Resurrection Day 2024 — Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 17

As we consider Resurrection 2024 we must be mindful of the battle we are in and which now Easter has been caught up in. Of course Resurrection Sunday along with Christmas are the two high days on the Christian calendar. The fact that it is still so widely celebrated in the West and has always been a calendar reminder that some little residue of our original Christian nation status remained.

But now the Biden administration has brought even Easter under attack as it sought to displace Easter by recognizing Sunday as “Transgender day of visibility.” This is akin to the how the French Philosophers tried to change out the Christian calendar during the French Revolution.

Of course, to a people who have not been like the frog boiling away as the temperature in the pot is turned up, this is nothing short of Statist blasphemy and it demonstrates for us again that Governments are always hopelessly religious. Our current Federal Gov’t is revealing that it is a servant of the religion and God of Wokeianity. It continues, not least by claiming Easter Sunday as “Transgender day of visibility” to make war on God and by extension God’s people.

But Christianity is an anvil that many a pagan hammer has worn itself out upon and it will be so in this case as well. Christ is King — quite to the chagrin of Ben Shapiro and many Evangelicals — and as King the celebration of the Resurrection will one day cover the globe.

As we turn to the doctrine of the Resurrection we consider the honored Heidelberg Catechism on this score. It asks;

Question 45: What doth the resurrection of Christ profit us?

Answer: First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death;1 secondly, we are also by His power raised up to a new life;2 and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.3

As we come to Lord’s Day 17 on the Resurrection we want to note that the thoroughness of this question and answer is not that for which we might hope. What the Catechism teaches here is true but there is a good deal more that needs to be said and so we will say a good deal more this  morning than what we find here though we will also incorporate what the HC teaches.

Before we get into the heart of the matter notice again how practical the HC is with its doctrines. This is something that we brought forth before but be alert again as to the desire by the HC for you to profit by knowing the doctrine of Scripture. The HC does not want to teach you a sterile understanding of the Resurrection. It wants you to know how it is that your Christian life is nurtured and sustained by understanding the import of the Resurrection.

But before we turn to how it is we profit from the resurrection we turn first to the fact of the Resurrection and the fact is that the Resurrection is the pivotal truth of Christianity. No Resurrection. No Christianity. Everything hangs on the reality and truth of the Resurrection. In the book of Acts, the two-fold Apostolic message everywhere the Apostles go is the Kingdom of God and the Resurrection as seen by the 24 references to Christ’s resurrection throughout the book of Acts. The Apostolic message was the message of the Resurrection. This is why the Apostle could declare in I Cor. 15

 if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 

It was that conviction that spurred the Apostles as they fanned out to the known world preaching Christ and the Resurrection;

It starts on the Day of Pentecost. Peter says there in His Sermon after properly pinning the responsibility of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Jews,

24 whom God raised up, having [g]loosed the [h]pains of death, because it was 2not possible that He should be held by it.

And again in vs. 32

2:32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

Peter put the resurrection front center in Acts 3 when God heals the lame man

14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the [b]Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.

And then in 4:10 in explanation to the Jew leadership Peter again speaks of the resurrection

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

Then later in chapter 4 after being released from Prison for preaching the Resurrection we read that these same Apostles;

“w/ great power gave … witness to the resurrection.”

As Acts begins to concentrate more on St. Paul we see St. Paul putting the Resurrection front and center when dealing with the Jews. In Perga, St. Paul proclaims that the Jews condemned and slew Jesus, adding;

30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’

Make especial note that here the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the promise of the Gospel, and in quoting Ps. 2 we learn that through the Resurrection God has begotten His Son.

Where else might we turn in the Missionary book of Acts to learn how the fact of the Resurrection was the message running like wildfire among stubble in that nascent Church?

In the Synagogue at Thessalonica in Acts 17, Paul, from the OT Scriptures

explains and demonstrates that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”

In that same Chapter, this time at Athens there we find Paul again banging this drum preaching;

 God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked…

In Chapter 26 the Resurrection again is front and center in speaking before King Agrippa while in bondage from the Jews declaring to Agrippa,

“23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

And then of course we have those beautiful words from I Cor. 15 that ties the Resurrection to the essence of the Gospel;

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you…” and this gospel is briefly summarized in the words; “ How Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”

So, we see that Christianity is not Christianity without the supernatural bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches us that if we deny the Resurrection of Jesus Christ we are not Christian. Further, Scripture teaches us that if we deny the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ we are not Christian.

And we have to add that insistence that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was bodily. That is that the body that went into the tomb was a human body and so the body that came out of the tomb was likewise a human body albeit glorified.

We need to say this because legion is the name of clergy and theologians who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the one hand they will affirm the resurrection of Jesus Christ but on the other hand they will redefine the word “resurrection” so what they mean by that word is antithetical to what the Scriptures and the faithful Church mean by that word. As in so many other examples many in the Church today use linguistic deception to redefine the truth of the Resurrection to make it mean “Imaginary or pretend Resurrection.”  And so, we are left to not being able to give men the benefit of the doubt when they affirm the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have to go on and ask just if their resurrected Christ ate fish w/ His disciples. We have to ask if their resurrected Christ put on display for His disciples His scars and wounds. We have to practice a hermeneutic of suspicion lest we be taken in by this clergy grift of affirming the idea of the resurrection while denying the meaning of the Resurrection because the Church is chock full of professional people who talk about the Resurrection but deny the supernatural foundation of it by embracing any number of fanciful naturalistic understandings of this so as to avoid the supernaturalness of it all.

Here are a few examples to provide the receipts on my claim of linguistic deception;

After denying a real biological virgin birth theologian Walter Banon wrote,

“No more do we consider the fact that the Christian Church is guided in her faith by an ever present, active Lord. (We are not) “dependent upon the realistic-materialistic conception that the same body which died on the tree of the cross after three days in the grave began to function again.”

To that another Theologian Walter Kunneth added,

“To insist upon the historic character of the resurrection has the result of objectifying it, … that means… that the assertion of its his­toricality leads to an irresistible process of dissolution, which omi­nously threatens the reality of the resurrection itself. “

Kunneth is saying here that if we consider the Resurrection historical the way that we consider the landing of the Mayflower historical we are led to a position where the Resurrection is threatened.

Mennonite theologian Gordon Kaufmann lets us know that “these alleged appearances were, in fact, a series of hallucinations”  and that “Contemporary belief… will not necessarily involve the conviction that the crucified Jesus became personally alive again.”

These are all expressions growing out of the thought of Karl Barth who taught that “If there is to be a genuine hope on the basis of Christ’s resurrection, this can only be if orthodoxy with all its rationalizations be brushed aside.”

One of those rationalizations that Barth desired to be brushed aside was the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ in favor of a Christ who arose into History — a linguistic maneuver made in order to avoid the physicality of Christ’s resurrection.

This is the position of what we generally today call “Liberal Christianity,” and theologian Machen way back in the 1930s wrote a book demonstrating that Liberal Christianity and Christianity were two distinctly different faith systems.

Well, a great deal more should be said on this score but we must press on.

Here we have this marvelous indisputable bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Catechism asks how it is that that Resurrection of Jesus profits us. The Catechism starts by teaching us;

First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death

They then cite 1 Cor. 15:16 to sustain their point from Scripture;

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.

Of course the whole premise of all of I Cor. 15 is that Christ is raised and has overcome death. We get this even more explicitly in Revelation 1:18 with Jesus speaking;

I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

So we are profited by the Resurrection of Jesus in that He overcame death. But lets talk a wee bit about this Resurrection that overcame death. We have to understand that when Jesus rose again, He rose as belonging entirely to the new Creation — the age to come.  Christ’s resurrection finds Him in His new creation body. Christ resurrection in overcoming death lives and operates now in the New Creation. Christ has arose to a new creation reality. It is why we can talk about Jesus having a glorified body. This explains passages like this;

 That Sunday evening[ a] the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. SuddenlyJesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.

