Category Archives: Easter Topic/Theme

CultureWatch: Why the Cross?

The Easter event is the most important even in human history. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we would all be lost – forever. The love relationship God desired with his creatures was marred by sin and rebellion, and there was nothing we could do to make things right.

So he took the initiative, he sent his Son, he allowed our punishment to fall on him, and he let himself, in some strange way, die on our behalf. But he rose again and all who now come to Christ in repentance and faith can experience new life, and a restored relationship with God.

easter 16There is nothing greater or more important than this. That is why Easter is so utterly important, and that is why we must never trivialise it nor minimise it. It is the turning point of human history. It is indeed the greatest story ever told. With two thousand years of reflection and meditation and writing on this, I have nothing new to add here.

With so much already written on the Cross of Christ and what it has achieved for us, allow me if you will to simply offer a number of stirring and inspiring quotes. They are just a drop in the bucket, and plenty more could be offered here of course.

But taken together they offer us something of what the Easter story is all about, and why the Cross is the lynchpin of human history. Here they are in no particular order:

“If we want proof of God’s love for us, then we must look first at the Cross where God offered up His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God’s love for us.” Jerry Bridges

“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” John Stott

“God undertook the most dramatic rescue operation in cosmic history. He determined to save the human race from self-destruction, and He sent His Son Jesus Christ to salvage and redeem them. The work of man’s redemption was accomplished at the cross.” Billy Graham

“Easter is always the answer to ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!’” Madeleine L’Engle

“As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection. He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption. Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.” Augustine

“It was Christ who willingly went to the cross, and it was our sins that took him there.” Franklin Graham

“As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.” John Stott

“We believe that the history of the world is but the history of His influence and that the center of the whole universe is the cross of Calvary.” Alexander MacLaren

“It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” C. S. Lewis

“God turned our greatest evil (sin) into the occasion for our greatest good (salvation); in fact He turned the greatest sin ever—deicide—into the very instrument of our greatest good, ‘Good Friday’.” Peter Kreeft

“The heart of the Christian Gospel with its incarnation and atonement is in the cross and the resurrection. Jesus was born to die.” Billy Graham

“The great event on Calvary . . . is an eternal reminder to a power drunk generation that love is the most durable power in the world, and that it is at bottom the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. Only through achieving this love can you expect to matriculate into the university of eternal life.” Martin Luther

“Jesus has borne the death penalty on our behalf. Behold the wonder! There He hangs upon the cross! This is the greatest sight you will ever see. Son of God and Son of Man, there He hangs, bearing pains unutterable, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Oh, the glory of that sight!” Charles Spurgeon

“Miserable indeed is that religious teaching which calls itself Christian, and yet contains nothing of the cross.” J. C. Ryle

“Forgiveness is the reason for the crucifixion, and the crucifixion is the reason for the Incarnation.” Peter Kreeft

“All of heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, hell afraid of it, while men are the only ones to ignore its meaning.” Oswald Chambers

“When Jesus died on the cross the mercy of God did not become any greater. It could not become any greater, for it was already infinite. We get the odd notion that God is showing mercy because Jesus died. No – Jesus died because God is showing mercy. It was the mercy of God that gave us Calvary, not Calvary that gave us mercy. If God had not been merciful there would have been no incarnation, no babe in the manger, no man on a cross and no open tomb.” A. W. Tozer

“Let us go to Calvary to learn how we may be forgiven. And then let us linger there to learn how to forgive.” Charles Spurgeon

“The most obscene symbol in human history is the Cross; yet in its ugliness it remains the most eloquent testimony to human dignity.” R. C. Sproul

“Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.” Ravi Zacharias

“The cross … is the watershed event for the whole of the cosmos, affecting everything after it”. J. Louis Martyn

“Both God’s love and God’s wrath are ratcheted up in the move from the old covenant to the new, from the Old Testament to the New. These themes barrel along through redemptive history, unresolved, until they come to a resounding climax – at the cross. Do you wish to see God’s love? Look at the cross. Do you wish to see God’s wrath? Look at the cross.” D. A. Carson

