English Articles

Functioning Faith (part 1)



What is resurrection life? Before we can answer this question, we need to determine what the concept LIFE itself means. There are actually two questions here: What is life? and: What is death?In a natural sense, human life consists of a functioning body which draws energy from natural sources such as oxygen and food. This is how the Lord, the Creator, made man (men and women). Because all natural life has been contaminated by mortality through sin, our natural existence is limited and temporary. It will eventually cease. This is natural death. (Gen 3:17-18)The Lord, Creator of all that is and lives, gave man, his workmanship, spiritual life as well as natural life. A life of inner consciousness. Equipped with spiritual life, man, a creature, was able to have fellowship with the Creator who is Spirit. (John 4:24) and to accept responsibilities--to be responsible before God for "ruling" God's creation. This is what sets humanity apart from all other creatures. (Gen 1:27). We received a spiritual, moral consciousness so we might serve as governors of creation, as the creation story on the first few pages of the Bible tells us simply and clearly.


Because of the Fall, however, man's spiritual capacity has been corrupted. Sin blocks his ability to function spiritually. Since the Fall he has been forced to rely on his natural, human (and therefore limited) abilities. No longer is the "Counsel of God" the "information source" from which he can draw at all times. In that sense, man is now spiritually dead. Spiritual death means that man is cut off from the Spirit of God. The Bible is the only book in the world which offers this explanation. Whether we accept this explanation is up to us. The reason the Bible speaks so clearly and simply about these things, is so that anybody can understand the seriousness of this painful truth. It is the only reasonable explanation for the unbroken chain of failures and missteps of the human race. Human pride makes this a difficult thing to swallow. But humanity's fruitless efforts to change and improve constitute sad proof of the message at the beginning of God's word, the Bible.


Moreover, the Bible is the only book which offers a simple, clear message about a radical solution for the problem of spiritual death. This solution can be summarized as "resurrection life". Of primary importance, then, is the question: "What is this resurrection life, and how can I experience this resurrection life?" In his conversation with the Pharisee and teacher Nicodemus, Jesus says, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit." (John3:6) When Jesus says flesh, he refers to the natural life we spoke of earlier. This natural life includes not only physical life, but also the life and functioning of our soul, or psyche. The main functions of the soul are mind, will, and emotions. This is what the Bible calls "the flesh", or "the old man." (John 3:6; Eph 4:22) The natural life of a man (his soul and his body), is moved by natural considerations, which the Bible calls desires and passions. (Rom 1:24, 7:5) Man is essentially egocentric, focused on SELF. In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus explains that the natural man needs to be "born again". Jesus speaks of a second birth, which does not necessarily coincide with the natural birth. This rebirth takes place through the Holy Spirit. "Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:6). Jesus says, in effect, that the human spirit needs to be resurrected from spiritual death. See what I wrote earlier in this text about "spiritual death". This resurrection is brought about by the working of God's Word which has the power to create, and by the Holy Spirit. (Isa 55:11; Luke 1:38) When Jesus talks about rebirth, He means reviving the human spirit through the Spirit of God, thereby opening up the way for the Lord to speak to man once more through his Spirit. Man even participates in the divine nature. (2 Pet 1:3-4)


In this way, man is brought back into fellowship with the Eternal God. This is the resurrection of the human spirit from spiritual death. This resurrection is possible on the basis of our redemption from sin through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God who became the son of man, on the cross of Calvary. (Phil 2:8). This new life, which we receive by grace, is RESURRECTION LIFE.How is this resurrection life expressed in human form? How does this work in practice, and what are the consequences? There are two biblical realities which are of primary importance. We deliberately use the words "biblical realities" rather than "biblical concepts". The word "concepts" is too vague and theoretical. What we are talking about has to do with realities that we can use and apply to our lives. They are realities from the Life of God himself. The Sciptures refer to them as "Grace" and "the Holy Spirit".


Peter's statement in his second letter (1:3-4) is not mere theory, but a statement of fact about divine realities which are now available, through rebirth, to the believer. "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him, who called us by his own glory and goodness." This passage opens up for the believer a reality which the Bible describes as "Resurrection life", "Living by grace", or "Living through the Holy Spirit".

J.C. Graaff

Translated by Mariette Brotnov





Categorie: English Articles