I’ve been listening to Bruce Shelley’s excellent Church History in Plain Language during my commute recently.1 One thing this book makes clear is the importance of history repeating itself, especially when it comes to heresy. Heresies are formed, denounced, revived, and then the cycle starts again. The most frequent to crop up all concern the person of Jesus. Was he a created being, whether a human being or demigod? Was he a spiritual being who merely seemed to be a human? Did the resurrection really happen or was it a spiritual event in the hearts of his followers? You’ve probably read some of these in the searchings and doubtings of many popular authors, in fact.
But I think what stood out to me this time around isn’t so much the nature of the heresies but their implications. All heresies leave us without hope. They’ve got nothing to offer because they leave us with a dead Jesus. A Jesus who isn’t really God doesn’t really have the power to forgive sin (and because of the redefinition of sin in these heresies, usually doesn’t need to). A Jesus who is a spiritual being only didn’t die at all. A Jesus who rose again only in the hearts of those who believed… Well, you get the idea. We don’t have the thing we need: A rescuer.
And this is why we need the resurrection. This is why we need a real Jesus, one who is alive right now. Spurgeon put it well in All of Grace:
You are not asked to trust in a dead Jesus, but in One who, though He died for our sins, has risen again for our justification. You may go to Jesus at once as to a living and present friend. He is not a mere memory, but a continually existent Person who will hear your prayers and answer them. He lives on purpose to carry on the work for which He once laid down His life. He is interceding for sinners at the right hand of the Father, and for this reason He is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by Him. Come and try this living Saviour, if you have never done so before.
We have a reason to worship today and everyday because this is the Jesus we worship. A Redeemer who lives even now. Who makes intercession for us before the throne of God. Who is coming again soon to make all things new. We have a risen Savior, and because of that, we have everything we need.
- By the way, as far as single-volume primers on church history go, they don’t get much better than this one. ↵