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the medial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of’ Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.” C. S. Lewis

“God Hold us to that which drew us first, when the Cross was the attraction, and we wanted nothing else.” Amy Carmichael

“Jesus’ death was seen by Jesus himself … as the ultimate means by which God’s kingdom was established. The crucifixion was the shocking answer to the prayer that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven.” N. T. Wright

“In the cross of Christ justice was fully done, its claims were fully met and God’s mercy to sinners triumphed in the provision of a complete forgiveness and a full salvation. . . . Judgment looks at our deserts; mercy at our needs. And God himself looks at the cross of his Son.” John Stott

“The reconciliation of justice with mercy lies in the Cross. God does not balance mercy and justice; He accomplishes both to the full.” J. Budziszewski

Easter rembrandt“Look again at the cross, my friend. Take another survey. Examine it again with greater depth and profundity, and having seen the grace and the mercy and the compassion and the kindness of God, look again and this is what you will see. You will see the righteousness of God. You will see the justice of God and his holiness. It is the place of all places in the universe where these attributes of God can be seen most plainly.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“I wonder maybe if our Lord does not suffer more from our indifference, than He did from the crucifixion.” Fulton J. Sheen

“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.” John Piper

“Come, and see the victories of the cross. Christ’s wounds are your healings, His agonies your repose, His conflicts your conquests, His groans your songs, His pains your ease, His shame your glory, His death your life, His sufferings your salvation.” Matthew Henry

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The Apostle Paul

Let me conclude by reminding you of the wonderful painting “The Raising of the Cross”. In it we find Rembrandt crucifying Christ. He sure got the gospel right. Have we done the same? Do we really understand the vital truth that we (you and me) put Christ on the cross? We can never become a true Christian until we personally and profoundly grasp that reality.

[1716 words]

The post Why the Cross? appeared first on CultureWatch.

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Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb

The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines — a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine, but is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as the apostolic preaching makes clear, the gospel is the priority.

The Apostle Paul affirms this priority when he writes to the Christians in Corinth. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul sets out his case:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Paul points directly to the events of the cross and resurrection of Christ. He is not concerned with just any gospel, but with the only gospel that saves. This is “the gospel I preached to you,” Paul reminds the Corinthians. The same Paul who so forcefully warned the Galatians against accepting any false gospel reminds the church at Corinth that the very “gospel I preached to you” is the gospel “by which you are being saved.” Their stewardship of the gospel is underlined in Paul’s words, “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”

Paul’s statement of priority is a vital corrective for our confused times. Without hesitation, Paul writes with urgency about the truths that are “as of first importance.” All revealed truth is vital, invaluable, life-changing truth to which every disciple of Christ is fully accountable. But certain truths are of highest importance, and that is the language Paul uses without qualification.

And what is of first importance? “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” and “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of the Christian faith. Without these, there is no good news — no salvation.

Paul gets right to the heart of the matter in setting out those truths that are “of first importance.” Following his example, we can do no less. These twin truths remain “as of first importance,” and no sermon is complete without the explicit affirmation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So it was then, so it is now, and so it ever shall be until Christ claims his church.

As Paul reminded the Corinthians — and now instructs us — the gospel is at the center of our faith, and the cross and the empty tomb are at the center of the gospel. “So we preach, and so you believed,” Paul encourages us. [1 Cor. 15:11]

May the power of the cross and the victory of the empty tomb fill every pulpit, every pew, and every Christian heart — and may the Good News of the gospel be received with joy by sinners in need of a Savior.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. [1 Corinthians 15:56-58]

The post Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

What will become of you when you die?

Easter conjures images of Easter egg hunts, decorative baskets filled with all sorts of goodies, cool new clothes, church services, and families and friends gathering together for a feast. It’s all about….what? Is the reason we observe Easter Sunday to celebrate the coming of the Easter Bunny? To usher in springtime? Or is it an excuse for a parade?

