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)

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...]

"I Must Never Again Let the Resurrection Become Something I Assume" – An Interview with Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a longtime staple of the blogosphere. His website, AdrianWarnock.com started in April of 2003 and is home to more than 3500 articles. Married with five children and a medical doctor by trade, Adrian is part of the leadership team of Jubilee church, a multicultural church in London, England, where he has preached regularly for more than ten years.

His first book, Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything, was published by Crossway in January 2010.

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to read and review Adrian’s book and he has graciously agreed to come by and answer a few questions.

You’re a husband and a father. You serve on your church’s leadership team. You’re a doctor. You preach. You write. How on earth do you manage to balance everything in your life?

I think that one of the main reasons is that I have a very hard working wife who frees me up to focus on all these things. To be honest I also get a lot of help from various people. I am not sure that many books have more acknowledgments than mine. In particular, I have a volunteer editor who helps me with many of my writing projects before they see the publisher or the light of day.

Similarly at church, most of what I do is encourage other leaders to serve God’s purpose. Good team work at home, at church, and at work goes a long way towards getting a lot done. I do work from home, so I don’t have the burden of a daily commute. I also try to use things more than once, so that sermon prep also becomes blog fodder, for example. I don’t watch very much TV either, and to be honest, when things are really busy, sometimes I sleep less than I should.

But I am not sure I do manage to balance everything very well at all times! Someone once said, “If you want something done, ask somebody who is already busy.” I do feel sometimes that I am trying to do too many things, so am trying to learn to say “no” more often.

You’ve run a blog for a number of years now and written a number of book reviews. How does it feel to be on the receiving end, as it were?

It is a real privilege that anyone would want to read anything I have written. When they not only read it, but comment on it, that is so helpful. In fact, even the few that have been a bit critical have helped me. I really believe that our critics serve us more than we realize. Sometimes they say something that helps us see either a weakness in our argument or realize that something we said in one way is being interpreted in an entirely different way! [Read more...]

Book Review: Raised with Christ by Adrian Warnock

“Christianity hinges not only on the empty cross but also on an empty tomb,” writes Adrian Warnock in Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything (p. 29). Warnock, a medical doctor, preacher and long-time staple of the Christian blogosphere, seeks to remind readers that the gospel isn’t just that Christ died, but He also rose again—and His resurrection changes everything.

Resurrection Assumed

For such an important doctrine, there are shockingly few books written about it. Warnock discovered this for himself when he was asked to preach on Easter Sunday at his church in 2007. His study revealed that of all the sermons recorded in Acts, only one doesn’t overtly focus on the resurrection of Christ (Acts 7)—but “the risen Jesus opened heaven and appeared to Stephen was preaching” (p. 21). His study of Scripture led him to realize that he’d not been giving the resurrection the attention it deserved.

He, like many of us, had assumed the resurrection. Because it’s not been at the center of a major controversy or heresy throughout the history of the church, so there’s never been a “need” to flesh out the doctrine and underline its importance in the same way that it’s been necessary to with the atonement, the Trinity and the nature of Christ.

But this should not be, according to Warnock.

[W]ithout the resurrection we would still be in our sins. Without the resurrection we are lost and there is no hope! There is no salvation without a living Jesus. We need the resurrection to have its power-generating effect inside of us if we are to be born again. We really are “saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). [p.67]

The Empty Tomb was Really Empty

As he builds his argument, Warnock takes us through a journey through history and the Scriptures seeking to answer the crucial question: Did the resurrection actually happen or is it a bit of mythologizing? And if so, does it matter?

“Any contrary theory needs to explain how a small group of Jews became passionately convinced of the truth of the resurrection and spread it rapidly across the Middle East and into Europe,” challenges Warnock (p. 47). And the reality is that no alternate explanation can adequately explain it.

History supports the validity of the resurrection. Roman Administrator Pliny describes Christians (who we was persecuting due to their growing number) as worshipping Christ “’a god,’ by people raised as Jews would only be possible if had risen from the dead” (p. 53). Justyn Martyr wrote to the Roman emperor c. AD 150 citing that the Christians’ claims about Jesus could be verified in the official reports of Pontius Pilate—something that could have been easily disproven had it actually been false. Celsus’ The True Word, written c. AD 175,“tried to discredit the resurrection as being witnessed by ‘a hysterical woman’” (p. 54). The examples are numerous and compelling.

It wasn’t a later addition to Christianity as “there are no traces of early Christians who denied the resurrection” (p.45). The disciples didn’t steal the body and lie about the resurrection. While people die for lies they genuinely believe to be true, it’s ludicrous to suggest that anyone would endure horrible persecution, boiling in oil, beheading and crucifixion if they were knowingly deceiving people.

The authorities didn’t steal the body; if they had, they would have produced the body at their earliest opportunity to refute the disciples’ claim.

Jesus didn’t have a near-death experience or faint on the cross, as some suggestion in a theory that lacks any degree of historical plausibility.

Mass hallucinations? Warnock, a psychiatrist, confirms that hallucinations tend to make one weak, rather than embolden. To suggest that hallucinations drove the disciples to boldly preach the gospel throughout the Roman Empire “is completely inconsistent with the results of hallucinations as described in any medical textbook” (p 51).

What it boils down to, as Warnock writes is that, “[t]he church did not create the resurrection stories; instead the resurrection stories created the church” (p.47).

Without the Resurrection, We Have Nothing

This is critical for Christians to remember, as it’s tempting to shuffle the resurrection off into a corner and ignore it, or suggest that if we learned that if Jesus didn’t rise physically, but only spiritually, we wouldn’t lose anything. But the fact is, if Christ didn’t rise, we have lost everything.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins,” wrote the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:17. There is no hope for us outside of the resurrection of Christ. If He did not rise, then no one else is going to, and we should be pitied above all others. Hope for this world alone is no hope at all.

But the resurrection gives us everything.

It is the practical application of Christ’s work of the cross.

Because Christ rose from death and ascended to the right hand of the Father, we have an advocate, a great High Priest who intercedes before the Father on our behalf. We can pray to Him and He hears us, and He speaks to us.

And He sent the Holy Spirit, who raised Him from the dead, to live inside us.

A dead man can’t do these things.

But the God-man can, because Christ rose—and He’s coming again. This is why we can have confidence in Christ. And that’s what Adrian Warnock seeks to remind us of in this book.

Raised with Christ is an important book. That’s not something I say that lightly. Warnock’s passion for the resurrection of Jesus saturates this book. It’s what makes the good news “good news.” And to neglect it would be to our folly. Read this book and be inspired to see how the resurrection changes everything.


Title: Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything
Author: Adrian Warnock
Publisher: Crossway (2010)

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by Crossway Books