How Do We Live Post-Resurrection?

We just celebrated the reason why we gather as a church like many churches around the world. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is why we preach, why we have faith, and why we are no longer in our sins ( 1 Cor 15:12-21). 

This miraculous work means that Jesus paid in full for our sin through his life, death, burial, and resurrection. This is the greatest news that we would ever hear or know. We need it all, you can not separate one part from the other! One author puts it so well, “Man’s burden of sin and shame is loosed by the cross but then consumed by the empty tomb.”

As we celebrate this great truth, what does that mean in how live today? 

Understanding the Tension

There is a tension of living in a post-resurrection part of history. We have the already but not yet tension. Already the work has been done in Christ but the final blow to evil is not yet (Rev 20:7-15). God’s kingdom is already here but not yet here in its fullness. 

We have Good Friday and we have the resurrection but there was still Saturday, the day in between those days. There was that tension between Savior’s death and the unknown for the disciples (though Jesus said he would rise again from the dead). 

The post-resurrection Christian is like living the Saturday of events between the already but not yet. Christ rose and is alive; we now await the not yet. There is still anguish and despair in this in-between but what we await in the not yet of glories forevermore (2 Cor 4:17). We live in the tension of enduring in this world yet not being of this World. 

So we await even with this tension of the already but not yet with what the author of Hebrews directs us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2).

The Resurrection Changes Everything

There are a few events in my life that has changed me forever. Getting married to my best friend Alyssa. Another is having three wonderful children (parenting in and of itself changes you). Being exposed to some amazing aspects of God’s creation that will stick with you forever.

But all of these still fail in comparison to how the resurrection changes everything presently and eternally.

John Calvin wrote this very powerful result of the resurrection:

He was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life, so that my him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

So the believer does not live to fight for victory, they fight from victory. The last few verses that are in 1 Corinthians 15 are

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.   But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:50-57

The resurrection means that the Christian has gone from death to life; from enemy of God to a child of God; from being spiritually blind to being able to see. This changes everything!

What is the Mission of the Church?

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach on what is the mission of the church?

There are a lot of good things the church can do. In fact, we should do good unto others especially of those of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). The question then comes up what does good mean? That is for a different time.

Though there are many things that a church can go and to be busy with, there is really only one mission of the church. We find what that is in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus said, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We have the mission and that is to make disciples.

You can listen to the whole sermon below:

https://anchor.fm/jonathan-lee21/embed/episodes/What-is-the-Mission-of-the-Church-eq4ujn

We Are the Church

As a child, I was taught this rhyme. It went like this, “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” This rhyme involved your hands and fingers being used to display the people, steeple, etc. Maybe you remember this one or have taught your children?

That rhyme describes the church as a location or a building. Which is true. We can give a friend directions in finding where our church meets but this is just a location not a definition of the church.

I started a new series called Church Blueprint, my desire is to point out that the church is not a location but a people. Professor Gregg Allison defines the church as, “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

The church is the body of believers (Christians) coming together in a local gathering who are united in Christ. Even today, though we are not gathered together as we are different homes and jobs, we are still the church. 

When you leave your local congregation on Sunday morning, you are still the church.

When you wake up in morning you are still the church.  When you go shopping, you are the church.

We are the church!

I am so thankful for the church. Ultimately the church is the gospel made visible. May we be the visible representation of Jesus to the world, our community, and our neighbor!

Contentment in a Discontented World

Can we be content? Really! Can one really be content today?

We live in a world that seems to be discontent. There are reasons one can be discontent with conditions socially, politically, and even materialistically. Progression and reform are used intermittently to point to the need for change and that the mass is not content.

Wanting change and being content can be possible. One can desire justice and still be content with outlook. What I mean is that contentment points to something deeper inside us.

The Apostle Paul would say someone can be truly content. He wrote to the church Philippi, ” Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11 ESV).

Paul would emphatically say, “Yes, you can be content!”

What is it?

To be content can be defined as having a peaceful acceptance of where God has providentially placed you. Contentment is more than being at peace with what you have, it means that you rest in God’s sovereignty with his timing and where he has placed you.

The Apostle Paul points to content as something that has been learned (4:11). This was not learned by reading a book. He is pointing to learning from experience. One doesn’t have to read much of the New Testament to see that Paul faced quite a few difficulties (see 2 Cor. 11:24-28).

Contentment is Contrary to Us

By nature, we grumble and complain about things, some more than others. Paul continues to tell the Philippians that he not only learned to be content by experience, he knows the secret to it (Phil 4:15).

The secret to contentment is that it is not found in us. Discontentment is more up our alley. God does not like grumbling or complaining as we see from Israel’s wilderness journey (see Exodus 16 and Numbers 11). God actually called those who grumbled and complained rebels (Numbers 17:10).

This is serious! Our discontentment is really rebellion against God. Our discontentment questions God’s providence and provision. It rejects his sovereignty overall.

In fact, whenever we find ourselves grumbling and complaining (like Israel), that should be warning lights that we are not pursuing holiness.

If contentment is contrary to us, then how does one become content?

Contentment is Found in Christ

Paul learned how to be content because he experienced many different challenges but that is not how one becomes content. The secret to be content was not in himself but it was in the one who strengthens him (Phil 4:13).

Paul writes, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:13). This verse is well-known. The context reminds us that Paul was not flippantly shouting that he can do everything even unimaginable things. He was talking about enduring and being content in all circumstances because it is not in himself but in Christ.