As you might have already surmised, it is none of the above. The significance of Easter is to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For many professing Christians, Easter isn’t about Jesus — it’s about binging on sweets! There’s nothing wrong with Easter festivities per se; but to be sure, the reason we celebrate is Christ’s triumph over death. A little more than two thousand years ago the Son of God experienced a humiliating horrific death to atone for the sins of humankind. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The Son of God condescended to take on human flesh and come to Earth to die, not because He had some sort of social or political agenda that weighed heavy on His heart. Jesus was not concerned with “social justice.” He came to Earth to die for our sins.

The Bible is clear that God’s hates sin — yet He went to great lengths to save us!  Pastor and author John MacArthur explains it thusly:

When we say God hates sin and doesn’t hate the sinner, you’re really drawing a fine line. God looked on all His creation and said that it was good, so that basically what God created He adores, He considers the work of His hand, and man, though the image of God is marred is none the less made in the image of God. So, the New Testament says God loves the world, God loves all men. It even says that we are to do good unto all men especially of the household of faith, so we are to do good to all men for they are made in the image of God. There is a sense in which no matter what we do in our lives, God still loves what we are as the expression of His creation. But He hates the sin.

The thing most people fail to understand is that God is holy. (Isaiah 6:3, Rev 4:8) And because God is holy He is repelled by evil. All sin is evil — even those “little white lies” we tell. Washing away our sins (cleaning us up) is the sole purpose for Jesus’ death on the cross. He died for one and all, and that includes those we think aren’t worth a plug nickel.

My point is that the person who truly BELIEVES that Jesus shed His blood for his sins and realizes his need for repentance and forgiveness will be saved from eternal damnation. Yes, Jesus died for the worst of the worst, the scum of the earth, the reprobate, the smelly homeless guy, the ugly girl in your math class, Bashful, Dopey, Doc and, yes, even Grumpy. So if an outlaw like Billy the Kid comes to faith in Christ, that outlaw is heaven bound! The blood of Christ has washed away his sins.  From the moment the Kid repents and places his faith in Christ, he is no longer that outlaw; he has become a son of the King.

Christ’s death on the cross is God’s way of saving humans from being sent to hell for all eternity. Every sinner is destined for hell — and hell is a real place! How do I know that? Because Jesus gave us fair warning when He spoke these words:  “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). He also spoke of hell to the Pharisees: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matthew 23:33). Again: “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Luke 10:15). Christ’s words were not just hyperbole!  If hell is nonexistent, the Lord Jesus wouldn’t have warned people about it. Those who reject Him will be sentenced to hell!

But never fear! There is a way to avoid being sentenced to that terrible place. The Apostle Paul tells us how to avoid it: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [from hell]” (Romans 10:9).

Now, those who think they know better than God who should enter the Highway to Heaven or be thrown into hell will no doubt reject what Paul said. But they cannot ignore the fact that the scriptures teach that God, no one else, will decide who ultimately goes up…and who goes into the pit.

There are those who believe that “good people” go to heaven. Au contraire! By God’s standard of “good” the Bible says a person’s good deeds are “filthy rags.” No Good person, no good Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Mormon will ever see the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? For the simple reason that “good people” will not be invited into God’s kingdom. Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So no matter how good an individual appears to be, he/she will never be “good enough” to stand in the presence of Holiness unless he/she is cleansed of all sin by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

It’s going to be a huge shock when those in the “me” generation find themselves in the courtroom of the One who will judge the world and are handed a one way ticket to hell. After all, they think God created the sun just to light up their lives. Hell isn’t a real place anyway, they say. So why should anyone have to worry about going there? And if there is a hell, only murders, rapists, pedophiles and Adolph Hitler will go there. It’s indeed true that unrepentant murders and so forth will go to hell; likewise, anyone else who rejects Christ will spend eternity “where the worm never turns…”  Including “good people.”

Warning to the unbeliever! Jesus Christ is the CEO (Chief Executive Over-all) of Heaven.   So – if you have little or no interest in getting to know the Lord Jesus while residing on this planet, why would you want to live in the kingdom He rules for all eternity?  Moreover, if you have no use for biblical Christianity and its “outdated confessions, creeds and dogmas,” then would you really want to bow to and worship the Son of God for all eternity?

