VIDEO The Death of Death, Being What You Are

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. Romans 6:8

John Owen, a Puritan theologian in seventeenth-century England, has been called the “theologian’s theologian” because of the depth and breadth of his writings and teachings. The title of one of his most famous books hints at a profound theological truth: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.

The apostle Paul was likely the source of Owen’s catchy title, having written that: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54, quoting Isaiah 25:8). He continued: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55, quoting Hosea 13:14). When Christ died, death was the victor. But then came the Resurrection three days later and death was defeated! We can shout with Paul, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [over death] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). The Resurrection of Jesus is why those who believe in Him should never fear death. The Resurrection of Jesus took the “sting” (the fear) out of death.

Give thanks to God today that there is eternal victory even in the face of physical death for those who belong to Christ.

There is a resurrection after death. Let this never be forgotten. J. C. Ryle

Being What You Are – Romans 6 and Regeneration by Paul Washer

Something Much Bigger

We are co-workers in God’s service.1 Corinthians 3:9

More than two hundred volunteers assisted October Books, a bookstore in Southampton, England, move its inventory to an address down the street. Helpers lined the sidewalk and passed books down a “human conveyor belt.” Having witnessed the volunteers in action, a store employee said, “It was . . . a really moving experience to see people [helping]. . . . They wanted to be part of something bigger.”

We can also be part of something much bigger than ourselves. God uses us to reach the world with the message of His love. Because someone shared the message with us, we can turn to another person and pass it on. Paul compared this—the building of God’s kingdom—to growing a garden. Some of us plant seeds while some of us water the seeds. We are, as Paul said, “co-workers in God’s service” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Each job is important, yet all are done in the power of God’s Spirit. By His Spirit, God enables people to thrive spiritually when they hear that He loves them and sent His Son to die in their place so that they can be free from their sin (John 3:16).

God does much of His work on earth through “volunteers” like you and me. Although we’re part of a community that’s much bigger than any contribution we may make, we can help it grow by working together to share His love with the world.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Do you see yourself as a part of God’s plan or as someone who works alone in your service for Him? How does this affect the way in which you serve Him and others?

Dear God, thank You for including me in Your plan to tell everyone about Your love. Help me to represent You well with my words and actions.

Freedom From False Guilt

1 John 3:18-24

Is there something from your past that continues to stir up feelings of guilt? Unless you rest in God’s complete forgiveness, you won’t experience the fullness of His divine grace.

If you feel ashamed but don’t know why, the problem could be a false sense of guilt. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so we can repent and be free. But guilt that persists with no specific cause comes from the devil. Ask the Lord to cleanse of you of any false guilt today.

Another source is legalistic teaching. Many people have been taught a distorted version of the gospel and think, I’ll never measure up. For example, the religious leaders of Jesus’ time followed a code of man-made rules, and they communicated the idea that “unless you do this, God won’t accept you.” Righteous deed by righteous deed, they tried to earn the Lord’s acceptance—and sometimes so do we. But this legalistic view always becomes an enslaving vicious cycle.

Remember, Jesus came to liberate us. The Bible says that when you are set free by Christ, your freedom is complete (John 8:36). It’s time to let His grace cleanse you from any shame. Ask the Lord to help you walk in this truth—and enjoy unhindered fellowship with your Savior.

Jesus’ Prayer of Thanksgiving

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21)

When the Lord Jesus was here on Earth, He was, among other things, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). One aspect of that example, no doubt, was His prayer life. He prayed and gave thanks before He fed the multitude (Matthew 15:36) and also when He ate with His disciples at the last supper (Luke 22:19). It is surely right, therefore, that we should give thanks in prayer before each meal, whether in a small group as with our family or in a large public dining place.

Jesus spent much time in prayer. On at least one occasion, He “continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12), and no doubt a goodly portion of His prayer was thanksgiving prayer, as well as intercession. But there seems to be only one specific item of thanksgiving by Him actually recorded in Scripture, and that is the item in our text. (The same is also given, verbatim, in Matthew 11:25, so we can infer that the Holy Spirit considered it very important.)

