Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen, Rejoice!

Mat 28:1 NOW after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

Mat 28:2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[fn1] and sat on it.

Mat 28:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

Mat 28:4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

Mat 28:5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

Mat 28:6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Mat 28:7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."

Mat 28:8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

Mat 28:9 And as they went to tell His disciples,[fn2] behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

Mat 28:10 Then Jesus said to them,
"Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

Mat 28:11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.

Mat 28:12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,

Mat 28:13 saying, "Tell them, 'His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.'

Mat 28:14 "And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure."

Mat 28:15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Mat 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.

Mat 28:17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Mat 28:19 "Go therefore[fn3] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Mat 28:20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.[fn4]

(bold mine - for emphasis)

Footnotes:
28:2 NU-Text omits from the door.
28:9 NU-Text omits the first clause of this verse.
28:19 M-Text omits therefore.
28:20 NU-Text omits Amen.

New King James Version, © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

12 comments:

mike rucker said...

happy easter to you and your family, christine.

mike rucker
fairburn, georgia, usa
mikerucker.wordpress.com

Arlen said...

First, I like your blog and admire your beliefs. I have been a believer since 1963.

Secondly, your blog seems polished and sophisticated and your writings seem like they originate from a very educated perspective.

That said, I would like to ask you a question because though you seem well established in your beliefs, you also seem open-minded.

The question: what do you personally believe about individuals who never hear the story of Jesus and salvation or what do you believe regarding people who never hear and are raised in an environment steeped in Eastern or other religions?

My reason for posing this question to you is because I get asked this all of the time and have not come up with a satisfactory response. I know what Jesus advocates in John 14:6, but is this just for the people that have heard? If not, how can people who have never heard be held responsible? And how can the mentally retarded or those too young to understand be held responsible?

Thank you for indulging me. Blessings to you.

Stacy L Harp said...

He is Risen Indeed! Happy Resurrection day my sister :)

Christinewjc said...

Thank you Mike! Hope you and your family had a very Happy Easter too! We certainly did!

Christinewjc said...

Hi Stacy,

Our family had a wonderful Resurrection Day celebration! Hope that you and your family had a joyful day!

I can't wait for Pastor Miles to put up his Easter Service message! It was terrific!!

Christinewjc said...

Hi Arlen,

Welcome and thanks for you warm compliments! I really appreciated that!

You asked, "The question: what do you personally believe about individuals who never hear the story of Jesus and salvation or what do you believe regarding people who never hear and are raised in an environment steeped in Eastern or other religions?"

First, I must admit that there are probably thousands of Christians who could answer your question better than my attempt here. If you do not find what I will share satisfactory, then I would recommend going to Steve Camp's blog and asking him that question. I'm sure that he will give you a great summary of explanation.

Second, all that I will share here will not, of course, be an exhaustive commentary on the subject. Other Christians are welcome to add and/or correct anything that they deem is needed for better accuracy in the discussion of Arlen's question.

There are several schools of Christian thought about this issue. Some, unfortunately are heretical. However, the true scholars all lead to the same, if not similar conclusion.

However, you have specifically asked me to share with you what I have found through study of the Bible and the writings of Christian scholars. I will try to briefly sum them up here.

In the Old Testament times (OT) people were saved while looking forward to the arrival of the Messiah. For example, the Bible tells us that Moses' "faith was accounted to righteousness." So, it was their faith in the God of Israel, obedience to His Word and guidance in their lives, and the sacrificial system (unblemished animals) that provided forgiveness for sin. Those who lived at that time were saved according to the OT covenant.

The covenant between Abraham and God was a two-way deal. It was a contract that showed the roles and responsibilities of both parties: a person and God. The Almighty took an oath. He swore upon His own life that whatever He promised, He would fulfill. God's covenant with Abraham included:

1. The gift of land
2. The father of a great nation.
3. All the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Taking into account that The Fall of man had already occurred, we realize that the battle in the conversation between Eve and the serpent is found on almost every page of Scripture from that point forward. Once sin entered into the world, so did evil and death.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the question then became who will rule? God or man? Will mankind seek autonomy or will he submit to the authority of God? Will man serve God or will he pursue personal power, selfish purposes, and sensual desires? Whose word will prevail?

Like Eve, we are challenged to live out our lives under God's Law or face death for a false freedom - which is the only kind of "freedom" that Satan can offer. Eve and Adam failed the test and instead of continuing to "walk in fellowship with God," they were made to run away and hide from Him. We have been running away ever since.

Thank God that He continues to pursue us. It is precisely because He first loved us that we have the capacity to love Him. Because our sin separates us from Holy and Righteous God, His plan to send the Savior was God fulfilling His covenant with man all along.

When Jesus lived, died, and rose again, the New Covenant was formulated. Since you are a longtime Christian, I probably don't need to describe it.