One last thing.  There are a large number of professing Christians who claim to love Jesus yet they’re too embarrassed–or proud–to bend a knee to Him.  They embrace Him as their Savior but they’ll not allow Him to be their Lord and Master.  They disobey His commands and live by their own rules…and they believe they’re saved.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) So are these people saved?  Really?

Not judging, just saying.

© Marsha West, 2017

Source: What will become of you when you die?

How Does Christ’s Resurrection Benefit Us?

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) embodies the commitment of the Reformation to non-speculative theology as it logically expounds core biblical truths along practical and pastoral lines for the Christian life. Beginning with belonging to Christ as our only comfort in life and in death (Q/A 1) and concluding with the prayer Christ taught us to pray with full assurance knowing God will surely listen to us in his name (Q/A 116–129), the document constantly unfolds the implications of our personal, covenantal relationship with Christ.

This is manifest in the catechism’s exposition of the article of the Apostles’ Creed on the resurrection of Christ. What good is it for the church to believe that on the third day Christ rose again from the dead? Is this article of faith dispensable for the Christian life? Specifically it asks, “How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?” Are these benefits something we can do without?

Behind this question is a biblical realization that just as Christ did not die for himself, but for us, so he was not raised for himself, but for us. The apostle Paul writes, “[Christ] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). The question, then, is not selfish, hedonistic or man-centered, but properly Christ-centered as it shines the spotlight on his gracious role as our mediator. All of the magnificent benefits that we enjoy because of Christ’s resurrection resound to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

With that in mind, we can now look at the three benefits that the Heidelberg lists.

1. Death Has Been Overcome

“First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death.”

Scripture Proofs: Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16–20; 1 Pet. 1:3–5

Despite attempts to normalize death (think Lion King’s circle of life) or to distract us from its inevitable blow, the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the boldness to look unflinchingly into its eyes knowing that it has been overcome. The people of God, then, have every reason to be lionhearted in the face of suffering, for we know the Lion of the tribe of Judah holds in his hands the keys of Death and Hades (Rev. 1:18). “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56–57). The glory of Christ’s resurrection shines in its power to transform our death from a payment for the debts of our sin into our triumphal entrance into eternal life. For we have come to share in his righteousness, which has opened up for us “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).

2. We Have Already Been Raised to New Life

“Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.”

Scripture proofs: Rom. 6:5–11; Eph. 2:4–6; Col. 3:1–4

The Heidelberg catechism was well-aware of what has come to be termed the “already-not yet” of salvation (yes, even without the help of Vos’ Pauline Eschatology!). The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were not private events, but the public work of our covenant mediator who died and rose again as our representative. So “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:5). By means of our union with Christ by his Spirit through faith we have already been born again to a new life (1 Pet. 1:3), made partakers of the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and are presently seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:4–6). We cannot see this with our physical eyes and that’s ok for the present. For we are called today to walk by faith, not by sight. We might better learn to do this if we start viewing ourselves and our circumstances through our ears attuned to the Word of God, rather than our eyes.

3. Our Glorious Resurrection is Guaranteed  

“Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.”

Scripture Proofs: Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12–23; Phil. 3:20–21

While we have already been raised with Christ to a new life, our physical bodies remain subject to our present state of humiliation. This is the case because as Christians united to Christ we follow in his footsteps from humiliation to exaltation, from the cross to the crown, from shame to glory (you can see this pattern in Phil. 2:6–11 and Rom. 1:3–4). So the apostle Paul doesn’t care how fit you may be or how few GMOs you may consume, when he notes that our present natural bodies are perishable, dishonorable and weak (1 Cor. 15:42–43). Essential Oils will not reverse the perishability of your body. Designer clothing will not cover its dishonor. And the perfect gym routine will still leave you weak. In fact, nothing in this creation can change this description of you, save the power of Christ in his resurrection. In him alone is what is perishable, dishonorable and weak raised to a new, Spiritual (note the capital “S”) existence of imperishability, honor and power. We share in his sufferings today, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible we might attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10–11). “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation [τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως] to be like his body of glory [τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης], by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20–21; cf. Rom. 8:29). It is in the hope of this glorious resurrection, which Christ’s own resurrection guarantees as the firstfruits, that we live and die to the glory of God the Father.

