Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

A fact of the Christian faith is that there are multiple points where the theology of Christianity claims to have intersected with the history of the world.  As Wright notes, at no point is this more obvious than the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday.  What is being claimed by the apostles is open to investigation and examination.  To avoid this crucial point is to avoid an essential aspect of the Christian faith.  In short, history must give an account for the emergence of the early church, the martyrdom of the apostles, and the theology of the resurrection.  And the claim of the Christian faith is not only that is should, but it can. 

I am, of course, aware that for over two hundred years scholars have laboured to keep history and theology, or history and faith, at arm’s length from one another.  There is a good intention behid this move:  each of these discipliens has its own proper shape and logic, and cannot simply be turned into a branch of the other.  Yet here of all places- with Christian origins in general, and the resurrection in particular- they are inevitably intertwined.  Not to recognize this, in fact, is often to decide tacitly in favour of a particular type of theology, perhaps a form of Deism, whose absentee-landlord god keeps clear of historical involvement.  Preserving this position by appeal to divine “transcendence” is a way of restating the problem, not settling it.  The mirror-image of this is the assumption of a rank supernaturalism whose miracle-working god routinely bypasses historical causation.  Elsewhere on the map are various forms of pantheism, panentheism and process theology in which ‘god’ is part of, or closely related to, the space-time world and the historical process.  To recognize the link between history and theology, therefore, is not to decide questions of history or theology in advance, but to give notice of the necessary many-sidedness of the topic.

N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress Press 2003, pg 5)

Usually after reading a Spurgeon sermon I’m ready to go out and conquer the world.  Not this time.  The sermon is not Spurgeon at his most inspiring, but he does preach a very earth resurrection that I think is important for us to hear.  Even though we are a rabidly materialistic age, many think of the resurrection of the dead as a purely spiritual event.  Yet the Biblical doctrine and the Christian confession is that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of the body. This has profound implications both for this life and the next, which Spurgeon draws out quite well.  Enjoy.

There are very few Christians who believe the resurrection of the dead. You may be surprised to hear that, but I should not wonder if I discovered that you yourself have doubts on the subject. By the resurrection of the dead is meant something very different from the immortality of the soul: that, every Christian believes, and therein is only on a level with the heathen, who believes it too. The light of nature is sufficient to tell us that the soul is immortal, so that the infidel who doubts it is a worse fool even than a heathen, for he, before Revelation was given, had discovered it—there are some faint glimmerings in men of reason which teach that the soul is something so wonderful that it must endure forever. But the resurrection of the dead is quite another doctrine, dealing not with the soul, but with the body. The doctrine is that this actual body in which I now exist is to live with my soul; that not only is the “vital spark of heavenly flame” to burn in heaven, but the very censer in which the incense of my life doth smoke is holy unto the Lord, and is to be preserved for ever. The spirit, every one confesses, is eternal; but how many there are who deny that the bodies of men will actually start up from their graves at the great day? Many of you believe you will have a body in heaven, but you think it will be an airy fantastic body, instead of believing that it will be a body like to this—flesh and blood (although not the same kind of flesh, for all flesh is not the same flesh), a solid, substantial body, even such as we have here. And there are yet fewer of you who believe that the wicked will have bodies in hell; for it is gaining ground everywhere that there are to be no positive torments for the damned in hell to affect their bodies, but that it is to be metaphorical fire, metaphorical brimstone, metaphorical chains, metaphorical torture. But if ye were Christians as ye profess to be, ye would believe that every mortal man who ever existed shall not only live by the immortality of his soul, but his bodyshall live again, that the very flesh in which he now walks the earth is as eternal as the soul, and shall exist for ever. That is the peculiar doctrine of Christianity. The heathens never guessed or imagined such a thing; and consequently when Paul spoke of the resurrection of the dead, “Some mocked,” which proves that they understood him to speak of the resurrection of the body, for they would not have mocked had he only spoken of the immortality of the soul, that having been already proclaimed by Plato and Socrates, and received with reverence.

We are now about to preach that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. We shall consider first the resurrection of the just; and secondly, the resurrection of the unjust.

read the whole thing here

More from DesiringGod‘s conference on John Calvin. This time from Sam Storms on the resurrection, the “final act in the theatre of God”. Click here for the whole thing.

On August 5, 1563 Calvin wrote a letter to the wife of one of the Reformation leaders in France. She was experiencing physical illness and he wrote to her, “They [our physical afflictions] should serve us as medicine to purge us from worldly affections and remove what is superfluous in us. And since they are to us the messengers of death, we ought to learn to have one foot raised to take our departure when it shall please God.”

