Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus is Our Everyday Sabbath

rest

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” – Matthew 12:6-8

This isn’t primarily a story about finding a loophole in the Sabbath regulations. This isn’t primarily about finding precedent in the Old Testament for reaping and eating on the Sabbath. It isn’t even primarily about whether or not you can do good by healing a man on the Sabbath. This is a story about who Jesus is! It is all about Jesus saying to them and to us: I am greater than David. I am the fulfillment of all that David typified. I am greater than the temple. I am the fulfillment of all that the temple typified and symbolized. I am greater than the Sabbath. I bring to you a rest and satisfaction that not even the Old Testament Sabbath could provide. In the words of N.T. Wright, “If Jesus is a walking, living, breathing Temple, he is also the walking, celebrating, victorious sabbath.”

Remember that the Sabbath was instituted by God as a sign of the old covenant with Israel (see Exod. 31:12-13, 16-17). However, as Paul makes clear in Colossians 2:16-17, Jesus is the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament prophesied, prefigured, and foreshadowed: “There- fore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

The immediate purpose of the Sabbath in the Old Testament was to provide men and women with physical rest from their physical labors. When Paul says that this Sabbath was a shadow, of which Christ is the substance, he means that the physical rest provided by the Old Testament Sabbath finds its fulfillment in the spiritual rest provided by Jesus. We cease from our labors, not by resting physi- cally one day in seven, but by resting spiritually every day and for- ever in Christ by faith alone. We experience God’s true Sabbath rest, not by taking off from work one day in seven, but by placing our faith in the saving work of Jesus. To experience God’s Sabbath rest, therefore, is to cease from those works of righteousness by which we were seeking to be justified. The New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament Sabbath is not one day in seven of physical rest, but an eternity of spiritual rest through faith in the work of Christ.

Physical rest, of course, is still essential. God does not intend for us to work seven days a week. Our body and spirit need to experience renewal and refreshment by resting. But resting on Sunday is not the same thing as the OT observance of the Sabbath day. Some Christians have chosen to treat Sunday as if it were a Sabbath, as if it were special, and that’s entirely permissible. Don’t let anyone tell you it is wrong. But neither should you tell anyone that it is wrong if they treat Sunday like every other day of the week. “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5). If you want to observe Sunday as a day of rest to the exclusion of all other worldly pursuits or activi- ties, that’s fine. But you have no biblical right to expect others to do the same and therefore no biblical right to pass judgment on them if they don’t.

My point is simply that for the Christian, for the person who is trusting in the work of Jesus Christ rather than in his own efforts, for those resting by faith in Jesus, every day is the Sabbath! Every day is a celebration of the fact that we don’t have to do any spiritual or physical works to gain acceptance with God. We are accepted by him through faith in the works of Jesus Christ. If you are a child of God, born again, trusting and believing in Jesus for your acceptance with God rather than in your own works and efforts, you are experiencing the true meaning of Sabbath twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I observe the Sabbath every moment of every day to the degree that I rest in the work of Christ for me. Thus, for the Christian, Jesus is our Sabbath rest!

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All of God is Ours in Christ

