The Supreme Value

August 2, 2013

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.”  (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4)

I have now shared with you six eternal values that are the hallmark of people who live life in Christ at its deepest level of meaning and then “graduate” into eternal life.  There is another value I must share with you because it is the supreme and absolute value, the “door” that must be opened if we are to find all these eternal values.  This seventh value is the value we place on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let me explain.

Suppose I asked you to write your answer to this question: “What is the Gospel?”  Imagine that I asked you to accompany your answer with Scripture verse references.   How would you answer my question?

As you search the Scriptures, you will discover the seventh eternal value:  Easter is far more important than Christmas.  When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, he devoted approximately half his twenty-one chapters to the thirty-three years Jesus lived on earth and half his chapters to just the last week Jesus lived.  Of the eighty-nine combined chapters of the four Gospels, four chapters cover the birth and first thirty years Jesus lived, while twenty-seven chapters cover the last week Jesus lived.  Why is the last week of the life of Jesus so very important, and why is Easter far more important than Christmas?

Easter is when Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. The cry of the church all over the world on Resurrection Sunday is:

He is risen, indeed.   


The Gospel in Reverse

April 2, 2013

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)

This past weekend many heard the Good News that Jesus died and rose again for our sins that we might live forever in resurrection power with Him.  Have you ever heard of the Gospel in reverse?  The verse I quoted above sounds like a funeral dirge because it begins with Paul’s announcement that he is crucified with Christ.

But, actually in this verse Paul exclaims three times that he lives! He lives by faith in the Son of God.  He lives because Christ lives in him, and he lives because he is crucified with Christ.  To summarize and paraphrase, in this verse Paul is declaring the Good News that Christ died so he might live and now it’s his turn.  Paul must die so Christ might live His life through Paul.

When our holidays roll around we hear that it should be Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter every day of the year.  If you want to have a perpetual Easter, realize that what was true of the Apostle Paul can be true for you and me.

Jesus consistently challenged His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9: 23).  In addition to the literal meaning this could have had in that culture, by application to take up your cross daily means to “crucify” all the personal hopes, ambitions and plans you had for your life asking Him to have His will for your life.

Christ died that you might live.  Now it’s your turn.


Applied Resurrection

March 29, 2013

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV)

A mother of small twin daughters realized her bone marrow transplants were not going to work.  In beautiful handwriting she wrote out The Living Bible Paraphrase of three chapters written by Paul about resurrection.  When she gave them to me she asked me to explain them at her memorial service simply so her daughters would understand them.

The first was the great resurrection chapter of the Bible, the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians.  The other two were the fourth and fifth chapters of Second Corinthians.  I call these last two chapters: “Applied Resurrection.”

The first application of the resurrection of Christ is that just as Jesus was buried and raised from the dead, we are buried in the hope of our own resurrection.  If that is not going to happen we should be pitied because we suffered for Christ in this life.

If you want to have a personal Easter I challenge you to read these three chapters slowly and devotionally in a good translation or paraphrase you can understand like The Living Bible Paraphrase or The Message.

C.S. Lewis told us the clergy are people who have been set aside to remind us that we are creatures who are going to live forever.  They are also to teach us that life is a school in which we are to learn eternal values.

Applied Resurrection teaches us that though our outward man is perishing, it is possible for our inward man to be renewed every day while we’re learning to appreciate the difference between the visible and the invisible, the temporal and eternal values.

May your Easter be a time of reflection on eternal resurrection values.


The Best Deal Ever Offered

March 26, 2013

“God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”   (2 Corinthians 5:21, the Message)

So what is the biggest weekend in the Church year all about?  What does it mean to you and me personally?  The Apostle Paul put it in a nutshell. What it amounts to is the best deal ever offered.

Because of what happened on Good Friday God has offered to put all of our wrong on Jesus and in exchange put all that is right with Jesus on you and me.  That’s the best offer we ever had.  All we have to do to close on the offer is believe it!

In 1949 while I was doing social work in Pittsburgh, late one night a man asked if he could speak with me.  As we talked in the darkness outside a closed recreation center he told me he was wounded in the great Battle of the Bulge toward the end of World War II.  While still under fire he saw a chaplain crawling from one wounded man to another.  This chaplain apparently had something very important he said to those men.  He hoped the chaplain would make it to him but after taking several hits the chaplain didn’t move anymore.

He said he had been wondering for several years what it was the chaplain had to say to those men.  He said after watching me for a couple of month he told his wife he believed I could tell him what that chaplain was telling those wounded men.  I told him about the greatest deal ever offered.

This Easter do you have a message for dying people?  Do you have a message for people who are going to live?


Resurrection

April 12, 2012

“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”   (1 Corinthians 15: 49)

Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible for it to hover like a helicopter?  A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water.  When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun.  Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence when it becomes an aeronautical wonder.

Easter reminded us that like the dragonfly we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions.  If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems.  It has one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.

If you could do a spiritual cross-section on a born again believer you would find that we are also equipped with two systems.  We have an outward man and an inward man.  Our outward man is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward man lives.

We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity.  I don’t know about you but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!


The New Commandment

April 5, 2012

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”   (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles.  Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where they were to celebrate the Passover with Jesus the apostles argued about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.  What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet He asked the question “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the words quoted above.  The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus was love.  He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

He also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example.  If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet they should wash each other’s feet.  Then He made the connection between feet washing and love by giving them the New Commandment.  They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them.  This would be the absolute credential that they were His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment.  Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other.  This new commitment established a New Community.  We call it the church.  The secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!”  If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord make it so!

 


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