So by His Resurrection our Lord and Master overcomes death and the Catechism says it is with the purpose that He might make us partakers of that righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death.

Here the great theme of substitutionary Atonement is brought forth. Christ died the death that we had earned and that should’ve been ours. Christ’s resurrection is to us the seal… the confirmation … that His death on the Cross in our stead satisfied the just wrath of God by purchasing our right standing via the price of His own blood . Through the power of the Resurrection we have confirmed for us that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

More than that the Catechism insists that we find profit in the doctrine of the Resurrection because it declares to us that we wear the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The resurrection reminds us that when God looks upon us He sees us not besotted with the sin that we contend against daily, but rather He sees us as clothed and garmented in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In God judicial reckoning we have been declared righteous in Christ Jesus. We may not feel that way. The accuser of the Brethren may scorn us and rub our nose in the sin that we know is true about us, but the Resurrection reminds us that we are partakers of that righteousness which Christ purchased by His death in our place.

Folks … can you see why the catechism, following Scripture, says that this truth is a great profit to us? How can it not be but a profit to know we are partakers of Christ righteousness? How can it not be but a profit to know that because of that Resurrection nothing can separate us from the Love of God?

But the profit does not end here. The Catechizers go on to say that we profit secondly from this doctrine also by the fact that His power has raised us up to a new life.

Here they appeal to Rom. 6:4 to anchor their assertion.

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Remember a few minutes ago we stated that in Christ’s resurrection He was raised as belonging to the New Creation. Upon Christ’s resurrection Christ was and is living in the new heavens and the new earth … in that age to come. He was a member of the new Creation.

Here we learn that we likewise are, in an inaugurated sense, those who belong to that new creation and belonging to that the new creation we also should walk in newness of life. We are not now what we will yet be but because we are in Christ we are not now what we once were when we were dead in our trespasses and sins.

St. Paul can say this explicitly in Colossians when he reminds us there;

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and [a]conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…

You see, by the Resurrection we have been placed in the new Creation … into the Kingdom of God’s dear son, to walk in newness of life which the Catechizers quote to sustain this point.

Brethren we have been resurrected so that our relationship to the old Adam is superseded by our relationship to the new Adam… to the Resurrected Christ. This explains why the expectation is that we would walk in “newness of life.” We are resurrected beings and though we are not yet all that we one day will be we are creatures who live in this present age as walking and living in the age to come. Like Legolas in Tolkien’s work we live in two worlds at the same time but the creational age in which we have been resurrected is impinging on all around us that has not yet been resurrected. In some sense then we, as the resurrected, are the bearers of resurrection life to all that we come in contact with.

This reality of having been NOW resurrected with Christ is why Paul can write about our now being seated in the Heavenlies with Christ. It is why he could write that we have been NOW translated to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, whom He loves. It is why he could write that our citizenship is in heaven, keeping in mind that heaven is invading this present wicked age via His resurrected citizenry.

The “NOW” of our Resurrected status can not be hidden under the bushel of the “not yet.” The Kingdom as come and we are citizens of that future creational age Kingdom bringing the aroma of Christ and that Kingdom unto all we come in contact with.

If we profit first by Christ’s resurrection by having the truth of our Justification declared, we profit now with the assurance of our ongoing sanctification. We are members of a new age and and a new Kingdom and because we are a peculiar people. Belonging to this Resurrection life changes us completely … changes our thinking… our behaving … our relationships. Changes all of this so much that to those who are not living the resurrected life or even those just beginning the resurrected life we are a strange lot. Because we have been risen with Christ we seek those things which are above in everything we handle here. (Col. 3:1)

Theologian G. K. Beale demonstrates I’m not being original here;

“We must not underestimate the resurrection that we have been given in Christ. As Christ has been raised to a new reality so Christians united to Christ has been raised to a new reality and are to live their lives in terms of this Resurrection New Creational Kingdom (Col. 1:13f)”

And so the Resurrection profits us by raising us up with Christ to live a new life.

Finally the Catechism teaches us that we profit from the Resurrection as it is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

They anchor this in Scripture by appealing to I Corinthians 15

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have [d]fallen asleep. 

The whole chapter is dealing with the relation between Christ’s resurrection and our coming Resurrection. There is a linkage here that Theologian Gregory Beale makes out

In I Cor. 15 Paul portrays another version of this staggered resurrection fulfillment; The Messiah is physically resurrected first, and then later his people are raised physically. Remembering that the OT appeared to prophesy that all of God’s people together were to be resurrected as part of one event, Paul views the prophecy of the end time resurrection to begin fulfillment in Christ’s physical resurrection, which necessitates that the saint’s subsequent physical resurrection had to happen. In other words the great event of the final resurrection had begun in Christ but since the event was not completed in the resurrection of others, the completion of that prophesied event had to come at some point in the future.

Our ability to cheerfully come to the end of our days is accounted for by the certainty of our Resurrection and the certainty of that resurrection is lodged in the fact that Christ was indeed resurrected. Because He arose His own who have died in Christ will rise again. Death is not the final word.

So the doctrine of the resurrection profits us by giving us confidence of God’s good pleasure with us because Christ has paid for our sin and we are adorned with His righteousness. The doctrine of the resurrection profits us by the power it gives us to walk in a newness of life that is not characterized by the corruption and the death that those who hate Christ walk in. The doctrine of the resurrection profits us by the certainty and so courage it gives us to face our own mortality … to realize that there is even better life beyond this good life.

And so we see that doctrine is hardly boring.







Resurrection Sermon 2022

The Resurrection is the pivotal truth of Christianity. No Resurrection. No Christianity. Everything hangs on the reality and truth of the Resurrection. In the book of Acts, the two-fold Apostolic message is the Kingdom of God and the Resurrection as seen by the 24 references to Christ’s resurrection throughout the book of Acts. The Apostolic message was the message of the Resurrection.

And yet despite that fact, the Church has seemed to, in a counter intuitive fashion done odd things to and with the Resurrection.

For example, it is likely that the majority report in the Church today, if one counts the mainline Churches, is one wherein one finds a reinterpretation of the Resurrection in a way that seems obviously counter-intuitive to the Scriptural accounts and to people like us.

For example,

After denying a real biological virgin birth theologian Walter Banon wrote,

“No more do we consider the fact that the Christian Church is guided in her faith by an ever present, active Lord. (We are not) “dependent upon the realistic-materialistic conception that the same body which died on the tree of the cross after three days in the grave began to function again.”

To that another Theologian Walter Kunneth added,

“To insist upon the historic character of the resurrection has the result of objectifying it, … that means… that the assertion of its his­toricality leads to an irresistible process of dissolution, which omi­nously threatens the reality of the resurrection itself. “

Kunneth is saying here that if we consider the Resurrection historical the way that we consider the landing of the Mayflower historical we are led to a position where the Resurrection is threatened.

Mennonite theologian Gordon Kaufmann lets us know that “these alleged appearances were, in fact, a series of hallucinations”  and that “Contemporary belief… will not necessarily involve the conviction that the crucified Jesus became personally alive again.”

These are all expressions growing out of the thought of Karl Barth who taught that “If there is to be a genuine hope on the basis of Christ’s resurrection, this can only be if orthodoxy with all its rationalizations be brushed aside.”

In cases like this, we just have to understand that many if not most so-called educated self-referenced Christians in terms of sheer numbers approach the Scripture with an anti-Supernatural bias or failing that in order to protect the Resurrection seek to place the Resurrection in a realm where it can not be verifiable and in so doing make the apprehension of it completely subjective.

But that is not Paul’s thought here in I Corinthians. St. Paul does not argue that the apprehension of the Resurrection is completely subjective. He argues the Resurrection is objectively historically true.

