Category Archives: Easter Topic/Theme

Answering Sixteen Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

Answering Sixteen Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

by Eric Chabot

There are several approaches to defending the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. Skeptics have offered a wide range of natural explanations throughout history to explain away the bodily resurrection of  Jesus. In this post, I will go ahead and several of them and try to give a response. In some cases I will leave some additional reading.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Andreas Kostenberger co-authored this statement about historical investigations (published through B&H which has SBC ties). Kostenberger, along with Bock and Chatraw, write:

“With regard to the past, one cannot empirically prove a historical event in the same way in which one proves a mathematical equation or verifies that someone is six feet tall or has blue eyes, though historical evidence can point strongly in one direction. Historical truths are tested by assessing hypotheses in view of the evidence and then accepting the hypothesis that best explains the evidence.”-Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Bock, Darrell L.; Chatraw, Josh. Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible (pp. 166-167). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Let’s assess some of the hypotheses that best explains the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus:

#1: Legends Hypothesis: This hypothesis states that the New Testament accounts of the disciples who gave testimonies of the postmortem appearances are all legends that were invented much later.

Response: This can’t be supported by the evidence. From about AD 48 until his death, Paul wrote at least 13 of the New Testament’s books. Given that historians look to those who are contemporaries of the events, Paul is an important resource for what historians can know about Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, the earliest documents we have for the life of Jesus are Paul’s letters. To see common objections to Paul, see here.

Paul was a very competent rabbi who was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ a key rabbinic leader and member of the Sanhedrin. Of his 13 books, critical scholars even accept six of them as being authentic in that we can be certain of the author and date of these writings. Of course, there are other scholars such as Luke Timothy Johnson and Raymond Brown that think more than six of them are authored by Paul. But of the 13 books, the six are Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians and 1 Thessalonians. And it is fairly well known that Bart Ehrman has written a book called, Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why The Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.

In this book, he discusses the other Pauline books that are in question to authorship. I will provide a response to this here by Mike Licona. I think Mike shows there can be a plausible case for the traditional authorship of the disputed New Testament letters that are attributed to Paul.

30 A.D.—–33A.D.—-40 A.D.—-50 A.D.—-55 A.D.—60 A.D.—65 A.D—70 A.D.

(CREED OF 1 Cor. 15:3-8 received before 55 A.D.)

Also, the creed that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8  has been dated very shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. Even the skeptical scholar Gerd Lüdemann says about the creed, “I do insist that the discovery of pre-Pauline confessional foundations is one of the great achievements in New Testament scholarship.” (1)

Even if the four Gospels were written some 30-70 years later, we still can posit that there was an entire oral history before the Gospels reached their written form. We can say confidently that there was simply not enough time for exaggeration or a legend to develop…

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE >>>

Answering Sixteen Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus | ThinkApologetics.com

HE IS RISEN: Jesus Christ Is Risen From Dead To Prove That He And He Alone Is The Only Way To Heaven

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the THIRD DAY according to the Scriptures. He did all that for YOU, to buy your pardon to SET YOU FREE.

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”Matthew 28:6 (KJV)

For the past 2,000 years, there has been one story that has taken precedence over any and every other story ever told. The story of a man, flesh and blood, who gave His life willingly on the cross as a ransom for sin, as the Old Testament prophets have proclaimed, and rose from the dead 3 days later to prove that every word He spoke was true and faithful.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:12,13 (KJV)

On the cross at Calvary, Jesus of Nazareth willingly shed His blood as a payment for sin. More specifically, as a payment for your sin, and my sin, for the sins of the whole world. Are you thinking that your religion will save you? Think again, it will not. It cannot. Maybe you’re a good Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, take your pick. They are all equally meaningless apart from the shed blood of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Open the pages of the Bible and search to your heart’s content, but you will never find a ruling class of priests for the church. There are no nuns, no popes, no Vatican, no sacraments, no confessing to a priest, no eucharist, no mass, no dress code, no haircut length. No tithing for a Christian. But on page after page, you will see a recurring theme. Everywhere you look, you will see Jesus, and He alone is enough. He is sufficient.

jesus-king-thousand-year-reign-millennial-temple-jerusalem-israel-bible-prophecy-now-end-begins

THE COMING LITERAL, VISIBLE AND PHYSICAL THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST ON THIS EARTH FROM JERUSALEM

In the Philippines, they are slashing their own skin in idolatrous rituals because they do not believe that Jesus on the cross paid it all. But Jesus shed blood is enough, it’s more than enough. And there is nothing you, on your best day, can ever add to it.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Ephesians 1:7 (KJV)

After Jesus died on the cross, He lay in the tomb for 3 full days and 3 full nights. He was as dead as dead ever gets. But on the third day, according to the scriptures, He rose from the dead with the power over life and death in His own hands. Proving that He and He alone was the sacrifice for sin that God will accept. This is the gospel which we preach to the saving of your soul.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV)

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the THIRD DAY according to the Scriptures. He did all that for YOU, to buy your pardon to SET YOU FREE. All you have to do is accept or reject that FREE GIFT. If you reject it, when you die, you will burn forever in a place called Hell. If you accept it, the Bible says the moment you die you will be with Christ in Heaven never to die again. Which one do YOU want?

Our sins have separated us from a righteous and holy God, but in His Mercy and love towards us He has made a way of escape for all those who seek it. I am talking to you, right here and right now. God has an AMAZING gift for you, it costs you nothing but it caused Him to shed every drop of blood He had so He could purchase it for you. What is it? It’s your salvation.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)

Pray and ask the Lord, “Lord Jesus, be merciful to me a sinner, and save me. I now, with a repentant heart, receive you as my personal Saviour”.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:13 (KJV)

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, buried, and rose on the third day to save you from the flames of an eternal Hell. He made the payment for your sin on the cross at Calvary, and rose from the dead 3 days later to prove it.

He is the only way to Heaven, without Him there is no hope of any kind. With Him there is eternity with God in Heaven. Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah of Israel, the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world. The one and only hope of mankind. The only Saviour.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 (KJV)


The post HE IS RISEN: Jesus Christ Is Risen From Dead To Prove That He And He Alone Is The Only Way To Heaven appeared first on Now The End Begins.

The Day that Transformed the World Forever

Of all holidays, Easter is the one that celebrates a single event that transformed the world forever.  There are many religions with different founders, prophets, and teachers going back thousands of years, but only one of them has a founder who professed to be the messiah – the son of God who could save mankind.

Jesus was born in a Jewish family and lived and walked among the people of Israel.  Every year, Jesus’s parents took his family to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.  On one such occasion, when he was twelve, Jesus got separated from his parents and made his way to the temple, where he sat with the esteemed teachers – listening, asking questions, and teaching.  According to Luke 2:47, “[e]veryone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”  Later, when his adult ministry began, Jesus drew thousands upon thousands who flocked to hear him.

No one else in human history made the claims Jesus did to be able to deal with every last problem of the human heart.  One primary reason the Bible is a perennial bestseller is that it’s the most complete owner’s manual to the most complex creation of all – the human species.  Nowhere else can one find as succinct yet comprehensive an explanation of what God’s love is all about than in the Bible’s Psalms and Jesus’s teaching through parables.

Another unique quality about Jesus is that he welcomed people whom no other religious leader would be caught dead with – society’s rejects, reviled tax collectors, and prostitutes.  By caring for outcasts and the disenfranchised, Jesus showed a radical level and standard of mercy and love never seen before.  Once, when Jesus was having dinner with a Jewish Pharisee, a woman convicted by her own sin came to Jesus to wash his feet with her tears and hair and then apply expensive perfume.  His host was aghast at the immoral woman’s presence, but Jesus responded that God’s work is to forgive sinners, and that those who are forgiven much can then love much.

Utterly unique in other ways, Jesus performed many miracles, healing the sick, blind, crippled, and deaf – the news of which traveled throughout the land, prompting many more to seek him out.  And he healed them all.  Jesus also confronted evil head on and drove demonic spirits out of people dangerously possessed and abandoned by society.

His work did not stop with miraculous healing.

Because God himself became flesh in the person of Jesus to save people through their own faith, he went on to demonstrate his love and power in an ultimate way that could not be missed or denied: bringing the dead back to life.  One such resurrection miracle was that of Lazarus, who was irrefutably dead and entombed for four days.  Upon Jesus’s command, Lazarus got up and walked out of the tomb – that people would know beyond a shadow of a doubt who Jesus was.

All other religions require works to achieve enlightenment and salvation.  Christianity turns that on its head: faith in Christ and all his teachings transforms the heart, from which good works naturally follow.  In saying, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” Jesus presents an ingeniously compelling appeal that even the most hardened cynic can’t easily refuse.

Skeptics of the Bible’s truth and the reality of Jesus need understand that there’s actually much more reliable historical evidence for his life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection than there is evidence for any other historical figure of ancient times.

Consider that no one doubts the authenticity of the life and acts of Alexander the Great.  Yet there are only two original biographical accounts of his life, which were written by Arrian and Plutarch some four hundred years after Alexander died.  The manuscripts of Virgil and Horace, both of whom lived within a generation of Christ, were written more than four centuries after their deaths, yet no one doubts that they lived and authored poetic masterpieces.  Looking at the big picture, there are about 1,000 times as many manuscripts preserving the New Testament (about 25,000) than other classical ancient works with the exception of Homer, whose Iliad is backed by 1,800 manuscripts (but still less than one tenth of the New Testament number).

We know the historical Jesus mainly through four different accounts known as the Gospels – Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John – all written within a generation or two of Jesus’s life.  Matthew and John provide eyewitness accounts from their years of walking with Jesus as disciples.  Mark also had eyewitness experience.  Luke, the doctor, learned about Jesus from his friend Paul, the apostle who wrote most of the letters of the New Testament.

Easter is the commemoration of the single event that transformed the world forever – the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross.  That God would send his Son to die as a sacrifice for the sin of all who would believe in Him is an unbelievable gift – beyond most people’s comprehension.  That a resurrection and a joyous eternal life await believers is beyond anything anyone could imagine.  That is the promise and essence of Easter.

Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle.  Reach him at scottp@discovery.org.

Source: The Day that Transformed the World Forever

Easter Verse Of The Day

The Source of the Believer’s Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1:3a)

Peter assumes it is necessary for believers to bless God. The intention is so implicit that the Greek text omits the word be, which the translators added. (In the original, the sentence literally begins, “Blessed the God,” which conveys Peter’s expectation that his audience “bless God” as the source of all spiritual inheritance.) The apostle adores God and implores others to do the same.

