God's Wonderful Surprise

A great video to watch with the kids based on illustrations from The Jesus Storybook Bible with narration by David Suchet.

HT: Justin Taylor

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Dishonesty of Unbelief

The popular teaching is that you cannot believe [the] records we are given, but that does not matter at all as long as you get the “religious value” of the stories. It does not matter whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin; it does not really matter whether or not He worked miracles or atoned for our sins by His death. It certainly does not matter whether He arose in body from the tomb.

The facts do not matter, they say, as long as you have the religious value of Jesus and His teaching.

In a sense, these apostles preached nothing but the facts, which to them were all-important.

They kept on talking about “the things which we have seen and heard.”

The experience of these men came directly out of the facts about which they were constantly speaking. If your experience does not result from the facts of Christ’s life and death, it is not a Christian experience.

If there was a time when we need to emphasize the facts, these great foundational facts on which the whole of our faith is based, it is the present moment. The world is as it is because it does not believe these facts. If you give your experience to the world, it will say, “All right, if that’s the sort of thing that pleases you, get on with it. I’m not interested; it has nothing to do with me.” On top of that, you can hear proponents of the cults saying, “Believe us, and you will get happiness. Though you have not slept for years, you will be able to sleep peacefully.”

But we preach facts, and we preach the apostolic witness to the facts, including this tremendous, glorious fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection is indeed a fact.

These apostles did not merely preach that Jesus—the one whom they had all known and listened to, the one who had been crucified and who had died and was buried—was still alive in the other spiritual realm. They did preach that, but the Resurrection does not merely mean that Jesus is still in existence in the spiritual realm. It means much more than that, and this is what we must be clear about.

These men preached the empty tomb.

They said: “We were witnesses, we saw Him crucified, we heard his cry of dereliction, we heard Him saying at the end, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46). We saw them taking down His body; we saw them laying it in a tomb, rolling a stone in front of the entrance, sealing it, ordering Roman soldiers to guard it. We saw that, but we also saw the empty tomb on the morning of the third day.”

That is what they were witnesses to, and that is what they preached—not merely that Jesus can still help us from the unseen realm, but that Jesus literally rose, leaving nothing behind except the grave clothes.

He arose in the body; it was a changed body, but it was essentially the same body, His body. He was able to show them His hands and side. You remember the incident in connection with Thomas, who was very slow to believe and stumbled at it. “Reach hither thy finger,” said our Lord, “and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side” (John 20:27). It was the same body, but changed.

Now, of course, our scientific age cannot believe anything like that, but they could not believe things like that in the first century either. In the last chapter of Matthew we read that the clever people at that time invented a story and bribed the Roman soldiers to tell a lie in order to disprove the Resurrection. They went as far as that, and people are doing similar things today.

That is the dishonesty of unbelief.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Courageous Christianity, pp. 165-166 (emphasis & paragraph breaks mine)

It’s Friday… But Sunday’s Coming

HT: Justin Taylor

Calvin: Righteousness was Renewed and Restored by His Resurrection

Next follows the resurrection from the dead, without which all that has hitherto been said would be defective. For seeing that in the cross, death, and burial of Christ, nothing but weakness appears, faith must go beyond all these, in order that it may be provided with full strength.

[A]lthough in his death we have an effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid; still it is not by his death, but by his resurrection, that we are said to be begotten again to a living hope, (1 Pet. 1: 3;) because, as he, by rising again, became victorious over death, so the victory of our faith consists only in his resurrection.

The nature of it is better expressed in the words of Paul, “Who (Christ) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” (Rom. 4: 25;) as if he had said, By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored. For how could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? how could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest?

Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the resurrection of Christ: by the former sin was abolished and death annihilated; by the latter righteousness was restored and life revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed upon us by means of the latter. Paul accordingly affirms, that he was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection, (Rom. 1: 4,) because he then fully displayed that heavenly power which is both a bright mirror of his divinity, and a sure support of our faith; as he also elsewhere teaches, that “though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God,” (2 Cor. 13: 4.)

In the same sense, in another passage, treating of perfection, he says, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection,” (Phil. 3: 10.) Immediately after he adds, “being made conformable unto his death.” In perfect accordance with this is the passage in Peter, that God “raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God,” ( 1 Pet. 1: 21.) Not that faith founded merely on his death is vacillating, but that the divine power by which he maintains our faith is most conspicuous in his resurrection. [Read more…]

Maybe the Problem is We’re Not Frightened Enough

In the book of Revelation John describes his intense and completely overwhelming vision of the risen Jesus:

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Revelation 1:12-18

This is impressive, isn’t it?

Jesus calls Himself “the first and the last.” He declares, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

When John sees this, he “fell at his feet as though dead” (v 17); a natural response to seeing Jesus in all of his glory.

These are mind-boggling descriptions and they remind us of a reality that we need to embrace fully:

We need to develop a healthy fear of God.

I wonder if we don’t spend so much time trying to make Jesus palatable in North America that we forget this reality sometimes? If we focus on Jesus being our example, our Rabbi, our teacher and less on His being our Prophet, our Lord and King… He doesn’t seem like someone we would ever have a reason to fear, does He? [Read more…]

J.I. Packer: Without the Resurrection, the Bottom Drops Out of Christianity

The grotto of Gethsemane, where it is believed that Jesus was arrested following Judas' betrayal. Photo by Gary Hardman

Suppose that Jesus, having died on the cross, had stayed dead. Suppose that, like Socrates or Confucius, he was now no more than a beautiful memory. Would it matter? We should still have his example and teaching; wouldn’t that be enough?

