The things hoped for: on faith and the resurrection

As we Christians celebrate the bodily resurrection of our Lord, we loudly proclaim that he is risen. Now through much of my Christian life, I tended to translate that into merely a spiritual enterprise. Meaning, the resurrection signifies the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to the Father, baptism into the kingdom of God and union with Christ. It is that transaction that raises us to new life in Christ (see Romans 6:5-11).

Over time, I’ve come to recognize how this frame of thinking circumvents the significance of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. For his resurrection not only points back to God’s intention in creation but also brings the future of that intention into the present. In other words, it’s not enough for us to reduce the resurrection to merely a spiritual enterprise, that we are now part of God’s adopted family but there is a broader framework in which this reconciliation happens related to God’s restoration of what he intended. It’s why Paul emphasizes our bodily resurrection in 1 Cor 15, to which Christ’s resurrection is a first fruit. Death is an enemy because it is antithetical to creation. The entrance of sin and death unleashed such cosmic wreckage that the whole of the Bible’s story explains God’s plan and action to redeem his creation from that cursed grip.

In that regard, here’s a connection to the resurrection and faith I found quite interesting and insightful. I’ve been reading through this incredible book by Michael D. Williams, professor at Covenant Seminary. Far as the Curse is Found: the Covenant Story of Redemption  is essentially a biblical theology of God’s historical-redemptive narrative from Genesis to Revelation, or in other words, “the biblical story of God’s unfolding covenant relationship with his people.” I absolutely love that he starts the book off with The Resurrection: the Single Best Page of the Story to show that the whole story of redemption is anchored in and centered on the work and person of Christ according to what God intended from the beginning.

The writer of Hebrews writes, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). How does this relate to the resurrection? Continue reading

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Don’t Make Easter Like a Resurrection Birthday

empty tombOn Easter, we Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ and rightly so. Not only is this monumental event the distinguishing mark of Christianity, but it is the one that assures us forgiveness of sins and hope for the future, including the bodily resurrection. Go to any church service and the on the tip of many lips is “He is risen!…he is risen indeed!” We are awash with this glorious event.

A funny thing happens after Easter though. The resurrection gets a back seat to the cross.  Now don’t misunderstand, the cross is significant, too.  This is where Jesus propitiated the sins that were held against us.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling a record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:13-14)

His atoning sacrifice provided payment of sins in one transaction for sin of all times. It is all sufficient to cover all our transgressions. (Heb 10:10-13).  Those in Christ stand in no condemnation before God because of what was because of what God did through the Son, what the law was powerless to do (Rom 8:1-4). Continue reading

Healing and the Resurrection

empty tombI don’t really have time to blog these days so forgive the brevity and superficial nature of what could be a more indepth conversation. But I came across what I consider to be an important connection in the relationship between divine healing as portrayed in the Gospels and Acts.

A debate that often gets tossed around today is the gift of healing or if healing is part of the atonement. It’s really hard to argue with the Gospels and the book of Acts that healing was very much a part of Jesus’ earthly ministry and that of the apostles.

There might be a tendency to read Acts as a prescription for life today. But keeping in mind that this is about the ministry of Jesus, which continues through the witness of his disciples. It’s why Acts 1:8 sets the precedent for the rest of the book and the purpose of the church – to testify to the Son. It’s why it kind of bothers me when we’ll focus the attention of Acts 2 on the occurrence of the baptism of the Spirit instead of the reason, summarized in vv. 14-26. Peter gets to the point of all – “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (vs 36) Continue reading

My Easter Grief…and Prayer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the day that should bring Christians the most hope and joy, I find myself a bit troubled. Not troubled over what we are celebrating mind you. For that I greatly rejoice. The resurrection represents hope and power of the God of this universe who sent his Son to reconcile man to himself. Christ is risen, has expunged the penalty of sin and sits at the Father’s right hand.

But every year as this day approaches, I find a divisiveness exists in his body. The same body that he prayed for in his high priestly prayer;

My prayer is not for them alone (the apostles), I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, just as you and I are Father. May they also believe in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21)

While all true believers celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, something creeps in to temper and even hinder that celebration together. This body that Christ calls one experiences tensions over the one day that should unite them.And it hinges on the use of one word – Easter. Continue reading