Peter further calls Him the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a phrase that identified God in a distinctly Christian way. Historically the Jews had blessed God as their creator and redeemer from Egypt. His creation emphasized His sovereign power at work and His redemption of Israel from Egypt His saving power at work. But those who became Christians were to bless God as the Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.

With one exception (when the Father forsook Him on the cross, Matthew 27:46), every time the Gospels record that Jesus addressed God, He called Him “Father” or “My Father.” In so doing, Jesus was breaking with the Jewish tradition that seldom called God Father, and always in a collective rather than personal sense (e.g., Deut. 32:6; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:19; 31:9; Mal. 1:6; 2:10). Furthermore, in calling God His Father, Jesus was claiming to share His nature. While speaking with the Jews at an observance of the Feast of the Dedication, Christ declared, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Later, in response to Philip’s request that He reveal the Father, Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9; cf. vv. 8, 10–13). Jesus affirmed that He and the Father possess the same divine nature—that He is fully God (cf. John 17:1, 5). The Father and the Son mutually share the same life—one is intimately and eternally equal to the other—and no one can truly know one without truly knowing the other (cf. Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). No person can claim to know God unless he knows Him as the One revealed in Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:6–7).

In his writings, the apostle Paul also declared the Father and the Son to be of the same essence: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3; cf. Eph. 1:3, 17). Likewise, John wrote in his second epistle: “Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 3). Whenever the New Testament calls God Father, it primarily denotes that He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:21; 10:32; 11:25–27; 16:27; 25:34; 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 10:21–22; 22:29; 23:34; John 3:35; 5:17–23; 6:32, 37, 44; 8:54; 10:36; 12:28; 15:9; 17:1; Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 11:31; cf. John 14:23; 15:16; 16:23; 1 John 4:14; Rev. 1:6). God is also the Father of all believers (Matt. 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 9; 10:20; 13:43; 23:9; Mark 11:25; Luke 12:30, 32; John 20:17; Rom. 1:7; 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18; 4:6; Phil. 4:20; Heb. 12:9; James 1:27; 1 John 2:13; 3:1).

One commentator calls Peter’s use in verse 3 of Christ’s full redemptive name “a concentrated confession.” All that the Bible reveals about the Savior appears in that title: Lord identifies Him as sovereign Ruler; Jesus as incarnate Son; and Christ as anointed Messiah-King. The apostle personalizes that magnificent title with the simple inclusion of the pronoun our. The divine Lord of the universe belongs to all believers, as does the Jesus who lived, died, and rose again for them, and as does the Christ, the Messiah whom God anointed to be their eternal King who will grant them their glorious inheritance.

The Motive for the Believer’s Inheritance

who according to His great mercy (1:3b)

His great mercy was the motive behind God’s granting believers eternal life—sharing the very life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Ephesians 2:4–5 also expresses this divine generosity, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (cf. Titus 3:5). Both here and in Ephesians, the apostolic writer added an enlarging adjective (great and “rich”).

Mercy focuses on the sinner’s miserable, pitiful condition. The gospel is prompted by God’s compassion toward those who were dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1–3). All believers were once in that wretched, helpless condition, compounded by a deceitful heart (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Eccl. 9:3; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21–23), corrupt mind (Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14), and wicked desires (Eph. 4:17–19; 5:8; Titus 1:15) that made them slaves to sin, headed for just punishment in hell. Therefore they needed God, in mercy, to show compassion toward their desperate, lost condition and remedy it (cf. Isa. 63:9; Hab. 3:2; Matt. 9:27; Mark 5:19; Luke 1:78; Rom. 9:15–16, 18; 11:30–32; 1 Tim. 1:13; 1 Peter 2:10).

Mercy is not the same as grace. Mercy concerns an individual’s miserable condition, whereas grace concerns his guilt, which caused that condition. Divine mercy takes the sinner from misery to glory (a change of condition), and divine grace takes him from guilt to acquittal (a change of position; see Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7). The Lord grieves over the unredeemed sinner’s condition of gloom and despair (Ezek. 18:23, 32; Matt. 23:37–39). That is manifest clearly during His incarnation as Jesus healed people’s diseases (Matt. 4:23–24; 14:14; 15:30; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:17–19). He could have demonstrated His deity in many other ways, but He chose healings because they best illustrated the compassionate, merciful heart of God toward sinners suffering the temporal misery of their fallen condition (cf. Matt. 9:5–13; Mark 2:3–12). Jesus’ healing miracles, which nearly banished illness from Israel, were proof that what the Old Testament said about God the Father being merciful (Ex. 34:6; Ps. 108:4; Lam. 3:22; Mic. 7:18) was true.

Apart from even the possibility of any merit or worthiness on the sinner’s part, God grants mercy to whomever He will: “For He [God] says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:15–16). Out of His infinite compassion and free, abundant, and limitless mercy, He chose to grant eternal life—it was not because of anything sinners could do or deserve (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:11–13; 10:20; 2 Tim. 1:9). It is completely understandable that Paul called God “the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3).

The Appropriation of the Believer’s Inheritance

has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1:3c)

The prophet Jeremiah once asked the rhetorical question, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jer. 13:23). His graphic analogy implied a negative answer to the question of whether or not sinners could change their natures (cf. 17:9). Humanity’s sinful nature needs changing (Mark 1:14–15; John 3:7, 17–21, 36; cf. Gen. 6:5; Jer. 2:22; 17:9–10; Rom. 1:18–2:2; 3:10–18), but only God, working through His Holy Spirit, can transform the sinful human heart (Jer. 31:31–34; John 3:5–6, 8; Acts 2:38–39; cf. Ezek. 37:14; Acts 15:8; Rom. 8:11; 1 John 5:4). In order for sinners to receive an eternal inheritance from God, they must experience His means of spiritual transformation, the new birth. Peter affirms that truth in this last portion of verse 3, when he says God has caused believers to be born again (see discussion on 1:23–25 in chapter 7 of this volume; cf. 2 Cor. 5:17).

Jesus effectively explained the necessity of regeneration—the new birth—to Nicodemus, a prominent Jewish teacher.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (John 3:1–15)

To illustrate the means of the new birth, Jesus referred to the episode of the bronze serpent (Num. 21:4–9), an Old Testament narrative Nicodemus would have known well. When the snake-bitten Israelites in the wilderness acknowledged their sin and God’s judgment on them for it and looked to the means He provided to deliver them (a bronze snake on a pole), they received physical healing from their poisonous bites. By analogy, if sinners would experience spiritual deliverance, they must recognize their spiritual condition as poisoned by their sin and experience salvation from spiritual and eternal death by looking to the Son of God and trusting in Him as their Savior. Jesus cut to the core of Nicodemus’s self-righteousness and told him what all sinners need to hear, that they are spiritually regenerated only by faith in Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:12–13; Titus 3:5; James 1:18).

Peter goes on to declare that regeneration results in believers receiving a living hope. The unbelieving world knows only dying hopes (Job 8:13; Prov. 10:28; Eph. 2:12), but believers have a living, undying hope (Pss. 33:18; 39:7; Rom. 5:5; Eph. 4:4; Titus 2:13; Heb. 6:19) that will come to a complete, final, and glorious fulfillment (Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27). It is a hope that Peter later described when he wrote, “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). This hope is what prompted Paul to tell the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). At death believers’ hope becomes reality as they enter the glorious presence of God and the full, unhindered, joyous fellowship with the Trinity, the angels, and other saints (Rom. 5:1–2; Gal. 5:5).

The means of Christians’ appropriating this living hope and eternal inheritance is spiritual birth, and the power for that appropriation was demonstrated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus told Martha, just prior to the raising of her brother Lazarus from the grave, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25–26; cf. 14:19). Paul instructed the Corinthians concerning the vital ramifications of the resurrection, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Even if one hoped in Christ in this life, but not beyond it, he would be lost (v. 19). However, Christ rose from the dead, forever securing the believer’s living hope in heaven by finally conquering death (vv. 20–28, 47–49, 54–57).[1]


1:3 / Peter at once launches into praise of God for planning so magnificent a salvation. The Israelites of old praised God as the creator of the world (2 Chron. 2:12) and as their redeemer from Egyptian slavery (Deut. 4:20). Peter develops the characteristic Jewish approach by adopting an explicitly Christian stance. He praises God as the Father of his unique Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and as the One who raised this Jesus from the dead. As a Christian, Peter blesses God for the new creation, as expressed in the new birth of believers, and for divine provision for them of “an inheritance” of a promised land “in heaven,” safe beyond the slavery of sin or the frenzy of foes.

The experiences of new birth and of a living hope are beyond human procurement. They are God’s gracious gift and are bestowed solely on account of his great mercy, for there is no way in which they can ever be deserved or earned. They come to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, as the direct consequence of his total triumph over the worst that the powers of evil can achieve; namely, death itself.

The concept of new birth is based on the teaching of Jesus (John 3:3–8). It speaks of the gift of spiritual life on a plane previously unknown in an individual’s experience. It can no more be acquired by self-effort than a babe can bring about its own physical birth.

The first result of this new birth, and the first characteristic of the new pilgrim life of the believer, is hope (anchor for the soul, firm and secure: Heb. 6:19). Hope is living (cf. 1:23; 2:4–5), not merely because it is active (Heb. 4:12), or is simply an improved version of the Jewish hope (Heb. 7:19). Nor are we to misunderstand the translation “have been born anew to a living hope” (rsv) to mean “hope has been restored.” Peter is referring to something of a different order: a sure and confident outlook which has a divine, not a human, source. That new quality of hope is generated in the believer by the new spiritual life brought about by the new birth. Peter is writing to encourage readers who face an uncertain future threatened by persecution of one degree or another. This living hope highlights the fact that the present life is by no means the limit of the believer’s expectation. As the word is used in everyday parlance, “hope” can prove a delusion (Job 7:6; Eph. 2:12; cf. Col. 1:5). The living hope in the newborn Christian has a vigor, a patient endurance, and an assurance beyond any human power: such hope can no more fail than the living God who bestows it. Peter elaborates the nature and the content of living hope in the following two verses.[2]


God establishes our hope in Christ (1:3)

In his play No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre gives his own vision of hell. Two women and a man, doomed to perdition, enter a room that seems to threaten no torment. But they are sentenced to remain together in that same room for ever—without sleep and without eyelids. All three enter with pretensions about their past. The man pretends that he was a hero of the revolution. In reality, he was killed in a train wreck when he tried to escape after betraying his comrades. The women have even more sordid lives. In the forced intimacy of the room their guilty secrets are all wrung out. Nothing can be hidden, and nothing can be changed. Sartre’s imagination has well prepared us for his famous line, ‘Hell is other people.’ But the moral of the play is the line of doom to which the drama moves: ‘You are—your life, and nothing else.’

