Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How Do You Know that the Bible is True?

Have you ever had anyone ask you: how do you know that the Bible is true? I mean what makes this book so special – what makes it stand out from all the rest? In an age where there are all of these competing religions that claim to have their own versions of what they call the scriptures, what makes the Christian Bible so different? What sets it apart?

Well if you’ve ever been asked that question I can’t help but wonder if you’ve ever gotten that sinking feeling in your stomach – maybe your face has turned a little red, because you’re not quite sure how to answer that one – but you feel like you should be able to.

After all, The Apostle Peter told the church that every Christian must be prepared to give a reason for the hope they have within them, right? So we must always be prepared to explain and defend why we believe what we believe.

And in a society today that increasingly believes that “all roads and all religions” lead to the same God, it seems even more important for us to be equipped and ready to explain why we believe that Christianity is the only religion of truth – why Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life – and why the Bible is the only inspired Scripture on the face of the earth.

Here we have a Bible that claims to be the Word of God – divine revelation – a book inspired by the Holy Spirit of God who used over 30 human authors over a period of 1,500 years, containing well over 30,000 verses. And there are many different reasons why we can trust and believe that this and this book alone is the only one that is fully true in everything it affirms.

So without going into a big dissertation, let me give you just a few quick reasons to consider.

1) This Bible has proven itself to be a life changing book in the lives of millions of people who have believed its message throughout the centuries. One sure sign of being authenticate is its ability to transform lives – to change minds, to change hearts.

People have been converted, hearts have been convicted and changed, people have experienced healing, hate has turned to love, and so this book has power. And for believers, the Holy Spirit has a way of affirming this in the very depths of their hearts and its power is revealed by our lives.

2) Secondly, there is an amazing sense of unity to this book. Like I said, there are over 30 different authors who have written over a period of 1500 years, and not a once is there a contradiction. Its message in each book is consistent and is uniquely tied together – that man is a sinner and that God alone has the answer.

Several languages are used and hundreds of topics are discussed, and yet there is this amazing unity to it all – and from Genesis to Revelation the idea that man needs a Savior runs through all its pages.

3) Thirdly, the Bible has had an amazing track record of proving that it’s historically true, and much of this has been affirmed in significant ways through modern archaeology. It has proved itself to be factually accurate, in both the Old and the New Testaments.

The ancient city of Jericho has been dug up in recent times, and the Bible story claimed that the walls fell in and the city was burned by Joshua and the Israelites when they took over the land. And sure enough, archaeologists have dug down and discovered collapsed walls and a 3-foot thick layer of ash at the site of this ancient city.

And ironically, there is no other ancient account of this happening other than what is found in the Bible, and so the Bible proves itself to be historically true over and over again.

4) Fourth, the Bible is truly unique from all other books in that it alone thoroughly contains a rather long list of predicted prophecies that have been literally fulfilled. The prophets predicted the existence of certain kings, kingdoms, famines, and wars, all of which have been verified to be true.

* Yet having said all of this, in the end, it is God alone who ultimately convinces us of the truth of God’s Word as the Holy Spirit convicts and confirms the inspired nature of Scripture in our hearts as we read it. In order for this to happen, one must be spiritually reborn by the Holy Spirit who illuminates the Word and leads and guides us into truth. God’s power inherently reveals itself as you thumb through this book, and many of us know exactly what that means as we’ve seen this book change our lives over time. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Powerful, Expectant Prayer - A Lost Art

Prayer is talking to God. Prayer is also listening to God.

It is often the most neglected of privileges that a Christian has in his or her arsenal. But, when used properly, it is a mighty weapon. The God who listens is a God that can move mountains, a God who can change hearts, a God that can rearrange circumstances and overthrow tremendous obstacles. He is the God of the impossible, and many times our vision of who God is and what He can do is often way too small, and this is reflected in the amount of time we may spend in prayer.

