Where is Christ in Easter?

Recently, I received in the mail a church flier concerning Easter. The flier is colorful and engaging, but one thing stuck out to me about it: there is nothing spoken of Christ or anything Christian. There are promises of things being given away, egg hunts for the children, and experiences to be had, but nothing about Christ or a message pointing people to a risen Savior.jesusresurrection8

Is this the pattern of many churches today? Has the most important event on the Christian calendar been commercialized and consumer driven to the point of being unrecognizable? Do churches today feel that they have to bait people into coming to church events in order to slip in some kind of gospel message?

Easter is not about eggs, rabbits, spring colors, pretty dresses, or candy. Christ is the central figure of Easter. He is the sole reason for Easter. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that makes the day Easter.

Keep Christ central to Easter.

Unintended Consequences

Decisions are made all the time. Individuals make them; politicians make them; religious leaders make them; everyone makes them. Our decisions have consequences – some good, and some not so good.decisions_mid

Sometimes decisions are made that are well-intentioned, but that bring with them unintended negative and sometimes devastating consequences.

Take, for example, King Jehoshaphat, in 2 Chronicles 17-20. Generally speaking, he was a good king of Judah, but he made some decisions that were not so good. One of those involved his son, Jehoram.

In 2 Chronicles 18:1 a passing comment is made that Jehoshaphat made a marriage alliance with King Ahab of Israel. Ahab was the wicked king who was married to Jezebel. She brought Baal worship into the kingdom of Israel.

That marriage alliance involved Jehoram marrying the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Her name was Athaliah. Such a marriage was common. It offered political as well as economic and military benefits. However, this marriage would have some unintended, demonic, and nearly devastating consequences.

Jehoram took the throne after his father’s death (2 Chronicles 21). His wife, Athaliah, had influenced him to the point where he killed off all other rivals to his throne, which included many of his own siblings. For the entirety of his eight year reign, he was a wicked king, imitating wicked Ahab of Israel rather than his good father, Jehoshaphat, all because of his wicked wife’s influence over him.

After Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah took the throne. Though he only ruled for one year, he was also wickedly influenced Athaliah, his mother. Her demonic influence over Judah continued, even after her husband died.

When Ahaziah died, his mother Athaliah immediately seized the opportunity and usurped the throne, reigning in Judah for about 7 years. Her intention was to wipe out the line of kings over Judah. She murdered every royal seed of the house of Judah – except one. One baby was rescued from Athaliah’s evil plan, and he eventually became king, King Joash.

Jehoshaphat’s seemingly innocuous decision to marry his son to Ahab’s daughter had some serious and deadly unintended consequences. His intention was not to see Judah fall deeply into Baal worship, though it did. His intention was not to see his own children and grandchildren turn away from Jehovah, but they did. His intention was not for his own son and daughter-in-law to go on a killing spree within the family, but they did. Had it not been for God’s intervention through the means of a godly couple, the kingly line would have been destroyed (2 Chron. 22:10-12).

Our decisions, even well meaning ones, can have devastating consequences. Let’s make some applications of this.

In your family, the decisions you make today with regards to your children will have consequences. While it is still their choice as to whether they will serve the Lord or not, we as Christian parents must not cave in to worldly pressures and do things that are culturally acceptable, but not biblically acceptable.The decisions we make today can have an impact not only on our children’s lives, but even future generations.

Pastors, your decisions for your church are crucial. We are living in a time when pastors are facing an onslaught of cultural pressures to back down on issues of morality, worship, doctrine, and convictions. One seemingly insignificant concession or “alliance” can and often does lead to greater and greater problems. What kind of Christianity are we intending to leave our children and grandchildren? We must strive to preserve a theologically AND culturally conservative Christianity.

As Christians it is easy for us to point out ideas like this in the political world. We are quick to cry out against things that will lead to more and more religious intolerance. Yet we must be even more acutely aware of the potential of our spiritual choices in our homes and in our churches.

Don’t cave in; don’t give up; don’t lose ground.

God desires faithfulness to Him and to His Word, for His glory!

Honorable Manhood and Holy Culture

There is no godliness without holiness. And yet the Bible says that there is no one who is holy, except one. God is holy. He is majestically holy, completely separate from and far above His creation, sitting upon the throne of the universe as its Creator and Sovereign Majesty. God is also morally holy, completely separate from JB-Holiness-1-1280x768anything that is sinful, immoral, and against His character.

No human being is, nor can be majestically holy. However, the Bible provides a means of moral holiness before God. While ho human is morally holy on his own, when he receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he is pronounced to be a saint, or a holy one, before God. Our position as believers is that of holiness through the merits and authority of Jesus Christ alone. We stand before God, accepted in Christ, as holy, pure, and righteous. What wondrous grace this is!

