Category Archives: resurrection

Christ is the conquering of death!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about death, and how people are driven by the fear of death. I’ve also been thinking about my dad. This should come as no surprise seeing that now is the time of year he passed away.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Death reveals that the world is not as it should be but that it stands in need of redemption. Christ alone is the conquering of death.” I couldn’t agree more. When I sat at my dad’s bedside shortly after he passed, I was struck by the paradox of death: On one hand nature is full of it. Death has a wonderful purpose in the cycle of seasons, and all things die that they might live again in some renewed form. So death is natural.

On the other hand, anyone who has watched a loved one struggle against terminal cancer and eventually give way under that beast can tell you that there is nothing natural about death. Despite the mystery of death and resurrection being written into the very fabric of the universe, there remains another side to death’s face-an ugly side-which I dare say no honest man can face up to without being brought to realize that something is wrong with our world. The pain, the emotional trauma, the heart-wrenching effect on family and friends… all together it goes to show, like Bonhoeffer said, that something is amiss. Death is the evidence of a breakdown in the original, God-intended order of things.

The writer of Hebrews was firmly convinced that God came into our world in the person of Jesus Christ for one mighty purpose: 

…that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14,15)

Those are some heavy words.  But isn’t it true that people are driven by the fear of death? What else can explain man’s tireless efforts to preserve his life, to prolong it, to avoid pain at any cost, and hopefully, ultimately, to overcome death altogether and live forever? Death is an enemy-the last enemy, according to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:26)-and deep down in his heart man knows this, and he is terrified by it.

Now, I understand some cool-headed atheists out there will deny this. Come to find out, they are not at all afraid of dying. That’s fine, I understand where they’re coming from. But at the end of the day I just can’t believe it, because they’re human just like I am. We’re made of the same stuff. And this instinct-this primeval fear of dying-goes deep into the heart of man, whether he cares to admit it or not.

This is where the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ comes into play. Without the resurrection there is no Christian message. We can go on and on about how Jesus “died for us” and everything that entails, but the fact of the matter is, until the Lord rose from the dead there was no good news to tell. Consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Christ died, and though they may not have understood it, he died for them. But that meant nothing to them or to anyone as long as he stayed dead just like everyone else. Just like Lao Tze, just like Confuscius, just like the Buddha, and just like every other man and woman, even the great ones who brightened their little corner of history with flashes of light and truth.

The good news is in the resurrection, for “Christ alone is the conquering of death.” Until death is defeated, man is not free. Rather, he is “subject to lifelong slavery” through the fear of what is to come, namely death.

So I’ve been thinking about all this and how it pertains to my life and the thoughts I have about my dad. And I can say with all honesty, through my faith and experience of Christ in the Spirit, that the resurrection of the Lord has worked an incredibly practical effect in my life. I wrestle with fear and doubt just like the next guy, but I can testify that the sting of death is gone for me. From the day my dad fell asleep until now, I can say that I sense him with me as much and sometimes more than I did before when he was living in the flesh. What’s more, I can say that with each passing day, even as I move on with my family and my life, I am not haunted by the fear that I am losing more of dad through the  passing of time. A lot of people feel that way, I think. They feel that as the initial trauma goes away, time passes, and memories begin to fade, they are somehow moving further and further away from their loved one. I have the opposite sense. For me every day is not a drifting away from dad, despite the pain I feel from missing him; on the contrary, with each day that passes I have a growing sense of closeness to him… a drawing together rather than a fading away. 

This is the reality of Christ in me, the hope of glory! Nothing in life can amount to this experience which is mine, and I hope yours, by faith. It is a tremendous joy, a liberation, which I can’t fathom knowing any other way. Yes, something is terribly wrong with our world-death reveals it-and in this life we will have pain and sorrow. “But take heart,” Jesus said to the twelve, and through their testimony to us, “for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)!


God’s purpose for man is in the earth

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Notice here that Jesus does not say, “no one gets to heaven except through me,” but “no one comes to the Father except through me.” You might think this is nothing more than a slight semantical difference, but really it represents a huge gap between today’s popular evangelical teaching and the message proclaimed by the apostles in the first century.

I wonder how many of us ever stop to think about what God’s purpose was for humanity before man fell into sin. The way most people talk you’d think God created man just so He could save him. But there was a will, a purpose, and a mission all before sin ever came into the picture, and it was planted firmly in the earth. God did not originally create man with the purpose of getting him to heaven one day after he died.

God’s purpose for man was, and still is, found in the earth!

Then consider the general concept most people have of what is called “eternal life”. Popular opinion says eternal life is an endless existence in heaven.  But where does this idea come from? A better translation of that phrase would be “the life of the ages.” This alone puts a whole new spin on things. Here again we may take the words of the Lord Himself on this subject:

“This is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

So Jesus plainly states that eternal life is knowing God, or in other words being one with God. Nothing about living forever in heaven. To have eternal life is to possess the life of the ages, which possession begins here and now.