It is true that God is sometimes less concerned with changing our circumstances and is more concerned with changing the heart and mind and perspective of the person praying. As someone has said, “Prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes me.”

And if that is true then it is also true that the person who is most resistant to change and is satisfied in being self-sufficient and self made is probably a person who isn’t praying at all. When we become content with who we are, then prayer will seem irrelevant.

So when we bow our heads to pray then, we acknowledge several things. First we acknowledge our willingness to change. We also acknowledge a proper assessment of ourselves and our need for God.

But perhaps more importantly, when we bow to pray we acknowledge the Supremacy and Sovereignty of the Almighty God who grants us every breath and who holds our life utterly and completely in the palm of His hands. Prayer is a statement that says that God’s glory and His plans are far more important and necessary to know that anything else. And prayer is often the way we come to know those things.

When you pray, be bold. Be specific. Don’t be afraid or intimidated by silence, and let the Holy Spirit bring to mind the things that need to be lifted up. Pray according to the truths that are revealed in Scripture. Pray with your heart and with your mind. Be willing to put your opinions before God so that He might change them or perhaps refine them. Pray with expectancy and pray with faith.

If you pray this way, then it is more likely that you will learn to pray more in keeping with God’s will. As someone has said, no one out on a boat in the water throws a rope onto a dock and expects the dock to be pulled out to him. Instead, the goal is to pull the boat to the dock. And in the same way, when we pray to God, we shouldn’t expect that God would be pulled more towards our will, but rather that our will is pulled over toward God’s.

So pray with joy, knowing that God is good, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Need for Wise Counsel from Godly People

I am always intrigued by new discoveries that are made as I read through everyday narratives of Scripture in my times alone with God. This morning I was reading through some of the Chronicles of the Old Testament Kings and was struck by the faithfulness of an obscure priest that hardly anyone today would recognize or remember.

His name was Jehoiada. Now there are a couple of men by this name in the Old Testament, but this man was a high priest in the kingdom of Judah – a godly man who was faithful to God in the midst of a dark time.

Some background:

The Nation of Israel had been divided into two – the Northern Kingdom known as Israel was being led by the ungodly King Ahab, and the Southern Kingdom known as Judah was being ruled by King Ahaziah (whose corrupt mother named Athaliah was as much an influence as the King himself). King Ahaziah of Judah assumed his reign as King when he was 22 years old and it lasted only one year. He made the mistake of listening to the counsel of his wicked mother along with a select number of ungodly men, and as the ESV so aptly points out, this was “to his undoing.” (2 Chron. 22:4).

Not but a short time after ascending to the throne, King Ahaziah suffered a downfall that was “ordained by God,” (22:7) and it ended up that he was murdered by a group of thugs that God had raised up to execute judgment on Israel. Following his death, the King’s mother Athaliah decided to murder some of the remaining descendants of the godly line of David in what surely was a Satanically-inspired attempt to destroy the line of blood that was prophesied to one day produce a Messiah. But miraculously, Athaliah’s stepdaughter hid away one of the remaining heirs to the throne in order to prevent Athaliah from wiping out the entire royal bloodline. (Isn’t it interesting to see how God has a way of making sure his promises will come true as he preserved the line of David?)

Time passes, and Athtaliah, who was the mother of the dead King, has made herself Queen of Judah (the only female queen to occupy the throne of Judah). But six years later, in steps the godly priest known as Jehoiada, and he knows about the one remaining son (named Joash) who has been hidden for six years. He courageously rallies some of the faithful, believing commanders in Judah’s army and they go around and collect a group of Levite priests spread throughout the Kingdom. They find Joash (now 7 years old) and take him to the temple in Jerusalem and anoint him as King. It is a big deal with lots of noise, and when the wicked Queen Athaliah hears the noise, she comes running to see what all the hubbub is about.