Sartre rejected Christianity, but his play invites heart-searching. Who wants to say that he is what he has been rather than what he meant to be, or what he hopes to be? Sartre implies that hell begins when hope ends. Sartre’s image falls far short of the reality of hell, for God’s judgment exposes sinners not simply to the lidless eyes of other sinners, but to the all-seeing gaze of God himself. Yet Sartre reminds us of how desperately we need hope. While there is life, there is hope, we say. But if hope dies, what life can remain?

Peter writes a letter of hope. The hope he proclaims is not what we call a ‘fond hope’. We cherish fond hopes because they are so fragile. We ‘hope against hope’ because we do not really expect what we hope for. But Peter writes of a sure hope, a hope that holds the future in the present because it is anchored in the past. Peter hopes for God’s salvation, God’s deliverance from sin and death. His hope is sure, because God has already accomplished his salvation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus was a life-changing reality for Peter. When Jesus died on the cross, it was the end of all Peter’s hopes. He knew only bitter sorrow for his own denials. The dawn could not bring hope; with the crowing of the cock he heard the echo of his curses.

But Jesus did not stay dead. On that Easter morning Peter learned from the women of the empty tomb and the message of the angels. He went running to the tomb and saw its evidence. He left in wonder, but Jesus remembered Peter and appeared to him even before he came to eat with the disciples in the upper room. Hope was reborn in Peter’s heart with the sight of his living Lord. Now Peter writes to praise God for that living hope. The resurrection did much more than restore his Master to him. The resurrection crowned the victory of Christ, his victory for Peter, and for those to whom he writes. The resurrection shows that God has made the Crucified both Lord and Christ. At the right hand of the Father Jesus rules until the day that he will come to restore and renew all things.2 With the resurrection of Jesus and his entrance into glory, a new age has begun. Peter now waits for the day when Jesus will be revealed from heaven (1:7, 13). Peter’s living hope is Jesus.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Peter blesses God, rejoicing in what he has done. He uses a form of praise to God that was an important part of worship in the Old Testament. The eighteen ‘blessings’ that we know from the later synagogue service go back to early times, perhaps in some form even to Peter’s day. Those blessings look forward to the fulfilment of the promises of God, yearning for the time of realization:

Speedily cause the offspring of David, Thy servant, to flourish, and let his horn be exalted by thy salvation, because we wait for Thy salvation all the day. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who causest the horn of salvation to flourish.

How different from the plaintive longing of that benediction is the astonished joy of the apostle Peter! Peter can bless the God and Father of his Lord, Jesus Christ. He can exult in the Offspring of David, raised up in salvation to the throne. God’s promises have all come true in Christ. There is more to come, for Christ is to come, but our living hope is real in our living Lord.

Christ’s resurrection spells hope for us not just because he lives, but because, by God’s mercy, we live. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. By the resurrection of Christ, God has given life, not only to him, but to us. We are given new birth by God; he fathers us by the resurrection of his Son. In Christ’s triumph God makes all things new, beginning with us.

The resurrection carried Christ not only out of the grave but to his Father’s throne. The great day of the renewal of all things had already begun. Yet Peter preached that heaven must receive Christ until the time of renewal, a time still to come. The time of new birth for the universe will come when Christ comes again. But for those united to Christ in his death and resurrection, that new day has already dawned.

When we speak of the new birth, we think of the change that God’s grace works in us. We are brought from death to life. Peter speaks of our being born of imperishable seed through the living word of God that was preached to us (1:23–25). But if we think only of what happens to us, we may be puzzled by the statement that we are given new birth by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The means of our new birth is not first the message of the resurrection; it is the fact of the resurrection. When Christ rose he secured our salvation. He entered that new day of which the prophets spoke, and he brought us with him. Peter is saying what Paul also declared: when Christ rose, we rose. In giving life to Christ, God gave life to all those who are united to Christ. God’s elect have a hope that is as sure as Christ’s resurrection. Christ has not just made their salvation possible; he has made it sure.

Like Paul, Peter also speaks of baptism as the sign of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection (3:21). Some commentators would see this passage, or indeed the whole letter, as instruction given in a service for baptism. But Peter does not in the least focus on the sign, but on the spiritual reality of our new life in Christ. His teaching is beautifully appropriate for baptismal instruction, but gives no real evidence of being designed for this specific purpose, far less limited to it.3The Father, who gives new birth to his children through the resurrection of Christ, also through Christ brings them to a living faith (1:5; 3:21). Our faith and hope are in God; his living word, the good news of the gospel, has brought life to us (1:23). The things to which believers in Old Testament times looked forward have now happened (1:12).

Yet we, too, look to the future. The salvation that was scaled by Christ’s resurrection and planted in our hearts by the seed of the Word will be revealed completely when Christ comes again in glory. Our hope is anchored in the past: Jesus rose! Our hope remains in the present: Jesus lives! Our hope is completed in the future: Jesus is coming! (1:5, 7, 13).

The apostle leads us to praise God that our salvation is his work. We could not even begin to accomplish it, and we do not in any sense deserve it. Yet, as trophies of God’s grace, we have the privilege of adoring the Father of our Lord Jesus as our Father. Peter’s praise is not a mere formula; praise is the goal of God’s gracious work, as Peter later reminds us (2:9).[3]


A Living Hope

Throughout his epistle, Peter encourages his readers to hope. Hope is based on a living faith in Jesus Christ. It characterizes the believer who patiently waits for the salvation God has promised to his people. “Hoping is disciplined waiting.”

3. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Filled to overflowing with spiritual blessings which he wants to convey to his readers, Peter writes one long sentence in Greek (vv. 3–9). In our modern versions, translators have divided this lengthy sentence. Nevertheless, the sentence itself reveals the intensity of the writer and the fullness of his message. In the introductory part of this sentence we observe the following points:

  • “Praise.” This word is actually the first word in a doxology, for instance, at the conclusion of many books of the Psalms: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 41:13; and with variations 72:18; 89:52; 106:48). The word praise is common in the New Testament, too. Zechariah begins his song with an exuberant burst of praise: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68; also see Rom. 1:25b; 9:5).
  • “God and Father.” Within the early church, Jewish Christians adapted the benedictions of their forefathers to include Jesus Christ. Note that the doxology in verse 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is identical to the wording of 2 Corinthians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:3 (compare also 2 Cor. 11:31).

God has revealed himself in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, all the elect share in his sonship. Through him they call God their Father, for they are his children. With the church universal, the believer confesses the words of the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth.

Because of Jesus Christ, we call his Father our Father and his God our God (John 20:17). Fatherhood is one of the essential characteristics of God’s being; it is part of his deity. God is first Father of Jesus, and then because of Christ he is Father of the believer.

Peter indicates our relationship to the Father and the Son when he uses the personal pronoun our (“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”). Also, in the next sentence, Peter discloses that God is our Father because God “has given us new birth.” That is, the Father has begotten us again in giving us spiritual rebirth. The Father has given us rebirth because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • “Lord.” Verse 3 is the only text in this epistle in which Peter writes the title and names our Lord Jesus Christ. With the pronoun our, Peter includes himself among the believers who confess the lordship of Jesus Christ. “To call Jesus Lord is to declare that he is God.” Moreover, in the early church Christians confessed their faith in the brief statement Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). The name Jesus encompasses the earthly ministry of the Son of God, and the name Christ refers to his messianic calling. Four times in three verses (vv. 1–3) Peter employs the name Jesus Christ.
  • “Mercy.” Peter describes our relationship to God the Father by saying, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth.” We read almost the same wording in one of Paul’s epistles (“God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” [Eph. 2:4–5]). Apparently Peter was acquainted with Paul’s epistles (see 2 Peter 3:15–16). Together with the other apostles, Peter presents Christian doctrine on regeneration (e.g., see John 3:3, 5).
  • “Birth.” Notice that we receive a new spiritual birth from God the Father. Peter writes that God “has given us new birth” (v. 3), and later he continues, “For you have been born again” (v. 23). Just as we are passive in natural birth, so we are in spiritual birth. That is, God is active in the process of begetting us, for he causes us to be born again. With the words new and again in these two verses, Peter shows the difference between our natural birth and our spiritual birth.

Peter speaks from personal experience, for he remembers when he fell into the sin of denying Jesus. Later, when Jesus restored him to apostleship, he became the recipient of God’s great mercy and received new life through restoration. Therefore, he includes himself when he writes, “He has given us new birth” (italics added). Incidentally, the passages in which Peter uses the personal pronouns our or us are few (1:3; 2:24; 4:17). First Peter is an epistle in which the author addresses his readers as “you.” The infrequent use of the first person, singular (2:11; 5:1, 12) or plural, is therefore much more significant.

  • “Hope.” What is hope? It is something that is personal, living, active, and part of us. In verse 3, it is not something that pertains to the future (compare Col. 1:5; Titus 2:13). Instead, it brings life to God’s elect who are waiting with patient discipline for God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.
  • “Resurrection.” What is the basis for our new life? Peter tells us that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” God has made us alive and has given us living hope. Without the resurrection of Christ, our rebirth would be impossible and our hope would be meaningless. By rising from the dead, Jesus Christ has given us the assurance that we, too, shall rise with him (see Rom. 6:4). Why? As Peter preached on Pentecost, “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). Jesus is the first one to break the bonds of death, so that through him we have our rebirth, and in him we have eternal life (1 John 5:12).

Peter speaks as an eyewitness, for he had the unique experience of meeting Jesus after he rose from the grave. Peter ate and drank with Jesus and became a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (refer to Acts 10:41).

Doctrinal Considerations in 1:3

Twice in this short epistle Peter introduces teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1:3; 3:21). This teaching, to be sure, is central to the Christian religion. When the eleven apostles came together after Jesus’ ascension and prior to Pentecost, they chose a successor to Judas Iscariot. Peter, as spokesman, declared that this person had to be a follower of Jesus from the day of his baptism to the time of his ascension, and that he had to be a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:22).

