The Resurrection of Jesus—Our Own Experience!

7 04 2012

When speaking of the resurrection, we Christians often try to muster some quality, written, historical evidence, to advance ‘The Case For Christ‘. This is sometimes called ‘Apologetics’.

We also point to the radical change of heart and hope and new boldness, shown forth by the once fearful, and denying disciples.

We point to the details of the many ancient prophecies, (David, Moses, Isaiah and others), that are seemingly, arguably fulfilled by Jesus life, death and resurrection.

We point to the baptising preaching activity of John the baptist, before he was murdered, and his pointing to Jesus. We point to the witness of Stephen before he was murdered. We point to the many people in history—who would rather die than deny Jesus—before they were murdered.

We point to the unusual conversion of a famous Pharisee, Paul (Saul), who was so hostile to the message about Jesus, before he so suddenly became a Christian. We point to the large number of people who actually touched, heard, saw and witnessed the Risen Jesus alive after his crucifixion. There were at least 10 occasions, recorded in the Bible.

We point to the historical reliability of the New Testament itself.

We point to the stunning record that over 500 people saw Jesus alive, after his death, at one time in Galilee.

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died (1Corinthians 15:6).

In the laws of evidence, whenever a witness to an event is called before a court, and swears to tell ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth‘, then the court is bound to listen carefully to what the witness has seen and heard, and to take it on face value. And believe the good will of the witness, until other contrary factors may show that the face value of the story lacks credibility.
This is still what all people are bound to do when they see and hear the written evidence of so many accurate and valuable texts from the writers in the early church, as found in the Bible.
However, there is one under-estimated testimony or witness to Jesus Living Presence which it is very important to highlight. And that is, our own story! Our own experience. And that is not merely our experiences! But the very experience of faith itself, which we know!
People are prone to dismiss our ‘experience’ as somehow deluded. Or they see our coming to be a Christian, as a weak moment in our lives, when we needed outside help. Or as some feigned experience, of a Person, that is not really there. However, the fact is that Christians are not primary telling of the things ‘they do’, to try to honour God. Rather we are speaking of the ongoing experience that we have, of the Risen Christ Jesus guiding our lives, and effecting them in highly significance ways. However, in saying that, what we realise, is that the Christ we know by faith is far greater than our experiences of Him, however good and fine – or not – they may be. Faith receives the creative impact of Jesus Christ.
As P. T. Forsyth says: “We know him by faith to be much more than he has ever been to our experience”.
“I know him, and the Church knows Him, as a person of infinite power to create fresh experience of Himself, which is experience of God. My contact with Him by faith is continually deepening my experience of him. And, as my experience deepens, it brings home a Christ objective in history, and creative of the experience, and of the life, and the deeds of a whole vast Church, meant, and moving, to subdue mankind not to itself, but to the faith of the Gospel.” (from The Person and Place of Jesus Christ, P. T. Forsyth, Independent Press, London, 1909, p. 203)
He goes on to say:
“My experienced salvation is not a passing impression but a life of faith. It is not a subjective frame but an objective relation, and even transaction. The peace of God is not a glassy calm but mighty confidence. My experience here is the consciousness not of an impression on me, but of an act in me, and by me.” (p. 204)
What Christ has done for me has become possible only by what He did more powerfully for others whose faith and experience have been deeper and richer than mine, but who reflect my experience all the same, even while they diversify and enlarge it mightily. Standing over my experience is the experience of the whole evangelical succession. And standing over that is the historic fact of Christ’s own person, and His consciousness of himself (“All things are delivered to me of the Father”) as Lord of the world, Lord of nature in miracle, of the soul in redemption, and of the future in judgment.” (p. 204-205)
“Faith is the grand venture in which we commit our whole soul and future to the confidence that Christ is not an illusion but the reality of God. “
So, as we celebrate Easter, we do so with others. Many others. Centuries of others, for whom the reality of faith is greater than the other things in life that they have been fairly certain about. Praise God, for faith’s certainty. And for the reality we know, and our small experience of such a greatness and such a mighty message, and wonderful Lord.Image




Great hope for the Future

16 03 2012

The Future is full of hope, because the future—as with the present now—is in the gracious hands of the Risen Jesus Christ.  Christians are those who have by faith, met the Risen Jesus, who died, and rose again as a Man, victorious over death—in this world.  Jesus has in turn shown us—in his life, and particularly at the cross of his crucifixion—the gracious, loving God and Father of us all.