When she entered the temple, she finds the people rejoicing and blowing trumpets as they celebrate the newly anointed King, and she is furious as you can imagine. She tears her clothes (a sign of angst) and shouts “Treason! Treason!” Just then Jehoiada the faithful priest orders that the Queen be removed from the house of God and put to death, and the wicked Queen meets her demise in public. Literally, the wickedness is removed from the kingdom of Judah.

And then we read this:

“And Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the LORD's people. “ (2 Chronicles 23:16)

They subsequently removed all the sinful idols from the land, tore down the altars to Baal, and began worshipping the LORD again. The young King Joash grew, and Jehoiada the high priest became his advisor. And during this time, there was abundant favor and blessing that came upon the King and the land, as the Kingdom of Judah began to worship the One True God once again. Even the house of God was repaired and restored. For it had fallen in disrepair due to years of neglect. And text tells us that,

…they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD regularly all the days of Jehoiada. (2 Chronicles 24:14)

What a powerful story which gives us a brief glimpse at a godly man. This high priest, Jehoiada, was bold and courageous. He was willing to take a stand against evil and he successfully lead God’s people into a season of repentance from sin while calling them to an obedient life that honored and worshipped God. He lived a rich and long life, dying at the age of 130. And in honor of his life, the people of Judah buried him in Jerusalem alongside previous kings (an almost unheard of privilege since only Kings were allowed to be buried there.)

Oh how encouraged I was to see what a godly “pastor” Jehoiada was to the people of Judah. He had no fear, and he believed that God’s favor was uniquely linked to obedience to God’s Word – both for the King and for all of God’s people. He further poured himself into those who were leaders, and God brought about reformation and revival as they worshipped God together.

For pastors who wish to see God’s blessing on their congregations, they would do well to follow in the footsteps of godly shepherds like Jehoiada. Point people to Christ, give them the Word of God and godly counsel, and pour yourself into fellow leaders who along with you will help shepherd God’s flock under your care. And your life will be honored by both God and man.

Yet, in a frightening twist to our story, as soon as Jehoiada died, some of the ungodly princes of Judah who had not repented and turned back to God resurfaced again, and they came and flattered the king by paying homage to him. The young King Joash listened to their advice, and fell away from God. Yes, it seems that when one listens to bad counsel, it is only a matter of time before corruption sets in. Whether it was the wicked Athaliah’s counsel to her son the King before his untimely death, or Joash the new boy King who was ambushed with bad advice after the death of the Jehoiada, the godly high priest. Who one listens to is important.

Who do you listen to? Where do you seek counsel? Where do you turn for advice? Are they godly people? Are their views shaped by biblical convictions? Do their lives model faithfulness to God and His ways? These are all things that we have to question as we choose who we befriend and seek counsel from. For as Paul warned, “bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Cor. 15:33).

I have been fortunate to have had several different “Jehoiada’s” in my life, men who are full of the Spirit who have given me wise counsel. And by God’s grace, I hope to become one myself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meeting a True Shepherd

I am up north this week enjoying Pastors Conference at Moody Bible Institute. I love Moody’s conference because they do such a good job of ministering to the pastor’s soul, whereas many other conferences I’ve been to in recent years have been all about ideological battles that have been seeking to engage the mind. To be fair, those issues are critical and important but sometimes you just need to take a break from that and let your soul just sing and soak in God’s presence. That’s how I feel at Moody.

I met a man yesterday who was sitting alone in the chapel at Moody in between sessions who was in his mid-60’s and has been a pastor for some 39 years. He was now close to retirement. He was a delightful, winsome man with a genuine spirit that you knew had been seasoned and prayed up for quite some time. His pleasant tone was surely that of a shepherd. And I thought to myself…this is what I want to look like in 25 years.

He had stories to tell of God’s goodness and grace, as well as human struggles that are naturally a part of serving in ministry. He’d seen God move in his life and ministry in so many ways. He’d seen bouts of great victory and depths of deep sin in the church over his some 40 years of ministry. No doubt his heart was a little tired but was once again getting renewed. His elders had given him a sabbatical to enjoy some peace and rest, and Moody conference was a part of that gift.

