The Seal of His Deity

This article is part 1 of a 5 part series on the resurrection.

The resurrection is the crowning achievement of all the miracles that Christ ever performed. The fact that Christ did conquer death is salient to all other miraculous acts as it is the basic underlying event for which every other supernatural deed rest upon, or stated in another way, without Christ bodily return from the grave, the Christian faith crumbles in spite of all that He ever did. We are reminded of this fact in 1Co.15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” In fact, one could say that this event is the patriot missile in God`s arsenal to wipe out any doubts about the identify of His Son. Christ claimed deity and many miracles were performed to support it “Jesus did many other miraculous sings in the presence of his disciples……but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). The seal of His deity was the fact that He rose from the dead. Yet, as insurmountable as the evidence may be was it convincing?

To segue our search into the impact of His resurrection the reader must become a bit of a historian. We must consider history from a redemptive context and inasmuch as it may seem somewhat dubious the following remarks about the future of the church is not without warrant. First, it is hard not to believe that there never was a more precipitous time in history then just after the crucifixion when Christianity seemed doomed to fail. Second, even so the very opposite may be noted that the basis for the believer’s faith was no more stable than it was during that exact same period. That may seem contradictory to assert both these things together but it depends on perspective. If the first century apostles were able to speak to us today they would admit that little seemed to make much sense to them in the dawning aftermath of the crucifixion. Their master had died and slavish fear led them to flee. (John 20:19). Sadly, three years of being with their Master still none of them had really understood His mission, and it was not until Christ had risen from the dead and showed Himself to them, did they accept the significance of His death and resurrection.

Quoting from Zechariah Jesus predicted how He would be left abandoned days before his crucifixion “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” (13:7). In fulfilment we learn from Matthew’s gospel “Then all the disciples deserted and fled.” (26:56). There is little optimism to be found, the optics appeared bad for the establishment of any future church, everything about a new believing community being raised up and kingdom growth all appeared on the brink of collapse, or so it seemed. Yet, a few verses later we read about a divinely appointed people “They are my people” and they will say “The LORD is our God.” (13:9) which assures us that God would reign in the hearts of His people. Growing His kingdom and laying the groundwork for the church would involve this little troop of N.T. Believers who would eventually be the arms, hands, legs and voices of Christ to the lost.  (Part 2 in two weeks)

Three Cheers for the Church

At a time when many Christians seem to have become disillusioned with the church and receive most, if any at all, of their spiritual instruction from a podcast pastor, and their fellowship and sense of community from Facebook and the like, let me make a renewed pitch for the necessity of local church attendance, membership, and participation. The imperative of Hebrews 10:25 cannot be ignored, nor is it obsolete. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. The regular public gathering together of believers is not an option. The reason is that the local church is God’s appointed means of making and maturing disciples. Only the church has the divine means to do so through the systematic teaching and preaching of the Word of God, corporate prayer, the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s table, and the discipline of believers (Mat. 28:19-20; 16:18-19; and Mat. 18:15-20).

The church is a living, breathing, dynamic organism in vital union with its risen and reigning Head, the Lord Jesus Christ through faith in Him, and it is a structured organization, ordering its worship and witness according to the Holy Scriptures. When professing Christians claim that they want nothing more to do with the organized church, they ought to ask, “What other Bible-sanctioned church is there?” There is a word for any organism that is unorganized and all the parts unintegrated – DEAD! It could not function or survive. Thus Paul writes that all things in the church are to be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40), and he writes to Timothy carefully laying out how he should conduct himself, as pastor, and the affairs of the church in a godly fashion (1 Tim. 3:15).

In this latter text, Paul says 3 important things about the church. One, it is “the house of God”. The church is a place indwelt by the presence of God. God, in His infinite being, is everywhere present but when believers gather for public praise, prayer, and proclamation, God’s special presence comes to greet us and to bless us and to transform us. That’s what makes “church” special – God is there like He is nowhere else (Matt. 18:20). Two, the church is “the church of the living God” – it is a people animated with the life of God, the ecclesia, regenerate people born again by the sovereign work of the Spirit and called out from the world to be set apart unto God’s worship and service. Three, it is “the pillar and support of the truth”, upholding the truth of Scripture by maintaining it against false doctrine and by proclaiming it to believers unto edification and to the lost unto salvation. There is no place, people, or pillar like the church.

I join with Paul in offering 3 cheers to the church. No, it is not perfect, not yet. But if we love Christ, we will love His church that He loves. For the person who knows the imperative to be in a Bible-believing, Christ-centred church but persists in ignoring it and remains aloof and outside, one can rightly question whether that person is truly a Christian.