Important Discussion of the Second Coming of Christ

An “internet” friend of mine, Dalton Lifsey, who serves as Associate Director of the Tauranga House of Prayer Missions Base in Tauranga, New Zealand has written a three part blog series on “Three Reasons to Abandon the Expectation of a Secret Rapture.” This is very well done and I encourage serious consideration of what Dalton says.

Reason #1: It’s Not Taught in the Bible

There are only four verses in the New Testament that speak explicitly about the rapture. Four. And all four are very straightforward. They’re extremely easy to understand. Here’s a brief look at the passages with this idea in view: All four teach that it occurs AFTER specific events on God’s end-time calendar. It’s important we understand the order of these events.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the falling away comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed…

There are two take-away points here: First, Paul declares the second coming and the rapture to be one synonymous event; that is, when Jesus “comes,” we are “gathered.” Second, he says that the rapture occurs AFTER a time of great apostasy and AFTER the Antichrist is revealed. In fact, he says that the Day of the Lord (which he defines as the second coming and the rapture) CANNOT come until specific events take place first. There is no secret rapture in view here.

Matthew 24:29-31

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The take away point here is that the rapture (or the “gathering together of the elect”) occurs “AFTER” the tribulation explained in verses 15-28. There is no secret rapture in view here.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

The take away point here is that the rapture (being “changed in a twinkling of an eye”) takes place AFTER the “last trumpet.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left,will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

The take away point here is that the rapture occurs AFTER the sound of a “trumpet.”

Conclusion

If we put these passages together we learn that we are raptured: when the Lord “comes” (2 Thess. 2) “after the tribulation” (Mt. 24), after the great falling away and the revealing of the Antichrist (2 Thess 2), after the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15) and after the sound of a trumpet (1 Thess. 4); which is the same trumpet.

[For an explanation of what the “last trumpet” is, read Revelation 10:7 and 11:15-19]

These are the only verses in the Bible from which we can draw a conclusive teaching on the rapture. And all four emphatically  declare that it occursAFTER the Great Tribulation at the second coming of Jesus.

Reason #2: It’s Not Taught in Church History

There are three ways we ought to view any doctrine, and in this order:

1. Biblically – Is it taught in the Bible?

2. Historically – What does church history have to say about it?

3. Subjectively – How does it make you feel?

The error many make is by inverting this order and starting with “Does it feel good?” This should be our final method of vetting. There are many Biblical concepts that don’t “feel” good.

In our last post we dealt with the only four passages in the Bible that speak explicitly about the rapture. In this post we’re briefly going to deal with the issue of the historicity of the doctrine of a secret rapture; that is “Can we find anyone in church history teaching it?”

Second to being Biblically bankrupt, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory has been assailed by critics for being absent from the preaching of the church through history before the 1800’s. Over the years a handful of writers who hold to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory have attempted to address this claim to debunk it (a small few). The indictment against the theory is that no one taught it until John Darby presented in between 1827 and 1830. In 1857 Darby claims that he came to his end-time doctrine “30 years ago.” But contemporaries of Darby (such as Tregelles) claim that he began declaring it in 1830 when he adopted it from supernatural experiences of a young woman from Glascow named Margaret MacDonald.

The debate still rages as to whether or not Darby came up with the idea of a secret rapture of if he adopted after hearing it presented by another. At the end of the day, it’s inconsequential WHERE he got it from, because one thing is sure: before 1827 (or 1830 if you take the view that he adopted it from MacDonald) the idea of a secret rapture occurring before the “Great Tribulation” cannot be found on the pages of church history.

The most recent contribution to the controversy over the historicity of the Pre-Trib doctrine is the book entitled “The Truth Behind Left Behind” written by Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice who are staunchly in favor of the eschatology taught in the “Left Behind” series. The final chapter of the book is given to tackling the claim that “all attempts to find a Pre-Tribulation Rapture any earlier than around 1830 do not hold up to historical scrutiny” (a verbatim accusation rightly leveled by Gary DeMar and quoted in the book). Hitchcock and Ice give 15 pages to survey church history to ward off the critics and round out their apologetic on this issue.

In those 15 pages we find only MORE glaring problems with the Pre-Trib view. First, the chapter begins with a quote from Ryrie saying that just because a doctrine hasn’t been taught throughout church history doesn’t mean that it’s not true. The quote revealed the trajectory of their broader argument (i.e. They have nothing substantial to show from church history that points to a historical belief in a Pre-Tribulation rapture). The fact of the matter is, church history is in agreement: there is no secret rapture. The only examples that the authors could conjure up are about a dozen quotations of modern writers explaining why THEY BELIEVE certain church fathers taught a secret rapture and a single quotation from a church father about a secret rapture. The problem with these two pieces of evidence is that (1) modern subjective opinions without historical documentation don’t carry any weight and (2) the meaning of the only quotation they could muster is widely debated.

