What strikes me very forcibly is this—no mere man going to his grave could say, “I have power to take my life again.” The departure of life leaves the man necessarily powerless—he cannot restore himself to life. Behold the sacred Body of Jesus embalmed in spices and wrapped about with linen. It is laid within the sealed and guarded tomb—how can it come back to life? Yet Jesus said, “I have power to take My life again.” And He proved it. Strange power—that spirit of His which had traveled through the under lands and upwards to the eternal Glory—had power to return and to re-enter that holy Thing which had been born of the virgin and to revivify that flesh which could not see corruption.
Behold the dead and buried One makes Himself alive again! Herein is a marvelous thing. He was master over death, even when death seemed to have mastered Him—He entered the grave as a captive but left it as a conqueror. He was compassed by the bonds of death but He could not be held by them. Even in His burial garments He came to life—from those wrappings He unbound Himself—from the sealed tomb He stepped into liberty. If, in the extremity of His weakness He had the power to rise out of the sepulcher and come forth in newness of life, what can He not accomplish now? ~Charles Spurgeon “The Power of the Resurrection“
This Holy weekend we focus on the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I offer these thoughts and this sermon by Phil Johnson which is actually a brief overview of church history with a focus on the doctrines of grace, which most people know as ‘Calvinism’. Initially one may wonder how these two streams of thought are intertwined, but as you will see, they are intertwined so tightly that a clearer understanding of Jesus and the faith he secured for us through His death, burial, and resurrection will be made manifest.
Perceiving that Christ is in total control of each and every salvation, through understanding these biblical doctrines, will hopefully do several things in the reader’s and listener’s heart. One, is that the dear reader will never, ever again use the terrible phrase, “decisions for Christ.” We do not decide to become a Christian. The author and finisher of our faith is Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12:2).
Secondly, on this most precious of weekends, understanding the biblical doctrines of grace will offer a clearer view of Jesus and His love for humanity. Here is a very good teaching by Phil Johnson. He gives an overview of church history which illustrates when the eruption between the two camps originated. It was 410AD. The two camps are: we decide for Jesus vs. God’s sovereignty in salvation AKA Pelagianism vs. Calvinism. Hopefully, you will understand that the opposite camp, Pelagianism, minimizes the seriousness of sin and nullifies the need for Divine grace. This weekend is about grace!
Pelagianism was declared heresy in 430 AD. Yet its ideas remained, modified somewhat, and then was called Semi-Pelaginaism. This also was declared heresy in 529 at the Council of Orange. Still not firmly stamped out, strains of Semi-Pelagianism ideas advanced and nowadays modern Arminianism is the result of those debates from earlier centuries. If you hear the phrases walk the aisle, pray a prayer and decide for Christ, it’s from Arminianism.
The synopsis of Johnson’s teaching is below. I’m sorry, I was not able to find a transcript. It is audio only with powerpoint slides.
I want to emphasize, WE DO NOT DECIDE FOR CHRIST. On this most important of weekends, understand who Jesus is and what His death, burial and resurrection means, by understanding the full expression of His work in authoring and finishing our faith. Phil Johnson biblically lays this out.
Calvinism is not some quirky anomaly in the history of Christianity. It is not a recent departure from the mainstream that is headed off in some bizarre direction. The truth is these ideas have always belonged to the mainstream of sound theology throughout church history. It is one of the distinctive doctrines of Christianity itself. It is the anchor of sound doctrine that our faith is the result and not the cause of God’s work in our hearts. ~Phil Johnson
Synopsis of the teaching-sermon: The Christian doctrine of ‘Election’ has caused more difficulties to believers than any other. It is indeed one of the most frequently misunderstood of all Biblical teachings. Many have been distressed by what they think this teaching means. But rather than causing Christians concern, this doctrine is actually one that should fill believers with comfort and a much better grasp of the great and sovereign God that they serve. … a very helpful overview of Calvinism and its history, which actually sets the doctrine of election in the context of the Biblical teaching with which it is most commonly associated. Once correctly understood, election is seen to be actually a demonstration of the Lord’s love for his people. These two recordings will be a great help to those who are struggling to understand this most difficult, yet wonderful, doctrine.
Guest introduction by R. Craig Fulford:
Given it is Easter weekend you might expect me to post a tremendously dynamic sermon on the resurrection. But I’m not!