As an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus, Peter proclaimed this truth in his sermon to the multitude gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:31). When he preached to the crowd at Solomon’s porch, he said that God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 3:15; compare 4:2, 33). And last, when Peter spoke in the home of Cornelius at Caesarea, he taught the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 10:40). Peter testified to this truth throughout his ministry of preaching and writing.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 30–34). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 31–32). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter: the way of the cross (pp. 43–47). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 39–42). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Resurrection & Suffering Saints

Last year in time for Easter the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas unveiled its panoramic new stained glass, reputedly the world’s largest. At left is the Garden of Eden, surrounded by Old Testament figures. In the center the resurrected Christ, surrounded by Gospel figures, emerges from the garden tomb. At right, heroes from the Church age surround the garden of the Tree of Life, whose leaves will heal the nations.

These heroes include Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Francis of Assisi. John Wesley and Francis Asbury are there, of course. There’s early church martyr Perpetua, a noblewoman executed in the Roman amphitheater. There’s Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Spanish nun, and mystic. Easily recognizable are Pope John XXIII, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Less recognizable but no less important is the early 20th century black preacher William Seymour, whose Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles ignited modern Pentecostalism with hundreds of millions of followers globally.

Martin Luther is there, nailing his protesting theses. So too is cerebral John Calvin, to whose inclusion some diehard Methodists might object, but I don’t think John Wesley would mind, at least not strongly!

From more recent times, Montgomery bus boycott heroine Rosa Parks is there, along with Chicago mother Mamie and her teenage son Emmett Till, whose Mississippi murder helped ignite the civil rights movement. Less familiar to Americans, there’s mid 20th century Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, who worked to reconcile Eastern Orthodoxy with Roman Catholicism. Likewise for Korean Methodist Bishop Sundo Kim, who created the 75,000 member Kwang Lim Methodist Church in Seoul. Mai Gray, the first black leader of United Methodist Women, is there. And there’s E. Stanley Jones, the great Methodist missionary to India. Finally there’s Matthew Joyner, a “special needs” child and Church of the Resurrection member who died young but whose legacy is honored through ministry.

So this Church age tableau is multiracial, showing male and female, from young to old. The stained glass magisterially illustrates the cosmic centrality of Christ, whose death and Easter resurrection unleashed grace-powered forces that continue to sweep through history, profoundly shaping all humanity, both believers and not.

Christ’s death and resurrection showcase gross injustice, inhuman suffering and the triumph of divine love over demonic evil. His followers as shown in this window partake of that suffering and glory. Most portrayed there are great and famous, by divine grace. Of course, many many more followers of Christ also suffer and prevail in faith, without wide recognition, but God notices.

The suffering among Christ’s followers was made most vivid this week by the acquittalin Pakistan of numerous men accused in 2014 of murdering a young Pakistani Christian couple. Shahzad Masih and Shama Masih, who had four children, labored in a brick kiln. A mob of hundreds, urged on by clerics and possibly their employer, accused them of burning a Koran. They were tortured and then incinerated in the oven where they made bricks. In their agony, we hope they recalled the torment on the cross of their Savior, in whose presence they now rejoice.

Thanks to Easter, suffering in faith is redeemed, and righteousness prevails over murderous injustice, for all eternity. The massive window at Church of the Resurrection tells part of the story, whose ending is not yet, but whose conclusion is victorious, guaranteed by the resurrected Man at center with pierced arms outstretched.

Source:

The Ultimate Sacrifice — Happy Easter!

An imageJesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He was put to death by being crucified on a cross, and his body was laid in a tomb behind a stone. He lived and then died rejected and alone. Like a rose He was trampled on the ground. Jesus took the fall and thought of you ABOVE ALL !

Here are 8 biblical terms to think about. As we learn about these words during Easter, we can appreciate the reason we celebrate.

REPENTANCE

Repentance is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” It’s turning away from the sin that separated us from God; reaching out, instead, to receive God’s forgiveness and the new life he offers. Repentance is necessary for salvation (Acts 3:19). We must agree with God about our sin and turn toward him. We do not need to be perfect before we come to God, and we will still sin while we’re in this human body. But too often we shrug off our sins by saying, “Well, God’s forgiven me, so I’m okay.” That is not repentance. Repentance puts action to our words. True repentance means letting the forgiveness you’ve experienced change your life.

FORGIVENESS

Throughout history, God has been merciful and forgiving to those who repent of their sin. But that doesn’t mean forgiveness is automatic. Because the penalty for sin is death, God’s law says there can be no forgiveness without the sacrifice of a life. Jesus death paid the ultimate price, and now our sins are wiped out, gone forever. It is true that we will still sin in this life, but God continues to forgive us when we come to him (1 John 1:9)

SACRIFICE

A true sacrifice involves giving up something that is cherished. It is no accident that the Crucifixion and Resurrection occurred during Passover. As the most important sacrifice in the Old Testament, Passover paints the most vivid picture of the greatest sacrifice ever made: the one made by God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus sacrificed his place in heaven to become human; he then sacrificed his life by dying on the cross to pay the price for our sins (Philippians 2:8). Giving our total lives as a living sacrifice to him is our natural and appropriate response of worship (Romans 12:1)

SALVATION

Some people call for God to save them only when they are desperate and in immediate danger. In the Old Testament, when God’s people called out to him for salvation, they were looking for deliverance from their enemies. We may not have an army on our doorstep, but we’re all in immediate danger from the effects and consequences of sin. We can’t save ourselves from this— we need a rescue operation. Thankfully, God executed the rescue operation for salvation. He sent his Son to save the world by paying the penalty for sin and bringing us back to God (John 3:16-17). Our salvation is the accomplishment of the Crucifixion and Resurrection—the beautiful fruit of Easter..

CROSS

The cross points to God’s rescue plan of the world. When we think of the cross, we should think of Jesus Christ, who was painfully stretched out and nailed to it, whose blood was shed, whose side was pierced and whose death paid the price of all sin (Isaiah 53:5). Without Jesus’ death on a cross, Christians cannot inherit God’s gift of salvation. We also associate the cross with Christ’s call on our life. He asks us to take up our own cross, in denial of ourselves and in commitment to him (Mark 8:34).

GRAVE

Christians have eternal life, but it doesn’t mean we’ll never die a physical death. We all have to leave this life sometime. But Jesus’ empty grave means we don’t have to fear death anymore. In fact, we’re told that he defeated death and Hades. His resurrection means that we can have life even after our bodies die and that one day our bodies will be raised anew (Romans 6:4).We can live in peace with the Lord forever.

RESURRECTION

The resurrection is evidence of God’s satisfaction with the Son’s sacrifice on humanity’s behalf (1 Peter 1:3-5). The Holy Spirit brought Christ to life again. That same Holy Spirit dwells within believers; therefore, Christians can trust that we, too, will rise to eternal life after we experience physical death. All of these truths are celebrated in words of joy that ring out each Easter in many different languages: “The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed!”

JESUS

Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all humankind on the cross. Buried in a borrowed tomb, he rose again three days later as proof that his mission to conquer sin and death had been accomplished. Jesus appeared to his disciples and then returned to heaven 40 days later with the promise that he would return again someday. Jesus’ words and life show us how to live life, but his message was that humanity should respond to God’s love. Jesus claimed to be much more than a wise man or great teacher. He claimed to be God—a God willing to die for his creation so that their love relationship could be restored (Romans 5:10). Through his birth, life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled the hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament that foretold of a coming Messiah, a Savior not only for the nation of Israel, but for the whole world (1 Timothy 4:10). How will you respond to Jesus’ life and love?

The point and the pinnacle of Easter celebration is the worship of Jesus Christ, the one who declared, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Source: The Ultimate Sacrifice

There Are Worse Things Than Hiding Easter Eggs

I’m not worried about churches that hide Easter eggs for kids once a year – I’m worried about churches that hide the Gospel from people every week. – Clayton Pruett

Dr. Jack Graham’s Prestonwood Baptist Church is having their annual Easter Egg Drop – in which they dump thousands of eggs out of a helicopter for an egg hunt at their Dallas campus. Graham, a two time president of the SBC and big fan of Beth Moore and Word-Faith, Hillsong pastors Brian Houston and Christine Caine, is a proven #DOWNGRADE specialist and so a helicopter egg drop (a Stephen Furtick specialty) at Graham’s church seems hardly newsworthy. Prestonwood’s press announcements about the egg drop, devoid of Christ altogether, narrowly avoided becoming the focus of Friday’s Daily #DOWNGRADE segment.

But the words of Clayton Pruett, circulating in social media, stung me back into focus and put things into perspective.

story

Clayton is dead-on the money.

As odd as it seems that a church would adopt a once-pagan ritual associated with the celebration of Spring – which Catholics adopted in the 13th century as part of a fasting from eggs during Lent – there are worse things than letting children scurry around looking for plastic eggs with trinkets and sugary treasures inside. As a Protestant that’s still protesting, with a fundamentalist Baptist streak who’s just naturally adverse to such acts of irreverent tom-foolery, I can’t find it in myself to anathematize the whole endeavor. I keep hearing the hillbilly slogan common in my Ozarkian upbringing, “There are bigger fish to fry.”

Easter egg hunts to me, therefore, are a matter of Christian liberty and so I let it go, remembering there are hills upon which Zion’s flag of Gospel is yet to wave and upon which might make a fairer hill to die.

What’s far more concerning, as Pruett points out, than hiding eggs from children is hiding the Gospel from church-goers every week. And even worse (at least in principle) is hiding the Gospel from church-goers on Resurrection Sunday.

Millions of American Christians will gather in church tomorrow to hear that “Easter is About Second Chances.” second-chance-church-a1Many will hear that Easter is about a chance at a “clean slate” or “fresh start.” Members at Saddleback will hear an allegorization of the Gospel from Rick Warren, as his Easter promopromises to explain that the death, burial and resurrection are symbolic of three days you’ll have to go through over and again in your life to overcome “depression and discouragement.”

Oh, sure. The Gospel can perhaps be found in these places, and if you listen hard enough, perhaps it will even be spoken of in the pulpit through subtle hints and passing references. It’s like an Easter egg hunt, except for believers that are desperate to hear the story of Christ’s resurrection wash over them like a treasured hope and weekly reminder that all in Christ will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).

As the fuddy-duddy that I am, I would rather buy my kids a bag of candies or marshmallow Peeps than have them scour the church grounds for an hour to find scattered in the dirt what hasn’t already been pillaged by the rest of the mob of chocolate-faced carpet-crawlers on a savage sugar-high (although the kids would have far less fun). But maybe, that’s part of the nonsensical  and hard-won fun that makes being a kid memorable and exciting. And yet, finding the Gospel in church shouldn’t be this way.