lookinguntojesus.jpgHere is the propriety of saints – “the Lord thy God.” What is this, that God is thy God? Heaven and earth, angels and men, may stand astonished at it. What! that the great and mighty God, God almighty, and God all-sufficient, should be called thy God! It is observable what the apostle speaks, “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Would not a prince be ashamed to take a beggar, a base and adulterous woman, to be his wife? But we are worse than so, and God is better than so; sin hath made us worse than the worst of women; and God is better, holier, higher, than the best of princes; and yet God is not ashamed to own us, nor ashamed that we own him as our own – “I am thy God.” It is as if the Lord should say. Use me, and all my power, grace, mercy, kindness, as thine own. Go through all my attributes; consider my almighty power, consider my wisdom, understanding, goodness, truth, faithfulness; consider my patience, longsuffering, forbearance, all these are thine: as thus, — my power is thine, to work all thy works for thee, and in thee, to make a passage for thee in all thy straits, to deliver thee out of six troubles, and out of seven: my wisdom is thine, to counsel thee in any difficult cases, to instruct thee in things that be obscure, to reveal to thee the mysteries of grace, and the wonderful things contained in my law: my justice is thine, to deliver thee when thou art oppressed, to defend thee in thy innocence, and to vindicate thee from the injuries of men. What needs more? O my soul, think of these, and all other God’s attributes; say in thyself, All these are mine: nay more; think of God in Christ, (for otherwise what hast thou to do with God in a covenant of grace?) and say in thy heart, Jesus Christ is mine, my Saviour, my Redeemer, my Head, my elder Brother. His doings are mine, and his sufferings are mine; his life and death, his resurrection and ascension, his session and intercession, all are mine: nay more; If Christ be mine, why then all good things are mine in Christ; I say, in Christ, for they come not immediately, but through the hands of a Redeemer; and though he be a man who redeemed us, yet because he is God as well as man, there is more of God, and heaven, and free-love, in all our good things, than if we received them immediately from God. Ravens have their food, and devils have their being, from God by creature-right; but we have all we have, from God in Christ, by covenant-right. This, surely this very promise, is the principal promise of the covenant; it is the very substance, soul, and life of all. Oh then! how careful shouldst thou be to improve the strength of thy mind, thoughts, and affections, on this only subject!

Isaac Ambrose (1604-64), Looking Unto JesusBook II.2.2

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Repent for the Glory of God

repent signDear friends, there’s only one reason -one reason for a sinner to repent: and that’s because Jesus Christ deserves the worship and adoration and the love and the obedience of his heart. Not because he’ll go to heaven. If the only reason you repented, dear friend, was to keep out of Hell, all you are is just a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt! That’s all! You’re trying to serve God because He’ll do you good! But a repentant heart is a heart that has seen something of the enormity of the crime of playing god and denying the just an righteous God the worship and obedience that He deserves!

Why should a sinner repent? Because God deserves the obedience and love that he’s refused to give Him! Not so that he’ll go to heaven. If the only reason he repents is so that he’ll go to heaven, it’s nothing but trying to make a deal or a bargain with God.

Why should a sinner give up all his sins? Why should he be challenged to do it? Why should he make restitution when he’s coming to Christ? Because God deserves the obedience that He demands!

I have talked with people that have no assurance that sins are forgiven. They want to feel safe, before they’re willing to commit themselves to Christ. But I believe that the only ones whom God actually witnesses by HisSpirit and are born of Him, are the people, whether they say it or not, that come to Jesus Christ and say something like this, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do, as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, and obeyed and served, and I’m not trying to make a deal with you!” Do you see the difference? Do you see the difference? Between a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt or a Micah building a chapel because God will do you good, and someone that repents for the glory of God. 

Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death with Christ? Why should a person be willing to go, in identification, down to the cross and into the tomb and up again? I’ll tell you why – because it’s the only way that God can get glory out of human being! If you say it’s because he’ll get joy or peace or blessing or success or fame then it’s nothing but a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt. There is only one reason for you to go to the Cross, dear young person – and that’s because until you come to the place of union with Christ in death, you are defrauding the Son of God of the glory that He could get out of your life. For no flesh shall glory in His sight. And until you’ve understood the sanctifying work of God by the Holy Ghost taking you into union with Christ in death and burial and resurrection, you have to serve in what you have and all you have which is under the sentence of death: human personality, and human nature, and human strength, and human energy. And God will get no glory out of that! So the reason for you to go to the cross isn’t that you’re going to get victory – you will get victory. It isn’t that you’re going to have joy – you will have joy. But the reason for you to embrace the cross and press through until you know that you can testify with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ..” (Galatians 2:20) It isn’t what you’re going to get out of it, but what He’ll get out of it, for the glory of God. By the same token, why aren’t you pressed through to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Why aren’t you pressed through to know the fullness of Christ? I’ll tell you why – Because the only possible way that Jesus Christ will get glory out of a life that He’s redeemed with His precious blood, is when He can fill that life with His presence and live through it his own life.

