Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Years

We didn't do anything special today -- not in relation to the anniversary that September 27th marks, anyway. Juanita went to a piano teachers' conference in Red Deer. I took the day off work to use up my last holiday day before the end of September (a new holiday schedule begins in October). Petra and Anne did their school work and routine Friday activities. Josh is in Toronto at school for his fourth year at Toronto Baptist Seminary, though he took the train to Gatineau for a visit this weekend.

For all of us, though, this sober anniversary is very present. We miss Emily. We are all doing well, by God's grace. We are thankful for the many good things in our lives and we are content. We don't walk around in a fog of grief -- not at all. However, there are reminders - like anniversaries - that get us all thinking. There is a sorrow that returns. Emily should be here, though we trust God that He is working out the best for all of us.

I am reminded today that this world is not our home. There is sin and evil in the world, yet there are glimpses of future glory here and now. God is good. He has proven that to us more than anyone could anticipate or demand. How? By intervening in this sin-soaked world by coming to redeem us. More than that, Christ came to defeat death and Satan. He has already done that by His life, death and resurrection. We have a Sure Hope that Christ will return to make all things new. All will be well.

One of the lessons that I have learned in the last five years is that there are a lot of suffering people out there. There are many reasons: relationship difficulties; loneliness, disease; depression and other mental illnesses; addictions; abuse and the list goes on and on. Even people with the best lives get old, sick and die. We can't hold on too tightly here.

We can't ignore evil and trouble in the world, yet we must not despair. We must look up. We must look to Christ's sinless, righteous life, His atoning death and bodily resurrection. If you don't know what this all means, please ask! Ask God to teach you, ask a Christian that you know to explain this to you. This is where true, everlasting life is found. You can't do an end-run around suffering and evil, but you can be reconciled to God and find forgiveness and eternal life in Christ.

It is such a gift to be given eyes to see - to be granted the "upward call" in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). This is our comfort. Jesus is our life, our hope, our all.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Are the Dead Raised?

1 Corinthians 15 is the Resurrection Chapter. Nowhere in Scripture do we find such an extensive treatment of the importance and extent of the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers. However, this second aspect, the resurrection of believers, is often given less emphasis than it deserves.

How could I criticize anyone for holding high the resurrection of Christ - which is indeed writ large in this chapter? I would not do that. Our accent should be upon our Lord's historic, bodily resurrection. For example, Tim Challies just posted on this passage today (his excellent piece prompted me to write this post). I commend his article to you and have no complaint against it.

However, I think that there is some background to Paul's address to the Corinthians regarding the resurrection of the believer that is often overlooked, and it points to a bigger problem in many churches than many pastors know.

I really don't think many people in the Corinthian church were overtly denying the resurrection of Christ, nor were they denying the immortality of the soul. Some flying the banner of "Christian" will always deny Christ's resurrection -- these are impostors that the Apostles warn about elsewhere. However, what prompted Paul to write primarily was faulty doctrine concerning the future bodily resurrection held by some in the church. Of course, Paul addresses other crucial doctrines in this chapter - chief among them being the absolute necessity of Christ's resurrection. However, I can imagine people in the church saying, "You don't really think that these bodies of ours will be raised?"

Consider how Paul writes:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised (15:12, 13). And in case we missed it,

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised (15:16).

It appears that Paul is arguing back to the resurrection of Christ from the necessity of the resurrection of everyone else. In other words, if the resurrection is not true, then it can't be true that Christ has bodily risen from the tomb. The proclamation of Christ risen from the dead was and is essential Gospel doctrine (15:1-4), but if Christians fudge on the doctrine of the resurrection going forward, they are effectively - even if unwittingly -- jeopardizing the truth of Christ's "first fruits" resurrection in the past. 

Is a denial of the resurrection a real problem in the contemporary evangelical church, or am I just doing theological nit-picking? I do believe that there is confusion in evangelical churches among regular attenders regarding the future bodily resurrection of believers. Pastors need to be explicit in their teaching regarding the resurrection of believers because it is dangerous to assume that people understand and hold on to this doctrine. I have heard upstanding church members mock the idea that we will be raised literally. I've heard more than one professing Christian say, "This body? I don't want this one back!" I've heard others say that they hadn't really thought about the future resurrection, even though they'd attended church for decades.

I don't think there is an area that Christians are more tempted to drift into Gnostic (matter bad / spirit good) heresies than in this matter of the future bodily resurrection and the coming New Creation.

Yes, by all means, we must proclaim the reality of Christ's historic resurrection! Soberly consider the consequences of denying this doctrine and shudder. Celebrate the glory of this life-giving, justifying miracle of our Risen Lord. However, don't neglect to trace out the cosmic and personal consequences of our future, bodily resurrection as well.

There is so much more urgent teaching regarding the reality of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 than I have mentioned here. Go and read it carefully. Listen to some good sermons on it. Read the Challies article. All I wanted to do in this post was prompt you to think about the resurrection in a personal, urgent way and think about the consequences of failing to do so.

As Paul argues, if we get the resurrection of believers wrong, we will also distort the reality of Christ's resurrection. Then we will indeed be the ones most to be pitied.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gospel Resources

When I first started this blog, I was amazed at the rich Gospel resources available online. Since then, it has become impossible to keep up. I would like to highlight a couple of messages that are about six years old -- ages ago in the internet economy. They are the opening two plenary sessions from the inaugural Gospel Coalition Conference. I thought they would be appropriate to post on this Resurrection Sunday eve as they are clear, essential presentations of what the Gospel is all about: I have recommended these two messages many times over the years. Even if you have seen them, they are worth reviewing.
- Dr. D. A. Carson, What is the Gospel?
- Dr. Tim Keller, What is Gospel-Centered Ministry? (video only, the link for the audio didn't work at the Gospel Coalition site). 

Resurrection Sunday Update

Wow. It's been almost a year since I've posted anything here. All is well, but the blog has not been a priority, obviously. I have been wondering what to do about this blog. I thought that before I jumped back in I would create a new blog with a new name, maybe a custom URL. That was ambitious enough that it only contributed to my neglect of this old place. I also thought that I might do more on Twitter and Facebook, but  if I'm going to write anywhere, it'll be here at good old New Lumps.

So, for good or ill, I'm back.