Sunday, April 09, 2006

“Our Message is this: The Dead Are Being Raised!”

I have been described as an “Avid Resurrectionist” by someone who I don’t think actually meant it complimentary. However it’s a term that has grown on me and I am increasingly proud of. Why is this so? In this post I want to think through two trains of thought that I believe are linked and I hope will carry some weight and excitement – all of which sum up to show why I love the concept of resurrection.

The “Now” Word.
I was watching a video of Bob Mumford when he spoke at the Anglia Bible Week in place of Ern Baxter during his illness. Mumford spoke on the subject, “Discerning Things That Differ” and made a point that I have been suspicious of for some time. The Evangelical Church is very bad at using the word “Now”. It’s nothing new. They were very bad at it in the Bible. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Mary and Martha came to Jesus and said, “Master if you had been here our brother would not have died” (Past). They went on to say, “We know he will live again” (Future). But their capacity could not handle a “Now” encounter with the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We also can look back fondly on times in the past when God has moved and recognise it. We may hope for, believe in, pray for and look for coming revivals in the future. But are we prepared to consider what Jesus is up to NOW – Today? To link this in with the concept of “Avid Resurrectionism”, there is no hope whatsoever of believing in a “Now” encounter with God if we do not actively believe and live in the glory of the Resurrection.

The “Resurrection” Hope.
Consider this. What hope was there when the widow told Elijah that her son was dead? What hope was there when Mary and Martha told Jesus Christ with tears that their brother had died? What hope was there for Christ’s disciples as they watched Him breathe His last on the Cross and then be taken down – broken and bruised – to be laid in a garden tomb and watch it sealed? There was none I would suggest (even though the Old Testament prophecies promised that Christ would rise again). Yet what a change on Resurrection Morning! What abounding hope and joy when Elijah came down from his room with the son alive. What awesome worship and praise when Lazarus responded to his Lord’s call to ‘come forth’! And then when the Risen Lord was seen for the first time!

Why am I an “Avid Resurrectionist”? Because while I accept that the Cross may be the pinnacle of the Gospel, I still believe without the Resurrection our faith would be in vain, and furthermore Resurrection is not just something that happened once like the Cross. Without the Resurrection to the life to come our faith would be in vain! In this day – now, without resurrection our faith would still be in vain. Yet according to this word from Terry Virgo, our ministry is this: “The Dead Are Being Raised!”. The hope of the Great Commission is a “Now” word. Yes we must go forth and preach the Gospel – but in the strength of the promise; “I am with you”. The message of the Gospel that we take forth is indeed grounded and founded on Christ’s done and finished work on the Cross. But let our gospel not stop short of His continuing work in heaven for us. That He “ever lives to intercede for us” – our Great Glorious High Priest who has gone before. Not only that He has poured forth “this which you know SEE and HEAR” (and we still should see it and hear it) – the Promised Holy Spirit who’s business it is to raise the dead whatever that may include. Promises we thought were dead. Prophecies we thought had not come to pass. Healings we thought would never come. Conversions we dreaded would never happen. The Spirit’s business is to make that which seems dead come to life. I love Resurrection life! And I love the word "Now"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Couldn't agree more - to imagine the hope and excitement that flooded the disciples hearts when the Risen Lord stood among them. All the more important considering the approaching Easter Sunday.

Just a note of caution; in our desire to not lose any part of the whole counsel of God, let's not over-emphasise any one portion due to neglect of it. I am sure Ern Baxter would agree ;)

Dr S A J Burgess