The Power of His Resurrection

Title: The Power of His Resurrection

Bible Book: Philippians 3 : 7-12

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Resurrection



In this passage, the apostle Paul was expressing the deepest longings of his heart.  Notice especially verse 10: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

Paul had already met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and at the time he wrote this letter to his friends at Philippi he had been a faithful, effective servant of Christ for many years.  So, when he expressed the desire to “know him,” he clearly was saying, “I want to know him even better”--and that ought to be the desire of every believer.  2 Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  The Greek word for “grow” is a verb of continuous action and literally means, “go on growing.”  Once we are converted, for the rest of our lives we are to grow spiritually.  As a preacher friend of mine, Johnny Sanders, expresses it, the wedding ceremony is the beginning of the marriage, not the sum total--and in like manner, conversion is the beginning of the Christian experience, not the sum total of it.

When he said, there in verse 10, that he wanted to know “the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death,” he was saying, “I want to have such a close walk with Christ that I experience, to the greatest extent possible, what he experienced.  I want to be totally his--to the point that I absolutely die to self, whatever the cost and however much I have to suffer to do it.”

But let’s go back, now, to the first part of verse 10: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.”  Paul was stating an awesome, marvelous truth.  He was saying that we sinful, finite human beings can actually experience in our lives the same divine power that raised up Jesus from the dead!--if we meet God’s conditions. 

I want to name three ways in which people may experience Christ’s resurrection power.


The Bible teaches that all have sinned, and that because of our sins we are spiritually dead--which means separated from God.  The Bible tells us further that if we continue to the end of our lives in that condition, we will then spend eternity apart from God in that unspeakably sad place of separation called hell.

But no one need remain in that condition.  Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins and to make available to us forgiveness, newness of life, and a home in heaven when we die.  He is able to do all of that because he didn’t stay in that tomb where they laid him after his death--but on the third day he arose, and is alive forevermore! 

Hebrews 7:25 says that “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Several years ago a few liberal philosophers tried to sell the public on the absurd idea that God is dead.  It didn’t get very far, but for a little while they got some publicity.  Someone asked the great black preacher, S. M. Lockridge, what he thought about the “God is dead” movement.  Lockridge said, “It ain’t so.  God ain’t dead--because I’m a member of the family, and I would have been notified.”  Well, amen!  There are many other clear evidences that God is alive and well.  I know personally that he is alive because, for one thing, I talked to him this very morning!

How do we receive that wonderful gift of salvation?    How do we tap into that resurrection power?  Ephesians 1:19-20 speaks of  “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.”  That’s how you access that power, by believing--but let me read the rest of it: “to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”

Romans 10:9-11 echoes that same truth: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”  That’s how you receive God’s gift of salvation, by faith--a faith that is accompanied by repentance, and a total yielding of our lives to him; and once we receive that gift, our lives are never again the same.  2 Corinthians 5:17 declares: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 

You won’t be perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’ve been saved your life will immediately be transformed, and then as you walk with the Lord daily you’ll gain increasing victory over the temptations that assail you.  If you have not been changed, then you simply haven’t been saved, regardless of how many professions you might have made or how many churches you might have joined. 


Many years ago, when I was serving another church, a lady came to the office to talk with me one afternoon.  She was a very active member, and a leader among the women of the church--and she nearly blew me away when she told me why she had come.  She said that she was going to divorce her husband, and wanted me to recommend a good Christian lawyer.  I had been in their home and witnessed to her husband.  I had done my best to help him see his need.  He would listen to me courteously, but he had no interest whatsoever.  I knew that she and he were on different wave-lengths, but I had no idea that it had come to that.  She said, “I know how you feel about divorce, but I’ve made up my mind--I don’t love him, and I’m going to divorce him.”  She added this: “Oh, I suppose I love him in the general sense that a Christian ought to love everybody, but I don’t love him like a wife ought to love a husband--and I don’t see any hope of  improvement, so I’m getting out.  I’m not going to go on any longer in a loveless marriage.” 

I had known this lady even before I came to that church.  I had known her whole family, and had been their pastor.  I called her by name and said, “Let me ask you a question.  Don’t you believe that a God who could raise up the dead body of his Son from the grave can also resurrect dead love, or even create love where it has never existed, if you’ll ask him?”  Be it said to her credit, she agreed to call on God for resurrection power to save their marriage--and the outcome was that she laid aside her plans to get a divorce.  They stayed together.  I expect it wasn’t an ideal marriage, but together they raised their son, who--the last I knew--had turned out to be a fine young man.  Then--lo and behold!--I later learned, after I had left that area, that her husband had made a profession of faith in Christ, had been baptized, and had united with the church.  They’ve both gone on to glory now, but before she died she wrote me a letter thanking me for encouraging her not to give up.

Perhaps something has died in your marriage.  Maybe love has died, or common courtesy, or unselfishness, or sensitivity to your spouse’s need for you to spend time with him or her, to listen, to communicate.  Or maybe something has died in your personal life; maybe integrity has died, or self-confidence.  Or maybe you have allowed to die the awareness that you, as a believer, need to be faithful to your church.  But whatever has died in your marriage or in your personal life, the same divine power that raised the dead body of Jesus from the grave will resurrect whatever needs to be resurrected if you’ll spend time on your knees, in his Word, and if you’ll make a fresh, new surrender of your will to his.

