Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians 15’

Friends,

Since it is the holiday season of Resurrection, I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in or might benefit from some Resurrection sermons. I  preached these sermons about 3 years ago shortly after I preached a series called The Crucifixion Driven Life.

These sermons were inspired by a book that I read by Eugene Peterson called Living the Resurrection. It is a short book, but a fantastic book.peterson I think you will appreciate this book a great deal. I know how much it helped me to focus my attention on the Resurrection of Jesus and actually live out the implications of my own resurrection.

Here is the audio for the first sermon, Now is the Time to Fast and Pray.

Below you will find the manuscripts and the power point presentations. Later I will add a MS Publisher study guide to go along with the series. Thanks for stopping by. jerry

Here it is, then, The Resurrection Driven Life.

1. Now is the Time to Fast and Pray: Various Scripture:  PPT

2. The Fellowship of the Resurrection or Leaving the Garbage in the Can: Philippians 3:1-11: PPT

3. The Dust of Heaven & The Dust of Earth: 1 Corinthians 15:1-58: PPT

4. United with Christ in Death and Life: In my End is my Beginning: Romans 6:1-4: PPT

5. A Better Resurrection or the Mad Farmer Liberation Front: Hebrews 11:1-40: PPT

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Discern Your Doctrine (Mark Dever)

Trevin Wax: What is at stake in this debate over justification? If one were to adopt Piper’s view instead of yours, what would they be missing?

NT Wright: What’s missing is an insistence on Scripture itself rather than tradition . . .
Kingdom People (NT Wright) or here Unfinished Christianity.)

I spent some time yesterday, a little more than an hour, listening to a speech by Mark Dever. The speech was delivered at the 2007 New Attitude conference-a conference featuring the likes of Joshua Harris, John Piper, Albert Mohler, and CJ Mahaney, all well respected Evangelical Christians. Dever’s speech, or sermon if you like, is titled Discern Your Doctrine. It is worth the hour to sit and listen to it. I will provide a synopsis and attach a few brief comments before concluding with a call to love.

As most of you know by now, or have wondered, I am a member of the so-called Restoration Movement Church of Christ (not a Capella; that is, my church uses instruments in worship). Our ‘movement’ (we have eschewed such cumbersome boxes as ‘denomination’ or ‘tradition’ thinking them too slow or stagnant; we are a ‘movement!’). Our movement has, at least at its inception, been controlled by an unofficial creed, not called a creed, but a slogan. Actually, there have been several of them along the way, but I think the one I will mention stands as the most prominent. So it was much to my surprise when listening to this speech by Dever that I heard him quoting our slogan and then wrapping his entire speech, or sermon if you like, around it: “In opinions liberty, in essentials unity, in all things love.” Why you…that’s our slogan!!! (spoken as a remarkably Homer Simpsonesque threat.)

Well, it is a fascinating idea; although, it is necessarily, as I have read recently in a history of the Disciples of Christ (Disciples of Christ, a History, Garrison and Degroot) a flawed idea. But I digress. This slogan is the hub around which Dever built his speech even though he didn’t really get to the slogan until the end of the speech and then attributed it to some Germans (!) instead of to my beloved Restoration Movement forefathers. In leading up to this fascinating announcement of what should motivate all of our discernment activities, Dever makes six rather important points. I found that the first 2 were the most important and took the longest (if I recall he spent about the same amount of time on the last 4 as he did the first 2), but I will list all six points he made and offer only the briefest of points about each.

First, he asks: Do we follow commands in order to purify or unify? Here I found Dever’s most compelling argument. He notes that Jesus himself said we must ‘be on our guard’ against all kinds of teachings and teachers. In other words, discernment is not a bad idea. In fact, we should discern because if we don’t we are likely to fall into all sorts of dangers. Dever points out, however, that discernment always runs the risk of extremes and that there are basically (I hate the word basically) two opposite, but equally dangerous, extremes.

On the one hand, some tend to be too inclusive for the sake of unity. These are folks who ramble on about things like ‘no creed but Christ, no book but the bible’ (Ha! Another RM creed…slogan.) These are folks who think doctrine doesn’t matter all that much as long as we are united, answering Jesus’s prayer for unity (John 17), etc. Dever says these folks might be just as judgmental as anyone else because they tend to ‘undervalue God’s truth.’ Ooooh. That stings.