Instead I have chosen to share with all of you a sermon delivered by Phil Johnson entitled “The Story of Calvinism”. Now before you run screaming for the exits, allow me to explain.
For the most part, in today’s Church environment, any mention of the term Calvinism is met with an almost automatic response of “thrown up hands” and criticism. And that has been the result of many years in Biblical doctrine being compromised in favor of the belief that somehow man is in control and can make his own decision about whether or not he will accept God’s grace and His gift of salvation. The belief that a lost and spiritually dead man somehow has the “free will” to control his own salvation is now epidemic.
Phil does a tremendously effective job of diffusing the animus which exists between those who adopt the Arminian (Synergistic) view and those who are committed to the Monergistic (Reformed) view. Or at least he makes a strong attempt in trying to accomplish that goal without sacrificing Biblical truth.
Monergism says that the Holy Ghost acts independently of the human “will” in the work of regeneration. Monergism is the position in Christian theology that God, through the Holy Spirit, works to bring about the salvation of individuals through spiritual regeneration without any cooperation (interference) from the individual.
Synergism is the position of those who hold that salvation involves some form of cooperation between divine grace and human “free will”. Synergism is upheld by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches and by the Methodist, Episcopal, Charismatic and Pentecostal traditions of Protestantism. It is an integral part of Arminian theology and is simply the belief that the human can and might choose to cooperate (influence) with the Holy Ghost in His “work” of regeneration.
It’s important to note that “free will” is never once mentioned in Scripture nor is the concept. I know, neither is the “Trinity” but the truth of that concept is unmistakably taught.
So, you must be asking yourself, are there born again believers in churches that have adopted the Arminian doctrine? And if God has already pre-destined those who will be born again, why should Christians ever bother to witness? I mean, “What difference does it really make”?
Listen to Phil’s message and see the slides to have these kind of very serious questions answered! It only seems appropriate, while our minds are on His resurrection this weekend, to examine what it means to us as sinners in need of a Savior. It is too important that we understand what His sacrifice and victory over death represents to get it wrong!
Particular atonement: Christ’s death had a particular purpose, and a special reference for the elect, so that God’s design was first of all to save them, and Christ’s death secured the guarantee of their salvation. Christ’s death accomplished everything God designed it to accomplish. ~Phil Johnson
What is ‘decisional regeneration?’
As we go into Passion Week, here are some video clips from the Resurrection story for you. Each one is a snippet from events during the week.
Here is one from The Jesus Film of His Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem: Palm Sunday.
Matthew 21:9 Mark 11:9 Luke 19:28, 35-41 John 12:13
I work as a teacher aide in a kindergarten. I was working in my small group, and they noticed that some new decorations had gone up. In the room I share there was a large chick coming out of an egg hanging on the door, and around the room were other eggs, in pastel colors and with some rabbits too. One girl asked about it and I said it’s Easter decorations.
That got them talking about Easter and of course Easter egg hunts. They burbled and chatted.
|Not my kids in kindergarten. This is an old picture I had taken|
When’s Easter anyway? asked a girl.
April 5th! answered a boy.
I asked “What is Easter about?”
They all explained “It’s when you hide eggs with candy in them and hunt for them all around”.
But what else is Easter for?
Again they explained that the “Easter Bunny comes and you find candy and eggs in a basket”.
One girl explained, “When you go to church…”
Yes, yes? I eagerly leaned forward.
“…and you hunt for eggs and find candy.”
But isn’t it about Jesus?
The girl said, “Of course. He lays out the eggs.”
|The most beautifully decorated egg
pales in comparison to the beauty of Jesus
It’s charming and sad all at once. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is always funny and they say unexpected things but they also have more truth in them than we like to think. To a kid life is all about getting to the next candy bonanza. To them, Easter is just another fairy tale that has fantastical, magical creatures like a rabbit that delivers candy and eggs in a basket filled with fake grass. Jesus doesn’t figure into it at all or if He does it’s messed up. We certainly give out mixed messages.
In his sermon, “The Power of the Resurrection“, John MacArthur preached about the pagan mixture of Easter myths with the wonder and eternal glory of the Resurrection. He gave a good overview of the pagan origins of secular Easter celebrations and then he said,
While we laugh at that, we aren’t laughing at the resurrection. We’re laughing at the silliness of the world. But it really isn’t funny, because it’s another one of Satan’s efforts to muddle the issue. If I just do one thing this morning, I’d like to separate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the stupidity of Easter.
