April 22, 2016

Resurrection: Pledge of Judgment and Mercy

by Mike Riccardi

Sundays ComingOver the last three weeks, we’ve been considering the biblical and theological implications of the resurrection of Christ. First, we examined the significance of the resurrection as it relates to the person of Christ. Over the past two weeks, we took a look at eight implications the resurrection of Christ has for believers in Him. Because of the resurrection, the believer enjoys the blessing of regeneration and deliverance from the fear and slavery of death; the resurrection is the foundation of justifying grace, the guarantee of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the present intercessory ministry of Christ, the ground of our sanctification, power for holiness and for ministry, and the guarantee of the promise of a resurrection body of our own, free from sin and decay.

But today I want to ask: What does the bodily resurrection of Christ say to the unbeliever? What is the significance of the resurrection for those of you who remain outside of Christ? Whether you’re an atheist or agnostic; Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion; or even if you call yourself a Christian but have only an outward attachment to Christ—you would regularly attend church, and even read the Bible and listen to sermons—but you have no vital union to Christ, no living relationship, and you still cling to your sin and aim to be lord of your life: what is the significance of the resurrection for you?

The Proof of Judgment

In the first place, the resurrection is the proof and guarantee of God’s coming judgment.

Acts 17:30–31: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere [must] repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

The empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathea stands throughout the ages as the sure guarantee and reminder of the coming Day of Judgment. And you, dear reader, are going to be there. And Christ your Judge is going to be there.

Only God Can Judge MeThese days you see people walking around with shirts and hats and some even with tattoos that say the most ridiculous thing: “Only God can judge me!” Do you ever see that? As if to say, “You don’t dare pass judgment on me or my sinful lifestyle! Only God can judge me!” I can’t for the life of me figure out why in the world that is a comforting thought to them.

My friend, God will judge you. He has fixed a day when He will judge the whole world! And His standard will be righteousness, measured not by how good you’ve been in comparison to other people around you. No, He will judge all the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed. The standard of righteousness by which you will be judged is the standard of Christ’s righteousness. Of perfect righteousness.

And when you stand before Him to answer for your life, what are you going to present before Him? The filthy rags of your own so-called “good works,” mixed with the filthiness of unrepentant sin? My friend, you have no hope if you are trusting in yourself to avail with God in the Day of Judgment! The only hope for the forgiveness of sins and for reconciliation with the Father on the Day of Judgment is to be clothed in the perfect righteousness of the risen Lord Jesus Christ—to have the perfectly righteous life of Jesus Christ counted to be yours, because your filthy life of sin and shame has been counted to be His on the cross (2 Cor 5:21).

And both of those “countings” or “reckonings” happen through repentance and faith alone. That’s why the text says that God is now declaring that all must repent. If you remain a stranger to the grace of God, I entreat you to turn from your sin and lay hold of Christ.

The Ground of Gospel Mercy

Because that same empty tomb that is God’s pledge of certain judgment, is also the empty tomb that is the solid ground for the offer of Gospel mercy.

  • Romans 10:9 – “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  • Acts 5:30–31 – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance…and forgiveness of sins.”
  • Acts 13:38 – Because Christ did not undergo decay, but was raised from the dead: “Therefore let it be known to you that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, things from which you could not be freed through the Law.”

The resurrection is God’s vindication of Christ. It is the proof that what He accomplished in His life and death had been accepted as a full payment of sin—that all of the Father’s righteous wrath has been satisfied! The resurrection is God’s receipt that full payment has been made—that all that is necessary for your salvation has been accomplished by Christ! It only falls to you to abandon your hope of entering eternal life on your own merits. Receive the resurrection life of Jesus Christ by trusting in Him alone.

John 11;25-26

What Jesus said to Martha on the day He raised her brother from the dead, He says to you today: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Do you believe this?

Mike Riccardi

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Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
  • fundamentals

    Pastor Mike, your series on the implications of the Resurrection of Christ has been a blessing. Thank you.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, brother. Glad it’s been a help.

  • Vickey Singleton

    Pastor Mike, thanks as always, for causing me to think more clearly and deeply about the things of the Lord! Praying for the Lord’s richest blessings as you love and serve Him!

  • Emma Noble

    Pastor Mike, I have been blessed through this series and am grateful for the time you take to articulate Biblical truth so fully and clearly. It’s been so encouraging to my heart to meditate on the implications of the Resurrection and how I must think and live in light of that. These posts/articles are also great to share with others who don’t want to listen to Emma, but are more inclined to give weight to something “in print” from someone who has been to seminary. It’s just wonderful to have solid, truthful things like this post so readily available. So thank you! =)

    To comment on those who say things like, “Only God can judge me,” my experience–which is no doubt a very common experience–is that it’s closely related to the epidemic of not engaging with Scripture. I know MANY people who profess to be saved who don’t open up the actual Bible. They have a lot of devotional books and Bible study workbooks (many of them which fall into the category of false teaching), but they don’t real the actual Word.

    Their excuse? One of the most common excuses I’ve heard is that they want to be “like a child” and have childlike faith. They mistake ignorance for humility, likening the two. From there, all sorts of absurd things flow: “God just wants me to love Him like a little child who doesn’t know anything, but just wants to love on Him anyway;” “God has appointed His preachers to study the Word and teach me, and my role is to be the child and just listen and soak it up. It would be disrespectful of my pastor to take that great role of studying Scripture upon myself.” (Yes, I’ve actually heard both of these things!)

    Needless to say, if someone isn’t actually in the Word itself, personally and regularly, he or she is going to struggle mightily with having a right view of God (and with discerning sound churches and resources to enforce that)… seeing Him as a God who is holy and hates sin, rather than this god of their imagination who just wants to share hugs and have everyone be happy.

    This is a good reminder for ME, one who is in Christ, to bury myself in the Word so that I don’t also slip into the very grave error that God doesn’t hate my sin. The truth is that I must continually live a life of repentance… and not just because the Bible explicitly commands it, but because this provides those outside of Christ with an accurate (although humanly flawed) reflection of what it really looks like to follow Christ… with humility that says, “I am sinner–daily! I am in need of grace and mercy–daily!” and not with an ignorance that presumes God’s approval of me based on the fact that I cook from scratch for my husband or usually manage to keep up with the housework.

    • What a well-thought-out, edifying comment. Thank you for reading and sharing those thoughts, Emma!

  • tovlogos

    As I read I thought of the path for salvation for ancient Israel was faith in the first coming.
    It appeared that the saved of the past went to Abraham’s Bosom — where they met up with
    Lazarus, the “poor man”; and the impassable Chasm…
    I thought of the paradox Nicodemus had to face in John 3 in that he could not have been born again
    until the resurrection and Acts 2.
    It humbling to realize that we can never shake the sin out of the nature of the flesh — so be it, humility is invaluable.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    I wonder if the power of Christ’s bodily resurrection also demonstrated His divinity in the fact that His body did not see decay. What I mean is, because He was without sin, He was not under the curse of sin which said, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” He was already imperishable.

  • Nirman Pradhan

    Jesus has asked us to judge with a righteous judgment. Saying sin is a sin is not judging.

  • Vinod Anand S

    Thanks for the article, Mike. Edifying and encouraging!