Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց
Օրհնեալ է յարութիւնը Քրիստոսի
Christ is Risen
He is Risen indeed
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul testifies about his journey of faith. He writes that the major purpose of his life is to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection (3:10). How do we know this had been his major goal? He was willing to put aside all he once considered very valuable (gain), and suffer to reach that goal: that was the price he paid and was willing to pay. Paul desires the same for the Philippians and Ephesians. To the first he writes: All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things (3:15-17). For the Ephesians, he prays that they may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead (1:18-20). Jesus Christ in His high priestly prayer for the disciples, and for those who would believe because of their ministry, mentions that He has been given authority to give eternal life to people, that they may know … the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom God had sent (John 17:2-3).
Christian faith is not about a series of doctrines, body of beliefs to believe and moral codes to follow to finally be acceptable to God or to ensure God’s approval. Christian faith is mainly a personal and close relationship with our infinite God, who revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ. Christian faith is about personally knowing Jesus Christ, not just knowing about Him. It is about personally accepting Him as our Lord and Savior and having a close and continuous relationship with Him. No doubt knowing and reading about Jesus is necessary, but all the knowledge about Jesus, God and theology does not make us Christian unless one personally knows Christ and accepts Him as personal Savior and Lord.
James W. Fowler III, an American theologian who was Professor of Theology and Human Development at Emory University, is well known for his writings on different stages of faith development. He introduces six stages of faith development, connected to age and mental maturity. The early stages of faith are based on stories and images and traditions we have heard or received from our parents, but at some point (the journey starts in early adulthood and completes in midlife) that faith becomes a personal faith, which is the result of questioning, reflection and experience. One’s faith is not only what they have been taught or what others believe too, but something more personal.
Coming back to Scripture, believing in Jesus, knowing Him means to have a close and continuous relationship with Him. This is why listening to and talking to our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer and reading the Scripture and following his example and guidance are so important and it is why much has been written and preached about quiet time and studying the Word.
Paul had a unique experience of encountering Jesus Christ that reshaped His beliefs about God and Jesus Christ, and which changed his life purpose and mission. The power that resurrected Christ from the dead made Paul’s conversion possible. Not everybody experiences what Paul did, but anyone’s change of life, coming to an understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for us and surrendering ourselves into God’s hands is possible only by God’s power, the same power that resurrected our Lord Jesus Christ. After all, bringing someone from death back to life is only a divine act. The result of knowing Christ and having fellowship with Him is to become like Him. God desires that we know Christ and accept his salvific work on the cross, start walking with Him, have fellowship with Him, learn from Him and walk in the path of becoming like Him. By experience, we know that by our human power and endeavors we will not be able to overcome sin, our sinful desires and ego. We need divine power and presence in our life, which God willingly and generously makes available for His children.
The Apostle Paul talks about the Power of Resurrection, and prays that power may work in the life of Christians in Ephesus, the same power that worked in our Lord Jesus Christ and resurrected Him. Paul continues praying for them that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead. Paul believes that God can grant us more than what we desire and request, and that is why he praises God for His faithfulness (3:14-20). Do you believe in God’s faithfulness in granting us His Spirit and the power to know our Lord more and to be transformed daily to His image so our life is a testimony of His resurrection and presence in our life?
- Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian
Minister to the Union