In other words, the weight of the argument rests upon a dozen biased opinions and one nebulous historical quotation. It would’ve better served the purpose of the book if they avoided the issue altogether. Instead they just exposed the weakness of their view historically.

To their credit, they rightly pointed out that church fathers through history have expected an imminent return of Jesus (i.e. Jesus can come any minute). To their shame though, they allude to the idea that Jesus coming “imminently” is equivalent with Jesus coming “secretly.” And our fathers would take great offense at that idea as the two are far from congruent as far as historical theology is concerned.

Jesus cannot and will not come “at any minute;” nor will He come secretly to relocate believers to heaven for the greatest hour of human history. Paul made it very clear:

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him…Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the falling away comes FIRST, and the man of lawlessness is revealed… (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)

Reason #3: It’s Not Taught Outside the Western World

Apart from not being taught in the Bible and not being taught throughout the majority of church history, the fact that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory is not taught outside of the western world (by and large) is one of the more convincing reasons why it should be examined with skeptical eyes.

Between 1830 and 1833 the Irish John Darby began going public with his newly discovered doctrine. Prior to this, no one anywhere on the globe had heard a teaching on a secret rapture. After fierce opposition from many within the UK (from great men such as George Mueller and Tregelles) Darby’s ministry shifted to the US where his teaching would gain the most renown. His influence on American born C.I. Scofield resulted in the Scofield Study Bible (published in 1909) being one of the primary ways the doctrine was promoted in the last century. Darby and Scofield gained prominence and notoriety in those decades – almost entirely in the western world. But outside of the west, the church was living under the assumption that the second coming and the rapture were synonymous in the mind of the apostles; as it remains today.

Between 1909 and now, the Pre-Tribulation theory has become a pillar in American Christianity. And with the publishing of the now famous “Left Behind” novels, that pillar was strengthened. Interestingly though, the doctrine remained (by and large) an American doctrine. Even in the UK – where it was first formulated – it was seen (again, by and large) as a deviation from Biblical orthodoxy. Try as they may, proponents of this new theory can’t avoid the fact that outside of America, there is a staunch opposition to their views.

What follows, are two stories (one from history, and one that’s personal) that show how this teaching is loathed outside of America.

CORRIE TEN BOOM

In 1974 Corrie Ten Boom (the famous woman whose family hid Jews during the Holocaust and who spent time herself in a Nazi concentration camp as a consequence) wrote these words in a letter:

“There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.

In China, the Christians were told [by American Bible teachers], “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,

“We have failed.
We should have made the people strong for persecution,
rather than telling them Jesus would come first.
Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution,
how to stand when the tribulation comes,
– to stand and not faint.”

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it.

We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.” Then I write it down and learn it by heart.”

This letter is an indictment against American Bible teachers who brought the doctrine of a secret rapture into China. Her words point to the painful reality that where ever this doctrine is taught, it undermines the saints ability so suffer well according to the teaching of the apostles.

MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE PERSECUTED CHURCH OF SOUTH-EAST ASIA

In 2005 I was in Indonesia engaging in evangelistic ministry. One Sunday I spoke at a local church service. Before it was time for me to preach the pastor approached me and said words that deeply impacted me:

“Sir, I don’t want to offend you by what I’m about to say. But it must be said. You are an American. And we welcome you in our community. However, when preaching, please do not mention the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Your Bible teachers in America teach this. But this community is experiencing much affliction and suffering. And that doctrine will do great damage to these people.”

I won’t add to these words except to say this: All who hold the belief that we will be secretly raptured any moment must understand and recognize that this conviction is largely an American conviction. Moreover, I have met people outside of the western world who hold the doctrine – but it’s only because they have been influenced by the ministries of American ministries who teach it through their books and TV shows.

A secret, imminent rapture isn’t found in the Bible, in church history or outside the western world. These are strong reasons to abandon it and to fill our minds and hearts with what the Bible says about the generation of the Lord’s return.

Confession — Good for the Soul

In our day of “happy church” and trying to always look on the “bright side” we many times miss what is vitally important in the Christian life.  We are so busy trying to look like we have it all together that we forget that most of the time (at least this is my case) we don’t.