If you’ve already experienced the heartbreak of divorce, our God, who raised the body of his Son from the grave, will lift you out of the valley of despair and help you to get your life back together again, if you’ll submit yourself to him and call on him.

One of the saddest realities of our day is that so many of us who name Christ as Savior and Lord are living woefully below our potential.  Years ago J. B. Phillips wrote a book entitled Your God Is Too Small--and of course, as you would know from that title, he was taking us Christians to task for living in such spiritual poverty, when the Lord wants to pour out his spiritual riches on us if only we will believe his promises and then act in light of them.  We so often let this increasingly secular, unregenerate world intimidate us and pressure us, to the point that we cave in and become weak-kneed, namby-pamby “go alongers.”  The devil hurls his fiery darts of temptation at us, and we so often crumble.  Even though resurrection power is available to us as believers, we fail to tap into it.

A few years ago I was preaching in revival services in a town in Kentucky.  One morning I was having coffee with some other men in a restaurant, and a very nice little Oriental lady waited on us.  It turned out that she had had a rough time and was carrying some heavy burdens, but when I asked her about her relationship with Christ, she lighted up and said, “I know him.  He keeps me going.”  Some under the sound of my voice today are carrying some heavy loads, and dealing with some really tough, heartbreaking situations--but he’ll keep you going, too, if you’ll make sure your life is absolutely surrendered to him.  

The moment a person repents of his sins and in faith receives Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus--in the person of the Holy Spirit--comes into that individual’s life to dwell, never to leave.  If we’ll spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, and each day yield ourselves afresh to his control, the indwelling Holy Spirit will energize us and enable us to resist temptation--for the pressure that he exerts from the inside will be greater than any pressure Satan can exert from without.  2 Peter 2:9 reminds us that “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations....


I want to emphasize now a way in which Christ’s resurrection power is certain to be experienced by every truly born-again person--and that is in the resurrection of our physical bodies.The fact is that every person’s body--whether or not he is a Christian--will one day be resurrected--but it will be profoundly different for the Christian as opposed to the lost person.

A friend of mine, whose nickname is Sonny, told about an experience he had when he was in the U. S. Army.  He did well in his military career, and advanced to the rank of Colonel, but he wasn’t a Christian.  Finally, though, before he retired from the service, he was converted--and he immediately began sharing his faith.  He talked with a particular Sergeant about the need to trust Christ and be saved, so that he might go to heaven instead of hell.  That Sergeant said, “Colonel, when I die they’re going to put me in a box, lower that box into a hole, and throw dirt on top of the box--and, Colonel, that will be the end of me.  That’s all there is.”  About a week later Sonny got a call from another officer, and he told Sonny that that Sergeant had been killed.  When Sonny told a group of us that story, he said, “I can almost hear the dirt being piled on that Sergeant’s coffin--and it haunts me.”

Tragically, that poor man now knows that the grave is not the end.

What the Scriptures teach about the resurrection of the body is not really complicated.  When you bring together the various Bible references on the subject, it amounts to this: At the very instant of death, the soul of the Christian goes immediately to heaven, and the soul of the non-Christian goes immediately to hell.  Your soul is the essential “you” that understands, yearns, believes, aspires, and relates--and your soul has the full range of sensibilities.  The souls of believers in heaven enjoy all the blessings of that wonderful place, and the souls of lost people in hell experience untold agony and despair.

But the Bible also teaches that one day, when Jesus returns to earth visibly, the body of every dead person will be resurrected, made whole again, and reunited with his soul--with the result that from that point on the whole person, body and soul, will spend eternity in that place of final abode to which his soul went at the moment of death.  The resurrection of Christians will take place first, and then in God’s own time the resurrection of the lost. 

Concerning believers, here’s what Paul said in Philippians 3:20-21: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”  Regardless of what things might have been like down here, in heaven the Christian will experience perfect health.  In John 5 Jesus speaks of “the resurrection of life,” referring to Christians, of course--and he also speaks of “the resurrection of damnation,” obviously referring to the lost.

So, for believers, the resurrection of our bodies is a glorious event to which we look forward with excitement and gratitude.  But for unbelievers, the resurrection of the body will be a horrible experience, as that body is joined to the soul which is already in torment.

“Well, preacher, as a believer I do look forward to the resurrection of the body, but what about those whose bodies have been destroyed--people who have been blown to bits by bombs, or have been tragically drowned at sea, or perished in some other way?”

The answer is that that poses no problem whatsoever for God.  He created these bodies, after all, and whatever the circumstances of death might have been, he has the power to make our bodies whole again.  You can mark it down on the authority of his Word: God can make decomposed bodies whole again--and he will.

What will the resurrection of the body be like for you?  If you’re saved, it will be a glorious experience, but if you’re not saved it will be terrible because you will be included in what Jesus called “the resurrection of damnation.”  But you can change that, if you don’t wait until it’s too late.  You can repent of your sins and by faith ask Jesus to come into your heart and be your personal Lord and Savior; and when you sincerely do that, you’ll be ready for death, for the resurrection, for the judgment--and you’ll be ready to live this present life as God intended, instead of living it as you are now: to use Paul‘s terminology in Ephesians 2:12: “...having no hope, and without God in the world.”

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