Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2023

A New Birth Into A Living Hope


1 Peter 1:3-5 (CSB)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

The apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage and strengthen the persecuted believers in Asia Minor. In verses 1 and 2, Peter reminded them that they are God’s chosen people because of the Father’s plan, the Spirit’s transforming work, and the Son’s faithful obedience. 

In this passage, Peter celebrated the new birth that disciples of Jesus experience through faith in Christ, which provided them a living hope and an imperishable inheritance.

Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," which expressed his profound gratitude and worship for God's character and work. Peter recognized that God's gracious mercy is the source of all spiritual blessings and the foundation of salvation. God's mercy is not based on human merit or worthiness but flows from His infinite love and grace. Through His mercy, God has given us new birth that brings us from death to life and makes us children of God (John 1:12-13).

This new birth is not a result of our own efforts or achievements but is a gift of God's grace that is given to us through the faithfulness of Jesus and our trust in him. Peter emphasized that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate proof and guarantee that this new birth is a reality and that God’s people now have a living hope. 

Jesus' resurrection validated his claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Through his resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and death which saved us from the consequences of sin and secured eternal life for his faithful followers. As Paul wrote, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). But because Christ has been raised, our faith is alive, vibrant, and victorious.

Peter also highlighted the nature and quality of the inheritance that all of God’s people receive through this new birth. The inheritance we have is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. It is imperishable because it is not subject to decay, corruption, or death. It is eternal, incorruptible, and indestructible. It is undefiled because it is pure, holy, and perfect. It is untainted by sin, evil, or imperfection. It is unfading because it never loses its value, beauty, or glory. It is the perfect gift that God wants His people to have.

This inheritance is not something we earn or deserve but it is a gracious gift God gives to his people. It is not a temporary or earthly possession but an eternal and heavenly treasure. It is not a vague or abstract concept but a concrete and personal reality. It is something that is grander and more wonderful than we can imagine. It is not something we keep but something that keeps us. It is not something we can lose but something that is guarded by God's promise and power.

Peter also reassured the believers that their inheritance is secure and guarded by God's power through faith. The phrase "you are being guarded" implies ongoing and active protection by God's power. The verb tense suggests that this guarding is not a one-time event but a continuous process. God's power is not limited but it is eternal. His power is not arbitrary or random but is directed by His wisdom and love. God’s power is not passive or indifferent but is active and engaged.

This guarding is also through faith, which implies that Christians have a role to play in our spiritual security. Faith is not a passive or static belief but an active and dynamic trust in God's promises and character. Faith is not a blind or irrational leap but a reasonable and informed response to God's revelation. Faith is not a private or isolated experience but a communal and relational reality. Faith is not a temporary or fluctuating emotion but a persistent and persevering conviction.

Peter concluded this passage by reminding the believers that their salvation is not fully revealed yet, but it is ready to be revealed in the last time. This means that our inheritance is not fully realized yet, we have a glimpse of it, but it will be fully revealed when Jesus returns and makes everything right. Until then, believers must live in hope, faith, and obedience, knowing that their ultimate destiny is secure and glorious.

This passage is teaches that our hope and our salvation is all a work of God. It highlights the depth and breadth of God's mercy, the power and significance of Christ's resurrection, and the greatness and certainty of our inheritance. 

This passage also challenges us to live in a way that reflects the reality and hope of our new birth and inheritance. As Peter wrote later in his epistle, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). When we live out our hope we make Jesus real in the world.

As Christians, we have been born again into a living hope and an imperishable inheritance. We are guarded by God's power through faith as we wait for our salvation to be fully revealed. We need to live as children of God, shining the light of Christ in a dark world, and eagerly awaiting the day when we will see Him face to face and inherit all that He has promised.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Philippians: Knowing Christ

 

STOP — Philippians 3:7-11


Summarize

For Paul everything that he put his confidence and value in prior to Jesus has lost its worth. What matters to him now is knowing Jesus and having his life conformed to the way of Jesus through faith. Through this Paul hopes to experience the power of the resurrection in his life and witness the resurrection when Jesus returns.


