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Heaven: The Place Christians Can’t Wait To Get Out Of (via Chad Bird)

Heaven can be spoken about by Christians in ways that can contribute to a misconception that it is a destination rather than a staging point.
There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the blessing that awaits believers after death and before the return of Jesus.
But that acknowledgement should not cloud the fact that our ultimate hope is for a state of existence that is a greater blessing again.

Chad Bird writes

What happens when believers in Christ die? They go to a place called Paradise (Luke 23:43). They are with Christ (Phil. 1:23). Or, if you prefer, they go to heaven.
This is all well and good. Indeed, better than good! We are with our Lord. We are with the saints and angels. What could be better? Actually, there’s a whole lot that could be better. Much better. And it will be.
Why can I not wait to get out of heaven? Because heaven is not my everlasting home. It’s like that hotel room where I stay while on the way to my new, lovely, perfect home. Oh, yes, it’s the best hotel room ever. No argument there. It’s complete with angels and saints and Jesus.
But, when the morning of the new creation dawns, I’ll pack my bags, leave my key at the front desk, and step down into the perfect earth with the perfect body that the Creator has provided for me. Won’t you join me? Let’s stand in our resurrected bodies beside the resurrected Christ and gaze upon the world of glory, the new Zion, come down out of heaven to earth.
Heaven is great, don’t me wrong. But the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, living in the new earth as fully bodied humans, reflecting the glory of the fully bodied Messiah—that’s the goal. That’s the destination. That is our final home.
Home, for the Christian, is not the hotel room of heaven but the new earth of the resurrection.

Read the whole post at 1517.

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Centrality On The Cross Brings Everything Into Focus (via Fred Sanders at Christianity Today)

As the people of God gather week by week, the cross is rightly central; however that centrality rightly observed brings many other truths into view and into focus.
And only the cross can bring them all together, enable them all to be understood, and communicate our need of God’s grace.

From Fred Sanders.

The Cross reminds us of the entire sweep of salvation, and the sweep of salvation reminds us of the infinite love of God. When we see the cross, we recognize instantly that it stands for the death of Jesus, which stands in the center of the perfect incarnate life and glorious resurrection of the eternal Son of the almighty Father. It’s never the Cross by itself but the Cross as the center. Christian faith knows this: It knows to emphasize the Cross. But emphasizing it means lifting it up for special notice, never isolating it.

Read the whole article at Christianity Today.

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Alive Willy-Nilly In Jesus (via Robert Farrar Capon)

When Jesus brings the dead back to life in the Bible the events are not resurrections. All those returned to life eventually went to a grave.
But the power of life that Jesus exercised demonstrates the completeness of human need and the presence of a life in him that can meet all that need.

Jesus came to raise the dead: not to idle those who were half-immortal anyway into some other slightly improved life but to take those who had completely lost their grip and give them back every last one of the days that he, as their resurrection and their life, had always held for them. He never met a corpse that didn’t sit right up then and there because, although it may have been dead as a doornail on its own terms, it was alive willy-nilly in him and just couldn’t help showing it.
When Jesus came to raise Lazarus, the dead man’s sister Martha had her doubts. Like the rest of us she could imagine eternal life only as something out there – as a blessing to be achieved only after the protracted clanking of some religious or philosophical contraption. And therefore when Jesus told her her brother would rise again, the furthest think from her mind was that it would happen on the spot: “I know,” she said; “he’ll make it at the last day.” But what Jesus in effect said to her was: “Wrong! He’s made it now. I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he’s dead, will still live. And whoever lives and believes in me can’t possibly die in eternity – because in eternity is exactly where I’ve got him for good.” Lazarus, in short, might lose his own grip on his life but he could never shake loose of Jesus’. Ergo forth he comes when the Word who holds him speaks his name.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 47-48.

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On Needing Resurrection Power To Endure Suffering

In John 13 Jesus tells Peter “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
Jesus is speaking of his death on the cross and the resurrection life that will be shared as a result.
Peter will learn that his own suffering would consume him without resurrection life within him.

Paul speaks of this in Philippians 3 when he writes in verse 10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”.
Jesus suffers, and is resurrected.
Because of his suffering and resurrection, for Jesus’ disciples the order is reversed.
We know the power of his resurrection, and because of that we are able to endure the sufferings that follow.

We could not endure going where he went, until he had first gone there alone.
Having gone and triumphed, we can now go there in his power.

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Jesus And The Easter Effect (via Bryan Jarrell at Mockingbird)

An article at Mockingbird that reflects on the point that Jesus’ resurrection has a far more profound impact than someone simply coming back from the dead:

Reading the resurrection stories in the gospels, there are plenty of themes that the four authors want to emphasize. One among them is that the resurrection was a bodily resurrection—scars were preserved, fish was digested, hands were placed in wounds. Another is that the resurrection was an embarrassment to worldly powers, with heavy stones moved, Roman soldiers terrified, and religious authorities spreading cover-up propaganda. Equally as important to the story, however, is that The Resurrection is an act of divine love to the undeserved. Jesus appears to weeping women, terrified men, doubters, runaways, people who don’t know their bibles, and disciples who quit the business and went back to their day jobs. It’s almost as if a qualification for meeting with the resurrected Jesus is being a really bad disciple of Jesus.
Which is to say, The Resurrection isn’t just that someone rose from the dead. The reanimation of Lazarus didn’t inspire a women’s rights movement, nor did the resuscitation of the Rabbi’s daughter inspire a generation of self-emptying plague doctors. The good news is that the one who rose from the dead is, specifically and uniquely, Jesus of Nazareth, friend of sinners, love incarnate, son of God, and full of grace. It’s this particular Jesus that caused the disciples to reconsider time and space and Sabbath, and also, love and forgiveness and the entire nature of the divine. Replace this Jesus with anyone else, and the whole movement falls flat.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.

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Risen Indeed by Andrew Peterson

Risen Indeed by Andrew Peterson.
The second track from Resurrection Letters Volume 1.
Peterson wrote the song some years ago, this album has had a long gestation.

“And so the seed that died for You becomes a seedling
Just put your hand into the wound that bought your healing”

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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 51

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 51

Chapter 32 – Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
I. The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls (which neither die nor sleep), having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledges none.
II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
III. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.