Thursdays With Oswald—No Fear Of Death

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.

No Fear Of Death

     Death means extinction of life as we understand it; our dead are gone and have left an aching void behind them. They do not talk to us, we do not feel their touch, and when the bereaved heart cries out, nothing comes back but the hollow echo of its own cry. The heart is raw, no pious chatter, no scientific cant can touch it. It is the physical calamity of death plus the thing behind which no man can grasp, that makes death so terrible. …

     Every attempt to comfort a bereaved soul apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ brings a vain speculation. We know nothing about the mystery of death apart from what Jesus Christ tells us; but blessed be the Name of God, what He tells us makes us more than conquerors, so that we can shout the victory through the darkest valley of the shadow that ever a human being can go through. … 

     Jesus Christ can deliver from the dread of death—“that through death He might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is the devil” [Hebrews 2:14]. Death has no terror for the man who is rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. … 

     It is not within the power of human tongue or archangel’s tongue to state what an awful fact death is, and what a still more awful fact life is. But thank God, there is the greatest deliverance conceivable from all that life may bring and from all that death may bring. Jesus Christ has destroyed the dominion of death, and He can make us fit to face every problem of life, more than conqueror all along the line.

From The Fighting Chance 

Through His death on the Cross and bodily resurrection from the grave, Jesus Christ has defeated Death for all who place their faith in this victory He won for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

The Apostle Paul tells us that Christians grieve when a loved one dies, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). When one who knows Jesus as their Savior dies, we have a rock-solid, unshakable hope that they are fully alive with Christ in Heaven, and that we who also know Jesus as Lord and Savior will one day be reunited with them.

So for the Christian, death brings absolutely no fear! 

10 Quotes From “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About God”

This book from Eric Metaxas is a great way to stimulate a conversation about spiritual questions, or a wonderful resource for you to read together with a friend who is on a spiritual journey of discovery. Check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy a few of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“We aren’t responsible for having answers to every question about God or the Bible posed to us, but we are responsible for how we answer, even if we don’t have a full answer.”

“Our culture is so obsessed with the physical and the material that we have lost the ability to think logically about anything outside that realm.”

“The bottom line is that those who follow God have to have genuine love and compassion for others, and if we recognize how profoundly messed up we ourselves are, we will have compassion for other people. So if people don’t have serious humility about their own state of affairs, they should probably keep their mouth shut. God doesn’t want His followers to add to the pain of the people He loves. He wants His children to treat others as people He desperately loves.”

“The idea of a moral structure that cuts God out of the picture is very attractive to humans because that puts us in control. But God wants us to understand that without a relationship with Him, moral behavior isn’t worth anything. Mere moral rectitude doesn’t fool God.”

“Religion in the negative sense of simply being a bunch of rules and rituals is pretty much the same as superstition. Without a relationship with God at its core, all religion devolves to superstition.”

“One of the most harmful things in human history is when people have confused fear-based superstition with faith in God.”

“Either Jesus was God and died on the Cross and then rose bodily from the dead, thereby destroying sin and death and making it possible for us to be with Him in paradise forever, or having faith in him is bogus. Period. Without the central events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, you simply don’t have Christianity. You can call it Christianity, but it’s not. All religions are not alike, so ultimately you have to choose.” 

“That’s always the case with sin. It never presents itself as sin. It’s always presented as a doorway to a higher consciousness, as a path to enlightenment meant, as the path to divinity—to becoming a god, or like God.”

“To try to earn God’s love is to miss the point entirely. He loves us already. We can’t be more loved by Him. So to try is like adding numbers to infinity. You can’t get higher than infinity, and His love for us is infinite.”

“Faith does not necessarily make us perfect, but perhaps it does have a way of making us more aware of our feelings.”

Look How Deep Christ’s Love Is!

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father. (John 10:17–18)

“Why does Jesus say this? Why does He stress His willingness to die? Because if it weren’t true—if His death were forced on Him, if it weren’t free, if His heart weren’t really in it—then a big question mark would be put over His love for us.

“The depth of His love is in its freedom. If He didn’t die for us willingly—if He didn’t choose the suffering and embrace it—then how deep is His love, really? So He stresses it. He makes it explicit. ‘It comes out of me, not out of circumstances, not out of pressure, but out of what I really long to do.’ …

“Anybody who makes a statement like that is either mentally deranged, or lying, or God. ‘I have authority from inside death, as a dead man, to take life back again, when I please.’ Now what’s the point here? Well, which is harder: to control when you die, or to give yourself life again once you are dead? Which is harder: to say, ‘I lay my life down on my own initiative’? Or to say, ‘I will take my life back again after I am dead’?

