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The self-isolation that many of us are going through right now is a golden opportunity to work on our devotional life. Personal devotion often ends up in the shadow of Sunday worship, but the fact is that a daily routine of praying and reading the Bible is far more important for spiritual maturity and lasting discipleship than weekly meetings, although they, of course, also play an important role.
Devotions can look a thousand different ways and for them to be long-term sustainable, it is only good to adapt them to what works best in one’s own household. But models can be good for having something to start from.
Therefore, since we are in Easter week, we would like to present a simple arrangement for devotion for the next five days (Wednesday-Sunday). It can be used both individually and as a family. We will read from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection and use the following simple structure:
- Bible reading
So, light some candles, wrap yourself in blankets and seek God with us this holy Easter time! (more…)
Many Christians seem to think that God’s ultimate plan is to obliterate Earth like a Death Star and transport bodiless souls into an immaterial, heavenly realm.
They think that Bible passages like 2 Peter 3:10 means that God will nuke our universe and start from scratch.
But that’s not what the Bible says.
God’s mission is for the Kingdom of Heaven to fully embrace and renew Earth. As theologian N. T Wright points out:
“Rather than rescuing people from the earth in order to reach heaven, the creator God would finally bring heaven and earth together in a great act of new creation, completing the original creative purpose by healing the entire cosmos of its ancient ills.”
The core ideas of Christianity are 1) the incarnation, which means that spirit and matter should unite, not be apart; and 2) the resurrection, which means that the afterlife will be bodily and physical.
2 Peter 3:10 isn’t about God deleting creation but restoring it to its original, sinless state. As Paul says:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom 8:20-21)
Then we will enjoy eternal, joyful life with him in the New Universe, with endless worship, adventure, and love.
I hope you all have a blessed Good Friday! Over here this day is called “Long Friday” because people were expected to mourn and have a boring time all day, which made it feel much longer. I think the English name is much better – even if it undoubtedly is sad that Jesus had to die for our sake, it is at the same time amazing since we receive eternal life through His sacrifice.
Christianity stands and falls with the death and resurrection of Jesus being historical events. According to the apostles, these are not just doctrines: they are things that really happened, which they witnessed themselves. In this video, I defend the historicity of both Jesus’ death and His miraculous resurrection:
There are some competing theories on what really happened that Passover weekend 2,000 years ago. For a more detailed discussion on what they’re saying and what their problems are, please watch the video. What follows is a brief summary of each theory and my arguments agains them: (more…)
I have mentioned previously that I really enjoy the apologetic work of William Lane Craig, and regularly listens to his podcasts and lectures. I find Craig very intelligent, theologically sound and mostly quite easy to understand, and he oftens pinpoints thoughts and arguments that I have developed on my own. The other day I was listening to a talk he was holding in Southampton in the UK a couple of years ago on the resurrection of Jesus:
In the talk, which he has held multiple times in different locations, he defends five historical facts about Jesus and early Christianity which he argues that there are sustainable evidences for. These are:
- Jesus died on a Roman cross outside of Jerusalem
- He was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea
- On Easter Sunday his tomb was found empty by a group of women
- On multiple occassions individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus
- Jesus’ original disciples believed that he had rose from the dead, despite their having predispositions to the contrary
Paul summed up the Gospel like this:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”(1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
As you can see, Paul thinks that at the core of the Gospel lies Jesus’ death for our sins, His burial and His resurrection. And among these three, the resurrection receives most attention. He lines up everyone he knows of that has seen the resurrected Jesus, including himself. Then he goes on discussing the resurrection in the rest of the chapter.
Likewise, Paul, Peter and others who preach the Gospel in the book of Acts often emphasize the resurrection even more than they emphasize the cross. This used to confuse me, since the atonement happened on the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus died for our sins and defeated the devil – the cross is at the core of all atonement theories. The resurrection is great of course, Jesus is alive hallelujah, but shouldn’t the death of Jesus be the focus of the apostles rather than His resurrection?
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Eph 1:18-21)
Christ is truly risen from the dead!! This is an undeniable cornerstone for our faith and should be central in the gospel we preach. If miracles cannot happen and Jesus has not risen, Christianity is worthless according to 1 Cor 15. But if miracles do happen and Jesus has risen, Christianity is the most important thing in the world.
But not only is the resurrection of Christ the basis for our doctrine, it should also be the fuel for how we live our lives. As Paul writes above, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is in us. Through the Holy Spirit we have the same authority to do miracles like He did, the power of the resurrection is available for everyone who wants it!