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April 2014

 

Dear Friend,

Has the familiarity of the Easter story lessened your appreciation of all that Christ attained for you? If you have been a believer for any length of time, you’ve probably read the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection on more than one occasion and have been privileged to hear multiple sermons on the subject. To keep the wonder fresh in our hearts, we could all use an encouraging reminder of the amazing blessings that are ours because Christ died and rose again.

Just consider this: Christianity stands upon the foundation of the cross and the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:14). Without them, our faith would be worthless, and we’d have no hope of heaven. But since Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and was then raised from the grave, we have been forgiven and granted eternal life. Now our lives are infused with a sense of direction and purpose. Furthermore, Christ’s resurrection power flows through us, enabling us to live in a manner worthy of our Lord and Savior.

If we’ll start living daily in light of the cross and the resurrection, our thoughts, our attitudes, and even our responses to the troubles and cares of this world, will be dramatically changed. So let’s consider the blessings we have through Christ our Savior.

First of all, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). Although we presently live here on earth, our true home is now officially in heaven. The Philippians, to whom Paul originally addressed this statement, would have understood the significance of citizenship because Philippi was a Roman colony. Everyone in Philippi became a citizen of the Roman Empire on their day of birth, with all the rights and opportunities that Roman citizenship granted. That’s exactly what happened when we were born again as God’s children—we entered into His kingdom by the new birth and received all the privileges and protections of citizenship. Knowing that heaven is our home not only helps us hold the world’s pleasures and pursuits loosely, but it also gives us encouragement and hope to persevere through life’s hardships and heartaches.

Second, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27). This registration in Christ’s kingdom is important, because it verifies that we belong to Him and entitles us to life in heaven. As a kid, I used to wonder how God was going to keep all the names straight. What if there was more than one Charles Stanley? Well, you can be sure there is no confusion in heaven. The Lord knows each one of us, and He has inscribed our names in His book—never to be erased! This truth silences all the doubts that keep us from living in the security of our salvation.

Third, God promises to give us resurrected bodies perfectly suited for our heavenly home(1 Cor. 15:48-54). We won’t have to pour any more time and effort into maintaining and beautifying these old bodies that are wasting away. Christ’s resurrection guarantees that we too will be raised with strong, perfect, glorious, and immortal bodies. Whenever I teach on this subject, I’m always asked what we’ll look like. One thing I can say for sure is we’re going to look better than we ever have. The truth is we don’t know exactly what we’ll look like, but 1 John 3:2 tells us we will be like Christ—not in facial features or specific physical attributes, but in character. We’ll become the people God ultimately intended that we be. Have you recently become discouraged with your spiritual progress? Perhaps you truly desire to become more like Christ, but the transformation seems so slow. Instead of becoming disheartened, remember that God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).

And finally, we have a secure inheritance waiting for us in heaven. Not long ago, I was speaking with a gentleman employed as a financial adviser. He told me that some of his clients are never satisfied. No matter how much they have, they always think they need more. But financial investments can never guarantee true security. Our savings could disappear in a moment, or we could die before ever using them. But as Christians, we never have to worry about the future, because our inheritance is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [us]” (1 Pet. 1:4).

Although these blessings are awaiting us in eternity, there are three things we can do now to build up our reward in heaven—love people, give generously, and serve God faithfully (Luke 6:35). If His plan for our lives had only included a heavenly future, then He would have taken us home immediately after salvation. But He’s left us here so Jesus can live His life through us. His indwelling Spirit gives us the ability to do whatever He’s called us to do—whether it’s demonstrating His love to lost and hurting people, giving of our time and treasure, or serving the Lord by helping others.

When we live in light of the cross and the resurrection, we’ll have a heavenly focus that gives us confidence, security, and eternal hope. But that kind of focus will also motivate us to faithfully serve the Lord, knowing that the time and effort we invest in doing His work is valuable in His eyes and worthy of eternal reward.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. The Easter season is a wonderful time of year—and it’s made all the more special when we take time to reflect on the blessings that are ours in Christ because of His death and resurrection. To help you in your quiet times with the Lord, we’ve created a special devotions section for the April In Touch magazine. If you don’t currently receive In Touch magazine, don’t worry—this special Easter section is also available at intouch.org/magazine. My prayer is that the Bible studies, devotions, and artwork we’ve included will encourage you as you journey through Holy Week this year.