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Friday, April 28, 2017

Some Of God's Morally Sufficient Reasons For Permitting Pain And Suffering In Our World - A Study Of John 11

Image result for jesus raises lazarus from death

Note: The above picture is from a sixth century mosaic of Jesus raising Lazarus. The mosaic is located at The Church Of Sant'Apollinaire Nuovo in Ravenna Italy

John 11:1-4 "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

Introduction:

Today's post is going to cover what is perhaps one of the most familiar miracles of Jesus recorded in the four Gospels - the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In this particular post, we want to consider reasons why God delays (or seems to delay) in preventing pain and suffering. This particular issue has been at the epicenter of both philosophical and theological discussion for millennia. In this particular post, I simply want to lay out some of the Biblical and life-practical reasons that explains God's morally sufficient purposes for permitting pain and suffering. What follows is not meant to be exhaustive, since there are morally sufficient reasons that God has for permitting much of what we see and yet, we're not in the position to necessarily know what those reasons are. With that said, we will use Jesus' delay in John 11:1-16 and its larger context to lay out some of these reasons. Note...

1. God's first morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: A Greater Good

John 11:5-6 states - "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was." Jesus purposefully delayed going to Lazarus. Why? a greater good was in view. What was the greater good? John 11:14-15 tells us: "So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” Jesus knew that if He raised Lazarus when He raised Him, the disciples' faith in Him would be strengthened. They were in no position to see that outcome. In many instances, the possibility of a greater good being worked out by God through His Divine permission of evil and suffering seems quite remote. However, the timing of Jesus was such that the delay proved quite strategic.  

2. God's second morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: Godly Character development

Why else would God permit evil and suffering to persist in our world? for the development of character in people. Think about His conversation with Martha in John 11:20-27 

"Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

By the end of the conversation, Martha's faith and perspective on Jesus and the meaning of life had shifted to a more Christ-centered direction. She would never be the same after this miracle. What if Jesus had arrived two days prior? would we had witnessed this conversation? would Martha experience such a life-altering change? As Adrian Rogers has noted about God's seeming delays: "God's delays are not God's denials". So, God's morally sufficient reasons for permitting pain and suffering include some greater good and the development of Godly character. Notice a third possible reason....

3. God's third morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: Genuine response to the Gospel

In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus has the following conversation - "Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus is dealing with two incidents, both of which He never gives the full reasons for why God permitted them to occur. The only common thread we find in Jesus' recounting is the urgency for His audience to repent. Repentance is both a Divine gifting of grace and secondly, a definite response and turn of the mind and heart from sin unto Christ. Mind you, these morally sufficient reasons cannot on their own explain every instance for why there may be suffering in a given situation. 

Obviously Jesus doesn't lay out the philosophical nor theological reasons for the Tower of Siloam falling on bystanders nor the slaughter of worshipers of God in the temple. But one thing is certain: God can use bad things to get our attention. We may not grasp the "whys". All we know is that it is incumbent upon every person to be sure they are right with God through Jesus. When we return back to John 11:45, we read the following outcome of this miracle - "Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him."

4. God's fourth morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: God's Glory being revealed

One may think that God's permitting evil and suffering would detract from the revelation of all that He is (i.e. His glory). However, notice what Jesus says the outcome will be of Lazarus' sickness in John 11:4 "But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” We know by the tail-end of John 11 that Lazarus does die. But, his death is only temporary. Indeed, Jesus' bringing Lazarus back to life demonstrates the truth of His words, namely, the sickness would not lead to death. Jesus, in effect, was already stating what would be the outcome of Lazarus relative to the miracle He was about to perform. 

We read elsewhere in John's Gospel concerning why a certain man had been born blind in John 9:1-3 "As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." God can use bad circumstances to reveal His glory. Much like a jeweler placing a black cloth in the background of a precious jewel to make the jewel's facets pop out in their brilliance, so too, God has chosen to create a world populated by free-moral creatures with the permitted possibility of such creatures rejecting Him. Although it may right now look like God's purposes are thwarted, nevertheless, in the end, God will be glorified (see Habakkuk 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 11:15; 21-22).  

5. God's fifth morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: Generate Trust

The one trait I notice about much of the Biblical record devoted to God's Sovereignty and the reality of pain and suffering is how often God doesn't tell the person all the details. In Job for example, the reader is given a gallery view of the cosmic chain of cause and effect going on between the actions of Satan, various villains in Job's life, the weather patterns and of course God's guidance of the whole process through those secondary causes. God doesn't divulge to Job why Job is undergoing his atrocities. However, by the end of Job, we find Job's trust in God strengthened, as seen in Job 42:5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You".

So when we look once more at Jesus' miracle of raising Lazarus in John 11, do we see evidence of somebody's trust in Jesus being strengthened? we do. Mary, Lazarus' sister, was young in her faith. She was the one who sat at Jesus feet, listening to Him teach in Luke 10:38-42. Did Mary grasp why Jesus delayed his coming? no. She tells Jesus in John 11:32 that if He had gotten their sooner, Lazarus would not had died. Now notice what Jesus does: Jesus weeps, but He doesn't explain to Mary why He delayed. Instead, Jesus does the miracle and then we find an extraordinary outcome beginning in John 12. In short, Mary ends up anointing Jesus six days before His crucifixion. Her faith had been strengthened and we see a prime example of what it means to follow Jesus. 

