Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Resurrection in Acts

It may be argued that the resurrection of Christ is the single most important truth ever preached. It is the lynchpin of the Christian faith.

The Holy Lamb of God came into the world, lived a perfect life, showed us the Father and died for our sins on the cross, but if God did not raise Jesus from the dead, we have no compelling evidence of any of these things and no reason to get excited about them. Paul trumpets the critical importance of resurrection in his letters to the Romans (“He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies”) and the Corinthians (“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins”).

But we don’t have to wait for the doctrinal teaching of the epistles to understand the unique significance of Christ’s resurrection. It’s right there in the historical books of the New Testament as the central fact of apostolic doctrine, the truth that changed the world.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (29)

Grant Richison inquires what Paul meant when he ends a long statement in Philippians 3 with the words “… that by any means possible I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

In English, Richison says, the wording seems to express doubt about the certainty of Paul’s resurrection (and by implication the resurrection of others as well).

Does he question the assurance of his salvation?” Richison asks. He goes on to examine the passage for clues.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Anonymous Asks (259)

“What does it mean to be dead to sin?”

The phrase “dead to sin” comes from the language of Romans 6, in almost every translation you can find. Paul starts with “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” He ends with “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Fair enough. So what DOES that mean exactly?

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Evidence for the Rapture in Revelation [2]

People who haven’t read the Bible tend to think the doctrine of the rapture is based on the prophetic visions of John in Revelation. This is not actually the case; the rapture as an event is taught explicitly only in 1 Thessalonians, while the mechanics of the believers’ translation into glorified bodies during that same event are discussed in 1 Corinthians. In fact, we don’t find the rapture taught in Revelation at all; its truth is simply assumed.

However, what we do find in Revelation is very much consistent with Paul’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians which, if we believe in the inspiration of scripture, should not surprise us in the least. Since even Christians increasingly reject the Bible’s teaching about the rapture, I thought it might be a good time to have a look at the evidence we find in Revelation for the rapture of the church, some of which even points to a pre-tribulation rapture.

There is plenty of that, as we began to discover in Sunday’s post. You may find it useful to read that one first if you haven’t already.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Story of Christ in Four Parts

The scripture presents the story of Christ in at least four parts:

The first one is the birth of the Lord Jesus. God was making himself known to people in a human body. God the Son was going to come into this world and become man, though he existed eternally with the Father.

Secondly, there are the teachings of the Lord Jesus. He went through every city and village preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. The teachings of Christ are tremendously important. We need to pay attention to those.

Then there is the death of Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem in a place called Calvary.

The fourth part is the resurrection and ascension of Jesus back to the throne of God.

So we need to think of the story of Christ in at least these four ways — in his birth, ministry, death and resurrection — to have a complete view of the person and work of the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (19)

I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Do the souls of aborted babies go to heaven? Do babies and children go to heaven when they die? These are questions of deep concern both to believers and even to the occasional agnostic, who might be willing to risk finding him- or herself before the great white throne one day, but not their children.

And yes, people like this do exist. I know one.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Two Central Facts

“If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

Back in 1993, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope gave astronomers their first glimpse of what appeared to be a distant galaxy with a double nucleus. That just doesn’t happen, so a number of possible theories were immediately floated. To the best of my knowledge, no definitive explanation for this anomaly has ever been found.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Ten Things About Death For Which I Am Grateful

I had the inestimable privilege of being asked to preach the gospel at a pair of relatively recent memorial services for Christian friends and family members.

Our regular readers will have probably figured out by now that gospel preaching is not exactly my forte; I am not an evangelist either by gift or disposition. All the same, when you have people you love in the audience who don’t know the Lord, you take every opportunity he hands you, and I took these.

We had a great time. Seems odd to put it that way, but it’s true.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Anonymous Asks (112)

“What’s the difference between reincarnation and resurrection?”

The concept of reincarnation is a component of many religions, the four largest of which originated in India: Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Greek philosophers like Plato, Socrates and Pythagoras promoted something similar, as do Spiritists, Theosophists and numerous smaller, tribal societies, as well as some of the more obscure sects of the Abrahamic religions.

Obviously then, not all believers in reincarnation believe precisely the same things. Forgive me if I generalize a bit.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Seeing What We Want to See

Christians cannot agree across the board about what the Bible teaches. If we could, there would be no need for denominations, and there would be a single, clear, accepted interpretation of every verse of scripture.

