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Easter Monday

easter-monday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was officially celebrated yesterday. He is risen. He is risen indeed!

But what about today – the day after? What different does it make? Do we simply go back to business as usual? I’m certain the first disciples of Jesus asked the same questions.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changed everything. It means that Jesus is who He claims to be: the way, the truth, and the life – the only way to God the Father; God in human flesh; the sinless Savior; the King of kings and Lord of lords. It means that Jesus accomplished His mission – to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). It means our preaching and faith are real and mean something; that we are correctly representing God; and it means that our sins are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:12-20).

Christ’s resurrection permeates the New Testament. You couldn’t get away from it if you tried. In fact, in the epistle to the Philippians Paul desired “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (3:10). He wanted to know Christ in a deeper way and experience the power that raised Him from the dead. He also knew that as he did, he would display that power in his own life. Jesus’ resurrection has an impact on everything.

Easter Monday is a reminder that even though our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection has passed (we should actually celebrate it very Lord’s Day), it’s a reality every day. Our very justification (Rom. 4:25) and every other blessing of God comes to us by His grace as a result of the resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3).

Resurrection Day has passed. The reality and results remain. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 

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The uncertainty and despair of Saturday dissolved as light broke on the horizon Sunday morning. The tomb of Jesus was empty, the stone rolled away, and the Roman seal broken. The angels announced to the woman who had come to the tomb, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you” (Matt. 28:5-7).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead bodily (that is, in the same, yet different, physical body He had before His death). His resurrection is the most important and dramatic event in human history. But what was accomplished by His resurrection?

Here are just a few of them:

  • It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (Job 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10).
  • It fulfilled His own prophecies (Matt. 17:9; Luke 18:31-33).
  • It confirmed His deity (Rom. 1:4).
  • It demonstrated the perfection of Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father (John 10:18-19).
  • It was proof that the Father accepted the atoning work of Christ (Rom. 4:25).
  • It provides regeneration for the elect (1 Pet. 1:3).
  • It provides assurance that the sins of believers are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
  • It declares that He is Head of the church and ruler of all creation (Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:15-19).
  • It secures justification for believers and the assurance that they will never be condemned by God (Rom. 8:1-11, 31-34).
  • It guarantees the future bodily resurrection of all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
  • It guarantees Christ will judge the world (John 5:24-30; Acts 17:31).

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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saturday

Holy Saturday is the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, it’s a day of waiting We know “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.

But consider the first disciples of Jesus – those whom He called to follow Him and those who saw Him betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten, mocked, scourged, and finally crucified. They didn’t know what would happen on Sunday morning. Yes, Jesus had told them on at least four occasions, but it’s clear that it didn’t register in their hearts and minds.

Jesus – the One they loved; the One they followed; the One to whom they had dedicated their very lives; the One they knew to be precisely who He claimed to be – was dead. Their beloved was buried in a tomb guarded by sixteen Roman soldiers. The enormous stone which had been rolled in front of the tomb’s entrance was decorated with the seal of the Roman Empire.

As far as these first disciples were concerned, it was over. What was over? Everything. Their Saviour, Lord, and friend was dead and gone. Their mission was over, seemingly before it even got started. The Romans and Jewish leadership had won. What would they do now? Their lives had been forever changed, and now it seemed to be over.

No hope.

No forgiveness of sin.

No reconciliation with God.

No peace.

No salvation.

No meaning.

No justice.

No mercy.

No future.

All of that would be true if Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb. Their faith, and our faith, is vain and useless if it would have ended with the death of Jesus. That’s what the disciples faced from Friday afternoon through Saturday night.

They didn’t know the rest of the story, but we do! Holy Saturday proves the importance of Resurrection Sunday.

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On Wednesday I was one of the adult chaperones on a field trip with our 8th-graders (I teach the 8th-grade Bible class) to the Maritime Museum, Astoria Column, and Fort Clatsop, all in the Astoria, Oregon area. We had a good time, and it’s always good to spend time outside of class with students, parents, and other teachers.

What caught my attention was something one of the rangers said during her presentation at Fort Clatsop. She said we could learn a lot about Lewis and Clark and their expedition by reading books about them looking at the exhibits at the museum, but the best way to learn about them is to read their journals, which are widely available. We need the original, or primary, sources. In other words, even though Stephen Ambrose’s book “Undaunted Courage” is great, you need to read the original source to get the best picture.

