7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.[i]
Death is the ultimate equalizer. Humanity is united in mortality. However, death does not have to reign over life. Death does not have to be final. Thus, Paul explains the resurrection of believers. There are two senses in which believers experience resurrection from the dead. Obviously and most apparent is physical-bodily resurrection at the second coming of Christ. The second and less obvious, albeit more tangibly apparent at present, is spiritual resurrection from a state of spiritual death at the moment of faith. (Warning: what follows makes Christians sound crazy… unless it’s true. Which it is.)
When a believer entrusts their soul to the work of Jesus Christ, they are granted the promise of eternal life. This life is not merely an ethereal existence in some other dimension. Rather, it is an actual physical existence in a physical, tangible, world. This world, to be precise. You see, Christians, like Christ, will be raised from the dead to live eternally in a re-created state. The earth as we know it will be re-created and the divide between Heaven and Earth will be stripped away (c.f. Revelation 20-21). In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explains that believers will be resurrected the same way Jesus was. They will be given new bodies and will be granted life eternal in the New Heaven and the New Earth.[ii]
Another facet of resurrection is what occurs within the soul of a believer. Ephesians chapter 2 explains that non-believers are “dead in the trespasses and sins in which [all people] once walked…” (Ephesians 2:1-2). Romans 6:5-11 explains that the Christian’s old nature died with Christ and that Christians have been resurrected to a new life. Galatians 5:24 explains that those who believe “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24 ESV). Christians have been rescued from sin’s dominion and have been set free to live a new life in Christ (c.f. Romans 6). This new life is guided by the Spirit and is empowered through a new nature that has been given to the believer (c.f. Colossians 3 and Romans 8).
Consider the power of resurrection. It is not merely a shift in understanding or confidence. Resurrection is an actual change of condition. The dead man has been made alive and the dead man will be raised. Victory over the death of the Spirit has been granted and victory over the death of the Body will be as well. This great power has overcome sin and has given Christians the ability to live a holy lifestyle in the face of a world fraught with temptation and death.
Part of attaining and fully realizing the resurrection is suffering. Many believers, while truly possessing salvific faith, are lacking in understanding of the full realization of the resurrected life. Many see suffering as something to be avoided and scorned in life. Yet, the Biblical witness seems to venerate suffering as a part of the deep and abiding joy that Christians engage in and enjoy.[iii] Suffering makes Christians more like Christ, and in becoming more like Him, Christians find deeper soul satisfaction and happiness.
Immortal happiness is the single greatest condition to aspire to. Almost everyone attempts to become somehow immortal. Beit through literature, historical achievement, or long lasting legacy, every person strives for immortality in their own way. Everyone longs to overcome death. Only in Christ Jesus is victory over death possible. Only by trusting in His work on the cross and entrusting ones soul to His care can death be thwarted! So pursue Christ with all that you are. Chase Him down and cling to Him for resurrection. Labor to know Him and to find life in Him. In doing so, you will find life where there was once only death.
[i] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:3–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[ii] To refer to the state of Heaven and Earth at the end of Revelation as “New” is a bit miss-leading. They are really in a renewed state. When Jesus says in Revelation 21:6, “it is done,” it should really be translated, “it is born!” The concept that God is communicating through 21:6 is one of re-creation. The end of Revelation is merely the beginning of God’s creative efforts. For a more full examination of Heaven I recommend Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven.”
[iii] For a more full discussion of these ideas, check out Ravenhill’s work, “Why Revival Tarries,” Richard Wormbrand’s “Tortured For Christ,” and Watchmen Nee’s “the Normal Christian Life.”