Closing thoughts:

In today's post we laid out five morally sufficient reasons for which God permits pain and suffering from a study of John 11...

1. God's first morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: A Greater Good

2. God's second morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: Godly Character development

3. God's third morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: Genuine response to the Gospel

4. God's fourth morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: God's Glory being revealed

5. God's fifth morally sufficient reason for permitting pain and suffering: Generate Trust

May the Lord enable us to trust Him more in this world as we find ourselves dealing with what can often-be the hardships of life. I close with these words from John 11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”





Thursday, April 27, 2017

How To Get Connected To The Bible In 30 Days

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Psalm 19:7 "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple."

Introduction:

Today's post aims to be an encouragement and a challenge to readers. The encouragement part has to do with presenting a feasible way of getting into a daily habit of Bible reading for the next 30 days. The challenge to the reader is to simply do it. 

What is the plan? In the book of Psalms we have a handful of psalms that Bible teachers call "Torah Psalms". These "Torah Psalms" are psalms dedicated to unfolding the value of God's Word to one's walk with God. The plan entails taking the verses in Psalm 19:7-14 and the 22 sections of Psalm 119 (eight psalms each) and sectioning these all up into a 30 day reading pattern. The plan for getting connected with the Bible in 30 days would go something like the following:

Day 1 - Psalm 19:7
Day 2 - Psalm 19:8
Day 3 - Psalm 19:9
Day 4 - Psalm 19:10
Day 5 - Psalm 19:11
Day 6 - Psalm 19:12
Day 7 - Psalm 19:13
Day 8 - Psalm 19:14

The first eight days would involve reading one verse-a-day from Psalm 19:8-14. On the ninth day, the reader would "kick-it-up-a-notch" to reading eight verses a day, beginning with Psalm 119:1-8. The reason being is because Psalm 119 is divided into 22 portions of eight verses. In the original Hebrew, Psalm 119 has each of its eight verse sections start each verse with a corresponding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This would had enabled people to memorize the entire Psalm (imagine that!). In many English Bibles, the sections of Psalm 119 still include the Hebrew name of their alphabetic sections (for instance, Psalm 119:1-8 is called "aleph", Psalm 119:9-16 is called "beth" and so on). Anyway, we could begin Psalm 119 on day 9 and move through its 22 sections until we reach the 30th day. Thus, for example....

Day 9 - Psalm 119:1-8 or "aleph"
Day 10 - Psalm 119:9-16 or "beth"
Day 11 - Psalm 119:17-24 or "gimel"
Day 12 - Psalm 119:25-32 or "daleth"
Day 13 - Psalm 119:33-40 or "he"
Day 14 - Psalm 119:41-48 or "Vau"
Day 15 - Psalm 119:49-56 or "Zain"
Day 16 - Psalm 119:57-64 or "Cheth"
Day 17 - Psalm 119:65-72 or "Theth"
Day 18 - Psalm 119:73-80 or "Jod"
Day 19 - Psalm 119:81-88 or "Caph"
Day 20 - Psalm 119:89-96 or "Lamed"
Day 21 - Psalm 119:97-104 or "Mem"
Day 22 - Psalm 119:105-112 or "Nun"
Day 23 - Ps 119:113-120 or "Samech"
Day 24 - Ps 119:121-128 or "Ain"
Day 25 - Ps 119:129-136 or "Pe"
Day 26 - Ps 119:137-144 or "Tzaddi"
Day 27 - Ps 119:145-152 or "Koph"
Day 28 - Ps 119:153-160 or "Resh"
Day 29 - Ps 119:161-168 or "Schin"
Day 30 - Ps 119:169-176 or "Tau"

By the end of 30 days, the reader will had covered quite a bit of Biblical text, all expounding on the Bible itself. I commend this plan to anyone desiring to get a fresh start in a regular diet of reading God's Word. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How To Connect The Tabernacle To New Testament Truth

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Exodus 25:8-9 “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 9“According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it."

Introduction:
We began yesterday with an introduction to the Old Testament Tabernacle. We defined what the Tabernacle was, why it is important to study and some of the major truths God intended to convey to it. That sanctuary, or dwelling place, is what the Bible calls the tabernacle (from the Latin term tabernaculum meaning "dwelling place").  From Exodus 25-31 we see a detailed description of all the various furnishings, the rituals, the design and the priesthood.  When we turn to chapters in the New Testament like Hebrews 8-9, we discover that this worship center in the Old Testament pictures for us the Act and Accomplishment of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.

Today we continue with a closer look at this intriguing Old Testament worship center, designed by God, for the sake of having a dwelling place among His people. The above opening text of Exodus 25:8-9 reveals God's beginning instructions for Moses and the people with respect to the Tabernacle. In the New Testament, we find quite a bit of material that connects this ancient part of Israel's past with contemporary New Testament Christianity. Hebrews 9:2-11 is a prime example:

"For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. 3 Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation."

