Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.18—“the communion of saints”

In 1927, the German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was 21 years old. In that year, he completed his doctoral dissertation. The publication of that dissertation in 1930 captivated a number of people, not the least of which was the great theologian Karl Barth who referred to it as “a miracle.” In this book, Bonhoeffer makes an arresting statement. He writes:

There is in fact only one religion in which the idea of community is an integral element of its nature, and that is Christianity.[1]

In other words, according to Bonhoeffer, community is an inescapable reality for the believer. It is part and parcel of being a Christian, and there is no healthy Christianity without it.

What was the name of Bonhoeffer’s book? Sanctorum Communio. Translation: the communion of saints.

I agree with Bonhoeffer. I believe he is correct. Community, the life of the saints of God (i.e., all who are believers) lived out together, is “an integral element” of the nature of Christianity. This truth is firmly grounded in the short but profound statement from 1 Corinthians 12:

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

The “you” there is plural. Paul is speaking to all the believers in Corinth and, by extension, to all believers everywhere. The “body of Christ” is singular. The “members” is plural. And the “are” is emphatic! In other words: you, the saints, the individuals who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, by definition are in and comprise the singular body of Christ on earth, the sanctorum communio, the communion of saints.

When we say we “believe in the communion of saints” we are pressing this idea forward, and we are right to do so. Let us consider how to honor, value, embrace, and safeguard the communion of saints.

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Matthew 22:1–14

Matthew 22

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 Here is something I have not quite seen before and that, frankly, gives me pause. In the back of Peter Stoner’s 1944 book, Science Speaks, he presents two options to the reader. He calls them “contracts.” The reader is asked to sign or date one of these contracts.

Consider the two following statements as contracts between yourself and God. One of these contracts is in effect as you finish reading this book. Which one do you now choose?

  1. I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as my personal Savior. By this act my sins are all blotted out and I become a son of God, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. I now have eternal life and shall spend eternity in heaven with Christ.

Signed……………………….. Dated ………………………..

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? – Hebrews 2:3

  1. I will not accept Jesus Christ as my savior. I realize that this is the greatest sin against God that any man can commit and in so doing I affiliate myself with Satan. I shall live a life in sin against God, and for this decision I shall spend eternity in hell with Satan.

Signed……………………….. Dated ………………………..

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord – Romans 6:23[1]

I do not pause because I disagree with Stoner’s conclusion that everybody must choose either “1” or “2.” I pause because, if I am honest, this is not usually put quite so jarringly in modern Christian practice, certainly not in a way calling for a signature. I suppose we could debate the merits of this approach, but one thing seems clear: Jesus told stories which offered the same decision and the same results for whichever decision was made. And Jesus’ stories were no less jarring than Stoner’s contracts. I suspect in our day we might say that Stoner’s approach risks being too confrontational. Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, our day appears to be one that can never quite get down to the basic confrontation that is inherent in the gospel: Will you accept Jesus or not?

To be frank, many who heard Jesus’ parable in the first fourteen verses of Matthew 22 would have been as offended as some would be at Stoner’s contracts. Yet, there it is: a choice, a decision that needs making, two roads, and two destinations. Listen to Jesus’ story of the wedding feast.

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.17—“the holy universal church”

Can you imagine how unbelievably awesome it would be to find a long-lost treasure? In January of this year, Reader’s Digest published an article entitled, “The Most Incredible Undersea Treasures Ever Found.” The stories and their accompanying pictures were amazing. Here are a few:

Called the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” the Spanish galleon San José was carrying a treasure of silver, gold, and emeralds worth billions of dollars today. The galleon sunk after a battle with British ships off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, in 1708. Three hundred years later, in 2015, the wreck was discovered on the ocean floor.

The website Scuba Diving writes of the find: “Gold, silver and emeralds in the wreck of a Spanish galleon worth an estimated $20 billion have ignited an international claims battle between Colombia, Spain, Peru, Panama and Bolivia.” Colombia is keeping the exact location a secret![1] Fascinating!