The same principle applies to the Bible. We can learn a lot about God’s Word by reading books about it, listening to sermons about it, participate in Bible studies about it, or listen to podcasts about it, but the best thing we can do is read and study it for ourselves. Go to the original source!

Commentaries can be fantastic resources. Sermons – from your pastor to preachers on the Internet – can be edifying and thought-provoking. Books written by the best scholars and authors can be helpful. Read them, listen to them, and study them all! Most of our time, however, should be spent on the original and primary source – God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word, which, by the way, is a whole lot better than anything Lewis and Clark ever wrote.

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It’s my goal in 2019 to read the Bible from cover to cover – from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 – again. My plea is that you would join me. It’s a great discipline to begin and maintain.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It’s indispensible to the Christian life. Much of the confusion we see in the church and in the world is a direct result of a lack of biblical knowledge as well as a lack of submission and obedience. Regular Bible intake will help solve that problem.

I’ve been using the 5 Day Plan for the last three years and it’s worked well for me. You can find it here. Ligonier lists around ten plans, all of them excellent and with different degrees of difficulty.

What’s the best read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan? The one you use!

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bible

Real change, and real growth in godliness, takes place as we read and respond to God’s Word. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul told the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God , what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

Scripture is absolutely vital to spiritual growth and change. Therefore, you’d think reading and obeying Scripture would be a regular part of our Christian life, right? Apparently not.

Lifeway conducted a survey regarding the Bible-reading habits (outside of church) of Protestant church-goers in the United States. Here’s what they found:

  • 19% read the Bible every day
  • 26% read the Bible a few times a week
  • 14% read the Bible once a week
  • 22% read the Bible at least once a month
  • 18% rarely or never read the Bible

How can we change, grow, and be conformed into the image of Christ if so little time is spent in God’s Word? We shouldn’t. Maybe it’s the reason we don’t see as much change as we’d like. God uses His Word to transform us, but we have to read it – He won’t do it for us.

One factor in the lack of Bible intake may be social media and television. Another survey came to these conclusions:

  • Adults (19 and above) spend 2 hours per day on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  • Those under 18 and under spend up to 9 hours per day on social media. (8-to-10 year olds spend 5.5 hours, 11-to-14 spend 8 hours, and 15-to-18 year olds spend 9 hours per day).
  • Adults watch 5 hours of television per day on average.
  • Teenagers and below watch anywhere from 3 to 7 hours of television per day on average.

How are we investing our time? To grow in sanctification, and to really change, redeeming the time (Eph. 5:15) is critical.

(Stuart Scott, author of From Pride to Humility and The Exemplary Husband spoke at church last Sunday and mentioned this in his sermon, which was excellent, by the way.)

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Psalm 130 is one of the songs the people of Israel would sing as they went up to Jerusalem to worship God in the three required festivals. Verses 3 and 4 say, If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You,
that You may be feared.”

When I read these two verses, I see…

God is absolutely holy. The Lord does indeed mark iniquities – He keeps an account of our sins. He is the only One who can both judge and remain standing. Why? He has no iniquities to mark. His holiness is absolute and perfect.

I am sinful. I know my sin and my sinfulness, saying with the apostle Paul that I am the chief of sinners. In the face of His absolute holiness, I know I cannot remain standing – only He can. No one will be able to survive the penetrating gaze of God’s perfect knowledge and judgment.

God forgives. By His sheer mercy and grace, God sovereignly chooses to forgive. He’s under no obligation to do so, but as the psalmist says, “there is forgiveness with You.” The foundation of God’s forgiveness, and what makes it possible, is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. He stood in our place and was judged for our sins and iniquities on the cross. Through faith in Christ alone, I know that my sins are forgiven.

God is to be feared. I know that the Lord’s forgiveness of my sins – which I do not deserve – should drive me to deeper reverence, greater awe, and a more holy dread of God. This is the holy One who lives in unapproachable light and who is more pure than I will ever comprehend, yet on the basis of Christ’s work on my behalf, forgives all of my iniquity! This is the One who is to be loved and feared!

That’s a beautiful song to sing.

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