As I was studying another passage in Acts 2 with some guys this past Sunday, we ran headlong into Acts 2:24. Check it out:
God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24 ESV)
Now, we didn’t spend a lot of time on it then, but this has always been one of my favorite passages when regulating/guiding my understanding of the resurrection. And since its Easter week (“Holy Week”), I thought I’d just bring this verse to your attention for meditation in the days ahead.
I really wanted to mention two things. First, there’s something amazing here about his ontology (His essence), and second, there’s some great truths that should put our mind to ease about our own salvation.
So first, a quick note about the “ontology” or “essence” of Jesus. He is, of course, fully man. That’s how He was able to be killed in the first place. But because you cannot actually kill God, He is unable to die, and therefore death simply can’t hold him. You can’t snuff out the essence of life just like darkness, as a natural principle of science, flees from the room when you turn on the light. The rules that govern reality don’t work like that. Had Jesus stayed dead, its not like people could say “well there goes that myth” because there would be not people to say that. When you kill the single entity that is powering and upholding our understanding of life and reality as we know it (Heb. 1:1-3, and Col. 1:15-20), then you would (or “might” since its impossible) also destroy all life which is tied to that power source pretty much instantly.
Let that thought settle in your mind a bit…can you imagine having crucified this man and then see Him walk around Jerusalem for 40 days teaching people?! ……and you wonder why this whole Christianity thing really took off? That, by the way, is what Easter is all about. Time to bring your mind into a proper state to once again focus on this truth and then be subsequently blown by this truth.
But secondly, I love this verse because for those who might be struggling with that thought of “well, I definitely believe in Jesus, I definitely believe I’m saved, and I have repented of my sins…but, man, I just struggle with whether or not I’ll lose my salvation. I know my sinfulness, and I know I’m just constantly failing!” This is the passage for you.
Why? Well think about it this way – if Jesus is said not to be able to “be held by (death)” then that means He has power over death. And when you combine that truth with another from Romans six which states, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:4-5 ESV)” — what you get then is the perfect combination for assurance that you’ll make it to the end without losing a thing!
In fact, I think that’s exactly what the last part of Romans 8 is all about, and what the whole of the chapter is about, namely that since God is in charge and in control of the saving your soul from start to finish, you have to assume He knows what He’s doing AND that He can see the project through to completion.
Definitely check out Romans 8, but also check out John 6, because Jesus says some remarkable things there as well. I’m going to leave you with a few of those verses — but first, you need to remember, and (rightly) assume that when Jesus teaches us something you can know with absolute certainty that its going to happen. Why? Well, anyone who can control acts of nature, raise people to life, heal them of hideous diseases, multiply food without calling for takeout, and beat the grave can pretty much by guaranteed to keep your salvation safe until He comes back (note the sarcasm…). Now here’s what Jesus says:
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40 ESV)