The Most Important Day

What is the most important day of your life up to this point? Obviously, without the day of your birth, you wouldn’t have any life to evaluate, but that birth was only the start of something. Perhaps you would say that the most important day of your life was graduation day, or your wedding day, or the day of some big promotion. Easter-Sunday-Resurrection-4

While many days qualify as being important, for the Christian the day of his spiritual resurrection rules them all. By this, I mean that the day of his conversion to Christ stands as the most important day of his life.

What was the most important day of Christ’s earthly life? Contrary to what our culture promotes, it was not the day of His birth in Bethlehem, as meaningful as that was, nor was it the day of His baptism, nor even the day of His crucifixion. The New Testament gives us a sense that the most important day of Christ’s life was the day of His resurrection from the dead. Because of this, it is not illogical to conclude that this day was also the most important day in the history of mankind.

Why is Resurrection Day so important? I offer five suggestions, (knowing that there are no doubt others) for your consideration.

The resurrection of Christ proves the claims of Christ

Christ claimed to at least two people that He indeed was the Messiah. He revealed this to the Samaritan woman in John 4, and also to the high priest in Mark 14.

Christ also made the prediction in Matthew 12:40 and John 2:19 that he would rise from the dead on the third day. When Christ rose from the dead, it proved all of what he said about His own life and resurrection.

The resurrection of Christ destroys the enemy’s charges

When Christ was put on trial, He was charged with blasphemy, and even accused of insurrection. His resurrection destroyed all the accusations against Him. He was no blasphemer; He was the Son of God, risen from the dead.

The resurrection of Christ validates the crucifixion of Christ

The crucifixion was mankind’s attempt to put a stop to the challenge of Christ to the religious establishment. The Jewish leadership meant Christ’s death to be the end, but it would be without true meaning and purpose. But that just wasn’t the case. Even Christ’s spiritual enemies of the Satanic realm intended this to be their victory, but it wasn’t that either.

Christ rose from the dead as the conquering Son, validating the significance of the cross, even as implied by the prophetic literature, specifically Isaiah 53.

The resurrection of Christ substantiates the Christian faith

1 Corinthians 15 makes this point abundantly clear, that if there was no resurrection, the Christian faith would be in vain.

The meaning of the cross is empty without the resurrection; but the meaning of Christianity is substantial because of the emptiness of the tomb. Because Christ lives, our faith is meaningful, our lives have meaning, and our preaching has meaning. Our faith is secure and sure because of our resurrected Christ.

The resurrection of Christ secures our own resurrection

The great hope of Christians is that this life is not all there is. There is an eternity beyond what this veiled world reveals. If there was no resurrection of Christ, there would be no security of our own resurrection to eternal life. Our hope of eternal life is wrapped up in the reality of the Christ’s glorious resurrection (Romans 6)

For us who are saved, the sting of death has been removed, and the bliss of life has replaced it. Christ has put death to death, and given life to Life.

Resurrection Day is the most important day in the history of mankind. It is the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, and it therefore is the most important day of our week.

This is the day that the Lord has made, the day upon which the stone which the builders rejected became the headstone of the corner, the established cornerstone of the Christian faith and the Christian church.

Without the resurrection, all of life would be vanity. Therefore we must live in light of the resurrection, in response to the resurrection, and in preparation of our own ultimate resurrection into eternity, all for the glory of God.

——————-

Jesus Lives, and So Shall I – Christian Gellert, 1757

Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to die,
Lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me from the dust:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and reigns supreme,
And, his kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and by his grace,
Vict’ry o’er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways,
Ever to his glory living.
Me he raises from the dust.
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives! I know full well
Nought from him my heart can sever,
Life nor death nor pow’rs of hell,
Joy nor grief, hence forth forever.
None of all his saints is lost;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and death is now
But my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;
Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.

Truths for Change, part 3

Change in the Christian life does not happen easily or quickly. It is a process which God faithfully bibleand lovingly works in us as we humble ourselves before His Word and Work. This is the process of sanctification.

A third aspect needed to understand this process of change is the necessity of God’s Word.

