Jesus Christ

A Christmas Poem in May

“As with Gladness Men of Old” by William C. Dix

As with gladness men of old; did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light, ;eading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led by Thee!

As with joyful steps they sped, Savior, to Thy lowly bed,
There to bend the knee before; Thee whom heaven and earth adore,
So may we with willing feet ever seek Thy mercy-seat!

As they offered gifts most rare at Thy cradle, rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King!

Holy Jesus, every day, keep us in the narrow way;

And when earthly things are past. Bring our ransomed souls at last

Where they need no star to guide, where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright, need they no created light;

Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown, Thou its Sun which goes not down.

There forever may we sing alleluias to our King!

 

Q/A Friday: What Does It Mean That Jesus Is Our Advocate?

The word “Advocate” is sometimes translated “Paraclete” (from the Greek word paraklaytos), which you might recognize as a title given to the Holy Spirit in John 14 and 16. The word means “helper,” but it was used to describe someone who offered legal aid or one who interceded on behalf of another. It is one who came alongside another to aid or assist them in their greatest need and our greatest need is salvation or deliverance from the consequences of sin.

Picture a courtroom – a Divine Courtroom. God is the Judge. Satan comes as the accuser or prosecutor and man is the accused. Jesus Christ is our Defense Attorney; He is our “Advocate.”

What makes him unusual is that, in this case, he is the only Defense Attorney that comes into the courtroom and doesn’t proclaim we are innocent but admits our guilt! He declares our guilt, but he comes alongside of our need for redemption and paid the price in full on the cross. While Satan is yelling, “Sin,” Jesus is calmly saying to the Father Judge, “Cross. Paid in full.”

One of the most encouraging by-products of Jesus being our “Advocate” is this: we are assured sin will most definitely be paid for and that our salvation is secure. Why? Because Jesus never has, nor never will, lose a case. Jesus said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me …” (John 6:39). That word “nothing” means “nothing.” No one will be lost that He has saved!

As he concludes Romans 8 and the Spirit’s sealing our salvation, Paul asked a rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). Once saved, always saved.

What an encouragement that is to the believer! We don’t need to feel hopeless in this life. When we sin, we don’t need to crawl into depths of despair. Instead, our rejoicing should be loud and boisterous that Jesus advocates for us. There should be such a level of confidence and celebration that Jesus saves and keeps us saved that we could echo these words from Charles Spurgeon: “He has said that he was so sure of his salvation that he could grab onto a cornstalk, swing out over the fires of hell, look into the face of the devil, and sing, ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!’”

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 7)

As Christians, we are people of hope, because Christ accomplished something we couldn’t accomplish – a perfectly righteous life and an acceptable sacrifice of death and resurrection. And this guarantees us salvation if we call upon Him as Lord and Savior. But if that stone remained over the entrance to the tomb, and Jesus stayed wrapped in his garments, and His body decayed and He never rose from the dead, Paul says, “we are of all people most to be pitied.”

That may be the ultimate example of wasting your life. Charles Spurgeon said, “To be born into the Christian life, which gives great pain and sorrow, would be a miserable thing if it were not compensated by the hope of glory that we have in Christ.”

The sad reality is that many are living without hope!

Many refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord so there is no reason to hope past this life, and there is no comfort in death. They are living as if they resurrection didn’t happen.

Here is our hope – “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15:20). And it’s because of truths like this that we can sing refrains like this

“Christ alone; cornerstone

Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love

Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.”

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 6)

If Christ is not raised, there is no eternity in heaven – “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (I Corinthians 15:18).

Paul says, “If Christ didn’t raise from the dead, then everyone who has died claiming to be a Christian, won’t enjoy eternal life with their Creator but either eternal condemnation or annihilation (depending on how you translate that word “perished.”) Either way, it’s not eternal life with God in heaven … and that’s awful.

We might believe one thing and end up somewhere else. There would be no future of any kind. In fact, our whole existence – past, present and future – is pointless.

R.C.H. Lenski writes about this predicament of ours without the resurrection –

“They love and die without God and hope in this world. But it is still more pitiful, because it is far more tragic, to have a great hope in the heart throughout life, to shape the whole life according to that hope, to crucify the flesh, to war against temptation, to bear the cross, to suffer reproach and many other ills for the sake of this hope, and then in the end to have that hope turn out to be an iridescent bubble, a vacuous dream. This is Paul’s commentary on a Christianity that exists for this life only without regard to what is to come thereafter. Yet this is the type of Christianity that not a few seek to popularize at the present time. A Christianity without a risen Christ and the sure and certain hope of our resurrection from the grave, whatever men may say in laudation of its moral influence and its good works, is worse than none.” (I-II Corinthians, pg. 658)

Imagine the anger and despair if you woke up in hell and you were able, in between the reverberation of pain and suffering, able to converse with another sufferer and asked him, “What happened? Why are we here?”

