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Archive for April, 2019

Resting in the Resurrection

April 22nd, 2019

For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:16-20 BSB)

There is so much depth here! Paul has already in this chapter defended the resurrection of Christ along two lines: the biblical prophesies and the eye witness accounts. Now he launches into a defence of the resurrection on the basis of logic, that it is illogical to think that human life ends at death, and if any man has ever been raised from the dead it is Christ.

One of the more interesting aspects of the biblical writings is that the emphasis of the Bible is not so much the immortality of the human soul as it is the resurrection of the body. Scientists have identified the difference between the brain and the mind – the brain is the biological mechanism that allows for thought but the mind is the thought itself – but many have wondered if the mind can exist without the body.

Paul does not enter into that discussion, per se.  However, he does support the importance of the body to the human soul. There does come a time when our souls and spirits leave our bodies, and the Bible says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). Apparently, as it is sustained by God, the human soul may have an existence without a body for a while as we await our resurrection. Believers “enter into peace; they find rest, lying down in death” (Isaiah 57:2). To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

But this non-body existence is temporary, intermediate, and not permanent. We receive a new body that is imperishable, that is made for eternity, that is a fitting home for the new spirit that is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Then we will have a new body for eternity.

One of the mysteries is how will we see, hear, and know things without a body. The human soul by itself has no hearing or seeing or sensing. It must be fed by some source, and the answer is that God shall tell us what we need to know. He shall supply our soul’s hearing and seeing and informing. Without the knowledge of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God, the thought of sightless and deaf spirits roaming any realm is frightening and disturbing. This fear gives rise to many superstitions, from ghosts to reincarnation.

But the Christian rests in the love of God, and the knowledge of His love removes all fear from what life after this life will be. Heaven stands out in the book of Revelation as a place of mercy and order and, thereby, praise. There is the triple awareness of the forgiveness found in mercy, of the restoring of order to what sin disrupted and corrupted, and of the new purpose found in redemption.

There is the sense of time in this three-fold work of God: the past is redeemed, the present is set in order, and the future is purposeful and meaningful. Because of God’s redemption of our souls in Christ, we can be confident in His love and rest in the reality of the resurrection – both Christ’s and our own! Then by faith we can live each day in this faith and confidence. God is faithful!

Daily Devotions, Heaven

Wash Me!

April 11th, 2019

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)

One of the most staggering truths of the Scriptures is to understand that we do not earn our way to heaven … works have a place – but as a demonstration of having received God’s forgiveness, not as a badge of merit for having earned it. (Ravi Zacharias)

The Christian gospel is simply and clearly centered in the forgiveness of sins that we receive through Christ. In terms of personal application, nothing else is as great a truth as this. Christians are those who believe that Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross, and that He is forever interceding for us before the Father in heaven.

But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25)

There are many times that we believers will fail in our Christian walk. There are spiritual dangers on our right and left, and even in our hearts and souls. The Bible teaches us that God protects us so that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Cor. 10:13). Yet even with this protective provision we will fail.

Do we lose our salvation when we fail? Some think so, but I do not. We may have lost the joy of our salvation, and sense of freshness of our Christian life. We will lose the leadership of God in our hearts when we sin and do not confess our sins – “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). We will be like an errant and disobedient child who stubbornly refuses to obey his parent, and who feel the disapproval and distance of his parent, but is not disinherited.

When the Christian confesses his sins to God and he receives cleansing, and restoration, and a rejuvenation of his inner life. The sin that blocked the Christians heart – his inner spiritual “ear” – from hearing the voice of God is removed and God’s voice, His word, becomes alive and hearable again.

But what is the payment for our sins? There is only one payment that can forgive, cleanse, and restore a Christian to God – the death of Christ for our sins. In the Old Testament they observed rituals and animal sacrifices, but these pictured the coming of Christ and the ultimate sacrifice He would make on the cross. When David said, “Purify me with hyssop,” that was a reference to the Old Testament ritual and ultimately a reference to Christ.

This is the Christian’s faith, that in Christ’s death is the forgiveness our souls crave. True Christian repentance is not mere sorrow for sinning. Neither is it merely sorrow for sinning that results in promises not to do it again, or promises to undertake some great feat or to undergo some great personal punishment. It is sorrow and repentance and turning away from sin, but turning toward Christ, and moving toward Him in genuine faith.

The Christian faith is centered in that understanding:

But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the Law and the Prophets. And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

What is required is for us to reach up in faith and to take hold of Christ, to take hold of His grace. Faith is required. Faith realises our sin, but it also believes that God can forgive through Christ.

It is never enough just to be sorry for one’s sins. That is merely the beginning of conversion. Conversion is only complete, and can only truly call himself a Christian, when he believes that Christ is God’s answer for his sin. Have you done this? Have you repented, confessed your sins, and trusted in Christ? Have you come God in prayer and said, “Wash me by the blood of Christ and I shall be clean”?

Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior. (John Newton)

Psalms, Spiritual Recovery