The Power of the Resurrection Worldview

The Power of the Resurrection Worldview

If you noticed the title of this week’s episode, you may be wondering, “What in the world is a resurrection worldview and why does it matter?” It turns out not only that a resurrection worldview is an essential biblical concept for Christians; it is the foundation for the three specific truths that Paul repeatedly asks for God to help the Ephesian Christians grasp. This episode examines these three life-changing PERSPECTIVES.  

Before digging into the three resurrection truths that Paul yearned for the Ephesians to grasp, let’s consider why a person’s view, his perception of the truth, his mental perspective matter so much. Let’s start way back with happiness. Scripture teaches that happiness and life-satisfaction are not a result of circumstances but of the ATTITUDE you choose. For example, Proverbs 15:5 observes, All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. Jesus taught the same truth when he began his portrait of kingdom restoration with eight godly attitudes (known as the beatitudes) introducing each one with the term blessed (MAKARIOS), which is the Greek word for the entirely fulfilled. So, Jesus’ plan to transform our heart attitudes, restoring them to holiness, happens to be the pathway to fullest enjoyment of life.

If at the core of God’s salvation plan is transforming our sinful heart attitudes into Christ-like ones, no wonder Paul wants us to have a resurrection perspective. One of the great secrets of life taught in Scripture is this: Your PERSPECTIVE determines your ATTITUDE. If you doubt that, just consider how your attitude of thankfulness for getting an unexpected 10% raise from your boss would change if you found out everyone else got a 15% raise. Or consider how, after taking a step onto the street to cross it, your angry attitude towards a pedestrian whose arm flies out against your chest shoving you backwards into a mud puddle would be transformed to gratefulness if you then saw a bus fly across the surface of the road on which you were just standing! Our attitude is inseparably bound to our perspective. It should not surprise us that Paul, who knew that God’s goal is to transform our heart attitudes, wrote to the Romans, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the RIGHT PERSPECTIVE—the renewal of your mind (12:2).

With this background, we can see why Paul’s prayer strategy for the Ephesian Christians began with prayer for them to have a correct RESURECTION PERSPECTIVE, i.e. to mentally grasp the way the resurrection impacts our everyday living in specific ways. As we now come to these three truths, notice in the text we’re studying, how Paul piles up words that have to do with PERSPECTIVE. Ephesians 1:16-23: I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of 1) wisdom and 2) revelation in the 3) knowledge of him, having the 4) eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may 5) know…Five different ways he refers to the PERSPECTIVE he longs for them to have—a perspective about what difference the resurrection makes. That resurrection worldview is to know: 1) What is the hope to which he has called you, 2) what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and 3) what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. If you are anything like me, these words go right over your head. What is Paul talking about? And why in the world does he single out these three aspects of the reality of the resurrection? I believe that as we dig into these truths, we will come away with a much richer understanding of how the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Day—matters in our everyday lives.


A. Biblical HOPE is richer than most of us realize. We recognize that the historic miracle of God suspending the natural order to raise Jesus from the dead validates Jesus’ claims. But it points to so much more. Author, Tim Keller observes: 

“The resurrection was indeed a marvelous display of God’s power, but we should not see it as a suspension of the natural order. Rather it was the beginning of the restoration of the natural order of the world, the world as God intended it to be. Since humanity turned away from God, both the human and natural worlds have been dominated by sin and evil, disorder and disease, suffering and death. But when Jesus rose from the dead, he inaugurated the first stage of the coming of God’s kingdom power into the world to restore and heal all things. The resurrection means not merely that Christians have hope for the future, but they have hope that comes from the future. The Bible’s startling message is that when Jesus rose, he brought the future kingdom of God into the present. It is not yet here fully but it is here substantially, and Christians live an impoverished life if they do not realize that it is available to them.” (Hope in Times of Fear).

If our view of what the resurrection accomplished is basically that when we die, we get to go to heaven, we’ve severely shrunk the biblical concept of hope, which is RESTORATION of CREATION PARADISE on EARTH—not ESCAPE from it.

“The world was created by God to be a place of perfect harmony under his rule. Everything was cohesively woven together with every other part of creation. There was no disharmony between the body and the soul, or between our feelings and our conscience. There was no conflict between individuals or the genders. The body never became disharmonious within itself—there was nothing like the disintegration of the body through disease, aging, and death. There was also perfect harmony between humanity and the animals and the environment. There was no broken relationship of any kind" (Ibid).

When we look behind the false worldviews we studied in this series, we realize that what is longed for is actually the restoration that Jesus is bringing. Behind broken sexuality is often a hunger for unconditional love. Behind the accusation that biblical patriarchy is toxic is often the feminist yearning for significance, and sense of worth. Beneath the pro-abortion position that embryos have no right to be in the way of women’s pursuit of happiness is the yearning for fulfillment. The day when open borders work is the day when sin and oppression are ultimately vanquished from earth. True resurrection hope is enormously attractive.

