Reflections About Resurrection Sunday

It started with a question, “If an outsider were to observe our family for four years, which holiday would she likely say is the most important to us? Based on our actions and our joy, which holiday requires more of our time, creativity and effort, the INCARNATION or the RESURRECTION? Christmas or Easter? I waited…

Two of the six loudly responded, “Christmas!” The other four nodded their heads in agreement. After family devotion was over it was time for some serious REFLECTION.

Matthew dedicates just seven verses to the Birth of Jesus, Matthew 1:18-25. Luke dedicates thirty-two verses, Luke 1:26-38, and 2:1-21, which includes the birth announcement. That’s about forty verses. The miracles surrounding the birth of Christ are: (1) an angel appearing to Joseph (2), an angel appeared to Mary (3), an angel appeared to the shepherds and (4), a multitude of heavenly host praising God. Matthew dedicates thirty-one verses to the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are thirty-six verses in Mark, and forty-two in John. Luke dedicates seven-nine (79) verses for the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ. When we just contrast the numbers, 188-40, there is no comparison, there are more verses dedicated to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The miracles that accompanied the death and Resurrection: (1) Darkness over the land from 12pm-3pm (2), the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom (3), the earth shook (4) the rocks split (5), the tombs were opened (6) the saints was raised and went into the holy city and appeared to many (7), another great earthquake happened (8) an angel rolled back the stone (9) the linen clothes were lying there AND (10) Jesus appeared to His disciples.

Just a simple reading the New Testament reveals that there are more miracles and more scripture verses that accompany the RESURRECTION than the INCARNATION.

Our devotion started with a question, but ended with REPENTANCE. I repented and apologized. The New Testament emphasizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ more than the incarnation and I should also.

The incarnation is important, but the Christian hope is enveloped in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do you place more effort in celebrating Christmas and neglect Holy Week? We are starting to plan for Holy Week 2016; will you join us?

Brian L. Spivey

Advertisements

THERE’S NOBODY LIKE JESUS


When was the last time you heard a sermon about Joseph? The famous ‘Coat of many Colors.’ “The Favored Son.” “The Tenacity of Joseph” “The Joseph Spirit.”
It probably focused on Joseph’s entrepreneurial spirit. Or how God will raise us up after we have been faithful in our trials. Is that the major theological lesson God wants us to understand from that story? The narrative of Joseph is just a demonstration of the Messiah and His future work. Joseph was sent to his brothers, and his brothers rejected him. Sound familiar? Joseph was put into a pit? Does this remind you of someone? His brothers were the ones who ate bread with him, and they were the ones who lifted up their heel against him. The ones who betrayed Joseph were the very people with whom he dipped morsels of bread. Remind you of another person? Joseph was raised and seated in authority to preserve the life of his people. What about the ‘Coat of many colors’? How does that point to Christ?
A sermon about Joseph that doesn’t mention Christ is missing the point!
There’s Nobody Like Jesus. He secured our salvation and lives forever.
In my past life, I once heard an “evangelist” sermonize for 70 minutes about how Christians need the armor of God to go to heaven. We need the armor, but the armor does not forgive our sins and change our eternal destiny. There’s Nobody Like Jesus.

ONLY ONE person can turn a woman who was famous for singing about adultery into a changed woman who now sings, (Shirley Murdock with Darwin Hobbs) “There’s Nobody Like Jesus” – JESUS THE MESSIAH.

 

Brian L. Spivey

Advice from a Muslim and a Request from the Apostle Paul – A Good Combination!

Image

If you had an opportunity, beginning with Moses and all the prophets to share everything about Christ on a seven-mile walk, would you do it?  Or better question, could you do it?

If you are not familiar with this episode in Scripture, it is recorded in Luke 24:13-27.  Jesus interpreted to those two men all the things concerning Himself on the road to Emmaus.  I have always read those verses and secretly thought to myself, “I wish God would give me an opportunity like that, I sure will take full advantage of it.”  Have you ever had that thought?  Then read this story and take heed.

Every summer I make it my goal to share the gospel with at least two people.

