Thursday, March 29, 2012

Living Christianity vs Dead Christianity

Luke 24:11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.

Yesterday we began looking at the most important doctrine of the Christian faith - the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  We discovered that from it issues four essential elements vital to Christianity:
1. Living Christ
2. Living Christ revealed in Living Scripture
3. Living Scripture leading to Living Proclamation
4. Living Proclamation that results in Living testimony

Ingredients for a dead Christianity
As exciting as the women's testimony was, Living Christianity came in contact with a cold reception.  Peter and the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, as well as some disciples traveling on a road to a town called "Emmaus", were operating in unbelief.  In stark contrast to the living Christianity of the women, the dead Christianity of the rest of the disciples contained four elements:

1. A Dead Christ, who had not risen (in their understanding)
2. Dead Human Opinion
3. Dead Message
4. Dead Testimony

A Dead Christ means a crisis to Christian faith, and thus the death of Christian hope
From Luke 24:11-24 we see a group of Christ followers who were sorrowfully convinced that their Master was still in the tomb.  When Peter and the disciples heard the women's living proclamation, they took it as nonsensical. (Luke 24:11)  The rest of those traveling on the road to Emmaus concevied of Jesus as a Prophet and a mighty teacher in Luke 24:19.  In Luke 24:20 they noted He was crucified, and was hoping in Luke 24:21 that He would had been "The One".  Yet their Jesus was still in the tomb.  Faith was in crisis and hope was lost.

A Dead, unrisen Christ, is based upon dead human opinion
Not one time do you find the skepticism of the Apostles nor these other followers rooted in scripture.  Living scripture knows nothing of a Christ who remained in a tomb, never to be risen from the dead.  Instead, all those who have argued against the resurrection, or who have not had it in the realm of the supposed Christian faith, are arguing from sources other than the scripture.

Dead Human opinion leads to a dead message
As Jesus, in veiled form, questions these disciples concerning there conversation.  In Luke 24:17 the NASB states that these men "were standing, looking sad".  The word for "sad" in the Greek corresponds to an inner turmoil in which one's emotional world is in a state of chaos.  When we trace the meaning of this word back through Jewish thought, it characterizes those who are unbelievers. 

When a person is in this particular state like these disciples, they have nothing to say, since no hope, no positive outcome for the future can be seen by them.  Dead versions of Christianity are like the beautiful cathedrals dotting the countrysides of Europe.  Christianity became a museum when 18th and 19th century versions of Liberal Christianity ravaged the faithwalks of Germany, England and France.  A Dead Christianity with no message is no Christianity. 

A dead message leads to a Dead Testimony
No wonder Jesus rebukes his followers in Luke 24:25 - "And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!"  It was the Risen Christ's indictment on an unbelieving church.  Nothing can kill a move of God quicker than the preachers and practitioners of the Christian faith who operate in unbelief.  As a pastor, I marvel at the times I exhibit lack of faith - allowing circumstances to determine how I live.  Thankfully, as Christians, it does not nor should ever have to be that way. 

We do not despair, for He is risen!
As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:20a "But now Christ has been raised from the dead." The Living Christ, of the living scriptures, issued a living proclamation leading to a living testimony compels me to tell my circumstances how I'm going to live.  As Christians, we have all the means of grace available to put forth a living Christianity.  The Living Christ will not tolerate a dead Christianity.  He lives so that we can.  Without Him, there is no life - neither physical nor spiritual. 

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