Posted on April 19th, 2014 by David Burnette
Before his conversion and founding of Prison Fellowship, the late Chuck Colson spent seven months in prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal as a Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon. In his book Loving God, Colson makes a surprising connection between Watergate and the events surrounding that first Easter Sunday:
“Even political zealots at the pinnacle of power will save their own necks in the crunch, though it may be at the expense of the one they profess to serve so zealously.
Is it really likely, then, that a deliberate cover-up, a plot to perpetuate a lie about the Resurrection, could have survived the violent persecution of the apostles, the scrutiny of early church councils, the horrendous purge of the first-century believers who were cast by the thousands to the lions for refusing to renounce the Lordship of Christ? Is it not probable that at least one of the apostles would have renounced Christ before being beheaded or stoned? Is it not likely that some ‘smoking gun’ document might have been produced exposing the ‘Passover plot’” Surely one of the conspirators would have made a deal with the authorities (government and Sanhedrin probably would have welcomed such a soul with open arms and pocketbooks!).
… Take it from one who was inside the Watergate web looking out, who saw firsthand how vulnerable a cover-up is: Nothing less than a witness as awesome as the resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and Lord.” (68-69)
While God’s Word is the foundation of our confidence in the resurrection, Colson’s reflections remind us how unlikely it is historically that the resurrection accounts were a grand fabrication.
Posted on April 18th, 2014 by Cory Varden
Resources for Understanding and Explaining Easter, Stand to Reason: Don’t let this Easter season pass you by without some reflection on what it means and why it matters. Here are some resources to help you do this.
Easter and ethics: How the resurrection reshapes the Christian life, Phillip Bethancourt: What is the relationship between Easter and ethics? How does the crucifixion shape the Christian life? How does the resurrection reorient our moral intuitions?
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon,Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor: If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Posted on April 18th, 2014 by David Burnette
It only makes sense on Good Friday to shine the spotlight on Jesus.
Christ’s death is, after all, the climax of the Gospel accounts (along with the resurrection, of course). That the the Son of God willingly took our punishment is the foundation of our hope and it should be the object of our deepest gratitude. But if God’s wrath is what Christ shielded us from, then how can we rejoice in the Father’s intentions on Good Friday?
The cross certainly reminds of God’s holiness and of his hatred of sin. However, unless we take a step back to consider what was going on at Calvary, our view of God the Father can become distorted. He can become a cold and angry Deity who in his quest for justice is just itching to wipe us out. Until, thankfully, Jesus intervenes.
Gratefully, this is not how Scripture presents God the Father.
In The Cross of Christ John Stott cautions us against characterizing the Father as Judge and the Son as Savior. It is one and the same God who saves us in Christ (140). This error may at first sound subtle, but it’s always a big deal when we have a wrong view of God. Just as we honor the Son by thanking him for his sacrifice on the cross, so too we should honor the Father by responding rightly to his role in our salvation. To this end, here are three things to remember about God the Father on this Good Friday …
1. God the Father is united with God the Son in the work of salvation.
Jesus didn’t force the Father’s hand at Calvary. No, everything Jesus did was in accord with the Father’s will (Jn 5:19), which means that Good Friday was the Father’s will. The Father intended Christ’s wrath-absorbing death for our forgiveness. Elsewhere Jesus claims that He and the Father are united in their purpose to secure the eternal life of all believers (Jn 10:28-30).
2. God the Father gave.
Don’t forget the simple truth that God gave his Son so that we would not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). Good Friday was a gift from the Father, not an interruption of His plan. He is the God who does not spare, but rather freely gives His own Son for us (Rom 8:32).
3. God the Father is a Savior.
Normally Jesus is referred to as our Savior in the New Testament, but in 1 Tim 1:1 Paul calls God our Savior. Jude does this too (25). This is another reason we shouldn’t think of the Father only as a Judge, but also as the God who rescues his people from sin and death.
If you’ve trusted in Christ, be reminded this Good Friday that God the Father wasn’t reluctant to save; he was eager. He is the “Father of mercies” (2 Cor 1:3).
Posted on April 18th, 2014 by David Burnette
For Good Friday, here are three great books to help you think through what was accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross:
1. J.I. Packer, In My Place Condemned He Stood
This book is basically a compilation of three classic articles by Packer on substitutionary atonement. Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, and Al Mohler also contribute.