There’s enough Gospel to go around; it’s not in short supply. If I find more Gospel, it doesn’t mean someone else has to find less. There’s no expiration date on this Gospel, and the more of it that’s consumed, somehow the more room you have for greater and greater amounts. And unlike the treats you may find in plastic eggs, there’s no sugar crash in the end that leaves you feeling lethargic or feeling as though a diabetic comma might be inevitable. Furthermore, the Gospel isn’t a luxury afforded to affluent children in suburban neighborhoods dressed in pastel colors, belonging to parents in pretty dresses or pressed slacks. The Gospel is for everyone – every economic bracket, every neighborhood, every ethnicity. And Gospel-preaching can’t be an annual affair, for unlike the goodies found inside plastic eggs, the Gospel feeds and nourishes the believer as our primary source of sustenance.

In the end, searching for a plastic egg or two (or thousands dropped out of a helicopter) may not sit well with some of you, but it won’t be the end of the true and apostolic, New Testament Church. Forsaking the Gospel or hiding it away for those ambitious enough to look for it like a hidden egg, however, might just kill it (if Christ were to allow such a thing). So, hunt for those eggs if you want. But please, find a church where you don’t have to hunt for Gospel.

The post There Are Worse Things Than Hiding Easter Eggs appeared first on Pulpit & Pen.

Apologetics: 10 Quotes on the Resurrection of Jesus

The central claim of the NT is that Jesus was physically resurrected after being crucified. If this claim arose from decades of embellishment instead of historical truth, then Jesus is dead, the apostles were liars, and our faith is worthless (1 Cor. 15:14–17). But evidences from the first and second centuries reveal that eyewitness testimony about Jesus emerged rapidly and circulated reliably. The NT texts relied on testimonies from apostolic eyewitnesses, and all of these texts were completed while the eyewitnesses were still alive. That’s why we can declare with confidence: Don’t worry; I read the book. He didn’t stay dead. — Timothy Paul Jones (from, How Do You Know Jesus Really Rose from the Dead?)

At its foundation, Christianity is based on evidence. First Corinthians 15 recounts the critical core of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Without Jesus’ resurrection (a historical event), there is no Christianity and no hope for a future in heaven (a theological assertion). If Jesus is nothing more than an embellished legend, then the hope of heaven is little more than a wish. In order for Christianity to be true, it must include a belief in certain historical facts and a belief that the Bible preserves an accurate account of those events. This establishes the identity of Jesus as the resurrected Savior. In this sense, theology can’t be separated from history. Rather, theology depends on history. — Kenneth Samples (from, 5 Levels of Christian Faith)

After studying the historical origins of the Christian faith, I came to these conclusions: that Jesus died on the cross is as certain as anything historical can be; that he rose from the dead is by far the best explanation of the events surrounding his death; and that Jesus claimed to be God is the best explanation for the immediate Christian proclamation of Jesus’ deity. Putting it all together: Jesus claimed to be God, and he proved it by rising from the dead. The case for Christianity is powerful. Despite my ardent desire to believe in Islam, I had to admit that history was in favor of Christian claims, and even more reluctantly, that it challenged Islamic teachings. — Nabeel Qureshi (from, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity)

The wise do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. It is really quite absurd. So everything from the Easter morning to the Ascension had to be made up by the groveling enthusiasts as part of their plan to get themselves martyred. — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (cited in, Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh & Sean McDowell)

The real cover-up [of Watergate], the lie, could only be held together for two weeks, and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves. Now, the fact is that all that those around the President were facing was embarrassment, maybe prison. Nobody’s life was at stake. But what about the disciples? Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stonings, execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead. Don’t you think that one of those apostles would have cracked before being beheaded or stoned? That one of them would have made a deal with the authorities? None did. Jesus is Lord: That’s the thrilling message of Easter. And it’s an historic fact, one convincingly established by the evidence—and one you can bet your life upon. Go ahead researchers—dig up all the old graves you want. You won’t change a thing. He has risen. — Chuck Colson (cited in, Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?)

When we turn to the Gospels, we find multiple, independent attestation of this burial story, and Joseph of Arimathea is specifically named in all four accounts. On top of that, the burial story in Mark is so extremely early that it’s simply not possible for it to have been subject to legendary corruption. When you read the New Testament, there’s no doubt that the disciples sincerely believed the truth of the resurrection, which they proclaimed to their deaths. The idea that the empty tomb is the result of some hoax, conspiracy, or theft is simply dismissed today. — William Lane Craig (cited in, Case-Making 101: A Resurrection Apologetic)

There is an important difference between the apostle martyrs and those who die for their beliefs today. Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The apostles died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The disciples of Jesus died for what they knew to be either true or false. ― Gary Habermas, (from, The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus)

None of [the] major figures who constituted the inner circle of Jesus would have become or remained followers of Jesus after the crucifixion if there was no resurrection and no resurrection appearances of Jesus. The church, in the persons of its earliest major leaders, was constituted by the event of the resurrection, coupled with the Pentecost event! The stories of these figures, especially their post-Easter stories, are the validation of this fact. There would be no church without the risen and appearing Jesus. ― Ben Witherington III (from, What Have They Done with Jesus? Beyond Strange Theories & Bad History)

In order for the Resurrection of Jesus to be a late legend, the story would have to be both late and a legend. It is neither. The earliest New Testament documents include the Resurrection story, and the record of the early Church fathers demonstrates that the story was not altered over time. The truth of the Gospel accounts and the Resurrection of Jesus is still the most reasonable inference from the evidence. — J Warner Wallace (from, Investigating Easter: Is The Resurrection A Late Legend?)

If the Resurrection [of Jesus] had not happened, obviously the disciples would have known it. I can find no way that these particular men could have been deceived. Therefore they not only would have died for a lie—here’s the catch—they would have known it was a lie. It would be hard to find a group of men anywhere in history who would die for a lie if they knew it was a lie. — Josh McDowell (from, More Than a Carpenter)

Visit Website

2 Years Ago Franklin Graham Delivered Chilling Easter Message… It’s Still Powerful

Rev. Franklin Graham has been considered a steady, intelligent voice for the Christian faith, and his words often represent what most evangelical conservatives believe to be true. Roughly 2 years ago, Graham issued a chilling Easter message about anti-Christian attitudes in our own country and around the world.

“Untold millions of Christians around the world are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Graham said during his Easter message.

For some, however, worshiping Jesus and fellowshipping with other believers has proven to be far more costly than others.

“(M)illions in many countries risk their freedom and their very lives to worship Him and claim His name,” the reverend explained.

For some, the threats come from radical Islamic organizations, such as the Islamic State group, which has made it quite clear that its members are willing to kill any and every proponent of the Christian faith.

But, for others, the threat is not so much to their lives as it is to their religious liberty.

Graham pointed out that American citizens have become increasingly on the receiving end of anti-Christianity rhetoric despite our constitutional protections.

“Even in America there has recently grown an ugly, anti-Christian bias and intolerance that is changing our nation from the inside out,” he said.

Graham added that this is “opening doors for all kinds of discrimination and loss of religious freedom that we hear about daily in the news.”

Graham’s message remains true today, as we celebrate another Easter season.

Christians in our own country have been targeted and made to feel that we must put aside our religious beliefs in order to accommodate actions and behaviors that violate those beliefs.

With the United States that is more divided than ever before, it is critical that Christians come together to stand up for our values.

These are the same values that our country was founded on, and the same values that have contributed to the continued prosperity of this great land.

The post 2 Years Ago Franklin Graham Delivered Chilling Easter Message… It’s Still Powerful appeared first on Conservative Tribune.

Resurrection and Justification

How is the resurrection of Christ linked to the idea of justification in the New Testament? To answer this question, we must first explore the use and meaning of the term justification in the New Testament. Confusion about this has provoked some of the fiercest controversies in the history of the church. The Protestant Reformation itself was fought over the issue of justification. In all its complications, the unreconciled and unreconcilable difference in the debate came down to the question of whether our justification before God is grounded in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness into us, by which we become inherently righteous, or in the imputation, or reckoning, of Christ’s righteousness to us while we are still sinners. The difference between these views makes all the difference in our understanding of the Gospel and of how we are saved.

One of the problems that led to confusion was the meaning of the word justification. Our English word justification is derived from the Latin justificare. The literal meaning of the Latin is “to make righteous.” The Latin fathers of church history worked with the Latin text instead of the Greek text and were clearly influenced by it. By contrast, the Greek word for justification, dikaiosune, carries the meaning of “to count, reckon, or declare righteous.”

But this variance between the Latin and the Greek is not enough to explain the debates over justification. Within the Greek text itself, there seem to be some problems. For example, Paul declares in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Then James, in his epistle, writes, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar” (2:21) and “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (2:24).

On the surface, it appears that we have a clear contradiction between Paul and James. The problem is exacerbated when we realize that both use the same Greek word for justification and both use Abraham to prove their arguments.

This problem can be resolved when we see that the verb “to justify” and its noun form, “justification,” have shades of meaning in Greek. One of the meanings of the verb is “to vindicate” or “to demonstrate.”

Jesus once said, ” ‘Wisdom is justified by all her children’ ” (Luke 7:35). He did not mean that wisdom has its sins remitted or is counted righteous by God by having children, but that a wise decision may be vindicated by its consequences.

James and Paul were addressing different questions. James was answering the question: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (2:14). He understood that anyone can profess to have faith, but true faith is demonstrated as authentic by its consequent works. The claim of faith is vindicated (justified) by works. Paul has Abraham justified in the theological sense in Genesis 15 before he does any works. James points to the vindication or demonstration of Abraham’s faith in obedience in Genesis 22.

The Resurrection involves justification in both senses of the Greek term. First, the Resurrection justifies Christ Himself. Of course, He is not justified in the sense of having His sins remitted, because He had no sins, or in the sense of being declared righteous while still a sinner, or in the Latin sense of being “made righteous.” Rather, the Resurrection serves as the vindication or demonstration of the truth of His claims about Himself.

In his encounter with the philosophers at Athens, Paul declared: ” ‘Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’ ” (Acts 17:30-31).

Here Paul points to the Resurrection as an act by which the Father universally vindicates the authenticity of His Son. In this sense, Christ is justified before the whole world by His resurrection.