That is this: the wonderful truths of salvation and forgiveness—eternal life in heaven and God’s guidance and provision on Earth—are easily understood by the simplest among us, even by little children, even though they often seem difficult for “the wise and prudent” to comprehend.

Many are the intellectuals who can raise all kinds of objections to God’s revealed Word and His great plan of creation and redemption and who, therefore, will end up eternally lost. Many are the simple folk and children who just hear and believe and are saved. “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” HMM

Be Widely Read

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. —Ezra 7:10

All else being equal it is desirable that Christians, especially ministers of the gospel, should be widely read. It is a disagreeable experience to present oneself before a teacher for religious instruction and discover in less than three minutes that the said teacher should have changed places with his listeners and learned from them rather than they from him. If he is a humble man and sticks close to the small plot of ground with which he is familiar, he may, if he loves God and men, succeed in ministering to the spiritual needs of his flock. If, however, his ignorance is exceeded by his arrogance, then God help his hearers. If he boasts of his ignorance and scorns learning, show me the nearest exit! I can learn more from a child laughing on the lawn or a cloud passing overhead.   SIZ028-029

Lord, I’ll never be able to be knowledgeable in every field from which my hearers come. But help me to diligently prepare my heart and know Your Word and to declare it humbly, but with authority. Amen.

The Holy Spirit is Gracious

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him. —Luke 3:22

Another hindrance [to receiving power from the Holy Spirit] is fear of fanaticism. Instinctive revulsion from fleshly excesses and foolish undisciplined conduct on the part of some who profess lofty spiritual attainments has closed the door to a life of power for many of God’s true children….

They have made the mistake of putting all teaching concerning the Holy Spirit in the same category, and consequently will have nothing to do with any of it. This is as much to be regretted as it is easy to understand.

Such victims must be taught that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, and is as gracious and beautiful as the Saviour Himself. Paul’s words should be kept in mind, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

The Holy Spirit is the cure for fanaticism, not the cause of it. PTP054-055

The heart in which the Holy Spirit lives will always be characterized by gentleness, lowliness, quietness, meekness and forbearance. HS007

A Resurrection Religion

1 Corinthians 15:51-56

I drove my jeep out of the empty camp and onto the main road that led into the city of Da Nang, South Vietnam. I happily anticipated the events of the day with Seabees, who comprised the scattered 800-man battalion I served as a Navy chaplain, coming together to celebrate Easter.

The sun had already risen over the South China Sea, and the temperature promised to soar above 100 degrees. The hot road was unpaved.

Halfway between my camp and Da Nang, I saw her—a small Vietnamese woman kneeling at the side of the road. As I drew closer I could see that she was convulsed with sobbing. Her head rested on a little red wooden box.

I pulled the jeep off the road, stopped and walked toward her. Wanting to help but not knowing how, I knelt beside her. “Can I help you?” I asked. She turned her tear-streaked face toward me, and noticing the cross on my lapel, she lifted the lid of the box and invited me to look inside. There lay the body of a small child.

Exercising my sparse knowledge of Vietnamese, I discovered that she was trying to make her way to her ancestral village where her child would be entombed. But the day was too hot, and the box too heavy for her. I was glad when she accepted my offer of help. After overseeing my placing of the box on the jeep’s back seat, she climbed into the vehicle and directed me to the tomb where the body of her child would rest beside her ancestors.

While I had witnessed the horror of violent death before and would again, no experience during my tour of duty was sadder than that. It was a moment of death, defeat and utter sadness.

During that same tour of duty, a Roman Catholic priest and fellow chaplain joined me in conducting an Easter sunrise service for our Seabees and Marines who had slogged across the rice paddies to join us for worship. Following the celebration of Mass, I led the group in singing songs of Easter and preaching its message of the empty tomb.

I am still gripped by the contrast between the Vietnamese woman who grieved for her dead child and that of the servicemen who celebrated the risen Lord. The first experience was one of death and defeat, the second, of life and victory. “Christianity,” writes John Stott, “is in its very essence a resurrection religion.” Resurrection—Christ’s and, through Him, our own—is the living center of Christian faith. Having made that discovery, we may leave death and defeat, and embrace eternal life and victory.

Kenneth L. Hodder, The War Cry