B. Biblical HOPE balances the ALREADY and NOT YET aspects of the kingdom. The kingdom of God and the Second Adam have already broken into Adam’s kingdom and overthrown the usurpers, Satan, sin, and death. As one theologian observes:

“We must not underestimate how present the kingdom of God is, but we must also must not underestimate how unrealized it is, how much it exists only in the future. Because the kingdom is present partially but not fully, we must expect substantial healing but not total healing in all areas of life...If we overstress the ‘already’ of the kingdom to the exclusion of the ‘not yet’ we will expect quick solutions to problems and we will be dismayed by suffering and tragedy. But we can likewise overstress the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom to the exclusion of the ‘already.’ We can be too pessimistic about personal change. We can withdraw from engaging the world, too afraid of being ‘polluted’ by it.” (Ibid).

C. Biblical HOPE energizes our CALLING. Christ-followers are those who have responded to our Master’s personal CALL to enlist in his cause—not  just throwing a lifeline to people guilty of sinning—but the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness and establishment of his kingdom of righteousness over every square inch of life on planet earth. Resurrection hope fires our passion. God has already begun to fix everything in this world broken by sin. What a privilege to be called to the mission to spread surrender to Christ’s rule over our own heart loyalties, heart attitudes and every sphere life where we have influence. “The kingdom of God is the renewal of the whole world through the entrance of supernatural forces. As things are restored under Christ’s rule and authority, they are restored to health, beauty, and freedom” (Tim, Keller, Ministries of Mercy). Because of Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, to be a Jesus-follower is to have a part in the most significant mission in history—overthrowing the kingdom of darkness.


This truth, which Paul considers life-changing, is not about OUR inheritance; the grammatical structure won’t allow that. This staggering truth is that WE are GOD’S inheritance. Let’s try to unwind some of the rich threads of this text.

  • Being God’s inheritance, though a striking concept, is consistent with the nature of God’s covenant with his people, which has always been a covenant of belonging: Exodus 6:7 says, I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God. Revelation 21:3 reads, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Scripture’s depiction of Israel as Yahweh’s lover and the church as Christ’s lover point to this incredible “belonging,” love relationship.
  • The term riches of his inheritance points to the immeasurable value that you have and I have to God. It is staggering. He is looking forward to enjoying ME forever. What a life-transforming statement of our personal value. Despite hearts that still wound God, personally, by our rebellion every time we sin, God not only tolerates us, but he ENJOYS us. WE are his treasured possession.
  • The cost of gaining US as his inheritance was infinite. You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. (1Pet 1:18).
  • What is more—that brother in Christ we can’t stand or disagree with is God’s treasure as well! Every extra ounce of effort it takes to devote ourselves to loving that member of Christ’s family who is hard to love—matters to Jesus.
  • The adjective that Paul uses to describe the riches of the inheritance that we are to God is glorious. I can’t help but believe that Paul was very familiar with Jesus’ teaching that he is the vine, and his followers are the branches. “By this is my father glorified,” said Jesus, “By bearing much fruit and so proving to be my disciples.” The Father is glorified by the quality of the spiritual fruit—Christ-like attitudes produced through our union with Christ. Think of it—choosing a Christ-like attitude matters. Our Christlikeness is God’s eternal joy.   


When Adam joined Satan’s rebellion, the cost was God’s curse on the ground bringing death and the enslavement of his kingdom to Satan and sin. As Paul explained, Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Death, being the curse for sin, reigned over all mankind with sin. But the Second Adam paid for our sins and lived a perfectly righteous life so that all who are in him are doubly declared legally righteous. The atonement accomplished our salvation. The resurrection proves that the tyranny of Satan, sin, and death have been broken. Easter HOPE is the certainty that not only death, but SIN and SATAN’S KINGDOM OF DARKNESS have been overthrown. This is the third truth Paul yearns for the Ephesians to grasp.

When Paul gets to the sixth chapter, he is going to give instructions for battling four levels of demonic beings in the strength of Christ—the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Notice that in this first chapter—as he argues it is imperative to understand that Christ’s exaltation is over the demonic host, he describes the same four categories, though slightly differently. As Paul elaborates on the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe, he continues: according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all RULE and AUTHORITY and POWER and DOMINION, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. What is the historic result of Christ’s resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God? Here is just a brief summary of the CONQUEST OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

One of the most amazing facts of history, is that within five centuries of its birth, Christianity won the professed allegiance of the overwhelming majority of the population of the Roman empire. The church was expanding eastward as well. By 225 twenty Christian bishoprics were established in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley and on the borders of Persia. For several centuries the conquest of Christ kingdom seemed stalled. The explosive military growth of Islam in the seventh and later centuries meant territorial losses for Christianity in the Middle East and Northern Africa, were Sharia law was imposed. In Northern Europe invasions by the barbarians and Vikings created social upheavals in the dying Roman empire and the cultural attainments of Christianity were lower than they were in the 4th and 5th centuries. Another downside to Christianity was the withdrawal from culture into monasteries by Christ-followers because of the worldliness of the church. On the upside, monastic teams brought the gospel to Scotland, France, Germanic tribes, Poland and Russia as St Patrick brought the gospel to Ireland.