This summer I was walking with two camp workers and we saw a chalkboard that they just built in Central Park (not NYC).  It read, “Before I die, I want to…” As the three of us walked, the two of them announced what they wanted to do and then one turned to me and said, “Mr. Spivey, what about you?”  I couldn’t believe it.  It was just like Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  I said, “Before I die, I would like to tell as many people as possible about the Amazing things that Jesus did.”  They both chimed in like a rehearsal for a video, “Oh, that’s a good one.”  Then one of the workers, who happened to be a Muslim, said something that stung like a wet switch on dry skin; because of the timing and his childlike delivery, I know it was sincere.  He said, “Why do you have to wait until then, you can start right now.”  I was not prepared for that comment.  I said something lame like, “Most people think Jesus was only a prophet, but they just don’t know what He has accomplished.”  And then I just stopped.  There was an awkward quiet moment, and then I said, “By the way, what does a dog have to do with Taco Bell?”

I had an opportunity of a lifetime and I switched the conversation to Taco Bell.  Taco Bell?  I felt like that apostle Peter when the Lord looked at him when he denied Jesus the third time.  I will heed that advice, but I have to mix it with Apostle Paul’s request to the Ephesians: “Making supplications for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).  Yes, thanks to my Muslim friend, I will change my goal from two to many, AND solicit as many prayers as I can for boldness.  Will you be willing to pray for me this summer?

Brian Spivey

D.O.C.

Tying Up Some Loose Enns, part 1

untied_shoelaces_by_bowdownbeforevia-d4w0x8n

A few weeks ago Dave and I went to an Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Nyack, NY at the Alliance Theological Seminary. The two main speakers were Peter Enns and John (Jack) Collins, the topic addressed was the historicity of Adam. Dr. Enns’ presentation was thoughtful and articulate. His words were measured as he had clearly wrestled with some problematic questions. I certainly respect his desire to come to sound biblical conclusions, but as with all wrestling, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

For Dr. Enns, Adam is simply a myth. He’s a part of Israel’s origin story, which had as its’ backdrop other Ancient Near Eastern literature (i.e. other origin stories with some parallels, The Enuma Elish, for example) After his presentation there was some Q&A. One person mentioned that Paul believed Adam was a historical figure, as clearly stated in Romans 5. Professor Enns advised that Paul was a 1st century Jew who believed the conventions of his day. Following this, someone else brought up the fact that Jesus himself believed in a historical Adam. To which Dr. Enns advised that Jesus too was a 1st century Jew who believed the conventions of the day. In other words, Paul and Jesus were mistaken.

This presents us with some interesting questions. If Paul was mistaken about this matter, what else was Paul mistaken about? Was he right with regard to doctrinal formulations and propositional truths, but confused about material facts? Was he correct about his interpretation of OT texts, or was he wielding them for his own purposes in seeking to proclaim and exhalt the One whom he thought was the Christ?

But further than this, what if Jesus was mistaken about Adam? Could Jesus himself believe something which was untrue, and then apply that error in making a theological point about God’s original intention in marriage (Mt. 19:4-5)? And if so, where does it stop? How do we discern what is true and false?

Let’s ask an additional question. If Jesus as a man was mistaken about historical facts, how do we know he was correct about any statement he made? What kind of duality does this create? Jesus could be wrong in his humanity, but never wrong in his divinity? He knew heavenly things, but not earthly things? Of course, no one with an orthodox view of Christology suggests that Jesus knew everything in his humanity (like how to speak French or do complicated algorithms), but that when he spoke he knew everything truthfully and accurately pertaining to the things he said.

Dr. Enns’ presentation deflated rather quickly after this. The implication of his position could be re-stated this way:

Jesus was a man of his times and subject to the conventions of his day, therefore with regard to Adam, Jesus was wrong.

Paul was a man of his times and subject to the conventions of his day, therefore with regard to Adam, Paul was wrong.

Peter Enns, in spite of being a man of his times and subject to the conventions of his day, is correct with regard to Adam.

This is one of those situations where to state the position is to refute the position, but I’ll let you be the judge.

C.M. Granger

Are You a Groundhog or a Christian?

Image

There are seven festivals instituted by God for the Israelites.  These festivals were shadows or types of Christ.  You can find a detailed description in Leviticus 23.  Males were required to travel to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate three out of the seven – The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Weeks and The Feast of Booths.  The one that’s probably most unfamiliar to us is The Feast of Booths.  They had to hold a holy convocation for the first day, and a holy convocation for the eighth day.  No ordinary work was to be done.  You can read about all the details of this festival in Leviticus 23:33-44.  The point I want to emphasize here is what the Israelites were suppose to remember during this time – that the people of “Israel dwell in booths when I (The Lord) brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (verse 43).