The genius of our faith wasn’t that we were going to go through the motions like a Levite that was hired to serve God. No, No! The genius of our faith was that we’d come to a place where we knew we could do nothing, and all we could do would be to present the vessel and say, “Lord Jesus, you’ll have to fill it. And everything that’s done will have to be done by You and for You.”

Paris Reidhead (1919-92), exerted from a sermon on Judges 17:1-18:4, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt“.

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Who’s in Charge Here?

churchquestionsIt happens often, probably more than you might think, or maybe less that you think it should happen, but it does happen.  The question is asked: “Who’s in charge here?”  You’ve seen it in Sci-Fi movies, when the alien lands and first encounters human beings and says, “Take me to your leader.”   This is that question in statement form.  Maybe at school in class, your teacher steps out of the room and things get rambunctious for a bit and another adult steps in and asks the question.   Or it could be children in a home watching mom and dad bicker and challenge one another and in their hearts, or possibly verbally as kids often do, ask, “Who’s in charge here?”  It is a good question to ask, particularly in times of chaos, rambunctiousness, and challenge, but it is even a better question to have rightly answered and for those “in charge” to act as though they are.

Concerning the local representations of God’s church, the question is of particular importance for it is His church and He has told us in His Word who is in charge.  When it comes to understanding who’s in charge in the church, rather than focusing upon levels of authority, though definitely an important aspect, two words are helpful and will be used to direct this discussion: responsibility and accountability.  You see, all authority is delegated by and flows from Christ, who is Lord over all, but the way in which the Bible reveals who has authority and what kind of authority they bear is described by means of what each person or group is accountable for and is therefore responsible to do.  You may ask, “How do I know if I have authority to do something in the church?” to which I would respond with, “Are you accountable before God for that which you are wanting to do?”  If the answer is yes then He has delegated that authority to you to do such by His Word and in His name.  If you are not accountable to God for what you are seeking to do, then you do not have the authority to do such.  God, in His wisdom in creating and sustaining the church, has provided all we need to be faithful, if we will but listen to Him.

To clarify, let me illustrate.  In a family there are different levels of authority revealed in differing levels of accountability and responsibility.  Simplistically, God created the husband to be and holds him accountable as the shepherd of the family, to physically and spiritually provide and protect, loving his wife as Christ does the church and training his children in the fear of the Lord.  With this the husband/father bears a delegated authority from God in which to carry out those things for which he will give account before God.  This accountability means that he is responsible for those roles in the family and no one else.  The wife/mother has been created by God and is held accountable before Him as the complementary helper, nurturing, submitting, and respecting her husband as unto the Lord, and caring for her children physically and spiritually.  With this, the wife/mother bears a delegated authority from God in which to carry out those things she will give an account before God.  This accountability means that she is responsible for those roles in the family and no one else.  Even children are accountable to God as they have been created to and therefore responsible to honor and obeying their parents, but also loving the other siblings.  To this, kids will give account.  Though the authority needed to fulfill this responsibility is low, it still exists for no one should interfere with a child seeking to honor and obey his or her parents.  While, not a one to one comparison, this family structure of accountability and responsibility is like that of the church.

When it comes to the church, according to the Word of God, there are 4 levels of responsibility and accountability within: Jesus, pastors, deacons, and the congregation* (see end).  Each will be reflected upon, listing what each group is responsible for and therefore accountable unto God.

1. Jesus: The Good Shepherd

It may seem unnecessary to include Jesus in a discussion of who’s in charge of a local church, but it is absolutely the contrary.  The church is His church (Eph. 5:25-27), bought with His blood (Acts 20:28), He is the head of it (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18), He declared that He would build it (Matt. 16:18), He cares for and nourishes it (Eph. 5:29), and He has told us who we are as His church and how we ought to function as His church.  Jesus holds all authority over His church and bears faithful responsibility over it as the One who has given account for it with His life, for He is the Good Shepherd who has laid His life down for His sheep (John 10:1-18).  There is nothing lacking in His work for the church from the past, in the present, and through to eternity.  He is the promised Shepherd that perpetually and graciously shepherds His sheep.  Apart from giving us the Spirit and His Word to feed us and guide us, Christ shepherds His people by calling and equipping undershepherds (pastors) to shepherd His flock wherever they serve.