“One of the greatest examples of the transforming power of the gospel is the Vikings. In the ninth and tenth centuries the Vikings, who were marauding adventurers terrorized much of the coastline of Europe. The Vikings pillaged, raped, and killed men, women, and even children, systematically putting to the torching what was left of the villages. Their fighting men, berserkers, were so fierce in battle that our word, berserk, comes from them. What changed this horrible scourge of humanity? Jesus Christ. The gospel managed to penetrate even the Vikings—not without some resistance—and not even without some violence on the part of the new converts who didn’t know better! Nevertheless, over time, many of the Scandinavians became true Christians and so the Vikings stopped their terrible raids. In 1020 King Olav made “old practices illegal such as blood sacrifices, black magic, leaving infants to die, slavery, and polygamy.” (D James Kennedy, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born).

In the 14the century John Wycliffe emerged translating the Scriptures from the Vulgate into English for the ordinary people. Wycliffe had an effect that rippled across Europe. Jan Hus and others in Prague produced Scriptures in Hungarian and Bohemian. In the 1450’s Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and in 1455 completed his Gutenberg Bible. About the same time, to the east, Constantinople fell, sending scholars westwards clutching their Greek and Hebrew texts to Paris, London and Rotterdam. Erasmus of Rotterdam produced an edition of the Greek text of the New Testament in 1516. In the 1530’s William Tyndale completed a translation into English using the Greek text compiled by Erasmus. Martin Luther, who posted his 95 Theses on the Whittenburg castle door in 1517 translated the Bible into German. As the gospel spread around the world, many of the world’s languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries who wanted the people to study the Bible for themselves.

The age of European Colonialism brought a mixed bag for the church. Roman Catholicism brought Christianity to Asia and the Americas. But conquistadors imposed Spanish civilization and Catholicism by force in South America. By the 1740’s, Moravian missionaries had reached the Virgin Islands, Greenland, Surinam, the Gold Coast, North America and South America. The evangelical awakenings of the 18th century, by the labors of John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards, gave tremendous impetus to the development of the world missionary movement. The Baptist Missionary Society was founded by William Carey (who went to India in 1792). The London Missionary Society soon followed, in 1795. American Mission Societies began in 1787 and a student movement at Williams College and Andover Seminary led to the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1810.

The result was that the nineteen century was called by historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette, “the great century of Christian missions.” The period 1815-1914 witnessed the greatest numerical and geographical expansion of the missionary enterprise of any epoch until that time—including the penetration of the most populous nation of the world—China, by Hudson Taylor and the China Inland mission. In 1934, Cameron Townsend founded, Wycliffe, whose most recent report is that 698 languages now have the complete Bible, 1,548 languages have a completed New Testament, 1,138 have some translated portions of the Bible. Right now, translation or preparatory work is going on in 2,617 languages in 161 countries.

Has God suddenly stopped this expansion of Christ's kingdom over earth? NO. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). In the non-Western world, the growth of Christianity is stunning:

  • Last Sunday there were more Christians attending church in China than there were in all of “Christian Europe.”
  • In the last 50 years, the number of Christians in East Asia (China, Korea, Japan) has grown from 11.4 million to 171.1 million (1.2% of pop. to 10.5%)
  • In 1910, only 12 million people in Africa were Christians (9% population). Today, there are 630 million Christians in Africa (almost 50% of populace)
  • Last Sunday, each of the nations of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa had more Anglicans in church than there were Anglicans and Episcopalians in all of Britain and the United States combined (Ibid)

Our heart attitudes are shaped by our perspective: Here is Paul’s perspective on how the 2000-year-old resurrection of Jesus can still impact us everyday.

  • It CALLS US to the greatest mission in this history of the world, overthrowing the kingdom of evil and spreading the wholeness of Christ’s kingdom.
  • It VALUES US as personal trophies of God, himself—his treasured inheritance purchased by the blood of his dear Son and called to become a redeemed community where love prevails, and the values of the kingdom are on display.
  • It EMPOWERS US with spiritual dynamite. That is the literal Greek word Paul uses, DUNAMIS--the power we need to get the job done.

For Further Prayerful Thought:

  1. Why do the biblical writers care so much about our mind being transformed to having a biblical perspective?
  2. How does Paul want our view of the resurrection’s significance to go way beyond God doing something supernatural to prove that Jesus came from God. How does resurrection restoration to the paradise we all long for enrich the attractiveness of the gospel?
  3. How can knowing that you are God’s personal trophy of grace, his inheritance—one he plans to enjoy for eternity—ignite your passion to serve him?
  4. How can the truth that we have the spiritual dynamite we need to dislodge evil in our hearts and spheres of influence renew our willingness to fight, spiritually?