On the other hand, some tend to be too exclusive for the sake of purity. He says, “They are ready to quickly declare something wrong, or someone wrong or maybe even declare someone not a Christian. They neglect the wideness of Gods love that he shows in Scripture. They neglect seeing examples of his work when he has been at work.” He also said, that “we threaten our humility when we become self-righteous about this.” He noted that “truth and humility are not enemies” and that “knowing the truth will humble us.” He warned about those who are so exclusively concerned about purity that they think they have a “prophetic ministry of correction.”

In his second point he asks, “What are some common fights that we Christians have?” He goes on to note many and concedes that the list is virtually endless. I won’t bore you; his list is impressive.

In his third point he asks, “What are we together for?” In this point he notes that different levels of agreement are needed for different levels of cooperation and that agreement is not essential in all areas in order for Christian fellowship or evangelism to exist.

In his fourth point he asks, “What are the things we must agree upon?” That is, what are the essentials that we, as Christians, must necessarily agree upon to be considered Christians? I thought his best point here was when he noted that all of us will be “corrected at some level.” But I think the gist here was that there are some doctrines that can be dismissed (bad choice of words here) without sacrificing Christian orthodoxy or severing Christian fellowship.

His test pattern for discerning such agreement for essential doctrines is as follows:

1. How clear is this doctrine in Scripture? (I assume here he means ‘to me’.)
2. How clear do others think it is? (that is, other Christians)
3. How near is it to the Gospel? (that is, which instructs us about salvation)
4. What would be the doctrinal and practical implications if we allowed disagreement on this particular issue?

I think this is a fine test, and when it is done Dever concludes that there are three areas upon which we must agree as Christians: God. Bible. Gospel. Of course, within these terribly vague ideas he breaks it down even further. Not only must we agree about God, but we must believe certain things about God. Not only must we believe in the Bible, but we must believe certain things about the Bible. Not only must we believe in the Gospel, but we must agree what constitutes the Gospel. (Here I think the flaw of ‘in essentials unity’ becomes apparent.) Dever narrows the Gospel down to 1 Corinthians 15:1-9:

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:1-9

He notes that for 14 chapters Paul had pointed out all the unnecessary things that divided the Corinthian church and points out that here, in chapter 15, is the one thing we should stand for: ‘Contend for this truth,’ Paul seems to be saying. Here is the Gospel in a nutshell, the essentials upon which we must agree. Thus Paul reminds the Corinthians of this core of beliefs.

In point five, Dever asks, “What are some things we may disagree about?” He cites Romans 14:22: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” He also takes four test cases and notes that we can indeed disagree about some things without compromising faith, the Gospel, or Christian fellowship. Encouraging indeed. (His section about ‘egalitarianism’ is rather brilliant.)

In his last point, Dever asks, “How can we disagree well?” Again, Dever makes two solid points to consider when having a conversation with someone with whom we disagree. I should ask: 1. What can I learn from this one with whom I disagree? Well, this requires a great deal of humility, and can be difficult to navigate since we may have to finally admit that we are wrong. 2. What do I owe this person with whom I disagree or who disagrees with me? Again here is required a great deal of humility. We owe them love. We owe them respect. We owe them the courtesy of making it evident that we care about this person and that we are not just trying to win an argument with them. In other words, we should try to understand what they are saying. I think this point often gets lost on me. Much of the time, I care more about winning an argument with someone than I do about the person. This is dangerous ground upon which to tread.

So what is the point here? I think the point is clearly this: Disagreement is not bad; discernment is required. Those who point out our errors are not our enemies. “The opposite of your friend is not your enemy, but your flatterer.” So it is good, it seems to Dever (and I agree), that there are those who are willing and able to engage one another in hardy, healthy debate and conversation. Disagreement is not the end of the world, and there are some areas where our error clearly needs to be pointed out in order that we might be saved (Jude). However, it is better to engage in debate and conversation with humility, with love, with an eye and ear for learning and not just winning. Best line in the speech was this, “We want to be known for what we are for rather than what we are against.” (Hmmm…someone recently wrote a post about this very point.)