2. Pastors: The Undershepherds

The next level of responsibility and accountability below Christ is that of pastors (synonymous with overseers, elders, bishops, and leaders in Heb. 13).  They are called undershepherds because under Christ, the Good Shepherd, they bear the greatest amount of responsibility and are therefore the most accountable to God in the church for how they use their delegated authority and fulfill their responsibilities.  Broadly summarizing, pastors (note the plurality nearly always used in Scripture concerning them) are responsible for caring for and protecting themselves and the flock (Acts 20:28-32; John 21:15-17), exercising oversight leading the flock (1 Peter 5:1-4; Heb. 13:7, 17), believing, handling, defending, preaching and teaching the Word of God rightly (2 Tim. 1:13-14, 2:15-17, 4:2-5; 1 Tim. 6:2-4; 1 Peter 3:14-17; Jude 3-4), reproving, rebuking, exhorting with all authority those in error (2 Tim. 4:2-5; Titus 2:15), being an example to the flock (1 Tim 3:1-7, 4:11-16, 6:11-16; Titus 1:5-9), equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for maturity in Christ, unity in the gospel (Eph. 4:11-14), and pastors are responsible for obeying God and not men (1 Thess. 2:2-8, 11-12).

Another area in which pastors bear responsibility is for the calling out, training, and appointing other pastors in the body in which they serve (2 Tim. 2:1-2; Titus 1:5-9). These men, called out and equipped by God to shepherd His flock, are accountable to Him for all of these things (Heb. 13:17; James 3:1; Acts 20:26-27) as well as accountable to the flock.  Pastors bear the authority needed to do these things faithfully by delegation from Christ and by the authority of the Word.  Pastors care for, protect, preach, equip, and rebuke/correct not by their own authority but by the authority of the Word of God.  All this applies to every and any man who claims to be called of God into pastoral ministry of any sort.  In Scripture and therefore before God there are not mere staff ministers and then a pastor but a plurality of pastors that each bear this responsibility and accountability before God and His church.  If any don’t want the responsibility or to be held accountable for this then they are not called by God to shepherd His flock, but are imposters, wolves in sheep’s clothing, seeking their own kingdom and good.  Even if one holds the office but ignores or is ignorant of these responsibilities, they are still accountable to God for them.  Pastors are called to die for they are called to follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd who laid His life down for the good of the sheep.

3. Deacons: The Servants

The next level of responsibility and accountability falling under Christ and pastors is deacons.  It may be offensive to some that the label “servants” are given to deacons but it ought not be offensive for it what the very word “deacon” means and as well as it defines their role in the church.  Deacons are not mentioned very much in the Bible (3 passages and one inference), which makes sense when you think about the non-public nature of their work.  While sharing in nearly identical characteristics/qualifications as pastors, deacons do not have the responsibility and therefore not the authority to teach or lead the church spiritually (1 Tim. 3:1-13).  They are called and responsible to serve, meet physical needs, and seek to maintain the unity of faith.  They must be of exemplary character and are to be selected because they are already doing the work of a deacon (serving) not so that they can have an official title or acknowledgment before the church.  Though the designation of deacon is not specifically mentioned in the text, the role of deacons is illustrated in Acts 6:1-4, where the apostles (spiritual leaders of the church) were being pulled away from the responsibilities God had called them to, so they called faithful men to serve those in need.

The needs of a church are endless so the opportunities of service and ministry for deacons are endless as well.  The work of deacons is crucial to the health of a church as they assist the pastors of the church by meeting necessary needs of the flock that would hinder pastors in their responsibilities and as they serve the church.  This responsibility bears accountability before God and to the pastors and the congregation.  With this comes the authority to take up the task before them and serve.  No one needs to tell a deacon to serve for that is what they have been called to do, and when they see a need they are to seek to serve and do so by the authority of and in unity with the Word.  All Christians are called to be servants/ slaves of Christ in service to Him and to His church.  Deacons are those who are recognized in the church as servants of God, the pastors, and of the congregation, meeting everyday needs not leading spiritually.  Rightly understood, there are those not known as deacons who are truly deacons before God and His people because of their dedicated service to the church and those with the name deacon who are not truly deacons due to their lack in service and the pursuit of their own good and way.

