Posted in easter, joy, resurrection

Resurrection Sunday!

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

Posted in body, glory, God, holy, resurrection

Jesus: O, What a Savior!

Lubec, Maine. EPrata photo

I was asked recently for my testimony. Here are the thoughts of a pagan, graciously drawn to our Blessed Savior

I was not saved by the Lord’s grace until I was 43 years old. Before that, I lived in New England and lived a very liberal life. I’m grateful to my patient and loving Savior who elected me, drew me, and lifted me from the pit of sin in which I was living.

Until that time, during my adult life, I could not understand the phenomenon of Jesus. Oh, I understood it to be a phenomenon, all right. No one can dismiss Him, least of all the unsaved. He is a pervasive presence that simply does not go away. I used to actively wonder about His staying power. Buddha comes and goes as a fad, Allah wasn’t even around until 600 AD and wasn’t popular for a long time after that. Pele the volcano goddess waned and Ra the sun god is passe. And whatever happened to Aphrodite and Mars? But Jesus never waned and He is worshiped in every culture throughout every era.

Continue reading “Jesus: O, What a Savior!”
Posted in easter, joy, resurrection

Resurrection Sunday!

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

Posted in death, Jesus atonement, life, resurrection

The sting of death

EPrata photo

Wen a bee stings, it shoots the stinger into the flesh, and the wound stings and hurts, it inflames and it pains. However, the bee dies.

Jesus took the sting from death when His perfect life and His sacrificial death pleased God and God resurrected Him from death.

Now, those who believe on the name of Jesus, His continued life in Heaven, and soon to return appearance in Sovereign glory, will live forever. Jesus still has the scars on His hands, but the sting of death for us who believe is removed forever. Our death is simply a passage from a world which is not our home, into permanent glory and everlasting life in Jesus’ home He pas prepared for us.

Those who do not believe however, rightly fear the sting of death. For them, death is not a passage into glory but a descent into hell. The sting of death is not removed for them, because they have not believed on the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Not only is the sting of death not removed from them, but they will bear the pains and scars and hurts and punishment for their sins forever in the flames.

Jesus is the most precious, most beautiful, most glorious Person in the universe. Believe in His work on earth during His life and believe in His substitutionary death for sinners, and believe in His resurrection to everlasting life. Why?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Posted in abraham's bosom, encouragement, jesus, paradise, resurrection

What is Heaven? Part 1- Abraham’s Bosom and Paradise

Yesterday I’d remarked about the article The Atlantic wrote about the movie 90 Minutes in Heaven. The author had said that the movie offered so few details regarding Christian heaven the movie was almost a metaphor.

The subject of heaven is often overlooked, or if it is studied, it presents errors like we all float around on insubstantial clouds playing harps.

The biblical record doesn’t gush effusively about heaven, but it does offer concrete details. It is an important study to undertake, because after all, it’s where the righteous dead will dwell for all eternity. More importantly, it is our home already, we are citizens of heaven.

The Bible uses different names for the place where God dwells. Heaven is a term that has come to mean a catch-all for the place where the righteous dwell. There is Abraham’s Bosom, Paradise, present heaven, the Millennial Kingdom, future heaven, New Jerusalem, and the eternal state. And what are the three heavens? Paul was taken up to the Third Heaven. While some of these are nicknames, these different places are real and exist for different reasons and at different times.
Scripture refers to heaven as God’s habitation but also uses the term as an alternative for God himself. Manser, M. H. Dictionary of Bible Themes.
The three heavens are easy to define. The First Heaven is the earth’s atmosphere, where the birds fly, clouds scud, and wind blows. The Second Heaven is space. It’s where the planets are, the stars, asteroids, black holes, and all the rest. The Third Heaven where Paul was taken, (2 Corinthians 12:2) is where God is.

No one knows where Third Heaven is, if it is another dimension, or some place way out there, or what. But it is definitely where God is and it is definitely a real place. God’s temple is there, the altar is there, the angels come and go, His throne is there, His glory is there, prayers ascend to there, prophets have seen visions of there, and much more. It is a busy place. Read Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Revelation 4. But studying actual heaven is for another day. Let’s look at what the term “Abraham’s Bosom” means.

Do the Terms “Abraham’s Bosom” and “Paradise” Refer to Heaven or Somewhere Else? (Luke 16:22)

Abraham’s bosom. This same expression (found only here in Scripture) was used in the Talmud as a figure for heaven. The idea was that Lazarus was given a place of high honor, reclining next to Abraham at the heavenly banquet.

So it’s a nickname.

So what is “Paradise?”

In order to answer that I need to talk about hell a bit.

Illustration by Fred Overton of Frank Overton Seminars

I’m actually going to talk about 4 places: Hell AKA Hades, Paradise, Heaven, and the Abyss.

Since time immemorial, when someone died, they were buried. They were either put into a hole in the ground, or mummified under a pyramid, or into a cave, or under rocks as a cairn. This is called “the grave” and it’s where the dead body goes. Where the soul then goes is the point of the study.

Prior to the crucifixion, all the dead souls went to the same place. In Hebrew it’s Sheol and in Greek it’s Hades. It was a place that is referred to as “down”, and was split by a great gulf, as the rich man said in Luke 16:26.