I never liked Easter Egg hunts. This was because I never found any eggs. Even as a kid I didn’t enjoy competitions, I was slow and ungainly, I didn’t quite understand the point, and there were always lots of bullies intent in shoving you down to get that egg first. I left a grass-stained mess with bruises, hurt feelings and an empty basket.
In fact, the term Easter is not a Christian term at all. It is the name of the ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of light, Estre, and you might be interested to know that Easter celebrations predate Christianity. ~MacArthur
I did enjoy the wonderful Easter baskets my parents left by the fireplace. They always held crinkly grass, chocolate, and pretty little jelly beans and more. They were always both artful and bountiful.
The egg is both, in ancient times, a symbol of fertility and a symbol of the sun because, of course, of the color of the yolk; and so eggs were used in ancient fertility rites as symbols offered to the gods and goddesses, and they were used in worship of the sun as sort of small emblems of the sun. ~MacArthur
I enjoyed dyeing the eggs too, a lot. There was always a new dress to wear, with hat and gloves, for Easter. It was the one time per year (maybe two) we attended a church. The point of the day was the dinner afterwards.
I wondered this week how the rabbits got into the scene…since rabbits really have nothing to do with eggs…and so I checked out some resources, and I found that in ancient Egypt, the rabbit is the symbol of birth, for obvious reasons if you’ve ever had rabbits…and the Egyptians used the rabbit as a symbol of birth, and also other ancient people considered rabbits the symbol of the moon; and since rabbits in Egyptian society were symbols of fertility and birth, and they were connected with spring when things came alive. ~MacArthur
|Me, all dolled up for Easter|
Yes, Easter the holiday has a mix of pagan rituals and myths. I am not a huge fan of churches holding Easter Egg Hunts. I’m not a fan of trunk or treat at Halloween either. However, the outreach possibilities at both holiday times are tremendous. Ministering to our neighbors with love,service, tracts, bibles, conversation, is a wonderful way to bring the Gospel to the world. So usually I leave it to Christian liberty and don’t stress about differing views.
GotQuestions discusses this in an essay about the Easter Bunny:
Should Christian parents allow their children to participate in traditional activities that refer to the Easter Bunny? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. There is nothing essentially evil about the Easter Bunny, unless it is used to promote the goddess of spring or fertility rites. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ and not the Easter Bunny, our children will understand that, like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny is merely a symbol. As with Christmas, Easter should be a time to reflect upon and celebrate the incarnation, the resurrection and the risen Christ.
Yes, it’s all about Jesus. The crinkly grass, baskets, egg hunts, dyed eggs, ham dinners, and Easter outfits aside, the power of the resurrection is a wondrous event to contemplate. We take a special day to praise our Father for His power and His love in resurrecting His son.
So it is from the resurrection to the close of the New Testament, the theme is always that He rose from the dead. We must not be fooled by Satan’s efforts to hide the resurrection in the foolishness of the world… ~MacArthur
I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17b-18)
So…hunt for eggs if you must. But look for Christ.
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Can you imagine the pit of despair the Disciples felt on Good Friday? To them it was a hellish and confusing Friday. Jesus’ separation from the Father while on the cross (Matthew 27:46) is the loneliest and most poignant moment any person ever felt in the history of the universe, bar none.
But the disciples’ sudden and unexpected separation on Friday from their spiritual Father they’d been following so hopefully for three years came upon them cruelly and brutally, throwing them all into states of panic, despair, and spiritual depression. Even though Jesus had told them ahead of time, and even though they had studied the scriptures, they didn’t understand. To them, it wasn’t Good Friday. It was just bad Friday and the seeming end of the long trail of hopes and highs they’d been experiencing for three years with Jesus in discipleship to Him. They did not know as we do, Friday’s here, but Sunday’s coming!
We worship Jesus every day. We worship and praise Jesus collectively in services on Sunday. We exalt Him once a year on Resurrection Sunday. We know Him as Resurrected King triumphant over sin and death!
His ultimate moment will be His return, when every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess (Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10, Isaiah 45:23).
“The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.” (Zechariah 14:9)
Everyone will know that Jesus is MESSIAH! Not their spouse, not their work, not their own self. They will finally know the Resurrected Jesus is the only name. He is all names. He is the beginning and the end!
And it started with the cross on Friday.
Our precious Lord, powerful and omniscient, the Alpha and the Omega, is alive! He is not in the tomb, but continuing His incarnation, but at this time, as glorified and eternal Prophet, Priest and King!!