As the reader can tell, Hebrews 9 takes the Old Testament Tabernacle and uses it to illustrate and set the stage for the exposition of all that Jesus achieved on the cross. For today's post, we want to understand how to connect the Tabernacle to New Testament truth. Below we will work through a series of questions and answers in our understanding of how the Tabernacle and New Testament Christianity are presented in the Old and New Testaments for our application.

1. How does one go about studying and relating the Tabernacle to Christ/the Church/the Christian?

a. Types point, picture and instruct concerning the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. Types are likened to figures (Heb. 9:24) or shadows (Heb. 10:1)

b. This process is connected to what we call “typology”. Typology is the method of studying Old Testament types to gain a fuller understanding of their New Testament fulfillments (fulfillments are sometimes called: anti-types). See Hebrews 9:8


2. The ceremonies of the tabernacle are a "type" or picture of Christ’s work. 

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When you turn to Exodus 31, you find Moses laying out the summary of God's prescribed way of salvation and worship that He reveals in Exodus 25-30.  The various furnishings of the tabernacle work together to communicate the One Way through which God would approach the people, the the One Way by which they were to approach Him. Just as John 14:6 presents Jesus stating Himself as the only way to God; the Old Testament Tabernacle pictures for us and points us to Jesus Christ. How? 
Consider what one would had witnessed when watching the daily rituals associated with the Tabernacle system. 

What would you had done as a man or a woman living in the camp of Israel as you went to the center of the camp to "come to church" so to speak?  As you approached the Tabernacle, you would had brought with you a sacrificial animal, since apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The tabernacle itself was surrounded by a courtyard composed of a white linen "fence" encircling all around.  A multi-colored "gate", some 30 feet wide, was the only means of entry.  According to Exodus 27:16, this "gate" was woven out of differing colors of linen, each corresponding to some characteristic of God Himself. 


A Priest would meet you at the entry way to ensure that what you brought was fit to offer.  Once deemed acceptable (for the animal had to be without blemish), you would enter into the main courtyard.

The priest would then instruct you to confess your sins over the sacrificial animal.  In laying your hands upon its head, you confessed your sin, effectively "transferring" your sins upon that innocent animal's head.  Before the sight of God, your faith in His Promise of salvation meant you received all that He prescribed to you, thus he would then "credit" or "impute" your sins onto the sacrifice.  The ultimate sacrifice to which it pointed, Christ, would in the future be the lamb of God given for you. (1 Corinthians 5:7)


The priest would then hand you a Bronze knife, at which point you would slit the lamb's throat in the prescribed fashion.  The Priest would then catch the animal's blood in a sacred vessel, and then take the blood to be poured out at the base of the altar in the courtyard.  After taking the animal, the priest would perform the ritualistic preparations and offer the lamb in your place.  The smoke of the sacrifice would ascend up into the Glory Cloud of God over the tabernacle.  If the smoke went straight up, that meant God had accepted the sacrifice and your sins were "covered" and His wrath against you was "satisfied". 

All of the above descriptions point to what would be the final work of redemption accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. 

3. The floor-plan of the Tabernacle pictures for us how Jesus is the "way", "the truth" and "the life". 


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As we close out today's post, how is it that we can connect all that we have observed about the Tabernacle with the redemptive accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ? One such way is by considering the floor-plan of the tabernacle itself. Below are three observations with which we will close out today's post:

a. Jesus is the way (outer-court) that features His redemptive work (altar) and which, upon reception in saving faith, is followed up by believer’s baptism (laver). 

b. He’s the truth (holy place) that we live by, lit by the lampstand of His Word, nourished by His fellowship and to whom we pray. 


c. He is the life (holy of holies), wherein we enjoy sweet communion with the Spirit sent in His name to our inward man. John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-25.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Identifying The Old Testament Tabernacle And Its Importance To The Christian

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Exodus 25:1-8 "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. 3 This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, 4 blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, 5 rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, 6 oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it."

Introduction:

Today's post aims to introduce the reader to the Old Testament tabernacle. Below I will walk the reader through a series of questions with answers, as well as some points of application as we aim to answer the main topic of today's post: Identifying The Old Testament Tabernacle And Its Importance To The Christian.

1. What was the tabernacle? Exodus 25:8-9

(Also compare Exodus 29:44-46 and Exodus 40:36-38)
The word “tabernacle” means “dwelling place”. It was the Jewish worship center during the time-frame between the days of Moses to King David (over 400 years), with the Ark of the Covenant being the main part of it. In Exodus 29:44-46, we find one of the chief purposes of the the tabernacle:

"I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me. 45 I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. 46 They shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God."

As the reader can see, the tabernacle had different names, one of which was "tent of meeting". As a matter of fact, the word "tabernacle" derives from a Latin word tabernaculum, which used in the Old Latin translation of the Vulgate (which would influence the first English translations, many of them simply carrying over the Latin term into our English language), translated in turn the underlying Hebrew word meaning "meeting place". 

2. Primary message God intended the Tabernacle to convey

As one studies the key Old Testament section of the revelation of the Tabernacle to Moses and the people of God (Exodus 25-40), the following themes emerge to reveal the overall message of the tabernacle:

a. It’s materials were designed to reveal certain characteristics of the Lord to His people (Exodus 25:8-9)

b. It reminded the people that the Lord was the one who rescued them from their enslavement in Egypt (Exodus 29:44-46)

c. It’s ministry reminds the people of their need for representation before a Holy God (Exodus 29:44)

d. It’s mobility indicated that God was their King who both led the people (Exodus 40:36-38)

In fact, at the end of the book of Exodus, we read these words in Exodus 25:36-38 - "Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; 37 but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. 38 For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel."

