Easter

Our Response to Christ’s Sacrifice

It is Good Friday. When I was younger, this was an official holiday. Banks and stores were closed and the mail wasn’t delivered as the population at large stopped and contemplated what Christ had done on the cross. At least that was the idea. I think that the actual contemplating had stopped long before I was born but tradition remained for a long time. Until one day, the holiday was just no longer.

But this is still the day, in fact the entire weekend, that we Christians focus on all that Christ has done for us. And, oh, what He has done! I believe I realize more and more each year the wickedness of my own heart and the significance of the gift that was given to me when Christ died on the cross.

As we continue to live in “limbo land” and wait for all the changes that will result from the upheaval to our “normal” lives in 2020, this gift has become even more precious, hasn’t it? And I think any of us who are genuinely born again has thought about this in a different light, as we wonder what it will cost us to continue to follow Jesus in the coming days.

But Christianity has never been costless. Or at least not for the majority of people in the world. We are simply moving into what has been the normal experience for Christians throughout history.

It is difficult for many of us to pay even the price of a scowl or an unkind word when we speak up for Jesus and so we remain silent. This is because we have been deceived by the wave of self-centered Christianity that has taken the world by storm. A Christianity where it’s all about God’s love and His “genie powers” to make our lives on this earth amazing.

But, while God’s love is certainly an integral part of the Gospel, we must continue to read God’s Word to find out what salvation means. What all it entails. You see, we aren’t saved so that God can fulfill our dreams and give us a great life on this earth. His Word makes this abundantly clear. And, while it is true that we experience peace and joy that the unsaved cannot experience, it is supernaturally experienced through the trials–not in the lack of them.

So what does God expect from us after we are saved? What does He have for us to do?

Let’s look to the Word for this answer–

Philippians 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Colossians 3:1-3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

These verses clearly show us that after we are saved, our love for the world should start waning. Oh, for most of us this isn’t instant but, gradually, as we mature in Christ, the gleam of the world shows itself for what it is: Fool’s gold that has no value. The fame, the glory, the riches, the popularity of the world dim as we grow closer to Christ.

James doesn’t mince words as he also echoes this change in affections–

James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Not only are our affections changed, they MUST be changed if we are truly born again. For them not to be changed gives evidence that we aren’t saved at all since it is impossible to be friends with God and with the world at the same time.

As we stand for the truth of God’s Word in a world that hates Him, we will face difficulties and persecution. This is made clear throughout scripture–

Matthew 5:11-12  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are [e]reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. [f]On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

Christ died on the cross to give us life. What an awesome, incredible gift! But that life is to be lived for Him, doing the good works He has set out for us–

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

In response to God’s amazing gift of grace and mercy, we are to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Christ–

Luke 9:23-26 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [b]daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

We are to deny ourselves. Lose our lives (all earthly advance and glory) to live for Christ. If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us. In a Christian culture that promotes the complete opposite of these verses, these are sobering thoughts, are they not?

Biblical Christianity isn’t popular these days and it’s growing less popular by the minute. People think we are strange and odd and even dangerous (which makes no sense at all until you read John 8:44 and I Peter 5:8 and recognize Satan’s pure hatred for believers).

As we contemplate Christ’s sacrifice this weekend, may we also prepare ourselves to pay the price to follow Him to the end. No matter the cost.

And let’s remember that we aren’t relying on our own strength as we face the days ahead. (I can’t think of a more comforting thought than that, as my heart can tend to quiver at the road that lies ahead.) We know the ending to this old earth’s history. We know the King who will be victorious and we are on His side. He will give us the fortitude and courage to stand strong. May we proclaim Him to the end, no matter the cost!

 

 

After-Easter Days

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from a book called “The Cross of Christ” .  This seemed so appropriate for the day after Easter.

Easter morning is the beginning of a unique and most tenderly interesting portion of our blessed Savior’s life. It is the transition period between His earthly ministry and His heavenly exaltation. Like the Indian summer of the year, there is a tender veil of loveliness and mystery about it which links it with both worlds, and makes it a peculiarly appropriate pattern of a life hid with Christ in God, in which we may walk with Him all our days with our heads in heaven, while our feet still tread the earth below. May the Holy Spirit vividly reveal to us such glimpses of this blessed life as will enable us to reproduce it in our own experience and to walk with Him with a new sense of His abiding presence and glorious reality!

This glad resurrection morning dispels from the religion of Jesus all the shadow of the sepulcher and all the morbid atmosphere of sorrow, depression, and death. The Christ of true Christianity is not a bleeding, thorn-crowned Ecce Homo, but a gold and radiant face, bright as the springtime morning and radiant with immortal life. “I am the Living One; I was dead,” is His message, and “Behold I am alive for ever and ever!” (Revelation 1:18). Oh, may this day impress upon our hearts the reality of a risen and living Christ, until He shall be more actual to us than any other personality; and we shall know what it means to be not only “reconciled to him through the death of his Son,” but “shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10).

What a picture of easy and uttermost triumph is that resurrection scene! Satan had done his utmost; men had done their best to hold the Captive of the tomb. But without an effort the mighty Sleeper calmly rose before the Easter dawn, deliberately laying off the grave clothes and wrapping up the napkin, and putting all in place as naturally as any of us this morning arranged our bedroom. Then through that colossal stone that closed His tomb, He passed without even rolling it aside or breaking the seal. And before the guards could know that He was risen, He was standing calmly in the garden, talking with Mary as though nothing had happened. The infinite facility with which He put His feet on every foe and rose above every obstacle is, perhaps, the most overwhelming impression we have received from all the incidents of His resurrection.

So, too, we see the same victorious power expressed in the attitude of the angel who followed Him, and with a single touch rolled away the stone from the sepulcher and coolly sat down upon it, and then looked in the faces of the keepers till they grew pale with terror and flew in horror and dismay without a struggle.

Such is our risen Christ still, the mighty Victor over all His foes and ours. Could we see Him now, we would behold Him sitting on His Father’s throne, undismayed by all the powers of darkness, and “since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool” (Hebrews 10:13). Oh, how it cheers our timid hearts to behold our glorious and victorious Captain, and to hear Him say of every adversary and every difficulty, “I have overcome for you.” God help us to see the Captain as Joshua beheld Him, and before Him the walls of every Jericho will fall and the legions of every opposing force will melt away!

—The Cross of Christ, by A.B. Simpson

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