I Cor. 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

St. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit basis the reality of the resurrection upon the historical record. Upon the objectivity of its truth. He does what any good lawyer does. First he calls in the documented record and then he call in the witnesses to substantiate the record.

His first appeal is to the documentation. The Scripture is appealed to as the primary basis of His authority. St. Paul speaks of Christ that He was raised on the third day according to the Scripture. Paul’s first appeal is to the Scripture record. And of course we see Scripture give testimony to this repeatedly;

Psalm 16:10

Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.


Peter touches this Psalm in Acts when he says; “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption (Acts 2:29–31).

Peter taught that, because David was a prophet who knew God would one day set one of his descendants on his throne and continue David’s rule through him (2 Samuel 7:11–12, 16), David was prophesying his future descendent, who would be the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1–4). Because God would not abandon this descendant’s soul to Hades (or Sheol, that is, the realm of the dead), nor let his flesh see corruption, he must have died1 and then been resurrected before his body could decay. In this way, David was indeed prophesying the resurrection of the Messiah here.

With that reasoning in our minds then we can read other Psalms and hear the resurrection prophesied from Scripture;

Psalm 49:15
But God will redeem my life from Sheol, for He will surely take me to Himself. Selah

Psalm 86:13
For great is Your loving devotion to me; You have delivered me from the depths of Sheol.

Then we have the one who was the Scripture Incarnated … the Lord Jesus Christ;

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21 ESV)

Matthew 12:40
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 17:9
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone about this vision until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Matthew 17:23
They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.” And the disciples were deeply grieved.

Matthew 20:19
and will deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. And on the third day He will be raised to life.

Matthew 27:63
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

John 2:19-21
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…

And this is only a whitman’s sampler. And it is this documented record that St. Paul first appeals to in his argument in I Corinthians for Christ’s resurrection.

So here are the documents. There is another point here besides how Paul appeals to the documents to argue for the resurrection of Christ and that is that Christianity does not allow us to merely speak of it as a “good moral system,” as if that is all that it is demanding of anybody. No, Scripture does not allow us to conclude that it only gives us good morals.

Come, Come, my friends, one who refuses the supernatural and the miraculous does not speak about the quality of a moral system where that moral system finds its chief actors testifying to the supernatural that they do not a-priori believe in. If people do not believe in the possibilities of resurrections they should not speak that they are glad for the morality they find in Christianity.

That is like saying the religion of the Mad Hatter is excellent even though the Mad Hatter was a Lunatic.

Well, back to the original point at hand. Paul appeals to the documented record and after that he appeals to the eye witness record. St. Paul is seeking to establish the fact that the resurrection sits on objective reality.

St. Paul calls forth the witnesses. He does not include all the witnesses but he includes enough. He calls forth Peter to the witness stand. He calls forth the 12 Apostles as eye-witnesses. He includes 500 more and then he himself takes the witness stand. Christ has risen. I saw Him with my own eyes.

You can imagine that if this really were a court scene how many days it would take to put all these witnesses on the stand to get their testimony on the record.

Yet, as stellar as this record is there is no convincing a jury that is already set on disbelieving the witnesses no matter how many they are.  Remember, the parable of Rich man and Lazarus;

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

So, we have all these witnesses of the objectivity of the Resurrection. We have the documents of Scripture that spoke of it before hand and yet we have theologians — so called — who refuse to believe we have an objective word and instead want to base the reliability of the resurrection upon their own subjective experience.  Whatever that is it is not the way the matter is presented in Scripture.


If there are those who want to anchor the Resurrection in their own subjective word even among the good guys in the white hats the Resurrection often gets short shrift. One can find a great deal on the death of Christ but work on the Resurrection is sometimes sparse.

Richard Gaffin, Jr., has shown in his book “Resurrection and Redemption” a paucity in our Theological texts on the significance of the Resurrection. Gaffin cites that Theologians such as Charles Hodge, William Shedd, Abraham Kuyper, Louis Berkhof, and John Murray virtually ignored the resurrection’s significance in their discussions of Christ’s salvific work, even though they had a great deal to say concerning His death. (page 12)

This has also been apparent in the Theologies of other solid orthodox men like Robert Reymond, and A. H. Strong as well as less rigorously orthodox theologians such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, and Wayne Grudem.

So given both this heretical theology which reinterprets the Resurrection in a baleful direction and this neglecting of duty which hasn’t adequately drawn out the meaning of the Resurrection what might we say are some effects of the Resurrection upon our Christian World and life view?

I.) Dispositional — Joy Unspeakable

John 20:20 After He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

We perhaps easily understand the Disciples joy. They had thought that their Master and friend … the one they had thought was the Messiah, had been successfully eliminated by their Judean enemies. Doubtless, they may have thought they were next on the hit list. Therefore, it is understandable that they would find joy that the Jesus was alive.


“Joy is the normal condition of a believer. His proper state, his healthy state, is that of happiness and gladness.”  Charles Spurgeon


This joy we should gain from the truthfulness of the Resurrection is, first of all, connected to the fact that the Resurrection verifies all the realities in which we have so invested ourselves.

A.) God reigns … the world is not governed by irredeemable death. We do not live in a time plus chance, plus circumstance world.

B.) God’s justice is certain Scripture teaches that the resurrection was a vindication of the ministry of Jesus.

Scripture teaches that Jesus “Was vindicated in the Spirit.” This refers to the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit raising Jesus of Nazareth from the dead on the third day in fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies and according to the Father’s will.

This act “vindicated” Jesus of Nazareth in the sense that it demonstrated that His claims that He was the Son of God were true and that the accusations of His enemies were false and that His execution was a travesty of justice.

The resurrection vindicated Jesus of Nazareth’s claims that He was the Son of God and that faith in Him alone was the only way to receive eternal salvation and escape eternal condemnation.

There are many injustices that are left without vindication on this side. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us certainty that the vindication of God’s cause on all counts will be seen. Injustices will be set right.

C.) Death is not final… We win.

This is the one that means the most to me. I never thought 39 years ago that the toughest part of ministry would be watching people die and seeking to give comfort in a situation that on the face of it looks very ugly.

How often have I turned to the Resurrection accounts to remind myself that is not final. It does not get the last word. This life, as wonderful as it is, does not end in absurdity. It ends with glorious Resurrection.

The Resurrection of kith and kin. Resurrection of those I could only admire from afar. Resurrection of the flock. Christ’s resurrection delivers me from … delivers all God’s people from the absurdity of ignoring death right up until the point that it can no longer be ignored. Our loved ones will die. We will die.

But because of Christ’s resurrection we will live again. This should give us joy.. and all the more we get closer to that inevitable date.

Out of the verity of Christ’s Resurrection, we can find joy in the midst of the hardships, disappointments, and trials of life.  He who is Resurrected is at the Right hand of the Father praying for us. He who is Resurrected has promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. He who is Resurrected has promised that we are more than conquerors in Him. These are the concrete truths out of which joy is constructed.

But there is another aspect of where we find Joy in the Resurrection that I want to briefly speak of and that is the Joy found in the certainty that because of the Resurrection of Christ, the Resurrection of the World has begun.  The Resurrection of Christ has set off a chain reaction of Resurrection. St. Paul often will call it “the age to come.” The “age to come” might also be called the Resurrected age.  In Colossians Paul writes that we have been translated into the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son…. we have been placed into the Resurrected age. We are the Resurrected people. Scripture teaches we, even now, have been raised with Christ (Col. 3:1). Having been raised with Christ even now we have tasted of the age to come (Hebrew 6:5). With the coming of Christ, the blessings of the future are manifested among God’s people in the present age.

Christ’s victory over death has far-reaching ripple effects.  Our postmillennial hopes are pinned upon the age to come which has been inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.  This age to come is the Resurrected age. All of this is why the Apostle can say,

II Cor. 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away.Behold, the new has come!

So, here we are a people who share in Christ’s resurrection who have been translated into the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son. This by itself provides the sinews and tendons of irrepressible joy.