3. Why study the tabernacle? Heb. 9:9-11

The revelation of the Tabernacle chiefly occurs in Exodus 25-40. We also find reference to its various ceremonies and the Levitical priesthood that would serve in it in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. God is the Holy God. As one writer has noted, to have a Holy God dwelling in the midst of a sinful people was a dangerous business. For God to dwell in the midst of His people, He had to devise a system of mediation between Himself and the people. The Tabernacle's materials, furnishings, priesthood and sacrificial system have as their common agreement the idea of "mediation". 

Sometimes I'll encourage people to take two Bibles and open one up at Exodus 25 and the second Bible to Hebrews 9. Why these chapters? Because Hebrews aids us in understanding why the Old Testament Tabernacle helps us in illustrating the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Christian-life and the work of the local church. As one reads down through Hebrews 9, many Bibles today will have little cross references in the margins. It is almost certain that many of those references will take the reader back to places in Exodus 25-40. In summary at least, we can note the following reasons why anyone would want to study the Tabernacle:

a. It illustrates Christ  (Hebrews 9:11)

b. It illustrates the church (Hebrews 3:5-6a)

c. It illustrates the Christian (Hebrews 3:6b)


d. The Lord Himself says it is important. Hebrews 9:8 (Also compare Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 8:1-2)

Closing thoughts

Today's post aimed to introduce the reader to the Old Testament Tabernacle and its important to the Christian. We looked at what the tabernacle was: the meeting place for God and His people and the worship center of Old Testament Israel in the first 400 years of her journeys with God. We secondly noted the primary message God intended to convey through the Tabernacle. Among the points brought out about the Tabernacle's message, the key theme is that of mediation between God and His people. Then lastly, we looked at reasons why anyone would want to further study the tabernacle. By considering New Testament texts like Hebrews 9, we can use the truths of that chapter to help us understand and apply what we read in Exodus 25-40. 




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Introducing God's Divine Beauty

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2 Chronicles 20:21 "And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever." (KJV)

Introduction:

Today's post features an attribute of God that one almost never hears about today: Divine beauty. The verse above urges the reader to praise the beauty of God's holiness. The underlined word in the original Hebrew speaks of splendor, majesty and grandeur. Whenever this same verse is rendered in other English translations, such words as majesty and splendor are viewed as synonymous with "beauty". The Psalms speak the most often about God's Divine beauty. Psalm 27:4 for example reads: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."

Attempting to describe God's Divine beauty

God's beauty is that quality of God that makes Him worthy of every extreme positive estimation of value, admiration and desire. One author, J. Pohle, notes the following about God's beauty:

"Reason tells us that God must be beautiful, for He contains within His essence the elements of beauty (perfection, harmonious proportion and splendor), the attribute which necessarily results from this must be His. Now God is infinite perfection. His infinitely numerous good qualities (not parts) coalesce in His Divine essence into a most intensive unity. Finally, He is all light and pure clarity, consequently - He must be beautiful."

God's Divine beauty captures the deepest part of us that longs for the three traditional elusive values known in the history of philosophical thought: the good, the true and the beautiful. God is Good, as asserted for example in Psalm 136. God is true - meaning, He is the standard by which all other standards are measured. As the truth, Jesus Christ embodies truth and reveals God as God in the purity of His true humanity. 

Beauty as a virtue is the most elusive quality - since so many assume that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, to call something beautiful requires there to be a standard by which we assert beauty. Just as objective morality - right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, require the existence of God who possess the Divine character and qualities that are the standard of moral values and duties; so it is with beauty. If God did not exist, there would be no way to ascribe qualities like beauty, ugliness, proportionality and the like. Beauty, by its very essence is an immaterial feature and which can only be possible if there exists an ultimate, immaterial being that we know as God.   

Old and New Testament texts that speak about God's beauty and Christ's beauty

Whenever we scan the Old and New Testament scriptures on the subject of God's Divine beauty, we find a wealth of material. As already mentioned, synonyms such as "majesty", "splendor", "glorious", "excellency" and of course the term "Beauty" highlight this quality of God. In the Old Testament we can look to the following texts that describe God's Divine beauty: 2 Chronicles 20:21; Job 40:9-10; Ps 8:1,9; Ps 27:4; 29:1-2; 36:7; 45:2-4; 145:5,10-12; Isaiah 24:14; Isaiah 26:10; Isaiah 35:2; Zechariah 9:16-17. 

The majesty and glory of God are featured in the above Old Testament texts to point us to the beauty of God. When we come to the New Testament, we find the beauty of God focusing not just on all three Persons of the Trinity which together are the One God of Biblical revelation, but particularly the second Person - the Lord Jesus Christ. 