However, the New Testament also links Christ’s resurrection to our justification. Paul writes, “It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25).

It is clear that in His atoning death Christ suffered on our behalf, or for us. Likewise, His resurrection is seen not only as a vindication of or surety of Himself, but as a surety of our justification. Here justification does not refer to our vindication, but to the evidence that the atonement He made was accepted by the Father. By vindicating Christ in His resurrection, the Father declared His acceptance of Jesus’ work on our behalf. Our justification in this theological sense rests on the imputed righteousness of Christ, so the reality of that transaction is linked to Christ’s resurrection. Had Christ not been raised, we would have a mediator whose redeeming work in our behalf was not acceptable to God.

However, Christ is risen indeed!

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

Resurrection Sunday and April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day rarely coincides with Resurrection Sunday but this year it does! This unique day (April 1, 2018) affords us an opportunity to remember these two themes (the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ the ETERNAL Son of God and that of being a fool) from a biblical perspective!

Dear friends, on the very day that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead, our risen Savior and Lord clearly defined to all what a fool truly is. A fool as defined by the Word of God Himself (the Lord Jesus – John 1:1-3,14), is anyone who will not properly reason with themselves with the overwhelming biblical facts of TRUTH and REALITY of who Jesus is! The fool absolutely refuses to believe ALL that the Word of God (the Lord Jesus) has to say about the written Word of God – Matt. 5:17, Luke 24:27, 44, John 1:1-3;14 5:39,46, Acts 3:18; 28:23, Heb. 10:7).

“O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken…and beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

One particular fool is the one who refuses to consider the overwhelming evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most verified event in ancient history and in our present day. After the horrific crucifixion of Jesus, over 500 witnesses – including His disciples, His earthly mother and other women –  personally and publicly testified to the REALITY that they had seen the Lord Jesus ALIVE from the dead (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1, 1 Cor. 15:6)! The resurrection REALITY of Jesus Christ absolutely changed these individual’s lives and was the cornerstone of the apostle”s ministry and preaching (Psalm 110:1, Acts 2; 4:2; 9, Romans 7:24-25, 8:34, 1 Cor. 6:15; 15, Gal 2:20, Phil. 3:10, Rev. 19:11-21). These who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection were more than willing to give their lives completely over to Almighty God’s will and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-39, 1 Cor. 15:2-8, Gal. 2:20). These individuals were more than willing to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ even to the point of death for this undeniable TRUTH and REALITY in which they possessed! To see the resurrected Son of God ALIVE after such a horrific scourge, crucifixion and death absolutely transformed these dear men and women’s lives FOREVER; and from this witness, they turned upside the world (The Book of Acts)!

 To see the resurrected Son of God alive after such a horrific scourge, crucifixion and death absolutely transformed these dear men and women’s lives; and from this witness, they turned upside the world!

Another particular group of fools is anyone who is willing to receive and accept as “Gospel” any alternate theories designed to explain away the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This first great lie against the resurrection of the Son of God’s was established by the chief priest and elders of Israel which were the engine and vehicle for Messiah’s execution (Matt. 12:14, 21:38, 26:59, 27:20, Mark 14:1, 55, Luke 22:2, John 5:18, 7:1, 11:53, 19:7, Acts 2:22-24). The demonic spin these evil fools used to explain away the REALITY of the Lord Jesus Christ’s glorious resurrection was the narrative, “His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while 50 to 100 mighty men of war slept on guard duty (Matt. 28:11-15)“. How absolutely absurd and preposterous is this lie! The very men (Chief Priests and Elders), who saw the overwhelming evidence of who Jesus was; His WONDERS, His MIRACLES and His MINISTRY, were the very ones who REJECTED Him, CRUCIFIED Him and came up with the post-resurrection lie and spin that His disciples stole His body from the sepulchre; thus there was no resurrection (Matt. 28:15, Acts 2:22-24)

 This first great lie against the resurrection of the Son of God’s was by the chief priest and elders of Israel, which were the engine and vehicle for His execution.

This lie has been passed on throughout the centuries and countless fools have received it and believed it! Such demonic spin and theories are very easily disproved by careful examination and by the basic rules of logic. For Roman soldiers of war to say, “His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept,” is absolutely absurd and laughable!; but many have received this lie as truth in their unbelief and darkness (John 3:19-21, 1 Cor. 1:18-31, 2:14). If these soldiers of war fell asleep, then how did they know what had happened? How did these soldiers not hear the mighty gravestone being moved out of its place? How did they not hear the disciples of Jesus grunting and groaning as they sought to move a very huge and heavy gravestone? Soldiers sound asleep are usually NOT good witnesses and the biblical account explains quite clearly that they knew exactly what happened, as well as the chief priest and scribes did (Matt. 27:62-66; 28:11-15). These destroying fools lied firstly to themselves and helped spread that lie to others all in the name of unbelief and darkness (Psalm 14, John 3:19-21, Rom. 1:18-32,1 Cor. 1:18-31). Tragically, too many today have become fools, receiving the lie that, Jesus’ body was stolen or that HE did not rise from the grave; ever seeking to excuse themselves in the darkness from the GREAT DAY of ETERNAL JUDGMENT by the RIGHTEOUS ETERNAL Savior and Creator, Jesus Christ (Eccl. 12:13-14, John 3:16-21, 8:24, Acts 17:30-32, Rev. 20:11-15).

 The very men (Chief Priests and Elders), who saw the overwhelming evidence of who Jesus was; His wonders, miracles and ministry, are the very ones who rejected Him, crucified Him and came up with the post-resurrection lie and spin that His disciples stole His body from the sepulchre and there is no resurrection.

Some other foolish alternate theories of the resurrection never taking place have been suggested by godless and lawless fools and unbelievers throughout the centuries. Some in particular are: The women went to the wrong tomb, The people who thought they saw Christ actually had hallucinations, and Jesus did not really die on the cross and somehow managed to escape the tomb (so that when people later saw Him alive, it was because He had never died. Dear friends, all such explanations are absolutely absurd and can be very easily answered by the overwhelming facts of this case. It takes more faith to reject and dismiss the resurrection of Jesus Christ than it does to believe it for one’s self.

 It takes more faith to reject and dismiss the resurrection of Jesus Christ than it does to believe it for one’s self.

Anyone who accuses the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Son of God, who is come in the flesh; of the very sin which they themselves are guilty of is a fool. Dear friends, remember the lawless, unbelieving and godless Chief Priests and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who slandered and blasphemously Him and called the RIGHTEOUS ETERNAL TRUTH of Almighty God a “deceiver” (Matt. 5:17; 27:6, Luke 24:27, 44, John 1:1-3;14; 5:39,46; 14:6, Acts 3:18; 28:23, Heb. 10:7)! Yet, in the end, these tools of Satan and godless hypocrites were the very ones who were determined to deceive the masses by lying and hiding the truth of the resurrection of the RIGHTEOUS Savior of the world (Matt. 28:11-15, John 8:44). These evil fools and deceivers in their saturated darkness, hated the Light of the world and delighted in the darkness of unrighteousness, Satan and ETERNAL death (Psalm 1; 14, Isa. 5:20, Matt. 23, John 3:19-21, Rom. 1:18-32. 2 Thess. 2:10, Rev. 20:10-15, 21:8, 22:11).

 These evil fools and deceivers in their darkness hated the Light of the world and delighted in the darkness of unrighteousness, Satan and ETERNAL death.

In the end my dear friends, the height of ALL foolishness is found in anyone who refuses to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (the RIGHTEOUSNESS of ALMIGHTY God) as personal Savior and be delivered from the wrath which is to come upon all the fallen offspring of Adam (John 3:16-17; 36, Acts 16:31; 17:30-32, Gal. 1:4, Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8). Dear friends, what more could anyone ask for and what more proof could anyone need then the resurrection of Jesus Christ? If the Lord Jesus Christ rose again from the dead, then the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves and confirms everything that Jesus claimed to be!; The ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Son of the living God, the PERFECT Lamb and Propitiation for sinful man, the very One who came to this earth as the prophets spoke of to provide a FULL and FREE salvation for lost lawless sinners (Isa. 53, Luke 19:10; John 3:16-17, Rom. 5:11-21; 10:2-4).

In the end my dear friends, the height of ALL foolishness is found in anyone who refuses to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (the RIGHTEOUSNESS of ALMIGHTY God) as personal Savior and be delivered from the wrath which is to come upon all the fallen offspring of Adam.

Finally one last thought. Remember doubting Thomas, who was foolish Thomas until he repented and believed when he saw the resurrected Christ (John 20:24-29)? Thomas upon repenting and believing went from doubting Thomas to convinced Thomas and was a mighty witness of the resurrection of His Lord and God in India and was martyred because of that witness!

Remembered what Jesus stated to Thomas? “Thomas because thou has seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29).”

Thomas upon repenting and believing went from doubting Thomas to convinced Thomas and was a mighty witness of the resurrection of His Lord and God in India and was martyred because of that witness!
.

The greatest witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the testimony and witness of the early church (Acts). Why would the disciples of Jesus Christ go forth and preach what they knew to be a lie at a great cost of persecution, prison and even death? There was no money to be gain nor fame to be had, there was no earthly kingdom to create nor gratifications of the flesh to be received. So why would these put it all on the line for a BIG FAT LIE? My friends, they wouldn’t! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is still a POWERFUL witness to our world of today! Even in our Laodicean age of EXPONENTIAL technological advances, media of unbelief, there are multitudes of believers in Jesus Christ, who by faith preach and testify to the risen Savior of the world; many even have given their lives for Christ’s name  (Rev. 3:14-22).

What about you my dear friend? Will you choose to remain a fool of unbelief or a wise man of belief? Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, ALL who place their trust in Him will NEVER die and will have the forgiveness of sin and ETERNAL LIFE (John 11:25, 14:6, Rev. 1:5, 17-18)!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

GWZ I.F./DJP I.F.

What MUST I Do To Be Saved

What is the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUSNESS of Almighty God?

What was crucifixion like?

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life”

Ephesians 2:1-10

Code: B180330

This Sunday, the church will celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His triumph over sin, death, and the grave. In his sermon “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life” (which he originally delivered on Easter Sunday twenty years ago), John MacArthur declares,

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is . . . the most determinative event of all time because by it, the destiny of every person is ultimately determined. It is the most impactful thing that ever happened in the history of this world. How you respond to the resurrection will determine whether you spend forever in heaven or hell.