I read that a few weeks ago and I began to ask myself, “Do I live with one foot raised in expectation of seeing my Savior face to face?” Calvin did, I’m convinced. And there is ever so much of living now in expectation of that day that we can learn from him.

Why is Calvin such a helpful guide for us in this area? I’ll mention four reasons:

First, Calvin is a pilgrim on this earth, as Julius Kim told us last night. Calvin speaks often in his commentaries of being a sojourner on this earth. Two of the more recent biographies about Calvin highlight this theme. One title is, “John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor” (W. Robert Godfrey). Another is “John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life” (Herman J. Selderhuis).

In Colossians 3:1 Paul exhorts us to seek the things that are above. Calvin said that in doing so we can “embrace our identity as sojourners in this world without being bound to it.”

In Hebrews 11 the author refers to the patriarchs’ desire for a better country, a heavenly one. Calvin wrote on Hebrews 13:14, “We should consider that we have no fixed residence but in heaven. Whenever, therefore, we are driven from place to place, whenever any change happens to us, let us think about what the author teaches here, let us think that our abode is not on earth…they that enjoy a common life here believe that they have rest on this world. It is profitable for us, who are prone to sloth and have often become comfortable in this world, to be tossed to and fro.”

Lest you be misled, when Calvin talks about turning our eyes away from earth and toward heaven, you should never think that he was somehow some sort of other-worldly dualist who despised God’s creation. Far from it. Whenever Calvin talked about his passion to leave this earth and go to heaven, it was driven by 1) his hatred of sin, 2) his own bodily suffering, and 3) his desire to see God.

Calvin was not negligent toward matters of this life or basic responsibilities. Think of his remarkable productivity. This is no other-worldly dualism. This is no “Left Behind” escapist mentality. He knew the better country he desired was the new earth.

As Easter approaches I thought this might be a helpful little paragraph to prepare for that great day with a little reflection. The following is an excerpt from Paul Beasley-Murray’s The Message of the Resurrection from the Bible Speaks Today Commentary Series (as a side note, if lay people are looking into making an investment in a commentary set, this would be the one for you).

“On Easter Sunday 1960 the great Methodist preacher W.E. Sangster lay speechless and helpless. He was able, however, to write a message to his daughter, Margaret: ‘It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout , “He is risen.” But it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”
-Beasley, The Message of the Resurrection pg 15

risen-christaccess his commentary here

I am the LIVING One.

Thus should the passage be read—’I am the first, and the last, and the living One.’ Throughout Scripture the name of the Messiah is associated with life. He is—Jehovah—the I Am—the Being of beings—the Possessor of all life—the giver of all life—the living and the life-giving One. His association with death is only transient—and that for the purpose of overcoming death, and bringing life out of death. He is the PRINCE of life—He is the LIGHT of life—He is the BREAD of Life—He is the WATER of life. Everything connected with LIFE is linked with Him; for as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself.

The words, “I am living One,’ would remind John of the many things which he himself had narrated, and of the many words he had recorded concerning Christ as the Life; for he, of all the evangelists, has brought this great truth before us. It was as the Living One that He said, ‘the Son quickens whom he will’ (John 5:21). ‘He who believes in me has everlasting life. This is the bread that came down from heaven, that if a man eats of it, he shall not die. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life’ (John 6:50-54).

Ah! Truly it was the living One who spoke such words as these; and it is as the living One that He utters them still. We fall at His feet, like John, as one dead! He lays His right hand upon us, and says to us, “fear not; I am the living One;’ it is not death, but life, that I have come to bring; and in beholding the glory of the living One, it is life, not death, that you should look for! (more…)

John Donne

John Donne

John Donne was an English poet writting in the 1500’s. It is hard to find a more sexually immoral man in the history of English literature (quite an accomplishment!) However, he did experience a heart conversion through the Gospel, after which he became an ordained minister. His sermons can be quite difficult, but nevertheless intensely powerful. He was well aware of the immensity of his own sin, but through the grace of the Gospel he was also keenly aware of the infinite mercy of Christ the savior. Below is a poem he wrote on Christ’s victory over death (1 Cor 15.55; Rev 21.4). Enjoy the poem. I draw special attention to the last line, which is the defiant cry of the Christian at the hour of their own death. By this he shows that man’s greatest fear has no power over him

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne, Divine Sonnet X