Truth

Knowing Jesus is the most important part of our lives.


Observations

  1. Paul was at the top of his world before Jesus. He had every reason to be confident and boastful about who he was and what he had achieved. After Jesus the things he thought were the most important: his obedience to the Law, his ancestry, his identity as a Pharisee and Jew...all of it was worth nothing compared to Jesus.
  2. Paul’s attitude towards knowing Jesus causes me to reflect on my relationship with Jesus and I am reminded how easy it is for me to value other things. I want that faith that Paul had to believe that knowing Jesus is the most important part of life.
  3. Our righteousness is not based on our actions but on Jesus. Often we can feel like failures because we realize how we have fallen short of God’s will for our lives. That is why we need to be reminded that through faith we receive Jesus’s righteousness. We don’t have to be discouraged, rather we keep submitting to discipleship in the belief that God will transform our lives in the process.
  4. Paul’s goal was to experience the power of the resurrection. First, he wanted to experience in his life, that it would transform his life as he did the will of God and suffered in that work. Second, he hoped to experience the resurrection when Jesus returned to restore the world, make everything right, and bring his people back to life. The resurrection was central to Paul’s hope.


Prayer

Lord God, help me to experience knowing Jesus as the most important part of my life. May I not be satisfied with lesser things, but have a growing hunger for the resurrection life that Jesus has for people.


Tomorrow: Philippians 3:12-4:1

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Be Humble and Pursue Truth


This tweet has been with me all the way through this year. Those closest to me know that Tom Woods has been a big influence in my life for the last decade (I discovered him sometime during Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential run), mainly through his daily podcast.

As a person who strives to be a life-long learner, what Tom encourages people to do has been a goal of mine. I realize that the knowledge that I have is only a tiny drop compared to the vast amount of information that is in the world. It would be arrogant of me to approach life with the assumption that all my beliefs are correct. 

Over the years as I have read books and listened to lectures, sermons, and podcasts my beliefs have shifted and changed. Sometimes the change has been drastic such as going from conservative Republican to a Ron Paul Republican to a libertarian and finally to a anarcho-capitalist/Christian anarchist. Some changes have been more subtle like moving form a staunch young earth creationist view to being open to other possibilities. 

The apostle Paul in Romans wrote: “ Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NLT)

God transforms us through the renewal and change of our thinking (see also Philippians 4:8 and Colossians 3:1-4). The thoughts and beliefs that are rolling around in our heads and hearts effect everything else about us. They form the structure of our worldview and they guide our actions and emotions. This is why God needs to change our thinking before transformation occurs in our lives.

Followers of Jesus also need to be confident that all truth is God’s truth. This means we want to be on the side of truth, whatever that looks like, because we know all truth comes from God. This gives us the freedom to admit that we might be wrong about things and to re-examine what we believe.

I will offer one bit of advice here: In our pursuit of truth we need a bedrock truth that is able anchor us in faith. Otherwise we are in danger of believing whatever sounds good to us.

For me, and I think for any follower of Jesus, that bedrock belief needs to be the resurrection of Jesus. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 wrote (1 Corinthians 15:14, NLT), “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.”

Because I think there is credible evidence to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, I secure my hope there, and let that be the foundation of my worldview.

As we enter the last month and half of 2020 may we set our faith in Jesus and allow God to guide our thinking, so our lives can be transformed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Trust Jesus for New Life

It was strange to celebrate Easter at home this year. Right now Bethlehem, like most churches around the United States, are coping with the regulations given by our state government. Even though we cannot meet in person, we are doing what we can to continue to have a Christian community via the power of the internet.

This is the sermon I preached for Easter Sunday: Trust Jesus for New Life.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Hope and the Resurrection

My family is made up of pastors.