New Testament texts such as John 1:14; Colossians 1:15; 2:9 and Hebrews 1:3 highlight beauty as seen in Christ's human and Divine natures. Two things we know about any beautiful thing is how it can take various features to co-exist without being chaotic and take unity of attributes without becoming monotonous and featureless. Christ is One in Person with two natures. He is at once perfect variety without chaos with respect to His humanity and deity; and yet, He is perfect unity without becoming monotonous concerning His Person. Christ is the clearest and most robust revelation of beauty in both the senses of what we mean when we say God is beautiful as well as the beauty of what it means to be human. 

God's Divine beauty demands a response

Perhaps more than any other quality, beauty, whether creaturely or Divine, is characterized by the response it evokes in the one experiencing it. When we see a sunrise, listen to a symphony, watch a wedding, see a wonderfully prepared dish of food, see our spouse, watch our children or grandchildren or visit the Grand-Canyon, all of these various things are beautiful. They evoke wonder, elevation of emotion, a sense of completeness, an extending of one's focus beyond oneself to whatever object of beauty we are seeing. God, in infinitely, more wonderful ways, evokes such responses. 

Many writers have noted that our being made in God's image (see Genesis 1:26-27) not only has us possessing mind, emotions and will as part of our personhood (features which roughly define God's Personhood), but also the innate capacity to respond to the beautiful. God Himself responds to infinite beauty as the Triune Persons behold one-another in Perfect unity and diversity. Is it no wonder that older writers refer to the goal of Christian salvation as beholding God's beauty (see Isaiah 33:17 and 1 John 3:1-3). 

Closing thoughts

In today's post I aimed to introduce us to God's Divine beauty. My prayer is that as a result of this post, we can all say without hesitation that God is beautiful!

Friday, April 21, 2017

How the resurrection power of Jesus can help us deal with life's frustrations

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Romans 6:5-7 "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin."

How the resurrection power of Jesus can help us deal with life's frustrations 

The reality of Christ's resurrection on that first Easter Sunday validates everything achieved on Good-Friday. Were it not for Easter, then Christ, His cross and all he accomplished would had remained hermetically sealed in history. Christ's resurrection and ascension 40 days following His that event ensured that the historic event could be made a living experience in the lives of His followers - both then and now. If Christ had not been raised, then we would having nothing more than the tragic death of one man. 

Today's post wants to briefly consider how Christ's resurrection from the dead provides the power Christians need to deal with what can often times be the frustrations of life or the exhausting nature of battling sin. Below I am going to give two brief observations and scriptures that readers can appeal to in beefing up their strategy in overcoming frustration and whatever else may be depleting the spiritual reserves of the Christian life.

1. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrated that the objective, historical event of the cross could now be applied (see 1 Corinthians 15:11-28; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Hence, forgiveness of sins and the power to overcome such are rooted in the resurrection power of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7; Acts 3; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7;24-25).

2. Moreover, the causal connection between Easter and Pentecost means that by the Holy Spirit, the events of the cross and empty tomb are brought to sinners in salvation and continue to have ongoing, progressively increasing significance in the believer’s post-conversion sanctification (Luke 11:13; John 16:1-12; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 30-41; Romans 5:1-5; 6:12-16; 8:1-8; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 1:4-10; 2 Peter 1:3-11). 

As I heard one preacher say in a recent message: even though we can never live up to all the scripture we take into our hearts and minds; yet, we can only be effective to the degree we take in scripture into our hearts and minds. God's Word and Spirit connect us to the events of Christ's cross, empty-tomb and ascension. In our battle with sin, may we ever appeal to these realities and realize that our union with Him means His power is ever available to us to overcome whatever frustrations we may be dealing with at any given time. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adjusting To A New Way Of Life - How To Be More Effective In Christian Sanctification - Romans 6:9-23

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Romans 6:8-13 "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts."

Introduction:

In the last post we looked at what are called "Gospel Indicatives" and "Gospel Imperatives". The former of these refers to the realities of Christian identity or union in Christ. The latter of these refers to the responsibilities or commands to Christians we find in the New Testament. The former details "who I am and Whose I am". The latter has to do with "don't do this" and "do do that". In short, the Gospel indicatives indicate the "truth", "doctrine" or "realities" of my new found position in Christ. The Gospel imperatives deal with the realm of application in daily sanctification. 

Christian Sanctification is all about Adjusting to a New Way of Life

In life, a person experiences having to adjust to new ways of living, such as: marriage, parenting, new job, a move & health. Such major life-events assume major adjustments. The Christian-life involves the greatest spiritual adjustment. Why? One’s new identity in Christ ought to include the continual adjustment of a person’s priorities and practices. Today's post wants to consider more closely Paul’s discussion on Christian identity in sanctification: i.e. - “adjusting to a new way of life”.

Since exploring the concepts of "Gospel Indicatives" and "Gospel Imperatives", we will utilize them in understanding how we can be more effective in Christian growth. Thus, what components are involved in consistently adjusting one’s new-found way of life to align more with Jesus Christ, His Spirit and His Word?