Enough for what?

Not for Christianity.

Had Jesus not risen, but stayed dead, the bottom would drop out of Christianity, for four things would then be true.

First, to quote Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:17: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

Second, there is then no hope for our rising either; we must expect to stay dead too.

Third, if Jesus Christ is not risen, then he is not reigning and will not return and every single item in the [Apostles’] Creed after “suffered and was buried” will have to be struck out.

Fourth, Christianity cannot be what the first Christians thought it was—fellowship with a living Lord who is identical with the Jesus of the Gospels. The Jesus of the Gospels can still be your hero, but he cannot be your Savior. . . .

[Jesus’ resurrection] marked Jesus out as Son of God (Romans 1:4); it vindicated his righteousness (John 16:10); it demonstrated victory over death (Acts 2:24); it guaranteed the believer’s forgiveness and justification (1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 4:25), and it brings him into the reality of resurrection life now (Romans 6:4).

Marvelous!

You could speak of Jesus’ rising as the most hopeful—hope-full—thing that has ever happened—and you would be right!

J.I. Packer, Growing in Christ, pp 59, 61 (paragraph breaks and emphasis mine)

Too Staggering a Claim to Remain Neutral

“If Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead. If Jesus is alive, then Christianity is alive,” write Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears in their latest, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (p. 279).

In support of the release of Doctrine, Crossway has released two sample chapters including a 24-page chapter on the Resurrection of Jesus:

Apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no savior, no salvation, no forgiveness of sin, and no hope of resurrected eternal life. Apart from the resurrection, Jesus is reduced to yet another good but dead man and therefore is of no considerable help to us in this life or at its end. Plainly stated, without the resurrection of Jesus, the few billion people today who worship Jesus as God are gullible; their hope for a resurrection life after this life is the hope of silly fools who trust in a dead man to give them life. Subsequently, the doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection is, without question, profoundly significant and worthy of the most careful consideration and examination.

Driscoll & Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, p. 279

“Apart from the resurrection. . . people today who worship Jesus as God are gullible.” It’s a harsh truth. Is it one we’ve taken time to consider?

Around this time of year is when the TV specials and magazine articles begin appearing in an attempt to debunk Jesus & the resurrection. “Maybe Jesus didn’t really die on the cross,” they say. “Maybe he only looked like he did.”

Maybe everyone who claimed to see Jesus hallucinated.

Maybe the whole thing is a bunch of gobbledygook cobbled together from various mythologies. After all, at the time, everyone’s god had come back from the dead… right? [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (04/12)

Easter Sunday live from Mars Hill

Mars Hill Church in Seattle is live-streaming their Easter Sunday services. If you’re on the road and unable to celebrate with your church, or you’re just curious about what a Mars Hill service looks like, you can watch online at marshillchurch.org/live.

The Origins of the Easter Bunny

If you’ve ever wondered where the Easter bunny came from, The Resurgence has provided an interesting article.

Just Do Something!

Tim Challies provides a helpful review of Kevin DeYoung’s latest book, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will:

Kevin DeYoung takes on this challenge and succeeds admirably, crafting a short but powerful book that really packs a punch. His unique angle is reflected in the title: Just Do Something! “My goal,” he says, “is not as much to tell you how to hear God’s voice in making decisions as it is to hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and perhaps, get married.” He fears that many Christians, because of their unbliblical understanding of knowing and doing the will of God, are wasting their lives doing nothing when they should just be doing, well, something! “I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering Gods wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”

Piper on God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Sunday Shorts (04/05)

James MacDonald: The Public Rebuke of False Teachers

I love James MacDonald. He is a smart, godly man and a gifted teacher of the Scriptures. This is one more reason why I respect him:

What was amazing about some of the comments I received was that they were not put off by the critique, but by the naming of the specific person who promulgates these deceptions.  Several comments stated in the strongest of terms that it is unbiblical and unwise, even unloving, to name the names of false teachers and opponents of the biblical gospel.  Is that true?  Is it wrong to publicly call out those who attack the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Even when their denials are much more public?  Let’s see what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John have to say about how to deal with false teachers.  Do they confront it?  Do they, in many instances, actually name the people involved?

Read the entire post, and, for context, his post on Brian McLaren.

HT: Justin Taylor

Marriage and Men

A couple weeks back, Mark Driscoll delivered a very hard, very convicting sermon on the necessity of being a godly man in marriage.

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more about “Mars Hill Church | Trial | Marriage a…“, posted with vodpod

Iron Man, Spurgeon, and the Gospel: Thoughts on a Purpose Driven Life

My friends at Evangelical Village posted a very intriguing article connecting Iron Man to the gospel. Well worth the read:

One key transition scene showing Tony’s inward change has continued to stick out in my mind. In this scene, Tony and his assistant Pepper Potts have a somewhat heated dialogue in which Tony describes the determination of his life’s purpose.  Tony firmly states his new-found purpose: “There is nothing except this. There is no art opening; there is no benefit; there is nothing to sign. There is the next mission. And nothing else.”

This scene has been on replay in my mind the past few days until this morning when in I encountered a quote by Charles Spurgeon…

Read the rest here.

Easter

Today begins the most important week in the Christian calendar: The week celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry, betrayal at the hands of one of His closest friends, false trial, brutal execution and glorious resurrection. I would encourage all of us to take some time this week and re-read the story of the crucifixion and thank Jesus for the wondrous gift of salvation He has given in His death on the cross.