It is sad when any matters divide the people of God and it is to be avoided if possible. It might be said that we should concentrate on matters such as revival rather than divisive issues. Yes, it is vital that we talk about revival and pray for it. However, if revival is to last then it must be build upon sound doctrine. Therefore we must understand and proclaim the truth. The truth is the foundation of the church, and the church itself is "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim 3v15).
Yet such controversies must not distract us from the mission of the church to extend God's kingdom. I believe that the voices that have been raised in defence of the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement are right to be raised. But it is also important that those who are praying passionately for revival and seeking to restore the church continue to do so. Praise God for His apologists and for great theologians. But not everyone is called to be an apologist and/or theologian. There is a danger of getting on a bandwagon and blogging (or writing) on the latest controversy simply because everyone else is.
For example, the issue of the Da Vinci Code led to numerous books, videos, sermons and blogs. It is right to defend the truth, but it is not right that we all come to a stand-still in order to defend the truth. Let those who are so gifted and called do so, and let the rest of us be equipped through their preaching and writing, but not get distracted from the mission of building His kingdom.
I am grateful for all those who have written on the subject of the atonement (and indeed for the material on the Da Vinci Code - although we may be suffering from information overload on that one), but at the present time I don't see my role on this blog to write about either. In my original post I wrote:
"[The church]... has a great future. The Lord has promised that He will build His church and the very gates of hell will not prevail against it. Despite the pressure and the seasons of decline, Jesus Christ is returning for a radiant church without spot or blemish. The church will grow and the gospel will impact every nation, tribe, people and language in the world. Jesus Christ will win through His church.
This great victory is my vision and the vision behind this blog. I will be sharing this more in the days that lie ahead."
The risen Christ
In the light of this vision, the post which really caught my eye on Adrian Warnock's blog was one on the resurrection called "The Resurrection Empowered Life" (there is also an earlier post here). It is so exciting that, in the midst of all that is being said about the atonement of Christ, God's people are being stirred to look again at the resurrection (for another example, see my last post). This is so important. In looking at Revelation 1, Adrian says:
"We see here once again, as so frequently in the Scriptures, the death of Jesus linked with His resurrection. It struck me that “even those who pierced him” will see Jesus. Then it hit me — how will they see Jesus? How do we see Jesus now? If I say the name Jesus, what image fills my mind? If you are like me, it is probably an image of the cross. Now it is not wrong for us to gaze upon the cross in our mind's eye. But I would put it to you that it is not that image alone that will transform us. For we will not see Jesus again on a cross. Instead, we will see Him in all His glory.
I also turned this morning to the book of 2 Corinthians, which I am more and more convinced is critical for us to read and understand when considering these twin themes of the atonement and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. I cannot encourage you enough to read it through from beginning to end. Consider in particular these four verses carefully:
“We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
“. . . the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
“For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:11)
To me the conclusion of these verses is simple. We are supposed to gaze upon the glory of Jesus, the Risen Lord, and as we do so, we will be transformed into His image and live a resurrection empowered life."
Amen to that!
Jesus the Lord
Thinking on the resurrection led me to these verses:
"For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living." (Rom 14v8-9).
We see here, the glorious ultimate purpose of both the cross and the resurrection. That He might be Lord! That He might reign, all-glorious on the victor's throne. We belong to Him, and we will give and account to Him - that's a challenge. Yet we can also have great confidence - the Lamb is upon the throne. Victory is assured - both our personal welcome into glory and the ultimate victory of His church.
"For we see Jesus enthroned on high..."