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“John to the seven Churches which are in Asia, Grace be with you, and peace from him, Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come, and from the seven Spirits which are before his Throne,” (Revelation 1:4).
I can’t say enough about our Jesus, who conquered death and sin and hell, so I will let the bible tell us about Him. Here are just a few of the titles and honors bestowed upon Him! The Blue Letter Study Bible lists the Names, Titles, and Characters of Jesus Christ. There are over 200! They list the scriptures with them so you can see, and also click to read in context.
Here are just a very few of my favorites. Who ever gets tired of the name of Jesus? No Christian! We boast in HIM! We glory in HIM! His deeds! His works! His name!
The Son of the Highest – Luke 1:32
Our God and Savior – 2 Peter 1:1
Emanuel, God with us – Matthew 1:23
I am (before Abraham was) John 8:58
The Almighty, which is, and which was, and which is to come – Revelation 1:8
The Creator of all things – Colossians 1:16
The Upholder of all things – Hebrews 1:3
The Beginning – Colossians 1:18
The Beginning and the Ending – Revelation 1:8
The Alpha and the Omega – Revelation 1:8
The First and the Last – Revelation 1:17
The Life – 1 John 1:2
Eternal Life – 1 John 5:20
He that liveth – Revelation 1:18
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!
When I listened to John MacArthur’s monumental and devastating sermon in September which was a response to the Democratic Party platform, I thought the culture could not get any lower. (Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality). Even though I know in my head it can always go lower, I literally could not envision in my heart how it could. But we know that it always does, and indeed, it has.
In that sermon, which was at the time a low point for the global culture, MacArthur said-
“Isaiah knew sodomy was all around them, a part of life in Assyria, a part of life in Babylon, a part of life in Egypt. In fact there was much about homosexuality among the pharaohs. It took a while, it took about 150 years, but all of this kind of seeped in and what destroyed Sodom would destroy Judah. And later it would destroy Greece, and later it would destroy Rome. This is always a deadly sin, and always a defining sin, and always a damning sin.”
It can be seen as a low point because Romans 1:25-32 is a benchmark of progression of how a culture departs from God and what God does when that culture departs from Him. Rebellion against Him always takes the form of sin. A most damnable sin, and the only sin that IS a judgment, is homosexuality.
The political process at the Democratic Party adopted a platform that uplifted everything God hates and they denied God himself by removing His name from any and all affirmations included in the platform.
Ken Ham of the ministry Answers in Genesis wrote this weekend that the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) is going to present a show on Easter that compares Jesus Christ to homosexuals. Ham writes,
“Yes, you read that title correctly: the British Broadcasting Company will be airing a radio Easter message that compares the treatment of practicing homosexuals to the Crucifixion of Christ. (Read more about the announcement at this link.) The host of the program will be Benjamin Cohen, the founder of the gay UK publisher PinkNews.
Now, Cohen has written an article titled “Like Jesus on the cross, the gay community know what it is to be abandoned.” He explains his view of the Crucifixion and how he believes it relates to the gay agenda. As you’ll see, his reasoning shows a complete lack of understanding of the Bible’s atonement message and why Christ came to earth as a man:
The story of Jesus is one that is inextricably tied up with the notion of him being an outcast and being both abandoned and rejected by his own people, the Jews. Jesus was abandoned because of something he said he couldn’t help, being born the son of God, the messianic figure for the redemption of the Jewish people and ultimately of mankind. Yet he was persecuted for it, treated as a traitor and ultimately executed.
One of the problems with Cohen’s statement is that the gospel accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry don’t center on rejection and abandonment. They are concerned with Christ’s purpose for coming to earth—to offer salvation to sinful man through living a perfect life, dying in our place, and rising again three days later.
What’s more, Christ and His disciples called people to repent and believe. You see, Scripture tells us that homosexual behavior is sinful—so Cohen’s comparison isn’t remotely valid. “
Please go to the link at Ham’s website to read the rest of his essay.
If anything, this shows the persistence of satan. If anything this shows us that sin always has another depth to sink to. This is why the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins to pay the debt of God’s wrath over them had to be Jesus- because He is eternal. His infinite Goodness and Holiness paid the infinite and unholy debt of the depth of the world’s sin.
Aren’t we glad that in one way, when we see sin sinking so low, we can also see Jesus as so high and lifted up?