Here’s what the apostle wrote to the church at Ephesus:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16

If some are given to this and some are given to that, I think this means that the Lord fully expects we will correct and rebuke one another (and often Scripture may do that very thing). Scripture may bite hard, but we should not. (Although someone said to me the other day: “I’m not nice when it comes to gross misrepresentations of the genuine Christian faith. And, I’m not supposed to be.” Indeed!) This does not mean, however, that we abandon the overarching command to love. Love. Love. Love. This is what distinguishes the church from everything and everyone else in the world (as far as organized religion is concerned). If we are not known by our love for one another, then we will be known for something else. And if we are known by something else, can we legitimately call ourselves Christians? Can we who fail to love even begin to think we have a right to do evangelism and call people into this story? (I’ll say this, there are times when I know I am loved more by people outside the story than I am by those inside the story. There are times when I love those outside the story more than those inside it.)

So, “In opinions liberty, in essentials unity, and in all things love.” It seems to me that love can go a long, long way towards correcting our errors-and who among us desires to remain in error? Dever ends by quoting from John Wesley, “I shall thank the youngest man among you to tell me of any fault you see in me. In doing so, I shall consider him by best friend.”

It remains to be seen, however, if love will win the day, especially in the world of blogs where, for example, just the other day, a couple of the writers here were called Pharisees because we “make grace too wide.” It remains to be known if love truly conquers all. It remains hidden as to whether or not we can love. Maybe there is something to this slogan after all. It remains to be seen if we will be known by our love and not our hate. It remains to be seen if love can truly bring together those who are concerned with unity and those who are concerned with purity and conclude that the two need not be mutually exclusive. Maybe Alexander Campbell and Barton W Stone weren’t wrong to adopt this slogan and hoist it high even if the opinions and essentials part is practically impossible. And maybe, just maybe, if we pay attention, close attention, to love we will see that what matters most is not our opinions, not our essentials, but our love.* After all, Jesus himself said that it was by our love for one another that the world would know we are his disciples.

Not opinions. Not essentials. But love.

And so it remains, can we disagree and still love? Can we disagree and maintain Christian fellowship? Will we love? How will we be known? Can we discern with more concern for the person than for winning? I ask all who visit and read: Can we, will we, discern with love?

Will we love?

*Which is not to say that we abandon essentials at all, but does mean that we should be far more concerned about humility. Fact is, I could be wrong. We could all be wrong. And all theology is a matter of opinion. Maybe there is something to the vaguery of Dever’s ‘God, Bible and Gospel’ regardless of how we formulate our opinions about these essentials from Scripture. Maybe there is something to grace after all and its wideness is not the real problem, but its narrowness.

**word count 2494

Friends,

I have to be away from the blog for several days. This past week I have been at my in-laws. We were able to be together for the last four days of my brother-in-law’s life. Bobby was 30 and died from a brain tumor. He died Saturday evening around 7:30 or so. This morning we worshiped with his congregation in Poland, Ohio.

Crowder always seems to have words.

I thank God that death had no claim on Bobby. Thanks be to God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ–our hope!

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

Praise God! My sister in law said something amazing this morning at worship. She said, and I don’t even know if she planned it or not, but it was brilliant: It only took 30 years for God to accomplish in and through Bobby all he desired to accomplish. Bobby was a changed man because of Jesus Christ and a powerful testimony to all who knew and loved him. Bobby was so changed that he more than once gave testimony that he ‘thanked God for [this] disease.’

He died quietly and peacefully. He was surrounded by his friends, family, and a friendly dog named Cody who roams the halls of the Hospice. But more importantly, he was surrounded by the grace of God. We thank God Bobby is safe and hurting no more. We thank God for his abundant grace that saved Bobby 6 years ago. If you breathe a prayer for us, especially his wife Brandi, thank God that Bobby didn’t have to liner on for days. Thank God for His grace.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit. I’ll be back blogging soon. I have several posts churning around inside my head. I hope to write them soon and post them. Thanks again.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

I got to thinking about this last night. I was driving around town with my wife and son. We were on our way to scout a couple of houses that are on the market. We drove past a business that is noted for its habit of posting Scripture verses on its sign. Last night this verse that was posted (I have highlighted the part that was on the sign, and included more context for it):

After the two days he left for Galilee. 44(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there. Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed. This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.

What is ironic about this, is that in Jesus’ day people would not believe, as he says, unless they saw signs (‘miraculous’ here is assumed, but not a necessary translation of the Greek). We have come a long way. Worse, they were seeing signs all around and still not believing in Jesus.