Wouldn’t that be nice? But it ain’t so, and we all know it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Call and Answer

As I have probably mentioned from time to time, it is my habit every morning to try to read one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New. Other Christians I know do much the same thing. More than once we have found ourselves sharing with one another how remarkably one passage seems to dovetail with another.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But the unity of scripture is a real phenomenon, and it should not surprise us when that inherent thematic oneness expresses itself in remarkable ways. This morning it is in the form of a call and answer.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Analyzing the Narrative

Detail from Meister Francke’s Resurrection, ca. 1424
I read a lot of fiction. I always have. And, like most avid readers, I can tell the difference between a good story and a bad one; between a narrative account that holds water and one that is flimsily constructed or implausible.

The stolen body hypothesis is one of the latter, one that has been around from the very beginning. Matthew points out that the chief priests and elders paid to circulate the rumor as soon as it was clear the Lord’s body was no longer in his tomb.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Conspirators and Theorists

In a post entitled “Why You Should Resist Conspiracy Theories”, Stand to Reason’s Aaron Brake warns his fellow Christians about the dangers of falling for the counternarrative. Conspiracy theories, Brake says, are rarely true. If you believe them, you undermine your own witness, not to mention the case for the resurrection of Christ.

That’s a powerful statement to make, and it probably shouldn’t stand without a little closer examination.

I found Brake’s article extraordinary on a number of levels, so much so that I wandered around stewing about it for a couple of days before deciding to hazard a response. Oddly, I find that I mostly agree with his conclusions while disagreeing with almost everything he says on the way to getting there. More on that later.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

One Wild and Awful Moment

Hidden away in the deep wilderness of Canada’s Algonquin Park is a memorial plaque dedicated to a grandfather and a teenage grandson who lost their lives in a storm on one of the lakes.

How it got there is a mystery to passing canoeists. The location is quite remote.

The plaque itself is of considerable size and weight, apparently being made of bronze. Time has softened the edges of some of the letters and greened the surface; but the plaque has not been moved since it was put there half a century ago. It is solidly drilled into the rock face. Someone went to a lot of work to ensure that their loved ones would not be forgotten.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Resting and Standing

“But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

The very last verse of the book of Daniel is a personal promise from a mighty angel to an Old Testament saint three times called “greatly loved”. It assumes something the Old Testament refers to rarely and about which Judaism today says next to nothing: a future for godly men and women beyond this present life.

The angel doesn’t formally teach this so much as he simply takes it for granted: “You will lie in your grave for a bit, then God has something specific in mind for you after all that.”

I wonder what Daniel thought about it, but not even the greatest Bible expositor or translator can tell me that. The book of Daniel ends there. As usual, God gets the last word.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Preponderance of the Evidence

“They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.”
— Abraham

Anyone familiar enough with the Bible to know whether Abraham or Moses came first has almost surely also read Jesus’ story in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus, so I won’t need to explain to you how Abraham, who lived and died more than 400 years before Moses, could speak intelligibly about what either Moses or the Prophets wrote.

In the Lord’s story, Abraham is speaking from Paradise to a dead man in Hades, across the great chasm that divides the two.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (6)

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, who have attempted to put together possible timelines of Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances to his disciples over the period prior to his ascension.

As anyone who has attempted this will tell you, synthesizing four Gospel accounts and the summary Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 15 is no easy task. There is simply not enough information provided to dogmatize about some of the details. Some calculate 10 appearances, others 12. Most don’t speculate.

One thing nobody can reasonably fail to notice about the appearances is this: however long each may have been, and however many of them there may have been, there is still an awful lot of time unaccounted for in between appearances ... the better part of forty days, in fact.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What’s Across the Finish Line?

Christianity Today’s Todd Billings on people who have “too small a view of heaven”:

“A pastor in my home state of Michigan mentioned to me that many members of his congregation assume that there will be plenty of woods and deer in heaven. So naturally, they fantasize about shooting a 39-point buck in the heavenly woods.”

It’s a thought provoking article, worth a few minutes of time if only to draw attention to the extent of what seems like a massive blind spot in modern evangelicalism.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wintry Landscapes

“A wintry landscape of unrelieved bleakness.” That’s Lutheran scholar Martin Marty’s take on Psalm 88.

One of the difficulties encountered by those of us who like to go scratching around the Bible to background its characters is that, just like in the phone directory, lots of different people have the same name. That makes certainty an issue. Names like Mary, John and James appear all over the place. Disambiguators help, of course, and the Holy Spirit provides them here and there: Mary Magdalene, James the son of Alphaeus, and so on.

This morning I’m more than a little curious about Heman the Ezrahite, the poet credited with the aforementioned “wintry landscape”.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Transgression Bag

The eye of faith is an amazing thing.

