He rose that we may die!

*****

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2.

Easter break came and we are back to our daily routine, long weeks and short weekends. I know the feeling if only every week was 4 days long! But to a Christian, Easter means more than a long weekend. Because that first Easter did not just change history, it completely affects our identity and how we live as Christians.

You could say Easter is the compass on how to live the rest of the year. It reminds us of who we are, those bought by his blood. And it gives us hope beyond the grave, that death will not be our end. Easter refocuses our attention to where we are headed, our eternal home with King Jesus. But the question is how are we to live now?

Die to selfish ambition
Paul says we are to live by faith in the one who died for us. We walk by faith not by mere eyesight as everyone else. And we are no longer to live for selfish ambitions as the rest of the world.

But now having died to self, we live for the one who died that we may live with God. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

The man you hear is dead, for Christ now lives in him. It is Christ, says the apostle Paul, who now lives in me. And in this, we have sure confidence of our faith as the people of God, as we bear the marks of Jesus on us, our death for his life.

17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6.

Live for the salvation of others 
We are not here merely waiting for the end of times but living for Jesus. And if Jesus came to die for our reconciliation with God then we die to self in submission to him and his mission.

As his ambassadors, we seek others to be reconciled with him. We crucify those wild dreams to make a name for ourselves for we belong to another.

Instead, we seek to please him and live for his dream, the reconciliation of the world to God.  As 2 Corinthians says, his love compels us to seek the lost. Indeed, if our souls didn’t yearn and bleed for the lost, Christ wouldn’t be alive in us.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5.

Build his Body
Since we are dead to ourselves, we belong to Christ and his body. For we are not saved alone but as a community of believers. It’s no longer my life and my goals that matter for King Jesus calls me to his mission which is the mission of his church.

I’m eternally bound to my brothers, their weakness is my weakness and my greatest concern is that they are built up to maturity in him.

In the Bible, we learn that God is not working through a million individuals doing things separately but in the office of the Holy Spirit, his church.

21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2.

The business of God is to bring us into the sheepfold of Christ and grow us to maturity, to conform us to his likeness.

He achieves this through his Word and by the gifts of one another. And as we speak God’s truth to one another, we grow in full knowledge of him:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4.

Have you fully died?
The problem is many of us Christians want to have our cake and eat it. We definitely want to live for King Jesus but a small part of us is still struggling to its last legs. Some of us are more aware of this than others. And unfortunately, we see it more in others than we see it in ourselves.

My prayer after this Easter is that we will withhold nothing to the one who died for us. That he will help us through his Word to kill selfish ambition for his mission.

To repent and kill sin every day. And to desire what he desires: that many may be saved and come to know him as their Lord. That we will be deeply convinced to give ourselves fully to his work as every Christian should.

He rose that we may die. To live and work for him who died for us. And as Paul says our labor in him is not in vain:

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor 15.

As CT Studd said, only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. All other work and way of life end in vain. But this is worth dying for.

I pray that we will be fully convinced by his Word that this is the true Christian calling. To fully die that he may live in us. Amen!

*****

Crazy, Dreamer, Christian?

*****

Perhaps this title describes some of your good Christian friends, they are nice but for lack of a better word simply crazy. They want more from life and happens to call it Christian. Maybe you are my friend and you are like, yeah that narrows it down.

I mean, how can you believe a man who says there’s life beyond the grave? And you know they will be on it again this Easter calling you to investigate Jesus’ claim on this.

Are they Crazy?
But while all Christians might be crazy you think some of them should know better. I mean in other matters they seem to use brains but on this, well, not much seems to be going on upstairs. How can that be!

In the first century, some of the well educated and respected religious leaders were confronted with this claim of the resurrection. The Sadducees would have none of it, once dead always dead, they said. Anybody who claimed life beyond the grave was simply a nutcase. So they came to Jesus with this question.

18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question …Mark 12.

They told him a scenario that would discredit the resurrection, as it would mean chaos for their marriage traditions.

…23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” …Mark 12

But unlike us, the Sadducees should have known better regarding God’s power and his plan since they would have believed in the Jewish scriptures and were creationists after all.

Why would the God who made the world not be able to breathe life to the dead? And as Jesus tells them, if they paid attention they would see the witness of their Scriptures about life beyond the grave.

