The Resurrection Of Jesus Makes All The Difference

more-than-a-carpenter“When Jesus was crucified, His followers were discouraged and depressed. They no longer had confidence that Jesus had been sent by God, because they believed anyone crucified was accursed by God. They also had been taught that God would not let His Messiah suffer death. So they disbursed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks. Then, after a short period of time, we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering, and committing themselves to spread a very specific message—that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on the Cross, returned to life, and was seen alive by them. And they were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this, without any payoff from a human point of view. It’s not as though there were a mansion awaiting them on the Mediterranean. They faced a life of hardship. They often went without food, slept exposed to the elements, were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways. For what? For good intentions? No, because they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead. What you can’t explain is how this particular group of men came up with this particular belief without having had an experience of the resurrected Christ. There’s no other adequate explanation.” —J. P. Moreland, quoted in More Than A Carpenter

Poetry Saturday—Begone Unbelief

John NewtonBegone unbelief, my Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear:
By prayer let me wrestle, and He wilt perform,
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.

Though dark be my way, since He is my guide,
’Tis mine to obey, ’tis His to provide;
Though cisterns be broken, and creatures all fail,
The Word He has spoken shall surely prevail.

His love in time past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review,
Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.

Determined to save, He watched o’er my path,
When satan’s blind slave, I sported with death;
And can He have taught me to trust in His name,
And thus far have brought me, to put me to shame?

Why should I complain of want or distress,
Temptation or pain? He told me no less:
The heirs of salvation, I know from His Word,
Through much tribulation must follow their Lord.

How bitter that cup, no heart can conceive,
Which He drank quite up, that sinners might live!
His way was much rougher, and darker than mine;
Did Jesus thus suffer, and shall I repine?

Since all that I meet shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet, the medicine is food;
Though painful at present, wilt cease before long,
And then, O! how pleasant, the conqueror’s song! —John Newton

Love Re-members

love-re-membersChristians often talk about God in terms of the “Trinity.” That is, the One True God revealed in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp, especially since the word Trinity doesn’t specifically appear in the Bible. But make no mistake, just because the word isn’t there doesn’t mean it’s not true. Consider…

  • God’s Three-in-One nature is first exhibited when man is created (Genesis 1:26).
  • When the prophesy is given about Jesus being born in human flesh, He is given all the titles of the three Persons of the Godhead (Isaiah 9:6).
  • At Christ’s baptism we see Jesus in human form, we see the Holy Spirit descending as a dove, and we hear the Father’s voice announcing His approval of His Son (Matthew 3:16-17).
  • Jesus Himself said He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to the Christians (John 14:16).
  • And just as Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His followers to baptize people into all three Persons of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19).

But I think the best expression of the Trinity is revealed in three simple words. John talks about how all three Persons of the Trinity are involved in the life of a Christian. And then he sums it all up in three words—

“GOD IS LOVE”

Each Person of the Godhead is encouraging and illuminating and pointing to the other Persons in the Trinity. Love is perpetually being received and given. We humans are created in God’s image … we are created to receive and to give God’s love. That’s why John tells us that we know and rely on the love God has for us (that’s the receiving part), and that whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (that’s the giving part).

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were dis-membered from God. As a result, every human in their natural state longs for connection with God and others, but feels separated, isolated, unloved, and even unlovable.

Love re-members! 

Jesus came to be broken and crushed and to feel the pain of separation from God. It was out of this brokenness that He could do the work of re-membering us to the fullness of the Trinity.

When Jesus shared His last supper with His disciples, He took bread (which is made from broken wheat kernels) and wine (which is made from crushed grapes). He told us as often as we eat the bread and drink the wine we are to remember how He was broken and crushed for us.

Remembering Christ’s work on the Cross re-members us to the fullness of the Trinity. 

Sin and satan want to keep us feeling separated, unloved, and unloveable. But when we were the least worthy of His love, God—Who IS love—was broken and crushed to re-member us to Him.

If you feel lonely, separated, isolated, unloved or unloveable, I urge you to remember what Jesus did for you. He loved you enough to be broken and crushed for your re-membering to all of God’s love.

Check out this video where I explain this amazing thought in more detail…

Book Reviews From 2016

Thursdays With Oswald—Christ’s Incarnation Means Our Freedom

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Christ’s Incarnation Means Our Freedom

     Other religions deal with sins; the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ faced in man was this heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored it in our presentation of the Gospel that the message of the Gospel has lost its sting, its blasting power; we have driveled it into insurance tickets for heaven, and made it deal only with the wastrel element of mankind. …  

     The revelation is not that Jesus Christ was punished for our sins, but that He was made to be sin. “Him who knew no sin” was made to be sin, that by His identification with it and removal of it, we might become what He was. … Jesus Christ went straight through identification with sin that every man and woman on earth might be freed from sin by His atonement. He went through the depths of damnation and came out more than conqueror; consequently everyone of us who is willing to be identified with Him is freed from the disposition of sin, freed from the connection with the body of sin, and can come out more than a conqueror too because of what Jesus Christ has done. … 

     The Holy Spirit will take my spirit, soul and body and bring them back into communion with God, and lead me into identification with the death of Jesus Christ, until I know experimentally that my old disposition, my right to myself, is crucified with Him, and my human nature is now free to obey the commands of God. 

