April 2014

Monthly Archive

Believing & Experiencing the Resurrection

Posted by on 19 Apr 2014 | Tagged as: Easter, Resurrection, Tim Keller

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.

Phil 3:10 NLT

The resurrection of Jesus is an objective historical fact that Bible-believing Christians everywhere affirm. However, some of these same believers fail to experience the personal power of the resurrection which gives victory over sin’s hold, the flesh’s pull, and the devil’s temptations. For them, the resurrection is doctrinally true, but personally irrelevant.

In liberal circles, the resurrection is re-defined as a spiritual encounter with Christ. For so-called Progressives, the resurrection is a myth which proclaims God’s victory over the tragedies of this life. Liberals affirm the resurrection without necessarily believing that the event actually took place in space and time. For them, the resurrection is a spiritual experience, not as a true historical event.

For both, the conservative and the liberal, the resurrection of Christ is religion with outward appearance, but no personal reality. One knows the truth with no personal experience, the other relies on feeling with no substance. Both views fail for Christianity is a head and heart faith.

On one hand, the resurrection is a fact to be believed. On the other hand, it is an experience to connect with. If you have one without the other–if you believe in the resurrection as historical fact but never experience the resurrection personally, or if you think of the resurrection as a spiritual experience but don’t believe it was a fact–you come out with a form of religion with no power.

Christianity says that if you want to experience God, you have to believe the truth. You have to believe that he really lived, that he really died, that he was really raised. And if you see that truth and believe in it, it leads to an experience, which leads to more understanding of the truth, and the truth leads to more experience.

Tim Keller, “Knowing the Experience of His Resurrection,” Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, ed., Nancy Guthrie (Crossway, 2009), 132-133.

 

 

Palm Sunday’s Choice (Updated)

Posted by on 12 Apr 2014 | Tagged as: Jesus Christ, Liturgy, Palm Sunday

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

Luke 19:38

On Sunday of Holy Week, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophetic word (Zech. 9:9-12). This unique day will be called Palm Sunday in the Christian calendar and is often referred by commentators as Jesus’ triumphal entry (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-1; Luke 19:29-40). Archbishop Craig Bates of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.) wrote, “The triumph however is not because the crowds declared Him King but because He was to take upon Himself the sin and suffering of the people and win the victory when God raised Him from the dead.” Jesus’ entry was a triumph not because all of Jerusalem turned out for the parade giving him the red carpet treatment, but because his death, burial, and resurrection in Jerusalem would defeat our greatest foes: the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil.

On that fateful day, and during the coming week, the inhabitants of Jerusalem would face a choice: demand that Jesus be Israel’s earthly king elevating the country to renewed worldly glory, or repent recognizing that their real problem was a heart problem. Israel’s real need was not deliverance from the Roman oppression, but a deliverance from themselves. Their selfishness, sin, and pride was bringing about the destruction of Israel’s life in God, not the hated Romans. The resurrection of Israel’s glory under King David and Solomon would not bring salvation, only the work of the Holy Spirit could restore Israel’s hope in God (Ezek. 36:26-27).

Holy Week reminds us once again that our problem is not others’ sin, weaknesses, and frailties. Our biggest problem is us and only by turning to Jesus can our lives be transformed.

We must recognize that our essential problem is not our parents, our economic background, our upbringing, our circumstances, or our bosses, etc. No, our greatest problem is us that great trinity of me, myself and I. Our selfishness, our self-absorption, our self-concern, and our self-conceit reap utter destruction. Sin is selfishness evidenced through our willful thoughts, words, or actions involving a choice in which we consider ourselves as more important than God or anyone else. The foundation of sin is our selfishness.

Jesus rode that colt over the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem for the purpose of dying on the Cross. He died that we might be freed from ourselves (2 Cor. 5:14-15; Phil. 2:5-11). He came to conquer out deepest need: selfish, greedy and prideful hearts. Jesus’ death on the cross transforms our lives: he bears our sin, shame, and guilt away.

The Palm Sunday choice:

1. Do we want a Jesus who comes to fix our problems or do we want a Saviour to change our hearts? “Hosanna, save us” (v. 10). What we need most is not a deliverance from our circumstances (i.e., enemies, problems, relationships, etc.), but a salvation from ourselves (i.e., our selfishness, pride, demands, etc.) We tend to play the victim when what we need is repentance and a change of heart.

2. Do we worship Jesus even when the crowd does not understand? We live in a secular culture that is becoming increasing hostile to the Gospel, our culture wants to make Jesus into a postmodern, super-tolerant, pluralistic image of themselves. What happens when Jesus demands to be Lord, when he declared himself to be the exclusive savior of the world, what happens when he bids us to come and die to ourselves and follow him?

3. Do we or will we only follow Jesus when life is going well? Where will we be on Good Friday when it seems that all that Jesus has taught and said is evaporating before our eyes? Will we trust him even when our world is crashing down around us. Will we trust his words and promises that death will not hold him down.

4. Do we understand that only political fights will not resolve out greatest needs? Our culture needs changed hearts in order to value marriage, sexual morality, and religious freedom.

Conclusion: Will we accept the challenge? Allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives or go the way of the offended, angry world. The same world of expectation, resentment and fear that placed Jesus on the Cross.

Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the Good News to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say yes or no. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: He had to wait upon how people were going to respond.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, “A Spirituality of Waiting,” The Weavings Reader

What Is Revival Hunger?

Posted by on 03 Apr 2014 | Tagged as: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival

O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Hab. 3:2 KJV

Revival hunger is wanting God’s presence more than sleep, desiring God’s face more than food, hungering for God’s holiness more than our comfort, and pursuing God’s glory more than our predictable daily routine. Revival hunger yearns for God above all others, removes idols of the heart, glorifies God in public worship, mortifies sins of the flesh (i.e., sin nature), renews commitment to God’s covenant promise, and more importantly, humbles oneself under God’s mighty hand (2 Chron. 7:14). Revival hunger yearns for God more than self-exaltation, self-concern, and self-fulfillment.

The inevitable and constant preliminary to revival has always been a thirst for God, a thirst, a living thirst, for a knowledge of the living God, and a longing and a burning desire to see him acting, manifesting himself and his power, rising, and scattering his enemies.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones quoted in A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir, eds., Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 15.