The past few posts have explored Resurrection theology, mooted by the Revd James A Fowler of Christ In You Ministries as a means of encouraging us to remember that the risen Christ is active in every true Christian and manifesting Himself to others through us.

Resurrection theology takes us out of viewing Easter as an historic event and moves it into glorious everyday reality.

Mr Fowler’s articles help to explain the reality of the Resurrection and to make it relevant every moment of the day. I found them encouraging, uplifting and biblical as they explain why the New Testament represents the Good News of Jesus Christ, meant to fill us with happiness.

Understanding Resurrection theology, as Fowler calls it, helps us to come to terms with the doctrine of grace, a series on which will follow soon. Too many of us over the centuries have been caught up in legalism, empty ‘outward holiness’, folk pietism, semi-Pelagianism, political activism and liberation theology. These are no indication of inner holiness. Indeed, some of us run the risk of becoming whited sepulchres (Matthew 23:27).

Meanwhile, our manmade efforts are alienating many people by obscuring the true meaning of the Gospel — and, for that matter, the Bible as a whole. We complain that our Christian witness isn’t working either individually or corporately. Yet, people criticise us for being dour, cranky, geeky, holier-than-thou, mystical or activist — none of which represents a manifestation of Christ and the Holy Spirit. We’re often showing a notionally Christianised but ultimately an un-Christian self to the world — the world we hope to convert. That’s us that people see, not Christ.

However, Resurrection theology helps us to understand that difference between ourselves and the Holy Spirit working through us. They are two different selves, and this is what sanctification is about. If we take away a better understanding of the risen Christ, then, our inherent depravity and His commandments fall into place. So does prayer and Scripture study. That said, many will bristle at accepting that reality.

Fowler’s essay, ‘The Extension of the Resurrection’, neatly ties together God’s purpose for creation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, the growth of the Church and the Christian life — with a word or two on the afterlife. Emphases mine in the excerpts below.

I hope that you have found this brief series as enlightening and profitable as I have. I also hope that it informs the remainder of our Eastertide 2012 and beyond.

Tomorrow, I’ll elaborate on Christian testimony for a few days before exploring the doctrine of grace.

Note the difference between ‘remedial’ and ‘restorative’ below, as they relate to the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, respectively.

… The celebration of Christ’s resurrection at Easter by the Christian community focuses Christian worship on the fact that God’s ultimate objective for mankind has been achieved in Jesus Christ. What is God’s ultimate objective for mankind? Since we were “created for His glory” (Isa. 43:7), and the only way that God can be glorified is when His all-glorious character is manifested within His creation unto His own glory, then the ultimate objective of God for mankind is that His life might be present and operative in mankind, unto His own glory. God’s ultimate objective for man is not that man should experience a metaphysical deliverance and be rerouted to a future residence by “going to heaven” someday. Rather, God’s objective is that His life might dwell within man and be manifest through the behavior of mankind, making men fit for earth on the way to heaven.

How, then, is God’s ultimate objective for mankind achieved and accomplished in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? The death consequences of man’s sin were dealt with in the crucifixion when Jesus vicariously and substitutionally took mankind’s sin upon Himself on our behalf. In the redemptive act of His death Jesus accomplished the remedial work necessary to remedy the consequences of man’s sin before God. In that it was “impossible for Him to be held in death’s power” (Acts 2:24) for He was personally “without sin” (Heb. 4:15), He was raised from the dead in resurrection. In the resurrection expression of life out of death Jesus accomplished the restorative work of God, allowing the life of God to be restored to man. He took our death in crucifixion that we might have His life by resurrection …

Jesus repetitively promised His disciples in the upper room that He would send “another Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would be in them” (cf. Jn. 14:16,17,26,28; 15:26; 16:7,13-17). The word He used for “another” was not heteros, meaning “another of a different kind”, but He used the word allos, meaning “another of the same kind”, because He was promising a Helper who would be just like Him since the Helper would be Him in Spirit-form. Crucified, buried and raised from the dead, Jesus then ascended to the Father (Acts 1:8-11) saying, “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;…” Soon thereafter, on Pentecost (Acts 2:14), the Holy Spirit was poured out upon mankind allowing the Spirit of Christ to invest mankind with His life (cf. Acts 2:31-33) … Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25) and told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). The divine life of God is available to man in Jesus Christ. “He that has the Son has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I Jn. 5:11,12) …

The reinvestiture of God’s life in man is accomplished by regeneration [conversion]. The prerequisite of regeneration is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter explained that we are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3). In like manner as Jesus experienced life out of death in resurrection, and such rising from the dead was referred to as a “begetting” (Acts 13:33) whereby Jesus was the “first-born from the dead” (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5) “among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29), so Christians receive spiritual life out of spiritual death by the receipt of Christ’s life in new birth (cf. John 3:1-8) … Christians “have been united with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5) so as to participate in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) as a “new creature” (II Cor. 5:17) and a “new man” (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) in Christ Jesus.

He is also at the same time immanently present within the spirit of the Christian, “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The resurrection-life of Jesus Christ within the spirit of the Christian becomes the empowering of the Christian life. Having promised that “we should receive power when the Holy Spirit had come” (Acts 1:8), Jesus Christ in Spirit-form became that Power of God (I Cor. 1:24) in every Christian.

We must see beyond the historicity of the empty tomb on that first Easter day, and understand the extension of the resurrection-life and resurrection-power of Jesus Christ in every Christian. Christianity is not just the remembrance of an historical resurrection, but is comprised of the vital dynamic of the risen Lord Jesus functioning in the activity of the Holy Spirit of God by enlivening Christians with the “saving life of Christ” (Rom. 5:10). Christianity is Christ ­ the resurrected Lord Jesus living out His life in Christians every day, to the glory of God.

End of series