From what I have read, studied and learned, it is not what we don't know that sends us to hell, it is what we DO know and REJECT. These days, it is very difficult for people NOT TO HAVE HEARD of Jesus Christ. The various missions and the added convenience of the worldwide internet has made access to knowing Jesus almost inescapable. But people still do hear and outrightly reject Him. It is that rejection, when held within an individual's heart until the death of the person, that sends them into eternity separated from God forever.

God does not want anyone to perish. He doesn't take any gratification in the death of the wicked!

Eze 33:11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

People will be judged according to what they DO KNOW. Spiritually speaking, it is written upon the hearts of all men that God exists. Therefore, refusal to admit or acknowledge this fact has no excuse.

Rom 1:20 (KJV) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

That verse speaks of the general revelation of God to man.

Read all of Romans 1 (NKJV) to get a better idea of what I am trying to say. That chapter reveals the ways that man "suppresses the truth in unrighteousness."

In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus (and us)

Jhn 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. [See John 3]

Personally, I didn't learn that in the church I grew up in. I needed to seek out God's Word on my own to learn that. As I look back before my conversion, the Lord had sent many people into my path in life who were witnessing the gospel of Jesus Christ to me over the years. It is unmistakable that the Lord God was pursuing me -even when I wasn't necessarily looking to Him!

Once born again, the Holy Spirit indwells the heart and 2 Cor. 3 describes how the Holy Spirit works in the life of the born again believer. The first step, however, is repentance for sin, belief in Christ, his death for our sin and resurrection to life, and then the power of the Holy Spirit brings the Scriptures to life and provides guidance for the believer.

Note this verse: 2Cr 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

Yesterday, during the Easter Sunday celebration, our pastor gave a wonderful sermon on Jesus and how the number 3 is utilized throughout Scripture and prophecy. When the sermon is posted for viewing I will link to it. He also mentioned that all other religious leaders who died - stayed dead!

Note these words from Jesus:

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. (John 12:32)

Jesus draws us to Him! Those who refuse His obvious invitation to come to Him will die with their own sins upon their souls. Those who accept the gospel will live. His presence and His message leave no room for doubt. His love invites us to come to Him. Of course, His holiness overwhelms us, but His mercy welcomes us.

John wrote:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

God's plan is simple enough for even the most uncivilized person in the world to understand. The truth of Christ's atonement for our sin was primitively dramatized in the OT (animal sacrificial system) in order to point towards the "once for all" perfect atonement sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the NT. Christ's shed blood at the cross was for our sakes; his beaten body was the propitiation for the sins of mankind. We are forgiven through acceptance to the truth of Christ bearing our sins for our sakes.

This shows the ugliness of our sin and how severely Holy God views sin.

The first words uttered by Jesus when he began His 3 year earthly ministry was, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is near."

Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Salvation requires repentance.

The Bible tells us that we are condemned (because of our sin) already. The only way to be written into the Lamb's Book of Life is through the cross of Christ.

Even an indecision counts as rejection!

Jhn 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. [See Revelation 21]

Jesus emphatically said:

Jhn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (bold mine)

There is no other way to be saved.

Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Christinewjc said...

Arlen also asked:

"I know what Jesus advocates in John 14:6, but is this just for the people that have heard? If not, how can people who have never heard be held responsible? And how can the mentally retarded or those too young to understand be held responsible?"

Again, based on my previous comment, we are held accountable for what we do know and yet reject.

In the case of the mentally retarded - if they do not have the capacity to grasp the gospel, then they will not have the capacity to accept or reject it.

In the case of children, the Bible teaches about there being an age of accountability. Some scholars have said age 7, others, age 12.

In my experience with my own children, my son became born again at age 7. My daughter, at age 5 in Sunday school. She then re-dedicated her life to Jesus Christ at age 8 in AWANA.

As far as "those who have never heard" about Jesus Christ; they would most likely be judged according to general revelation about God. Some Christian scholars disagree with that analysis. But I think that it makes sense because they can't reject Someone, or something, that they have never heard about. I probably need to do more research on this subject to answer your question more biblically and effectively.

However, I also believe that in this day and age, the amount of people who have never heard about Jesus is quite small.

Scripture tells us two important things happening simultaneously the closer we get to the end times.

1. The gospel will be preached to all nations.

Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

2. There will be a "falling away" from true belief in Jesus Christ.

2Th 2:1 ¶ Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him,


2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.


2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;


2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

We also learn that the "man of sin" who will be revealed might even be capable of "deceiving the very elect" - but he won't deceive true believers because the Scripture also says - "if that were possible."

Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The heresy going on today in some of the churches shows us how easily those who do not genuinely belong to Christ can be deceived!

For more about heretical movements going on right now, see Herescope - revealing heresies

mike rucker said...

christine, no need to send Arlen to the heresies website - you're doing quite well making up your own:

we are held accountable for what we do know and yet reject.

verse, please. there is nothing in scripture that says this. and how does your reformed stance and "sola scriptura" come into play?