Source: How Does Christ’s Resurrection Benefit Us?

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Six: Saturday)

Saturday

Confession: Psalm 42:11

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Reading: Mark 16:1–20

And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased fragrant spices so that they could go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they came to the tomb after the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away (for it was very large). And as they were going into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here! See the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, because trembling and amazement had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

So they promptly reported all the things they had been commanded to those around Peter. And after these things, Jesus himself also sent out through them from the east even as far as the west the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

Now early on the first day of the week, after he rose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons. She went out and announced it to those who were with him while they were mourning and weeping. And those, when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, refused to believe it. And after these things, he appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking, while they were going out into the countryside. And these went and reported it to the others, and they did not believe them. And later, while they were reclining at table, he appeared to the eleven. And he reprimanded their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him after he had been raised. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will expel demons, they will speak in new tongues, they will pick up snakes. And if they drink any deadly poison it will never hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well.”

Then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord was working together with them and confirming the message through the accompanying signs.

Reflection

He that abides in Christ the crucified one learns to know what it is to be crucified with Him—and in Him to be indeed dead unto sin. He that abides in Christ the risen and glorified one becomes in the same way partaker of His resurrection life, and of the glory with which He has now been crowned in heaven. Unspeakable are the blessings which flow to the soul from the union with Jesus in His glorified life.

This life is a life of perfect victory and rest. Before His death, the Son of God had to suffer and to struggle. He could be tempted and troubled by sin and its assaults. As the risen one, He has triumphed over sin. And, as the glorified one, His humanity has entered into participation of the glory of deity. The believer who abides in Him as such is led to see how the power of sin and the flesh are indeed destroyed. The consciousness of complete and everlasting deliverance becomes increasingly clear. The blessed rest and peace—the fruit of such a conviction that victory and deliverance are an accomplished fact—take possession of the life. Abiding in Jesus, in whom he has been raised and set in the heavenly places, he receives of that glorious life streaming from the head through every member of the body.

—Andrew Murray

Abide in Christ

Response

Christ has defeated death! If you abide in Christ, you are a partaker of His resurrection life. Spend time today—every day—praising Him for this new life. Jesus leaves His disciples with words of encouragement and empowerment. How do you see His commission playing out in your own life? What steps do you take to fulfill it?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

5 Reasons the Resurrection Brings Hope

RESURRECTION: As Easter Sunday approaches, have you wondered about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? How does the resurrection bring you hope? This article by counselor Lucy Ann Moll, a doctoral student in biblical counseling, appeared first at her website and is used with permission.

BCC logoHope is something God knows all of us needs. Aren’t we in a world of hurt? From hearing of terrorist bombings to learning of a neighbor’s divorce, you and I are tempted to become discouraged, aren’t we?

If the hurt is close to home, we may respond with sadness, anger, fear, or other emotions.

Thank God for Easter and the hope the resurrection brings!  

While Holy Thursday recalls the Last Supper and Good Friday remembers the crucifixion and death of Christ, Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection.

We have peace with God

through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained

access by faith 

into this grace

in which we now stand.

Romans 5:1-2

Here are 5 reasons the resurrrection brings hope to followers of Jesus.

1. The Resurrection Means…We’re Justified

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.  (Romans 4:25)

Incredible, isn’t it? To imagine that Jesus dare to die and rise again. . .for us. . .me. . .you.

By his resurrection, all believers in Jesus are justified. Justification is a Bible word that means to “to be put right with.” According to Scripture, all of us are “objects of wrath” because we break God’s law and thus deserve eternal death. But God has a glorious and gracious plan of redemption.

Jesus!

God laid our punishment on Jesus on the cross. Why? So we could be justified before him. The resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentence.

Luke 5:32

2. The Resurrection Defeated Death

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (Romans 6:9)

Truly free.

