Are you stuck in the tomb?
This being the weekend when billions around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, I couldn’t contain a message that has been burning in my heart for some time. Today I want to share with you the key to power, authority, and intimacy with God!
It sounds like I have some secret to reveal, but the fact is that I’m simply going to show you what has always been clearly spelled out in the Bible we all read. (And yet I constantly cross paths with Christians who say they’ve never heard this before!)
Get ready to have your eyes opened! It’s a simple key, but it’s powerful! I don’t usually write articles this long, but this one has the capacity to transform your life!
As Christians, we rightly believe that the crucifixion was NOT the last chapter in the life of Jesus. Our Lord and King rose victoriously from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit! But many of us stop there and miss the next chapter: Jesus left the tomb.
You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about or why this is even important. It’s INCREDIBLY important! Again, this is the key to power, authority, and intimacy with God!
Let me explain…
The Cross: The Key to Forgiveness, Healing, and Deliverance
Jesus paid a very high price through His execution. His blood purchased forgiveness for everyone on the planet…not only for Christians, but for everyone:
1 John 2:2 — He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)
As Jesus hung on the cross, God was reconciling the world to Himself, refusing to count our sins against us. (See 2 Corinthians 5:19.) Everything our sin demanded was poured out on Jesus. “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23.) The blood He shed paid the price for our forgiveness. (See Matthew 26:28, Ephesians 1:7, and Hebrews 9:22.)
When Jesus died, everyone died. (See 2 Corinthians 5:14) Sin was put to death; and therefore, anyone who lives in sin is not living at all. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21.) As Paul said, those who are in sin are already dead. (See Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13.)
But that’s the shocking beauty of it: No one has to “come to the cross.” We’re all already there! You don’t need anything supernatural to happen to make you die with Jesus. It has already happened; many just don’t realize it yet. In fact, Paul makes our “death with Christ” little more than a mental decision that it actually happened: “…count yourselves dead to sin…” (See Romans 6:11.) Other versions say, “Reckon yourselves…” or, “Consider yourselves…” In other words, simply decide that it’s ridiculous for you to live in sin because dead people don’t sin! (See Romans 6:7.)
We have been given the free choice to stay dead (by rejecting what Jesus did) or to live (by embracing what He did). And here’s how you embrace it: Simply decide to partner with Him! Decide that your sinful nature died when He died. “Reckon” it dead.
Whichever decision you make, it will be eternal.
Again, to “die with Christ” is little more than a realization that you have already died with Him, and thus there is no sense living in sin. Sin itself was put to death at the cross. To live in sin is to trample the cross and reject the sacrifice Jesus made. But to consider yourself dead with Him — to accept that your sinful nature died when He died — is to embrace Him and His sacrifice.
The price Jesus paid purchased your “salvation.” In the original Greek, the word for “save” literally means complete wholeness of body, soul, and spirit. Throughout the English Bible, the Greek word “sozo” is interchangeably translated as “saved,” “healed,” or “delivered.” Consider what the prophet Isaiah wrote about the power of Jesus’ sacrifice:
Isaiah 53:4-5 — Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. (AMP)
Jesus’ sacrifice is the key to forgiveness, healing, and deliverance from the kingdom of darkness — complete wholeness of body, soul, and spirit. Again, this part of the process is little more than a mental decision; but that’s as far as your effort goes! The supernatural takes over from here…
The Resurrection: The Key to New Life and Purity
Jesus didn’t stay dead. On the third day after His death, God’s power entered the tomb. The Holy Spirit breathed new life into Jesus’ body. He was completely transformed — so much so that His own disciples didn’t recognize Him. (See Luke 24:16.) Something happened between Friday (when Jesus was “sin personified,” beaten beyond human likeness) and Sunday (when Jesus was the risen and victorious Son of God — pure, spotless, healed, whole, and free). And when we partner with Christ, that same thing happens to us!
Romans 6:5-8 — For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (NIV)
It’s important to realize that Jesus couldn’t raise Himself from the dead. The Holy Spirit did it. In the same way, while we may have the power to “consider ourselves dead,” we do not have the power to consider ourselves alive. Becoming a new creation is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:11 — And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (NIV)
This is what it means to be “born again.” (See John 3:3 and 1 Peter 1:23.) If you have decided to embrace Jesus in His death, then He has taken you into the grave with Him; and the same Holy Spirit who raised Him from the dead has come to live in you as well! Just like Jesus, you’re a new creation! (See 2 Corinthians 5:17.)
Now you can say with Paul:
Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)
But that’s not the end! And this — I believe — is why so many Christians have been transformed inwardly yet are not walking in the power and authority available to them…
The Ascension: The Key to Power, Authority, and Intimacy with God
If you have a trip planned to Jerusalem any time soon, I hate to ruin it for you, but Jesus isn’t there! He didn’t sit around in the tomb for the next 2,000 years! On the contrary, Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. (See Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:9.)