Summarizing, with Resurrection comes joy and part of this joy is the joy of knowing that with Christ’s Resurrection God inaugurates His new age as the means by which the old age will be pushed back and overcome. This truth is our Joy and the World’s fear and trembling.

Already in the NT this joy is everywhere evident. It sings the praises of God, “who according to His great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

II.) Anthropological — Man has an eternal destiny and so significance

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

The Resurrection of Christ reminds us that man as man has meaning.  Without the Resurrection of Christ, there is no transcendent reason to think that man is anything but matter in motion.

But in the Resurrection of Christ we see that man has an eternal destiny and in having an eternal destiny we learn of the significance of man who was made a little lower than the angels.

Because the Resurrection teaches us that resurrection is in each man’s future and so man has significance we command all men everywhere to Repent out of compassion.  Because the Resurrection teaches that resurrection is in each man’s future and thus that man has significance we try and treat people on the basis of that significance.

C. S. Lewis,

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people.

The Resurrection of Christ as we connect it to the promise of Resurrection of all men reminds us that there are no little people. No people who are insignificant or unimportant. No people who deserve any less from us than any image bearer of God might expect.  When we deal with people we are dealing with those who have lived between the eternities and who will live for eternity.

As Calvinists, we would do well to remember this. Too often we are guilty of treating people abruptly and abrasively. The Resurrection reminds us that all men will be resurrected and so all men have eternal significance.

III.) Supernatural

The Resurrection is one of the greatest Miracles in the Scripture. In terms of Worldview, it reminds us that we live in a Universe that is sustained and Governed by God and it reminds us that we are Spiritual as well as corporeal beings.

The Supernatural is part of our Worldview. We are not governed by time plus chance plus circumstance. We are not, as I noted earlier, matter in motion.

Because of the Resurrection and so our confidence in the Supernatural, it is not the case that,

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Or as more recently said in a novel by ― Janne Teller, Nothing

“The reason dying is so easy is because death has no meaning… And the reason death has no meaning is because life has no meaning. All the same, have fun!”

But because of the imprint of the Supernatural, which the Resurrection bears witness too, we are a people who lean into life differently than the consistent pagan. Because of our conviction of the reality of the Supernatural, we know life has meaning and that the meaning of this life will be taken into the next.

Our certitude regarding the Supernatural gives us the strength to hold the hand of a loved one dying of cancer knowing all is well. Our certitude regarding the Supernatural means the confidence of knowing that the colossal injustices in this life will one day be properly adjudicated. Our certitude regarding the Supernatural means that we adopt the ethic, law and so lifestyle of a God to whom we know we have one day to answer. Our certitude regarding Supernatural resurrection is that which makes marriages last, binds the generations together, and convinces us that all of life is not merely a social construct that can be redefined in any way we might imagine.

The Resurrection is riven with the supernatural and its reality reminds us daily that nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight and so everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

What kind of Christianity is it that desires to strip out the Supernatural in the Resurrection? It is a Christianity that leaves man as God with all the cruelty that arrangement has demonstrated time and again through the centuries.


And so these are just three ways that we might note wherein the Resurrection affects our worldview and so the way we understand and lean into the world. We might also have noted, had we time, how it is that confidence in the Resurrection gives us a future orientation. We might have spoken about how it is that the Resurrection confirms that our sin and guilt has been removed. We might have examined how it is that the Resurrection fills us with confidence and hope and how that impacts the lives we live.  We might also have examined that because of the Resurrection we have been empowered with the Spirit of Christ who has been poured out upon God’s people for service, obedience, and perseverance.

It is our certainty of the Resurrection of Christ that has so much made us the people we are that we can say that there would be no hope apart from the Resurrection. The West would not be the West and we would not be who we are were it not the steady abiding conviction of the Resurrection of Christ. Ideas have consequences.

We can well understand how it is the case that if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.


Palm Sunday 2024

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:
“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

As we consider the background of the text we should be reminded that the raising of Lazarus lies in the immediate background. Also, spectacular miracles have taken place in Luke’s immediate context with the healing of blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35-43).

As you know the context here is also the time of the Passover feast which yearly drew pilgrims from all over Israel to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. Some have suggested that Jerusalem could swell to a million inhabitants during this time of year. This accounts for the varying crowds we see here.

It is important to note here that the crowd that initially accompanied the Lord Christ as He descends the Mount of Olives does not remain the only crowd of people. Another crowd, having heard that Jesus was headed their way came pouring out from the Eastern gate to meet Him. John’s account reveals it is this crowd which is bringing the Palm tree fronds to welcome Jesus. This action compliments the providing of a royal carpet made of cloaks to adorn his path provided by the first crowd coming with Jesus.

The spreading of cloaks and branches is an image of enthronement in the line of King David, hearkening back to 2 Kings 9:13 and 1 Maccabees 13:51: “The Jews entered the citadel with shouts of praise, the waving of palm branches, the playing of harps and cymbals and lyres, and the singing of hymns and canticles, because a great enemy of Israel had been crushed.”

The delirium upon the crowd is driven, as the text notes, “by the mighty works they had seen.” The reasoning here behind the excitement seems to be “surely this is the promised King who the OT speaks of as having healing in his hand. This being the Messiah that we have waited for for millennium will he not also now work to throw off the yoke of Rome and once again return us to be the great and independent nation as we were under David?

This is the anticipation animating this large press of people and this is under-girded by their quoting of Psalm 118:26

“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

This snippet comes from one of the Hallel Psalms sung during Passover. The idea of Peace in heaven and glory in the highest meant that God was at peace with the human race, especially Israel, and that would in turn redound to God’s glory.

From this we see that these pilgrims are right for all the wrong reasons. It is true that Jesus is the Messiah King. It is proper that He should be greeted with the fanfare and hoopla surrounding the arrival of the King. Jesus Himself by entering into Jerusalem in just this way is enmeshing His Kingship in the prophecies of the OT, Jesus arrives riding a colt on which no one has ever sat. This is a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which Matthew’s account quotes directly;

Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: Your king is coming to you, a just savior is he, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (see Matthew 21:5).

So, Jesus is displaying kingship, but He comes as a different kind of King. He is a King displaying humility and bringing peace.

Using a wider scope lens we see also in the Old Testament, it is often specified that an animal meant for a sacred purpose must not have been put to any ordinary use before. This stipulation can be found in Numbers 19:2, Deuteronomy 21:3 and 1 Samuel 6:7.

It is difficult for us to understand the thrill and the tumult that finds this crowd going senseless. The closest I can come is to talk about a ticker tape parade that is given for some returning war hero.

However Jesus response to this is other than what we might expect. His response is to weep. The Gospels take as a whole tell us why He is weeping. He has predicted His death many times in the Gospel before this event. The Mt. Of Transfiguration lies in the immediate background where even there what is spoken of is Jesus Exodus (death). Jesus weeps because the crowd is so misguided and blind. The mobs wants all exaltation and no humiliation. The mob desires a theology of glory and cannot comprehend a theology of the cross that lies ahead for Jesus.

So, one dynamic that we find in the Palm Sunday account is the misunderstanding of the person and work of the Messiah. This exuberant crowd would have Jesus be King now so they may drink the cup f blessing, quite absent His necessity to drink the cup of woe. Theologies of glory would excuse the sufferings, hardships, and humiliation that comes with bearing the cross. Theologies of glory desire the Kingdom without the Cross.
And yet Jesus is on His way to the Cross and this flash mob, while getting matters right that the King is in their midst, get it wrong as to the type of King that they are praising.

