Post Tenebras Lux -

"Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
- Mark 16:6

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-21

“He alone has made a solid proficiency in the gospel who has been accustomed to continual meditation on the blessed resurrection.”
- John Calvin, Institutes, III:xxv.I

“The issue (of the resurrection) is non-negotiable for Paul. The consequences of denying Christ’s resurrection are massive – for then Paul’s preaching is mistaken, their faith is vain, their sins remain unforgiven, and those who have died have perished.”
- Thomas Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ, p. 457

“The resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the new and final world-order, an order described as spiritual and heavenly. It is the dawn of the new creation the start of the eschatological age. In terms of the conceptual framework with which Paul views the whole of history, it is the commencement of the ‘age to come.’”
- Richard Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption, pps. 89-90

“Post Tenebras Lux” has often been used as the motto for the Protestant Reformation. In Latin it simply means, “After darkness, light”. It has also been used during the Easter season in association with Good Friday. Even today some Lutheran churches have Good Friday services that they describe as a ‘Tenebras’ service, where reflection is made upon sin that brought darkness. Then the following Easter Sunday is described as “Lux” or light. For the Christian the resurrection is that historically glorious and momentous event when the spell-bound darkness is finally broken by light. The curse is reversed.

In the comprehensiveness of Christ’s redemptive act Puritan John Owen called it the ‘death of death’, and John Calvin called the resurrection, “…the most important article of our faith”(John II:247). The resurrection is no small appendage to our theological understanding. It is pivotal. Without the historical and bodily resurrection of Christ we are left without hope, we remain in our sins, our faith is in vain, and those who die face immediate corruption and finality. Many churches that call themselves Christian emphasize the cross and deny the resurrection. For them it is much easier to believe Jesus was crucified, than that He was resurrected. The historical and corporeal (bodily) resurrection is too much for them. How glad I am for the Resurrection. In it Jesus has became the first to conquer death, sin, hell and the grave, and in His resurrection we are guaranteed the same. And if that weren’t enough, the resurrected and ascended Christ has bestowed the greatest of all gifts to His church in the giving of the Spirit (Acts 2:31-33 and Eph. 4:8).

The Resurrection is the light after the darkness of the Cross. May we truly comprehend what has been done, and then rejoice in the resurrection of our Savior.



Sanctus Spiritus -

'For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.'
- Romans 6:14

I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 
- The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 13

'An all-important consideration derived from the priority of calling and regeneration is that sin is dethroned in every person who is effectually called and regenerated. Calling unites to Christ (1 Cor. 1:9), and if the person is truly united to Christ he is united to him in the virtue of his death and the power of his resurrection; he is dead to sin, the old man has been crucified, the body of sin has been destroyed, sin does not have dominion (Romans 6:2-6,14).'
-John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp. 141-142

There is great hope for us. The same God who has called us from the darkness of sin, unbelief, and rebellion has sent His Spirit to us to deliver us from the domain of sin. In Christ's redemptive work the Holy Spirit has begun the sure and systematic dethronement of sin. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ sin is no longer the predominant and prevailing force in our lives. At times it may seem like it, but this is not the case. The effectual application of Christ's work through the Spirit guarantees that there is a new power at work in us. We have been called by Christ and to Christ and connected to our calling is the sending of the Spirit to us to sanctify us, really and personally. God has definitively cleansed us once and for all, and yet He continually cleanses us by washing away the daily pollutions from sin. He has sanctified us and He is sanctifying us. He is changing us to more resemble Himself, holy and undefiled. This is His work in us. The Holy Spirit is our sure sanctifier. This gives me great hope.  

I'm really and truly grateful for the Spirit as our sanctifier.



