Key Thoughts from LIFT: Experiencing the Elevated Life 
Tony Cooke

The following article is an excerpt from Tony’s new book. Wholesale orders can be placed through Harrison House (800-888-4126). Retail purchases can be made by clicking here or by calling our office at 918-645-9120.

Lift: Experiencing the Elevated LifeIf there is one word in Scripture that decisively communicates God’s overwhelming determination to lift his people, it is the word resurrection. Even though the most important day on the Church calendar is Easter—the Sunday when Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, it can be argued that the regular, consistent demonstration of Jesus’ resurrection power in the lives of his followers is far from what it should be.

People who merely give a respectful nod to Christ’s resurrection once a year do not experience his resurrection power on a daily basis. The average Christian knows of Jesus’ resurrection as historical fact and is aware of the resurrection of the dead—that future event when believers will receive glorified bodies. However, believers also need to experience and apply this resurrection power to their daily lives in the here and now.

Most believers know that forgiveness and the new birth is available to them through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but what if Jesus’ resurrection releases much more to us? Imagine the power flowing from Christ’s resurrection lifting our attitudes. Imagine it lifting our love-walk—the way we treat and interact with others. What about our morals? Our marriages and families? Even our sense of generosity—all transformed and lifted by the power of the resurrection? How about the way we talk—our speech? And what about what we do with our bodies? All of these decisions and actions are meant to be affected by the resurrection of Christ and the status that his resurrection bestows upon us.

Even God-followers in the Old Testament experienced lift by having what might be called “a resurrection mindset.” Even though the resurrection of Jesus had not yet occurred, these people of faith still recognized God’s life-giving, miracle-working nature. The author of Hebrews notes:

HEBREWS 11:17-19 (NLT)
It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

In Romans, Paul writes that Abraham became the father of many nations because he “believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing” (4:17, NLT). While this specific story of God asking Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice is unique, the principle involving faith and trust is transcendent. Anytime God asks us to obey and follow his instructions, we can be sure that his resurrecting power is able to work in our situation.

Through faith in Christ, we not only partake of resurrection life, but we are also to demonstrate a resurrection lifestyle. Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Jesus identified with us in our death so that we could identify with him in his resurrection.

If we identify with Christ, then “the glory of the Father” is to affect how we live our everyday lives. We know that resurrection power is to influence our lifestyle in the here and now because Romans 6:13 admonishes us, “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Notice, we are not only to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), but we are also to recognize that we are “alive from the dead” (6:13). What we then do with our members—our bodies—should reflect our resurrection life status. Two chapters later, Paul again talks about our partaking of resurrection power:

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.

While it is entirely true that there will be a future work of resurrection when we receive our glorified bodies, it is also true that not all of God’s resurrection work toward us is reserved exclusively for the future. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us now, and he is certainly not dormant!

Famed theologian and Protestant reformer John Calvin did not believe that Romans 8:11 referred to the final resurrection “but [to] the continued working of the Spirit, by which he gradually mortifies the relics of the flesh and renews in us a celestial life.” [1] Calvin certainly believed in the future resurrection, but he thought this specific verse referred to an ongoing, current experience in the life of the believer whereby the Spirit of God empowers us to rise above the pull of the flesh and to receive impartations of heavenly strength. If Calvin is correct here, and I believe that he is, it would be correct to say, “God, I know that you will someday resurrect and completely transform my body, but in the meantime, I believe the Holy Spirit—the one who raised Jesus from the dead—is quickening, energizing, vivifying, and giving life to my mortal body even now!”

The Apostle Paul supports this type of declaration when he writes, “We have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory” (Rom 8:23, NLT). One translation renders this verse this way: “The Spirit we have now is our first taste of heaven” (NTLT). Hebrews 6:5 references mature believers as those who have “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come.” What a tremendous thought! Even now, we can sample a taste of the powers of the age to come. In the future, we will receive brand new, glorified, and resurrected bodies, but right now we have available to us (and should enjoy) this foretaste of future glory, this first taste of heaven.

This idea of experiencing a taste of heaven reminds me Fanny Crosby’s great hymn Blessed Assurance:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Yes, heaven will be wonderful for the believer, and receiving our glorified bodies will be a tremendous event, but we do not have to wait for those events before we begin the process of experiencing God’s powerful lift in our daily lives. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is living and operative in us now! Through Jesus, we have a foretaste now of future glory.

Similar to those in the Book of Romans, there are teachings in the first chapter of Ephesians about believers experiencing lift through resurrection power. Consider Paul’s prayer:

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

The Amplifed Bible emphasizes the fact that resurrection power is to work in us and for us! It refers to “the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated him at his [own] right hand.” We can know the  same power that raised Jesus from the dead in an experiential way! Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest points out that this incredibly great power that God releases toward us “is not thought of here as operating only in the future, but also at present.” [2]

Referring to this same passage in Ephesians, Elmer Towns writes: “If Christians understood and applied the resurrection and ascension of Christ, it would radically change much of the work done for God by them. Christians need not be defeated. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead works not only to save us but to assist us in our Christian life and service.” [3]

Yet another commentator states, “God’s energetic power which resurrected and exalted Christ in the past is the same power available to believers in the present. What an amazing source of spiritual vitality, power, and strength for living the Christian life!” [4] The Apostle Paul continues and expands this thought of our partaking of Christ’s resurrection power later in Ephesians when he writes that God “raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6, NLT). Now that is lift!

What does “lift” look like when it is operating in our lives? When we have yielded to the power that flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we may be surprised at how pervasive and practical God’s influence in our lives can be. Resurrection power can drastically affect our overall attitude toward life and our attitude toward others. We can see hope where others see none. We envision possibilities when others have given up. Encouragement rises inside us even in the midst of discouraging circumstances. We reject pessimism, cynicism, and fatalism. We are empowered by a confidence that does not come from this world. Resurrection life provides a wellspring of joy and peace from which we draw and by which we are sustained. We don’t see the end of this temporal, mortal existence as the end of life. Rather, we have an eternal perspective of our own lives and of life itself. Everything and everyone takes on greater value because of how and why God created us. “Resurrection” is not just a past event or a future promise; it affects us dynamically in the here and now.

May you live every day in the resurrection power of God!

[1]  Calvin, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1539), loc. 458, Kindle. John

[2]  Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Logos Bible Software.

[3]  Elmer L. Towns, What The Faith Is All About: Basic Doctrines of Christianity (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace, 1998), 201.

[4]  Harold W. Hoehner, “Ephesians,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Vol. 2. (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 621.