Archaeologists in Jordan have announced the discovery of a cave under the church of St Georgeous in Rihab that they believe was used as far back as between 33 AD to 70 AD to shelter early disciples of Jesus Christ. See here for a great picture gallery provided by the Guardian.
Some of the names and words used to describe the character of GOD, being drawn on a wall of ‘Mosaic Church Leeds.’
We have arrived at the final two chapters of Adrian Warnock’s Raised with Christ:
Chapter Eighteen: Our Resurrection Bodies
Chapter Nineteen: The Resurrection of all Things
The certain hope of the resurrection has been much on my mind in the last two days as I prayed with a dying Christian brother. What an incredible testimony. His body racked with pain, but a calm and certain confidence of the Lord’s love and the realisation of soon being in His very presence. That is now the reality for my dear friend. I have been reminded of the words of the great evangelist of the 19th century, D L Moody. At his funeral, the words he had spoken a year earlier were remembered. He had said:
“Some day you will read in the papers that D.L Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”
And that wonderful biblical truth is explored by our author. Adrian reminds us of Jesus’ words, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But that is far from the end of the story. For the person trusting in the Lord Jesus, there is hope (certain confidence) beyond the grave. It is a “hope that we will be physically raised, not merely somehow survive as spirits.”
The so-called intermediate state (between physical death of a believer and the resurrection) is helpfully described by Adrian. At death we experience a kind of spiritual renewal - we become fully aware of what is already true of us. Our spirits are already with Christ (Eph 2:6). And we will await (absolutely alive) in heaven our eternal destiny of a physical resurrection – the direct consequence of being connected to the One who is the firstfruits (1 Cor 15:20).
We are reminded by our author that at the return of Jesus, the whole world will be judged by Him. Everyone will appear before Him, in bodies (John 5:28f; Acts 24:15). ”Every wrong that has been committed that has not been placed on God’s Son will be put right. No evil will go unpunished.” Should that fill the heart of a Christian with dread? No, in Adrian’s words, “if we are sure of our salvation, far from inducing fear and dread, judgment day should produce a joyful expectation.”
Adrian Warnock has taken us on a journey that has wonderfully demonstrated the truth of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and the cosmic consequences of His death and resurrection. The certain hope of the resurrection and the unveiling of the age to come is to impact every follower of Jesus NOW:
“Christians have the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead living inside them. One day that power will complete the work of saving us, but in the meantime the normal Christian life can be one in which we are aware of the change that the resurrection brings. We are citizens of the age to come, living in a world that is dead to God. But we are not dead to Him. We live to Him. May God help us live in the light of that fact each day. One day we will all see that, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus, everything has been changed. The whole creation will have been renewed, and we will be like Him.”
Here are the links to the earlier posts for Raised with Christ:
Chapter Five: Our Greatest Apologetic
Chapter Six: Christ the Center
As John states, Jesus is praying for the entire church. And He is praying for something more than the “invisible unity” of the church (which is already true). Jesus is praying for relational unity – a unity that is rooted in Christians relationships with one another. As we share in the divine life of the Trinity; as we live daily with our lives centred on Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, then “the church will be a visible example of the relational and spiritual unity of the triune God.”
Our author then explores the role of love. Jesus’ prayer for unity is “really a prayer about God’s love in action” (John 17:23; 1 Pt 4:19-21; 1 John 4:19-21). Francis Schaeffer believed that the truest identifying mark of Christians was love. The challenge for all followers of the Lord Jesus is to accept those who are accepted by God and belong to Him.
So how can we work together in Christ’s mission? John briefly explores models of unanimity, uniformity and union (one visible, united church) and concludes that none of these understandings of unity “truly fit the context of the New Testament.” The early church was focussed on evangelism in which they cooperated. What is the means for our cooperation? Keeping Christ centre.
Our unity is in Christ alone – not in visible structures or particular practices of individual churches. Our author presents a helpful image: think of the world wide church as a large circle with Christ at the centre. As we move inward we grow closer to one another. Excellent!
For John Armstrong, he is seeking to practically live this out by:
- being willing to work with all Christians, including those he does not know well;
- engaging in relational and cooperational unity with Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Last night we began our new mid-week seminar series, The New Testament Letters: a twelve-week journey from the Book of Romans to Revelation. A great resource for such an overview is Craig Blomberg’s From Pentecost to Patmos.
In his excellent presentation on Romans, Blomberg quotes CS Lewis in The Great Divorce:
“There only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says…’Thy will be done.’”
Mission should always be at the forefront of our prayers and activity as followers of the Lord Jesus. It is particularly so as I read chapter seventeen of Raised with Christ, having just completed our Sunday series on the Acts of the Apostles.