I found myself in deep admiration of this man, and before our hour long conversation ended, I told him that guys like him were heroes to 40 year old pastors like me. To see his perseverance in ministry and his heart for the church was inspiring at so many levels. And though I did not really know him I thanked him. I thanked him for running the race with faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Lord’s people. And as I thanked him, I saw tears well up in his eyes. His soft heart was wide open before me, and it was a beautiful sight. A true shepherd. A real soldier. A faithful minister. A humble man. A man of greatness, courage, and strength. I am glad I met him. I hope someday to be just like him.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baptism in the New Testament

The Bible mentions the word baptism numerous times in the New Testament, and depending upon context, it can have a variety of meanings. Therefore, it is important for the believer to understand what we mean by the term baptism. Usually, when we speak of baptism today in the church, we refer mainly to “water baptism” that takes place after someone has made a profession of faith in Christ (see picture at right). However, it is important to note that in other places in Scripture there may be something else being referred to other than what we normally understand. Let’s start this blog series by looking at three understandings of baptism that we don’t normally think of.

1) John’s Baptism [John the Baptist] Matthew 3:1-11; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:19-28.

John’s ministry was primarily two-fold. First, his role in redemption history is that of a messenger, where he prophetically announced to all Israel the arrival of their long awaited Messiah (see especially, John 1:31). Second, John’s ministry also included what was known as a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). This baptism was provided so that Israel might prepare themselves spiritually for the new work of God that was to be seen in the ministry of Jesus. The baptism was performed after repentance and confession, and the baptism served as a symbolic proclamation of spiritual cleansing and setting oneself apart (consecration) for God. (cf. Ex. 19:10-11) It was a call to holiness, righteousness, and repentance, whereby many responded.

Further, the baptism that John performed was a one-time event in Israel’s history in preparation for the Messiah. However, the message and principle of repentance is still an essential element of saving faith and should be an ongoing expression of the Christian life where one seeks to set oneself apart from sin. For even today as Christians, though we are forgiven and are ongoing recipients of God’s grace, we still struggle with the flesh, and God’s call for us to embrace holiness ought to be a daily pursuit. Dr. Wayne Grudem helps us understand the nature of repentance in his helpful definition: “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 713.

2) The Baptism of Jesus – The announcement from both heaven and earth of the Messianic mission and an example for us to follow. – Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34.

Jesus’ baptism was not a baptism of repentance but was rather to be seen as an official announcement or affirmation of several things. For example, Jesus’ baptism served as…

A) an affirmation of the ministry of John the Baptist, his message of repentance, and the standard of righteousness he was calling Israel to embrace.

B) an opportunity for Jesus to express his commitment to live a life of perfect obedience to the will of God and to the godly standard of righteousness that John was calling other people to.

C) a way to express his willingness to identify with sinners and to submit to things that were meant for sinners only. Ultimately this would foreshadow and find its greatest expression in Jesus’ death on the cross, where a sinless man willingly took on the just punishment for human sin.

D) an example for us, as we likewise express our desire before the entire believing community to be set apart for God and follow his will.

E) the divine announcement of Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy as the Messiah (see Isaiah 42:1-4; Psalm 2:7) and coronation of the King of Kings for His anointed and powerful ministry on the earth. [Note: Jesus was filled with the Spirit before this moment, and so the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Jesus served as an expression of God’s special anointing].

Jesus’ baptism also gives us some practical things to consider. First, it communicates the importance of making a commitment to obey God and to seek and live out His will for our lives. Second, it calls us to recognize Jesus for who He really is (the King, our Savior, and Lord) and to give him the rightful reign in our hearts as we share in the blessings of His kingdom. And then finally, the text communicates the value of affirmation (in this text – Jesus’ affirmation of John the Baptist and God the Father’s affirmation of the Incarnated Son of God) and provides us with an example of how we ought to proactively affirm the ones we love, especially as we see them following the will of God.

