Life’s Ultimate “What If?”

Today’s Easter message from 1 Cor. 15:12-20 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Here is how I summarized the argument in this portion of the epistle:

But here’s the good news. Paul has trafficked in the hypothetical for the purposes of his logical argument in these last eight verses. He has made his point. Denying the reality bodily resurrection results in logically necessary consequences of the most catastrophic kinds – false gospel, futile preaching and faith, fraudulent witness, flourishing sin, forever death, and forlorn-to-the-utmost believers. But none of that is the case! Look at v. 20. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. So we may rightly, and I am indebted to John Piper for this insight, reverse the implications of all six of Paul’s logically necessary consequences. We have no false gospel but a true one with Christ raised from the dead. We have no futile preaching and faith it produces, but full and worthwhile-to-the-max preaching and faith with Christ raised from the dead. We have no fraudulent witness but truthful witness with Christ raised from the dead. We have no flourishing sin but rather fully forgiven sin before God and resurrection power to fight its remaining influences until one day we are completely delivered from this flesh with Christ risen from the dead. We have no forever death but everlasting life and hope of being reunited with all those who have fallen asleep before us with Christ risen from the dead. And we have no forlorn, misplaced, pitiable hope but rather an enviable, blessed-above-all-others kind of hope, even if it costs us our lives, with Christ risen from the dead.

Blessed Easter to all.

We are anything but forlorn! He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Why I'm No Huckster, Charlatan, or Fraud

Tomorrow is Easter.

I will preach on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead for the umpteenth time. I am getting up there in years and I have been a follower of Jesus of Nazareth since 1972 and a minister of the gospel most of the years since then.

My text for tomorrow’s message entitled Life’s Ultimate What If is 1 Cor. 15:12-20.  I will ask the question of questions that many have asked throughout the centuries: What if there is no resurrection of the body? What if this life is all there is?

Apparently some of the believers in the Corinthian church bought into the dualism Greek mindset of the day that denied the resurrection of the body.

In the text, as I shall attempt to show tomorrow, Paul proceeds to dismantle that erroneous strain of thinking by showing the logical consequences, devastating in every way, that follow from a denial of the reality of the resurrection of the dead.

One of those, according to v. 15, is that preachers like me who preach the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead end up misrepresenting God because of their testimony that Christ Himself has been raised from the dead.

This is no small concern. Nothing in me at all wants to be guilty of complicity in foisting upon humanity the cruelest hoax of all time if in fact Jesus has NOT been raised from the dead.

No worries. I am not alarmed. I am completely confident that rather than being a huckster, charlatan, or fraud, or any other word you can think of to describe somebody who takes people for a colossally deceptive ride down a bogus philosophical trail, I believe that I could hardly stand on firmer ground in terms of my confidence that Jesus Christ has indeed been raised from the dead and that, as such, He demands and rightly deserves my and your utmost devotion and the total dedication of my/our being every day until I/we cease to exist on this earth.

I say that because of three strains of evidence for the resurrection that I find ultimately compelling – documentary, well-established, and circumstantial.

My thanks to Douglas Groothuis in his substantive, award-winning tome Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith for this summary.

First, as for the documentary or minimal facts recorded in the gospels that are broadly agreed on by New Testament scholars of all stripes (Groothius’ exact words), there are four.

  1. Death by crucifixion – a well-established fact of history.
  2. Burial in a known tomb – that of Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:57-61 et al).
  3. The empty tomb – discovered as such by several women (not considered in that day the most credible of witnesses mind you – an argument for the authenticity of the gospel records).
  4. The postmortem appearances of Jesus – twelve separate ones over a forty-day period according to the New Testament.The preponderance of eye-witness accounts of the resurrected Christ, including that of the Apostle Paul, cause Groothius to conclude This is either one of the greatest bluffs in the history of religion or a confident assertion of substantiated fact (p. 549).

Impressive enough standing alone is the documentary evidence. Groothius goes on to cite other well-established evidence in favor of the resurrection.

  1. The transformation of the disciples – from cowardice, despair and confusion to confident proclamation of the gospel and the willingness to suffer persecution, hardship and even martyrdom for the sake of Jesus and His gospel.
  2. The early worship of Jesus as divine – by monotheistic Jews no less who would not likely ever do such a thing apart from something so spectacular as Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Finally, there is the circumstantial evidence.

  1. The practice of the early church in observing baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Sunday worship – all clearly tied in symbolism and motivation to the reality of the resurrection.
  2. Spiritual experiences in history and today – the fact that millions of Christ’s followers around the globe for the last two thousand years have testified to the reality of their risen Savior’s claims lends credibility to the reality of the resurrection (p. 554).

And I am one of them.

That I have the opportunity tomorrow to preach the gospel and proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead is based upon evidence of the best and all kinds.

I will peddle no deception;  I will preach the truth, so help me God.

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Nothing for Which Jesus Cares So Much (Part 6)

Today’s message from John 14:15-24 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Here’s how I summarized the point of the text:

Jesus’ loving care in thoroughly preparing His own for their mission points yet again to His identity as Messiah that we might believe in Him. Indeed there is nothing He cares so much as our faith, genuine faith that treasures and keeps His commandments. And why are they not burdensome, to use 1 John 5:3 language? Because of the Trinitarian provision for our aid in obedience – the gift of the Spirit in helping us, the coming of the Son in the resurrection for assuring us, and next time, Lord willing, we will consider the indwelling of the Father, and not just the Father but the Son as well, both promising to make their home with us. Amazing!

Praise God for the Trinitarian provision for operation-saving-faith-resulting-in-obedience!

Fuel for the Fire of Faithful Ministry

Today’s message from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I summarized the theme of the text this way: the victorious reality of our future resurrection anchors us in an unshakeable constancy in ministry. Work for God fueled by the fire of a gospel-resurrection hope will be an amiable, abounding, arduous, assured, and awarded kind of work.

Here are Charles Spurgeon’s words with which I closed:

Take this henceforth for your motto—All for Jesus, always for Jesus, everywhere for Jesus. He deserves it. I should not so speak to you if you had to live in this world only. Alas, for the love of Jesus, if thou wert all and nought beside, O earth! But there is another life—live for it. There is another world—live for it. There is a resurrection, there is eternal blessedness, there is glory, there are crowns of pure reward—live for them, by God’s grace live for them. The Lord bless you, and save you. Amen.

When Deity Delivered from Dying (Part Two)

Today’s message from John 11:38-44 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Here is the quote from Jonathan Edwards about the meaning of the term glory:

The word glory denotes sometimes what is internal. When the word is used to signify what is within, or in the possession of the subject, it very commonly signifies excellency, dignity, or worthiness of regard. This, according to the Hebrew idiom, is, as it were, the weight of a thing, as that by which it is heavy; as to be light is to be worthless, without value, contemptible. . . . And the weight of a thing arises from its magnitude, and its specific gravity conjunctly; so the word glory is very commonly used to signify the excellency of a person or a thing, as consisting either in greatness, or in beauty, or in both conjunctly (as quoted in Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory, p. 231).

I mentioned this morning that I would post a link to Francis Chan’s message, Think Hard, Be Humble. Turns out I already did a blog post about it! To read it and watch the message click here.

Praise God Jesus gives the answer to the canyon question that we may be delivered from ultimately dying!