From The Shadow Of An Agony

As we approach the time of year we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus, it’s amazing to think that He didn’t come just to identify with our sin, but to be made sin! Without Jesus Christ’s death on a Cross in our place, there is no hope for us.

As we celebrate the First Advent, it’s a good idea to keep in the front our our minds what Christ’s Incarnation means for us. It means we can be freed from sin—free to obey God, and free to look forward to Christ’s Second Advent, where He will take away His saints to be with Him forever!

8 Quotes From “More Than A Carpenter”

more-than-a-carpenterMore Than A Carpenter by Josh & Sean McDowell is a wonderful resource to prepare you to share the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Check out my book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quotes that I especially found interesting.

“Why don’t the names of Buddha, Mohammed, or Confucius offend people the way the name of Jesus does? I think the reason is that these other religious leaders didn’t claim to be God.” —Josh McDowell

“It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on an all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has been not only the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice. … The simple record of these three short years of active fife has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the expectations of moralists.” —William Lecky, one of Great Britain’s most noted historians and a fierce opponent of organized Christianity

“This testimony [that Jesus was God], if not true, must be downright blasphemy or madness. … Self-deception in a matter so momentous, and with an intellect in all respects so clear and so sound, is equally out of the question. How could He be an enthusiast or a mad man who never lost the even balance of His mind, who sailed serenely over all the troubles and persecutions, as the sun above the clouds, who always returned the wisest answer to tempting questions, who calmly and deliberately predicted His death on the Cross, His resurrection on the third day, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the founding of His church, the distraction of Jerusalem—predictions which have been literally fulfilled? A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and set so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction. The poet, as has been well said, would in this case be greater than the hero. It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus.” —Philip Schaff

“There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based on an irrational bias.” —Clark H. Pinnock

“The Gospels tell us Jesus’ family, including James, were embarrassed by what He was claiming to be. They didn’t believe in Him; they confronted Him. In ancient Judaism it was highly embarrassing for a rabbi’s family not to accept him. Therefore, the Gospel writers would have no motive for fabricating this skepticism if it weren’t true. Later the historian Josephus tells us that James, the brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the Jerusalem church, was stoned to death because of his belief in his brother. Why did James’ life change? Paul tells us: the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. There’s no other explanation.” —J. P. Moreland

“The resurrection takes the question ‘Is Christianity valid?’ out of the realm of philosophy and makes it a question of history.”

“I believe in the resurrection, partly because a series of facts are unaccountable without it.” —Michael Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

“The Old Testament contains sixty major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one Person, Jesus Christ. … We find the chances of just forty-eight of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be only 1 in 10157. … All of the prophecies about the Messiah were made at least four hundred years before He was to appear. … This description of the manner of [Christ’s] death was written eight hundred years before the Romans used crucifixion as a method of execution.” —Josh McDowell

I am always sharing quotes from More Than A Carpenter and other interesting authors regularly on both Twitter and Tumblr. Please make sure you are following me there as well to see these quotes as soon as they are posted.

More Than A Carpenter (book review)

more-than-a-carpenterHolidays are usually really good times for Christians to start up a conversation about their faith. Especially Christmas. C’mon, Christ’s name is the main part of CHRISTmas, right?! But I realize as well that some folks are reluctant to begin such a conversation because they think they might be at a loss as to what to say. This is where More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell will be an excellent ally.

Christians and atheists alike found More Than A Carpenter compelling reading when it was first published nearly 40 years ago. Now the book has been given a makeover, incorporating new discoveries that have further validated the book’s content, and adding a new chapter by Sean McDowell specifically addressing the “new atheists.”

Jesus is an historical character. He actually lived and walked and died and was resurrected in places that are verified by historical records. And yet Jesus was so much more than merely a person in history. His life impacted history in ways that are still being discovered today. His life is still changing the trajectory of people’s lives today.

Clearly Jesus was much more than merely a first century carpenter! 

In easily-readable language, Josh and Sean arm you with all of the evidence you will need to have compelling conversations about Jesus.

  • You will learn about the historical accuracy of the authors who recorded the details of Jesus Christ’s life.
  • You will learn what science, philosophy and archeology verify about His life.
  • You will get insight into the arguments that some atheists use to deny Christ’s deity, and how you can offer alternative facts to counteract those arguments.
  • And you will hear about Josh’s personal life-changing encounter with this Carpenter from first-century Israel.

This is a phenomenal book for you to read as we head into this CHRISTmas season. This is also a great resource for you to put into the hands of someone who is skeptical or even antagonistic toward the claims of Christians. In short: you will be better prepared to have meaningful conversations with others after you have read More Than A Carpenter!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

If you would like to access a ton of great resources associated with More Than A Carpenter, I highly recommend you check out the Josh McDowell Ministry’s store by clicking here.

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