3) The Baptism With/In the Holy Spirit – The mark of the beginning of the Christian life. – Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John: 1:33; 1 Cor. 12:12-13.

In the Gospels we learn that Jesus would be the one who would perform what is known as a baptism in/with the Holy Spirit on all those who are true believers and who have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. This baptism is not a literal water baptism, but is an unseen "spiritual baptism" given at the beginning of the Christian life at our conversion whereby we are spiritually washed, spiritually made alive or born again with the Spirit (Titus 3:5), adopted into the family of God, justified, and incorporated into the body of Christ (“the Church,” 1 Cor. 12:13). One example of the power of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is found in our ability to make a break with the sinful life that we were once enslaved to, thanks to the indwelling Holy Spirit that is now at work within us. Indeed, the Holy Spirit was active at times in the Old Testament, even empowering, enabling, and filling a select few leaders in Israelite history. However, we do not see Him baptizing and indwelling all who believe like we see in the New Testament, and so we are a blessed people to be living by faith in this age.

Though we see the baptism with the Holy Spirit happening at Pentecost where 120 believers were speaking in foreign tongues, we understand this to be a transitional time in biblical history where the Spirit of God was first poured out in fullness at the dawning of the New Covenant or Church age (Acts 1:5). The purpose of speaking in tongues was that it was to be a sign for non-believing Jews (cf. 1 Cor. 14:22) that the kingdom of God was breaking into the world in great power and that Jesus was indeed their promised Messiah. Since this was a one-time transitional event in biblical history, we should not expect this to be the pattern for us today. In addition, Paul argues that we experience our baptism in the Holy Spirit at conversion (1 Cor. 12:13).

However, there does seem to be times today when the Holy Spirit will cause a Christian to go through a big moment or time of spiritual growth, where someone may experience a powerful movement of God in their hearts and go through a fresh time of renewal, cleansing, and empowerment for ministry. Yet this should not be understood as an additional baptism in the Holy Spirit since this would contradict Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 12:13, where all of us receive the baptism at conversion and are incorporated into the body of Christ. Hypothetically speaking, if some would receive an additional baptism with the Holy Spirit later in their Christian life, then this could set up the potential to have two different classes or categories of Christians -- those that have this additional baptism and those that don’t, and this could lead to a divided church, the very point Paul was arguing against in 1 Cor. 12.

Paul did say to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, but this is simply a command to give the Holy Spirit (whom we have received in fullness at our conversion) more and more control of our lives, daily surrendering to His influence as He causes us to grow and helps us become more like Christ. In other words, to be filled with the Spirit is to increasingly surrender our lives to God’s control.

What a blessing it is to know that we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit (a gift given to us by Jesus himself) at our moment of conversion, and that we are brought into the kingdom of God, incorporated into the body of Christ, indwelt by the Spirit, justified, cleansed, made spiritually alive (reborn), and begin the process of sanctification (a term used to describe spiritual growth as we become more like Christ in our knowledge, character and lifestyle). Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! NEXT: We will look at the New Testament teaching on believer's baptism by immersion.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Book Reaches Publication

I am thankful for a long project that has come to completion with the publication of Love That Rescues: God's Fatherly Love in the Practice of Church Discipline. This work is now available online via Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as the publisher's website, http://www.wipfandstock.com/. You will find it under the tab "new books" and can click on the book to take you to its main page. Below you will find a description of the book as provided by the back cover and some endorsements. It is humbling to see God at work in this, and it is for His glory that this book was written. May it be an aid to the church, and specifically to professors, seminarians, pastors, teachers, and lay leaders who desire to be faithful in presenting the Gospel and living out its implications for all of life.

