Preaching in 1856, C.H. Spurgeon reproaches himself for not imitating, as closely as he should have done the Apostolic’ ‘staple’ of preaching the Resurrection of Christ.
He goes on to say that even among professing Christians belief in an actual physical resurrection is not believed.
While many hold to the immortality of the soul as did the ancient Greek philosophers, the idea of the body rising to newness of life through Christ is mocked by many.
Witness Paul’s encounter with the Athenians and their final rejection of the Apostles message of Jesus and his resurrection and later on of his dealings with the unbelieving Jews on this very subject.
Some have complained recently of the lack of preaching on the Resurrection. Whether this is actually the case I do not know.
I know of one American preacher that focuses on the Resurrection yet would ‘unhitch’ a great deal of other Scripture and doctrine.
This would be like holding up the roof of a building yet removing the walls and foundation.
As a teaching, belief, doctrine and practice Christianity is all of a piece. You cannot grasp one part of it and discard all else without ruining and despoiling the whole.
The Resurrection is the ‘imprimatur’ of God on the saving work of Christ it is proof that ‘New life’ is available through His Son. Yet it cannot be separated from the ‘atoning’ work of Christ upon the Cross, the incarnation and the progressive revelation of the Old Testament.
Spurgeon further says that the Resurrection of Christ and the hope of our resurrection through Him comforts the believer in the loss of dear ones and strengthens in the face of their own death. He reminds his hearers that even the ‘dust’ of God’s people is precious in His sight and will raise the self same person although exalted at the last day.
Would that we believed and trusted in this hope more than we do!
Spurgeon concludes this section of his sermon by reminding his hearers and us, that if the bodies of believers are to be raised again and are precious in the sight of God, we should look after them not so much in healthy living although this is important, but rather by living holy lives and not misusing our bodies for sinful purposes and looking lustfully for sinful things.
We who are constantly reminded by the world that we are our own and to spoil ourselves need to hear the gospel message that we are no longer our own and have been bought with a price. It is because the Christian now belongs to God that we know He will not allow us to perish.
The ‘Glorious Revolution’ in 1688 was a pivotal point in British history and Christian liberty.
The reign of the ‘Stuart’ Kings was one of almost constant persecution of ‘nonconformists’ and the enforcing of liturgy and regulated worship on the non-established churches.
The Puritan, John Flavel preaching at this time, Warns and advises young ministers of the necessity of using this new found liberty to preach the Word freely and unhindered and the spiritual attitude necessary to maintain it.
We in the West, have had liberty to proclaim the gospel message for many years yet one wonders how much advantage of this freedom has been taken by ministers and believers.
The period which followed the period of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ was characterized by a slide into moderatism, the preaching of morality instead of the ‘gospel’ and moral decline in the wider society. This was the state of society until the ‘Evangelical Revival’ and Whitefield and Wesley etc.
One point common was commonly made by the Puritans that we can sin away ‘the Day of Grace’ and by our sloth and faithlessness squander our opportunities for proclaiming the word of salvation.
It appears that the time will come when the proclamation of the gospel will be curtailed and limited by a society and belief system that reviles Christian truth and holy living. This fact gives impetus to the need to make fuller use of our Christian liberty while it remains to us.
It also increases the guilt of those who are even now ‘re-casting ‘the gospel message into something other than what it is.
The responsibility of how we use the short space of time we have left for the furtherance of the kingdom is upon us all!
Yet we must also remember that it was during the dire times of Church history that it was at its most flourishing and Christians were at their most faithful and obedient and indeed holiest!
Cures for all that ails you!
Rummaging through old newspapers brings you into contact with old advertisements promising cure and results that would now be regarded as nothing more than ‘quackery’. (Though I think we can see a return to this sort of advertising in many of our television ‘infomercials’)
You find products and tinctures that will cure your toothache by ‘killing the nerve and filling the tooth’. Miracle lotions than will rid you of grey hair or pills that cure everything from lumbago to dyspepsia.
They have treatments for ailments using ‘new-fangled’ electricity that will spark new life into you no matter how lethargic you feel now.
These ‘ads’ are sometimes accompanied by stirring ‘testimonials’ by ‘Mrs. or Mr.’ ‘whoever’, from a respectable distance away, extolling the virtue or ‘Dr Zoonbraums miracle pills’.
It was not until you sent your postal order for two shillings and either received a ‘placebo’ sugar pill or nothing at all that you realized you had been ‘Had’.
But still the advertisements appeared.
We humans veer between skepticism and gullibility. When the message of the Gospel comes it is often met by suspicion or otherwise as a ‘Quick fix’ to all our problems without looking to closely.
While we must not believe everything we are told, the gospel invites us to ‘Prove all things’ 1 Thess. 5:21 and when we find for ourselves the reality of God’s Truth and experience the ‘Love of Christ’ we are to ‘Hold to’ it.