The Absolute Indispensability of Weakness -

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.  But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

-1 Corinthians 12:22-26

“Within the body which is one, there is true diversity – a multiplicity of function which is necessary to its being a real body (1 Cor. 12:17-20). Each member with his particular function is necessary to the other member for the good of the body as a whole (vv. 17-21).”
- P.T. O’Brien, The Church in the Bible and the World, p. 106

It has been said that the character of a nation can be assessed by the way it treats its weakest citizens. If it can be said for nations it can certainly be said for the church. How we relate to those who are weak is a reflection upon our maturity in Christian graces and the degree to which we understand the grace of God and the body of Christ. This will come as no surprise, but Christ’s body has weak members. When Paul addressed the Corinthians we are not sure what the weaker members looked like. They may have been those who were boisterous and unrestrained in their charismatic gifting. We do know, however, that their weakness was apparent and looked upon with a certain degree of disdain. We also know that they were indispensable. They were less ‘presentable’ but necessary. There was a tendency to keep them hidden and obscure and not to honor them as necessary and functionally important parts of the body. We tend to denigrate and disregard those who are different than us. So often weakness is minimized and dishonored when that fact of the matter is that at one point or another we all demonstrate weakness. We denigrate weakness.  We have tendency to think that if only the weak would get with the program then we would have a strong church. And yet, whatever the weakness each person is a necessary part of the whole church, both generally and particularly. Christ's church needs those who are weak to function properly, and both weak and strong members must live with the God-exalting goal of mutual love.  In this  each has a vital part to play in the aggregate that becomes the body. The weak are no less important than the strong and we must honor them as vital to the proper functioning of the body. 

May God give us great grace to function together as both weak and strong, interdependent upon one another and in demonstrations of love toward one another, as we give living expression to Christ’s body.



Wearing Mercy as a Garment -

'Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?' 
- Micah 6:8

'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.' 
- Matthew 5:7 

'Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.' 
- 1 Peter 2:10

'Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.' 
- Luke 6:36

'Most of us have not come to grips with the clear directive of Scripture that all Christians must have their own ministries of mercy.'
- Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy, p. 43 

Lead on, O King eternal,
till sin's fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper
the sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords' loud clashing
or roll of stirring drums
with deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.

- Lead On O King Eternal, The Psalter Hymnal, verse 2

Christians, above all others, must live as examples of received mercy. The mercies we display  are to be reflective of the mercies we've been shown. We were the objects of deserved wrath. We were guilty, vile, helpless, and thoroughgoing enemies of God, but now through Christ we have been shown mercy. And, I dare say for many of us this mercy is scarcely comprehended. Christians who are not merciful are dull and do not understand the mercy they've been shown. We have committed treason of cosmic proportion, and yet God has shown us a treasurehouse of kindness. We deserved wrath…we received mercy. His dealings with His people are merciful, derived from His unfathomable love for Christ and for us in Christ. An awareness of mercy received begets mercy in the one shown it, because, truth be known, we cannot long comprehend God's mercies toward us without it effecting a resembling mercy in our own lives and demonstrated in mercy towards others.

It is our privilege and joy to wear mercy like a garment on display for others to see and experience, because we have been shown great mercy. May we be filled with visible demonstrations of mercy received.


Love Matters -

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” 
- C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

‘The church’s manifestation in time of the glories that are yet to come is not accomplished in the gift of tongues, nor even in prophecy, giving, teaching. It is accomplished in love…. The greatest evidence that heaven has invaded our sphere, that the Spirit has been poured out upon us, that we are citizens of a kingdom not yet consummated, is Christian love.’
- D.A. Carson, Showing the Spirit, p. 76

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
- 1 Cor. 13:1-3 

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 
-1 John 4:21

To love, and love well, is not difficult…it is impossible. We may have an inclination of affections or grand feelings of inducements towards others, but to love well must come from outside of ourselves. We cannot love well without example, or without demonstration toward us. To love well is to apprehend, if even in a small way, love demonstrated to us. Luke tells a story in chapter 7 about a woman who loved well. She was a woman with a tarnished reputation...a woman who was known by her great sin. Luke doesn't fill in all of the blanks, but we can safely say that her notoriety was common knowledge. Her transformation from a great sinner to one who loved well was nothing short of miraculous. Simon missed the point, but she got it. She loved well, because she experienced gospel love first hand. Forgiveness came to her...she was loved...and out of love demonstrated to her she then loved well. Mark this my friends, when gospel love apprehends the sinner's heart a transformation takes place. Loving others well is the inevitable by-product of being loved by demonstrated gospel love.