Our Mission from the Risen Jesus is Adrian Warnock writing at his best. His obvious love for the Lord and joy of being part of God’s saving mission shines forth in paragraph after paragraph. Here are some highlights (but make sure you read the chapter for yourself!):
- the church (“Jesus now lives on earth through His Body”) has been formed and empowered by the resurrection – so let’s declare and demonstrate it!
- the church is the only Jesus the world will see until He returns
- the Spirit gives us an infectious hope and joy – so share it!
- Jesus should thrill us more than anything or anyone else
- Jesus will accomplish the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) – He sends us out as a “direct command of the ruler of the universe.” It is not simply a suggestion
- “Jesus leads us to plunder the enemy’s kingdom, pushing forward in eager anticipation of what God will do through us”
- making disciples? We need to train other Christians to love Jesus. When we love Him, His commandments will not be burdensome
- Jesus is with His people to accomplish a specific goal – “if you want Jesus to go with you, than go and make disciples”
What’s the bottom line? ”If we love, honour, and glory in Christ, we will find that we want to talk about Him with others.”
We have just completed our journey through the Acts of the Apostles. We tackled the journey from Jerusalem to Rome in three parts:
How fantastic to be reminded of the continuing ministry of the ascended Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit – transforming lives; extending the Kingdom of God through the known world of the 1st century. From Jerusalem, to northern Palestine, through Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and Rome.
And how encouraging and challenging that the ministry of the Lord Jesus continues today, transforming lives and extending the Kingdom through the Holy Spirit. All followers of Jesus are caught up in this continuing story.
For our Bible readings, in the third part of the series, we used the video Acts: Dramatic Presentation of the Birth of Christianity (Visual Bible, NIV). This is a first-class production and was very helpful in assisting the congregations enter into the world of the early church. Here is a trailer of the video:
Chapter Three: Searching for the Elusive Truth
John Armstrong in your church is too small describes his journey towards a big view of the church and his passion for unity.
John was brought up in a “very conservative home and church” in the American South. He was positively impacted by fellowship with other Christians during his university years; during his twenty years in pastoral ministry grew concerned by the suspicions between Catholics and Protestants and the long list of “internal evangelical debates.” In the mid 1990s, during corporate worship while saying the Apostles’ Creed, John recalls being led by the Holy Spirit to the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23. In response, he took two practical steps:
- he went back to the primary sources of the three different historic Christian churches – Catholic, Protestant to discover the core truths shared by all Christians
- he deliberately set out to meet with Christians “who were different from me.”
John was positively impacted by visiting with a group of Catholic monks but was battling inner fears about the course he was on and increasingly came under criticism by those believing he was falling into “doctrinal error.” His refocussed ministry, now called ACT3, sponsored a church renewal conference with representatives from across the church. He grew to love the Catholic community (which he had once feared) and benefited from new friendships with Orthodox brothers and sisters.
In the apostolic and post-apostolic church, there was deep commitment among the leaders to preserve the church as one family with Christ at the centre, notwithstanding doctrinal differences. But down through the centuries, divisions grew large. John laments that today the “spirit of devisiveness” has spread like a pandemic from America. This sectarianism and subsequently small view of the church harms the mission of Christ – that’s John’s big point.
Chapter Fifteen: A relationship with the Risen Jesus?
Chapter Sixteen: Assured by the Resurrected Christ
At the end of Chapter Fifteen, Adrian Warnock suggests we ask ourselves: “Do I really love Jesus? Am I aware of His love for me in such a way that I have a strong desire to be holy? Am I devoted to Jesus?” These are very pertinent questions and ones that, although perhaps phrased a little differently, regularly cross my mind.
Our author notes that the goal of the Apostle Paul’s life was a relationship with the resurrected Jesus. The testimony of Scripture and that of saints of old is that we can experience living in resurrection power. Martyn Lloyd Jones dismisses a purely intellectual approach to the faith as “dead orthodoxy” and warns against setting experience and doctrine against each other.
In Chapter Sixteen the focus is on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. It was the risen Jesus who gave us the Holy Spirit. Adrian emphasises a truth that I often chew on: we receive the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.
Our author then gets into a discussion about receiving the Spirit, baptism with the Spirit and receiving the Spirit. In wrestling with these important aspects of the Spirit’s work, I find the following works particularly helpful:
I really connect with Adrian’s appeal towards the end of the chapter:
“Let’s resist becoming sidetracked by our various differences over these matters and instead simply cry out to God for more awareness and evidence in our lives of the power that raised Christ from the dead. Then we will know the joy of living our lives not in our own strength but in God’s enabling.”
Feeling a little worn down by difficulties, suffering, discouragements? Then lift your eyes to the crucified, risen, glorified, sovereign Lord Jesus Christ. Bill and Gloria Gaither penned the words to ‘Because He lives‘ at a time of trauma in their lives:
God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.