Comfort for Sinners & Confidence for Saints

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead,31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ – Acts 13:26-35

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park | March 2017

An Episcopal priest friend of mine would make a joke about the priest who did not believe in either the resurrection or the authority of Scripture speaking the Apostle’s Creed thusly: “On the third day he rose again…[pause] according to the Scriptures” [with the italicized words spoken as an aside and in a tone of dismissive derision]. In other words, because he did not believe the Scriptures or that Jesus rose from the dead he would speak the same words as everyone else would speak, but with different inflection and meaning.

Paul, however, does not approach the reality of Jesus’ resurrection in that manner. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus becomes one of the key teachings of the New Testament Church, and the dividing point between belief and unbelief. Jesus’ resurrection was a scandal to the Greeks (who preferred to think in terms of merely the immortality of the soul), and a source of accusation against those who had put him to death. When it comes to evangelizing the Jews, Paul will use Scripture to prove his point.

He makes two points: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises recorded by David and others, and that promise includes Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. As I consider the resurrection of Jesus, I land on two thoughts: we don’t have a hard enough time believing this truth (it ought to blow our minds!), and Jesus’ resurrection justifies his faith in God and entrusting himself to God in the face of his death on the cross. Jesus was justified in believing in God’s word and promise against all odds and, as he died, against all external evidence to the contrary.

Elsewhere Paul speaks of…

…the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, – Romans 1:1-6

Jesus resurrection is not only promised and testified about in the Scripture, it is the assurance that Jesus was in fact God’s servant and our Savior. This is a source of great comfort for sinners and confidence for saints.

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