Here are some excerpts from a friend of mine who has been responding to my post on Edward Tingley’s essay in Touchstone. My friend Jeff wrote:

There’s no solid evidence Jesus actually even existed. Most historians believe he did, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. I think he probably did. History doesn’t have to “account for … his death” because, well, everyone dies. This isn’t particularly difficult. If he lived, he died. Now, his resurrection? Well, history doesn’t have to “account for” this because it’s such a fantastical notion to say it actually happened, that it’s you that needs to show it occurred, not the other way around. All we have now is an ancient book full of metaphors, allegories and questionable, contradictory eyewitness accounts. For instance, Paul doesn’t even mention the empty tomb in his accounts, while Matthew, Luke and John all have differing accounts of the women’s visit to the tomb. And, of all the religions in the world, Christians are the only ones who believe Jesus was resurrected. It appears you’re in the minority on this one, so it’s going to take more than an old book full of fantastical stories and contradictory information to prove a person was, literally, risen from the dead. (Jeff, my emphasis)

Another poster wrote:

It’s completely different from believing any of those things. None of the above are in any way unusual, nor do they invoke the supernatural. Believing that someone came back to life – something that has never been reliably proven to have happened before or since – requires far stronger evidence than mere eye witness, just as the many instances of the gods appearing in ancient Roman history would require more evidence than believing that, say, a certain man was emperor or king at a certain time period. (Vitamin, my emphasis)

Isn’t it ironic that in Jesus’ day people would not believe in him unless they saw signs and that in our day it is these very signs that actually turn people away from faith and belief that God was working in and through Jesus? But I wonder this: If the miraculous were a part of our visible culture would the results be any different for Jeff or Vitamin?

Here’s another question: If people find it so hard to believe in God or Jesus because they find it so impossible to believe in the miraculous, is it possible to believe in God or Jesus quite apart from the miraculous? I’ll direct you to two passages, both from John. First, 10:34-39:

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? 35If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. (NIV)

These comments Jesus made to his opponents.

Second, John 14:8-14:

8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”  9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV)

These comments Jesus made to his followers. Two different groups of people and two different situations and circumstances and yet the same comment is made. The question is, why would Jesus make such a statement? (Here, ‘miracles’ is the GK erga in both 10:38 and 14:11 which, according to DA Carson, ‘includes, by should probably not be restricted to, the ‘miracles’ (Commentary on John 400.) In commenting on 14:11, Carson writes this:

If they still find it difficult to penetrate the meaning of his words, at the very least they should believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. Similar appear is made twice elsewhere, but the context of this passage makes it the most telling of the three. Jesus’ point is not simply that displays of supernatural power frequently prove convincing, but that the miracles themselves are signs. Thoughtful meditation on, say, the turning of the water into wine, the multiplication of the loaves or on the raising of Lazarus will disclose what these miracles signify: viz. that the saving kingdom of Godis at work in the ministry of Jesus, and this in ways tied to his very person. The miracles are non-verbal Christological signposts” (495).

In other words, the miracles or signs, were never meant to be stumbling blocks, nor were they ever meant to be ends of themselves. They were pointing beyond themselves to something or someone. But maybe I can say this: Maybe Jesus was saying that belief in Him, as who he claimed to be, is possible apart from a strict scientific belief in miracles. For example, take the miracles out of the Bible (as Thomas Jefferson is famous for having done), is anything of the Gospel message lost? If Jesus had never turned water into wine, would his message be anything less than what it is? If Jesus had never raised Lazarus, would the Christian message of hope be anything less than what it is? (I don’t think it would.) The only miracles in the Bible that are necessary, as far as I can tell, are Creation and the Resurrection of Jesus. And yet the miracles are not excluded from the Bible: There they are, front and center, in your face. If I were in the business of starting a religion, I certainly would not include elements in it that would necessarily cause people to stumble or cause them to not want to follow me. Then again, maybe there is a point to this. Here’s what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

Here, in fact, Paul seems to be saying that it is not the miraculous that we preach at all nor is it the miraculous that necessarily inclines one to faith in Christ. Rather, it is the crucifixion of Jesus.

To be sure, I think we run into problems when we come to the resurrection of Jesus. For even Paul says that if you take away the Resurrection, we are hopeless, to be pitied more than anyone: 1 Corinthians 15. Ironically, again, this is the place where my friends above seem to be stymied: “None of the above are in any way unusual, nor do they invoke the supernatural. Believing that someone came back to life – something that has never been reliably proven to have happened before or since – requires far stronger evidence than mere eye witness.” I suppose they might complain about miraculous healings of blind men, or deaf men, or of demon possessed women, but the complaint alwayscomes back to the Resurrection of Jesus. They just cannot get beyond it. Isn’t it ironic that the cornerstone of Christian faith, belief in the Resurrection, is the one place (aside from ex nihilo creation) so strenuously attacked and dismissed by unbelievers? No; actually it isn’t. In fact, I submit that the resurrection must be mythologized (or dismissed) by unbelievers if their complaints about Christians and dismissal of Jesus Christ is to carry any weight at all.