In the case of the mentally retarded - if they do not have the capacity to grasp the gospel, then they will not have the capacity to accept or reject it.

again, this is an appeal to silence. what you're saying is that, by how you understand God, there's no way He would condemn a mentally retarded person. my question is, why not? in romans it says that He chose some even before they breathed their first breath to go straight to hell, do not pass go and do not collect $200.

the difference between you and me is i was bold enough to recognize verses that did not reflect the God i knew. you read them, accept them, but then come up with other "outs" for people that are more like the God you know.

the Bible teaches about there being an age of accountability. Some scholars have said age 7, others, age 12.

at the risk of repeating myself, this is nowhere in scripture. again, it's an appeal based on our belief that God is too good to judge someone without giving them a fair chance, when the book you want to say is "inerrant" says He certainly will, and will do it "for His glory."

for a funny piece on God defining words like "fair" and "just" to fit what He wants to do, look here.

However, I also believe that in this day and age, the amount of people who have never heard about Jesus is quite small.

perhaps. but the number in history is quite large.

1. The gospel will be preached to all nations.

i meant to ask you about this before. what do you think the list of "nations" was when Jesus said this? how does that fit your theology?

We also learn that the "man of sin" who will be revealed might even be capable of "deceiving the very elect" - but he won't deceive true believers because the Scripture also says - "if that were possible."

i'm trying my darndest but i sure can't seem to make you bend any, christine. you must be elect.

mike rucker
fairburn, georgia, usa
mikerucker.wordpress.com

Christinewjc said...

Mike,

I do not have time at the moment to give you a detailed reply. However, I do trust John MacArthur's analysis so here it is:

The "Age of Accountability

One more quick thing. About this:

"we are held accountable for what we do know and yet reject."

Even those who would profess to be "Christians" may not truly be born again in Christ. Remember the parable of the wheat and the chaff?

Those who appear, on the outside, to be Christians, yet, hold to "another gospel" (i.e. gay "christian" movement, emergent church movement, Oprah's new age savior beliefs etc.) do not fool the Lord.

If you are looking for perfection from my answers, Mike, you will continue to be disappointed. Look to the scholars, then, and be not disturbed...

mike rucker said...

christine,

thanks for the link. an interesting read. it almost had me convinced that johnny mac was no longer a card-carrying biliolator... :)

what he says, in a nutshell, is that God is gracious, and will act in grace and mercy.

which is what i have always said.

which is exactly the OPPOSITE of those who say God picks some to fry for his glory.

the more i go back and forth with people on these kind of things, the more i'm at a loss for why people can't just say what they believe.

mike rucker
fairburn, georgia, usa
mikerucker.wordpress.com

Christinewjc said...

Mike,

You wrote (about MacArthur) :

"what he says, in a nutshell, is that God is gracious, and will act in grace and mercy."

The cross of Jesus Christ is the focal point of God's grace and mercy, Mike. You cannot leave that truth out.

I do not know of any true Bible-based Christian believers who say, "God picks some to fry for his glory."

Say what you mean and mean what you say...please?

Christinewjc said...

Mike,

Regarding this exchange:

Chris: the Bible teaches about there being an age of accountability. Some scholars have said age 7, others, age 12.

Mike: at the risk of repeating myself, this is nowhere in scripture. again, it's an appeal based on our belief that God is too good to judge someone without giving them a fair chance, when the book you want to say is "inerrant" says He certainly will, and will do it "for His glory."

I stand corrected. Bet you are thrilled about that...right Mike? I should not have written "the Bible teaches" about there being an "age of accountability." What I should have written is "the Bible infers [meaning - to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence] the likelihood of an "age of accountability." John MacArthur points out the example of David believing that he would see his son, who died as an infant, in eternity.

Scripture tells us: 1. The gospel will be preached to all nations.

Mike asked: "i meant to ask you about this before. what do you think the list of "nations" was when Jesus said this? how does that fit your theology?"

It mean all nations Mike! Every single one of the nations in history up until the present.

It fits my theology quite well.

Chris: In the case of the mentally retarded - if they do not have the capacity to grasp the gospel, then they will not have the capacity to accept or reject it.

Mike: again, this is an appeal to silence. what you're saying is that, by how you understand God, there's no way He would condemn a mentally retarded person. my question is, why not? in romans it says that He chose some even before they breathed their first breath to go straight to hell, do not pass go and do not collect $200.

In the case of the mentally retarded, they may never have the capacity to understand. Therefore, they remain as a child - minus the inferred "age of accountability" that MacArthur discussed at that link. Notice that MacArthur did not apply an exact age for everyone at all times. In his view, and from inferences from Scripture, he sees God as being the judge of when each individual reaches their particular "age of accountability." I thought that was a really good point.