Jesus

10 Things You Should Know about what Happened on Easter Sunday Morning

Sam Storms:

There has been considerable controversy over the differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and their respective descriptions of what happened on Easter Sunday morning. But the differences are not discrepancies. In other words, all four accounts, in my opinion, are complementary and perfectly compatible with one another. When we compare and align the four gospel accounts we derive the following ten truths.

 

A Prayer for Good Friday

"Precious Blood" from The Valley of Vision:

Blessed Lord Jesus,

Before thy cross I kneel and see
the heinousness of my sin,
my iniquity that caused thee to be
‘made a curse’,
the evil that excites the severity
of divine wrath.

Show me the enormity of my guilt by
the crown of thorns,
the pierced hands and feet,
the bruised body,
the dying cries.

Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God,
its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.

Infinite must be the evil and guilt
that demands such a price.

Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper,
born in my birth,
alive in my life,
strong in my character,
dominating my faculties,
following me as a shadow,
intermingling with my every thought,
my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul.

Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
the air supply breath,
the earth bear my tread,
its fruits nourish me,
its creatures subserve my ends?

Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
thy heart hastens to my rescue,
thy love endured my curse,
thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.

Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation,
bathed in thy blood,
tender of conscience,
triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.

The Consequences of the Fall in the Political Realm

Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo in their book, One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics:

So, the political realm has everything to do with our relationships to other people. In the aftermath of the fall, the political realm remains structurally good but has been corrupted directionally. In other words, God structured the world in such a way that we would have politics and public life, and the fact of its existence is good. But because of the depravity of the human heart, politics and public life are always to some extent directed toward idols rather than toward God.

They continue:

The problem runs deep, deeper than most political analysts even conceive. But the problem is never politics, per se. Liberals aren't the problem. Conservatives aren't the problem. Politicians aren't the problem. We are. We all are—because we all have the entrenched tendency to twist God's created order into idolatry. Pointed toward Christ, anything in creation becomes a blessing. Pointed away from him, the greatest blessing becomes a curse.

As Far as the East Is from the West

I made reference to Psalm 103:12 in my Good Friday sermon last night:

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

I also included some of Charles Spurgeon's reflections upon this same verse from The Treasury of David. The quote is so good that I had to post it here, too:

O glorious verse, no word even upon the inspired page can excel it! Sin is removed from us by a miracle of love! What a load to move, and yet is it removed so far that the distance is incalculable. Fly as far as the wing of imagination can bear you, and if you journey through space eastward, you are further from the west at every beat of your wing. If sin be removed so far, then we may be sure that the scent, the trace, the very memory of it must be entirely gone. If this be the distance of its removal, there is no shade of fear of its ever being brought back again; even Satan himself could not achieve such a task. Our sins are gone, Jesus has borne them away. Far as the place of sunrise is removed from yonder west, where the sun sinks when his day’s journey is done, so far were our sins carried by our scapegoat nineteen centuries ago, and now if they be sought for, they shall not be found, yea, they shall not be, saith the Lord. Come, my soul, awaken thyself thoroughly and glorify the Lord for this richest of blessings. Hallelujah. The Lord alone could remove sin at all, and he has done it in a godlike fashion, making a final sweep of all our transgressions.

Jerry Bridges on Propitiation and Expiation

I'm studying the topic of expiation in anticipation of Good Friday and I recently ran across this clear and helpful quote in The Gospel for Real Life by the late Jerry Bridges:

Propitiation, as we saw in Chapter 5, addresses the wrath of God. It is the work of Christ saving us from God’s wrath by absorbing it in His own person as our substitute. Expiation which basically means “removal,” accompanies propitiation and speaks of the work of Christ in removing or putting away our sin. Such is the symbolism of the two goats used on the Day of Atonement. The first goat represented Christ’s work of propitiation as it was killed and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat. The second goat represented Christ’s work of expiation in removing or blotting out the sins that were against us. The object of propitiation is the wrath of God. The object of expiation is the sin, which must be removed from His presence.

Bridges finishes the chapter in this way:

The work of Christ in finished. Nothing more remains to be done. God's wrath has been propitiated. Our sins have been removed. The question is, will we appreciate it, not only for our initial moment of salvation, but for our day-to-day acceptance with God? It is only as we do the latter that we will truly begin to appreciate the glory of the cross and the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Amen.

