Just been reading an article for the dissertation here by Richard Gaffin on the significance of Jesus’ resurrection for our redemption. Quite often we talk about the resurrection as ‘proof that Jesus was God’, or the clinching piece of evidence that ‘it’s all true’. Which is all very well and good, but Gaffin argues that actually having a good theology of the resurrection is key to understanding our lives now and our lives in the future.
1 Corinthians 15.20 is a key verse in Paul’s argument in that chapter:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Christ is the firstfruits of a resurrection harvest that includes US (v23). It is a guarantee of future bodily resurrection. The way in which the NT describes the event has that now-but-not-yet vibe, as we’re described as already being raised, yet still await a future resurrection.
Gaffin goes on to talk about how we do tend to polarise justification and sanctification, with the latter often just being our response of gratitude for the former. He writes that actually Jesus’ resurrection teaches us that we should give intense attention to the eschatological nature of sanctification, and the present work of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is Christ, the life-giving Spirit himself, and his enduring work is manifest in fruits (Gal 5.22,23). So, it is in these fruits that we get a preview of the new creation, not in some suped-up experience. And in case we stray into an over-realised new creation living now, Paul makes it clear that the resurrection life on this earth now is cross-shaped…
‘…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share his suffering, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.‘
But what marvellous truth… Christ is raised! We too will be raised! Don’t forget it, wander from it, cover it up. You’re in the process of being sanctified… work hard at it… Christ is the first-fruits! It’s nearly harvest time.