In many respects this exultant reception presents again to Jesus the Temptation in the Wilderness where Satan showed to Jesus all  the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus, on this Palm Sunday, is again being offered a Kingdom without a cross.
For this jubilant, raucous, delirious crowd the thought of a carnal Kingship blinds them from the primary purpose of the coming of Christ and that is to vindicate God’s Holy name from the charge of not dealing with sin the way He had promised that He would. Christ would restore Justice. A secondary purpose of Christ’s Kingship was to make a way for His people to have peace with God. Those purposes could not be achieved in the conceptual framework of these poor misguided groupies.
And so we ask ourselves do we really believe the crowds would have been in this delirium if they knew what was a few days in the future of their King?


The Jews desired a Kingdom without a Cross. They desired glory without suffering. But Jesus has another agenda. The Jews desire that Jesus turn away from them the wrath of Rome. Jesus is intent on a far greater agenda. Jesus’ work is to turn away from God’s people the wrath of God by taking upon Himself the just wrath that they and we had so certainly deserved. The Jews desire Jesus to overturn Roman law which they saw as burdensome. Jesus intends to completely satisfy the just demands of God’s law by His perfect sacrifice.
Only by the curing of the sin problem could men be right with God and this necessity for men to be right with God is the requisite precursor for any attempt at just government. The Jews wanted what they envisioned as just government apart from man’s sin problem being dealt with. Jesus going to the Cross was the only way all of man’s broken relationships might be one day healed.

It is interesting here that despite the frenzy that all of this, this is part of the sufferings of Holy Week that we can trace. Jesus’ anguish and suffering here is anchored to the misconception of the Jewish crowds and where that is going to eventually lead for some of these same people. It is celebration and festivity for the clueless, but it is suffering for our Lord Christ.

We have said that the crowd was right for all the wrong reasons. Now Luke introduces us to another group who we will note is wrong for all the right reasons. This next group are the bad guys who wear the black hats throughout the Gospels. Enter the Pharisees.

Of course you remember that the Pharisees were those group of men who were the keepers and interpreters of the religions of Talmudism. They were not the protectors of God’s Word but were the protectors of their twisting of God’s Word.

Here the Pharisees are intent on raining on everybody’s parade. They insist that all this exuberance be brought to an immediate end. They demand that Jesus “rebuke His disciples.”

What is driving all this is of course envy. The Pharisees would die for this kind of adulation and they can not handle someone else — no less one considered a commoner – to have this kind of praise. These fools are not interested in the claims of the crowds. Indeed, John tells us that they had already planned to kill Jesus. Even if Jesus were the Messiah (and He was) these lizard people intended to hoist Him up on a cross. These people and their types in every generation are the most vile people on the planet. Not only are they not interested in truth, they have a vested interest in making sure nobody else comes to truth with the purpose that they themselves would be seen as the wise ones.

The Pharisees had no more love for Rome than the crowds had. They had the same desire for Independence as these crowds. However, their drive for Israeli Independence found them in the drivers seat and not some worthless Nazarene. Not to put too fine of a point on it but they were the elites who were horrified by the notion of a populist movement offering up a man of the people to be King.

God’s irony finds the Pharisees being the agents through which He accomplished His intent to provide a sin offering wherein His people might be saved. In their maniacal efforts to make sure Jesus was not the Messiah King, they did the work that found Him being raised to the right hand of the Father to the end of ruling the nations.

This demonstrates to us that old Dutch saying that God draws straight lines with crooked sticks. These enemies of Jesus who hated Him because He claimed to be God, would be used to the end of being owned as God by scores of billions of people over the course of history.

Jesus rebukes their request to silence the children and the crowd by saying that if they were silent the rocks would cry out.

Is this not the way of the truths of God? They must be published. All God’s truths must be published and especially those which men would cover up just as the Pharisees sought to cover up the truth of Jesus being the Messiah-King. Should we keep silent on any of God’s truths the stones will instead cry out in light of our being mute.

We have examined the dynamics of the crowd. We have examined the disposition of the Pharisees. Now we turn to examine Jesus description of the future.

He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus is here speaking to the leadership who had rejected Jesus so that it was true that Jerusalem had officially rejected their Messiah. Jesus wept over that fact thus demonstrating His great compassion for those who chose to drink the Hemlock as opposed to drinking the elixir of eternal life. Jerusalem had sewn the wind and now Jerusalem will reap the whirlwind and Jesus weeps over that eventuality.

Note, also the divine imposition of blindness mentioned here. Jerusalem had scorned and rejected their Messiah-King and the consequence was that things that make for peace is hidden from their eyes. There will be no national repentance. Jerusalem is in the chute for destruction and nothing can change that.

The coming days that Jesus speaks of, of course refers to His judgment coming in AD 70 where He serves His divorce papers to faithless Israel. There in AD 70 Rome builds an embankment, surrounds Jerusalem and closes in on Jerusalem on every side. All of this come to pass in AD70.

Read the record written by Josephus of the destruction of Jerusalem, and see how truly our Lord’s words were fulfilled. The Jews impiously said, concerning the death of Christ, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Never did any other people invoke such an awful curse upon themselves, and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood for making crosses; of thousands of the people slaying one another in their fierce faction fights within the city; of so many of them being sold for slaves that they became a drug in the market, and all but valueless; and of the fearful carnage when the Romans at length entered the doomed capital; and the blood-curdling story exactly bears out the Savior’s statement uttered nearly forty years before the terrible events occurred.’
Geneva Study Bible,

‘The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God.’ (Commentary on Matthew, p. 412-413).

What might we say in light of this? We would note that

1.) God deals with men not only individually but corporately. Not every individual inhabitant of Jerusalem had rejected the Messiah but Jerusalem as a corporate entity had and God deal with Jerusalem as a corporate-covenant unit.

Elsewhere in Scripture we see God deal with corporate-covenant units. For example in Revelation Churches are warned that God is going to come and take their lamp-stands if they do not repent. This is another way of saying that God is going to extinguish the Church.

We as Americans often forget that God deals with men not only individually but in corporate-covenant units. For example, God blesses families who walk in His ways and visits justice upon those who forsake him. God blesses Churches and Nations in the same way.

2.) We learn here that God is patient and long-suffering with generational disobedience but there does come a time when God’s patience ends and God’s judgment and discipline will visit. We should be wise here to resolve to not tempt God.

3.) Finally on this score we would note that repentance is always in order. The Jews were a stiff-necked lot and refused to repent. Would that God would deliver me and all of us from being stiff-necked. May we be a people conversant with repentance.

As God’s redeemed people we know that God will not reject those who are lowly and contrite in heart. We know that a bruised reed He will not break and smoldering flax he will not snuff out. We know that God’s wrath has passed us by in Christ and that we have peace with God. These realities should be the realities that propel our forward to be a repenting people who do not miss, like Israel of old, the things that make for peace.
Subsidiary principles

1.) There is a necessity to go on a brief rabbit trail here. A subsidiary point to the larger point. That point is that mob crowds are not to be trusted. They invariably get matters wrong. Gustav LeBon in his classic work “The Crowd” convincingly demonstrates that the last thing one wants to do is to be driven by the emotions of the crowd.

2.) We must read Scripture in light of Scripture and not in light of our experience. We must beware giving Scripture a false gloss that serves our ends. Note how often this is done in the events surrounding the death of Christ (See Schilder)

The crowd manipulates the Scripture to serve their ends. It plays with the prophets. It employs their texts and the Psalms in the doxology shouted as Jesus comes to Jerusalem. However, what we see is that the people accept Scripture as it fits into their preconceived notions. Praising Jesus as the Christ comes easy when intoxicated by numbers agreeing but how much quoting of Psalm 118 occurs when the pressure upon Jesus begins?

20th century Dutch theologian Klaus Schilder put it this way;
“It is a great grief to our highest Prophet to notice that multitude takes from the Scriptures what it pleases and ignores the rest. Such distortion is unwarranted, for the canvas of the Scriptures is woven of one piece and is seamless. Those who divide the word of God into parts do precisely what the soldiers did with their garment of Jesus…. Depend upon it that as often as someone dismembers the Scripture, Jesus’ perfect soul suffers. It is the same as tearing Him apart…. Whoever looks at the Christ in his own light withdraws himself from the influence of Jesus proceeding through the Word…. To see Christ in our own light is to sin terribly, for it is to deny Him the right to minister His threefold office to us.”