The Manger Throne

The well-known Christmas song, What Child Is This, was written by William Chatterton Dix, an insurance company manager in Scotland in 1865. The lyrics were based upon his poem, The Manger Throne:

Like silver lamps in a distant shrine, The stars are sparkling bright The bells of the city of God ring out, For the Son of Mary is born to-night. The gloom is past and the morn at last Is coming with orient light.

Never fell melodies half so sweet As those which are filling the skies, And never a palace shone half so fair As the manger bed where our Saviour lies; No night in the year is half so dear As this which has ended our sighs.

Now a new Power has come on the earth, A match for the armies of Hell: A Child is born who shall conquer the foe, And all the spirits of wickedness quell: For Mary’s Son is the Mighty One Whom the prophets of God fortell.

The stars of heaven still shine as at first They gleamed on this wonderful night; The bells of the city of God peal out And the angels’ song still rings in the height; And love still turns where the Godhead burns Hid in flesh from fleshly sight.

Faith sees no longer the stable floor, The pavement of sapphire is there The clear light of heaven streams out to the world And the angels of God are crowding the air, And heaven and earth, through the spotless birth Are at peace on this night so fair.

I hope that your Christmas season has been worshipful and joy-filled.

Sam Storms: Advice to Young Pastors

In a new series by Matt Smethurst on The Gospel Coalition blog, Sam Storms answers the question, "What should young pastors today be studying?":

My counsel to young pastors is to make every effort and read every book that will facilitate and deepen their “delight in the Lord” (Ps. 37:4) and enable them to communicate this truth. The only way long-term to empower people to say “No” to the passing pleasures of sin is by cultivating satisfaction in the superior pleasures of knowing and delighting in Christ.

 

Easter: The Superbowl of the Church World?

I wrote the following for a post that appeared on the 2 Pillars Church blog yesterday.


 

On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A friend of mine calls Easter Sunday the “Superbowl of the church world.”

As with all metaphors, you can’t apply too much pressure or it will inevitably break. That said, the Superbowl reference does a decent job of illustrating the significance of Easter Sunday in a way that is easy to understand.

Superbowl Sunday is the most anticipated, most popular, and most-watched sporting event in the United States—by a long shot. The NFL season is a long road that leads to this single destination.

Similarly, Easter is the most significant, most anticipated day in the church world.

But why?

Surely Easter baskets can’t hold a candle to Christmas trees loaded with presents! So, what makes the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection so significant?

The Resurrection Is a Miraculous Event

My ninth grade biology teacher began our first day of class by directing our attention to a dead frog floating in a jar of formaldehyde. He promised an automatic “A” to anyone who was able to bring the amphibian back to life.

As you have surely guessed, none of us collected on his offer that year. We all had to earn our grade the old fashioned way.

You see, despite all our medical breakthroughs and scientific advancements, humanity hasn’t managed to find an answer to the problem of death. As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. Death is the inevitable, inescapable fate that awaits us all.

This is precisely what makes the resurrection of Jesus so extraordinary and miraculous. Following his crucifixion, Jesus was dead. Lifeless. Just like that frog in the jar in my ninth grade biology class.

The story doesn’t end there, however.

Jesus rose again! He rose in victory over death. This resurrection wasn’t metaphorical or figurative. It isn’t a fairy tale we tell our kids. It was actual. It was physical. It happened. Jesus defeated death.

The Resurrection Is Foundational to the Christian Faith

Not only was the resurrection a miraculous event, but it is also foundational to the Christian faith. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explains:

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. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12–14)

Paul is saying here, among other things, that if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then the Christian faith is in vain. It’s worthless. In other words, if you’re a skeptic looking for the most effective way to undermine the Christian faith, then the resurrection is your point of attack. If Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, then Christianity crumbles.

So, on Easter Sunday Christians are celebrating the very event that defines and upholds their faith.

The Resurrection Is Essential for the Christian Life

The resurrection isn’t merely significant for the Christian faith in general, however, but also for the Christian life in particular.

