Archive for the ‘resurrection’ Category

The Church is sojourning, going through wild places on the way to an awesome destination. We are being led out of the wilderness, and while we lose a few (and sometimes almost entire generations) along the way, and the task of leadership requires discipline, but that doesn’t mean throwing them under the bus.

“The Church is not ideal. It is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a gathering of the nicer people in town. God is not fastidious in the company he keeps. There are sinners aplenty, hypocrites in droves, the ill-mannered and unwashed … men and women who are on the way to growing up to the stature of Christ. Not many of them are there yet.” Eugene Peterson, The Practice of Resurrection, p. 184

HT: Maxie Dunnam

Peterson’s book is on Ephesians, about (among other things) resurrection life at work in believers. Highly recommended.


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New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado wrote an Easter piece for Slate online this year or last.  He notes how resurrection is a key doctrine, not only for the faith, but for diagnosing our fidelity to biblical Christianity as a whole and our ability to hold a biblical view of ourselves and the world.

“Historically . . . how Christians have understood Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ says a lot about how they have understood themselves, whether they have a holistic view of the human person, whether they see bodily existence as trivial or crucial, and how they imagine full salvation to be manifested.”

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Let me apologize in advance for following up Mitchell’s “Los Suns” post with another “liberal” post.

For the past week we’ve been trying to figure out whether a trip to the Alabama coast was really going to happen or not.  Vacations are not easy to come by for our family, so the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico has really gotten our attention.  It felt a little strange, however, to breathe a sigh of relief when the oil blew west into LA.

I sometimes have people ask what the Bible has to say about the environment, and whether we should really care if it’s going to burn up anyway.  Some point to 2 Pet 3:7-10 as proof that we don’t need to care much about this world. 

Al Wolters (author of this amazing book) wrote a great article dealing with this.  “2 Peter 3 speaks of three ‘worlds,’ each consisting of heaven and earth: a world before the flood, called ‘the world that then existed’ (3:6), the present world between the flood and the Day of the Lord, called ‘the heavens and earth that now exist’ (3:7), and a future world after the Day, called the ‘new heavens and new earth’ (3:13).”  These aren’t three worlds, Wolters notes; they “are really the same world in three periods of its history.”

The comparison with the flood points not to a mere destruction, but ultimately to transformation and recreation.  What Peter is describing is not a “burning up” (the normal Greek term for “burning up by fire” is not used) but a melting-type purification or refinement.  What has thrown us off for centuries is the fact that the KJV, based on much later texts, including the normal Greek word for “burning up.”  Notice in the ESV on 2 Peter 3:7-10 that the footnotes which account for several options.  The last part of verse 10 is probably best taken as saying something like, through fire, “the earth and its works will show what they are made of.” 

Wolters concludes that some earlier scholars “have read into Peter’s text features of a Gnostic worldview which looked on the present created order as expendable in the overall scheme of things. The text of 2 Pet 3:10, on our interpretation, lends no support to this perspective, but stresses instead the permanence of the created earth, despite the coming judgement.” 

In the latest version of the academic journal Tyndale Bulletin, Jonathan Moo follows the same train of thought for 2 Pet 3:7.  For nerds only:  Al Wolter’s article, “Worldview and Textual Criticism in 2 Peter 3:10,” WTJ 49 (1987) 405-13 is online.

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Resurrection Focus

Need a little help focusing on resurrection?

  • If you haven’t heard it/don’t own it, spend the $.99 and buy the Andrew Peterson song “All Things New” from Itunes or your choice of online stores.  What an unbelievable musical piece.  My Itunes acct tells me I’ve played it 42 times, and that’s not counting the number of times it’s played on CD in my car.



  • A terrific collection of quotes on the Resurrection here:  http://richardsibbes.com/_temporary/resurrection-recreation.pdf.  Since we often focus on the Gospels or 1 Cor 15, I decided to do the blog series on Resurrection in Ephesians.  Here I’ll throw out a few tasters on Colossians (comments made on Col 1:15-20):

G. K. Beale, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 854: “[Colossians] 1:15–17 refers to Christ’s sovereignty over the first creation, 1:18–20 affirms his sovereign position in the second, new creation that has been launched.  In this respect, the identical title of ‘firstborn’ is re‐applied in order again to indicate Christ’s rule over the new order by virtue of his resurrection from the dead (1:18c). His priority in the new creation entails his kingship over it.”

