Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Irrelevant relevance

I admit to finding his arrogance irritating, but I was trying to persevere in order to listen to his points - he was a liberal theologian and he was debating a Christian by the name of Adrian Warnock (who did a very good job), on Premier Christians Radio's show, Unbelievable?  The subject being discussed was the resurrection of Christ, with the liberal taking the view that it was spiritual, not physical.  He claimed Luke's account of the Lord saying, "Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Luke 24 v 39), was Luke merely pointing out that the physical body isn't evil (as if that couldn't just be stated instead of making up a story that he claims is real history!)
I will maybe go through some of the other issues and objections he brought up some other time, but the point I want to address here is this - he claimed that if we want to be relevant to society we have to stop insisting on physical resurrection and miracles etc.  The problem is, denying these things may mean that society allows you to speak, but unfortunately you've got nothing to say!  They may think you're relevant because you believe like they do, but you are actually irrelevant because...you believe like they do!  If Christ isn't risen we really have no message for this world.  However, I did think it was a bit strange that he said that the preaching of the physical resurrection of Christ made you irrelevant - it seems to me that in a world filled with burdened souls, broken hearts, suffering, death, and hopelessness, the physical resurrection of Christ is the most relevant message we could possibly present. 

What relevance does the physical resurrection of Christ have?
  • The resurrection is God's seal of approval on who Christ is - the Lord Jesus made claim to equality with God in saying He was the Son of God.  If He wasn't the Son of God then this was the ultimate blasphemy, meaning God would not have raised Him from the dead, and Christ could not have raised Himself from the dead. 
  • The resurrection is God's stamp of authority on what Christ said - this is linked to the previous point - if Christ is risen then He is the Son of God, and this tells us that what He says carries all the authority of God.  This means we can't dismiss His descriptions of heaven as the ramblings of a wishful thinker, but the eyewitness accounts of one who had eternally dwelt there.  It means we can't ignore His descriptions of hell as the rantings of a madman, but the sober warnings of solemn facts uttered in love by one who knew what lay ahead of those who died without salvation.  Similarly, we can't laugh off His statements about sin as "just another opinion", but the declaration of God's verdict, and we can't wave off His claims to be the only way of salvation as bigoted statements of a conceited egotist, but the revelation of God's one lifeline to a perishing world.
  • The resurrection is God's sign of acceptance on what Christ has done - on the cross Christ undertook to pay the penalty for sin - "Christ died for our sins" - if Christ had not paid the penalty in full then He would still be in the grave.  But death couldn't hold Him because the penalty was fully paid, God's justice is forever satisfied, and a righteous pardon can be freely offered.
I hope you can see the relevance this doctrine has - it is relevant to our past - it assures those that trust in Christ for acceptance with God that their sin debt is cancelled because Christ paid the price on the cross (Romans 8 v 34).  It is relevant to our future because it tells us there is a mighty Saviour who is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7 v 25).  Those who come to Him can be sure of a place in heaven and know they will never perish because He lives.  It tells us death will not have the last word but there will be a glorious resurrection for those who are Christ's (1Corinthians 15; 1Thessalonians 4 v 13-18).  The resurrection of Christ also guarantees that people will stand before Him in judgment (John 5 v 22; Acts 17 v 30, 31).  It is also relevant to our present because it tells us Christ can be known and His power experienced now.  He is not merely a figure of history, but our contemporary (Philippians 3 v 10; 4 v 13).

There will always be the mockers, but it didn't stop Paul proclaiming a risen Christ who had conquered death and is mighty to save, and it ought not stop us.