Death as Absolute ‘Vanitizer,’ Except as Answered by Christ’s Resurrection

My question—that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide—was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man … a question without an answer to which one cannot live. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?’ It can also be expressed thus: Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?

—Leo Tolstoy (A Confession), channeling his inner Qohelet, Ecclesiastes.

The answer: no, nothing, futility, or, as the book of Ecclesiastes itself puts it, a mere “striving after wind.”

Death is the ultimate “vanitizer.” Nothing escapes its finalizing, universal stamp of “pointless.”

That is apart from resurrection.

Enter Jesus. Welcome, Easter.

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Grandma’s Memorial Service Reflection

Memorial Service for Helen Morris
First United Methodist Church
November 23, 2016

Download video.


Introduction

I feel incredibly honored (and yet undeserving) that grandpa has asked me to speak here for grandma’s memorial service. “Grammie” to me, of course; to others of you: mom, sister, wife, friend – but to all of us, a dearly loved and beautiful person. It has not escaped me the incredible privilege it is to be able to provide the reflection for the memorial service from grandma – what is the remembrance of her life; and that of such an incredible individual.

Grandpa has asked me to speak on what he and others often refer to in our Christians scriptures as “the love chapter,” that being the 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth.

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Reflections on My Grandmother’s Passing

Last night after dinner my grandmother passed away.

We were close. But I think more than anything I’m sad for my grandpa, because he lost his life partner and best friend. He loved her so much. (They were that adorable old couple that’s more in love now than the day they were married.)


Death is an incredible reminder that things are not right in this world. Death is universally typical; but, as a Christian, it is my firm conviction that death is not “normal.” It is an intrusion into God’s good creation, a testimony to and result of humanity’s horrific plunge into deep-seated rebellion against a good God (what we as Christians call sin). And, apart from Christ’s return, it is something we will all face.

As the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes tells us, death seems to stamp the entirety of our lives up until that moment as “pointless.” Whatever was achieved, whatever good was done, whatever meaning was found, whatever joy was had, death puts a (seemingly) permanent end to it all.

But our hope — our only hope from death, the only hope my grandmother has in overcoming death — is the good news about this guy named Jesus, who, as the Bible tells us, is God become a human being for the very purpose that he might take upon himself this human predicament (death), face it square in the face, wrestle it down, and, through his own death on our behalf, deal death itself a deathblow, achieving resurrection-life through his own resurrection.

This is the gospel. This is our anthem as Christians: deliverance from sin and all of its nasty effects (including death) for all who lean wholly on Jesus for their rescue.


1 Cor 15; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 2 Tim 1:10; Heb 2:14; Rev 21:4.

Redemptive-Historical Survey: 13 | The Gospel–the Mission of Jesus (LDBC Recap 4/24/16)

Explanation

logo-lake-drive-baptist-churchOn Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.

Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.

See previous posts:

Recap/review

This week was surveyed the role of the Gospel–or, the mission of Jesus–in redemptive history.

Overview of Biblical material

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – The life and saving work of Jesus.

  • God becomes a human—Jesus of Nazareth.
  • He works great miracles.
  • He teaches great things.
  • He is eventually killed by the Jews and Romans.
  • But three days later he rises from the dead.

Role within redemptive history

We can summary the central role of the Gospel in redemptive history as follows: God becomes a human being—Jesus—and initially but decisively brings about God’s new-creational kingdom. He does this centrally through his death and resurrection.

As always, we will break this down into in various parts for closer examination.

  • God becomes a human: the incarnation’s relationship to the Gospel

First, we want to consider the incarnation’s (lit. “infleshing,” i.e., the event God becoming a human) relationship to the Gospel and its fulfillment of this new-creational kingdom.

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The Significance of Christ’s Resurrection: Scriptural Mediations for Resurrection Sunday

The following is the section on Christ’s resurrection from my personal statement of faith.

If you’d like, use the following, with its footnotes of scriptural references, to work your way  through relevant texts and mediate on the meaning and significance of Christ’s resurrection.

Christ’s bodily resurrection serves as the decisive validation of his ministry and claims.[1] God’s resurrection of Jesus[2] demonstrates that Christ’s sin-vanquishing (and thereby death-defeating) death was indeed effective[3] and vindicates him as God’s appointed Messiah.[4] In fact, it is regarded as his Messianic enthronement.[5] His appointment as judge is confirmed by his resurrection.[6] Because he lives indestructibly, he is permanently able to make intersession for those for whom he died.[7] Through his resurrection he triumphed over demonic forces.[8] Christ embodies the hope of resurrection.[9] In his resurrection, he annihilated death and obtained incorruptibility.[10] As such, in him the eschatological order of resurrection,[11] new creation,[12] new humanity,[13] and Spirit-empowered[14] existence has dawned. His personal resurrection inaugurates the general resurrection.[15] It functions representatively for all those united to him.[16] In him believers are already raised spiritually[17] and will eventually be raised bodily[18]—one holistic resurrection occurring in two installments.

See also my past series presenting a Biblical theology of resurrection.

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