2. John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
Piper looks through Scripture and brings out fifty different reasons for the cross. A good resource for considering the multifaceted glory of what Christ achieved on the cross.
3. John Stott, The Cross of Christ
In his classic treatment, Stott covers a whole range of issues related to the cross. An invaluable resource for thinking about the centrality of the cross, the most helpful model for thinking about the cross, the achievement of the cross, and the implications of the cross for all of life.
Posted on April 17th, 2014 by David Burnette
Posted on April 17th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
Throughout the Gospels, the word “sign” is used like this, referring to Jesus’ supernatural works. As I read about these many signs, it’s all too easy for me to thoughtlessly throw them in the “miracle” category of Jesus’ ministry so I can move on to deeper and more practical things.
But this is short-sighted and careless. What is a sign? By its very definition, a sign is “something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen.” This means that Jesus’ many miracles were not an end in themselves. By referring to them as signs, Scripture makes it clear that they had a greater purpose. In essence, the miracles of Jesus were intended to reveal God to man.
This means that our hope is greater than any here-and-now miracle. Our hope is the eternal Miracle-Worker. Jesus once said,
“For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:5-6)
Jesus healed many people physically, but that was never his ultimate aim. According to the Father’s will, he had the whole sinner in mind. The fact that his goal was not just to temporarily heal the hurt but to eternally save the sinner means that his miracles are actually far more merciful than they appear. They reveal him as God, the only one who can forgive sin, and thus, they beckon the sinner to humble faith in him for salvation.
Signs are not interesting stories about an ancient “super hero.” Neither are they mere miracles. They are merciful acts of a God who loves the fallen people he created enough to reveal himself to them. As we read about these signs in God’s Word (another gift of his mercy), let us cherish them for all that they are.
Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
The missionary question is not, “Where are there unbelievers?”
The missionary question is, “Where are there peoples who don’t have any Christians among them?”
HT: Justin Taylor
As you may have heard, Todd Burpo’s best-selling book, Heaven is for Real, has been turned into a movie and it hits the theaters Wednesday (April 16th). Burpo’s four-year-old son allegedly visited heaven after being anesthetized for an appendectomy, and the book tells his story.
Unfortunately, Heaven is for Real isn’t the only book of its kind to hit the shelves, or even the only best-seller. The popularity of these I-went-to-heaven books led David Platt to address the issue in Secret Church 13, “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World.” Much of Pastor David’s critique is based on this resource put out by Phil Johnson of “Grace to You,” the ministry of John MacArthur.
That so many believers are allowing these accounts of heaven to shape their thinking is a sad commentary on our ability to discern what is and what isn’t biblical. God’s Word, not personal testimonies, must be the measuring line for how we think of heaven and every other aspect of truth. Hopefully, the conversation surrounding the movie Heaven is for Real will give you an opportunity to share with someone how we know that heaven is for real, and most importantly, how to get there.
Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Eric Parker
Have you ever struggled with getting started in prayer each day? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives this really helpful encouragement:
I have come to learn certain things about private prayer. You cannot pray to order. You can get on your knees to order; but how to pray? I have found nothing more important than to learn how to get oneself into that frame and condition in which one can pray. You have to learn how to start yourself off, and it is just here that this knowledge of yourself is so important. What I have generally found is that to read something which can be characterized in general as devotional is of great value. By devotional I do not mean something sentimental, I mean something with a true element of worship in it. Notice that I do not say that you should start yourself in prayer by always reading the Scriptures; because you can have precisely the same difficulty there. Start by reading something that will warm your spirit. Get rid of a coldness that may have developed in your spirit. You have to learn how to kindle a flame in your spirit, to warm yourself up, to give yourself a start. It is comparable, if you like, to starting a car when it is cold. You have to learn how to use a spiritual choke. I have found it most rewarding to do that, and not to struggle vainly. When one finds oneself in this condition, and that it is difficult to pray, do not struggle in prayer for the time being, but read something that will warm and stimulate you, and you will find that it will put you into a condition in which you will be able to pray more freely.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, 181-182
Posted on April 14th, 2014 by Eric Parker
Many of you may be familiar with Joshua Project. Joshua Project is an amazing resource ministry that can be used to learn about, pray for, and go to people groups all over the world for the sake of the gospel. We wanted to let you know that they have a new updated look that is sure to make it easier to learn more about the different peoples of the world.
They make it easy to:
1. Find people groups by country, language, listings, and maps.
2. Find accurate global statistics.
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