Undergirding every principle that can serve as a new building block for the renewing of the life of the Western Church, is the central truth of Easter. Unless the Resurrection is believed and lived there can be no living community of Christian faith. There may be buildings with ever diminishing attendance, but there will be no “turning the world upside down” as happens when the grace of heaven falls in power.
The church of Jesus Christ is not a collection of people who enjoy a certain way of worshipping, nor who share common ethnic backgrounds or human interests. It is a gathering of those who believe that “Jesus Christ is Alive.” He is not dead, though he was crucified, died, and was buried. He was raised on the third day by the power and authority of God Almighty. The tomb was empty. He is alive and changing the world in this very moment. To know him as alive by the power of the Holy Spirit is to participate now in the breaking in of the everlasting kingdom of God. It is to be forever changed.
It was the glorified Christ who met the first disciples in the midst of their confusion and grief. It was the “First Born From the Dead” who spoke with them, and supped with them, and illuminated their understanding, and sent them out to change the world. The sin of the First Adam was undone by the obedience of the Second Adam, and all who would ever believe in him and follow would be drawn into his resurrected life. Even though they die, yet shall they live.
From a handful of disciples on the first Sunday of the Resurrection the number of followers grew day by day. Now they are on every continent and in almost every nation, and encompass over one third of all those alive today. The church may be suffering in some places, but she is growing wonderfully in others. Resurrection life is awakening one dead soul after another, and where she is growing men and women are discovering the central truth of the gospel. Jesus Christ is no longer in the grave, he is Risen. The tomb is empty. The Good News of the gospel has come to them. And that gospel is the Gospel of Truth, not opinion.
When “Jesus Christ and him crucified” is proclaimed, the full story of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection is preached to all who can hear. It is preached as truth, because it is the Truth. The one who came among us was – and is – “the way, the truth, and the life” by which all creation will be restored. There is no other gospel. There is no other Lord.
Those of us praying for a new dawn for the church in our land live in this truth. Nothing can take it from us. It has come to live in our hearts. It possesses our mind. It owns our being. The Risen Lord Jesus Christ abides in us and with us.
Next Week: An Easter Pause/ Easter Joy