Category Archives: Resurrection

“Longing for the endless feast to come” by Matthew McCullough

“Until we’re honest about the pervasive, painful presence of loss throughout our lives, we won’t be drawn in by Jesus and His promise of eternal life. We need to see with the eyes of the heart that we have nothing unless we have Jesus. Everything else is passing away.

Earlier in the chapter, I raised what seems to me a common objection to the Christian focus on eternal life. Sometimes talk of eternal life seems like a distraction from the challenges and opportunities and obligations of this life.

At best it sounds abstract and otherworldly. At worst it seems escapist, like some sort of excuse to ignore problems of the present. Or, perhaps, a consolation for those too old or sick to have anything left to live for.

I hope by this point it’s clear that this objection is dangerously shortsighted and ironically off the mark. If eternal life sounds otherworldly to you, then you’re the one not paying close enough attention to this world and its concerns.

Jesus focuses on eternal life because He is more attuned to what life is like in this world than those who settle for less. In this world everyone loses everything.

Eternal life only seems like a distraction from what you really want or need if you pretend you’re not dying. That’s why the objection is shortsighted.

But the objection is also ironic. Jesus’s promise of eternal life is actually the thing that enables true and resilient joy in our experience of good things that don’t last.

When talk of eternal life seems like a distraction, it’s because we’ve failed to appreciate the tremendous challenge of loss to any joy we might experience in the present. We’ve failed to honestly confront the questions raised earlier in this chapter.

How can we enjoy what we hay, when we know we’re eventually going to lose it?

When we’ve learned to feel the weight of this question, we’re prepared to see the true and wonderful relevance of Jesus’s promise for living now. Jesus’s language of eternal life, so far from an otherworldly or ascetic distraction from the goodness of this life turns out to be exactly what we need to make the most of our time under the sun.

Jesus’s death and resurrection, and His promise that He will give life to us too if we believe in Him, reframe how we experience the transient things of this life. The way to fully taste the sweetness of eternal life is not to pull back from enjoying the good things of this life, but to leverage these good and passing pleasures into longing for the endless feast to come.

Loving this life and all its goodness, knowing with truth and honesty that we’re going to lose everything, can actually deepen our love for the life to come.

Jesus’s promise of triumph over death, a resurrection to eternal life, is an invitation to fully enjoy the beauty of life in this world, no matter how fleeting. In other words, the way to deal with the painful problem of loss is not to pull back from loving the transient things, but to press further in.

To love them freely for what they are: precious gifts of a Father who loves you, foretastes of glory divine.”

–Matthew McCullough, Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 141-142.

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“No longer my past but Christ’s past” by Sinclair Ferguson

“We share one bundle of life with Christ in what He has done. All that He has accomplished for us in our human nature is, through union with Him, true for us and, in a sense, of us.

He ‘died to sin, once for all’; ‘He lives to God’ (Romans 6:10). He came under the dominion of sin in death, but death could not master Him.

He rose and broke the power of both sin and death. Now He lives forever in resurrection life to God. The same is as true of us as if we had been with Him on the cross, in the tomb, and on the resurrection morning!

We miss the radical nature of Paul’s teaching here to our great loss.

So startling is it that we need to find a startling manner of expressing it. For what Paul is saying is that sanctification means this: in relationship to sin and to God, the determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ’s past.

The basic framework for my new existence in Christ is that I have become a ‘dead man brought to life’ and must think of myself in those terms: dead to sin and alive to God in union with Jesus Christ our Lord.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, “Christian Spirituality: The Reformed View of Sanctification,” in Some Pastors and Teachers (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2017), 533.

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“Easter Wings” by George Herbert

“Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poor:
                        With Thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.”


–George Herbert, ‘Easter Wings 1” in Herbert: Poems (Everyman Library) (New York: Knopf, 2004), 25.

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“It was easy” by Jonathan Edwards

“It was as easy with God to raise up His Son from death, as it is for one man to awake another out of sleep.”

–Jonathan Edwards, The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. 1153–1360) (ed. Douglas A. Sweeney and Harry S. Stout; vol. 23; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2004), 159.

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“He not only was but still is our chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King” by Herman Bavinck

“It is the crucified but also the resurrected and exalted Christ whom the apostles proclaim. From that vantage point of the exaltation of Christ, they view and describe His earthly life, suffering, and death.

For the work He now carries out as the exalted mediator, He laid the foundations in His cross. In His battle with sin, the world, and Satan, the cross has been His only weapon.

By the cross He triumphed in the sphere of justice over all powers that are hostile to God. But in the state of exaltation, consequently, He has also been given the divine right, the divine appointment, the royal power and prerogatives to carry out the work of re-creation in full, to conquer all His enemies, to save all those who have been given Him, and to perfect the entire kingdom of God.

On the basis of the one, perfect sacrifice made on the cross, He now—in keeping with the will of the Father—distributes all His benefits. Those benefits are not the physical or magical aftereffect of His earthly life and death.

It is the living and exalted Christ, seated at the right hand of God, who deliberately and with authority distributes all these benefits, gathers His elect, overcomes His enemies, and directs the history of the world toward the day of His parousia.

He is still consistently at work in heaven as the mediator. He not only was but still is our chief prophet, our only high priest, and our eternal king.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 473-474.

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“What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation” by G.K. Chesterton

“They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden; the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body.

There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried.

It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived.

But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead. On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.

In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.

What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”

–G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Volume 2 (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986), 2: 344–345.

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“God is a friend you cannot lose” by Thomas Watson

“Are you mourning someone close to you? Look up to heaven and draw comfort from there; your best kindred are above.

‘When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up,’ (Psalm 27:10).

God will be with you in the hour of death: ‘though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me,’ (Psalm 23:4).

Other friends you cannot keep. God is a friend you cannot lose.

He will be your guide in life, your hope in death, and your reward after death.”

–Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture Drawn with a Scripture-Pencil (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2003), 121.

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