All this leads me to believe that we have somewhat overlooked the point of things when it comes to the nature and goal of our salvation. For instance, when the angel spoke to Joseph did he tell him to “call him Jesus, for he will save his people from hell?” No! He said, “call him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins!” (Matthew 1:21) Yet the popular evangelical gospel being preached from most pulpits every Sunday spells out a very simplistic gospel which says little more than this: “God is holy and you are a sinner. Jesus endured God’s wrath in your place so one day when you die you will have Jesus’ perfect righteousness trasmitted to your account and you’ll get into heaven.” And it is precisely this kind of partial gospel that is failing to bring forth the full purpose of God in the earth. It may get people to an altar, it may give them an assurance that one day they’ll go to heaven when they die, but it is not producing a people in the earth who are conscious of God eternal purpose for their being here and who are living towards the realization of that purpose with every ounce of their being.  

What am I trying to say? Simply that salvation is not merely a matter of dodging hell and getting to heaven one day where we’ll have a blissful endless existence on streets of gold. It’s about being delivered from the power of sin unto a possession of the life of the ages, which life we have in union with the Lord who indwells our spirits here and now… that through our fellowship with Him in the church we may make a way in the earth for the bringing in of His kingdom in resurrection!

May the Lord hasten that glorious day!     

Thank God for the winter!

Now that spring is here in all its warm, sunshiney splendor, I sometimes wonder if I’m man enough to look up to the Lord and say in all honesty, “Father, thank you for the winter!” After all, if it weren’t for the winter there would be no spring to enjoy.

Isn’t that the hardest thing about life? Taking the bad with the good, and trusting that somehow, someway, the Lord Himself is hidden somewhere in the mess, making all things beautiful in His time?

Though winter is commonly viewed as the season of death, I think it’s just as true to say that life is never more active than it is during the winter. The only difference is that life has withdrawn itself deep within, so that it might not only survive the onslaught of death but also come back in resurrection with a growth and increase of itself more abundant than it was before. Season after season proves that life, in the end, is triumphant over death.

So it is with us. Winter and death are necessary for life. So let us be aware of that fact. It will save us a great deal of struggle as we wait out the ice and snow of February (I’m speaking figuratively, of course).

One brother put it like this: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!” May the Lord lead each and every one of us into an understanding of this precious truth, and cause us to see that even in the night He gives a song, that through the plight of our own spiritual winter there is within our spirits a resevoir of hope and light-an eternal springtime if you will-that comes by knowing fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ within.

death and dying

Recently my dad passed away. As I sat in the Hospice room where he lay, myself on one side of the bed and my brother on the opposite, a few thoughts came to mind. Here they are, short and sweet, for your consideration…

Death and dying represent a paradox to me. On the one hand, I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could ever think that death-with all its accompanying heartache, sorrow, and pain-could ever be natural. How could anyone experience the loss of a loved one and think that somehow this is the way things are meant to be? How could they go through something like this and not begin to question what went wrong with the universe so as to cause such an unnatural intrusion of death into life? And then begin to seek an answer to that question?

On the other hand, when I look at creation itself and observe the natural rhythms of life-the seasons, the harvest, plant life, ect.-it becomes equally apparent to me that death is written into the very bloodstream of the universe. Death, it would seem, is just as much a part of life as anything else. Only, it is no end in itself. Creation, even in its fallen state, testifies of one sure thing: Death is a precursor to resurrection. And with resurrection comes increase. In the plan of God, a thing only dies so that it might live again.

Either way, each of these views speak of something more than what can be found out by the five senses. They speak of something deeper and more satisfying than the answers we’ve had presented to us by the philosophers and professors of this present age. They speak of the One who embodies the truth that death is the necessary pathway to Life.

So I would encourage everyone reading this post, seek to know Jesus Christ. Seek to know Him in His fullness. Tear through the trappings of modern-day Christianity if need be and let your heart be captivated by what you see. I take to heart the words of C.S. Lewis: “If I find within myself a desire that nothing of this world can satisfy, then the most probable explanation is that I am made for another world.” This world of which Lewis speaks is not far off, nor is it reserved only for a future day. It is here and it is now, and the doorway into it is found in Jesus Christ. In fact, Christ is that Doorway. And it is flung wide open for whoever wants to enter in.

That is what my dad taught me in his life, and this is what he has shown me in his death. I can’t wait to discuss it with him further in his resurrection. 🙂 I am thankful that all things live and die and live again, not by chance or without meaning, but by the Lord’s own Word and steadfast love.

“Look! I show you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then will come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory!’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)