4. Congregation: The Body

The last level of responsibility and accountability falls on the congregation.  God has the most to say to this group concerning their responsibilities.  Apart from the expectations of every believer (being filled with the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, praying, reading the Word, etc) the New Testament, particularly the epistles, shows that the congregation is responsible and therefore accountable for much, as individuals and corporately.  The largest portion of responsibility is easily found in the “one another’s” of the New Testament.  Every Christian and, therefore, every church body are responsible for carrying out each and every one another as they have the occasion.  This includes, though not exhaustively: loving, comforting, bearing with, being kind and compassionate to, forgiving, encouraging, edifying, praying for, being at peace with, serving, living in harmony with, instructing, correcting, admonishing, counseling, speaking graciously to, submitting to, exhorting, gathering with, and giving to one another.  Each member of the body is responsible for these and therefore accountable to God and to one another for fulfilling them.

Another area in which the congregation is responsible is dealing with sin in the church.  Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6 make clear that while the pastors have a role in church discipline, it is further in the process and the congregation bears the greater responsibility for pursuing the sinning brother or sister’s repentance and restoration or removal.  Jesus in Matthew gives the instructions to every Christian, giving them authority to deal with sin in the church, whereas Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for not dealing with those in sin showing the responsibility and accountability they bore before God and one another for such things.

The next area for which the congregation is responsible is in the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-16).  We have already seen that pastors are responsible for equipping the church, but they do so for the purpose that the church, the congregation, would be able and would do the work of ministry.  Pastors are the spiritual leaders of the church and are responsible for much before God and the church but they are not expected to do it all, for they are not able to do it all and they were never meant to do it all.  The congregation is taught, trained, and counseled by the ministry of pastors according to the Word, not to merely be served but that they may teach, train (disciple), and counsel others according to the Word.

Another area of responsibility is the congregation’s command to submit to their pastors (Heb. 13:17).  This makes sense when you understand that they are bearers of Christ’s delegated authority to care for and serve you, so you submit to your pastors as unto the Lord, not because they are lords.  They are mere men who God has given a weighty responsibility and are fallible, which leads to the next thing for which congregation is responsible: pastoral accountability.  The pastoral submission mentioned above is not calling for blind or negligent submission but with it comes pastoral accountability, meaning that the congregation has the responsibility to hold their pastors accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities faithfully and honoring those who do so or rebuking those who persist in sinning by not being faithful (1 Tim. 5:17-20).  Again, with these responsibilities for each group comes the authority from God by His Word to do these things.  The previous two groups (pastors and deacons) bear the responsibilities of this category as well but are given more responsibilities and are therefore accountable for more before God and the church, but each will have to give an account before God for what they were responsible for in this life in the church (Rom. 14:12).

Conclusion:

These things are the key to a healthy church – everybody doing what God has called them to do according to the Word:  pastors leading with the Word as Christ would have them, deacons serving the daily needs of the church, and the congregation doing the work of ministry unto one another.  This is a high calling.  It is a calling to die to ourselves, our traditions, and our wisdom and a call to follow Christ, and it is there that we will find life, grace, and joy forevermore.  That is church.

So when you ask the question, “Who’s in charge here?” the right answer is Christ.  It is His church and we would do well to listen to how He would have us carry things out.  Anything more would be a questioning of His wisdom and grace and anything less would be mockery.

* Note: this has been an attempt to discuss what God’s Word says concerning the structure of His church and how He, in His wisdom, would have it function.  It is recognized that there are groups not mentioned above (e.g. committees or councils) as those who have taken on responsibility and authority in a church that may exist in the church or denomination in which you are a member.  This is due to the fact that they are not recognized as such in Scripture and are therefore only legitimate if they do not take on or exercise the responsibilities or authority of one of the God-ordained groups mentioned above and if they do not hinder those groups from fulfilling those responsibilities for which they are accountable.  This is not a matter of interpretation for it is a product of clear revelation, nor is this a matter of tradition, for those even vary in the same circles over generations, but biblical faithfulness unto God.  If the church cannot pick up the Word of God to find its identity and instruction, it has little reason to bear the name “church” or of the One who purchased it.