Realities of Christian Identity. Rom. 6:9-11,15-19, 20-23. (These realities are “gospel indicatives”)

The Gospel indicatives we find in Romans 6 spell out for us who we are and whose we are. In the last post, I referred to the specific verses in Romans 6 that detail these Gospel indicatives:

1. Romans 6:3b "all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?"

2. Romans 6:4 "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."

3. Romans 6:5 "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection."

4. Romans 6:6a "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him"

5. Romans 6:8 "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him"

6. Romans 6:11 "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."


7. Romans 6:23b ..."but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

When it comes to one's identity or union in Christ, the idea of change and adjustment to that newfound identity lies at the core of Christian sanctification. There ought to be a difference in one how thinks, acts and talks because of who they are and Whose they are in Christ. The job of the Gospel indicatives is to remind and reinforce to the Christian the reality of who they are in Christ.

To illustrate, in the area where I live, people are adjusting to warmer temperatures and the beautiful weather that characterizes Spring. Gone are the coats, boots, and snow shovels. In their place I notice people wearing light jackets or short-sleeved shirts. Weeks ago, one would not had seen many people on the sidewalks or at the near-by city-park. But now, when driving home from the church where I pastor, I'll notice numerous people walking their dogs, pushing strollers and enjoying the warmer temperatures. Why? The people understand that things have changed, and thus they adjust how they dress and act accordingly. Now keep this illustration in mind, since we will refer to it shortly in understanding the second thought associated with effective growth in Christian sanctification or adjustment to the new found way of life in Christ...

Responsibilities of Christian identity. Rom. 6:12,13,19. (These responsibilities are “gospel imperatives”)

So what is it that Christians are commanded to do or not do in Romans 6? Again, without the Gospel indicatives, the Gospel imperatives become burdensome. However, with the understanding of who one is in Christ, the Gospel imperatives or responsibilities become a delight to carry out. As 1 John 5:3 reminds us: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." In the last post, we had listed the following imperatives from Romans 6..

1. Romans 6:12 "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts"

2. Romans 6:13a "and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin..".

3. Romans 6:13b ...."but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead".... .

4. Romans 6:14a "For sin shall not be master over you".... .

5. Romans 6:19b ...."so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification."

To return back to the illustration above, would it not be odd to see someone dressed in full winter gear on a warm, Spring-time day? Or worse yet, imagine trying to build a snowman in July or operating a snowblower along a sandy beach. We would not dream of doing such things. Yet, many Christians, when told to abstain from certain things, will attempt to carry out the prohibitions of the Gospel imperatives without first considering the change that has occurred in their lives. 

Or to use the same illustration differently: do people on a warm spring-time day need convinced to "go outside and enjoy the sunny weather"? Or how about this: "go for a walk or open the windows and enjoy the smell of the fresh flowers and budding trees." Why are such commands easy to carry out? Because the people carrying them out understand that the status of their situation is that of people living in what is now warmer, nicer weather. The behavior and actions match with the reality of the status in which one finds themselves. 

When it comes to effectively adjusting oneself to the new way of life in Jesus Christ, such adjustment can only be enjoyed and truly possible when one understands the reality of their identity in the Lord. 

Closing thoughts

In today's post we considered the components necessary to adjust to the new way of life in Christ Jesus. In other words, we explored what is necessary to be more effective in Christian growth in sanctification as spelled-out in Romans 6:9-23. We discovered the following two components...

1. Realities of Christian Identity. Rom. 6:9-11,15-19, 20-23. (These realities are “gospel indicatives”)


2. Responsibilities of Christian identity. Rom. 6:12,13,19. (These responsibilities are “gospel imperatives”)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Importance of Gospel Indicatives and Gospel Imperatives In Romans 6

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Romans 6:9-13 "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."

Introduction: Defining "Gospel Indicatives" and "Gospel Imperatives"

Today's post is going to explore the realities and responsibilities of Christian identity in Christ or what Bible teachers call "Gospel indicatives" and "Gospel imperatives". 

Anytime we speak of a verb or statement being in the "indicative", we are referring to how that verb or statement is describing someone's status or identifying the reality of that person or state of affairs. Gospel indicatives are those statements that tell me "who I am" and "whose I am". In Paul's letters to the various churches, we find his letters or epistles characterized by two general formats. First, Paul reminds his readers of who they are and whose they are by way of Gospel indicatives. 

After reminding his readers of their identity, Paul will then employ what are called "Gospel imperatives" or exhortations for his readers to apply to their lives. Identification leads to application. The more I understand "who I am" and "whose I am" by way of Gospel indicatives, the better I will be able to adjust my thinking, behavior and speech by way of the "Gospel imperatives". 

Seeing how Gospel indicatives and Gospel imperatives work in Romans 6

Romans 6 is concerned with unfolding Paul's opening discussion on the believer's post-conversion growth in Christ or sanctification. Central to the thought of Romans 6 is the notion of "union with Christ" or "identification with Christ". We could say Romans 6 explains what follows from one's union with Christ in justification at salvation (covered chiefly in Romans 5). It is in Romans 6 that we discover how the above categories of "Gospel Indicatives" and "Gospel Imperatives" work together to help Christians understanding the reality of their identity and the attendant responsibilities.

With regards to Gospel indicatives or the realities of Christian identity, we find the following statements in Romans 6...