So why would the disciples invent a story like this? I mean, there is nothing easier to prove than that someone has died and been buried and not raised from the dead (which is why Jeff, even though he claims he believes Jesus was an historical figure, and I suppose other atheists, must claim that there is a concern or debate about whether or not Jesus was even a real historical figure). There’s a cemetery across from house. I can prove hundreds of people have not resurrected simply by pointing to their burial plots (or, worse, by digging up their coffins and finding their corpses; or by asking my neighbors if they have seen any of them alive after their death). Why didn’t the Romans or the Jewish leadership at the time make similar efforts to disprove this claim of Resurrection? This might account for why the early Christians did not make a monument of the tomb of Jesus and why there is debate concerning where it actually was (is) (as if anyone cares): They didn’t mark it because he wasn’t there! But there is still the issue of the historical record of eyewitness accounts. Many claimed to see Jesus alive; we either have faith they were telling the truth or we do not. The question is: Why would they lie? What point could possibly be served by giving people a false hope about life after life after death?

This brings me back to the point of this post which is formed in two points.

First, is it possible to accept Jesus Christ apart from a strict scientific belief in miracles?

Second, why is it that ‘signs’ (perhaps miraculous signs) were, ‘back in the day,’ somewhat necessary for belief (validation of actions and words) and ‘in our day’ such a stumbling block to belief?

I am not here trying to prove the Resurrection of Jesus. I concede that, at some level, I am most certainly putting my trust in the eyewitness accounts of the act just as I am putting my faith in the eyewitness accounts that Plato was real or that Pharaoh was real. But why should the documents that record those historical events, of Jesus, be given any less weight or credibility than any other document written in that time that records the history of other historical figures or events? 

jerry

PS–I guess another point I am trying to get across is that I wish atheists and agnostics would stop playing this game where they accuse Christians of believing in things that are, by their standards, ‘impossible’ to prove, and saying that Christians are silly people for believing in an ancient book (what other source do we have for history?), and stop saying things like, ‘We cannot believe until we see evidence,’ and convincing themselves that they are someone impartial, truly dedicated scientific judges in these matters. (Another part of Tingley’s essay.) I wish atheists and agnostics would just admit that they don’t believe because they don’t want to believe, because they don’t want to be restricted and freed by the love of a holy God, and because they don’t want to be accountable to that God. In other words, I wish they would just admit that they don’t believe because they don’t want to and stop trying to convince themselves that they don’t believe because ‘there is no evidence’ for it or because they are somehow or other more illuminated or free thinking or enlightened than those who do. Pshaw!

Friends,

It has always been a popular thing to make movies about Jesus. Mel Gibson made one and so have many others. Now it turns out that Muslims are getting in on the action. This link connects to an interview with an Iranian man who made a film about Jesus ‘from a Muslim point of view’:

A new movie in Iran depicts the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. “The Messiah,” which some consider as Iran’s answer to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” won an award at Rome’s Religion Today Film Festival for generating interfaith dialogue.

The movie will be adapted into a television series to be shown on Iranian TV later this year.

Filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh spoke to ABC’s Lara Setrakian in Tehran.

There is so much wrong with this man’s understanding of Jesus and Christianity that I hardly know where to begin so I will restrict myself to a few observations:

The gist of what his movie is about is this: virtually everything, according to him, is left the same. The glaring exception is the crucifixion of Jesus. He said:

NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus … the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation.

NT: The virgin birth was the same. The difference in the Koran, God says Jesus was saved. Instead of having him hung and crucified, the person who betrayed Jesus was crucified. This is how the Koran sees it, through the Gospel of Barnabas.

LS: So, you gave the alternate ending.

NT: Yes, two endings. I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it’ll be important for them. [In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified]. 

This is exactly why the Koran is not the Word of God in any sense whatsoever. The crucifixion is not only Biblical, Theological, and Necessary, but it is historical. 

