Sunday, March 31, 2013

sunday quotes

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Romans 1:1-4)

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”  (― Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism)

"And if Christ has not been raised…Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, 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 Cor 15:17ff)

"Let me rephrase what he is saying in positive terms: 'Since Christ has been raised then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are gloriously saved.  Since there is a life to come and we have hope in Christ, we are to be envied more than all men.'"  (--David Kingston) 

"The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is our great high priest who has gone through the heavens, (that is, he is resurrected and ascended), and that we can come confidently to Him to find the help we need to live for him and his kingdom. Because he has lived on earth he understands us; he has been through all the temptations and all the trials that we have (and many more), so he can sympathize with our weakness. But he is now risen and ascended, so he is able to help us."  (--David Kingston)

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”  (--Chuck Colson, one of the original Watergate conspirators)

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2:5-11) 

"The benefits [of the resurrection] are innumerable. To list a few:
Our illnesses don't seem nearly so final;
Our fears fade and lose their grip;
Our grief over those who have gone on is diminished;
Our desires to press on in spite of the obstacles are rejuvenated...
Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: 'He is risen, indeed!'"  (--Charles Swindoll)

"In short, I didn't become a Christian because God promised I would have an even happier life than I had as an atheist. He never promised any such thing. Indeed, following him would inevitably bring divine demotions in the eyes of the world. Rather, I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved his divinity by rising from the dead. That meant following him was the most rational and logical step I could possibly take."  (--Lee Strobel)

Friday, March 29, 2013

heaven not our ultimate destination

Here's N. T. Wright on the Christian hope of resurrection (our future physical/bodily/glorious resurrection that comes about because of Jesus' resurrection)... 

What then do the New Testament writers mean when they speak of an inheritance waiting for us in heaven?  This has been much misunderstood, with awesome results in traditions of thought, prayer, life and art.  The point of such passages, as in 1 Peter 1.4, 2 Corinthians 5.1, Philippians 3.20, and so forth, is not that one must ‘go to heaven’, as in much-popular imagination, in order to enjoy the inheritance there. It is rather that ‘heaven’ is the place where God stores up his plans and purposes for the future.  If I tell a friend that there is beer in the fridge, that doesn't mean he has to get into the fridge in order to enjoy the beer.  When the early Christians speak of a new body in heaven, or an inheritance in heaven, they mean what St John the Divine means in Revelation 21: the new identity which at present is kept safe in heaven will be brought from heaven to earth at the great moment of renewal.  Yes: the great majority of Christian expressions of hope through the middle ages, the reformation, and the counter-reformation periods have been misleading. ‘Heaven’ is not the Christian’s ultimate destination.  For renewed bodies we need a renewed cosmos, including a renewed earth. That is what the New Testament promises.

From "Jesus’ Resurrection and Christian Origins"  Read the full article here.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

seeking a homeland

"For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return."  (Heb 11:14-15 ESV)

"Abraham could have gone back to the world from which he came, but he didn't.  That's the message of Hebrews right through the book.  Are you pressing on to the world to come, or are you being drawn back to the world from which you were redeemed?  ... The Christian has a call from God in principle to leave the world -- the godless world -- and go on pilgrimage  to the world to come.  And so there's a great tug of war, a battle...   Either we  go forward through a faith that is nourished by the Word of God daily, or we turn back to the place we originally came from, which is this godless world."  (--Dick Lucas, from a sermon at St George's-Tron Church, October, 2008)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

a new pope

Here are three articles about the new pope (Francis I) in Rome, written from a Protestant perspective.  The first is helpful background to the issue of the papacy, the second is conciliatory, and the third is more critical...  

The rise of the papacy.  "There are one billion Roman Catholics worldwide, one billion people who are subject to the Pope’s authority. How, one might ask, did all of this happen? The answer, I believe, is far more complex and untidy than Catholics have argued. First, I will give a brief explanation of what the Catholic position is, and then, second, I will suggest what I think actually took place..."

A Pope for All Christians.  "Why believers of all stripes should care about the new head of the Catholic Church: When the new pope is consecrated, he will inherit a troubled global church. Internal scandal and unaddressed external problems pose great risks to the vitality of Catholicism. But the consequences of success or failure are huge for the church universal, the world's 2.1 billion Christians of every denomination.  This is more than a butterfly effect. Rome is not Las Vegas—what happens in Rome will not stay within the borders of Vatican City. One consequence of globalization is that the walls that have long divided Catholics from Orthodox, mainline Protestants, evangelicals, and Pentecostals are eroding..."

Humble Popes Don’t Exist.  "Roman Catholicism is installing Francis as pope today. And much has been made of his bus rides and apartment dwelling back home in Buenos Aires. (The fact that people are impressed by his studied avoidance of opulence actually speaks volumes about Roman Catholicism in general). But while the press fawns and Rome beams over his supposed humility, what should Bible-believing Protestants say? Probably something like this: 'How great sin have you heaped up for yourself, when you cut yourself off from so many flocks! For it is yourself that you have cut off. Do not deceive yourself!'”

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

according to value

"Can you be Holy without accomplishing the end for which you are created? Can you be Divine unless you be Holy? Can you accomplish the end for which you were created, unless you be Righteous? Can you then be Righteous, unless you be just in rendering to Things their due esteem?  All things were made to be yours; and you were made to prize them according to their value: which is your office and duty, the end for which you were created, and the means whereby you enjoy. The end for which you were created, is that by prizing all that God hath done, you may enjoy yourself and Him in Blessedness."

--Thomas Traherne, Centuries #12

Monday, March 11, 2013

fellowship of the King

"The Fellowship of the King" included Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25-30).  Only he wasn't a hobbit, dwarf or elf.  He did nearly die, and was privileged to carry home the original copy of the Epistle to the Philippians.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

freed from the world's values

Saturday, March 2, 2013

maintenance vs. frontline prayer

“Maintenance prayer meetings are short, mechanical, and focused on physical needs inside the church. In contrast, the three basic traits of frontline prayer are these: a request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves; a compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost; and a yearning to know God, to see his face, to glimpse his glory.”

-- Tim Keller, Center Church.

what preaching should be

My sentiments exactly on preaching, from Gresham Machen...

"There is just one reason why I may possibly expect you to listen to me. I may expect you to listen to me if I can bring to you a message from God. If I can do that, then the very insignificance of the speaker may in a certain sense be an added inducement to you to listen to him, since it may help you to forget the speaker and attend only to the message.

"It is just that I am trying to do. I am asking you to turn away from me and my opinions; I am asking you to turn away from yourself and your opinions and your troubles; and I am asking you to turn instead that you may listen to a word from God.

"Where can I find that word?....Not in myself and not in you, but in an old Book that has been sealed by the seals of prejudice and unbelief but that will, if it is rediscovered again set the world aflame and that will show you, be you wise or unwise, rich or poor, the way by which you can come into communion with the living God.''

-- J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith in the Modern World.

(Posted from Reformation21.)