1. Romans 6:3b "all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?"

2. Romans 6:4 "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."

3. Romans 6:5 "For if we have become united with Him..."

4. Romans 6:6a "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him"

5. Romans 6:8 "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him"

6. Romans 6:11 "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."


7. Romans 6:23b ..."but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

We can tell whenever we are dealing with the realities of Christian identity or Gospel indicatives. Note the underlined prepositional phrases: "in Christ" and "with Christ" and "in Christ Jesus" and "into His death" and so forth. Such "in" and "with" and "into" language speaks of our relationship and position "in" and "with" and "into" Christ and He with us. This is the reality of the believer's position with respect to Jesus Christ. No one person nor circumstance can annul this truth. So with the precious Gospel indicatives or realities stated, Paul then lays out the Gospel imperatives or responsibilities in Romans 6...

1. Romans 6:12 "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts"

2. Romans 6:13a "and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin..".

3. Romans 6:13b ...."but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead".... .

4. Romans 6:14a "For sin shall not be master over you".... .

5. Romans 6:19b ...."so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification."

Again, the underlined phrases point to commands or "imperatives", i.e - "don't do this" and "do do that". Such imperatives are Gospel imperatives, referring to the responsibilities of the Christian in their progress in sanctification. 

The trap Christians fall into when the Gospel indicatives are unknown or avoided

Sadly, so many Christians (including myself) develop temporary amnesia and allow circumstances, other people, the world and internal hangups of the past to define who we are. Worst still, rather than focusing upon these Gospel indicatives, we will attempt to carry out the Gospel imperatives apart from them - thus reversing the God-ordained order. In other words, we try to carry out Christian responsibilities without laying hold of the precious realities.  If one tries to carry out the Gospel imperatives without the Gospel indicatives of Romans 6, they will quickly find themselves frustrated and defeated. Why? The imperatives require the indicatives to not only be lived out, but enjoyed.

Illustration: When a car loses the ability to transfer the power of the engine to the wheels

Not to long ago I was driving our family car on a moderately long trip. My wife and I were the only ones in the vehicle. The traffic on the particular highway we were driving was moving at a brisk pace. As we drove, we suddenly found our car's engine racing and our vehicle traveling at a progressively slower velocity. Soon, we had to pull off at an exit and get the car to a garage. The mechanic told us that the transmission had burned up its internal mechanisms, thus resulting in a decreased ability for the car to continue driving. 

The Gospel indicatives are like the motor of the Christian life. As we grasp "who we are" and "whose we are", we come to terms with the power source of the Christian life - our union with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. The Gospel imperatives are like the demands of road travel on a vehicle. As long as the power of the engine is transferred to the wheels, everything is fine. However, what happens when I fail to connect the demands of the Christian life to the power source (the transmission in this case)? I find myself getting bogged down and laboring to keep up. I need to be constantly reminded in the Word of God as to what the Gospel indicatives are - since they describe the reality of my identity. Only then will I be able to carry out responsibilities that otherwise are impossible to do on human strength alone. 

Closing thoughts

Today we explored what are called: "Gospel indicatives" and "Gospel imperatives". Gospel indicatives are those statements in the New Testament that describe the reality of my identity in Jesus Christ. To put it another way - the indicatives describe "who I am and Whose I am". Such Gospel indicatives are necessary if I am to carry out the responsibilities of the Christian life or what are also called "Gospel imperatives". 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Character Study On Mary Of Bethany: A Pattern For Following Jesus Christ

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John 11:1-4 "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 

Seeing a detail I had never noticed before

Today's post begins with an admission regarding the parenthetical remark made by the Apostle John in John 11:2 - "It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick." So what is my admission? I had never noticed this little comment until reading through John 11 this past week. I marvel at how often one can read and re-read a familiar passage of the Biblical text, teach on it or preach on it - and still find something new upon a later time of study. John's comment here is designed to help the reader think back to the specific identity of Mary of Bethany. All exceptional writing ought to help the reader connect with lead characters. The inspired text of scripture accomplishes this better than any other piece of literature. 

Mary's biography of how she was first met by the Lord Jesus Christ frames for the reader why this family was so special to Him. Over a period of time, He got to know not only Mary, but her sister Martha and presumably her brother Lazarus whom he would resuscitate from the dead (that is, bring back to life what was previously dead). Today's post wants to explore who Mary of Bethany was and what lessons we can learn from her story as a follower of Jesus Christ. We can note the following pattern for discipleship in the life of Mary of Bethany...

Mary of Bethany: The One Who Wanted To Pattern Her Life In The Footsteps Of Jesus

Concerning this remark made by John about Mary in John 11:2, the Bible Knowledge Commentary has the following remark:

"Luke added some information on the two sisters Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38–42). This Mary … was the same one who later (see John 12:1–10) poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair. However, John may be assuming that the original readers of his Gospel already had some knowledge of Mary (cf. Mark 14:3–9)."

If we consider the cross references mentioned in the above quotation, we can develop a profile of Mary's journey of devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 10:38-42 records one of the first episodes involving Mary, Martha and Jesus - 

"Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Mary, we could say, was the disciple that wanted to follow the Lord Jesus in such a way as to be in earshot of his teachings. She literally wanted to follow in the footsteps of her Lord - as seen in her efforts to "sit at His feet", an expression of humility and eagerness to learn. But what else can we learn about Mary and her journey of discipleship with the Lord Jesus...