If this is what he put in his film, then he did not make a movie about Jesus of Nazareth. If this is his film, then he is not making a film that is worth anything. If this is what he put in his film, then it has nothing to do with Christians, Christianity, the church of Jesus Christ, Christ of the Scripture, Jesus the Son of God. It is another piece of Satanic propaganda (see below) intended to accomplish no meaningful purpose in this world. It matters little what the Koran says about Jesus because what matters is what the Christian Scriptures say about Jesus and they declare emphatically that Jesus was crucified. History declares that Jesus was crucified. It matters nill if the Koran or the Muslim respect Jesus and Mary. Jesus didn’t come to earth for mere respect. I don’t know why Christians would want to see a movie that has effectively removed any possibility of salvation because that is the state of the Christian if Christ has not been crucified. If Jesus has not been crucified then he has not been resurrected. If Jesus has not been resurrected from the dead, then Christians are without hope. We may as well party it up if Christ has not been Resurrected from the dead. (See the Scripture quote from Corinthians below.)

He goes on to answer a question concerning the sort of feedback he has received from Christians:

NT: Many thought this film is a good step for serious inter-religious dialogue. Many of them liked it — seeing the Koran-based ending. And I was very happy that the practicing Christians were very happy with the film. I have never found one case among practicing Christians who are offended [by the movie].

Well, since he has not ‘found one case among practicing Christians who are offended’ let me be the first! I will gladly be the first to announce without reservation that this film is blasphemous! There is no Koran based ending to the Gospel. The Gospel and the Koran stand in complete opposition to one another. There is only the Gospel ending to the Gospel. What the Koran does not understand is that our sin must be dealt with and if it has not been dealt with, and is not dealt with in the death of Christ then we, and all of humanity from the beginning until the end, are simply obligated to be 100% obedient to the law. (And no one is nor can anyone be.) In other words, if we are not justified by the death of Christ then we are without hope in the world. Law cannot be a substitute for grace. I am offended because in creating a Christ in his own image, this man is attempting to rob the world of the only hope it has to be lifted out of this abomination of sin we call happiness.

So if there is no death of Christ as this man is purporting in his film, then exactly how will we be saved from our sins? There can be no dialogue. I’m not so much offended or outraged as much as I am saddened. I’m not shivering with anger as much as I am shuddering with fear at the consequences for humanity if Christ was not crucified. I am saddened because this sort of teaching takes away all hope of eternal life, all hope of rescue from sin, all hope of resurrection, all hope of escaping the penalty of sin–death. There can be no alternate ending to the story of Jesus. The only ending is an empty tomb that he Resurrected from after he was crucified.

Now, there are two stories in Matthew’s Gospel that at first appearance may not have anything in common. Here they are. The first is from Matthew 4 where Jesus is being tempted by Satan. The second is Jesus’ first announcement of his impending crucifixion and Peter’s response.

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9″All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:8-11)

Next, Matthew 16:

21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:21-28)

What these stories have in common is this: both the Devil and Peter were attempting to persuade Jesus to avoid the cross! Even back then the idea was to create a cross-less Jesus! Muslims preach the same thing: A Cross-less Jesus. The filmmaker says, in response to a question about the Mel Gibson film:

NT: We were almost finished filming when Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film, and it’s the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have … according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?

Well, the reason is simple: To save humanity from sin, its guilt and its power. That’s why he was bloodied ‘that way.’ If Jesus ascended to heaven without being crucified then we are hopeless. It is not the wrong story: It’s the only story! It’s the only hope we have! Oh Lord have mercy! Here’s what the apostle wrote:

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

. . .

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:1-7, 12-28)

There is so much wrong with what that man (the Iranian filmmaker) is saying that it boggles the mind. But I’m not raising a voice of protest. No, I’m raising a cry of mercy. I’m crying out to the Lord for the poor souls who will see this film an accept it as truth. There is only one Gospel and there can be no other versions of it warned the apostle. Those who publish alternative Gospels are, according to the apostle, anathema; condemned.