Yes, death is the just punishment for sin. But wonderfully, Jesus rose from the dead because the grave could not hold him. Death had no mastery over him. Therefore, you and I need not fear death. We also do not need to fear eternal punishment.

We are truly loved.

Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25

3. The Resurrection Means…Union with Jesus

 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8)

God loves us higher and wider and deeper than we can possibly imagine.

By our faith, you and I received the righteousness of Christ because we are united to him. This means that when God looks at us, he does not see our unrighteousness, but the righteousness of Christ.

Now, as new creations in Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we can walk in the way of love.

His grace was given us in Christ Jesus

before the beginning of time. 

2 Timothy 1:9

4. The Resurrection Gives…Living Hope

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

We Christ followers have great hope. Not a false hope. Not well wishes. Rather, we have a trustworthy hope based on faith. We have been justified before God. We are no longer his enemies headed for hell.

Rather, we are blessed, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing eternal life. Also, we can now live according to our identity as children of God. As the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae,

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you. 2 Corinthians 9:8

5. The Resurrection Means…We’ll Be Raised Too

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Cor.15:21-22)

Jesus is described in Scripture as the firstfruits of the resurrection from the dead. This signals that his resurrection is a precursor to that of all believers.

Christians will enjoy the resurrected life just like Christ did, with glorified bodies raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). We suffer in this life with pain and illnesses. Indeed, in the counseling office, we comfort those who have been sinned against as well as the grieving.

But in the life to come, you and I will not suffer. Truly we will enjoy our life in Christ forever and ever.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)

He has risen. He has risen indeed.

The post 5 Reasons the Resurrection Brings Hope appeared first on Biblical Counseling Center.

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Six: Friday)

Friday

Confession: Psalm 86:1–5

Incline, O Yahweh, your ear and answer me,

because I am poor and needy.

Watch over my life because I am faithful.

You are my God; save your servant.

I am the one who trusts you.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,

because I call to you all day long.

Make glad the soul of your servant,

because I desire you, O Lord.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

and abundant in loyal love for all who call to you.

Reading: Mark 15:42–47

And when it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council who was also himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came acting courageously and went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate was surprised that he was already dead, and summoning the centurion, asked him whether he had died already. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And after purchasing a linen cloth and taking him down, he wrapped him in the linen cloth and placed him in a tomb that had been cut from the rock. And he rolled a stone over the entrance of the tomb. Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was placed.

Reflection

Consider that gratitude and thankfulness is the best service—being the end of all other worship—and is God’s due. It is the end why God gives matter and means by which, and for which, we should be thankful. Nothing is more beneficial than thankfulness, nor anything more mischievous than unthankfulness. Consider also that hearty and constant thankfulness is a testimony of uprightness; it excellently becomes the upright to be thankful. It is all the homage, and all the service which God requires at your hands, for all the good that He bestows on you. It is pleasant and delightful. It is possible and easy through the grace of God’s Spirit.…

Thankfulness elevates and enlarges the soul, making it fruitful in good works beyond any other duty. For the thankful man is often consulting with himself what he shall render to the Lord for all His benefits to him. This spiritual praise and thanks to God by Christ is the beginning of heaven upon earth—being part of that communion and fellowship which saints and angels have with God above. It is that everlasting service, which endures forever.

—Henry Scudder

The Christian’s Daily Walk

Response

Is thankfulness your first response to Christ’s saving work? Spend time today—Good Friday—reading and reflecting on Mark 15. Then, turn to God in prayer.[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

10 Reasons to Accept the Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Fact

10 Reasons to Accept the Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Fact

By Brian Chilton

When I left the ministry due to my skepticism, one of the factors involved in my departure concerned the reliability of the New Testament documents and the resurrection of Jesus. The folks from the Jesus Seminar had me second-guessing whether I could trust what the New Testament said and if I could truly accept the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In July of 2005, my life changed. I entered the Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and read three books that changed my life more than any other book outside the Bible. I discovered Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and McDowell’s A Ready Defense. I discovered that there are many reasons for accepting the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a historical fact.