One of the elements that is missing in many of our lives is a vital bowing before the Lord in confession of sin.  John, in his first epistle, indicates that one of the marks of a true believer in Jesus Christ is that he/she is a person who takes confession seriously.  In the day of tolerance driven media, many times we find ourselves being too tolerant of our sin.  Yes, if we are in Christ it is already forgiven and dealt with through His sacrifice, but scripture indicates that it is imperative that we see sin as it truly is in our own lives — an enemy that must be killed (the Puritans, and Bible, like to call it mortification, which is a great word) in a practical way and on a daily basis.

Confession is not going to a priest, or pastor, in order to gain forgiveness.  It is going to the Great High Priest we have been studying about in Hebrews, and agreeing with Him about what He says about our sin.  It is liberating and joy creating when we go to Him in confession on a regular basis.

Last Sunday during the Pastoral Prayer we used a responsive reading of confession. I cannot tell you the number of people who indicated that that time was especially spiritually refreshing to them.  I agree!  It was to me too.

I want to encourage you to use it in your private devotions with our Lord each day. It will grow and grow in meaning, I assure you:*

Most merciful Father, we have sinned against you. We realize that we are guilty before you. Forgive us the sins of our tongues—
For deception and untruthfulness in our dealings with
others; for resentment, coldness, impatience, and tempers out of control.

Forgive us for the sins of our eyes—
For impurity in our glances and imagination; for pining
after more beauty, comfort, status, and wealth than you have given us.

Forgive us the sins of our hearts—
For hard-heartedness toward you and our neighbors; for pride, self-absorption, self-pity; and above all, for rebelling against your Lordship and doubting your love.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1: 8-9)

* Thanks to my friends at Clifton Baptist Church

The Gospel — thank you John Calvin

I realize that some people have an “allergy” to John Calvin.  Usually it is based on half-truths or outright falsehoods about him and his teaching. But some of his statements about the Gospel are simply “priceless” and to avoid them would be a tragedy, if not a sin.  A good example of this is something that Calvin wrote as a preface to a 1534 French translation of the New Testament.  This is worthy of meditation along side your Bible.  I hope you will do just that!!  Calvin said:

Without the gospel
everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel
we are not Christians;

without the gospel
all riches is poverty,
all wisdom folly before God;
strength is weakness,
and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made
children of God,
brothers of Jesus Christ,
fellow townsmen with the saints,
citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom
the poor are made rich,
the weak strong,
the fools wise,
the sinner justified,
the desolate comforted,
the doubting sure,
and slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.

For, he was
sold, to buy us back;
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us;

he was
made a curse for our blessing,
[a] sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him
fury is made gentle,
wrath appeased,
darkness turned into light,
fear reassured,
despisal despised,
debt canceled,
labor lightened,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
difficulty easy,
disorder ordered,
division united,
ignominy ennobled,
rebellion subjected,
intimidation intimidated,
ambush uncovered,
assaults assailed,
force forced back,
combat combated,
war warred against,
vengeance avenged,
torment tormented,
damnation damned,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
hell transfixed,
death dead,
mortality made immortal.

In short,
mercy has swallowed up all misery,
and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are
comforted in tribulation,
joyful in sorrow,
glorying under vituperation,
abounding in poverty,
warmed in our nakedness,
patient amongst evils,
living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

Do your soul a favor and read this over and over and over. It just doesn’t get more nutritious than this!

(HT: TULLIAN TCHIVIDJIAN)

(NOTE: I am sorry that the line breaks did not do the indention as I put it in here.  But the content is still the same.)

Therapeutic Moralistic Deism is NOT The Gospel

One of the best biographies of Charles Spurgeon is by G. Holden Pike and was written in 1894. I want to share one paragraph from this book but first I want to set up the reason I am using it.  I have been troubled over the past couple of weeks as I have listened to sermons on radio, TV, and from local pulpits that completely are devoid of the gospel.  They contain a lot of what has been dubbed as “Therapeutic moralistic deism.”  Lots of exhortations to “be good”, “live better” and “do you best for God.”  Of course, with some God-language pitched in. But no mention of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  No cross, no blood, no substitution, etc.  It is all about making man “better” — whatever that means.

We live in a day of gimmicks and entertainment that try to pass as the gospel, but it is as Paul said, “a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all.”  The church in America wants to be “hip” considered “cool” and to do this they water down the truth of God’s word to draw a crowd.