24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?…26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” Mark 12

Their forefather Abraham was a witness against them of those dead yet living. Jesus says, God is not the God of those who once believed but now gone but dead and yet still living.

And if they studied the Psalms and the Prophets they would have come to the conclusion that God’s plan was to make Jesus, the Christ, king of God’s new creation with eternal life for his people.

Maybe not Crazy!
Perhaps your Christian friend is not crazy to believe in life beyond the grave. God’s power and the Old Testament in the Bible bear witness of this. That’s before we even consider Jesus own resurrection from the 4 eyewitness accounts and other New Testament books. At this point, we don’t even need to go to other reliable extra-Biblical sources.

As a matter of fact, these religious leaders would have been witnesses to Jesus raising the dead. Which means this was not just a question of evidence but of faith in God and his plan.

A Question of morality!

At the beginning of this chapter, in Mark 12:1-12, their real motivation behind their question is exposed, they didn’t want anything to do with God’s Son as they wanted to keep their authority on God’s people. And the story ends with them killing God’s Son to usurp him. Unfortunately their reign and logic are shortlived as 3 days later he is raised from the tomb.

They wanted to keep God’s vineyard and its fruits for themselves. Just as we want to keep what God has given and entrusted to us without regard to our Creator and his rights on his creation.

They failed and stand in judgment as will all those who rebel against God’s king. They should have paid attention to the Psalms:

11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalms 2.  

What about you?
Perhaps our problem with Christianity is not one of evidence but of morality. It’s not that there’s not enough evidence to believe in Jesus claims but that we don’t want to believe it to be true. And if it is evidence then in the Bible God tells us a lot to convince us on this if only we would listen to him.

Dreamer or Christian?

Paul says that if there’s no resurrection then all your Christian friends have wasted their lives for nothing and we are wasting your time. If so then it’s time to wake up from this drunken stupor.

What’s worse, if this is true then your Christian friend is not a nice person after all but a liar and a false witness who should be in prison.

 …13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised,our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised

…19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Corinthians 15.

If I was your Christian friend I would desperately want you to investigate this further, perhaps by reading one of the eye-witness accounts like Mark’s Gospel alone, with a friend or visiting a church where the Bible is clearly taught. Don’t just assume the stories you had in school or in religious debates. So much is at stake here.

And if you are a non-believing, loving friend or family to a Christian then don’t let them waste their lives or continue to live in this madness. Talk to them about their faith in Jesus.

*****

Walking in his light

20190405_163329.jpg

*****

Faithful God

Christians believe God to be one who keeps his promises. That’s why you hear them repeatedly speak about his faithfulness.

Unlike men who say one thing and do another, what he said came to pass. Men bind their promises on their word but this always fails at least because they die.

We are promised love but with the injunction that death will be the end of it. But it’s not so with God.

Unfailing Word

No, God binds his word on his own existence as nothing else qualifies as guarantee to his promises.

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40.  

While men die and their word go with them, God lives on and his word stands the times and tides.

Only Faithful to his Word

But as with every promise God can only be faithful to what he has said, what is contained in his Word, in the Bible.

We cannot claim his faithfulness to our every whim and desire, however good and powerful he is, that’s just infringement on our part.

No, as with every party to a covenant we need to know the other party well and the terms of the covenant. And this is not just a case of how to exploit the terms but also how to remain faithful to him as well.

This is why Christians value God’s Word because through it we know God and what he has revealed to us. Ours is not just a religious text but the word of the God who made us and wants to live with us in his eternal home in future.

What’s more, God has told us how to live now in this waiting period and for this, we need his word to guide us and strengthen us on the journey.

29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40.

He renews our strength by his word as he leads us to our eternal heritage.

Living in light of his word

God’s Word is our light and guide through this world. It gives us perspective on life under the sun and reminds us that we belong to another in our heavenly home.

And when we feel lost, we go to his word to know his plan now (Ephesians 3:10) and to the fullness of time (Ephesians 1:10).

This gives us a viewpoint of what we should be all about as Christians, as those who know God and his plan in this blind and confused world.

His Word reveals to us that history is linear, not circular, purposeful not random and headed to everything being put under the reign of King Jesus. 

…With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1. 

And now,

10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms Ephesians 3.

Through his word Christians know where this world is headed and can make informed decisions. That is, to make most use of this time as we look forward to his imminent return. To give ourselves fully to what he is achieving through his church.

*****