“The answer is obvious. And that’s the point. If Jesus could—and did—take His life back again from the dead, then He was free indeed. If He controlled when He came out of the grave, He certainly controlled when He went into the grave.

“So here’s the point. The resurrection of Jesus is given to us as the confirmation or evidence that He was indeed free in laying down His life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of His love. …

“‘My resurrection is a shout over My love for My sheep: It was free! It was free! I chose it. I embraced it. I was not caught. I was not cornered. Nothing can constrain Me to do what I do not choose to do. I had power to take My life from death. And I have taken My life from death. How much more, then, could I have kept My life from death!

“‘I am alive to show you that I really loved you.” —John Piper

On Calvary’s Hill (book review)

Max Lucado has written several books concerning the week leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. In On Calvary’s Hill, you will be treated to 40 of the best looks from all of these previous books into what was happening during this pivotal week.

Max Lucado has both a firm grasp of Scripture, and a keen imagination to “read between the lines” of the biblical accounts. God has truly gifted him with the skill to take his readers behind the scenes, and even into the very thoughts of the key characters in the many stories that make up the big story of Christ’s Passion.

These forty entries make excellent reading during the Lent season, to help you appreciate more fully the work Jesus did for us on Calvary. But, honestly, this book could be read at any time during the year and still have immense value to those who want to know more about what Jesus accomplished on the Cross.

Don’t miss this book!

Poetry Saturday—The Monster Death

Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliverer reigns;
Sing how He spoiled the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains:
Say, Live forever, wondrous King!
Born to redeem, and strong to save;
Then ask the monster, Where’s thy sting?
And, Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? —Isaac Watts

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

9 More Quotes From “The Bad Habits Of Jesus”

the-bad-habits-of-jesusI know suggesting that Jesus might have some “bad habits” sounds a bit sacrilegious, but you’ve got to check out my review of Leonard Sweet’s thought-provoking book (which you can find by clicking here). I have already shared a few quotes from this book here, but there were just too many good ones for just one post!

“Jesus’ mysterious, open-ended, twisty endings [to His stories] were brilliantly conceived, and His lack of explanation was perfectly pitched. He wanted people not only to think about the story and to converse with each other about the story, but also to ask Him about the story. Ultimately, Jesus’ stories were about cultivating a relationship with Him. We call it discipleship.”

“The people Jesus was interested in the most, the ones Jesus celebrated the most, were those who asked questions like He did. … Jesus loves people who would not just listen to Him, but who would follow Him, learn from Him, and be in relationship with Him—and with God.”

“Why do we feel that to be good and faithful Christians, we must not look too happy, not enjoy ourselves too much, when throughout the Scriptures, God clearly loves a party?” 

“For Christians, every day is a reminder of the Resurrection. Each and every day should be a grand celebration of God’s amazing gift of Jesus. Everything in life is filled with Resurrection moments. And every person is filled with Resurrection hope just waiting to be celebrated. The church above all should be a place of festivities and joy. People should look at the church and think, What joyful people!

“The ‘Nice God’ of therapeutic culture leads one to expect that if I have a need, God needs to meet my need. This is Christianity as Niceianity. For Jesus, God is loving and merciful and true but not necessarily ‘nice.’ The holy God is dangerous, because the holy God is truth.”

“Traveling with Jesus is not always dignified, pretty, or easy. Jesus takes the common routes and dangerous pathways, seeks out the messy and the dirty and the difficult. But traveling with Jesus is also beautiful, for those who follow Jesus also bring God’s lost and dirty people home to God—to be renewed, to be cleansed, to be clothed, to be loved.”

“How often does our ‘religion’ get between us and God? Are we so filled up with religion and all its trappings that there isn’t room for the inpourings of God’s presence and the outpourings of God’s power?”

“Jesus is the way into a life of truth, not a way out of life’s problems, difficulties, failures, and missteps.”

“Jesus was inclusive, but while He accepted people as they were, He didn’t affirm them as they were; He transfigured them into the singular images of God they were created to be.”

More quotes from The Bad Habits Of Jesus coming soon. And you can also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr to read some great quotes each and every day.

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