Mary of Bethany: The Disciple That Was Willing To Pay The Cost Of Following Jesus

We've seen how Mary of Bethany wanted to have her life patterned after the Master. In discipleship, we discover that there not only needs to be a willingness to follow Jesus, but also to die to self and pay the price of whatever it takes to follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). John makes reference to Mary's sacrificial act of pouring oil upon Jesus and wiping His feet with her hair (see John 11:2). In John's Gospel, this act is recorded in John 12:1-8, following Jesus' raising of Lazarus. John 12:3 specifically states - "Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."  John's specific reference to Mary's act is of such significance that he attaches this act as the chief identity marker of Mary. We find this particular act of Mary of Bethany recorded in the other Gospels.

Mark 14:1-8 records the same scene of Mary's devoted act. We pick up the text in Mark 14:3 "While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head." The particular vial which Mary had was made of a costly material called "alabaster", filled with an even costlier perfume from the orient (likely India) called "nard", as pictured what it might had been like below:


To release the precious perfume inside the vial, one would simply "snap" the slender neck of the alabaster vessel and pour out its contents. What Mary did cost the equivalency of a year's wages. She was dramatizing her life's desire to pour out her love, at whatever cost. Extravagant? yes! Costly? definitely! Worth it? only one person was worth such devotion: Jesus.  

Interestingly enough, not only do the Pharisees respond harshly to Jesus, but also the disciples (see Matthew 26:8)! We can tell by the reaction of the people witnessing this act that its cost was steep - too steep for sentiment and convention. Following Jesus will cost everything - if need be: convention, convenience or even one's life. Mary of Bethany wanted to pattern her life in Jesus footsteps and she was willing to pay the price. But what else can we learn about discipleship from Mary of Bethany's devotion to the Lord Jesus?

Mary of Bethany: Powerful testimony to other people

When it comes to following Jesus Christ, discipleship is not just about "me and Jesus". Whenever anyone counts the cost and by faith follows the Lord Jesus Christ, their life ought to be such that others will be influenced to do the same. In Matthew 26:1-13 we see this same turn of events. In both Mark's versions and Matthew's, we see Jesus make reference to Mary's act being included in the proclamation of the Gospel for ages to come. We read in Matthew 26:13 "Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” 

Whenever we read Jesus' statement concerning Mary, how do we know that what He said came true? The fact that we read of her act in three of the four Gospel accounts (Matthew 26:1-13; Mark 14:1-8; John 12:1-8) tells us that this act was meant to be read, preached about and embedded in the memories of God's people. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, edited by Walter Elwell, notes the following:

"Jesus’ word of commendation that her act will be remembered “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world” (v. 9) evidences his consciousness of an interval of evangelization between his death and return at the end of the age."

Closing thoughts:

Today's post was about a character study on the life of Mary of Bethany. We began by considering a remark made by the Apostle John in John 11:2 concerning her anointing of Jesus. We then explored the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John to discover lessons for discipleship and how Mary grew in her her devotion to Jesus. We discovered the following life lessons to apply to the following of Jesus Christ today:

1. Pattern one's life in the footsteps of Jesus.

2. Pay whatever price necessary to follow Jesus.

3. Present a testimony that will encourage others to follow Jesus.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Death's Obituary - Reflections On That First Easter Morning


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1 Corinthians 15:54-57 "But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Jesus Christ won the cosmic battle, resulting in Death's obituary

When one reads the above closing text of 1 Corinthians 15, it has the ring of an "obituary about death". Paul's whole point in 1 Corinthians 15 is to detail how we can know not only the historicity of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, but also its life-practical and eternal implications. When it is all said and done, what Christ achieved on that first Easter morning not only had historical significance and life-changing significance, but cosmic significance. When I say cosmic, I mean the supernatural war that the kingdom of darkness has waged against God since Lucifer's cosmic rebellion in heaven at the near beginning of creation (see Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). Satan's introduction of sin to Adam and Eve, and their compliance to his temptation, resulted in curse, sin and death on the whole physical creation (see Romans 5:12-21; 8:20-25). Would death have the final word?

In thinking on what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, the thought came to mind concerning "death's obituary". We certainly find evidence of Christ's victory over death issuing forth on that first Easter morning, as found in Luke 24:1-8

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words."

Such words ought to always be remembered by Christ-followers everywhere when faced with doubt, fear or worry. As I prayed about what it must had been like on that first Easter morning, as well as what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, this theme of "Death's Obituary" kept coming up in my heart. So, I shared this thought with my wife, and what she wrote below goes wonderfully with what Paul seems to be communicating in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. I close today's post with her wonderful piece entitled: "Death's Obituary".


Death's Obituary - By Debi Smith

Death, formerly from the region of Hades. died on Easter morning surrounded by legions of stunned and terrified demons. Death lived a long life. Some of His biggest claims to fame included scaring and immobilizing people from living; killing people that thought they had tomorrow; and separating people from loved ones until Death decided it was there time as well. Death leaves behind no one to mourn him. There will be no services, but there will be a celebration held at a later date when Jesus Christ comes back to claim His followers. At that time, there will be a burial as Death will be cast into the lake of fire never to be seen again. In lieu of flowers or donations, we ask that everyone seek the Lord while He may be found and embrace eternal life."