Meditation Thoughts in Easter Week 2007
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9
When I heard Hoyt Philpot had departed this world, I felt regret. I had not visited him in his home for several years, since before my own health failed. Just this past week he had been on my mind and I had resolved to go by and see him as soon as I was better. But with the man’s life approaching the century mark, I knew his days ahead were fewer than those behind as are mine. Now we await another chance at reunion before the Mercy Seat of God.
He was a man who enjoyed life. Once on a trip to Pensacola Bible College I learned the pastor of the campus church, a relatively young man, was one of his marathon running buddies. Hoyt had gotten around a bit. The last time I was at his house we had talked of railroads and working great projects, and just briefly, how quickly the days of accomplishment pass. But Hoyt was not a man to linger on such things long.
We had spoken of young people that day. What was the same and how challenges were different from bygone times. I remember as I drove away thinking he saw more similarity between the two groups than I did. Some had come to meeting in horse and buggy with their folks and some came in cars provided by their folks, but the kids born into Christian families, were still often Christian in name only. They knew about the Gospel, but many did not have it in their hearts.
It would be somehow different if we could accept the claim made by some that the problem with churched children is they do not hear the Gospel preached and taught. Not that it would relieve people of responsibility to repent, just give an excuse why it did not happen. Whatever the failings of various preachers and teachers this has not been overwhelmingly true, particularly where we are talking of those many churches where those who minister do so by divine call upon their lives. I think there has always been the opportunity, with much hearing, to become resistant to the meaning of the depth, burial, and resurrection to us as individuals.
Growing up hearing the Gospel but rejecting it till late in life has been called, “the near fatal choice.” Hoyt from his perspective could see more clearly than I how opportunity delayed is opportunity missed. During the time we knew each other several young people, and not a few older ones we both knew, had stepped over into eternity. Several times I have mourned over what has happened in the lives of young people I have known in churches. It is heartbreaking especially when one of them steps over into eternity and you wonder if in spite of all their time in church whether they truly knew the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior?
Well, fare the well my friend. Our next visit will have to wait a bit, but not for long. Our shared faith in the Lord guarantees our next reunion day. I know you went down to the grave, as I will, with some regrets over opportunities missed and time wasted that could not be recalled. But thanks be unto God we did not miss the greatest opportunity of all.
You know I like the Spring of the year as the apple trees blossom outside my window and I watch life reborn. We come to the special time of the year when we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He gave Himself to pay the sin price we could not pay so we could be partakers in His resurrection, know the second birth, and live with Him in life eternal. This is a good time of year. It is a good time for remembering old friends, so great love, and for going on to be with the Lord forever.
Sacrificed for Us
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:” 1Corinthians 5:7
It used to be that around the time we celebrate our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection some obscure articles would appear in newspapers and magazines questioning whether or not the Lord Jesus Christ ever existed. Or, it might be the articles would question whether Christ actually rose from the dead. Over time it became harder and harder for people to cast doubt on the actual existence of Jesus because of the abundance of proofs, but that seemed only to encourage the doubters to attack from different angles, like questioning the resurrection.
In the last few years the attacks have become so frequent and virulent they no longer have a seasonal nature but continue throughout the year. But, even so, when it comes to that special time of the year when we commemorate the Lord’s payment of the sin price for us, we often find a special breed of people getting attention. Most of them we call apostate concerning the faith.
This year I was reading about one of those kind of people named Jeffrey John who called the teaching of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins “repulsive” and “insane.” It is not new for people to criticize the blood atonement as being barbaric and uncivilized among other things. This man, who is supposed to be a clergyman, a representative of God in a special way, is not doing anything new. But this does not keep the world from giving him his ten seconds of fame.
The Bible teaches that because people had sinned, God the Father sent His Son to pay the price of sin for us. And you know what? Even in societies that have never heard the Gospel, the idea of sin guilt and the need for an atonement for sin are built right into the cultures so everywhere the Gospel goes this idea can be understood. I think God planned it that way.
What Mr. John, like those of his ilk before him, does not understand is that God is not under any obligation to meet his ideas about how things ought to be done. But I do know about the sin of homosexuality he is also trying to justify. And, he cannot do that and accept the truth of the Gospel message, so he denies the truth.
“Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Act 26:28
Studying the Word of God and the human condition constantly reveal amazing things. At the same time I am watching attacks being made upon the True Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I also learn a surprising bit of information. Research by an arm of the North American Mission Board discovered seventy-five percent of Americans who deny being born again Christians still believe the biblical account of Jesus resurrection in his physical body. This means to me they have something in common with the condition of King Agrippa when Paul appeared before him nearly two thousand years ago.
King Agrippa was, according to Paul’s testimony, “expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews,” (Acts 26:3) a claim I would not make about most Americans, even those who attend church regularly. But something is happening when you consider that “…59 percent of those who rarely darken the church doors, and 39 percent of those who never attend church, neverthelesss still believe in the literal resurrection of Christ.” (Yes the figures are accurate. No less prestigious an organization than Zogby International had a hand in collecting the data.)