2 Corinthians 3:18 makes this assertion, though implied, that as we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we see the glory of God. In gazing upon God’s glory through His Word, we are changed from one degree of glory to another, even as by the Spirit of God.

The necessity of God’s Word in the sanctification of God’s people cannot be overstated. There is no growth in spirituality, no growth in sanctification apart from a faithful and disciplined immersion into God’s Word.

Psalm 1 says that the truly blessed man takes incredible delight in God’s Word and meditates on it throughout the day.

Psalm 119:9 says that our way as believers can be guarded by God’s Word.

1 Peter 2:2 says that we should hunger and thirst for the milk of God’s Word in order to grow from it.

While other texts could be used as well, the fact of the necessity of God’s Word in our pursuit of spiritual growth cannot be denied.

Yet so many of us want spiritual growth and blessing apart from God’s Word. We don’t want to have to mine its truths, plumb its depths, and gaze on the glory of God. We are too busy playing around at life. We will read our “one minute” devotional and call ourselves spiritual for doing so. Yet the only person we are fooling in the process is ourselves.

Spirituality and Spiritual growth cannot be manufactured simply because we want them. We need God’s help; we need God’s grace; and we desperately need God’s Word. But there is another component as well, which we will consider next time, and that one is the key to them all.

Product Without Process

It is not a secret to those who know me that I have always enjoyed cookies. I will sometimes joke that there is not a chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t like. In my growing up years, I enjoyed watching my mom make cookies, 20mostly because it meant that I could have cookie dough (which is, after all, the best part about the cookie-making process). If, by chance, the dough actually made it into the oven in cookie form, that was a bonus (and perhaps a minor miracle).

Cookies do not just appear, though. There is a recipe that must be followed in order to make cookies at home. The process of making cookies takes time, energy, and resources, as well as torturous patience to wait for the cookies to finish baking. However, if you want the product of a good cookie, you have to go through the right process of making them.

Now, I realize that this is somewhat of a silly way to illustrate what I am going to say, but there are some similarities in our spiritual lives. In order for us to enjoy the product of true spirituality and God’s blessing, we have to go through the right process which God specifies in His Word.

For many Christians, they want the product of God’s blessing without going through the process God has specified. For instance, if we want to be fruitful people who are able to endure the storms of life and enjoy spiritual prosperity, Psalm 1 says that certain things must be cultivated into our lives: an avoidance of ungodly influences and practices, and a delight in and meditation on God’s Word that permeates our entire being. Without verses 1-2, there will not be the blessing of verse 3.

Joshua 1:8 echoes those same sentiments as well. The blessing of God comes from obedience to the Word of God. Without obedience, there should be no expectation of blessing.

Our struggle as Christians is that we want the product without the process; but God desires the product through the process. His way is always better and yields more spiritual blessings than any way a man can devise.

We cannot short-change the process of God’s method of growing us spiritually and blessing us. We must stay faithful, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in our Bible study and meditation, in our prayer life, in our spiritual disciplines, etc. God uses those things to build us into a solid, fruitful, and prosperous tree.

Don’t jettison God’s process of growth; but yield yourselves fully to it for the glory of God.

Truths for Change, Part 2

James 4:6, But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

In the sanctification process, God is at work in the life of a Christian, seeking to conform him more to the imGraceage of Christ. This sanctification is something that God does, but uses man’s obedience in the process. Every command God gives to us confronts our wills. We must therefore choose to do what God wants, rather than choose to do what we want. There are, though, a seemingly numberless amount of commands, and they can become daunting. Because of this, we can wrongly conclude that we shouldn’t even try because failure is inevitable. Or we can take a different, but equally erroneous approach and commit ourselves to just simply try harder and harder.

There are certain truths to keep in mind when we discuss changing into the image of Christ. First, is that we cannot do this on our own. We desperately need God’s help. God is working in us to both desire to please him, as well as helping us do those things that please Him.

A second truth is this: God’s offers His grace to those who will humble themselves in His sight.