Christ In His Sufferings – p. 121

This danger of reading Scripture in light of our experience or of our errant presuppositions as the Crowd does in this account is to flatten Scripture so that it flatters us. It is to turn Scripture into talisman that can be used to try and manipulate God to fit our agenda. It is a dangerous temptation and one I suspect we all easily fall into. I know I do.

Habakkuk’s Resolve

Habakkuk 3:17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Here we have, in my estimation, one of the most beautiful prayers in the OT. Certainly it is one that I have turned to repeatedly in my own life. It is one I reference almost weekly in my long prayer when I pray; “In wrath remember mercy.” (Hbk 3:2)

Habakkuk was the prophet of resolution. He stared face flush into the pit of coming darkness and standing resolute He makes the good confession of faith. He was a philosopher, like Job, examining the mystery of God’s ways with men. Like the Psalmist in 73 he is asking the question “why do the wicked prosper,” and like that Psalmist he finally is able to see that, in the words of Longfellow,

Though the mills of God grind slowly

Yet they grind exceedingly small:

Though with patience He stands waiting,

With exactness grinds He all.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


And in that conviction here in this passage Habakkuk makes a prayer/confession that regardless of the visible circumstances he will look and consider that which is unseen but even more certain. He lifts his eyes above the smoke of battle that sees a crumbling agricultural social order infrastructure and says, “I shall be not be moved in my confidence nor undimmed in my joy, that God shall have the final word. Though all may disintegrate around me yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.

Truly all our joy is, to be in Him in whom is all Good, who is all Goodness and all Love.

And Habakkuk had a good reason to think that the destruction he posits could indeed come to pass. The context of the book finds God raising the wicked and ruthless Chaldeans up in order to be His rod of punishment against faithless Israel.

Tyranny, chaos, and lawlessness were rampant in Judah. The wicked leaders of Judah had raised up strife and contention (1:1), oppressed righteous people (1:2, 13), lived in open sin (2:4, 5, 15, 16), worshiped idols (1:4, 14, 15). Habakkuk’s time was dark. He faced a complete and utter disregard for God’s law, the certainty of a pending invasion, contentiousness among the people of Judah.

The book opens with Habakkuk complaining about wicked Judah and God responds… “Not to worry. I’ve got this. Indeed, my solution is bringing in the Chaldeans to have His judgment upon Judah. In vs. 12-17 of Habakkuk the prophet is aghast at such a prospect. He, understandably finds that a case of going from the proverbial frying pan to the fire.

Habakkuk found God’s ways here difficult to understand and justify in his thinking, though he learns in God’s second soliloquy (2:2-4) that God will bring about His justice in His good time. The prophet learns;

“God has all the ages which to demonstrate his justice. The testing of time will reveal what men are, as fire separates gold from dross. The Chaldeans may prosper in their wickedness for a season, and seem to triumph over a people more righteous than they. Yet they carry in themselves ‘the germs of certain ruin.’ The years, which are the crucible of God, will make manifest the essential weakness of an ungodly people.”


Then in the rest of chapter 2 following 2:4 God pronounces a series of five woes on the wicked. That is then followed by the anthem of praise and resolution in chapter 3 that we are looking at.

As we come to these verses we are looking at a grizzardly old prophet rocked by the circumstances of life, standing alone as living among a defiant people creating and bending to a wicked social order with the only prospect in his pocket that all of that was the good news.

But amidst all the uncertainty there remains one place and one place only to stand and on that one place he resolves to be unmovable. And that one place to stand is the certainty of the reality of God.

And so he becomes a hero for us today in the words that follow.

I.) Note first Habakkuk’s technique in overcoming

Habakkuk talks back to himself.

We’ve talked about this before here over the years but it is worth repeating. Habakkuk is in danger of being governed by his fears of what might happen to him in the future. He is understandably uncertain and we might even say fearful. Who wouldn’t be? He has been doubting God’s wisdom and sovereignty and ability to deliver him in his circumstances.

And here if vs. 17 he begins to take himself in hand and he begins to talk back to himself. You see don’t you, that Habakkuk is, as we might say, “getting a grip on himself.” He is finding his voice of courage to drown out his voice of fear and doubt. He says that come hell or high water, no matter if the very worse I can imagine could happen, I am not going to give up my confidence in God. I am not going to allow it to steal my joy in God my savior. I am not going to allow it to steal my ability to rejoice.

This technique of talking back to one’s self is found all throughout the Psalms. We see in Psalm;

43:5 – Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why the unease within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him for the salvation of His presence.

Psalm 42:11

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why the unease within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Fellow saints we need to learn this technique because should we not learn to talk back to ourselves, I can promise you we will certainly be overcome by our fears… fears which in the times we are living in — times not greatly different from those of Habakkuk – we will surrender to despair or perhaps worse yet we will compromise our convictions for a little relief.

As a Pastor I have to repeatedly tell people to not listen to their fears. I have to tell them to talk back to themselves with the truths about God’s character.

I tell the young lady who has unjustly lost her job that God has not abandoned her and she needs to talk back to herself that truth.

I tell the spouse that is going through divorce for cause that they must talk back to themselves regarding that God still loves them for the sake of Christ.

More than once I have had to tell parents who have lost a child or who have had a child born unhealthy that they must talk back to themselves and not allow their understandable discouragement be the louder voice.

I tell them, as I must often tell myself repeatedly, that we can yet still rejoice in God.

Now, I would not suggest this is easy. I doubt it was easy for Habakkuk but it was needful all the same. And speaking of personal experience if we don’t talk back to ourselves we are sure to sink in the slough of despond.

II.) Note Second the resolve in the Prophet Habakkuk

We are no longer an Agrarian people and so we have a hard time understanding the scenario here that the prophet paints.

3:17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

This is a description of full and final desolation. This describes apocalypse of death and famine. The closest I have read on this in my life is what happened in the Holodomor. This was the political starvation of the Christian Ukrainians by the Atheist Jewish Bolsheviks in the 1930s when millions of people were purposely starved to death in order to bring them into subjection.

From my reading, starvation is a slow, torturous and particularly painful death. Yet despite the prospects of such a possibility what the prophet resolved on doing, when all nature and every seeming hope is dead is to say, “I will rejoice.”

This is supernatural. Almost beyond comprehension. And yet we have other accounts like this that come down to us from history. One I have told here before;

An old covenanter father and son during the 17th century Bishop Laud persecutions found themselves arrested and imprisoned. One day in the dank, cramped, filthy, and vermin filled cell the authorities came for the son. Hours passed until the door opened again and something was tossed in the cell. Covered with clothes the old father peeled back the clothes to see what it was that had been tossed only to discover his son’s severed head.

His response was as an example of talking back to himself was

“This is from the Lord…. it is good it is good.”

I can truly say that I do not have that amount of faith – of Habakkuk or of the Covenanter. I can only pray that should such a day come I would be given the grace to have that kind of faith to anchor myself in the real reality of God that lies beyond desperate and dreadful circumstances.

Of course all this is anchored in that foundational biblical and Reformed conviction that God is sovereign. If we can not convince ourselves of that… if we must put limits on God’s sovereignty, if we are not convinced that circumstances are beyond God’s control, we will not be able to talk back to ourselves, we will not be able to have this theocratic optimism that we find characteristic of Habakkuk and characteristic of our Reformed Faith & Fathers.

We can have no resolve… no grit … no ability to rise above our circumstances, our setbacks, or our challenges unless we believe in God’s sovereignty.
We see this in what we finally note here

III.) The Prophet’s Vision of God

In this section we see that Habakkuk escapes the thoughts of sufferings of this life to believing joy in God.