Ridderbos*, Paul, 85‐86: “What we meet with in this ‘double’ Adamitic significance of Christ (as the Firstborn of every creature and as the last Adam) is not the conjoining of two interpretations of Genesis 1–3 that do not go together, but rather Paul’s vision of the all‐encompassing significance of the salvation that has appeared in Christ. One is disposed to think here of the describing of ever greater circles around one center and starting point. This latter is situated in the all‐controlling fact of Christ’s death and resurrection.  It is there that the new creation comes to light, Christ appears as the Firstborn from the dead and the Inaugurator of the new humanity. It is from thence that the redemptive significance of Christ’s advent and work is made transparent, first in his human existence before and after the resurrection (flesh and Spirit); then even in his pre‐existence as the Son of God sent for this task of second man; and finally in his significance as encompassing the whole of creation and history. The ultimate objective of God’s redemptive work brings us back to the Beginning. What was lost in the first Adam is regained in the second in a much more glorious way. For the second Adam is the Son of God. And the glory that Adam as the Image of God and Firstborn of every creature was permitted to possess was only a reflection of Christ’s being in the form of God. Thus Christ’s exaltation as the second Adam refers back to the beginning of all things, makes him known as the one who from the very outset, in a much more glorious sense than the first Adam, was the Image of God and the Firstborn of every creature. So the fundamental structures and implications of Paul’s eschatological preaching of Christ are exposed to view. The new creation that has broken through with Christ’s resurrection takes the place of the first creation of which Adam was the representative. . . . In that sense one could call Colossians 1:15–20 the keystone of Paul’s Christology; with the explicit addition, however, that is was not theological speculation, but pastoral care for the church and the warding off of what was alleged against the all‐embracing significance of the salvation that has been manifested in Christ, that brought the apostle to this confession.”

*Bonus fun fact for long-time 2PCers:  this guy is Dick de Witt’s uncle; Dick is Sandy Willson’s predecessor.  I think Dick may have translated this book…at least part way.  It’s not really the best English.  It’s gold…dust.  Very valuable but dry.

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Resurrection for kids:  one of our favorite stories from one of our favorite books.  The good stuff starts 45 seconds in.  (HT Justin Taylor.)

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For Holy Week in anticipation of the celebration of Jesus’s Resurrection this Lord’s Day, we’ve been asking the question, “What does it mean that resurrection power is at work in us?”  Now this post is a bit long, so feel free to skip this lengthy post and come back Friday or Saturday for more on why this resurrection power matters—or jump in with us and swim in Scripture a little.

We’ve looked at the movement from death to resurrection life in Ephesians 2:1-10 and have started to dig into the OT to find out how God used this sort of power in the past.  In the previous post, we noted that God’s power bringing life to the lifeless ties into creation in Genesis.  In this post we’ll look at an important passage on resurrection from the OT, Ezekiel 37.

In Ezekiel 37:1-10, the prophet sees Israel as a valley of corpses whose flesh has completely eroded, so that nothing is left but dry bones bleached by the sun.  Israel is dead-in-Exile, under the curse of their sin and trespasses.

But despite their condition, God puts Spirit/breath back in them and restores them to life in their land (37:12, 14), just as God gave life (Spirit/breath) to Adam and Eve and put them in the Land of Eden.  He also promises to cleanse them so that they will serve him as his people, living in his presence in holiness and obedience (37:23-24), just as Adam and Eve were to serve God in his presence.  In Ephesians 2:1-3, humans are dead, under the weight of their sin and trespasses.  But God himself restores people to life and to obedience:  a life of good works that he himself created.

Just as it was gratuitous grace (to be intentionally redundant) on God’s part with Israel in Ezekiel 37, so it is here:  WHILE WE WERE SINNERS—not after we’d gotten part of our act together—we were raised with Christ.  The resurrection, no less than Jesus’ work on the cross, is an act of sheer grace on God’s part.

There are at least three ways in which Ephesians 2 (and the rest of the NT) expand on Ezekiel’s vision. 

(1)    Ezekiel mentions and then shortly moves into a vision of a NEW TEMPLE (Ezek 37:27-28, chapters 40-48), God’s presence with his people in his world that is so much bigger in scale than the original Temple in Jerusalem.  This same movement from resurrection and restoration to a “new temple” occurs in Ephesians 2, but instead of a building, God’s family is the place where he dwells and reigns; we’re his temple, house, and body.  In Revelation 21 and 22, the New Jerusalem needs no Temple, because God’s presence fills everything, and everything is holy.

(2)    Ezekiel 37:15-22 shows the house of Israel coming back together in unity; Ephesians 2:11-3:6 emphasizes global unity as God knits Gentiles and Jews together into one Temple, one Body:  “the mystery of the gospel” (3:4-6). 

(3)    Ezekiel 37 also speaks of a Davidic king ruling over Israel, and in Ephesians 2 we are reigning with David’s Son, “seated with” the Messiah, King Jesus (2:6).

Going back to our original quest:  What is “resurrection power” in Ephesians 1:19-22?  Paul identifies resurrection power as ascension and enthronement power, not just resurrection power.  So the ultimate goal of the working of God’s “resurrection power” is the ultimate goal of God’s plan for the sons and daughters he has brought to life:  “They will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).

In the next post, we’ll talk about why “resurrection power” matters.  Have a blessed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, knowing that Sunday’s Comin’

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Hey people, here are some really awesome FREE things to do this week in Memphis. 

(1) The cherry blossoms are going crazy, in full swing right now and FREE to be seen on Cherry Rd. between Southern and Park Ave.

(2) Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken are playing a FREE Easter-and-Resurrection themed concert, free at Levitt Shell in Overton Park.  Bring a picnic, chairs, blankets, but leave yer shots of grape juice at home.  Thanks to our friends at the not-so Independent Presbyterian Church for forking it over for that.  If it rains, the concert will move indoors to Independent Pres.  If our family goes, we may try to park in the zoo, coming in from the north (N. Parkway down Maclean) to see if that helps us beat traffic. HE IS RISEN.