In the year of the death of king Uzziah, I saw also the Lord sitting upon an high throne, and lifted up, and the lower parts thereof filled the Temple. The Seraphims stood upon it, every one had six wings: with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole world is full of his glory. And the lintels of the door cheeks moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, Woe is me: for I am undone, because I am a man of polluted lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of polluted lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, and Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the Seraphims unto me with an hot coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with the tongs: And he touched my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? and who shall go for us? Then I said, Here am I, send me. (Isaiah 6:1-8)
He is seated on the throne, powerful King of all the universe, having paid the debt of even these people who compare Holy God to polluted sin. That is why we worship Jesus, He is beautiful in His holiness and purity.
MacArthur concludes the sermon series from last fall by saying:
“What’s wrong with our world? Rejected God; same thing that’s always been wrong. What are the solutions to all of the things that come from that? The only solution is to worship God by honoring His Son, the only Savior, the only hope. People talk about hope and change. There’s only one hope–that’s Christ. There’s only one change–that’s regeneration. Otherwise nothing changes and there’s no hope.”
I can’t imagine how it felt for our precious Savior or for our Loving God, after eons of intra-Trinitarian delight, of giving and submitting, loving, planning, and creating, sweetly delighting in each other’s presence, then for Jesus to be apart from God or for how it felt for God to be separated from His Son. It is painful to even think about…that moment in the Garden when Jesus was praying to be released from the agony of the cup, or the moment on the cross when He felt God’s presence depart from Him (Luke 22:42) … Oh! Oh! Oh!
But Sunday’s comin’!!
S.M. Lockridge’s sermon combines with footage from The Passion Of The Christ for this powerful video.
Names mean something. Words are important. An entire book was devoted to how minds are brainwashed by language in George Orwell’s 1984. That book was written in 1949 and is about a dystopian world that Orwell foresaw by the year 1984. “Newspeak” was the centerpiece of how the invasive and excessively totalitarian government leaders wanted the people to think. The aim is to make any alternative thinking (thinking in ways the government did not want you to think) impossible by removing any words or constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on. Dictionaries were supposed to get thinner and thinner. One character, Syme, says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
Christians have been struggling against the world’s deliberate dismantling of the concepts behind Christmas by denouncing the removal of the word when and where we come across that practice. Happy Holidays is NOT the same as “Merry Christmas.”
Now we have the removal of Easter from mention in a Seattle elementary school, and from mention by Seattle Parks and Recreation advertisements for the Easter Egg Hunt. Nowadays kids are supposed to call the eggs ‘Spring Spheres” and the hunt a “Spring Egg Scramble.”
It’s a terrible thing, the destruction of words. When those words contain the mention of the Savior, removing them from our language is worse than destructive, it is heinous. Christianity is unique among all the world’s religions. It is the truth, quite simply. Beyond that, all other religions have a doctrine of works: in other words, the person has to do this or that, accomplish this or that to get into heaven. Jesus said that there is nothing man can do to earn salvation, it is His gift alone to give.
Uniquely, Christianity is not a system of beliefs, it is a relationship with God. It is a close relationship: He actually sends part of Himself to dwell inside the believer, the Holy Spirit.
Christianity is unique because though other religions have sacred sayings or important books, none other book makes the claims about itself that the Bible does: it is written by God, and has been proved over and over by fulfilled prophesies.
The most amazing element of the uniqueness of Christianity is that it centers around the resurrection of Jesus Christ!! As GotQuestions.org puts it, “No other religious leader has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb, and then rose three days later to appear to many people. The resurrection is proof of who Jesus is and that He did accomplish what He set out to do: provide the only means of redemption for mankind. Buddha did not rise from the dead. Muhammad did not rise from the dead. Confucius did not rise from the dead. Krishna did not rise from the dead. Only Jesus has physically risen from the dead, walked on water, claimed to be God, and raised others from the dead. He has conquered death. Only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ who claimed to be God, performed many miracles to prove His claim of divinity, died and rose from the dead, and claimed that He alone is “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.”
“Easter” is the pinnacle of the triumph of Jesus Christ over all evil. It is the moment where He proves Himself to be Who He is. It is the time when all sinners have the permanent opportunity to receive salvation, in a glorious moment for all humankind, forever. No wonder “the rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers” (Titus 1:9-11) want to remove the concept from our language. DO NOT LET THEM DO IT! “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said!” Mt 28:6