The sermon focuses on Ephesians 2:1-10, and the apostle Paul’s vivid description of God’s redeeming work for those lost and dead in their sins. As John explains, this powerful passage of Scripture assaults the way unbelievers like to think of themselves. “People like to think they’re free. Oh, they love to think they’re free. That’s the biggie nowadays. Everybody is free to do his own thing, do whatever you want, do whatever feels good.” On the contrary, he explains that the sinner’s freedom is an illusion.

Man is not free. You don’t do your own will. You are locked in spiritual death. You are utterly insensitive to the realities of God, to the divine realm. You are hypersensitive to the influences of the evil world system around you. You are engulfed in your own personal sin.

Paul’s description of unrepentant man’s status is utterly hopeless; “Dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) does not leave a lot of room for nuance or interpretation. Dead is dead.

But thankfully Paul does not leave it there.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

As John MacArthur explains, “Here is the great, wonderful truth of Easter. . . . Dead people can come to life.”

This Sunday, our congregations will swell with unsaved people making one of their biannual trips to church. It’s a day when many lost and dead men and women pretend to be spiritually alive. That pantomime of faith only serves to deepen their own self-deception. They need to be brought face to face with the resurrected Lord, and understand the depth of their depravity and their spiritual needs that only He can meet.

Whether you want to remind yourself of the rich grace and mercy that has been poured out in your salvation, or you want to point a friend or loved one to the truth that only God can resurrect and redeem lost sinners, “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life” is a powerful, timely message.

To download or listen to “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life,” click here.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180330
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

10 Things You Should Know about the Cross

March 30, 2018 
This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.

1. The cross is a Trinitarian event.

The Christian faith is distinctively Trinitarian and cross-shaped. Therefore, the cross must reveal the Trinity. God the Father sent the Son to save the world, the Son submitted to the Father’s will, and the Spirit applies the work of redemption to Jesus followers. Redemption is predestined by the Father (Eph 1:3–6), accomplished by the Son (Eph 1:7–10), and applied by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13–14). God did not withhold the Son, and the Son surrendered to the Father. Yet the Father is not sacrificing the Son. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all possess a single will. The sacrifice, while uniquely the Son’s work, is also the will of the three persons.

2. The cross is the center of the story of the Scripture.

A Bible without a cross is a Bible without a climax, a Bible without an ending, a Bible without a solution. The spiral of sin that began in Genesis 3 must be stopped; the death of Jesus terminates the downward spiral. In Jesus’s body, he took on the sin of the world and paid the price of all humanity. At the cross the new Adam, Abraham, Moses, David arises to create a new humanity, family, and kingdom. That is why Paul doesn’t say he decided to knowing nothing except the incarnation, resurrection, or the ascension of Jesus, but the nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Wisdom was found not beyond the cross, not above the cross, not below the cross, but in the cross.

3. The cross redefines power in the kingdom.

Jesus’s announcement that the kingdom of God has come is conclusively revealed in the Christ-event on the cross. The Scriptures narrate how God will manifest his kingship on the earth. He gives Adam and Eve the task of ruling and reigning over the earth as his representatives, but they attempt to seize power for themselves (Gen. 3:5). In fact, all of their children do the same. Babel (or Babylon) is the city opposed to the reign of God. Jesus comes as the true Son and redefines power by displaying strength through weakness. He does not exploit his power like Adam, but empties himself (Phil. 2:5–6). He becomes a servant of all, and thereby is exalted as ruler of all (Phil. 2:9–11).

The cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity.

4. The cross inaugurates the new covenant.

At the Last Supper Jesus interprets his death as bringing in the new covenant. It is by his body and blood that his new community is formed. Just as the people of Israel were sprinkled with blood as they entered a covenant with Yahweh, so the disciples are members of the new community by the pouring out of Jesus’s blood. The new covenant community now has the Torah written on their hearts and they all know the Lord because of the gift of the Spirit (Jer. 31:33–34).

5. The cross conquers sin and death.

The cross cancels the record of debt that stood against humanity (Col 2:14). On the cross Jesus bore our sins in his body, so that we might die to sin and death (1 Pet. 2:24). The curse of sin and death was placed on Jesus so that we might obtain the blessings of Abraham (Gal 3:13). Understanding the cross and resurrection as a single event is important here, for it is through the death and resurrection of Christ that death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:54–55).

6. The cross vanquishes the devil.

On the cross, Christ did not only conquer sin and death, but he conquered the spiritual forces of darkness. A cosmic eruption occurred at Golgotha; a new apocalyptic force entered the world and the old magic was conquered by a deeper magic. He disarmed the power and authorities, putting them to open shame, and triumphs over them on the cross (Col. 2:14). When Christ rises from the dead he is seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power (Eph. 2:20–21).

7. The cross is substitutionary.

The cross is for us, in our place, on our behalf. He laid down his life for His sheep. He is our sacrificial lamb. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Just as Abraham raised his eyes and looked and saw a ram to offer as a burnt offering in the place of his son (Gen 22:13), so too we look up and see Jesus as our replacement. He became a curse for us (Gal 3:13), meaning he takes the place of all the enslaved, the rebels, the idolaters, and the murderers. If the conquering of the spiritual forces is the goal, then substitution is the ground or basis for this conquering (Gal. 1:4). “The cross represents not only the great exchange (substitutionary atonement), but also the great transition (the eschatological turn of the ages).”

8. The cross is foolishness to the world.

In a PBS television series the narrator said, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central focus the suffering and degradation of its God.” And Paul acknowledges that this message of Christ crucified will be a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (1 Cor 1:23). It is not an inherently attractive message, until spiritual eyes of sight are granted. The world looks at the cross and sees weakness, irrationality, hate, and disgust. In the early decades of the Christian movement the scandal of the cross was most self-evident thing about it. It was not only the death of the Messiah, but the manner of his death that is an offense.

9. The cross brings peace, reconciliation, and unity.

At the cross the whole world has the opportunity to be reconciled to the Father. The peace that the world has been seeking, the unity of all people is found in blood. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14). Reconciliation for the world, peace, shalom, and unity comes only by the blood of the cross (Col 1:20). No blood means no harmony.

10. The cross is the marching order for Christians.

After Jesus explained to his disciples that he must suffer, he tells them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). Paul embodies the cross in his ministry, becoming the fragrance of death as he is lead on the triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:14–17), and he evens says he has been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20). But Paul does not merely apply the cross to his own ministry, but he instructs the new community at Philippi to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) which is defined by Jesus’s humility on the cross (Phil. 2:8). The cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity. As Rutledge has said, “the crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else. . . is given true significance.”



Popular Articles in This Series

8 reasons the resurrection matters more than you think

I had a conversation with a close friend a few years ago, and he asked me a question that I chewed on for days afterward: Do those of us who adhere to the doctrines of grace tend to downplay the resurrection of Christ? Do we, in our drive to make everything gospel-centered and cross-saturated unintentionally underemphasize the final miracle in the doctrines of grace, the vindication of the Son by the Father in the empty tomb?

The more I have thought about it, the more I wonder if perhaps there is not some subtle truth in this notion, though there is no way to empirically substantiate it. As adherents to historic evangelical orthodoxy, we love to proclaim Good Friday and its staggering implications for fallen humanity. Rightly, we cherish the great truth of Christ’s substitutionary, effectual death on behalf of His people. We exalt His propitiating the wrath of the Father—the wrath that we deserved to bear, Christ bore. How could we not exult in so glorious a truth?

Centrality of preaching the cross

We speak often of Christ’s active and passive obedience and the application of both for the imputation of His righteousness to sinners: “God made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” That may be the Olympus of theological truths.

As I thought of these things and my friend’s question, I realized that in my own speaking of the gospel, I always frame as the “person and work of Christ” or His substitutionary atonement, but invariably, I (unintentionally, of course, I’m not suggesting any of us does this on purpose), leave off the resurrection.  In the past few days, I have found myself saying “Christ’s death…and resurrection in our place.” After all, His resurrection secured our resurrection and Paul tells us that we are raised in Him.

The resurrection has been the focal point of attack from atheists and liberals throughout the history of the church. Jesus contended with the Sadducees whose central theological thrust was a denial of the resurrection. In the Enlightenment, British empiricist David Hume virtually made a career out of attacking the validity of Christ’s resurrection in his assault on the Christian faith. Hume, the Sadducees and all skeptics know that if one proves the resurrection of Christ false, then the Christian faith and its supernatural power collapses like a house of cards.

8 devastating results if we lose the empty tomb

Of course, we who cherish sound evangelical doctrine certainly also cherish the resurrection of Christ, for without it, the cross is void of significance. With Good Friday looming in a matter of days, Paul’s exposition of the centrality of the resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:12-22 serves as a good reminder for us all of the catastrophic consequences for our fallen world if Christ “be not raised.” If the resurrection is not true, then Paul says eight awful truths emerge that renders false the Christian faith. If Christ is not raised, then:

1. Not even Christ is raised.

This is the first and most obvious consequence. This is nuclear fallout. If there is no resurrection from the dead, as Hume and the Sadducees claim, then Christ’s body was eaten by dogs or taken by thieves or secretly removed by Jesus’s disciples or there exists another naturalistic explanation for the claim by hundreds of witnesses to have seen the risen Lord.

2. The preaching of the gospel is useless.

The good news is then no news. Actually, it is bad news. For, apart from the resurrection, Jesus has not conquered suffering, sin or death and these three evils will forever be our conquerors. As Barney Fife always loved to tell people while dispersing a crowd in Mayberry, there is nothing to see here.

3. Faith in Christ is worthless.

Faith in a lifeless corpse buried somewhere in the Middle East will save no one. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then Hebrews 11 would better be dubbed the “hall of fools” instead of the hall of faith.

4. Every witness to the resurrection and all preachers of the resurrection are liars.

To deny the resurrection is to call the apostles and every other New Testament leader liars. They are not simply mistaken, but are peddling a whopper of a myth. Jesus, too, is a liar, for it was He who said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

5. Christianity is a fairy tale

Scripture is nothing but a book of history comingled with superstition and myths. Missions and evangelism are a colossal waste of time, energy and money. We do not waste effort and resources peddling Mother Goose and we should not waste our time on this ancient myth.

6. All of humanity is still in its sins.

What Paul says remains true, “The wages of sin is death.” Our world is still fallen, still captive to sin, still enslaved to death.

7. Everyone who died is in hell.

There remains no sacrifice for sins, if Christ be not raised. This consequence follows from the sixth one and means that every human being will face the full, unmediated wrath of God for all eternity.