(3) Most importantly, GAAWP’s Mitchell Moore is cooking up a sermon at the Lenten Lunch at 2pc.  Click here for more info, including the menu.  Please note that Mitchell is not cooking food, although he may bring some home-grown boiled eggs to the party.

(4)  Sunrise service at Botanic Gardens in Memphis on Cherry Rd. at 6:30 AM.  It’s very, very early in the morning.   But those cherry trees look almost resurrection grade that time of the morning, with the first light of dawn rushing past Clark Tower and reminding us that the Morning to End All Night is coming, and has already broken in…

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Resurrection Power (3)

In this blog series for Holy Week, we’re tackling the question, “What does it mean that ‘resurrection power’ (Ephesians 1:19-20) is at work in us?” We saw in part two that Paul described our condition in unbelief as that of Zombies, the walking dead-in-sins-and-trespasses (2:1-3).  The restoration Paul describes should remind us of the way God has worked elsewhere in Scripture, and we’ll take a look at that in the next few posts.

Let’s review the scenario in Ephesians:  We were dead and lifeless; God made us alive.  He saved us by grace (2:5, 8), not by works (2:9), which is not surprising since we were corpses.  When we are made alive in Christ, we reign and rule with him (2:6) and we do good works that he created for us to do (2:10).  The ultimate goal seems to be that we are recreated, brought back to life, to work.  God’s resurrection power ultimately comes out in “good works” created by God himself, done by his people.

There are some interesting parallels with Genesis.  What was not alive was made alive.  In both passages we are made alive so that we can work.  In both passages we are made alive in order to reign and rule (“have dominion”).  In Genesis God created for his own purposes, leaving us no room to boast in our identity, accomplishments or abilities (1 Cor 4:7).  In salvation he recreates in such a way that similarly removes all boasting (Eph 2:9).  But in both cases, there’s plenty to marvel at what God has done—in recreation no less than in the glory of creation.  And in both Ephesians 2 and the original creation story in Genesis, creation-to-reign-and-to-work is immediately followed by “created to be in community” with those who aren’t like you (see Eph 2:11ff).

If this alignment of creation and recreation is right, then the resurrection power at work in us is a lot like the powerful work God did at creation.  Part Four to follow…

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In the first post in this series, I asked what Paul meant when he says that “resurrection power” is at work in our lives.  In this post, we’ll start to get some answers by looking at the wider context, especially the opening paragraph of chapter 2.

Ephesians 2:1-10 is helpful in answering our question because it unfolds in a resurrection pattern.  The paragraph opens by describing Zombies, the walking “dead-in-their-trespasses-and-sins”:  “And you were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you walked . . .”  Cue the makeup and the Zombie soundtrack, cuz it starts to get ugly.

The Zombies are walking according to the world’s system and values, the Ruler of the powers of the air (2:2), which manifests itself in feeding fleshly desires and Zombastic mindset (2:3).  To understate the case, that’s kinda different from the spirit at work in us (1:13, 17) and the faith and love being shown by the saints in chapter 1.  The Zombie-folk are “children of wrath” and “sons of disobedience” (2:2)—a very different kind of sonship from those who are “adopted [by God] in Christ Jesus” (1:5). 

Now in most horror flicks, it’s normal folks who wind up becoming zombies, the “walking dead”.  Apparently (I’m no expert, but google makes us all quick studies, doesn’t it), zombies are frequently created these days by viruses, from mutant animals or aliens, as in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  Contract the virus, and you’re toast…but not before you get really, really hungry for humanity.

But in Paul’s world, you’re born a Zombie:  “you were by nature children of wrath” (2:3).  And paradoxically, it’s life that’s contagious.  Exposure to and identification with the living Jesus creates life:  “You’ve been made alive in Christ” (2:5).  That sounds like resurrection, and it sounds good.  More on what that means in part three.

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“[I pray] that you may know . . . how awesomely great is his power in us who believe, the working of his great power that he worked in the Messiah, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in heavenly places . . .”

What on earth does it mean that we have resurrection power at work in believers?  Paul says in Ephesians 1:19-20 that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us.  Prepping for Sunday School a few weeks ago, this pregnant concept stood out to me like the bebo on a third trimester belly.  I even sent out a text to some friends to see if anyone could help me break it down (like you can really break down anything Paul says in 160 characters or less).  I think it’s a good theme to explore this Easter week, although it may drag out beyond Easter, since I’m getting paid by the word here at the GAAWP blog.

I reckon that for many of us, it’s often tough to believe that “resurrection power” is at work in us.  Not surprisingly, then, we see that Paul is actually praying that the Ephesians will know/believe this power.  Apparently, resurrection power isn’t always as obvious as we’d think.  (Just ask the chaps walking to Emmaus in Luke 24.)  Maybe we should start our study of this concept by praying:

“God, give me the grace and faith to believe that what you say about me and what’s happening in me is true…no matter how amazing it is.”

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