In all his bitter distress and confusion, Job never completely loses sight of the character and purposes of God. Like most sufferers, he talks at length about how things appear to him: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.”

Yep, can confirm.

But nowhere in all of his inquiries does it occur to Job for a moment that God may not be there at all. That’s one big difference between the righteous and the wicked. “There is no fear of God before their eyes,” as Paul puts it. They do not consider God in the slightest. “They did not see fit to acknowledge God.” God and eternity have simply been dismissed from their calculations.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Analyzing the Narrative

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Quote of the Day (32)

The old me needed to die, that was the bottom line.

There was no hope of improving him through education, no chance that a good example might nudge him in the right direction — in fact, everything around him seemed to be pushing him the wrong way entirely. Nobody could reasonable expect that left to his own devices he might eventually turn out to be a decent bloke after all.

But God had something in mind for that guy.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

I’ll Tell You Later

Not everything is instant ...
We live in the age of instant gratification.

If I want to watch a movie, I can skim Netflix and play one in seconds. It takes me longer to make up my mind than it takes to start playing my selection once I’ve decided. If I want to listen to the Strolling Bones’ hot new CD, I don’t have to rush to the mall (assuming I can find a record store still in business) or wait for Amazon to deliver it to my front door, I can stream it right now or download it from iTunes in seconds. If I want dinner, I can microwave something in five minutes, or, assuming I have unusual patience, have it delivered in forty-five.

Spiritual insight isn’t like that. Not at all. Sometimes God says, “I’ll tell you later.”

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Too Clever For Our Own Good

“And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”

There is tremendous irony in Paul’s statement here that he is “accused by Jews” over his belief in resurrection.

Jews, who claimed the Law of Moses as their inheritance and the prophets as their own. Jews, who claimed there was one God and that he belonged to them exclusively. Jews, who claimed to believe in YHWH but many of whom balked at the concept of resurrection. To be accused by Greeks, Romans, Syrians or Asians, sure: their gods were not like YHWH, much less powerful and more human in their interpersonal dynamics.

But accused by Jews for hoping in resurrection? There’s cognitive dissonance for you!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One Wild and Awful Moment

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, March 28, 2016

I Found God in a Hallmark Card

Three unfortunate Will Bowen readers commiserate ...
Or not. Maybe you saw this on Facebook yesterday:

“EASTER symbolizes our own capacity to transform. Our ability to die to our former selves and awaken to a whole new life. Your ideal self lies dormant within you now ready to be called forth, ready to shine, ready to bless your world.”
— Will Bowen

Uh, well ... not exactly.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Phrases That Jump Out At You

This one did:

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”

The three words that stuck in my head are “for OUR glory”.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

522 Inept Logicians

Fritz von Uhde imagines Mary’s
encounter with “the gardener”
The debate as to whether Jesus actually rose from the dead stands at the centre of Christianity. As the apostle Paul pointed out, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins”.

That being the case, the doctrine of the resurrection could not be more important.

Amy Hall at the Stand to Reason blog has been regularly fielding challenges from the atheistic 522 Reasons Christianity is False website (apparently the name changes daily; they are at 522 reasons and counting). Still, after reading today’s challenge from atheism, I propose we rechristen their blog 522 Inept Logicians.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where “Judeo-” and “Christian” Part Ways

Apart from a saving knowledge of Christ, even the best of men quite rationally fear death.

We hear a great deal about our “Judeo-Christian heritage” in this country, as if Judaism and Christianity have so much in common that they can be lumped into a hyphenated modifier without further ado. And while Christianity has its roots in the sacred scriptures of Judaism, the specific conclusions Christianity draws from the Hebrew texts and the certainty with which it does so put it in a class all by itself.

Monday, October 06, 2014

One Wild and Awful Moment

A more current version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Analyzing the Narrative

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I See Dead People

I saw one today, in fact. Propped in a coffin, fully and expertly made up and ready for viewing. She had passed away in her nineties and, while she certainly looked ‘peaceful’, as we say, no amount of makeup could disguise the ravages of nine decades.

And no amount of makeup could conceal that she was dead.

Dead people don’t look like living people. They don’t even look like the wax sculptures in Madame Tussaud’s. In life, there is always motion: the twitch of an eyebrow or the corner of a mouth; the alertness of the gaze, or the finger drumming absently on a tabletop. The person in cardiac arrest in the emergency room is thrumming with life by comparison. Even the most naturally calm person cannot for a second imitate the profound absence of vigor of a body in which the blood has stopped flowing, the synapses have stopped firing and every natural process that maintains life has irrevocably and eternally shut down.

Especially a week after the fact. They just look over, done, kaput. The End.

Except it isn’t.