Think about what it means for Jesus to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven: It’s a place of power, authority, and intimacy with God!
Now follow the logic: If you died with Him, then you were also raised with Him. And if you were raised with Him, then you have also ascended with Him!
Ephesians 2:4-6 — But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus… (NIV, emphasis added)
You have been invited to sit on the throne with Jesus! I’m talking about being whisper-close to the Father! You have been given the key to power, authority, and intimacy with God!
Revelation 3:21 — [Jesus said,] “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (NIV)
It’s Time to Move On…
Here’s why all of this is so intensely on my heart: There are many Jesus-loving Christians who don’t realize what is available. Many are stuck in one place or another and simply need to move forward with their lives.
Perhaps you’re stuck at the cross. In other words, do you find yourself living sin-focused — constantly repenting of the same old thing but never really changing? If that’s you, then it sounds like you haven’t yet placed your full faith in Jesus. If you had, then you would be a new creation who no longer lives in sin.
Whenever we commit sinful actions, we are only proving our lack of faith. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” (See Hebrews 11:6.)
1 John 3:9 — No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (NIV)
1 John 5:18 — We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. (NIV)
Some Christians will tell you that sin is inevitable, but that’s only because they haven’t experienced the freedom that Jesus made available. I live free from sin. Does that mean I never mess up or accidentally fall short of God’s glory? Not at all, and God corrects me for those things. But when it comes to willful, deliberate sin, that’s not a part of my life anymore.
The same can be true of you!
If you’re stuck at the cross — still living in sin — it’s time to fully trust the Holy Spirit. Receive the forgiveness that Jesus has made freely available! Admit that when Jesus died, you died. Embrace the sacrifice of Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to make you a new creation!
The Big Question: Have You Left the Tomb?
Another possibility is that you’re like many Christians who have received new life from the Holy Spirit but still feel like they’re missing something. You may have all kinds of internal “fruit:” Christ-like attitudes, mindsets, character, and emotions. But something nags at your spirit that there must be more. You wonder why others seem to demonstrate God’s power and authority while walking in intimacy with Him. You think things like:
What’s different about their life?
What do they have that I don’t have?
We’re both saved, so why do they seem to know God so much better than I do?
The answer is simple: These people didn’t stop at the tomb.
When I was a teenager, the “WWJD” bracelet fad was in full swing. “What Would Jesus Do?” was the slogan. I, however, refused to wear one — not simply because I don’t really care about fads, but because I believed the question was doctrinally flawed. The Christian life is not about asking “What would Jesus do?” Rather, it is about asking, “What is Jesus doing?”
Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing. “…whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (See John 5:19.) Jesus never asked, “What would My Father do?” If Jesus had relied on yesterday’s revelation of the Father, then He would have gone around destroying sinners rather than redeeming them. Instead, Jesus focused on what the Father was presently doing. And as a result, Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, revealing the true heart of the Father — His love, mercy, and compassion. (See Hebrews 1:3.)
Admittedly, our role is not to usher in any other sort of covenant. The one Jesus established is more than enough. It doesn’t need to change!
Nevertheless, we are NOT invited to represent Jesus as He was when He walked the earth. On the contrary, we are like Him right now!
1 John 4:17b — …as He is, so are we in this world. (NKJV)
We’re not like Him as He was; we’re like Him as He is! And that’s why we can do greater things than Jesus:
John 14:12 — Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (NIV, emphasis added)
Do you see? The reason we can do greater things than Jesus is because He went to the Father! We’re not like Him as He was; we’re like Him as He is!
Jesus is different now than when He walked the earth. According to Paul, when Jesus left heaven to walk among us, He gave up everything about Himself that could be considered as “God,” and He humbled Himself even to the point of dying a criminal’s death. But after that, God “exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name!” (See Philippians 2:5-11.)
That’s the Jesus we resemble now.
Step Out of the Tomb!
Those who live in the tomb can only see earth. They may be transformed, pure, and free from sin; but their thoughts are focused on earthly things. This should not be. It’s time to think like ascended people and realize the fullness of what is available as we sit with Jesus on His throne!
Colossians 3:1-3 — Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (NIV)
The more you think like Jesus thinks, the easier it will be to live like Jesus is. You’ll be able to do what Jesus is doing and say what Jesus is saying. People will look at you and see Jesus in the present-day. You won’t merely be someone trying to imitate the Jesus of 2,000 years ago. (If that’s the case, then you won’t be able to do things greater than He did.) On the contrary, you’ll be a representation of the Jesus who is presently in heaven — the One who has all authority in heaven and earth… the One who sees the Father face to face.
There are many people who say, “If Jesus would just appear to me in all His glory, then I would believe in Him.”
Go, and be that to people.