The axiomatic truth that God gives grace to the humble is found in Proverbs 3, James 4, and 1 Peter 5. This is something that is always true. A person who humbles himself before God will receive grace to do what God has called upon him to do. His grace is not just present at the time of our conversion, but is available throughout the entirety of our Christianity.

Think of it as an unending well. The well of God’s grace can never be diminished, it will never dry up, nor will it ever be exhausted. It is God’s grace that can help us fight the sinfulness of our flesh, and yield to the Spirit. It is God’s grace that can help us to respond to our spouses in love, rather than anger. It is God’s grace that can help us to build up our children, rather than provoke them to anger. It is God’s grace that can help us trust God rather than accuse God of being unloving, when we find out we have a debilitating disease. It is God’s grace that can enable us to do those things that we dislike, but need to do. It is God’s grace that can conform us into the image of Christ, in our words, our mindset, our attitudes, and our actions.

Humility is like the faucet handle of God’s grace. When we truly humble ourselves before God, His grace flows freely to us. However, when we exert our selfish and sinful pride, that grace is replaced by opposition. God has a divine allergic reaction to pride in the heart of mankind. Man’s pride never yields God’s grace.

In order for sanctification to take place in our lives, we must yield ourselves completely to God’s help, and we must also realize that God has given us the tool of His grace – always available, and always sufficient – to help us do what we need to do, say what we need to say, respond how we need to respond, and be who we need to be.

Embrace the grace of God available to you because of your relationship through Jesus Christ, and allow God to grow you more into Christ’s image for His own glory.

Truths for Change

Philippians 2:13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

It is an absolute truth that salvation is completely a work of God by His grace, apart from any merit or w119460-117532ork of a person. No one can earn salvation, or be good enough to merit it in any way. We herald the great Reformation cries that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

Sanctification is also God’s ongoing work of grace in our lives as Christians, but it is filled with personal responsibility on our part. In other words, while it is God who works in us, we are called upon to work for his good pleasure.

A basic truth regarding sanctification is this: No one can do it on his own.

No Christian can work for the pleasure of God in his own strength, by merely exerting more will power, or by being more disciplined. This is what makes sanctification frustrating for us. We cannot do it on our own, therefore we get frustrated and easily give up the fight.

So those issues of sanctification that we struggle with, such as anger, worry, deception, selfishness, pride, and so forth, all seem so overwhelming to a Christian. It is easy for us to just give up the cause of trying to be holy as God is holy. So how is this all supposed to work? How can we grow in our sanctification?

The answer involves at least these two things. First, we must recognize that it is God who desires our holiness even more than we do. Not only does He desire it, but He also knows how that can be accomplished in the best possible way. Therefore God seeks to help us pursue holiness in our personal lives in the way that He knows is best. This means that our reliance upon Him must grow, our yieldedness to Him must grow, and our submission to Him must grow.

Second, we must also recognize that God’s commands target our wills, and therefore demand obedience. In other words, every command confronts us with a dilemma: do we obey or do we disobey? First Peter 1:15 is a command to be holy, which we must obey. But too many Christians (and I find myself fighting this, too) believe that if they just try harder and do better (whatever those two things mean), then they will be pleasing to the Lord. But even our wills must be submitted to God, for sheer will power will never produce sanctification. It is God who works in us to both desire His good pleasure and do His good pleasure.

Sanctification is a process that takes place over time. No Christian can accomplish sanctification on his own. Apply this to every area of life in which you struggle. You cannot overcome those struggles with sin on your own, no matter how much will power you throw at it. You must realize that because God desires your holiness more than you do, you must allow Him to work in you and give you that same will. You must also actively subject your will to His and choose to do what He says.

It is like a parent who gives his child an instruction that they do not know how to do. The loving parent will come alongside and help the child perform the task, but the child has to yield himself to the parent’s instruction.

For us, we do not know how to do what God has asked us and so He helps us to both desire His will and do His will for His own pleasure. He is our loving Father.

In your pursuit of sanctification, realize that you cannot do it on your own; you desperately need the Lord’s help  to desire His will, to do His will, and therefore to please Him. Therefore pursue more of Him today, and yield yourself in obedience, for the glory of God.