One side of this place called Sheol or Hades is where the unrighteous dead go, as the rich man unfortunately discovered. It’s hot and the fire is a torment, as again the rich man said. (All this is in Luke 16).

The other side of the place is nicknamed Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise. That’s where Lazarus went, the story goes. It’s where all the righteous dead went (remember, this is prior to the crucifixion). All the OT saints, and people who died during the Incarnation went there. It was a pleasant place of rest and comfort. Between them is a great gulf, fixed, so no person may cross from one side to the other. You can read all this in Luke 16:19-31.

So we have the lock-up Abyss where the unholy angels are chained, (Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4), Hell/Hades where the unrighteous dead are, and Paradise. Now, after Jesus descended to the abyss and preached to the demons, then spent 40 days on earth topside teaching His apostles, then Jesus rose to heaven. As He rose, He emptied Paradise and took all the righteous dead with Him to heaven, where they still dwell. (Eph 4:8).

Now, when someone in the faith dies, they don’t go to Abraham’s bosom/Paradise any more which is down, as Jesus had told the thief on the cross, but they go to heaven which is up. The blood of Jesus & His resurrection made it possible.

Though be advised some disagree on the location and use of the term Paradise. MacArthur says it is an error to interpret the Luke 16 passage about the Rich Man and Lazarus being in proximity to each other with a gulf between, yet S. Lewis Johnson interprets Luke 16 as depicted in the above illustration by Fred Overton, who obviously interprets it that way too. I agree with Johnson. So you can see that it is a complicated subject.

However no one in either heaven or hell/Hades has their glorified body yet. At the rapture, the saints will get their glorified body. However the unrighteous dead will still wait for their body, not that they can complain. The unrighteous dead all be resurrected after the Millennial Kingdom, judged at the Great White Throne judgment, receive their eternal body that will for their eternal punishment, and be cast into the Lake of Fire. Death and Hell will be thrown in there too. The eternal state will begin. (There is no such thing as soul sleep at any time nor is there any such thing as soul annihilation. The Bible teaches neither).

Here is an excerpt from S. Lewis Johnson’s sermon “Death and Afterwards“.

Now with the experience of Jesus Christ, things change. With the experience of Jesus Christ we have an apparently quite an important transformation of one aspect of Sheol. Remember the Lord Jesus when he died descended into the lower parts of the earth. I’m going to ask you if you will to turn with me to Ephesians chapter 4. Now it is impossible for us to do justice to this great passage. Let me just suggest to you the things that it seems to mean. Now the apostle is speaking about the gifts of the risen Christ. He says in the 7th verse, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, (or as Weymouth renders it, ‘he led captive a host of captives) and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”do 

Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth. Apparently paradise was located in Hades as a separate compartment. When the death of Christ occurred and he went to the realm of the dead and gave his message of doom to the opponents of the gospel of Christ, he took the believers with him, and he took paradise. And now paradise is in the third heaven, as Paul says, and it is up. And so a tremendous change has taken place in paradise as a result of the ministry of the Lord Jesus. So paradise is relocated.

It’s a rich, full, complicated topic, this concept of Abraham’s Bosom & Paradise. There was much more to it than one would think!

The bottom line is that where Christ is, is Paradise.


Where did Jesus go after He died?

THE THIEF ON THE CROSS, PARADISE and the place of the dead

Heaven introduction

Heaven part 2 Millennium Kingdom

Posted in grace, mighty, prophecy, resurrection, risen

He is risen!

The Righteous Reign of the Branch
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1-2
Posted in arminianism, calvinism, doctrines of grace, easter, resurrection

Understanding the Doctrines of grace in the face of the death, burial, & resurrection of Christ

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

Further Reading:

Altar Calls: Why You Should Refuse to Walk the Aisle part 1, and 2, and 3.

What is ‘decisional regeneration?’

A holy Saturday

Posted in prophecy, resurrection, scripture

He will not let His Holy One see corruption!

Vyrso Verse of the Day

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption
(Acts 2:27, Psalm 16:10)

He describes his resurrection: God loosed the pains of death, because it was impossible that he should be holden of it; ōdinas—the sorrows of death; the word is used for travailing pains, and some think it signifies the trouble and agony of his soul, in which it was exceedingly sorrowful, even to the death; from these pains and sorrows of soul, this travail of soul, the Father loosed him when at his death he said, It is finished. Thus Dr. Godwin understands it: “Those terrors which made Heman’s soul lie like the slain (Ps. 88:5, 15) had hold of Christ; but he was too strong for them, and broke through them; this was the resurrection of his soul (and it is a great thing to bring a soul out of the depths of spiritual agonies);

this was not leaving his soul in hell; as that which follows, that he should not see corruption, speaks of the resurrection of his body; and both together make up the great resurrection.” Dr. Lightfoot gives another sense of this: “Having dissolved the pains of death, in reference to all that believe in him, God raised up Christ, and by his resurrection broke all the power of death, and destroyed its pangs upon his own people. He has abolished death, has altered the property of it, and, because it was not possible that he should be long holden of it, it is not possible that they should be for ever holden.”

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2069). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Posted in easter, jesus, pagan, resurrection

The power of the Resurrection vs. the Stupidity of Easter

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”.
Anything else?
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.