Here’s another from Reader’s Digest:

Turns out that 1985 was a big year for shipwrecks: The sunken “mother lode” of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha was found in July of that year off the coast of Key West, Florida. Famed treasure hunter Mel Fisher searched for 16 years before making the discovery. The ship, commonly referred to as the Atocha, was loaded with treasure to bring to Spain when she left Havana, Cuba, in 1622—and sailed straight into a hurricane…You can see more of the trove, in total estimated to be worth around $450 million, at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

Here is one which I find very very cool indeed!

This ancient site off the Greek island Antikythera may have been found back in 1900, but researchers are still unearthing new treasures there. The wreck is famous for the Antikythera mechanism, a complex device made of gears nicknamed the “world’s first computer” for its ability to track the sun and moon and predict eclipses. The device is dated to the second century B.C., but nothing else like it from that time period has ever been found.[2]

I love stuff like this! Oh, yeah, and there is one more treasure, long buried, that I want us to discover today. Here it is:

That’s right: Central Baptist Church, North Little Rock, Arkansas. I am not kidding. The church is an absolute treasure, but it too has been buried. How so? Buried by what? It has been buried beneath years of neglect or ignorance or our own failure to be the church or worldly opposition to the church or biblical illiteracy that blinds us to what the church is supposed to be. We know the church exists, but do we know the value of this treasure?

Make no mistake: When the Apostles’ Creed has us say “I believe in…the holy universal church” it is having us talk about something very valuable indeed.

That phrase, “the holy universal church,” carries with it three qualifiers that will help us get at why the church is so valuable:

  • the
  • holy
  • universal

Let us consider these in turn.

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.16—“I believe in the Holy Spirit”

David Seamands, in his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, passes on a fascinating story about a man named Charlie Steinmetz.

Do you remember the story of Henry Ford and Charlie Steinmetz? Steinmetz was a dwarf, ugly and deformed, but he had one of the greatest minds in the field of electricity that the world has ever known. Steinmetz built the great generators for Henry Ford in his first plant in Dearborn, Michigan. One day those generators broke down and the plant came to a halt. They brought in ordinary mechanics and helpers who couldn’t get the generators going again. They were losing money. Then Ford called Steinmetz. The genius came, seemed to just putter around for a few hours, and then threw the switch that put the great Ford plant back into operation. A few days later Henry Ford received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000. Although Ford was a very rich man, he returned the bill with a note, “Charlie, isn’t this bill just a little high for a few hours of tinkering around on those motors?” Steinmetz returned the bill to Ford. This time it read: “For tinkering around on the motors: $10. For knowing where to tinker: $9,990. Total: $10,000.” Henry Ford paid the bill. The Holy Spirit knows where to tinker. We do not know what we ought to be praying for. We often do not receive because we ask for the wrong things.[1]

I love that! The Holy Spirit does indeed know where to tinker, and, in truth, the Christian cannot put a price tag on His value! Without Him, the whole progress of the Christian life comes to a screeching halt.

My point here is simple and urgent: I plead with us to acknowledge our need for the Holy Spirit and for His ministry in our lives as followers of Jesus.

I grieve to read these words from Francis Chan:

There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today…

If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit. The degree to which this has happened (and I would argue that it is a prolific disease in the body of Christ) is directly connected to the dissatisfaction most of us feel with and in the church. We understand something very important is missing…

I believe that this missing something is actually a missing Someone—namely, the Holy Spirit…

Given our talent set, experience, and education, many of us are fairly capable of living rather successfully (according to the world’s standards) without any strength from the Holy Spirit.

Even our church growth can happen without Him. Let’s be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church.  Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw  people in for an hour or two on Sunday.[2]

Yes, I grieve to read this, and I shudder. I shudder because I know that Chan’s words are true. Too many of us do neglect the Spirit’s presence and His ministry. And I shudder because it is a dreadfully true thought that a church that has the right cogs in place can keep the machine going even if the Lord is not present. But that, friends, is not a church…it is merely a machine, an institution, a business.

But if we are to be a church, then we must return again to the great line of the creed and say it with conviction and with power: “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.15—“and he will come to judge the living and the dead”

I know I should not, but I do kind of an appreciate a good theologian fracas, when theologians square off. I think this is because the reasons for theologians sparring, unlike most others fights, are at least sometimes (though not always!) substantive. Regardless, the subject matter always matters: who is God and how do we understand Him.

There have been a number of great theologian clashes. One thinks of Athanasius and Arius or Augustine and Pelagius. But another great one was between Tertullian and Marcion. It was not really a squaring off, to be technical about it. Marcion was older. He lived from 85 to 160 AD. Tertullian lived from 155 to 220 AD. So Marcion died when Tertullian was five years old, but that did not stop Tertullian from taking Marcion to task when he got older. In fact, Tertullian wrote a book entitled Adversus Marcionem, Against Marcion.

Why? Well, Marcion developed very problematic views. In fact, Marcion was a heretic. Marcion believed that the God of the Old Testament was a monster, a vengeful, wrathful, false god. He believed that the God of the New Testament was a different deity who revealed Himself in the person of Jesus.

The church condemned Marcionism in 144 AD. A lot of what we know of Marcion’s views we know from the assessments of those, like Tertullian, who wrote against him.

One of Tertullian’s main points was that Marcion left no room for God to have any wrath. Tertullian writes scathingly of Marcion and the Marcionites:

…a better god has been discovered, one who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment, who has no fire warming up in hell, and no outer darkness wherein there is shuddering and gnashing of teeth: he is merely kind. Of course he forbids you to sin – but only in writing.[1]

Tertullian also noted that the world desperately wants a God with no wrath or judgment. He writes: “We get ourselves laughed at for proclaiming that God will one day judge the world.”[2]

And this is not an uncommon desire, this desire for a God with no wrath who never judges sin. In his article, “No Squishy Love,” Timothy George writes:

In his 1934 book, The Kingdom of God in America, H. Richard Niebuhr depicted the creed of liberal Protestant theology, which was called “modernism” in those days, in these famous words: “A God without wrath brought man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”[3]

Against this kind of sentimentalism projected upon the God of Heaven and earth stands the line of the creed: “and he will come to judge the living and the dead.” There are two components to this line, both of which have deep scriptural backing:

  • He will come
  • to judge the living and the dead.

Both of these are vitally important, and both are to be understood in the shadow of the cross.

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Matthew 21:28–46

Matthew 21

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. 33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

 I went to a conference at Union University a few months ago. I was delighted when, in the course of one of his presentations, the speaker quoted William Faulkner’s novel, Light in August. It is a powerful novel. I went up to the speaker at the break and asked him if I might share a line from the novel that haunts me. Faulkner writes the line about a pastor, Reverend Hightower, who, in the course of the novel, becomes disillusioned with the church. Here is what Faulkner writes of Hightower’s epiphany concerning the church:

It seems to him that he has seen it all the while: that that which is destroying the Church is not the outward groping of those within it nor the inward groping of those without, but the professionals who control it and who have removed the bells from its steeples.[1]

That line hits hard. It is not, Faulkner argues, the world that is corrupting the church. Nor is it even the worldliness of the congregation. Rather, it is “the professionals who control it and who have removed the bells from its steeples.” The indictment there is two-pronged:

  • “control”
  • “removing the bells from the steeples”

The first speaks of the corruption of power. The second of the corruption of a loss of focus. The first speaks of arrogance. The second speaks of the tragedy of the religious elites robbing the church of its voice and its beauty.

Jesus corroborates this indictment in the remainder of Matthew 21 when he continues His exchange with the religious elites by telling them two stories that illustrate two points.

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.14b—“he is seated at the right hand of the Father”

On Saturday, May 6, 2023, the world will get to see something that does not happen very often: the coronation of a new king of England. Charles will be crowned king of England and Camilla will be crowned queen. There will be a great deal of pomp and circumstance and symbolism on May 6, but what strikes me as most interesting is how many of the elements of the upcoming will involve the king’s right hand.

  • A ring will be placed on his right hand.
  • One of the two scepters will be placed in his right hand.
  • An orb will be placed in his right hand.

These will be handed back to the Archbishop of Canterbury after their placement. Then, traditionally, a host of significant people come forward and kiss the ring on the king’s right hand.

The giving of these items to the right hand of the king is intended to communicate different things, but all of them have to do with the new king of England’s rule, over both the state and the Church of England.

It is, to say the least, interesting to watch all of this. In light of the history of our nations, there is, of course, a unique historical angle to an American observing this. Most of us will watch it with a sense of interest and even respect but also with an awareness of our own story. But, more so, it is most interesting to watch this as a Christian. We are aware, of course, that there is only one King who reigns forever and that His throne is above all other thrones. This is Jesus. But what is really fascinating is thinking about how Jesus is the great treasure at the Father’s right hand.

The New Testament is filled with references to the right hand of the Father, and they all involve His Son, King Jesus, God with us. We have seen how “the session” of Jesus—the sitting of Jesus at the Father’s right hand—communicates the completion of Jesus’ earthly saving work, the exaltation of Jesus and His unparalleled power and authority, and the continuation of His priestly role of intercession and advocacy. But there is yet more to the session of Christ, and to this we turn now.

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.14a—“he is seated at the right hand of the Father”

Life can be tough for left-handed folks! Weirdly, there is a long history of anti-left-hand bias in much of the world stretching way back into antiquity. Consider these examples from a fascinating post entitled “History of Handedness—Ancient History.”

  • “There is some evidence that all of the early great civilizations of the world—from the ancient Mesopotamians to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans—have been strongly biased towards the right hand. The right hand of the gods was considered to be healing and beneficent, while their left hand was used for curses or inflicting injury. The strongly anti-left Ancient Egyptians often depicted their enemies as left-handed while they were the righteous dextrals.”
  • “Plato…went so far as to blame left-handedness on inept mothers and nurses who failed to adequately school their children in the correct way of doing things.”
  • “…the Pythagoreans listed ten first principles, each of which consisted of pairs of opposites, and it comes as no surprise that right is listed on the same side as male, straight, light, good, etc, while left is listed alongside female, crooked, darkness and evil…”
  • “Alexander the Great…claimed to have conquered a country of left-handed people, although the claim is unsubstantiated.”
  • “According to some, wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand originated with the Romans, the idea being to fend off evil associated with the left-hand…”[1]

This phenomenon is reflected also in scripture. In Matthew 6:3, Jesus says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Notice it is the right hand that is giving to the needy and the left hand is being told to mind its own business! Consider too, in Matthew 25, where the sheep (the saved) and the goats (the lost) are situated.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Again, life can be tough for the left-handed! But in all seriousness, the right hand as an ancient symbol of power and authority is important for us to grasp when it comes to our understanding of what used to be called “the session” of Christ. Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes of “the session”:

The early church rightly understood that the drama of Christ includes his ascension, entry into heaven, and heavenly session (Lat. sessio = sitting down) at the right hand of the Father. Jesus’ session was an important part of apostolic teaching, figuring prominently in both the Apostles’ Creed and the earlier Roman Creed: sedet ad dexteram patris.[2]

So “the session” of Jesus refers to the sitting down of Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Hebrews 10 gives us one of many examples of this.

12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God

But, in fact, Jesus is not always depicted as “sitting” at the Father’s hand. Sometimes He is depicted as “at” the Father’s right hand or even “standing” there. Regardless, His “sitting” there is the traditional and dominant image and it carries with it numerous implications. For this reason, it is important that we understand it.

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.13—“he ascended into heaven”

I chuckled this week when reading about the ascension of Jesus. The ascension refers to Jesus ascending to Heaven forty days after His resurrection. It is when His followers watch him go up to glory. I chuckled because one article on the ascension that I saw was entitled, “What’s Up with the Ascension?” What’s up indeed!

Evangelical Christians believe in the ascension, but that does not mean we really understand its significance. We may even feel conflicted about it. Why, after all, did Jesus not simply stay with His church in His resurrected body? How amazing would it be to have Jesus show up and silence the church’s critics and speak words to us audibly as we sit at his feet? But, even as we say this, we know that the ascension is important because Jesus is doing something important in Heaven at the Father’s right hand.

You can see this sense of conflicted feeling in the following two ascension poems. The first is a modern poem by James Matthew Wilson. He wrote:

Ascension Thursday: gone again.
My usual panic every year
Sets in as the Easter season ends;
I’d hoped to reconcile everything,
To feel, just once, grace tremble near,
In a resurrected, fiery ring.
But dry distraction settles in,
And with a crow’s beak pecks my breast
With hungers and regrets. Small sins,
On which I’d neither think nor cry
In ordinary time, impress
Themselves, while my unsettled eyes
Are elsewhere turned. But, suddenly robbed
Of His face after these un-tombed forty
Days—intimate meals now that the mob
Had killed and left him with its dread—
My stare falls on the table emptied
Of his presence.
What now, now that He’s fled?[1]

There is almost a note of despair about that, is there not? “Robbed of His face,” “the table emptied of his presence,” “What now, now that He’s fled?” This is not encouraging! But, on the other hand, we have the words of an earlier ascension hymn, W. Chatterton Dix’s 1866 “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne,” which are decidedly more optimistic.

Alleluia! Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! he is near us;
Faith believes nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received him,
When the forty days were o’er,
Shall our hearts forget his promise:
“I am with you evermore.”[2]

So what is up with the ascension? How should we consider this simple but powerful line from the creed: “he ascended into heaven”?

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Credo: A Sermon Series through The Apostles’ Creed // pt.12—“on the third day he rose again”

In Eugene Peterson’s book, Living the Resurrection, he passes on a charming and thought-provoking story about wise words from a little girl.

Some time ago, my friend Brenda flew to Chicago for a visit with her daughter’s family, and especially with her granddaughter, Charity. Charity is five years old—a plump, cute, highly verbal little girl. Charity’s paternal grandmother had been visiting the previous week. She is a devout woman who takes her spiritual grandmothering duties very seriously, and she had just left.

The morning after Brenda’s arrival, Charity came into her grandmother’s bedroom at five o’clock, crawled into bed, and said, “Grandmother, let’s not have any Godtalk, okay? I believe God is everywhere. Let’s just get on with life.”

I like Charity. I think she is on to something.

Peterson explains what he likes about Charity’s comment.

It’s not that the Godtalk is untrue, but when it is disconnected from the ordinary behavior and conversation that make up the fabric of our lives, the truth leaks out. A phrase from Psalm 116:9—“I walk before the LORD in the land of the living”—clears the ground and gives some perspective on Charity and “let’s just get on with life.”[1]

And again:

I’m interpreting Charity’s five o’clock greeting to her grandmother as a diagnostic response to a way of life that somehow gets God and life disconnected and separated into two different categories. She missed something in the way her first grandmother talked about God, and she was hoping her second grandmother wouldn’t also miss it. I’m guessing that what she missed was life—the Life. Let’s get on with life.[2]

I share Peterson’s response to Charity’s (likely) meaning: our Godtalk should move seamlessly alongside, with, and throughout our lives. It should feel organic and not likely periodic lectures delivered in the cul-de-sacs of life. And I say this as a big fan of “Godtalk”! In fact, Godtalk is almost a literal rendering of theology, from theos, God, and logos, word. But that disconnect that Charity sensed is indeed a problem, that chasm between our Godtalk and our lives.

Easter is a great time for us to examine the problem of that disconnect, for our Godtalk about “resurrection,” if disconnected from the movements of our lives, undermines what we say. In fact, I would like to offer a thesis concerning this. But, first, I need to define two words:

ecclesiology: the doctrine of the church

apologetics: the defense of the faith

Here, then, is my thesis:

Thesis: The church is an ecclesiological apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And that thesis itself rests on a foundational premise.

Premise: The best evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is neither intellectual argument nor a once-a-year resurrection extravaganza, but rather the consistent demonstration of resurrection power in our lives through acts of Jesus-shaped non-conformity and contrast to the fallen world order.

In other words, while the resurrection does indeed call for proclamation, for Godtalk, for preaching, its true power and significance is demonstrated in and through our lives. This thesis is no mere theory. Rather, it is born out of the witness of the New Testament. We will consider Acts 4:32–35 in this regard.

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

My argument is that the church is the best evidence for the resurrection and that a text like this shows how this works. Specifically, the verse that sits at the very heart of this text, verse 13—And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”—is the animating core of what precedes and follows it. In other words, the living witness of the apostles to the resurrection of Jesus led to certain fruits in the early Christian community that proved the apostolic witness.

In what ways does this text depict the church itself as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?

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