This verse points to the strength that Paul has to do everything according to the will of God for the glory of God.

His contentment regardless of the situation was in Christ!

Can someone genuinely be content? Yes! They must find the riches that are in Christ, they are MORE than enough (Phil 4:19-20).

Reflection and Perspective

When it is the end of a year I like to take some time and reflect on all that transpired. This year for sure will go down as one to always remember. The danger is that we can reflect and have the wrong perspective. 

I am reminded of the prophet Habakkuk who was around during an interesting time in Judah’s history. He prayed for God to turn Judah’s spiritual heart around. They were neglecting God, worshipping false images, not taking care of the widows and orphans, and the list goes on. 

Continue reading “Reflection and Perspective”

Joy is Among Us- Part 2

This Christmas season I taught in continuation from the concept of joy from the book of Philippians.

Joy is something that the Apostle Paul mentions several times in that book. Joy is founded in Christ. When the angels announced that Jesus was born to the shepherds they said, “We have good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10).

When the wise men came to worship Jesus as a child and they saw the star above his house, they rejoiced with great joy (Matt 2:10).

Joy is found in Christ and as he came to be born among mankind to save mankind we can rejoice too. Here is the latest sermon from Matt 2.

Joy Is Among Us

I love Christmas! The weather is cooler, lights are up on the house, the tree is decorated, and joy is present. But, this is all conditional because of what Christmas is all about. As the song, Joy to the World, the hymn written by Isaac Watts in 1719 points to Jesus being born and that joy is among us.

I recently preached on Luke 2:8-20 as the news was announced to a group of shepherds that Jesus Christ was born. You can listen to it below:

Joyful Endurance

I have never tried to run a marathon and I don’t have a strong desire to do one in future. But like all sports, it requires one to build endurance.

Did you know as a Christian we need to have a spiritual type of endurance to finish well?

The Apostle Paul writes, “I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13). Paul was focused on Christ as he ran his race with endurance to the finish line. 

The word Paul uses for “press on” reflects complete concentration or focus. Just like an athlete competing where their focus is unbroken. They are not distracted with what is around them but their attention is solely on the prize of winning or completing.

It Matters How We Start and How We Run To the Finish Line

As a Christian it matters not only how we start the race, but how we run it so we can finish well. Like Paul, we must have this laser focus on what God has called us to do. What is that exactly? It is looking to Jesus, it is proclaiming the gospel, it is enduring in this life.

Church, let us run this Christian race well. The only way we can endure is because Jesus endured for us.  The author of Hebrews writes, “Let us run this race with endurance that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Though it is is Hard- It is one of Joy

It is my prayer for you and for me that we would joyful endure until the end where the Father will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:23).

Yes, the Christian will face troubles and trials. Yes, it will be moments of affliction (1 Peter 4:12; 2 Cor 4:17-18). But, there is joy (James 1:2-4)! This joy is found in Christ. This joy is given by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). This joy is eternal and supernatural. This joy endures until the very end!

I would rather go through the afflictions of this world as I know the joys of Christ than to be untouched from affliction while missing the riches that are found in Christ. That is true misery.

Side by Side

Many years ago my wife and I went on a little kayak adventure in Hawaii for our honeymoon. Before we left to get to our guide the instructor gave instructions on how to hold the paddle, how to paddle, and for those who are sharing a kayak how to row together. He said, “this is called the divorce maker for some.”

Alyssa and I kind of gave an awkward laugh and off we went. It was beautiful! Sea turtles, tropical fish, eating pineapple on a secluded sandy beach. It was time to head back to where we started but the weather changed. It was windy, the water became really choppy and it was tough going. The instructor even said if he knew it was going to be this bad we wouldn’t have gone out!

We quickly learned what the instructor meant when he called the tandem kayakers divorce makers. We were striving to make headway against the wind but we kept hitting our paddles together. I quickly was getting frustrated and my new bride saw it.

We finally got back, tired, seeking forgiveness from one another, and so relieved that it was over. It was a trip that left a mark on us as it was many years before we went kayaking again.

I share this illustration to show that in the same way for the church that there can be a lot of gospel work but if we are not working in unity- we are just like Alyssa and I working hard but not getting very far in the kayak. You can actually start working against each other. 

Striving

The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi to stress the importance of unity, “with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Unity was something that Paul addresses a few times in this short letter (1:27; 2:1-4; 4:2-3).

The word that Paul uses for striving would be used similar to an athlete, especially wrestling, where one is straining or working hard to win. Instead of wrestling against one another, the Christian strives together.

Christians have the same task- making disciples (Matt. 28:19).

Christians strive together against sin and the devil (Eph. 6:12).

Christians strive together to be gospel lights to this world (Matt 5:14-16).

Already United

Paul wasn’t telling the church to do the work to be united. Because of Jesus, believers are already united together (Rom. 12:5). So in one sense he was saying, remember that you are one in Christ so strive together in unity!

Christian, remember that you are already united because of Christ. Guard that unity. Since the times are so turbulent, even more so, we need to guard our unity. Jesus is greater and bigger than our political affiliations. Jesus is greater than anything we have uncommon with one another. Let us remember that!

Busy Striving Together and Not Bickering At One Another

There seems to be a lot of bickering among Christians, especially on social media these days. What is being bickered seems so small in comparison to kingdom concerns. My hope and prayer for our church is that we will be busy striving together where we won’t have time to bicker at one another.