Category Archives: Resurrection

The Longings Of One Physically Disabled Woman

Commonwealth Mall Sept 2012 026Being a physically disabled Christian often requires responding graciously to assumptions that my able-bodied brothers and sisters in Christ make. One friend envied all the extra time I have to study God’s Word (never mind that everything takes longer and my Personal Care Attendant schedule limits the hours I have on my computer). Countless people think of me as a prayer warrior (never mind that I struggle more with prayer than any other spiritual discipline). And almost everyone assumes I wish I could walk (believe me, I’d much rather be rid of my speech defect).

But the assumption that most bothers me is that I can’t wait for my resurrection body.

Friends often talk about having foot races with me in heaven. They envision me pushing them around in wheelbarrows (as payback for all the times they pushed me around in my manual wheelchair), and they anticipate dancing with me or wearing me out on a celestial tennis court. And I appreciate their desire to see me free of my Cerebral Palsy, with all its muscle tension,  skeleton distortions and limitations. Of course my resurrection body will be a wonderful relief after my earthly lifetime as a quadriplegic.

I am looking forward to having a glorified body, but not so that I can run and leap and dance. As wonderful as those things may be, I believe they will take a very distant second to the real joy of heaven.

Revelation 5:6-14 is my favorite description of heaven. Please click this link and read it. You’ll find no mention of healed bodies or formerly disabled people playing tennis, but you most definitely will find multitudes praising the Lord Jesus Christ, centering all their attention completely on Him. You’ll find adoring declarations of His worthiness to receive honor and glory because of His work on the cross.

Our resurrection bodies certainly will be liberated from physical weaknesses, but that liberation has a purpose far beyond our physical comfort. Ultimately, our resurrected bodies will be free from the corruption of sin.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. ~~Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)

Recently, a friend of mine remarked to me that once we have our resurrected bodies we will be able to worship the Lord without mixed motives. No more wondering if others see how spiritual we look. No more trying to manipulate Him into giving us what we want. Our glorified bodies  will enable us to worship Him in total purity, with no sin polluting our praise.

I don’t really care about being set free from my disability in heaven,  though I know I’ll praise the Lord  for that blessing as well.  I eagerly await a resurrection body no longer infected by sin. A body free to praise the Lord Jesus Christ with pure motives. A body that can stand before His glory and holiness without flinching in shame.  I long to see His face.

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Divided By Faith Alone

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When faced with recent discussions about the Protestant Reformation this past week, many evangelicals have defended Catholics by offering anecdotal stories of Catholic friends and family members who love Jesus. They consequently object to statements that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel. Furthermore, they plead for evangelicals to lay aside our differences with Catholics and focus on the things that unite us.

Certainly, a few people in the Catholic Church may, by God’s grace, possess genuine salvation. Before I say anything else, I must acknowledge that very real possibility. Last time I checked, the Holy Spirit hadn’t given me His ability to look into anyone’s heart to assess their standing with the Lord.

Having said that, intellectual honesty demands that we recognize the many unbiblical teachings that Roman Catholicism promotes. Most notably, as I’ve stated repeatedly on this blog, Catholic doctrine adds the works of penance and the sacraments to faith as conditions of salvation.

People of any religion may feel love for Jesus, and yet trust in false religion for their salvation. Every time John and I go into Boston, we see Jehovah’s Witnesses standing in populated ares with their literature, smiling invitingly at tourists and locals alike in hopes of engaging someone in conversation. These people most assuredly preach heresy, but every single one of them sincerely believes he or she loves Jesus. Sadly, they love a false Jesus and trust in a system of salvation by works that will lead them straight to hell unless God intervenes.

Loving Jesus isn’t the criteria for salvation, my friends. Trusting Him, and Him alone, is. His finished work on the cross completely paid the penalty for the sins of all who place their faith in Him, and His resurrection guarantees that believers will one day be raised with Him. The apostle Paul said that this simple message, without embellishment, is the whole Gospel.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, ~~1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)

Catholic doctrine, much like the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and pretty much every religious system other than Biblical Christianity, adds to Christ’s work on the cross, assigning human responsibility to the salvation event. But, as we’ve been learning in our Monday Bible Studies on Titus, good works are a result of salvation, not a means of obtaining it.

Roman Catholicism, I regret to say, has yet to recant the Council of Trent, which pronounces damnation on anyone who insists on salvation by faith alone. Despite declarations of love for Jesus, Catholics who participate in the sacramental system of the Catholic Church implicitly demonstrate that they trust something other than Christ’s finished work on the cross. Therefore, like the 16th Century Reformers, modern-day evangelicals must not disregard this fundamental difference in doctrine.

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Sin’s Curse Has Lost It’s Grip On Me

The Gospel has so many wonderful facets, doesn’t it? Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the truth that Christ’s death emancipates us from sin so completely that we can even stand against our own temptations! Think about it, dear sisters: We no longer have to sin!

Of course, we don’t always appropriate that grace, and the Lord generously forgives us each time.  Nevertheless, we can rejoice that our growth in Him enables us to sin less and less frequently because of His grace.

As we know, freedom from sin is only one aspect of the Gospel. Today’s hymn touches on several equally wonderful points. And all these blessings come through Christ alone.

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Teachers Need To Tremble

Negative GirlAs Bible-believing Christians, we certainly have a responsibility to confront sin in our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as in our culture at large. In no way do I want my readers to infer by today’s essay that I’ve done a 180 regarding this matter. Biblical discernment often requires taking a visible stand against ideas and people that contradict sound doctrine.