This is a quote from one of Spurgeon’s biographies, written by G. Holden Pike in 1894:

He told some of us, on one of the occasions of our fellowship, that the highest compliment that had been paid him can from the lips of an open enemy, who had said, “Here is a man (Spurgeon) who has not moved an inch forward in all his ministry, and at the close of the nineteenth century is teaching the theology of the first century, and in Newington Butts is proclaiming the doctrines of Nazareth and Jerusalem current eighteen hundred years ago.”  To which Spurgeon replied “Those words did please me!” and verily no teacher had ransacked literature and history and human life as he had done to supply illustration and proof of the fundamental facts of Divine revelation, and to persuade men to be reconciled to God. (vol 2, pg 109)

What a man of God Charles Spurgeon was!!  He had no interest in innovation, or “updating” the Gospel.  He simply wanted to preach it, proclaim it, and teach it at every opportunity.

I remember one of the charges made against me several years ago, was “For two and a half years we have heard that we are sinners, and can only be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”  I must confess with Spurgeon, those words did please me.  Why, because that is the heart of the gospel; the heart of God’s word.  That is all I have to preach to my dying day.

This is our commitment at Grace Baptist Church.  Even in the midst of “churches” that water it down and play games.  Our only “draw” is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That’s all we have; that’s all we need.

In the Face of the Future

If you know me at all you know of my love for Charles Spurgeon, the Baptist pastor from the 1800s in London, England.  I wanted to share with you a comment that he made on Isaiah 46:9-10

Here is what Spurgeon had to say:

“World events are not tangled, confused, or perplexing to God. “For I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isa 46:9-10)

Yahweh’s power is apparent, from the least to the greatest, for God is in all and rules all.  He guides the grain of dust in the March wind and the planets in their immeasurable pathways.  He steers each drop of spray beaten back from the face of the rock. He leads the north star (Jer. 31:35).  God is the dictator of destinies.  He appoints both the ideas and the end.  He is the King of kings (Rev. 19:16), ruling rulers and guiding counselors.

He is the same in the crash of battle or in the hush of peace.  He is the same in famine or in the joy of abundant harvest.  He is Lord.  He does according to His will, no only in heaven but among the inhabitants of this lower world.

The storm may rage, but all is well, for our Captain is the governor of storms.  He who trod the waves of the Galilean lake is at the helm, and at his command winds and waves are quiet (Matt 14:27).

Courage, dear friend.  The Lord, the ever-merciful, has appointed every moment of sorrow and pang of suffering.  If He ordains the number ten, it can never rise to eleven, nor should  you desire that it shrink to nine.

The Lord’s time is best.  The span of your life is measured to a hair’s width.  Restless soul, God ordains all, so let the Lord have His way.”

These are words of great comfort from the “prince of preachers” over a hundred years ago.  Isn’t it amazing that truth never changes.  Fads come and go, but God’s truth is eternal.  It is in our best interest to know His ways and adjust our lives to that.  When we sing the song, “Our God Reigns”, it is not just words . . . It is the expression of one of Scriptures greatest themes.

And if He reigns we have nothing to fear, as his adopted children.  May we learn to more fully trust Him and walk with Him in obedience.

The Paradoxes of the Christian Life

I was reflecting the past few days on how many paradoxes there are in the Christian life.  Things that seem to be contradictory, but are in fact, well, fact!!  As I was thinking about this I did something that I do daily, I picked up one of my copies of  The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.  There it was, the very first entry in the book.  But it was kinda standing alone, not categorized as all the other prayers are.  I’ve been reading this book almost daily for at least 15 years, yet in all that time I had never read this first and introductory prayer.  I really thought that a bit strange, but if I have read it, I don’t remember it.  So it was like new and fresh water to my soul.  And it dealt with the subject on which I had been thinking.

I thought you might benefit from it also:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

You have brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Your glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter the stars shine;

Let me find Your light in my darkness,
Your life in my death,
Your joy in my sorrow,
Your grace in my sin,
Your riches in my poverty,
Your glory in my valley.

A worthy prayer, and a pretty good description of the Christian life.

Dear Friend, Faithful Believer to the End

UPDATE: The memorial service for Michael will be Saturday, April 10, at 2:30pm in the chapel of Oneida Baptist Institute, Oneida, KY.  Visitation will begin at 12:30 and continue until the time of the service.

Michael Spencer (1956-2010)

Last night at about 7:00 a dear friend and fellow laborer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ was ushered into the presence of our Lord.  Most people who know Michael know him as the Internet Monk, where he has written for the past 10 years.  He was always provocative and deeply insightful.  Michael and I became friends some years back and from the first meeting it was as though we had been lifelong friends.  Many who read his blog would think Michael to be a very opinionated man . . . and to some extent they would be right.  But to know him was to know a man who deeply loved Jesus and desired to see His church be faithful to the call of Christ.  Because of that love for Jesus he had a Biblical humility when you were in his presence.  I loved the way he described himself in his BIO on his blog:

Michael is much more opinionated on paper than in person. He describes himself as a New Covenant, Reformation-loving, post-evangelical Christian in search of a Jesus shaped spirituality. He has great appreciation for the ancient church, missions, Christian community and theological underdogs.

