Vol.XVI No.VIII Pg.5
October 1979

Our Resurrected Life

Robert F. Turner

In Philippians 3: Paul disclaimed any righteousness of his own (merited through birth, outward circumcision, zeal, etc.) and placed his trust in Christ — "the right-eousness which is of God by faith" (v.9). Then he says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (vv. 10-17). Did he, in the underscored passage, show doubts about his bodily resurrection?

I think not. Paul's striving for the resurrection was a striving to attain unto the perfected "new life" in Christ. Now, think with me.

In Romans 6: Paul raised what we hope was a hypothetical case: Shall we continue in sin in order to have the more grace (forgiveness)? He answers, in essence, of course not. We are dead to sin, having died with Jesus. (We put our former way of life behind us, crucifying self.) How can a "dead man" live a life of sin? Here is the negative side of the matter.

Then, on the positive side, Paul says that, following his death and burial, Christ "liveth unto God" (v. 10), and indicates that we are to so live. This "resurrected life" is the ...new man" life of growth toward perfection in Christ Jesus.

This seems to be the point in the Philippian letter. Paul acknowledges that attaining unto this new life, in its fullest sense; this "resurrection from the dead" (former life of sin); is only for those who "conform unto his death, having a sharing relationship in his sufferings, etc. All this is contingent upon our faith in Him rather than upon our merit.

But Paul's rejection of meritorious achievement sanctions neither the popular "faith only" concept, nor the "security of the believer." In Romans 6: he makes it clear that while the saints intent and purpose is to live unto God, he can "let sin reign in" his body, and can "yield his members as instruments of unrighteousness" (6:12-13), and "the wages of sin is death" — still (v. 23).

In Philippians, Paul's striving is a humbling process. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect" but (1) I follow after (2) if that I may apprehend. (3) Paul "reaches forth" and (4) "presses" toward the mark. And these efforts are characteristic of the perfect (mature) Christian's attitude. It is no lack of faith in Christ that calls forth these statements. It does not express doubt concerning his conversion. But he realistically appraises himself, and all saints, as something less than what they should and could be. We have yet to "lay hold" on that which Christ made attainable (v.12).

Of course the final resurrection is not forgotten. Immediately following the passage we have studied, Paul says "Our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation" (vv. 20-21). But the final resurrection will be joyous only for those who strive for the "new life" now.