The children of Israel had to leave the ‘comforts’ of their homes and live in these ‘booths’ for seven days.  This helped remind them that when God brought them out of Egypt, they had nothing but His presence.  If they had His presence, then they needed nothing else to survive.  These booths, or ‘tabernacles,’ were reminders, but they also pointed forward.  They were to look forward to the Messiah who would be ‘God with them.’   The tabernacle stood as a visible witness that salvation was God’s way or no way.  It typified the Incarnation of Christ.  The tabernacle was also a visible reminder that God’s presence – the most holy place, was off limits; it was only accessible by a representative.  The curtain dashed all of our hopes, and kept us out of the presence of God.

But the greatest miracle the world has ever experienced happened over 2000 years ago – Jesus was born.

John said that Jesus dwelt (tabernacled) among us (John 1:14).  Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father – there is no other name whereby men can be saved.  Jesus became our hope that entered into the inner place behind the curtain (Hebrews 6:19).

Why do we need to participate in a shadow?   We don’t need to go back to darkness and build booths.  Jesus said He was the light of the world.  A shadow disappears when the sunlight is directly overhead.  When the true Light of the world came, He dispelled the shadows.  Those festivals were not the real thing, they only pointed to the real thing.  Only a groundhog is foolish enough to believe that a shadow is a real thing… Are you going to be Christ-follower, or a groundhog?

 

Brian L. Spivey

Theological Docetism and the Postmodern Turn

One of my pastors (that guy listed as an author on this blog, you can guess which one right?) is doing a Sunday School class this year entitled “Foundations of Systematic Theology”. This morning he dealt with the two natures of Christ in one Person. He began with a brief survey of early errors in Christology regarding this subject. One of them, Docetism, stuck with me today as I thought about facts and appearances. What do I mean?

Docetism is the belief that Christ was divine, but only appeared human. We discussed in the class why this view is problematic. If Jesus only appeared human, then he didn’t really suffer on the cross. If he only appeared human, then he couldn’t be our represententative as the second Adam, couldn’t have experienced (and resisted) temptation in our stead, couldn’t have bled and died in our place.

I started thinking of a postmodern form of Docetism. What would that be, you might ask? The belief that the Bible only appears to record historical events and persons (i.e. Adam and Eve, Noah’s Flood, the extermination of the Canaanites, etc.) but in reality contains a boat load of myth and metaphor. Is there a historical narrative in Scripture you can’t stomach? Simple. It’s a myth. Maybe the early chapters of Genesis got you down? Easy. Metaphor.

It’s all in the appearances anyway, isn’t it?

Except that the Christian faith is based on actual historical events that are all tied together and cannot be separated. Consider 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul defends the resurrection on historical grounds, tracing sin all the way back to Adam. Verse 13 and following, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” Vs. 17, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” Seems like this historical event is important in the apostle’s view, doesn’t it? Vs. 21-22, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.”

But, wait a minute (says the postmodern mind), Adam is a myth. A figurehead meant to illustrate a theological point. Hmmm. How can I assert a historical Jesus now?

Not sure. I’d like to know that myself.

Have an answer? Chime in…

C.M. Granger

Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

Published by IVP Academic, © 1992.

Many Christians claim to love Jesus, but our love for Him can only grow in direct proportion to what we know about Jesus.  Is this a call to spend more time reading and studying the four gospels?  Actually, this is call to do the opposite

Wright opens his book with this statement, “In the midst of the many intrinsically fascinating reasons why Old Testament study is so rewarding, the most exciting to me is the way it never fails to add new depths to my understanding of Jesus.”

For the next 252 pages, Wright explores the salvation story from Genesis to the reign of David and explains how different aspects of God’s story point forward to Jesus.

There were several eye-opening themes that help me appreciate my Savior a little more than I did before I read this book, but the concept that I most appreciated was Wright’s explanation of the difference between promise and prediction.  He used the illustration of a marriage to shine light on one of the differences.  He states, “That it is one thing to predict a marriage between two people, but quite another thing to promise to marry a particular person – a promise is made to someone, where as a prediction is made about someone.”  Because it is a promise that God gave to his people, “it is the relationship behind it that really matters, the material form in which it is fulfilled may be quite different from the literal form in which it was originally made, and yet it is no less a valid fulfillment of the promise.”

Just this small section of the book helped me answer some of the questions that I once had about the dispensational view that God has two salvation plans – one for the Gentile, and a separate one for the Jew.  This book was full of those kinds of nuggets of truth.  If you can make it through the first fifty pages, which is slow and dry, you will benefit greatly from reading this book.  More importantly, your love for Jesus will reach depths you never thought imaginable.

 

Brian L. Spivey D.O.C.