Have you ever been engaged in a fascinating conversation when another person enters the dialogue, interrupts, and starts talking about themselves? It should rightly irritate you.
(Before you think of the person that always seems to do this, ask yourself: how often am I the one who interrupts and makes it all about me?)
There’s a moment like this in 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter is probably the New Testament’s longest and most detailed treatise on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul is arguing against those in Corinth who said there was no such thing as a resurrection.
He has launched into this high, holy description of the gospel, and then all of a sudden, he starts talking about himself. It just doesn’t seem right.
“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” (vv. 8-11, ESV)
But Paul’s telling of his story is incredibly relevant to the topic. Why? Because we tend to act as if the resurrection gives us only eternal life, and that’s it.
Yes, and amen, it does! We celebrate Easter Sunday because the resurrection guarantees us a future resurrection. Praise God; there’s a day when he will deliver us out of this mess. Paradise is coming!
But that’s not all the resurrection gives you. By the power of resurrection grace, you are resurrected out of your sin into the newness of life: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11, ESV)
You shouldn’t be able to read that last verse or this next sentence without jumping for joy: the same power the raised Jesus from the dead is now living inside of you.
Today. Right here, right now. You don’t need to wait until heaven to experience a resurrection.
Paul was living proof of that. He was a fool, he was a rebel, and he was blind. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” (Acts 9:1)
Notice how Paul wasn’t feeling convicted; he wasn’t interested in change. He was blindly, foolishly, and rebelliously heading to persecute the church of Jesus Christ.
And then he was rescued by divine grace. “But by the grace of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
What has the power to take this man who hated the gospel’s message and produce a man who can’t stop preaching the message of the gospel? GRACE! Rescuing, forgiving, transforming grace.
Paul’s story about himself is not a change in the subject; Paul’s story is an application of the same argument.
We don’t just need the promise of the resurrection in the future; we need the resurrection right here, right now.
Sure, we aren’t breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, but we are more like Saul than unlike him. Yes, we are guaranteed a future resurrection, but we are still blind, foolish, and rebellious in many areas.
Today, confess your ongoing need for the rescuing, forgiving, and transforming grace of God. Then grab hold of the transforming power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul David Tripp
1. When was the last time you interrupted a conversation or inserted yourself as the center of attention? What was going through your heart and mind at the time?
2. How can you be a better listener? Is there someone that you struggle to listen to? What might that reveal about your heart? How can you show compassion and mercy with your ears?
3. How is your story of conversion a miracle of grace? In what ways were you like Saul?
4. Do you look down on others who have not yet had their eyes opened by grace? In what ways might you be self-righteous about your salvation story, even though “it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
5. Why should Easter Sunday motivate you to become a more outspoken evangelist for the gospel of Christ? Who has God placed in your life that needs to hear about the resurrection? Will you start or continue that conversation this week?