Only the death of Jesus Messiah provides sufficient atonement for the sins of this world’s inhabitants. If Jesus has not been crucified, he is not the Messiah. And if He is not the Messiah, the Son of God, then we are without hope–that is, the entire world from the beginning until the end. What a sad, sad story this is. I pray this film will be a failure. I pray it will be rejected. I pray it will be destroyed before it is ever shown to anyone. I pray for the Muslims who think that their system of works righteousness is superior to the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

PS–The article mentions something called ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ For more information in this ‘Gospel’ (and why it is not a Gospel) click here. The article concludes:

The Gospel of Barnabas is not an authentic Gospel of Jesus. The author does not understand the language, history or geography of the 1st century A.D., and there is no ancient evidence for the book. The internal evidence of the book suggests it was written in the 14th century and there are Muslim scholars who agree with this dating. The book is a rewrite of the Biblical Gospel most likely by a Muslim who wanted to portray Jesus as a Muslim who taught Islam and predicted the coming of Muhammad. This type of rewriting has been done elsewhere by Muslims in the Gospel According to Islam. This type of behaviour is disgraceful, and it is disgraceful for Muslims to continue to publish, promote and distribute this false Scripture.

Friends,

**UPDATE** Click Here for another’s take. 

Here is the very truth:

“It all quite really comes down to the resurrection of Jesus. It has a fundamental incompatibility [with] the sophisticated scientist,” said Dawkins.

“It’s (resurrection of Christ argument) so petty, it’s so trivial, it’s so local, it’s so earth-bound, it’s so unworthy of the universe.”

In the end, Darwin’s Rottweiler stayed loyal and praised Darwin.

I think Dawkin’s is right. It does come down to the resurrection of Jesus. It is local. It is earth-bound. That is precisely why Jesus resurrected in the midst of history. This is what the apostle said in 1 Corinthians 15: If the Resurrection is not true, we are to be pitied more than all men. It is fundamentally incompatible with sophisticated science that’s why it is called a miracle. But the Bible says that death couldn’t keep a grip on Jesus: It was impossible for him to stay dead.

So, it is not petty. It is not trivial. The entire balance of world and universal history hangs on it. The Bible says that there were eyewitnesses to the Empty Tomb. But the funny thing is, as it turns out, I think Dawkins actually believesin Resurrection. Consider this quote from his book The God Delusion:

Douglas, I miss you. You are my cleverest, funniest, most open-minded, wittiest, tallest, and possibly only convert. I hope this book might have made you laugh–though not as much as you made me.” (The God Delusion, 117)

Now, ‘Douglas’, is Douglas Adams who, according to the dedication page, died in 2001! Six years ago! Notice how Dawkins speaks to Douglas in the present tense, ‘You are…’, not ‘You were…’ or ‘You have been…’, or ‘You might have been…’, but ‘You are…’. But Douglas died in 2001! I’m confused because I thought Dawkins said that The Resurrection, by which we can extrapolate a meaning of ‘any’ resurrection, is petty, trivial, and unworthy of the universe?! I wonder if Dawkins would think it petty and trivial if Douglas were actually alive to hear him say this on page 117?

Either that, or Richard has lost his mind and is talking to dead people! Is he actually praying to a dead man or speaking to a live man? Don’t spin it. Dawkins is speaking in the present tense. Maybe Dick has a heart after all. Maybe he really does, at some level, hope that Douglas can hear him: that Douglas is alive!

I wonder if Richard Dawkins really misses his friend so badly that he wishes he had some sort of hope of seeing him again? But I guess all Dick can hope for is that…well, I guess he can’t hope for anything because that too would be trivial, petty, and unworthy of the universe. Sadly, this is the reality that confronts every single atheist. They come face to face with mortality at some point. Every single person who lives will eventually die. Some with hope, others without. The pathos in those two sentences actually touched my heart. I cannot imagine living without hope. I cannot imagine facing death so alone, so hopeless, so…alone. But there you have it: The joy of atheism!

This statement is profoundly revealing and profoundly sad. Would that Dick had thought for a moment that the hope we have in Christ means that we shall one day be reunited with those we have lost. What a sad, little man even Richard Dawkins is in the face of unrelenting death–especially unrelenting death and no hope.

jerry

Friends,

I have posted one thought already about evolution providing us no hope for the future because it establishes in us no purpose in the present. (I’ll say more about this below as I discuss how death is the prevailing experience in this world in general and Darwinism in particular.) Sadly, I think this has done more to ruin the human race than any other idea in the world. After all, if we have no purpose for living, what’s the point of living, we may as well ‘eat and drink for tomorrow we die’? Darwinism as a philosophy of nothing has rendered us unable to fit into the world except as mere predators. Yet, even though we continually fight against our environment for survival, we are still doomed to only death, decay, and destruction. I cannot say that Darwinism has instilled in humankind any really significant reason to actually continue as a race. I cannot say that Darwinism has done anything to improve our lives on this planet. Again, science has by awakening our eyes and ears to the wonders of God’s creation and the Majesty of the Creator, given us much to be thankful for. But Darwinism, in reducing us from creatures made in the image of God, instilled with purpose and a goal, to mere by-products of a random, guideless, purposeless process has essentially ruined any hope people might have for a meaningful existence.

