A more marvelous unfolding of the power of Christ’s resurrection, both in Him and in us, could not be found than that in the first chapter of Ephesians. That declaration of the exceeding greatness of God’s power will be seen in heaven forever. It was far more stupendous than the work of creation.
There are references to the resurrection of Christ in the epistles to the Colossians and to the Philippians that might well exercise our hearts. To the Colossians, Paul wrote: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes his own ambition in these stirring words: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:10).
Everything that Saul of Tarsus as a zealous Jew would have died for, he counted but refuse for Christ. The soul of Saul had once burned with a zeal for the traditions of his fathers. When he considered that Jesus of Nazareth and His disciples were contrary to these traditions, he was “exceedingly mad against them.” Before he was saved, he would not allow himself to consider for one moment any testimony to the resurrection of Christ. No witness of men or of miracle had the slightest weight with him. It seemed that after Stephen’s death, nothing whatever could penetrate the armor of blinded bigotry with which he was encompassed. Saul of Tarsus was as great an enemy to Christ as ever breathed. When God by His miracles and signs, with the testimony of His servants, goaded Saul, as a master would a stubborn ox, then Saul kicked against the pricks. Nothing reached his perverted conscience until the Lord Himself appeared to Saul and spoke to him with a voice that could not be mistaken. He answered, “Who art Thou, Lord?” What a question for a praying Pharisee! What a confession for a “Hebrew of the Hebrews!”
That sight of Christ in resurrection, that revelation of Jesus of Nazareth in the excellent glory, that declaration that Jesus was Jehovah, turned the world of Saul of Tarsus completely upside down. Such a perfect reversal of all that made up a bigot’s life had seldom been seen. Inside and out, Saul of Tarsus was now the very opposite of all that he had been before. The resurrection of Christ that he had rejected with all the bitter hatred of his passionate soul, now he accepted with a repentance and devotion that was as deep as his flaming opposition had been before.
Who could account for this radical and complete change in a man like Saul of Tarsus apart from the confession that what Saul said of himself was true? Who could find a reason to explain the fact of the adherence of Paul to his confession of Christ’s resurrection, in the face of a whole life of loss, and shame, and suffering, and isolation, and death, for that testimony, without the acknowledgement that the astute and honest Paul knew that Christ’s resurrection was a reality?
Paul’s inspired testimony and undaunted life are proofs of the fact of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Men like Lord Lyttleton and Gilbert West with giant intellects but honest hearts have faced the problem of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and, losing their infidelity as Saul did his blind religion at the feet of Christ, have risen to proclaim that Jesus who was crucified rose again the third day and is Lord. Millions have done what Paul by the Spirit says every man should do. I stop with Paul’s imperishable testimony: “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” (Rom. 10:9).
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Excerpt from A Plant of Renown