Month: April 2018

The Messenger

The Messenger

So it looks like my poll wound up with a few votes, but put three of our choices in a tie. So that means I get to pick from the tie right? Our choices that were tied are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Sadly Uriel didn’t make the cut; he was my original choice, but my second choice was Raphael. So unless you guys post a lot of comments complaining that I chose Raphael that’s who we’ll go with. I feel like using him will give me a little more leeway in his existence because of the fact he’s not Gabriel or Michael who most protestants know. I have been thinking quite a lot about this book lately and plan to (if time allows this weekend) finish chapter 1.

The purpose of writing this book in the way that I am, is going to be help modern Christians see and experience early Christianity and potentially see things differently when they finish. There are several areas of modern Christianity that don’t seem to mesh with what the early church writings show, and in some cases what the Bible says it should be. Hopefully this book will allow me, and you, to illuminate some of these differences and bring the Church back to it’s roots and begin a great revival. The book is likely to turn into a series of books not because of the number of differences, but because I want to illuminate the differences while also revealing where we’re headed into history. It’s going to be a lot of fun, a friend and I have had lots of discussions around the theologies that will be present, regarding the historical areas I want to focus on, and even discussed what the future may hold for us. This is going to be fun!

Which is more important?

Which is more important?

So I just walked into the front office and asked Treena what I should write about today. Her response? “Which was more important, the birth of Christ or the resurrection?” I am going to take it a step further and pose the question as, “Which was more important, the birth, the life, the death, or the resurrection of the Christ?”

His Birth Was Most Important

“You shall know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to be answered and to build Jerusalem, until Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. – Daniel 9:25a”

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Immanuel [God with us]. – Isaiah 7:14”

Few events have as many specific prophecies related to them as the coming of the Messiah. Daniel was told a very precise timeline for the coming of Messiah. Isaiah was told that He would be called Immanuel. Micah was told that He would specifically be born in Bethlehem. To the ancient Jews this was the most important thing that could happen for them. They knew that the coming Messiah was coming to free them from bondage, to make Israel the power that it once was, and to rule over them justly. They didn’t realize that the coming Messiah would literally be God in the flesh like we can see now.

You see to the Jews the coming Messiah was so important because He was going to fix their issues, and to us the birth is important because it shows the willingness of God to sacrifice His glory to become like us. Remember what Paul wrote?
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:5-7″ 

So we have to take a moment to think about exactly why it is so important that God left His glory and became like us. Without His willingness to leave that glory, there would be no birth, no life, no death, and no resurrection. Looking back through the lens of history we can say that the birth has to be the most important because it showed God’s willingness to do whatever it takes to save the world. Not only that, but the coming of Christ signifies to us the beginning of the end of the reign of sin and death. Because we know the end of the story we can look forward to what is going to happen.

I was talking with a friend about this post and he pointed out that the birth is one thing that God could have done differently. He could have just appeared in the desert, walked into Jerusalem, and said “Hey, I’m God, how are you?”. But my first thoughts were that without the birth of Christ, without the childhood and growth, would His teachings have been the same? I mean, if He just appeared one day would the religious elites have been so against Him? One of their biggest arguments was “isn’t this the carpenters son from Nazareth?”. They had witnessed Him (or at least knew of Him) as a child, and so when He started to teach against them it caused them much distress. This distress then led to their desire to kill Him, which in turn leads to His sacrificial death giving us life. So while it could have happened another way, I think His birth and childhood were vital to the entire story. Because without the birth of Christ there is nothing more, and so it has to be the most important act in the gospel, doesn’t it?

His Life Was Most Important

“Butter and honey He shall eat before He knows to prefer evil or choose the good, for before the Child knows good or evil, He refuses the evil to choose the good; – Isaiah 7:15a”

It’s something that isn’t written about in the Gospels, the life of Christ before His baptism. We don’t know much more than the family lived in Bethlehem for a time and was visited by some wise men from the east, we know He was taken to Egypt after Joseph was warned in a dream, that they returned and lived in Nazareth, and He grew up. Until His baptism marking the beginning of His ministry time, there’s not a lot recorded. The one thing that we can know, thanks to Isaiah, is that even before He knew to choose good over evil He chose good. So we can safely assume He was a pretty good kid.

