Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The Vertical and Horizontal Implications of the Resurrection

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Kelly Sikkema

“He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile
everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” ~Colossians 1:18-20

Just two days ago we had the joy of celebrating Jesus' resurrection. Now, two days later, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of yet another week - a week full of family, home, work, ministry, friends, whatever might be on your plate. And sometimes, following the high of a day like Easter, we can sometimes feel like we have come crashing down off that mountain of joy and purpose when we find ourselves in the daily grind yet again. 

But I want to encourage you today, dear sister, that the picture the Bible sets forth is one where the resurrection carries several practical implications that are applicable to your everyday life right where you are on this average Tuesday. 

The resurrection first has vertical implications – between sinners and God. But the implications do not end there - there are horizontal implications – between us and our fellow image bearers - as well. While the gospel itself is all about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on behalf of sinners (see Paul’s salvation creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), the gospel does carry with it certain implications for how we are then to live in light of its truths.


The gospel itself (the most crucially important aspect of it being the reality of Jesus' resurrection) is about the reconciliation between sinners and their God that was brought about by Christ. Romans 5:10 makes this clear,

“For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.”

It isn’t supposed to end here, however. It never was. Paul makes clear in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 when he makes a direct correlation between the truth of the gospel and the implications thereof, which we are called to live out:

From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’ He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The gospel itself, the resurrection story,  is about us and God, but the direct implications of the gospel are to affect how we live with one another.  The gospel itself is what saves us, while the implications of that gospel are to guide how we live in this world until the Lord takes us to Home. We are called to live gospel-centered, gospel-shaped, gospel-focused lives.  And that is where the horizontal nature of the gospel comes in.


Here are but a few of the direct implications of the gospel on how we are called to treat one another and stand up for injustice of all forms:

 “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ~Galatians 3:28

“He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile
everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” ~Colossians 1:18-20

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,’ but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder. Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?   Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar?  You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route?  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” ~James 2:14-26

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ~Matthew 25:31-46

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth ofmint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel!” ~Matthew 23:23

Unfortunately, we have sometimes become much like the Pharisees in this day and age. We are happy to proclaim some of the truths of God’s Word and uphold salvation-related doctrines, but we stop there. We do not equip ourselves to actually live as if the gospel is true, to actually be Christ’s hands and feet as we have been called to be.

To go back where we started, when it comes to how we as the body of Christ ought to respond to issues of injustice or poor treatment of our fellow image bearers, we must remember that it is not either/or. It is not a question of whether we ought to proclaim what Christ did for us through the gospel or if we ought to instead be His hands and feet. It’s is always and forever a both/and, where we live as Christ’s hands and feet in this world (which denotes action!) because of what He has done for us through the gospel.

No change will come about if we do not point out to sinners their need for a Savior and if Christ does not change their hearts. People cannot be saved apart from the gospel itself. Likewise, however, we will fail in our God-given mission to be ambassadors of Christ fulfilling the Great Commission if we do not love as He loved, serve as He served,  stand up for the hurting and oppressed and mistreated just as He did.

It is, friends, always and forever, both. And that is how the resurrection we celebrated Sunday is still relevant and applicable to your Tuesday. 

Reflection Questions:

1) Have you ever thought before about the relevance of the resurrection for you everyday life in the here and now? Are you used to thinking instead that the resurrection only has implications for your eternity? What truth might you need to preach to yourself? 

2) What encouragement are you taking from these words today? How can you apply them to your average Tuesday?

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