Through the years, the evidence has increasingly mounted for the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. This article will provide 10 of the most fascinating arguments for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This list is not exhaustive and my dealings with each argument is extremely brief. Nevertheless, I hope this list will provide a starting point for you to consider the authenticity of Jesus’s resurrection.

  1. The First Eyewitnesses were Women. The first eyewitnesses of the resurrection were women. All the Gospels note that the first individuals to discover the tomb empty were women. Matthew notes that “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb…The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the play where he lay” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6).[1] Women were not held in high esteem. In Greco-Roman culture, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in court. In Jewish circles, it took the testimony of two women to equate that of one man. If one were to invent a story, the last people one would place as the first witnesses would have been women, unless it were otherwise true.
  2. Minimal Facts Concerning the Resurrection. Gary Habermas has popularized the so-called minimal facts argument for the resurrection. The minimal facts are those things that are accepted by nearly all New Testament scholars. The minimal facts are “1. Jesus died by crucifixion. 2. Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them. 3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed. 4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed. 5. The tomb was empty.” [2] These facts are nearly universally accepted by New Testament scholars, including liberals…

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10 Reasons to Accept the Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Fact – Bellator Christi

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Six: Thursday)

Thursday

Confession: Psalm 141:7–8

As when one plows and breaks up the earth,

so our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

But my eyes are toward you, O Yahweh, my Lord;

I have taken refuge in you. Do not lay bare my soul.

Reading: Mark 15:37–41

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and expired. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion who was standing opposite him saw that he expired like this, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” And there were also women observing from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome, who used to follow him and serve him when he was in Galilee, and many other women who went up with him to Jerusalem.

Reflection

It was God’s love that sent Jesus Christ to die for sinful men, rise again from the dead, and ascend to the right hand of the Father in glory. And it will be God’s love that will send Him back again to earth when the fullness of time for that greatest event in all this earth’s history has come. Heaven and all its glories, Hell and all its horrors both have their origin in the love of God.

Yes, “God is love” is the key note of the Bible, the secret of history, the explanation of nature and the solution of eternity’s mysteries. This manifestation of God’s love is greatest of all. This manifestation of God’s love is stupendous. It seems past believing, but we know it is true.

—R. A. Torrey

The Gospel for Today

Response

Other Gospel accounts record how Jesus’ followers were scattered and afraid after His death. Are there times in your life when you have doubted God’s love and sovereignty?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Six: Wednesday)

Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 141:1–5

I call on you, O Yahweh; hasten to me.

Listen to my voice when I call to you.

Let my prayer be set before you as incense,

the lifting up of my palms as the evening offering.

Set a guard, O Yahweh, over my mouth;

keep watch over the door of my lips.

Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,

to practice wicked deeds with men who do iniquity;

and do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous one strike me in kindness,

and let him chasten me.

It is oil for my head; let not my head refuse.

For still my prayer is against their evil deeds.

Reading: Mark 15:33–36

And when the sixth hour came, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) And some of the bystanders, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he is summoning Elijah!” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone! Let us see if Elijah is coming to take him down.”

Reflection

Oh, the blessed shadow of Christ’s cross! All the flocks of the Lord lie down under it, and rest in peace. Millions of souls are delivered by it from the heat of vengeance, and myriads more shall find a covert within it from the wrath to come. Dear reader, are you within the shadow of the crucified? Does He stand between God and your soul to ward off the burning beams of justice, which your sins so richly deserve, by bearing them Himself? If you die in the fierce heat of divine wrath, you will have yourself alone to blame, for there is the shadow of the great propitiation, cool and refreshing, and it is at every moment accessible to simple faith. If you refuse to believe, and count yourself unworthy of salvation, your blood must lie at your own door.

Come, now, into the sure and blessed shelter, lest the sunstroke of despair should wither you. Once beneath the shadow of Jesus, the sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night; you shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “Yahweh is your protector; Yahweh is your shade at your right hand.” (Psa 121:5).

—Charles H. Spurgeon

Hindhead

Response

What does it mean for you to live your life within the shadow of the crucified Christ?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.