When the pseudo-documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus" by James Cameron was aired I had intended to watch it and write a report refuting it. I do not believe lies about our faith should be allowed to pass since they serve Satan’s purpose of trying to get as many people as possible to die in their sins and go off into eternal damnation. But one thing research revealed was this sort of thing has little negative impact on what Americans believe, though I do not know its influence in other countries. But even though people might believe in the resurrection intellectually like Agrippa, this does not mean they believe unto salvation.
Dr. Kent Hovind states we should be less concerned with what the enemy is doing in these Last Days than with preaching the Gospel. I agree our emphasis should be on persuading men of what they already know in their inmost being. But as Dr. Hovind is not oblivious to the evil deeds of men we should not be either, so we do not seem ignorant to an almost persuaded world.
Moviemakers and the Search for 'Greater Meaning'
“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;” 1Corinthians 1:22-23
There isn’t much to enjoy on television and less reason to go out to a movie theater these days. But if you are interested in Eschatology, the study of Last Things, and believe as I do we are at the close of the Church Age, then what goes on in Tinsel Town is of interest. One of the things I really enjoy doing is listening to film historian Robert Osborne when he talks about the people and events that are behind the things seen on the silver screen. So one day when he was talking about how a smaller film studio competed with some bigger studios by churning out popular low budget movies to finance their blockbusters and high profile stars fifty and more years ago it stuck with me.
We can still see on television epic productions of loosely biblically and historically based productions such as The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, and Spartacus, not to mention “B” movies like the Hercules productions that starred people like Steve Reeves. Because of the basis of the productions they probably got more past censorship groups than other kinds of productions might have. Even Tarzan movies, because of their setting, managed to show things beyond what was even considered risqué. I credit these movies with opening the door to the legal pornography we see today.
The “Bible epics” represented Hollywood’s version of the Bible, and they have relearned recently that stuff even vaguely related to it still sell. But filmmakers have always been concerned with their agenda and “relevance.” This is the only way one can explain why the companies would finance and churn out junk they know is going to lose money from the outset. As one movie studio head said, they like to have an emotional attachment to a project before they begin it. Like a lot of people, I think they believe giving an occasional nod to God will keep them in His good graces while they look for “greater meaning” somewhere else. This recipe of folly means that those who depend upon them for understanding are like the blind following the blind, all headed into eternal darkness.<”><
Great Events in History
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? Luke 24: 1-5
We are all aware the death, burial, and resurrection is concurrent with the Passover season. This is because the time of observance for the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt (Egypt as a type stands for sin) and that deliverance was actually the great foreshadowing of the perfect deliverance which was to come when the Lord Jesus Christ made the perfect rescue of man from sin, making the sacrificial atonement of Himself for us. The reason Passover and Easter do not always fall at the same time in observance is because Pope Victor I (c.189-198) standardized Easter as a Sunday holiday, then in 325 the Council of Nicaea set Easter's date in relation to the paschal moon. The Gregorian calendar correction of 1582 placed Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, falling between 22 March and 25 April. However this year, Holy Week coincides with Passover, and as the Gregorian and Julian calendars agree on setting Easter's date, Western and Eastern Orthodox churches are actually both celebrating Resurrection Sunday on the 8th of April.
One thing of interest to me, observing history, is the many notable events connected with this time of the year. For instance, the nation generally considered founded on Christian principles actually had its War for Independence begin in earnest during this season. But, there is another history also, personal history. I have been contemplating how many great things I can recall that have happened in my life at this time of year. There are a lot. Why not consider your own life? What important events have happened in your life at this time of year? The most important one happened long before you were ever born and we read of it in the Bible.
1: Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
2: Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.
3: Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
4: And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there anything of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. Deuteronomy 16: 1-4
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
One of the things I truly like about the traditional Jewish observance of Passover is when the father takes the children and they make a thorough search of the house for leaven, yeast or bread with yeast in it. Always some is found. It is carefully gathered with a feather and removed from the house. To the Jewish people the eating of unleavened bread is a reminder of the haste with which they departed Egypt. But there are other lessons involved as well. Egypt and leaven are types for sin and the impact of sin. Leaven causes bread to rise because a little leaven or yeast permeates the entire lump of dough in just a short time. People who cook understand how that works better than I do.
There is a lesson particularly to be learned from that we should consider as we meditate upon our Lord’s perfect sacrifice delivering us from the bondage of sin. God the Father turned His face away from the Son when He took upon Himself our sin. That is how awful our sin is. But each one of us, though having been delivered from the penalty of sin, still have some leaven or sin in our lives, and often that sin has been hanging around for a long time. It is old leaven that we keep hanging on to. The only problem is leaven within our body wont stay in just one part; it keeps wanting to spread out and penetrate all of our being.
When we come to salvation, we should be in haste to depart from Egypt or sin, because this is pleasing to God. As we live out the Christian life we should also be diligent to want to search out and remove all the old leaven, or sinful habits from our life. As we observe the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection it is a great time to remove some old leaven. I think that effort to remember His Passover by cleaning our spiritual houses of old sin and its influences is pleasing in the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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