THE NOTHING OF EASTER SATURDAY

THE NOTHING OF EASTER SATURDAY

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THINGS CHRISTIANS CAN’T TALK ABOUT, PART 4 – Death

THINGS CHRISTIANS CAN’T TALK ABOUT, PART 4 – Death

I have long said that my primary role as a shepherd-pastor is to help people to die well. To do this, as I have often said, requires that we learn how to live life well. Of all the normally uncomfortable subjects that Christians find it difficult to talk about, death should not be one of them. But it is. This is because, of all the world religions, only Christianity has a positive view of death. After all, we have a divine Saviour who confronted and conquered death. As a result the original apostles mocked death.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
¶ The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.”
(First Corinthians 15:55-56)
These apostles refused to be intimidated by death which was ultimately evidenced by their martyrdoms. The apostle Paul could look forward to his death with the obvious lament that he would no longer be available to help those he had led to the Lord (Phil. 1:23-25). But he could face his impending death with the assurance that it would mean that he would immediately be in the presence of his Lord — and so should we! And like Paul, we too should be be able to talk about death in a very different way to those who do not know what we know.

THE RESULTS OF CHRIST’S CROSS

THE RESULTS OF CHRIST’S CROSS

When the New Testament refers to “the cross of Christ” (1Cor. 1:17) it is also referring to His journey to the cross (known as His ‘passion’). This journey (Christ’s passion) began on earth with His incarnation in the womb of the virgin Mary. While the incarnation of the Word was the greatest miracle, His work on the cross was the greatest public miracle. It is also true that the death of Christ on the cross has now provided the means by which any repentant sinner can be forgiven of their sins and made right with God. But it is also true that the death of Christ on the cross means not just this, and, much more than this. This also involves understanding that not only does the New Testament use the expression the cross or the cross of Christ to include the events leading up to the cross, it also encompasses the events proceeding after the cross – including Christ’s resurrection, ascension and glorification.

I WAS IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD’S DAY

I WAS IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD’S DAY

A year earlier all hell had broken loose when the tyrant emperor Caesar Nero had outlawed Christianity; and now, the last surviving apostle of Christ had been banished to Patmos Island. All looked bleak. The youngest of Christ’s apostles, John was just a teenager when he witnessed the brutal and protracted execution of Jesus. John, now in his fifties, had many reasons to feel disappointed and even disillusioned with God. His apostolic colleagues had each been martyred – having been put to death in often gruesome ways including: crucifixion, flaying, and beheading. On this barren rocky island, separated from the woman he had pledged to her crucified Son that he would look after, and away from the people that Christ had shed His blood for, John was alone. Ever since Jesus had risen bodily from dead, these life-time faithful sabbath-keeping Jews now recognised that Christ had sanctified the first day of the week, Sunday, as His day. It was also on this sanctified day that Christ poured out Holy Spirit on his gathered disciples. Ever since that day, no matter how he felt or the circumstances he was in, John had made it his custom to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. And his first Sunday on this island of banishment was no exception. He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. While some weak Christians find disappointment with God an excuse to forsake God, John did not. While some weak Christians allow their excuses for disappointment with God to walk away from their church family, John did not. John’s example has something to teach us. 
¶ I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…
Revelation 1:9-10a

NEVER BE AFRAID AGAIN

NEVER BE AFRAID AGAIN

Fear can be crippling. Being afraid is often the result of not what is happening, but what we fear might happen. Such fears make each of us vulnerable to withdraw, give-up, hide, or excuse ourselves from ever trying something new. The result of this happening is that we each become less than who God has created us to be and in the process we deny the world the benefit of what God can do through us. In the Bible there are many stories of many heroes who learned the secret of overcoming their fears by trusting God and learning how to ‘fear’ Him despite their circumstances or fearful expectations. We read of how Kings led their vastly outnumbered army to defeat immensely more powerful and ruthless enemy armies by fearing the Lord. We read how previously unsure, uncertain, unable people became fearless, decisive, and confident and able to solve previously insurmountable problems by simply fearing the Lord. We read how the arrogant were humbled and transformed into gentle and caring souls when they experienced the fear of the Lord. Then in the early chapters of the Book of Acts when becoming a Christian could cost you your life, we read of the numbers of Christians exploded across the Empire because they also no longer had a reason to be afraid because they learned what it meant to fear the Lord.