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Good Friday: Divine Love vs Guilty Humanity

Good-Friday-2013-Banner

Easter, with the joy at the coming of spring, with all the happiness with which the sun warms our hearts, has become for each of us since childhood a festival dear to our hearts, a festival filled with warm memories from which we do not want to part.  Who among us would want to lose even a single spring from our lives?  But to say that our entire life depends upon Easter, that our existence would be threatened if there were no Easter – who among us would want or even could bear such a thing?  But Paul did indeed say it.   And because he reflected a bit more thoroughly on this question than we tend to do, we may assume that such a statement does indeed harbor a certain meaning about which one might perhaps reflect further.  “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”

Hence, all apparently depends upon our understanding of exactly what Paul meant by the word “raised.”  What does resurrection mean and what can it mean for us?  These are the old Easter questions that we cannot avoid unless we are thoughtless.  The overwhelming phenomenon of perpetually self-renewing spring enables humanity throughout the world to sense something of the primal struggle between darkness and light in which, after intense fighting, light emerges victorious – spring emerges form the dark winter.  Each year renews this colossal spectacle of nature, awakening in humankind an intimation of hope in resurrection.  All that is dark must ultimately become light.  This is a law of nature; indeed, darkness is not really an entity in an for itself; it exists only as the absence of light.  A single ray of sunlight destroys it.  And the sun comes, comes most assuredly, and with it the resurrection of nature.  The seeds of life are already contained in the death of nature.  Indeed, death is not really death at all, but a stage of life that abides in embryonic form within the seemingly rigid bodies.  Life and light must emerge victorious, and death and darkness are merely their manifestations.  These ideas are the common property and primal possessions of humankind, even back to its most primitive spiritual and intellectual life, and it is form such ideas that our own modernized Easter faith draws without noticing that Christianity has far different things to say about Easter.

Easter is concerned not with a struggle between darkness an light, which ultimately light will win in any case since darkness is, after all, actually nothing, because death is already life; nor with a struggle between winter and spring, between ice and sun, but with the struggle of guilty humanity against divine love, or better: of divine love against guilty humanity, struggle in which God appears to be vanquished on Good Friday and in which God, precisely by losing – wins – on Easter.  Is God victorious – or is Prometheus (representing un-Christian cultural piety) victorious?  That is the question that is answered on Easter by God’s mighty deed.  Good Friday is not the darkness that must necessarily yield to light.  It is not the winter sleep that contains and nourishes the seed of life within.  It is the day on which human beings – human beings who wanted to be like gods – kill the God who became human, the love that became a person; the day on which the Holy One of God, that is, God himself, dies, truly dies – voluntarily and yet because of human guilt – without any seed of life remaining in him in such a way that God’s death might resemble sleep.  Good Friday is not, like winter, a transitional stage – no, it is genuinely the end, the end of guilty humanity and the final judgment that humanity has pronounced upon itself.  And here only one thing can help, namely, God’s own mighty deed in the midst of humanity from within God’s eternity.  Easter is not an immanent or inner-worldly event, but a transcendent, world-transcending event, God’s intervention from eternity through which God professes loyalty to God’s Holy One and raises that Holy One from the dead.  Easter speaks not about immortality but about resurrection, resurrection from the dead through God’s mighty deed, from death that is genuinely death with all its horrors and terrors, death of the body and of the soul, of the entire person.  That is the Easter message.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1909-45), “3/31 Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:17” in Barcelona, Berlin, New York, 1928-1931, Works Vol. 10, 486-7.

HT: Tony Reinke

Image Credit: Missio Dei Church

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True Manhood & Womanhood Found In Christ

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True Manhood

True Womanhood

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God’s Greatest Adversaries Are His Gifts

idolatryThe greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.

Jesus said some people hear the word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then, “as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). In another place he said, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). “The pleasures of this life” and “the desires for other things”—these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and pota- toes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God.

John Piper, Hunger for God14-15.

Image Credit: Crossway

HT: Ryan Loveing (Life Action Ministries)

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