By faith in Jesus, one is united with Him in His resurrection. Jesus’ victory over death and the grave becomes our victory over death and the grave. Jesus victory over sin and Satan becomes our victory over sin and Satan.

This victory allows the Christian to turn from the sin that once enslaved her and walk in joyful obedience to Jesus. It also gives the Christian hope—a hope that will not disappoint. This hope is the ultimate and eternal answer to the universal problem of death. Through faith in Jesus, we look forward to eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Jesus Is Risen

This Sunday at 10:00AM, 2 Pillars Church will be gathering to celebrate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s going to be a party!

Not a Christian? That’s okay.

If you would like to hear more about Jesus, His resurrection, and what it could mean for you, then I invite you to join us.

Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed!

Humility and the Holy Spirit

As I was doing some Advent reading this morning, I came across the following in a piece contributed by John Piper:

The Spirit is shy; he is self-effacing. When we look toward him, he steps back and pushes forward Jesus Christ.

Therefore, in seeking to be filled and empowered by the Spirit we must pursue him indirectly—we must look to the wonder of Christ. If we look away from Jesus and seek the Spirit and his power directly, we will end up in the mire of our own subjective emotions. The Spirit does not reveal himself. The Spirit reveals Christ. The fullness of the Spirit is the fullness that he gives as we gaze on Christ. The power of the Spirit is the power we feel in the presence of Christ. The joy of the Spirit is the joy we feel from the promises of Christ. Many of us know what it is to crouch on the floor and cry out to the Holy Spirit for joy and power, and experience nothing; but the next day devote ourselves to earnest meditation on the glory of Jesus Christ and be filled with the Spirit.

What an incredible picture of Christ-exalting humility we have in the Trinity!

For further reading on this topic I highly recommend Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware. It's an approachable and highly practical work on the doctrine of the Trinity.

Why We Celebrate Advent

Timothy Paul Jones

In Advent, Christians embrace the groaning and recognize it not as hopeless whimpering over the paucity of the present moment but as expectant yearning for a divine banquet that Jesus is preparing for us even now. In Advent, the church admits, as poet R.S. Thomas has put it, that “the meaning is in the waiting.” And what we await is a final Advent that is yet to come. Just as the ancient Israelites waited for the coming of the Messiah in flesh, we await the consummation of the good news through the Messiah’s return in glory. In Advent, believers confess that the infant who drew his first ragged breath between a virgin’s knees has yet to speak his final word.

The Scope and Subtlety of the Gospel

I'm currently reading Unbelievable Gospel: How to Share a Gospel Worth Believing by Jonathan Dodson in preparation for an upcoming Classroom Series session 2 Pillars Church is holding on Evangelism. In the opening chapter, Dodson observes the following about the gospel:

The gospel is both bigger and smaller than we think. Sometimes we can’t imagine the scope of the gospel, as news so good that it changes everything—society, culture, and creation. People really need to hear this. This vision of reality is better than anyone can imagine. The good news of the gospel is better than the best news people can conceive. Others times, we can’t imagine the subtlety of the gospel, that it brings us exactly what we need in Christ: acceptance, approval, forgiveness, newness, healing, worth, purpose, joy, hope, peace, and freedom, all in Jesus. The gospel is bigger and smaller than we think, as big as the cosmos and as small as you and me. It is the good and true news that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new, even us!

This is the good news of the gospel. This is the message Christians are called to share. This is the message Christians get to share! It's implications are huge and cosmic on the one hand, subtle and deeply personal on the other.

I'm really looking forward to this upcoming installment of the Classroom Series. We'll be seeking to grow in our own understanding of this good news and our calling to proclaim it. We'll also spend time discussing the practical how–tos of evangelism. It's shaping up to be a great morning.

Join us on April 20 if you're in the Lincoln area.

Victory in Christ

I ran across this incredible John Calvin quote today as I was reading Rid of My Disgrace, by Justin Holcomb. Take a few moments to read it, be encouraged and may it cause you to worship Jesus:

Every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, He was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; He was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; He died for our life; so that by Him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune. For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the Apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? It is because by the Spirit of Christ, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us.

 



© 2019 Adam Stahr ¯\_(ツ)_/¯