8. Christians are the most pathetic people on earth.

Paul puts it this way, “If Christ be not raised, then we are of most men to be pitied.” Indeed. And this is why the world, as Paul says so well in 1 Corinthians 1, sees the cross of Christ as foolishness. If every part of the Gospel is not true, then we will have spent our days pursuing a God who will not be able to benefit us beyond the grave. Not only are we objects of pity, the skeptics around us are correct. Blaise Pascal’s famous “wager” will do little to make us feel better in eternity.

Soon, the Christian world will celebrate both Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In all the teaching, talking and theologizing we who march behind the banner emblazoned with the five solas tend to do, let us remember that we cannot have the one without the other.

The post 8 reasons the resurrection matters more than you think appeared first on Southern Equip.

The Truth About Easter: Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross?

Homicide detectives see a lot of dead people. I certainly saw my share, investigating murders in Los Angeles County for nearly two decades. For much of that time, I was a committed atheist, and I rejected the Easter claims related to the Resurrection of Jesus. Dead people, in my experience, simply didn’t rise from the grave (or the coroner’s slab). As I read the Passion Week accounts for the first time as a curious thirty-five-year-old skeptic, I began to wonder if Jesus really died on the cross during his crucifixion. If he simply looked dead, the disciples might have mistaken a simple resuscitation for a resurrection. After all, the Biblical record in John’s gospel indicates the two thieves crucified alongside Jesus were still alive when the soldiers arrived to remove the bodies from the crosses (John 19:31-35). If the two thieves were still alive, isn’t it reasonable to believe Jesus might also have been alive? I decided to apply everything I knew as a homicide detective to the crucifixion account in the Gospels.

What I learned changed my mind.

There are several good evidential reasons to believe that Jesus was dead when his followers took him down from the cross:

The disciples would have checked – It’s been my experience that witnesses who first come upon the dead body of someone they care about quickly check for the most obvious signs of life. Is the injured person still breathing? Does he or she have a pulse? These tests are simple and effective; everyone can perform them, and even those who know nothing about human biology instinctively resort to them. It’s unreasonable to believe the disciples wouldn’t have at least verified the death of Jesus with these simply techniques.

The disciples would have noticed – It’s also been my experience that three conditions become apparent in the bodies of dead people (this is known as the “Mortis Triad”): temperature loss, rigidity, and discoloration. Dead people lose warmth until they eventually reach the temperature of their environment (“algor mortis”). They begin to feel cooler to the touch. In addition, chemical reactions begin to take place in the muscles after death occurs, resulting in stiffening and rigidity known as “rigor mortis.” Dead people become rigid, retaining the shape they were in when they died. Finally, when the heart stops beating, blood begins to pool in the body, responding to the force of gravity. As a result, purple discoloration begins to become apparent in those areas of the body that are closest to the ground (“livor mortis”). While you and I, living in the 21stCentury, might not be familiar with these signs of death, people in the 1st Century couldn’t call a mortuary or coroner when someone died. They were very familiar with these tell-tale indicators. It’s unreasonable to believe the disciples would have missed them as they prepared the body of Jesus.

The disciples saw the water – The Apostle John, an eyewitness to the execution of Jesus, wrote that a guard stabbed Jesus in the torso while Jesus was hanging on the cross, causing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 20:34). That’s an important observation, given that John was not a coroner or medical doctor. I’ve been to my share of coroners’ autopsies, and I’ve spoken at length with coroner investigators at crime scenes. When people die from heart failure, they often experience “pericardial effusion” (increased fluid in the membrane surrounding the heart) or “pleural effusion” (increased fluid in the membrane surrounding the lungs). If Jesus died while pinned to the cross in an upright position, it’s reasonable to expect this kind of effusion. These fluids would certainly pour out of His body if he were pierced with a spear. Early readers of John’s account were confused by the description of water (In fact, early Church Fathers denied it was really water at all). John may himself have been confused by what he saw, since no one at the time understood pericardial or pleural effusion. But, this hidden piece of scientific evidence, described well before it was discovered scientifically, once again demonstrates that Jesus was dead when they removed him from the cross.

The more I learned about the nature of death, the more convinced I became that Jesus really died on the cross. Whatever I may have thought about the claims related to the Resurrection – the empty tomb or the committed testimony of the eyewitnesses – one thing was sure: The Resurrection of Jesus was not a resuscitation. It’s still true that ordinary people don’t rise from the grave, but Jesus is no ordinary person. Christians who celebrate Easter every year view the Resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate demonstration of His Deity.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime SceneGod’s Crime Scene for Kidsand Forensic Faith.

Source: The Truth About Easter: Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross?

Sin Didn’t Kill Jesus—God Did

(Tim Challies) This sponsored post is adapted from The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament by John MacArthur—a book explaining the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 verse by verse, highlighting important connections to the history of Israel, the New Testament, and our lives today.

A Shocking Truth

The reality of Christ’s vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf is the heart of the gospel according to God—the central theme of Isaiah 53.

We must remember, however, that sin did not kill Jesus; God did. The suffering servant’s death was nothing less than a punishment administered by God for sins others had committed. That is what we mean when we speak of penal substitutionary atonement. Again, if the idea seems shocking and disturbing, it is meant to be. Unless you recoil from the thought, you probably haven’t grasped it yet. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). This is one of the major reasons the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews, and it’s sheer foolishness as far as Gentiles are concerned (1 Cor. 1:23). “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, [the message of Christ crucified embodies both] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24).

There’s no way to sidestep the fact that the doctrine of penal substitution is unequivocally affirmed in the plain message of Isaiah 53. It is also confirmed and reiterated by many other passages throughout Scripture (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24). The servant of Yahweh, though perfectly innocent, bore the guilt of others and suffered unspeakable anguish to atone for their sins. View article →

Source: Sin Didn’t Kill Jesus—God Did

Why Resurrection?

As followers of Jesus Christ we recognize the power of the resurrection and the implications it has on our lives. We celebrate our risen Lord and the assurance that death has lost its sting!

But what about those who are not sure they can believe in the actual resurrection of Jesus? What evidence could we share with them demonstrating that the resurrection is more than a fairy tale or myth?

I would love to share with you a brief article by Dr. Dillon Burroughs: 7 Reasons You Can Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. This great resource is easy to share with those who are seeking. It is also a great tool to use in your small group or with your family in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. We pray your belief will be strengthened and that God will give you the opportunity to share the Hope of the Resurrection with others this year!

Dr. John Ankerberg
jashow.org
johna@jashow.org

The Anthropology of the Thief

Luke 23:39-43

Code: B180326

I have good news and bad news.

No one wants to hear those words from a medical doctor. Most would rather just hear the good news alone. But often the good news isn’t truly good until we truly understand the bad news.

The same principle applies to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word gospel is a synonym for good news, but the true goodness of that news hinges on the bad news that precedes it. And it is the bad news of our guilt that is a pill too bitter to swallow for many.

That’s why, as John MacArthur observes, the gospel has always aroused hostility and resentment.

Although all people like to think of themselves as basically good, the testimony of God’s Word is precisely the opposite. Scripture states unequivocally that the entire human race is evil. In the vernacular of our times, humanity is bad to the bone—corrupt to the core. To put it in familiar theological terms, we are totally depraved.

We are naturally, intuitively, painfully aware of our guilt too. A ubiquitous sense of shame goes with being a fallen creature. It’s what made Adam and Eve mask their nakedness with leaves. That’s a perfect metaphor for the futile ways people try to paper over the shame of their wickedness. They don’t want to face it. They try to eliminate that sense of guilt by adopting a more convenient kind of morality, or by silencing their crying conscience. [1]

Natural men refuse to accept God’s verdict—they reject the evidence put forth in their prosecution by His Word. Sinners want nothing to do with their guilt, preferring to cling to delusions of personal goodness. Such false notions keep their self-esteem and false sense of respectability intact.

Conceding to God’s Verdict

The anthropology—that is, the doctrine of man—displayed by the repentant thief on the cross stands in sharp contrast to the default perspective of fallen humanity. We’ve already seen that the thief had excellent theology—he feared God. And his basic grasp of God’s holiness produced a sound and sober assessment of his own undeniable guilt.

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39–43 emphasis added)

Don’t assume that the thief was some petty criminal. It’s important to remember that Christ’s cross was originally intended for Barabbas—a violent insurrectionist and murderer (Luke 23:18–24). In all likelihood, the two thieves on either side of Jesus were probably convicted of similarly egregious crimes. They were utterly wicked men.

Yet amazingly, one of them was willing to humble himself and concede the judicial fairness of his punishment: “We indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds” (Luke 23:41). The fact that he believed crucifixion was the just punishment for his crimes means he must have understood how evil his sins were. John MacArthur highlights the necessity of biblical anthropology as the natural companion to a right view of God.

Closely connected to fear of God’s judgment is the second evidence of a changed heart, a sense of sinfulness. The repentant thief’s further rebuke of the other malefactor reflects his acknowledgment of his own sinfulness. “We indeed are suffering justly,” he reminded him, “for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds.” Like the prodigal son in Christ’s parable (Luke 15:17–19), this man came to his senses and admitted that he was a sinner. He understood that justice operates in the world of men, but more perfectly in God’s realm.

Here is an example of the true convert who confesses his guilt and absolute spiritual bankruptcy. He recognizes that he has nothing to offer God, nothing to commend himself to Him. He knows that he needs mercy and grace to escape judgment and be forgiven, because he is an unworthy sinner, a crouching, cringing, cowering beggar mourning over his transgressions (Matthew 5:3–4). [2]

That is the bad news sinners must accept before they can appreciate the good news of the gospel. They must acknowledge their need for a Savior in order for salvation to make sense. And they must understand the immense cost of their crimes—more on that next time.

The contrition and confession modeled by the thief is an extremely rare commodity in our therapeutic culture overflowing with victimhood. The whole world resonates with a false cry of innocence. As Solomon lamented, “All the ways of man are clean in his own sight” (Proverbs 16:2). “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness” (Proverb 20:6 KJV).

Just as all good theology begins with a reverential fear of God, it should also produce a biblical view of man. Like the thief, true Christians would sooner humble themselves than protest their innocence. We should go to the seminary we find in Luke 23:39–43, emulate the thief, and agree with God and what He says concerning our condition. The thief reminds us that it’s never too late to confess our sins.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180326
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

%d bloggers like this: