Death is ended!

One of my favorite Easter songs is “Death is Ended” by James Ward.  Today, as I was thinking about our Easter service at New City IPC, I tracked down the lyrics and watched the choir from our old church, New City – Chattanooga, sing it.

Verse 1
Behold I tell you a mystery
we will all be changed, changed, changed
In a flash! (even in the twinkling of an eye)
at the last (the trumpet will sound)
and the dead (will be raised imperishable)
and we’ll be changed around
The saying that is written will be true!

Chorus
Death is ended
Death is ended
Death is swallowed up in victory!

Verse 2
Our days are like the flowers of the field
The wind blows over and we’re gone Gone, gone
Everlast! (but from everlasting)
Everlast! (to everlasting)
Still his love (still his love is for those who fear him)
His promises live on!
The saying that that is written will be true!

Bridge
Thanks be unto Jesus
Thanks be unto God
He has won the battle
Through the power of the cross!

Where oh death (Where is your victory?)
Where oh death (Where is your sting?)
Where oh death (You are the enemy)
but Jesus is my King!
The saying that is written will be true!

Death is ended, yes!
Death is ended, yes!
Death is swallowed up in victory!

Author: Words and music by James C. Ward

Death has ended.  We may not see the full results yet, but have hope – Jesus has won the victory!

A Triumphal Entry?

This week I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ triumphal entry as we move toward Palm Sunday.  It’s quite a name we’ve given this incident from the gospel  – “triumphal entry”.  One man riding on a donkey.  At least he had people laying down their cloaks and waving palm branches, but to call this “The Triumphal Entry” seems to stretch the imagination a bit.  I’ve seen triumphal entries in the movies with the German, Russian or American armies displaying their power for all the people to see.

This is ridiculous.  One man.  On a donkey.victory parade

But the way of God is not the way of the world.  Triumph does not come to the proud.  The way of Jesus is one of humility.

Jesus did make a triumphal entry on that day 2000 years ago.  A real triumphal entry.  For here was the King of kings and Lord or lords making his dramatic entrance to the city of Jerusalem where a week later he would triumph over the grave in order to secure a people for God from every nation on earth.   The Father honoured Jesus because he  “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name”. (Phil 2:8b-9)

There are huge implications for us at New City as we look together at Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  His death and resurrection secured our relationship with our Creator God, and his life, especially his actions over the Holy Week,  shows us the way of the redeemed.  A way of humility, of service and of sacrifice for the sake of others.

Those who know the grace of God in Christ will live triumphantly.  It will just look so different from anything the world has ever seen.  Let’s humbly look to Jesus together this week and then live in the way of our Saviour over the coming weeks, months and years.

Quick Book Review: “The Mission of God’s People”

Tonight, I finished Christopher Wright’s 2010 book “The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission” which is part of the “Biblical Theology for Life” series from Zondervan.  I have greatly enjoyed this follow-up to Wright’s massive tome, “The Mission of God”, which I read a few years back over three weeks while on sabbatical in Germany.

Book_mission_gods_people_Wright1I can’t recommend this book high enough for anyone interested in the Christian faith, the role of the church and our individual calling as Christians to live lives which give glory to God.  In the last chapter of the book Wright makes a few points which for me summarized his main point in writing:

“I hope that one of the effects of this book will have been to lift up our eyes to see the glorious richness of the gospel of God. The Bible brings us the most amazing good news that speaks to and can transform every area of human life that is touched by sin (which means, every area of human life there is).”

Wright goes on to give three ways in which we minimize the gospel.

1. “We have tended to separate the individual from the cosmic and corporate dimensions of the gospel, and then we tend to prioritize the first…We are not saved out of creation, but as part of creation that God has redeemed through Christ.”

2. “We have tended to separate believing the gospel from living out the gospel…That is, we seem to think that there can be a belief of faith separate from the life of faith.”

3. “The gospel is good news that needs to be heard and to be seen.  It needs words and deeds. Message and proof.  We have tended to separate these and to prioritize the first.”

Obviously, there is much, much more here to chew on.  It comes in at 301 pages with indexes for both subjects and scripture.  At the end of each of the 15 chapters, there are “Relevant Questions” to facilitate group discuss as I think much of the content would benefit a small group or the leaders of a local church.

Chris Wright is becoming one of my favorite authors/theologians.  After a quick look at his Amazon page, it looks like he has a few other titles I may have to dip into.

“Take one for the team”

In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul gives us a “hinge verse” – a comment which turns the flow of his letter in another direction.  Verse 21 states that we are to be  “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”.

Let’s be honest – this is hard if not impossible to do.  Paul is not calling for us to dismantle all authority structures, but he is calling for a very distinct way of life for those who follow Jesus.  So distinct, this can’t be done without the Holy Spirit working in our lives as this phrase is part of a long sentence on what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

Submitting to one another reminds me of coaching football with 12 year old boys.  As the coach, I (along with the other coaches) am king and everyone must submit to our IMG_1094authority.  But if the team is going to function properly, there must be individual submission to each other.   The best teams  give up their individual rights for the sake of the team. A good player who is selfish in his play is actually a detrament to the overall success of the team.

A properly functioning football team is better than the collective gifts of the individuals. The same is true for the church.  God’s will for the church is that we let go of our individual desires in order to work for those around us to the glory of the Father.  And this can be very practical – cooking meals, making a phone call to a neighbor who is sick, asking if someone needs help – all ways in which we submit ourselves “to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Look for the needs of others. Take action to fulfill those needs to the glory of God.  In the process, remember the sacrifice Christ has made on behalf of his people.  Act out of response to his submission the Father’s will.

My God send his Spirit to enable us submit our lives to each other.

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