He speaks here of God as “The Sovereign Lord,” and it is this understanding of God that is the source of Habakkuk’s immeasurable joy.

He is rejoicing as vs. 18 says … “In the Lord, the Unchangeable God, “who is and was and is to come,” the great I am. He is rejocing in, as he says, “the God of my salvation.”

Here we hear the echoes of the name of Jesus for the name Jesus means Jehovah is salvation. Augustine even notes here;

Augustine, de Civ. D. xviii. 32:

“To me what some manuscripts have; ‘I will rejoice in God my Jesus,’ seems better than what they have, who have not set the Name itself (but saving) which to us it is more loving and sweeter to name.”) “in God my Jesus.” In Him his joy begins, to Him and in Him it flows back and on; before he ventures, amid all the desolation, to speak of joy, he names the Name of God, and, as it were, stays himself in God, is enveloped and wrapped round in God; and I((the words stand in this order) “and I in the Lord would shout for joy.”

Augustine, following some manuscripts thought the Habakkuk text should read; “ I will be joyful in God my Jesus.”

Let us turn our attention then to vs. 19. which also speaks of Habakkuk’s vision of God.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

The idea that God is to make his feet like hind’s feet (the feet of deer) refers to swift footed, which was a qualification of a warrior (II Sam. 1:23, I Chronicles 12:8). This swiftness of foot enabled the warrior to make a flash attack upon the enemy and then to pursue him vigorously. Habakkuk uses this expression for the fresh and joyous strength in God, which Isaiah refers to “rising up on eagle’s wings.”

Habakkuk uses this phrase to point to the reality that God gives His people the victory over the enemy.

Keil and Delitzsch offer here that this phrase regarding deer’s feet

“Simply denotes the ultimate triumph of the people of God over all oppression on the part of the power of the world, altogether apart from the local standing which the kingdom of God will have upon the earth, either by the side of or in antagonism to the kingdom of the world.”

If this is accurate then Habakkuk is breathing a theocratic optimism here. He has seen God high and lifted up and He knows that He knows that God is going to give the victory in His time.

And here we find the basis of our eschatological optimism. There is no conquering ourselves or our enemies apart from a confidence that when all is said and done in space and time history, God wins.

If a man becomes what He believes then being confident that God is going to make us warriors by making us swift footed to pursue and conquer the enemy is foundational to our faith.

The bottom line is, is if our theology teaches us we will be conquered and lose then our believing that will make it a self-fulfilled prophecy. Habakkuk does not allow us to go there and despite the heavily majority report on this subject that rebukes us postmill folks on this, my word is … fear not, for God will make us swift footed to conquer them also.


A sermon like this needs to be preached because the church is currently being sifted and that sifting work is going to only increase in the days ahead. Western Civilization and the Christianity that created it are being attacked in every corner. God’s people are being squeezed increasingly regarding their Christian convictions. Friends correspond with me telling me how they have to keep their Christian convictions on the down low if they are to survive in their work place. Parents come to me weeping that if it is found out what their Christian convictions are they may well lose their children in custody issues before a hard left judge. Churches by the droves are abandoning the historic Christian faith that their father at all times and in all places once embraced in favor of a egalitarian Marxist version of Christianity.

We are being sifted. I don’t know where this ends but I do know that if any of us are to survive this we must be able to pray like Habakkuk. We must be able to have the vision of God that Habakkuk had. A vision that says that come hell or high water I am not quitting on God. I will rejoice in God my Jesus – my salvation. I will continue to look past the seen and felt hardships of battle and will see the unseen …. the Sovereign Lord (who) is my strength.

Our Father of Job had this same spirit. Job could write along with Habakkuk, “Though He slays me, yet I will trust in God.”

If I stoop

Into a dark tremendous cloud,

It is but for a time; I press God’s lamp

Close to my breast; its splendor, soon or late,

Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge one day.

Robert Browning


Jesus Use of Hyperbole in the Sermon on the Mount & Anabaptist Pacifism

Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

A few years ago (2015) the popular Baptist minister, John Piper wrote an article titled;

Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?

It was a typical Anabaptist pacifistic kind of examination considering the issue of self-defense. This passage in Matthew was featured predominantly. I was reminded of all this, this week, when I came in contact with another Anabaptist online discussing the same type of thing.

This online chap, in the course of the conversation rebuked me for suggesting that Christians had the God given duty to oppose wickedness, even if by force if necessary. This chap said to me with a pious flourish, “I trust God to protect me,” of course meaning I wasn’t trusting God to protect me since I advocated that it is a God honoring thing to protect the innocent even by deadly force if needs be.

Of course my answer here was, “And I trust God to provide for me, but I still plant a garden every year.”

This non-violence is typical of Anabaptist thinking. This insistence on turning the other cheek always and all the time is their motto. I even have seen it when Reformed clergy get together for their twice annual meetings (Classis) and I earned a great deal of enmity several years ago when I stood on the floor of Classis and communicated my shock that the whole room had embraced Anabaptist pacifism.

So, this is an issue I’ve logged some miles on. And it has been an issue you find in history. For example in the early American colonies the Quakers refused to defend themselves against Indian raids but they thought it perfectly acceptable to hire mercenaries to rout out the Indians who were raiding them.

Returning to Dr. Piper at one point in his article writes that the matter reduces to

“Can I shoot my wife’s assailant?”

He then proceeded to write,

“My answer is sevenfold.”

Now, when the question comes up as to whether or not I can shoot my wife’s assailant I hope I can simply say “yes,” as opposed to going into a long dialogue about the nuances of whether or not I can shoot someone who is intending to do my wife bodily harm.

But that is consistent Anabaptist pacifistic type thinking.

Dr. Piper went on to write in his 7 fold explanation,

“5) I live in the inner city of Minneapolis, and I would personally counsel a Christian not to have a firearm available for such circumstances.”

Topping it off with

“6) I do not know what I would do before this situation presents itself with all its innumerable variations of factors.”

I’m sure his wife found that very comforting.

This issue of pacifism is coming to the fore once again. Rev. Andrew Isker in his book on “The Boniface Option,” took all kinds of flack from the Anabaptist crowd for being “so militant” … so “in your face”… “so needlessly provocative.”

Indeed there are times when one wonders if Christianity has become some kind of ethnocide/suicide cult with the message being that “Christianity means you lie down and die.”

That this pacifistic kind of message is in the air accounts for a recent testimony from a 20something young man who told me;

“I grew up in a church that thought we had to be totally passive. When I became a fireman and had seen violence and defended innocents against it, and I used my aggression to be an effective first responder my church had zero answer to this and accused me of impiety and sin. It got so bad to the point they excommunicated me for refusing to be effeminate.

The glory of young men is their strength. Part of strength is the ability, desire and courage to stop violence and to rescue people.

A young man incapable of this is a terrible man.”

Christopher Eade

So, do the Anabaptist have this right with their invoking of the Sermon on the mount? Are we always and at all times to turn the other cheek to violence done against us and/or our loved ones. Does Christianity require Pacifism in order to be Christian?

And if we answer that question “yes,” what do we do with many of our Christian heroes through the centuries? Do we consign to disgust and maybe even hell people like Charles Martel who drove the Muslims back over the western Pyrenees lest all of Europe become Muslim, or Charlemagne who was familiar in the usage of violence against pagan tribes, or Alfred the Great, or the Godly Crusaders, of Oliver Cromwell or the Christians who followed Don Juan in turning back the Muslims at the battle of Lepanto, or Jean Val Jean who with a handful of Christian Knights against swarms of Muslims secured Malta against all odds for Christ or the black robed regiment who put the fire of the God of battle into their parishioners so as to war against the British?

Were the Anabaptist’s right and all these Christian heroes in sin for not turning the other cheek?

