Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Sunday - Greatest of all Days

On Easter Sunday we commemorate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. For Christians this ought to be the most jubilant of all days for on this day we celebrate the triumph of Life over Death, of Light over darkness, of hope over despair, of mercy over judgment. When the church celebrates Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday we are commemorating and reverencing the most profound expression of God’s victorious Love for us. Easter is not about a dead Jesus destroyed for our sin, hanging cursed upon the cross. It is instead about the irrepressible vitality of God's Life. It was brought about as the result of his infinite love! Easter is the day when we celebrate how that love has resulted in Peace. Peace between God and man, the peace established by the New Covenant in Christ’s blood and sealed by his resurrection. -

Most Christians around the world observe at least two special days each year, two days which they place in a different category from the other days of the calendar. Those are Christmas and Easter; the first celebrating the day when Christ was born and the second the day when he rose again to life after having been put to death.

Correspondingly there are two ways in which Christ’s earthly incarnation differs from every other person who has ever lived. First, Jesus was neither created nor did he come to being as the result of procreation. His carnal, earthly body was spiritually generated by God's will and then brought forth into this world from out of a virgin’s womb. Secondly, he died and then by his own power came back to life.

In the gospel of John chapter 10 vs 17 & 18 Jesus said, "I lay down my life, that I might take it back up again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again." And at the time when Jesus raised a man named Lazarus from the dead he told Lazarus' sister, Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life". Jesus wanted it to be clearly understood that he wasn’t merely capable of bringing the dead back to life, that he didn’t just have the knowledge of how to accomplish it, or the faith to do it. Instead he is the living embodiment of resurrection, he is the source and author of resurrection, his very being is resurrection, for he is is, in his very person, the resurrection and the Life.

Of all the miracles pertaining to Christ's life two stand out. The first is that Jesus came into the world by way of a virgin birth the second is that he rose from the dead by his own power. Both of these occurrences are entirely unique in world, ( history and both of these events are celebrated by the church and also by the world at large. In view of the emphasis the Bible places on each of these unique characteristics of Christ's earthly sojourn it’s interesting that Christmas garners a bigger celebration than Easter.

At Christmas all the schools close for a couple of weeks, everyone gives gifts to one another, it seems like everyone makes heroic efforts to contact or be with their families. People all over the world extend to one another tidings of peace and good will. It is not unusual for the Christmas season to bring ceasefires in wars - There are great festivals of song and light during the season leading up to Christmas and on Christmas day itself it seems as if the whole world stops and celebrates.

At Easter on the other hand, the day given for the celebration of Jesus’ triumph over death, things are so much more subdued. No one gets time off work, no presents are exchanged. People generally don’t offer one another greetings of peace or good will.

Now, this all is ironic because the different levels of intensity with which we magnify the two days is exactly opposite to the significance they are given in the Bible and opposite to the significance which they hold in the lives of believers.

Christ’s virgin birth is written of in two of the four gospels, Matthew and Luke and afterwards it is never once mentioned again anywhere in the New Testament. Now, of course a thing only needs to be mentioned once in the Bible to be of capital importance. Nevertheless, while Christ’s virgin birth receives only two mentions in the entire New Testament Christ’s resurrection is referred to about seventy five times. Two mentions of the virgin birth - seventy five of the resurrection.

Of course Jesus could not have entered the world as a human without being born, but Jesus primary mission for coming into the world was not to be born, as important as the everlasting Father being born as a baby was to the fulfillment of prophecy. Christ’s primary mission in coming to the world was to die; to die the death which could atone for all the sins of humanity and to rise again in triumph over death, thereby putting God’s seal upon the promise of eternal life. We would not have received our salvation had Jesus never been born, that’s true, but it is not Christ’s birth which brings us our salvation but rather his death and his resurrection.

And I believe that it is this very distinction which makes Christmas a bigger holiday than Easter. The birth of a child who brings the hope of peace and good will to men can be celebrated in one way or another by most anyone. But the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ following his atoning death on the cross can only be truly celebrated by those who have experienced the atonement for which he died; by them who know him personally through faith. The resurrection sounds like nonsense to those who do not know Jesus and the power of God's Love. In saying all this, let it be understood that I would not want to see the celebration of Christmas diminished in any way. Instead I would wish to see us celebrate Christ’s resurrection in a much, much greater way. At least for us to acknowledge on that day how without the resurrection there is no such thing as the Christian faith. There could be the virgin birth, the wonderful teachings, the miraculous healings, even the death on the cross yet without Christ’s resurrection we would still be in our sins, for the death that sin introduced through the first Adam would not have been overcome by the Life of the second Adam. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." (I Cor 15:17). Had Christ not risen from the dead the whole human race would still be in the death of Adam’s disobedience without the hope of eternal life offered to 'whosoever' will put their faith in Christ.

May God richly bless you on the celebration of Christ's resurrection, the greatest of all days.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Continuing Revival

Our Spring Revival services are over. Our evangelist (and now our good friend), Steven Bednar, has returned to his home in Arlington Texas. However, the revival which the Lord Jesus has ignited in the hearts and the minds and the souls of His people at Peninsula Baptist is gaining momentum. As we pray and commune with one another and talk about our dreams, our hopes and our plans for the future it is evident that God's Spirit is on the move among us invigorating us with joy.

We are beginning to pray about and to discuss options for ways that we might reach out to the folks in our neighborhood this summer. We hope to see you as we visit some of our neighborhood parks with music and good news. Meanwhile plans for a Fall Revival began to take shape this week. STAY TUNED...

As we prepare now to celebrate Easter; as Christians around the world once more commemorate the agonizing death Jesus Christ suffered on our behalf followed by his triumphant resurrection to everlasting glory I pray that each and every soul who claims Christ as Savior will be enlivened by that eternal, omnipotent Power which raised Jesus from the grave so that he may be exalted above all else in all of our lives.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day of Prayer - Week of Prayer

Come pray with us on Thursday, March 4th! The church building is scheduled to be open for prayer all day - 8am to 8pm. All are welcome to come for any amount of time on that day. We plan to gather and then whoever wishes to pray aloud may do so...or you can simply listen and pray along in your heart.

Following the day of prayer and partly in preparation for the upcoming revival, we are also planning on having a Week of Prayer, Monday, March 8th - Saturday, March 13th, at 7pm each night. Lord willing, we will pray for an hour or so every evening. Feel free to come to the church and pray with us for any length of time on those evenings as well.

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..."
Ephesians 6:17-18