What is written about, and consumes a majority of the Gospels, is the life of Christ after the baptism. He walked the streets of Jerusalem, rode in boats across the sea to visit other places, and He even ventured into places no self respecting Jew would ever dare. He told stories to the people to help them prepare for when their eyes were opened to the Kingdom of Heaven, He sat with little children and, I can only imagine, played with them in the grass. He stood up to the elites who used their power over the people to benefit themselves, and He showed the people that even the sinners were important to God. His life was all about relationships, man to man, and man to God. He was the perfect example for us to follow.

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps – 1 Peter 2:21”

His life is our example of how to best live our lives. He gave specific instruction in some areas like hate and revenge (Matt 5), He led by example in others like His discussion with the samaritan woman (John 4), and He told stories that today we see the deep meaning like the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10). Through His life and example we can see what our lives should be. His life has to be the most important aspect to the story because without it, what kind of example would we be able to follow?

His Death Was Most Important

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. – Romans 5:8-9”

Without the death of Christ there is no payment for sin; without payment for sin, there is no salvation for man; without salvation for man there is no relationship with God; without relationship with God there is no future beyond death. The death of Christ is what gives us the ability to have a relationship with God. His payment for our sin makes us holy in the eyes of God, and therefore we can stand before Him and love Him, and be loved by Him. His sacrifice given for us makes us perfect spiritually before God (Hebrews 10). His willingness to die while were sinners and enemies shows how great His love is for us, maybe an even greater love than the one who would die for a friend (John 15:13). Because of His death we no longer have to fear (like someone’s going to kill you fear, not reverential fear) God. We don’t have be scared that one day God is just going to hit us with a bus because we made him mad, side note if He does hit us with a bus it’s for the good of those who love Him.

The blood of Christ brings us nearer to the Father than any other thing in history. His death abolished the the sin that separates us, it removed the wall that kept us apart (Ephesians 2:14-16). Even beyond the fact that we’re no longer separated from God, we’ve been given a great gift; because of the death of Christ we can now approach God as Abba. We were adopted into His family (Romans 8:15), made heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). His death has to be the most important because without it we can’t be reconciled to the Father, right?

His Resurrection Was Most Important

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-18”

Christ’s resurrection not only proves that He was the Messiah, but it gives us hope that we too will be raised from the dead. Paul was writing to the Corinthian church which seems to have been struggling with false teachings that there was not going to be a resurrection. He reminds them that if there is no resurrection then our faith is in vain. We’re not just following some man that lived 2000 years ago, we’re following God in the flesh and we can easily see that because of the resurrection. We see throughout 1 Corinthians 15 that Paul reminds the believers that because of the resurrection of Christ there is life for those who follow Him (v 22). If you’ve never read 1 Corinthians 15, go read it, it’s pretty awesome! Remember in Ephesians 2 that we’ve been seated with Christ? The same verse says that we too have been raised with Christ. Our spirit has been made alive from the dead much like Christ was made alive from the belly of the earth. Sin kept us in darkness, bonded and broken, Paul even describes our sin bondage as death (Romans 8). Life comes to the believer because of the resurrection of Christ:

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:11”

Paul talks here about how we need life to our mortal [fleshly] bodies, as if even our mortal bodies are dead. That to me points to the resurrection of the dead on the last day. We will be made alive again to live with the Father for all eternity, but even until then our spirits are already seated with Him. If not for the resurrection, our hope is vain, our faith is vain, and we have no future beyond this life, doesn’t it have to be the most important?

So which is it?

Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, they’re all just as important. Each piece makes up the entire Gospel. Without the birth of Christ there is no life, no example to follow. Without His life, then would He have even been crucified? And we know that without His death his resurrection couldn’t have happened. The important thing to take away here is that He loved the world to such an extent that He was willing to become a child, live this life, set the example for us, then die to make us right with Him and rise to give us a hope in the future!  As SM Lockridge would say “I wonder, do you know Him?”