Imagine in between the tears of pain, that person responded to you, “Jesus didn’t really conquer death. His skeleton is still in that tomb. Salvation was not accomplished. We are here for good!” Can you think of any worse news than that?

Let me illustrate this another way. Remember the death of a loved one that knew the Lord. Remember the glimmer of hope and encouragement you found in knowing that you would see them again in glory. It helped the pain subside a bit knowing that their departure would not the end of your being with them.

Well, if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, that hope and encouragement has been all erased. There will be nothing but terrible silence when they are put into the ground.

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 5)

If Christ is not raised, we are still condemned by our sin – “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).

Is there any worse news than this? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, our “sins” still condemn us. We would still have to face the consequences of our sin and death. When Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders, he told them he was going to leave earth and the consequence of their rejection would be this – “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:21). Paul is saying, “If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, that will be you too – regardless of how much good works you accumulate.”

One of my favorite Gospel verses in Scripture is II Corinthians 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” But if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, the truth would really be this – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, but WE WILL REMAIN IN SIN, because HE FAILED TO ESCAPE THE GRAVE.”

How about John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”? If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, we’d read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, but HIS SON DIED AND COULDN’T DEFEAT DEATH, so WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM IS A LIAR, and WILL PERISH AND NOT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”

How about Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”? If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, we would read that verse this way – “There is therefore STILL condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

And you could even read Revelation 5:9 this way – “You (referring to Jesus Christ) ARE NOT WORTHY to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and BURIED AND YOU REMAINED THERE, and your blood was not ransomed for people from every tribe and language and people and nation.” In fact, that verse wouldn’t even exist, because Jesus would still be in the grave!

Without the resurrection of Christ, we are still condemned. His death would have accomplished nothing. At best, it could have been made into another movie about a hero who loves the people he died for. But there would be no atonement, no justification, no sanctification and no glorification without Jesus defeat of death and raising from the dead. There would be no rescue from sin.

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 4)

If Christ is not raised, we Christians are all liars – “15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised” (I Corinthians 15:15-16).

Simply put: if we claim Christ rose from the dead, and He didn’t raise from the dead, not only will we not be raised from the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-13), but we and every other Christian who believes in the resurrection would be a liar.

The word “found” suggests more than historical discovery, but it is a moral discovery. In other words, it’s like people have considered more than facts; they have looked at our claims and then applied them to our so-called character. Their conclusion would be more than just that we lied about one thing, but we can’t be trusted at all about anything.

We would be willful liars; it would be viewed as deliberate falsehood. We wouldn’t be any different than great deceivers like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

And the world would look at the men and women who gave their lives for Christ and ask, “Why would they die for a lie? What fools these Christians are!” We would be viewed as the lowest and vilest imposters and cheats – asking people to give their offerings to our cause every Sunday, even though Christ didn’t raise from the dead. We would be viewed as thieves who ask the government for special grace from taxation as a charity, when in reality our whole religion is based on a lie.

No one would ever believe our story and why should they if Christ didn’t raise from the dead.

If Christ Is Not Raised (Part 3)

If Christ is not raised, our faith has no substance – “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (I Corinthians 10:14).

Paul says that everything you profess would be without any meaningful content; it would be nothing and empty. If you take out the resurrection, there would be nothing left. If you empty your preaching of the resurrection, you empty your preaching. There is no Gospel to proclaim without the resurrection. If you proclaim the Gospel and don’t refer to the resurrection, your Gospel is incomplete. And if you don’t proclaim the resurrection because it didn’t happen, then you might as well not open your mouth at all. If the resurrection didn’t occur, Charles Hodge says, “the whole gospel is subverted” (I Corinthians, pg. 278).

John MacArthur says the hall of faith (Heb 11) would be a hall of shame – a chapter about foolish men whose faith was pointless. (I Corinthians, pg. 411).

Having a “vain faith” would destroy us. We like to have people we can trust and depend on. But if the resurrection didn’t occur, you couldn’t trust hardly anything else God says. He may get it right every now and then, but not always.

As a teaching pastor, without Jesus’ resurrection, I would be “out of the job.” You might as well stop attending that small group at your church, cease to be involved in that mid-week Bible study, stop attending church all together and watch some more television.

You might as well indulge every pleasure because there would be no consequences.

And don’t give any money way; it’s yours. Spend it at will! That would be a “vain faith” and that would be our experience if Christ never rose from the dead.