Well, of course you know I’m going to answer this question in the negative. Indeed it is my conviction that one reason the Church in the West has languished is because she has lost her militancy has being led by effeminate clergy who are sickened with the disease of Anabaptism.

So, lets take up the text this morning and ask if holiness is defined by pacifism in the face of those who would assail the judicially innocent. Must we teach our children that Christianity is a suicide cult?

When we come to the Sermon on the Mt. we find all kinds of extreme statements. Many of them we don’t take literally. We are going to look at some of these and then ask if we should take “turn the other cheek” literally all the time in every situation. I will tell you at the outset that what we are going to learn here is that Jesus was using a common rabbinical teaching tool known as “hyperbole” in order to accentuate an important point.

Hyperbole is “a figure of speech in which exceptional exaggeration is deliberately used for emphasis rather than deception.

We see hyperbole used in the OT, Isaiah 11

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

Clearly, this is not to be taken literally. Rather the use of hyperbole is teaching that the Messianic age would be characterized by incredible peace and stability but no one thought that lions would begin eating straw like an ox or that infants would literally play near cobra dens.

We find hyperbole used likewise in the New Testament;

And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.  Rev. 14:20

The point here is that the violence is going to be extreme. Everyone understands that we are not looking for literal rivers of blood running for sixteen hundred furlongs (200 miles).

In the same way Jesus is using this rabbinic technique to hammer home important points. Jesus is using hyperbole throughout the Sermon on the Mount.

The best known examples of this hyperbole that is slung around mindlessly from the Sermon on the Mount by many, including Christians, is the “judge not, lest ye be judged” and “turn the other cheek” passages. These get an inordinate amount of air-time. Even though the “judge not, lest ye be judged” passage is seen as hyperbole when Jesus elsewhere says in John’s Gospel,

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 7:24

And St. Paul likewise can say on the matter of judging; I Corinthians 6:1f

 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Clearly Christians are to judge in this life. Indeed it is not possible to not judge but the point of the “judge not” passage is that we are not to be a people who are overly censorious and critical in our analysis and evaluating of others.

The same kind of reality is presented to us in Jesus Sermon on the Mount;

Here are some examples;

1. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away… (5:29)

Do we really think Jesus wants us to pluck out our eyes and throw them away? No! He is speaking hyperbole to emphasize the fact that we must eliminate all obstacles to serving God.

Besides, if we think about it we all realize that it is never the eye that causes one to sin as if we only got rid of our eyes then we would not longer lust.

2. … if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away… (5:30)

Obviously Jesus isn’t expecting to have a flock missing their right hands. The point here is that sin is to be taken seriously.

3. But I say to you, Do not swear at all… Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”… (5:34-37)

Jesus himself honored the oath the High Priest placed him under in Matt. 26:63: “I adjure thee by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (in Leviticus 5:1, we have a reference to the “oath of adjuration” where the High Priest is revealed to have the authority to place someone under an oath to testify). If Jesus taught oaths to be unlawful or immoral, he would not have responded or he would have protested and made clear that he did not agree with the concept of oaths.

St. Paul swore oaths, or at least did not present everything as a simple “yes” or “no” as Jesus said in Matt. 5:37, in multiple places in the New Testament (see Phil. 1:8; II Cor. 1:23; 11:31; 12:19; Gal. 1:20). Jesus’ actual meaning was that oaths should not be necessary among the faithful because we should be known for our honesty; however, because of the evil that exists in the world oaths are very necessary. But you don’t get this from the actual words of Matt. 5.

4. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you (5:42).

Do we really believe Jesus meant we have to loan or give money to anyone and everyone who asks us? All Christians would be broke and unable to raise families! No! He uses hyperbole in teaching Christians should be known for their generosity.

No, the point here is that we are to be a people known for our generosity.

5. … when you give alms do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret… (6:3-4)

Did Jesus really mean no one should ever know what we give? Then why would Jesus have commended the poor widow who gave the now famous “widow’s mite” in Mark 12:42-43? Or, why would the apostles have had a very public display of giving in Acts 5 when Ananias and Saphira were condemned for lying about how much they actually gave? This implies that everyone knew what each was giving!

The truth is, Christ was emphasizing that we should give for love of God and neighbor’s sake, not to be seen of men as a matter of pride.

6. … when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret… (6:6)

Did Jesus really condemn praying in public here? If so, he would have been condemning himself! He prayed publicly in the Garden of Gethsemane (See Mark 14:36); he prayed publicly when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11:41-43. The apostles often prayed in public (see Acts 1:24; 4:31; 6:6; 20:36, etc.).

Jesus was here using hyperbole to emphasize that prayer should never be a performance to be seen by men.

7. Do not lay up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven… (6:19-20)

Do we really believe that Jesus condemned banks and bank accounts here? This would hardly square with Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents,” in Matt. 25:27: “Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.”

8. And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these… will [God] not much more clothe you, O you of little faith (6:28-30)?

If we are going to argue that “turn the other cheek” must be taken in a strict, literal, and absolute sense, then it would seem we would also have to say Jesus is condemning farms, farming, or even planting seeds to grow food in these verses. After all, the birds don’t do that and God takes care of them!

Jesus would also be condemning the making of clothing. I suppose we should all remain naked and wait for God to clothe us, right?

Now, this last may seem really ridiculous. We all know God is condemning forgetting about our Lord and his providence in all of these affairs. But if we are going to take some of the Sermon on the Mount in a strict, literal sense, why not all of it?


The entire Sermon on the Mount can be summed up in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” The idea here is God must come first in every aspect of our lives.

So when it comes to turn the other cheek, Jesus is not saying we should be doormats and pacifists. In fact, Jesus himself makes this clear in Luke 22:36-38 when he tells the apostles to “take up a sword” for self-defense. And while it is true that Jesus tells St. Peter to put away his sword later in verses 50-51, this was only after Peter lashed out offensively and against Jesus’ will. Jesus had already told the apostles that it was God’s will that he suffer and die (see Luke 9:44; 18:32, etc.). Peter was acting contrary to Jesus’ revealed will. But this does not negate the fact that it was Jesus himself that told Peter and the apostles to take up a sword to begin with. This implies the necessity of legitimate self-defense.

Jesus also praises the faith of the Roman centurion in Matt. 8:8ff. Never does he say that serving in the military is wrong, which it would be if he was teaching pacifism. The truth is: Jesus was using hyperbole once again in order to tell us that we are to be peace-makers. We should always seek peace even though sometimes self-defense or even war becomes necessary (cf. Eccl. 3:3, 8).

When we condemn the warriors in our midst for their lack of pacifism we are at that moment making Scripture contradict Scripture.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Jesus was not a pacifist as seen in His crafting a whip that doubtless left painful welts and bleeding cuts as He harried the Jewish Bankers out of the Temple. Further, the Bible does not teach Pacifism. That is a Anabaptist shameful twisting of Scripture and it is one more reason why we detest the errors of the Anabaptists. This Anabaptist reasoning has turned Christianity into a death cult inasmuch we are being told from countless ministers like John Piper that the issue of whether or not a Christian can shoot someone who is assailing their wife is complicated.

Then there is the reality that the Anabaptist seek to weigh down with false guilt anyone who would dare disagree with their pacifism. The Church in the West has to get its mind right on this issue and that right soon lest those who are teaching that Christianity is a suicide cult end up winning the day.

Now, having said all that it is not my understanding that Scripture teaches we need to go looking for fights nor is it my understanding that we should twist the sermon on the Mt. so that it means the opposite of what it says. Christians should be known for doing all they can to live peaceable lives and to be the bringers of peace to volatile situations.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Rmns 12:18

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

But there are times, and I fear we are living in such times, when,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

In short Pacifism is stupid and more importantly it is not the mind of God

Oh…. and unlike John Piper … if you seek to assail my wife or my children … I’m coming after you.

And God will be fully pleased with that.