Apostle's Creed, biblical scholarship, christianity, church, death, divine judgement, Easter, evangelism by force, Islam, Jesus Christ, judgmentalism, last judgement, Nicene Creed, redemption, religion, resurrection, Roman Catholicism, Spanish Inquisition, theology, Westboro Baptist Church
Happy Resurrection Day!
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the single most significant event in the history of the world: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
This is not a doctrine that we believe lacking proof or despite evidence to the contrary, but it is an actual historical event that has been attested to by secular and church historians alike. The death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ are the most thoroughly and completely documented events in ancient history. Point of fact, there is better historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ and what He said, did, and experienced than Socrates, Julius Caesar, Confucius, Gilgamesh, Zoroaster, and all the other famous ancient figures who came before Him put together.
But this is not a treatise on apologetics and there are many far more learned men than I who have dealt with this subject in far greater detail, with far greater scholarship, and with far greater expertise than I could possibly muster.
What I want to address is the significance of the resurrection as it affects our daily human lives. Jesus is intensely practical and would have condemned discussions of His Word that were merely theoretical or abstractly theological, and not expressed with the simplicity of a child and practically applicable in our relationships with Him and one another. Christianity is not only to be believed, but to be lived!
Jesus’ Resurrection is the Focal Point
of Christianity & Indeed, Human History
One of the trends in today’s churches is an abandonment of the Truth of this factual, historical event or the minimization of its significance. I see with great sorrow news reports on an almost weekly basis describing how some pastor or another has succumbed to the lies of political correctness, so-called “tolerance” and “inclusiveness” and embraced the heresy of universal salvation (salvation apart from the Lordship of Jesus Christ and faith in his resurrection, the “all roads lead to God” horse-hockey). Interestingly enough, in such cases that I have some personal knowledge of, every one of them has some sort of unrepented sin or addiction that causes them to need an “adjustment” to sound doctrine in a vain attempt to salve their consciences by changing the standards. But I digress…
As I’ve stated in my previous post, Jesus Himself declared Himself to be God and that He is the only Way, only Truth, only Life, the only road that leads to God the Father. These statements and his earthly deeds make Him absolutely unique among the founders of the world’s religions. Mohammed declared himself to be God’s prophet, Buddha declared himself to be “enlightened”, the Jews rightly regard Moses as the greatest of the prophets, others such as Confucius were philosophers. Other than Jesus’ declarations that He is God, the other salient difference between all these men and the Lord Jesus is that they are all dead and Jesus is alive forever more!
The New Testament clearly states that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is essential to Christian salvation. For example:
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” — Romans 10:9-10
Jesus personally stated:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” — John 11:25
And this has been echoed down through the centuries of church history. As the Body of Christ has been assaulted by various heresies over the years, the church fathers developed “creeds” that defined essential doctrine. Essential doctrine is the minimum list of things you must accept and believe in order to be saved and go to heaven — by corollary, any concept or held belief contrary to this list of crucial doctrines is considered to be heresy. While a number of churches have adopted these creeds as part of their worship liturgies, the primary historical purpose of these creeds is to combat heresy and remains so to this day.
Here are the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds, both in modern English:
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day, He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, Who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
So someone who does not believe either of these creeds in their entirety is, by definition, not a Christian, not born again, not a child of God, not an heir to the New Covenant, not going to heaven. Such people may be appear to be pious and religious, may give lip-service to Christianity and Christian principles, may look and sound like true Christians, but they are not.
We Have the Power to
Choose Our Eternal Destiny
Unfortunately, combating heresy got itself a bad name thanks to Roman Catholicism and it’s completely ungodly enforcement of Catholic dogma by such outfits as the Spanish Inquisition (Nooooooooooo one expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!! But I digress… :-) ) We’ve all seen movies where some arrogant, self-righteous horse’s-patooty used torture to elicit “confessions” of doctrinal impurity from their victims and the fact of the matter is that most of these scenes don’t even come close to the horrifying reality of the evil that actually transpired.
Each individual is completely free to accept or deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ without penalty on this earth — that is the only biblical view of the matter. The penalties kick in after someone who refuses Christ stands before God after death and those penalties are not at all trivial. But here we are free to choose.
Point of fact: of all the world religions, only the Quoran explicitly endorses the use of force to produce conversions and that is how Islam was indeed spread throughout a great deal of the world. The so-called “infidels” who refused to accept Allah and Mohammed as his prophet were simply killed outright. Those politicians and public figures proclaiming Islam as a “peaceful religion” are either ignoring — or outright ignorant of history — and those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I might add. Or they have some agenda that requires them to deny the truth.
What is Judgement, Who Gets to Judge & When?
The classic response to this from the liberal set would say, “You’re being judgmental!” Well, the accuracy of that statement would depend upon how you define that term.
If you are defining “judgmental” as “condemnatory, imputing guilt and damnation upon”, you’d be dead wrong. Frankly, it breaks my heart to see such folks because they have been inoculated with just enough Christianity to keep them out of heaven while deceiving them into thinking they’re going there. That is a major tragedy and no true believer should be looking down on such folk with scorn and derision — such an attitude is the essence of Phariseeism and Jesus was decidedly not a fan of the Pharisees.
But if you define “judgmental” as meaning “discerning the truth between two or more positions on an issue; to accurately ascertain the facts of a situation”, then you are absolutely correct! While I am certain of my words, I have no sense of superiority in saying so. Why? Because:
- I am here writing this only by the grace and mercy of God. I earned nothing but hell, deserved nothing but hell, and I cannot take any moral high ground because none exists — the ground is always level at the foot of the cross!
- The Book of Revelation’s lake of fire is not even remotely a pleasant place and God so loved mankind that He sent Jesus to die and rise again to deliver them from that place.
- God not only forbids us from usurping His right to judge the hearts and conduct of humans, He has called us to reach out to them with His grace, mercy, and compassion.
One of the attitudes that is constantly and, in many cases, justifiably attributed to evangelical Christians and churches is the same kind of nonsense that pathetic Westboro Baptist church in Kansas is involved in. They go and protest at the funerals of fallen US combat heroes because they have, in some twisted way, connected those tragedies with God judging the US for the behavior of homosexuals and for our society tolerance of them. Excuse me, but God’s judgement of mankind’s past, present, and future sins was upon Jesus at the cross — the issue of God’s judgment on people’s behavior has already been settled. God will not be judging people for adultery, homosexuality (or any other sexual perversion), pedophilia, domestic violence, theft, murder, abortion, drug or alcohol abuse, or any other such sins of the flesh, though most of these sins are indeed heinous.
What He will be judging is whether that person’s name is written in Jesus’ Book of Life because he/she has submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in this life and if they haven’t, that single act will be what condemns them to an eternity of torment. And it’s this kind of theological “pig-ignorance” of the Scriptures exercised by this bunch that tars the rest of us with the brush of “judgmental”. And it’s behaviors and attitudes such as theirs that have give the homosexual community the excuse to condemn all attempts to deliver them from their situations as “hate speech”, tarring the rest of us with that same brush. But I digress yet again…
The significance of today is a celebration of the events that purchased our freedom from sin and its hold on mankind. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out had Jesus not rescued me from the sins that held me captive and shown me a new and living way. His way works — ours doesn’t. And life throughout what we call “Western Civilization” would look a lot more like that of Iran and North Korea than what most of us consider to be “normal” without that single pivotal, historical event.
So from both a personal and a sociological perspective, that makes it a celebration worth having!
Thanks for listening!