I am the pastor at Bethlehem Church in Austin, MN and my older bother is the pastor at Iowa City Church (our brother-in-law is also a pastor).

This past Friday my brother texted me and asked if I wanted to do a podcast with him about the resurrection of Jesus. So we spent 45 minutes talking about the hope of the resurrection, evidences for the resurrection, and the implications of the resurrection.

Here is the result.
     

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Most Important Sign

One day Moses was watching his father-in-law's sheep when something caught his eye. It appeared to be a bush that was on fire, but it wasn't being consumed.

Moses decided to investigate this strange sight. When He approached the strange phenomenon a voice called from the bush. 

It was at this moment God called Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt.
Moses asked, "But who am I to appear before Pharaoh? How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"

God answered, "I will be with you. And this will serve as proof that I have sent you: When you have brought the Israelites out of Egypt, you will return here to worship God at this very mountain." (Exodus 3:11, 12; NLT).

I find it odd that the evidence God provided to Moses that He would be with Moses would happen after it is all said and done. Moses would know it was truly God who sent him when he returned to the mountain with Israel in tow.

Now did Moses lack proof that his calling was from God? 

No, God provided proof. 

There was the burning bush, the audible voice of God, and two signs: the staff into a snake and the leprosy of on Moses' hand. 

Moses witnessed the ten plagues, the Red Sea divide, and the pillar of cloud/fire which led Israel. 

All through his experience God showed Moses that He was with him.

Why was worshiping at Mt. Sinai the proof that God sent Moses? 

While all the miracles pointed to God and showed Moses that God was with them, none of it would have meant anything without God's covenant. 

It was at Mt. Sinai when God established a covenant with Israel. This covenant formally set them apart as God's people and separated them from all the nations of the world. 

If God delivered Israel from Egypt but never established a covenant with them it would have made little difference to them. They would not be God's chosen people. 

It was the covenant, the promise of God at Sinai which made all the difference.

Flash forward a few hundred years. Jesus turned water into wine. Not long after that he went to Jerusalem and cleared the marketplace out of the Temple.  He taught everywhere he went with authority. 

The religious leaders demanded:
"What right do you have to do these things? If you have this authority from God, show us a miraculous sign to prove it." Jesus replied, "All right. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:18, 19; NLT)

We know Jesus meant his death and resurrection when he talked about destroying the temple. That was the sign he gave to to those who demanded one.

 Jesus continued to teach, heal, feed thousands, walk on water, and calm storms. 

Much of what Jesus did provided evidence that he was the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God. But the ultimate sign, the one he said would offer the final proof of his authority, is the resurrection. 

All the miracles Jesus performed, all the teachings he taught, and even his death, meant nothing without the resurrection. 

If Jesus didn't rise from the dead we are still in our sins, and we are wasting our time.

Read what the apostle Paul says as well in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19:
But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. (NLT)
Here is the point. The central truth of Christianity is not the cross, but the resurrection. 

Just as the covenant established at Sinai gave meaning and significance to everything which happened before it, the resurrection gives meaning to everything Jesus did before his death. All the teachings and miracles find their meaning not Jesus' death, but his resurrection. 

The Resurrection of Jesus is what gives meaning and hope to Christianity.

What does that mean for us? 

Often we talk how Jesus' death was the sacrifice for sin. In some mysterious way the crucifixion of Jesus absorbed the wrath of evil and sin, and that is a wonderful truth that is worth celebrating.

Yet, without the resurrection, Jesus' death was just another sad reality of cruelty of the Roman Empire. The resurrection declares that all Jesus said and did was true. We can be confident that our sins are forgiven because the cross leads to an empty tomb. The resurrection promises new life and a better tomorrow. 

The resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from other religions and philosophies of the world. It is the evidence that needed to verify the validity of the teachings and put confidence in the promises.

Without the resurrection Jesus is just another good teacher and moral philosopher.  With the resurrection Jesus is the one true King of the universe who has promised to return and make everything right.

That is the difference this one event makes.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...