SIMPLE TRUTH: The ‘therefore’ of Easter SundayBy Staff Reports Published 7:58pm Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Charles Christmas
The word “therefore” in a document normally refers back to the preceding statement of facts, and in anticipation of action or actions taken or to be taken on the basis to the facts. Such is the “therefore” in the final verse of the greatest of all documents on the resurrection of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 15:58. It reads, “Therefore, my dear believers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord Jesus, because you know that your labor in the Lord Jesus is not in vain.”
The “therefore” of Easter Sunday refers back to the facts of the saving Gospel which are: “Christ died for our sins to fulfill Old Testament Scriptures, was buried and was raised on the third day in fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures.” The “therefore” refers back to the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus confirmed by a listing of specific groups, persons and a multitude to whom he appeared in his resurrection body. “Therefore” refers back to the fact that all kinds of persons, over a long span of years, had been changed by the saving Gospel, whether presented by believers who had or had not seen the risen Christ alive with their own eyes. “Therefore” refers to the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus as the all-encompassing foundation and guarantee for all true believers. Upon the resurrection of Jesus rests the sure foundation of our faith; the assurance of forgiveness of sins and acceptance before Holy God; the reality of our personal testimony of Christ alive in our lives; the authenticity of the gospel being God’s only message of hope for all people; the guarantee that our earthly life will be filled with purpose and meaning; the certainty of a life beyond description for us beyond death; and the assurance that dead believers are presently with the Lord Jesus, which is even far better than the best of our present life.
Based on the previous facts in the document, “therefore” now calls for a present mindset and action. “Stand firm! Let nothing move you! Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord Jesus!” Has the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed your mindset and actions? Has it mine? Will it? Will we allow it? We must! We must move from the truth, the drama and the celebration of the Holy Day into the personal “power of his resurrection.” Our personal commitment must be: “I will stand firm; I will not allow anyone or anything to move me; I will give myself fully.” Therefore, we must move toward Easter Sunday and away from Easter Sunday with this commitment.
The “therefore” of Easter Sunday also directs us from a one-time resurrection day or an annual resurrection day to a weekly resurrection day. Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. He appeared in his resurrection body to his gathered disciples on the first day of the week. He appeared a second time to his gathered disciples, with Thomas present, on the first day of the week.
By the time 1 Corinthians was written, the believers had moved their weekly day for meeting together for sharing, worship, preaching and teaching to Sunday, the resurrection day and the first day of the week, called the Lord’s Day. The very next verse following the “therefore” verse, the Apostle Paul calls upon the believers, who were meeting then on the first day of the week, to “give weekly on Sunday as God had prospered them” (1 Corinthians 16:1). The local church’s practice for meeting and worship and teaching and preaching had been firmly established for Resurrection Sunday, the first day of the week according to Acts 20:7. “Upon the first day of the week, when the believers came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” God intends for believers to celebrate Resurrection Sunday—the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, every week—as an on-going, continuing and living experience.
Let us respond to the “therefore” of Easter Sunday with a renewed mindset and action, and let us make a weekly “Resurrection Sunday” for the gathered church a genuine on-going priority.
—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.