Grieving the Spirit -

'The mark of Jesus is love, costly love, and it does not come naturally or easily.'
- Timothy George and John Woodbridge, The Mark of Jesus, p. 92

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
-Matthew 22:36-40

'We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.'
-1 John 3:14

'Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.'
- Ephesians 4:29-32

It seems easy to forget the personhood of the Holy Spirit. It is much easier to remember personhood of the other members of the Trinity, but there seems to be a mysteriousness to the Holy Spirit that doesn't as easily lend itself to the definition of personality. That is why I think it is very important to pay attention when we read the biblical references to Trinitarian personality, especially the Holy Spirit. The things that grieve the Spirit are the things that grieve God and vice versa. Lately I've been thinking about those things that grieve the Holy Spirit. How can the immutable God be grieved? In itself this is mysterious. Paul's words to the Ephesians are instructive, but why is this statement in the middle of an excursus about how we treat one another? Astoundingly, according to Paul's comments, grieving the Spirit often happens in our interactions with and about others. He lists them...corrupting talk, unedifying conversation, bitterness, wrath, anger, strife, slander, and malice, and even as I type this I'm convicted. The way we talk with and about others matters. It not only reveals our own heart, it grieves the Holy Spirit. He is the One who has sealed us in Christ for redemption. When we grieve Him by our actions and conversations we are not affirming our redemption, instead, we are living like the unredeemed, like those outside of Christ. The evidences of the Spirit's work and pleasure are conversely demonstrated in kindness, being tenderhearted, and showing forgiveness, because this has been God's redeeming grace demonstrated to us. We most resemble our redeemed nature when these characterize our lives, and we grieve the Spirit when they don't. May God give us much grace to live for His glory and pleasure in our relationships with others, and may grieving the Spirit be kept far from us.



Light and Darkness -

'And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.'
-Genesis 1:3

'In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.'

-John 1:4-5

'Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."'

- John 8:12

'For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.'
- 2 Cor. 4:6

Cold blackness, a night that’s felt
Aloneness, like Leviathan’s fate
Hope has died, now faith removed
Opress’d at the spell of ebony weight

A clock ticks, each second pounds
Calm belies the gathering storm
Haunting memories take on flesh
An apparition now a darkened form

The talon’d grip holds fast and firm
Has grace forgot that ancient pledge?
Can one be lost, cast far away?
Is mercy left for foulest dredge?

Lazarus' stench, alive but dead
Eyes drawn tight from Eden's stain
One word uttered, death has stuttered
Can these graveclothes dance again?

Declare your word, a whisper’d voice
A lightning flash from mercy’s arc
A Cross suspended, a world upended
Begone! that devil of the dark

Darkness mine, now His became
Exchanged brightness for deepest night
Imputation and transformation
Death became the brightest light

-Dan Morse, Dark, 2009

The Bible portrays the Christian life as a startling contrast to the non-Christian life. New life is radical and pervasive and bears no resemblance to no life. It leaves no stone unturned. It is as alarming as being born all over again. It is as different as day is from night. It is like a resurrection from the dead...no, it is a resurrection from the dead. It is unexpected, shocking, alarming, and absolute. The gospel does not come to us to make slight improvements, it comes to make us new. Like Lazarus, without resurrection we always carry with us the odor of death. We are like dead men walking. But when God changes us it is like a transport from death to life...from darkness to light. In this new birth we are made new, a new creation has begun, and old things have passed away.


The Storyteller's Story -

'"Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them. "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.'
-Luke 24:24-27

'Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.'
-Hebrews 1:1-2

'The entire Bible finds its unity in what can be best called holy history - Heilsgeshichte. It is a record and interpretation of the events in which God visits men in history to redeem them as persons and also to redeem them in society - in history. This means finally the redemption of history itself.'
- George Ladd, The Pattern of New Testament Truth, pp. 110-111

'The story is God's story. It describes His work to rescue rebels from their folly, guilt and ruin. And in His rescue operation, God always takes the initiative.'
- Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery, p. 11