But our position before God does not match the reality of everyday living. So 1 Peter 1:15 commands us to be holy, like God is holy, in all manner of our conduct. Our conduct is our manner of living, our way of life, our lifestyle, or our culture. As Christians who are already positionally holy before God, completely and forever accepted by God as sons, we are commanded to be holy in a moral sense. Our lifestyle as Christians must be holy.

The culture of the Christian must be distinct from the culture of the non-Christian. Our way of living, our lifestyle patterns, habits, thought processes, pleasures, aspirations, etc. must grow in holiness. Theologically, we call this progressive sanctification. It is the process whereby a Christian continues to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

For the Christian man, the more he grows in holiness, the more sinful he realizes himself to be, and the more distrustful of self he becomes. He recognizes that in his flesh there dwells nothing that is good. He realizes that his own perceptions of life and reality cannot be trusted. He understands more and more of what it means to be a pilgrim through this transient journey of earthly life. He longs more and more for the Celestial City and its King, and disdains more and more the City of Destruction and its empty allurements.

There is no area of a man’s life that should not be under the guiding principle of holiness, and yet men are well known for refusing to allow this truth and command to influence that which is close to their own hearts. Men, there is no godliness without holiness. Your TV habits must be holy; your internet viewing must be holy; your relationships must be holy, your language must be holy; your work ethic and relationships must be holy; your entertainment choices must be holy; your family life must be holy. Nothing is out of the bounds of the necessity of being holy as God is holy.

Your culture, as a Christian man, must be characterized by holiness in order to live honorably before God.

An Honorable Christian Man Loves Rightly

In Christianity, there is perhaps no more important verse than Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.” This is part of what the Jewish people would quote every day as part of their daily routine. It serves as a reminder that there is a God, Jehovah is His name, and there is no other God in the universe. With this foundatioLoveGodLoveOthers-400x400nal truth, there is only one right response of worship, as verse 5 commands, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Jesus said during his earthly ministry that this was the first and greatest of all the commandments. It is a commandment based on the foundational truth that there is only one true and living God and Jehovah is his name.

In order for a Christian man to truly live with honor, he must zero in on his need to love God in accordance with this verse. While none of us will perfectly love God in this way, through our union with Christ in salvation, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in this love for God. The New Testament gives us at least two ways our love for God can be evidenced. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love him, then we will obey his commandments. If a Christian man says he loves God, one way that love is demonstrated is through his study of and obedience to God’s Word. A second evidence of our love for God is given in 1 John 4:20-21. If we love God, we will love God’s people. If a Christian man says he loves God, that will be evidenced through his demonstrations of love for the church of Jesus Christ.

Our love for God is supreme.

There is nothing else on this earth, either real or perceived, that is worthy of our utmost love and exclusive worship. Men, when we allow our jobs, our hobbies, or our relationships to hinder or hijack our love for God, then we have become practicing idolators and spiritual adulterers. While work is important, it cannot overtake your commitment to God, as evidenced in your daily time with God in his Word and in prayer. While other things crowd your schedule, setting aside the Lord’s Day for corporate worship and ministry is vital to both evidencing and cultivating your love for God. These things cannot be denied.

Puritan Thomas Watson wrote in his book, The Godly Man’s Picture, referring to the need to love God, “If this be the sign of a godly man, how few will be found in the number! Where is the man whose heart is dilated in love to God? Many court him – but few love him. People are for the most part eaten up with self-love; they love their ease, their worldly profit, their lusts – but they do not have a drop of love to God.”

There is a second love which we must cultivate as well, and that is a love for others. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). This second commandment flows out of the first. When we cultivate a love for God as we ought, that will lead to a proper love for others as well. This love for others includes (but is not limited to) our closest neighbors – those within our own homes. Husbands, you cannot claim to love God properly when you degrade, abuse, or neglect your wife. Fathers, you cannot claim to love God properly when you domineer over your children, ignore them, or treat them harshly.

Our love for others is selfless.

Selfless love considers others better than ourselves. It is willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others without the expectation of getting something in return. It gives others the benefit of the doubt. It is quick to admit fault. It is gracious with others. It speaks words of affirmation and encouragement, rather than words that degrade and demean people. While it does not shirk the biblical responsibility to discipline, it disciplines out of a heart of love rather than anger, and seeks for reconciliation rather than vengeance.

A Christian man who seeks to truly live honorably before God will repent of his unhealthy love and seek God’s grace to grow in rightly loving God and others, for the glory of God.