work done for raised him from the dead.

Let me show you another one. Hebrews 2:9b: "He has been made for a little while lower than the angels." That's the incarnation of Jesus. For a little while, thirty years, he was made a little lower than the angels, "namely, Jesus." And then this key phrase:"because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor."

See the connection? "Because of the suffering of death, he is crowned with glory and honor." Easter means glory for Jesus. He didn't have any glory in his life. There was suffering, then death. He set his face to go up to Jerusalem. He would not look to the right hand or to his left. Peter tried to stop him. The Devil tried to stop him. Judas tried to stop him. But he would not be stopped. He would die, and nobody could stop him. But before he died, he prayed, "Father, the hour is come. Glorify me with the glory that I had with you before the foundation of the world." And the Father did that on Easter.

But he did it, this text says, because of the suffering and death. So the Father was watching. He had a covenant with his Son. He had an agreement with his Son: "You go. Pay the price for my people. Bear my wrath. Bear the curse that in my law I have pronounced upon sin. You go and do it. And if you do it, I will raise you from the dead."

And the Son did it, and the Father watched. And with tears, I believe, and with great wrath and with great love and with great joy all mixed together in those awesome days, God said "Amen. It is finished." He raised him from the dead because of his suffering.

Now Hebrews 10:1214. This text is full of hope for sinners. If you came this morning so laden down with sin that you wonder if Easter has anything to do with you, listen hard to this text. "Christ, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God."

We could stop there and notice the connection. He gave an offering for sins for all time. Didn't have to do it again. And he sat down at the right hand of God. But it gets even more clear as we move on in verse 13. He's waiting there from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet. He's waiting in heaven now in his bodily form until his enemies are completely subdued. And now this crucial verse, verse 14: "For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."

Before we see the pieces of that verse, we must see the connection between verse 14 and verse 12, which is introduced in verse 14 by that little word for or because. Collapse it down and it goes like this.

He sat down because he was raised. He sat down on the right hand of God because by one offering, he perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

(Christ's death was the perfect sacrifice for all time.)

You see what that means about the point of the resurrection and the exaltation and the reign of Christ? It all has to do with Good Friday. It all has to do with the cross. It all has to do with offering. Easter is all about death. Isn't that strange?

The life of Jesus reigning at the Father's right hand, ruling over the world, ready to come in glory, interceding for the saints is all about the greatness, the glory, the sufficiency, the perfection of what happened on Good Friday.

This is why he was raised: "by one offering." Let that sink in because there are many traditions that think you have to do that offering over and over again; you have to have a sacrifice over and over. Hebrews underlines "one offering," that happened one afternoon on the cross. That is all that was needed. By one offering he has improved a little for all time those who are being sanctified.

It's such a paradox. If you are one of those who are imperfectly making your way, stumbling to heaven, you by one offering have been perfected for all time.

And that's what Easter is about. When he raised Jesus from the dead, it was God's "Amen. Once is enough. They are perfected. It will last forever, Son. Come on out, and you can now apply it to them this morning."

The risen Christ is here in this room to do just that.

(God's resurrection of Jesus, prophesied in Isaiah, really happened.)

I could go to a lot of other texts. I'll pass over Philippians 2:79, you know that great text, "He emptied himself, taking the form of the servant, becoming obedient even unto death, the death on the cross," and then that thunderclap, "Therefore, God has exalted him and given him a name which is above every name." "Therefore" means because of the suffering and death, he gets this reward.

Then, I thought if I could take you back to the Old Testament, seven hundred years before it happened, maybe your faith would be even more strengthened to believe that God has accomplished this for you. He planned it in eternity, and he prophesied it seven hundred years earlier. This very connection between resurrection and death are here in Isaiah 53:10: "The Lord was pleased to crush him, putting him to grief, if he would render himself as a guilt offering." That's Good Friday. "He will see his offspring and prolong his days." That's resurrection glory. "And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand."

Now verse 11: "As a result of the anguish of his soul, he will see it and be satisfied." There's resurrection again. "By his knowledge the Righteous One, my servant, will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities."

Verse 12: "Therefore, I will allot him a portion with the great, and he will divide the booty with the strong, because he poured out his life to death, and was numbered with the transgressors. Yet he himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors."

So seven hundred years before this happened we see four connections just like the ones we saw in Hebrews. Verse 10: "If he would render himself a guilt offering," then he would see his offspring and prolong his days, that is, resurrection.

Verse 11: "As a result of the anguish of his soul," on Good Friday, he's going to be satisfied on Easter Sunday Morning.

Verse 12: Because he bears the sins of many, that is, Good Friday, therefore, God "will allot him a portion with the great," that is, Easter Sunday.

I find that awesomely important and strengthening for my faith, that the Resurrection is the reward of an death to cover the sins of many.

But we return from Hebrews and Philippians and Isaiah to 1 Corinthians 15:17: "If he has not been raised, you're still in your sins." But verse 20 says, "he has been raised." The answer why he needs to be raised is that it vindicates, it demonstrates the sufficiency of the death of his Son.

If you asked this morning, "How do we know he was raised?" let me point you to the answer. At the beginning of chapter 15 Paul says, "He appeared unto Cephas, and he appeared unto James, and then he appeared to the twelve, and then he appeared to five hundred at once." In other words, he appeared to individuals. He appeared to small groups, and he appeared to large groups of five hundred.

Then Paul says to these Corinthians, who are a hundred miles away, "Many of these five hundred to whom he appeared are still alive. You can check it out with them. In fact, some of them will be traveling through here in a few weeks." Namely, Peter. We know that from 1 Corinthians.

He has been raised from the dead. We are not still in our sins. We are not unforgiven. We are forgiven.

John Bunyan was right:

"Far better news the Gospel brings.

It bids us fly and gives us wings.

Doubt not his sacrifice can save.

God sealed it with an empty grave.

And by his blood and life we live,

and now have freedom to forgive."

The resurrection of Jesus is an exclamation point. It's a triumphant shout out of heaven: "It is finished. He did it. He covered you. Your sins are forgiven, and you have all the blessings of the cross, including the blessing of being forgiven, and the double joy and blessing of being a forgiver."

John Piper has been pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, since 1980. His many books include Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

(c) John Piper

Preaching Today Tape #175


A resource of Christianity Today International

John Piper is a theologian, pastor, and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Sermon Outline:


What more could the Resurrection do that the Cross didn't do already?

I. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins."

II. God rewards Jesus' sacrifice by raising him from the dead into glory and seating him at his right hand.

III. Christ's death was the perfect sacrifice for all time.

IV. God's resurrection of Jesus, prophesied in Isaiah, really happened.


He has been raised from the dead, and we are forgiven.