Some of my best memories since moving to Kentucky involve sitting across from Michael, eating Mexican food, and talking theology.  Those times will be missed greatly!!

I was with Michael and Denise a few weeks back when the doctor informed them that the chemo was not working, the cancer was too advanced and too aggressive.  I wept that there was really no treatment nor would there be any remission, short of a miracle.  My prayer, and I admit it was a selfish one, was that without the chemo attacking his body that he  might regain some strength for a season and we could have some of those Mexican dinners and theological discussions again, at least for awhile.

But as we are all painfully aware, God’s ways are not our ways, and we rest in the knowledge that His ways are perfect.  Michael is perfectly healed today. No cancer, no pain, no struggles, just glorious worship in the presence of His Lord.  The iMonk may have left the earth, but he is alive . . . for one reason, Jesus is alive.

Prayer for his family, wife Denise, children Noel and Clay, as well as their spouses.  The funeral/memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 10, in the chapel of Oneida Baptist Institute in Oneida, KY.

Good Theology in the Strangest Places

Since we live in a world (even churches)  that tends to downplay “theology” and “doctrine” as something of a bother, it is good to run across it, even in the most unusual places.  A few weeks back I read an interview of one of the “new atheists”, Christopher Hinchens.  The interview was conducted by a Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell and was published in the Portland Monthly Magazine.  For most of the interview it was pretty much what you would expect — religion is not good, God is a tyrant, Christianity was not founded by Jesus but by Paul, etc.  But there was one very brief exchange that caught my eye.  In this Q&A the atheist schools the “minister” in a bit of truth:

Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the Scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

I used this exchange to end my Easter sermon yesterday.  It applies . . . the Apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9, ” . . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;” He also told the Christians at Corinth, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain . . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:14, 17).

The resurrection of Christ is central to all Christian truth.  To deny it is to deny the atonement.  To deny these matters is of great peril to your soul.

Crucifixion & Resurrection — A Puritan Prayer

More for  your preparation for this coming Sunday’s worship.  I shared this prayer (slightly modified) as the pastoral prayer this past Sunday at Grace Baptist.  It speaks the truth about what we should be seeking as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s atonement and resurrection:

Oh LORD,

We marvel that You should become incarnate,
be crucified, dead and buried.
The sepulcher calls forth our adoring wonder,
for it is empty and You are risen;
the Gospel attests it,
the living witnesses prove it,
our hearts’ experience know it.
Give us the grace to die with You that we may rise to new life,
for we wish to be as dead and buried
to sin, to selfishness, to the world;
that we might not hear the voice of the deceiver
and might be delivered from his lusts.
O LORD, there is much sin about us – crucify it,
much flesh within us – mortify it.
Purge us from selfishness, the fear of man, the love of man’s approval,
the shame of being thought old-fashioned,
the desire to be cultured or modern.
Let us reckon our old life dead because of crucifixion,
and never feed it as a living thing.
Grant us to stand with our dying Savior,
to be content to be rejected,
to be willing to take up unpopular truths,
and to hold fast despised teachings until death.
Help us to be resolute and Christ-contained,
Never let us wander from the path of obedience to Your will.
Strengthen us for the battles ahead.
Give us courage for all the trials, and grace for all the joys.
Help us to be a holy, happy people,
free from every wrong desire,
from everything contrary to Your mind.
Grant us more and more of the resurrection life:
may it rule us,
may we walk in its power, and be strengthened through its influence.

Worship Preparation for Easter Weekend

This week is celebrated as a special time by the Church of Jesus Christ.  I am aware of the fact that EVERY SUNDAY is, or should be, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, but the church has historically set this Sunday apart for special emphasis.  While we should prepare ourselves for worship each week and not just expect it to “happen” because we enter a door to a building, perhaps many of you will think even more about our Lord’s sacrifice and resurrection this week.  Here are two of my favorite songs related to this week.  I hope they minister to you and help you prepare to worship the Living King this week.

I love this quote from Mark Driscoll in Doctrine:  “If Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead. If Jesus is alive, then Christianity is alive.”  JESUS IS ALIVE, SHOUT IT AND PROCLAIM IT THIS WEEK!!!