What is the central truth of Christianity?
If I asked this question to American Christians the answer I would hear would be; “Jesus died on the cross for our sins.”
While this is a tremendous reality and a vital truth of the Christian faith, it is not the foundation on which Christianity is built.
The central truth of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every other truth is validated by this reality.
The Apostle Paul wrote; “For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14; NLT)
Paul declared that everything else that Christians believe is based on the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. If there is no resurrection then our faith is useless. This includes our belief that Jesus death secured forgiveness for our sins.
I believe many of us miss out on the power that is available to us because we focus on the cross rather than on the resurrection.
We have settled for a faith of forgiveness, when we have been promised a faith of transformation.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17; NLT)
The promise of the Gospel is not only that God will forgive our sins, but that He will make us into new people.
God intends to make us into new people right now, not some distant point in the future. We can be certain of this because of the power that is available to us.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11; NLT)
What an amazing thought!
You and I can have our lives transformed because of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit raised Jesus to life and transformed his dead physical body into a new resurrected body. This is the power that is at work in our transformation.
In his book Absolute Surrender Andrew Murray wrote:
The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you you want to work it our partly, and to let God help you. And that cannot be. You must come to be utterly helpless, to let God work, and God will work gloriously. It is this that we need if we are indeed to be workers for God (p. 113; Humility and Absolute Surrender).
For a long time in my walk with Jesus I walked in weakness. I thought it was my job to overcome sin, to break the chains of addictions, and to work up the courage to face my fears.
The result was discouragement, condemnation, and isolation. I felt like I was a poser, trying to convince others I had it more together than I did.
There was a part of me that believed if I truly loved God then I would naturally want to read the Bible, pray, and serve. Not only would those things come naturally, but it would take little effort to overcome my sins, even the sins that had become addiction.
Since my reality did not match my belief, the only explanation I had was that I did not love God.
This line of thinking is a death sentence for a person’s faith.
Thank God my perception of reality was wrong!
Jesus didn’t die to make up for our shortcomings. Jesus died to give us a brand new way to live life.
This new way of life begins and ends by surrendering our lives to God. It is only through God’s power that we are able to live the life that He created us to live.
This is what the apostle Paul wrote about God’s power:
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21; NLT)
If we are going to experience God’s power we need to take 3 steps.
- We need to surrender our lives to God. Paul wrote; I fall to my knees and pray to the Father. The image of falling on our knees is an image of surrender. It is an acknowledgement that God is the Lord and we are the servants. In prayer we need to lay down our agendas and ask for God’s will to be done. Too often we operate on our schedule, only asking God to bless our day. To truly surrender our lives, each day, we need to lay down our expectations and ask God for His direction and strength. What matters is for God’s will to be done.
- We need to invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts. It is the Spirit working in our hearts that enables us to experience God’s power in our lives. This power roots us in love, helps us understand the amazing love of God, and allows us to experience the full and abundant life Jesus promised his followers.
- We need to ask God to work in our lives. God is able accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. He has the power to help us overcome the addictions that hold us in bondage, to forgive the people who have deeply and significantly hurt us, and to live in courage rather than to be controlled by fear. Many times we don’t experience this power in our lives because we don’t ask God to help us. Step out in faith and ask God to help you, to heal you, and to bind up your broken heart. He has the power to do more than you can even imagine.
God is interested in you having victory over sin, in living with courage, and experiencing true joy.
Don’t believe these things rest on your shoulders to achieve. Trust in God’s love and power to grant these things to you.
Surrender your life to Him and ask for Him for the strength to live the life He created you to live.