So we can live what we believe
But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead
Interesting little phrase…. On God who raises the dead. Wouldn’t just ending at God be enough? Why add his resume of resurrection? Why add his power to raise the dead?
Notice the sentence structure. The carry over verb is rely. The context is trial and despair. The purpose of the affliction is to teach us to rely on God…the natural question is, how do I know he is reliable?
Who raises the dead. Notice the tense of the verb “raises.” We would expect it to say, who raised the dead, i.e. raised Jesus from the dead. Which is true and the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our hope. God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice in our place and on our behalf. Raised him to life for our justification (Rom. 4:25). He raised Jesus but this says “raises,” present tense, the dead.
The fact that God has done it in the past is not necessarily a comfort to me in my present distress. I don’t live in the past and I am not Jesus. I need to know about his intent for me today. Why is God painfully loosening my grip? Why does he use what I deem unpleasant circumstances to do it? Why is it almost like I am dying to this relationship, job, financial security, good health? So we can live what we believe. If God raises the dead physically, that means he can raise me from the emotional death this trial is requiring. Did you get it? If God can raise the dead, then God can raise me.
It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. If God can do the greater (raise the dead), then he is reliable to do the lesser (raise me from my despair, raise me from my hurt, raise me from my loneliness, my loss, my despair).
Notwithstanding that the resurrection is a future event, he shows that it happens every day; for when God raises up again a man whose life is despaired of, and who has been brought to the very gates of hell, He shows nothing other than a resurrection, snatching from the very jaws of death, the one who had fallen into them. -Chrystostom
Most of us would prefer the Christian life didn’t require all of this dying to self. Why can’t we just receive salvation by faith, live our lives, die and go to heaven? I’ll die to those things when I die. Why do we have to die to all these things while I am still living?
Nothing that has not died will be resurrected. -C.S. Lewis
God raises the dead and he wants to glorify every aspect of our life. But he can only resurrect what is dead and only by affliction and pain will we die to our perceived right to control our lives. So God loves us enough to orchestrate trials uniquely fitted to the idols of our hearts. None of our trials are the same because no one of our hearts are the same. God is all-wise in how he sanctifies and purifies each of us.
He has to get us to the point of surrender. When an army surrenders, they are dying to their desire to their right to win. They are dying to their right to self-rule. Surrender is more than just giving up. It is letting someone else be in control. Nothing that has not died can be resurrected.
He is the God who raises the dead. If he raised Christ (the big thing), then we can trust his ability to raise us in the little deaths we die in the trials of life.
I read recently that Captain Sully Sullenberger retired from U.S. Airways. You probably know who Sully is. He’s the captain who piloted the airliner with no engine power down the Hudson River and landed in the Hudson. All the passengers were saved.
He became an overnight national hero. He received about every honor the government could give him. Threw out first pitches at baseball games, grand marshaled the Rose Bowl, etc.
When all the hoopla was over, you know what he did? He went back to being an U.S. Airway pilot. Imagine with me what it was like on every flight from that day on during the pre-flight announcements.
Hello. Your flight crew today thanks you for flying U.S. Airways. We apologize for charging you $100 for checked luggage… you should have flown Southwest. Hi, I’m Suzy Q. your head flight attendant for today’s flight. Please make sure your seats and tray tables are in their upright and locked position as we will be taking off shortly. Serving you with me today are you flight attendants Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Captaining today’s flight is Captain Sully Sullenberger.
What happened on every flight since the Hudson River landing? Applause!! What is every person on that flight thinking? I guess we’re ok today. Why? We know what he’s done. If can safely land a plane under no power in the middle of Hudson River, then I think today’s flight should be no problem at all. Sully! Sully! Sully! Why? He landed in the Hudson! He landed in the Hudson! He landed in the Hudson! What do the cheers mean? We’re safe! We’re safe! We’re safe!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2010 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address (http://www.bethelweb.org/) on the copied resource.