Book Description:

In an age where "church discipline" has fallen out of favor in the context of many churches, Eric Bargerhuff calls the church to a deeper understanding of its nature and purpose as an expression of God's "fatherly love" towards his people. As a biblically mandated activity instituted by Christ himself in Matthew 18, church discipline is an essential practice of any faithful church that is committed to sharing the Gospel and making disciples.

Tackling some of the false notions and assumptions surrounding church discipline, Bargerhuff sets forth a historical, biblical, theological, and practical position that centers its identity and purpose on a proper understanding of the cross of Christ. Since the punitive wrath of God was poured out for sin on the cross of Jesus Christ (a penal substitutionary atonement), it is therefore necessary to reject the notion that church discipline is "punishment," but rather it should be seen as God's hand of forgiveness and grace extended for the purpose of restoring, reconciling, and rescuing one of his own, a "sheep that has gone astray." It is to be regarded as God's love in the actions of a forgiven and forgiving community.


"Here is a biblically rooted, theologically formed, and long overdue case for conceiving church discipline as a loving practice of the church. Bargerhuff flies against the prevailing cultural winds that lead most of us, when we hear mention of 'discipline,' to complete the phrase with the other part of Foucault's title: '. . . and punish.' The evangelical church—and not only the evangelical!—desperately needs to recover this neglected church practice as an important means of edification, if not of grace itself."

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Blanchard Professor of Theology
Wheaton College Graduate School

"This is a wise, insightful, practical, and theologically rich study of the teaching of the entire Bible about God's loving discipline of his children. It will challenge every church to exercise discipline according to Scripture, lest the church itself fall under God's discipline through unfaithfulness."

—Wayne Grudem
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies
Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona

"Viewing [church discipline] as an incarnate expression of God's fatherly discipline, Bargerhuff helps us understand church discipline as a necessary part of being a forgiven and forgiving community. I recommend this book very highly to all who long to see the church flesh out God's dual commitment to ethical and doctrinal purity and to his forgiving, restoring, rescuing love."

—Steven C. Roy
Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Did Jesus Weep?

So the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35. We memorized this little bit of trivia when we were kids for all the Bible games and such that we played in "church circles." It reads "Jesus wept," and when you are thinking of the perfect Son of God crying, it surely catches your attention.

So what is this all about?

The Story of Lazarus

Jesus performed a lot of miracles during his ministry. Healed the sick, walked on water, turned water into wine; calmed the storm. But a few of the more dramatic miracles he performed was when he raised people from the dead.

One of those he raised was actually a friend of Jesus, named Lazarus. You see, word had come to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and would soon die. But instead of running to his bedside quickly to prevent his death, Jesus waited for several more days. Nobody understood why, but Jesus knew.

He wanted to show them the extent of His power. His power over death.

So when he finally did leave to go to Lazarus’ house, Lazarus had already died and was buried. And His sisters were devastated. And this is where the story picks up in the Gospel of John.

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked.

"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

That last verse is what puzzles me the most. Jesus wept. Now think about this for a minute. Jesus knew good and well that he was about ready to perform a miracle; that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in front of the eyes of everyone.

In fact, that’s why he waited – because he knew Lazarus would die and then he would come later and display his power by raising Him from the dead. So… why is he crying? Why is Jesus crying when in a matter of moments the situation would be different, and everybody would be rejoicing? Why does He weep?

You see I believe that Jesus understands the pain and grief that comes with the loss of someone you love, and He was identifying with that pain. He knows what it’s like. He knows the fear. The sting. The empty feeling. The shock. The grief.

So He’s a God we can take comfort in. He’s a God who can relate to us. But more than that, He’s a God who holds power over death. This is the great hope we have as Christians – that

Jesus was willing to identity with us. And the most profound way He did this while on earth was to take our place by being crucified on the cross for our sins, only to once again display power over death by being raised from the dead as well.

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” And these are the truths that Scripture teaches us. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. If you think about it then, this guy had to die twice! Not cool. But Lazarus was not afraid to die -- for he knew who had the power over death. And so do we -- those who believe.