Christians want everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things (See The Holy Bible: Ephesians 3:9). His plan is to reconcile all things, people and nations, through the loving life and death and resurrection of Jesus. This Jesus, and his identity, and his work, is the MYSTERY of the world!

God has made this whole universe—galaxies beyond our dreaming, and this earth which is our amazing, beautiful, delightful—yet, often painful—home.  He has made everything—animals, plants, ocean and mountains, and humanity—with a plan to glorify it (bless and magnify it), through Jesus. God has made every nation on the earth to be included in that amazing plan. He has called one particular nation, Israel to be the nation through which his plan to deal with sin through atonement (propitiation), would be revealed.  It was through Israel, that Jesus was born. He came to destroy the works of the devil, which he has done. He is revealing that victory through his Resurrection power, by the power of his own Spirit—the Holy Spirit—which he has poured out upon the world—so that human beings may see what is hidden, hear what God is saying to us, have faith in this gracious God, and anticipate the great future, while living in the creation with hope.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of One—God’s Son—who has loved deeply and fully, and has suffered deeply and fully in that love, in order to do the Father’s good will, and ‘bear our sins in his body on the Tree (the Cross)’. In Jesus name God declares to us: Your sins are all forgiven. God now in peace, and live trusting God. Go in peace justified through Jesus Christ alone. Trust in his merit. Be filled with God’s love. Serve and honour all people. Thrill others with this good news! Warn people not to miss this hope for their lives. It is folly not to receive such assurance freely from the kind and Living God.

Easter includes remembering Jesus death, which happened under the Roman rule (Pontius Pilate), and with consent and desire of many Jewish leaders.  Jesus was a confrontation in his true living, his hopeful message! Easter is also the celebration of the work of God on Good Friday in dealing with our sin, through Jesus death. It is also the celebration of that quiet, very still Holy Saturday, poised (as we often are)—as God the Son lay dead in the tomb. Hope crushed.  Or so it certainly seemed. Yes he died. But, he died our death, to defeat death.

Easter is also the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday morning and of his appearing to women, then men, then over 500 people at one time. It is the celebration of all the implications, the outworking in history, of that victory over death on behalf of the human race.

Come, he is near. Come to Jesus, believing, receiving his Spirit. Come with new hopes.

If you can read the Bible with faith, then, more and more of the truth and wonder of this hope will break open to you, as the Spirit of God “shows” you great things. Suffering can then been seen and endured—in the creation, and personally, because it is over laden with hope, hope, hope! If you have no Bible, still seek the Living Lord.

Thank you Living Father, crucified and Living Lord Jesus, dear Spirit of God, for all your goodness, and gracious power, on our behalf. Let us respond and believe. Let us not live any longer without this hope flowing through our lives—no matter how ill we are, how sad or lonely, how bad or bruised, guilty or ashamed.

Your forgiving grace now equips us to live within the creation, serving it, serving others, serving God with full purpose. It means seeing grass, lions, sky and sea in a new way, and seeing it all with a future so rich and amazing, as is promised by God!

Trevor Faggotter





The Resurrection—Unlike Anything

6 04 2011

Death. There is “a full stop” at the end of Christ’s death. Death.

It is a real death – a final death –a proper death – a tragic death – a human death. The Eternal Son of God, is… yes, …murdered, put to death. The image of a chrysalis, being transformed into a butterfly is a totally inadequate illustration of the resurrection of Jesus. It should be scrapped! It should be discarded from all children’s talks. It does not demonstrate Christ’s resurrection.

Pupa to butterfly is a marvel, no doubt. But it is not the Easter event at all. It is simply part of the wonder of creation, of life – of life flowing and maturing, growing and moving from one stage of goings-on to another. (It would be better to consider the image of a squashed butterfly – dead, finished! … now bring that to life!!).

The death of Jesus – his murder, and the subsequent resurrection of Jesus cannot be illustrated. There is nothing like it. There never will be. It is unique. No symbol can ever convey or represent this mystery. The glorious resurrection of Jesus was as a man. His risen body is real, not ghostly (Luke 24:39). This grand event is crucial for the future of all creation.

It takes the Holy Spirit of the Living God to publicly portray Christ as crucified, and to sheet home to us the enormous benefits of his death. And of course our total need of it—each one. It also takes the Spirit, to enlarge faith – and assurance, to know this Jesus who has been raised from the grave, for us all.

Looking forward to a glorious resurrection body? (Philippians 3:21). And what of the Father, who so loved the world? What love!  O Worship the Lord in Holy Array!!       Cheers, Trevor








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