Furthermore, discernment necessitates making judgments based on the Word of God. So yes, there’s an appropriate time and place for judging sin within the Body of Christ (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). In our exercise of discernment, however, that same Word of God commends us to confront sin in an attitude of humility and reverent fear.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. ~~Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV)

This passage encourages us to address sin in fellow believers. But I want you to particularly notice the emphasis on then admitting our own vulnerabilities to the very sins we call out in others.

Sometimes, we can think we’re pretty hot stuff. We see the ways that other professing Christians dishonor the Lord, and we know all the Scriptures to use in urging them to repent. But we forget that we also cave into temptation — many times the same temptation that we just corrected in that other person. When that happens, the person we corrected has every right to judge our hypocrisy.

Of course I’m not saying that we have to be perfect in order to confront sin in others. Actually, I’m saying something almost opposite. In correcting someone, we must be aware of our own propensity to sin. Therefore we must approach the issue knowing that we also need God’s grace as we aspire to live in obedience and holiness. The same Lord Who demands holiness in others also demands holiness in us.

This responsibility particularly weighs on those who teach. The Lord’s half-brother James points this principle out in his epistle:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ~~James 3:1 (ESV)

As a blogger (and perhaps even a discernment blogger), I tremble a bit at passages like Galatians 6:1-3 and James 3:1. Bloggers, in essence, serve as role-models to our readers, even if we blog simply for the purpose of thinking out loud. The act of blogging automatically transforms us into teachers. So when I write posts instructing my readers towards holy living and obedience to God’s Word, the Lord holds me responsible to live consistently with my writing.

Please understand, therefore, that I write with a profound sense of responsibility to align my thoughts, attitudes and behaviors with the Biblical principles that I set before you each time I blog. If I address a sin in others or advocate personal holiness in a specific area, rest assured that my husband and the leadership of my church watch me carefully. More importantly, the Lord watches. I write with the understanding that I can be tempted.

May all of us cultivate that type of understanding and keep watch on ourselves.

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Resurrection Benefits

This Resurrection Sunday, I’ve chosen a lesser known hymn to present to you. Although it’s not strictly about the Lord’s resurrection, it definitely highlights some of the ways we benefit from His having risen from His grave. Please enjoy this beautiful hymn and the glorious truths it proclaims.

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Saturday Sampler: April 9 — April 15

Tulip Sampler 01Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center enumerates 9 Glorious Things The Resurrection Means To Us as a preparation for our Resurrection Sunday worship. Please enjoy this encouraging piece.

Having adopted New England as my  home, I’ve often felt saddened and troubled by this region’s departure from its Biblical foundation. So I appreciated Elizabeth Prata for writing New England’s mission drift in The End Time. She shows the destructive power of compromise.

While you’re on Elizabeth’s website, be sure to read O to see ourselves as others see us. Or maybe not… I think it’s one of her finest essays.

I’m not overly fond of Mortification Of Spin, and have been thinking about canceling my subscription. But Todd Pruitt’s article, Bit-O-Vinegar on his 1517 blog, has made me reconsider. He encourages people like me who tend to be less than gentle about confronting error.

Over at Biblical Woman, Dorothy Patterson writes Ms. Independence Gets Married in response to one of her readers who married later in life (although it amused me, since I married at age 48, that her reader considered the late 20s marrying late). Patterson gives Scriptural advice that any bride should read.

On her blog, Wise In His Eyes, Rebekah Womble asks, Are Reformed Christians “All Head, No Heart”? She handles this common criticism with fairness and grace.

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A Right Proclamation Of The Gospel

93a68-wordjudgesheartYesterday I watched a YouTube video featuring people I personally know from my Charismatic days.  I managed to get past their “God told me” claims by remembering how often I used to phrase my own experiences in those words. In listening to Charismatics, I want to keep in mind that   many of them, though deceived, are genuinely my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, I walked in those same deceptions for most of my Christian life.

Toward the end of the video, however, they invited unsaved members of their audience to begin their “adventure” with Christ. They assured people that Jesus Christ offers freedom from sin (which He does) and personal fulfillment. According to them, Jesus waited, hoping people would reach out to Him and receive all that He had for them. They read a prayer that made vague reference to being a sinner and committing their lives to Christ. Those who said that prayer were instructed to sign a copy, write the date and keep it in their Bibles in case Satan questioned their salvation.

They never mentioned Christ’s death on the cross.

Not once.

Hopefully they’ve given more complete Gospel presentations at other times. Certainly, I must guard against judging the entirety of their ministry based on one isolated video. But it made me think that perhaps I should periodically present the Gospel in this blog, making sure that any new readers (particularly those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior) really understand it Biblically.

Paul proclaimed the Gospel in its most basic form in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (ESV)

To Paul, nothing was more important to preach than Christ’s death as a substitute for our sin, His burial and His bodily resurrection. The Gospel revolves around His atoning work to pay for our sin, and His resurrection that proves the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice.  Paul elaborates in Ephesians 2:1-10.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

Our sins violated God’s holy standards, making us deserving only of His wrath. But in His mercy, Christ expressed His love by dying for our sin (Romans 5:6-9 and 1 John 2:1-2). Then He raised us from our spiritual death, graciously allowing us to  believe in Him and providing us with opportunities to serve Him.

The Gospel focuses on Christ’s glory first.  Indeed, He gives us tremendous joy in serving Him, as well as in knowing that we will spend eternity with Him. In those ways, the Gospel most definitely offers fulfillment. But we must never proclaim a gospel that focuses on self and neglects Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

I do not question the salvation of my friends in that video. But it broke my heart to watch them mishandle an opportunity to present the Gospel in a Biblical manner. Rather than criticize their techniques, however, let me learn to faithfully declare it when God gives me opportunities to do so. The Gospel is too precious, and too important to handle in any other way.

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