Jon said,

By the way, evolution doesn’t give me purpose. I just want to know how the universe works. It’s a selfish desire, nothing more.”

I responded to him with the words of Jesus: “What good will it do for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?” This is another aspect of life that Jon and the other Darwinists who invited themselves to my blog fail to understand.

What I wonder is how many humans, fed a steady diet of evolatheism through their years in public education and college and through pop-science journals and PBS television specials and Discovery channel documentaries and so on and so forth, have wandered through this meaningless existence unhappy, depressed, turned criminal, and killed themselves or others? Darwinism teaches us that the only way to survive is to survive–whatever it takes: beg, beat, borrow, steal, kill–whatever it takes! Granted, humanity in general does this, even professing Christians sometimes turn criminal and turn from Christ, but one wonders how far reaching are the effects of Darwinism on the culture in general. (I think about the Racism of Nazi Germany and how doctrines were developed entirely on the basis of Darwinism. That’s only one example of what I think it part of the far reaching effects of Darwinism.)

But there’s another problem too: Death. According the wise among us, we have been evolving (or life has been evolving) for millions or perhaps billions of years. I don’t understand why Darwinism has not managed to evolve us out of death. (Maybe I’m asking for too much!) One would think that with all those years of experimentation under our belts we would have simply developed the mutated genes necessary to kill disease, eliminate viruses, destroy death entirely. And yet we haven’t. In fact, if Darwinism has done anything for humanity, it has only increased the amount of death that we see in the world, and our appetite for it, and the violence it necessitates. In fact, it seems to me that Darwinism is only as effective as the death since death is required in order for a new species to ‘appear’ on the scene. “Nature red in tooth and claw,” I think is how I read it somewhere.

Still, even the best of us get at best 70-80 years. Well, that is frankly appalling in light of a million or half a million years of evolution. And if that number is inflated to a billion or more it is even more pathetic. I would think that death would be done by now, and that our lifespan would be at least, on average, 120 or so. But through all this evolution we have supposedly undergone, we have yet to figure out a way to contend with the very environment that my friend Jon says is the major catalyst in the mutation of the genetic code. We are continuing to lose the battle against our environment. It is killing us, not making us stronger or more evolved.

Why so much death? Again, death is necessary. Even Hitler recognized this as he went about his pogram. He understood perfectly the survival of the fittest. He understood perfectly well that a superior species must necessarily eliminate an ‘inferior species’ so that the species in general will be perfected. But we are rightly appalled at Hitler’s ideas of Darwinism as he carried them out to their logical, necessary conclusion.  (Sadly, it was also Darwinism that was part of the foundation of American slavery as certain races of humans were considered ‘less evolved’ than others. Slavery is also a necessary end of Darwin’s theory that Darwinists conveniently overlook and disregard.)

Why so much death and why has it not been overcome? Darwinism necessitates death and Darwinism will not, finally, overcome death: It cannot if it expects to continue its own existence. Death is a frontier that evolution cannot overcome and will not overcome. And in my estimation, it is this fact of death that is one of the major problems that evolutionists, Darwinists, face in trying to explain this world.

What about creation? Well, creation in and of itself has not overcome death, but the God who claims to have created this world has. And it seems to me that only the God who created this world has sufficient power to destroy our nemesis and bring this world to its intended End, which is Christ. For those of us who believe that God has made us in His Image there is no futility in this world, and our lives. We believe that we have purpose in this life, that life is not an exercise in futility, that life will not end in death. Here is what the Gospel says about the Creator:

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55″Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, NIV)

I am interested in life and living and so is God who created us. Death is an aberration of Creation; death is a necessity of Darwinism. Darwinism is interested in nothing but death and dying. I hate to be so blunt about it, but the truth is, Darwinism has not overcome that one aspect of life that is most perplexing to us: Death. I suppose that if Darwinism ever happens to find a way to overcome death, that last enemy, perhaps we can have a conversation about whether Darwinism is a valid explanation of all that we see, hear, and experience.

Soli Deo Gloria! 

jerry