Christians know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is integral to our faith. For many of us, however, the question of its relevance to our everyday lives may be difficult to understand or explain. Sam Allberry’s Lifted is a brief and accessible remedy to this problem, providing an insightful chapter on each of four relevant implications of the resurrection: it guarantees our forgiveness (Assurance); empowers us to change (Transformation); gives us hope for the future (Hope); and gives us an urgent mission (Mission).
Chapter one (Assurance) explains that the resurrection of Jesus assures us of our salvation by confirming two things. First, Allberry points to several passages that explain how the resurrection vindicates the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior, and the Author of life (pp. 25–30). Second, the resurrection confirms that Jesus has, in fact, paid the penalty for sin and conquered its consequence, death itself (pp. 34–43). By raising Jesus from the dead, God has given his “signature” of acceptance; the payment for sin has been received (p. 20). Therefore, we can be confident of our salvation. “The resurrection shows us that there is nothing we need to add to the death of Jesus to find acceptance with God” (p. 43).
In chapter two (Transformation) we learn that because of our union with Jesus (pp. 47, 54, 58), Christians are experiencing something of the resurrection themselves in the form of spiritual new life (pp. 47–57). This new resurrected life should give us a new perspective on who we are (pp. 59–61) and what we do (pp. 61–67). It means we have a new power for holiness, the power of God’s Spirit living inside us (pp. 67–73). It means we have a new ambition to know and obey Christ (pp. 73–75). In short, the resurrection enables Christians to change (p. 47).
Chapter three (Hope) demonstrates that the resurrection of Jesus gives us a hope that is independent of our circumstances. Following Paul’s logic in 1 Cor 15, Allberry shows how a denial of a future bodily resurrection for believers implies a denial of Christ’s resurrection, which would, in turn, imply the death of Christianity (pp. 86–89). However, since Christ has been raised from the dead, Christians can be sure of a future bodily resurrection as well (pp. 91–93). After describing the nature of our resurrected bodies (pp. 93–101), Allberry closes the chapter with the Bible’s promise of a future resurrection hope for the entire creation as well (pp. 101–11).
The final chapter (Mission) builds off Acts 17:31, where Paul teaches the Athenians that the resurrection is the proof that God has made Jesus judge of the world (pp. 113–17). He explains that the resurrection of Jesus exalts him to the status of Lord (pp. 117–20) and judge (pp. 121–30), which means that he is worthy of worship (p. 119), that he is not indifferent to the world, and that at some point he will come again (pp. 124–29). The book concludes by explaining the necessity of pursuing the Great Commission, pointing out that it is the thematic climax of Matthew’s Gospel (pp. 130–35) and driven by God’s jealous desire for his name (pp. 135–42).
One of the great strengths of Lifted is that Allberry has spotted a genuine problem (i.e., many are not quite sure what to do with the resurrection) and provided help that can be widely digested. Not only does each chapter compellingly show that the resurrection really does have practical implications for our everyday lives, but Allberry has an impressive ability to handle complex biblical and theological issues in a way that is not technical or inaccessible. The book is exegetically responsible (the section on 1 Cor 15 is very good on pp. 85–101, even if some may question his handling of verse 58 [pp. 109–12]). Allberry also hits on numerous biblical- and systematic-theological issues, such as union (p. 54) and new life (pp. 48–53), and though his insights are meaty, he is never overly complex or intense. His writing style is personable and contains interesting and useful illustrations, dashes of humor, and accessible language that is pastoral and encouraging.
The overall structure of the book is reasonably easy to follow, though at a few points it suffers from a disjointed flow of thought. For example, the main point of chapter one is that the resurrection assures us of our salvation by providing a two-fold verification of both the identity and the sin-conquering work of Jesus (pp. 20–43). While Allberry makes a strong biblical case for each of these sub-points, it is unclear how the first point contributes to the argument. He helps us clearly see that the resurrection speaks powerfully of the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior, and the Author of life (pp. 25–30), but he does not clearly tell us how this four-fold identity assures us that our salvation is secure. I do not doubt that it does, but what exactly does Allberry hope for us to see? The pieces are all on the table, but it seems that the reader must draw the connections for himself.
Sam Allberry has nevertheless done well what he set out to do by showing why Christians should not be putting the resurrection back in the pantry the day after Easter. Lifted is a perceptive and informed resource that will be helpful for pastors and churches who want to grow in their appreciation of this often overlooked pillar of our faith.