The Bible is all of a piece. Sixty-six books with a variety of authors from varying backgrounds and written at various times in various places, and all with a unified story-line. This book stretches over thousands of years of history and each author contributes independently to the integrated whole. The voices and nuance are different, but the refrain is the same.  Each piece continues to build to a crescendo. The God of history has a story to tell and of His own initiative He will tell it. Starting from the beginning...in a garden, paradise was lost. The ruination and sorrow that would follow would be retold in stories of treachery, war, betrayal, misery and bloodshed. Depravity would be a common theme.  Thankfully, throughout the story of fallenness and depravity another story would be told. From the beginning a promise was made. The Storyteller would not let evil have the final say. Genesis sets the trajectory with a paradise lost and the promise of One who would come. Revelation ends with paradise restored through the One promised. The plot line winds its way through the multiplicity of stories like a crimson thread. And at the end of the day our stories are woven into the whole. It is a story of grace unbound and mercy unfettered. It is a story of perilous rescue. It is a story of incomprehensible love at unfathomable cost. The God of history has a story to tell.


God's Remembering Mercy

'O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.'
- Habakkuk 3:2

'But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."'- Matthew 1:20-21

'Justification is present deliverance from the eschatological wrath of God, a verdict, already rendered, of acquittal and right standing at the final judgment.'- Richard Gaffin, Right With God, p. 124

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole,Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!- Horatio Spafford, It is Well, v. 3

If your trust is in Christ there is good news, both now and to come. A verdict has already been rendered. An acquittal has already come. For those whose trust is in Christ future judgment has already been executed. In our pervasive sinfulness we have earned the just wrath, judgment, and condemnation of God. The glory of the gospel is that the guilty have received pardon. Because of Christ's comprehensive atoning work and because of an inestimable price paid, future judgment has been given now. The declaration = Not guilty. The entirety of my sins past, present, and future have been forgiven.  

This is good news for me.  There is no lingering wrath to bear on my my own.  The crimson stain of commands broken has been thoroughly cleansed.  The accumulated years of thoughts, words, and deeds concocted to conspire against my Creator have met an overwhelming sufficiency in Christ.  The unclean has been made clean.  The pauper has been made rich.  The illegitimate has been made a son. In His wrath God has remembered mercy.


Orphans No More

'Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.'
- Psalm 68:5

'I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.'
- John 14:18

'And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba Father!"'
- Galatians 4:6

'The New Testament reminds those of us who are newcomers of our adoption so we'll remember that we are here by the Spirit, not by the exertions of our flesh. Because we've been brought into an already-existing family, we ought not to be proud, as though we were here by family entitlement (Romans 11:11-25). We're here by grace.'
- Russell Moore, Adopted for Life, p. 30

'The kingdom of Christ is characterized in Scripture as a kingdom of rescued children.... When we protect and welcome children, we're announcing something about Jesus and His kingdom.'
- Russell Moore, Adopted for Life, p. 78

What can be greater grief than a child without a father to love him, protect him, and provide a place for him to call home? The biblical storyline is a story of lost children being brought home. At the beginning of the biblical record a story is told of alienation and wandering and from this point forward the story unfolds of search and rescue for those who are lost. The story of redemption is the story of children being rescued from danger and being brought home and forever protected and loved. God places the orphan in a family. God also defines undefiled (pure) religion as a care for orphans, because this is the heart of God Himself. In an amazing story of love for orphans God's Son necessarily became a castaway. He became an orphan. He became the despised and alienated one so that orphans might be brought into the household and claimed as true sons and daughters. This is a story of an unbelievable exchange. We were once the rejected, despised and without hope, but now we sit in our Father's house as heirs of Christ Himself and free from all separation and harm. This is the story of a Father's adopting love to weak orphans.  Because of the Father's love for us, may God give us great love for those still waiting for adoption.  Truthfully, there's an entire world of orphans waiting to hear the message of the reconciling love of the Father. 


Loving the Gospel's Power to Save

'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.'

- Romans 1:16

' For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.'
- 1 Corinthians 1:17-18

'Your world is inhabited by a powerful and living Redeemer who is at work collecting all the spoils of victory on your behalf.'
- Paul Tripp, Broken Down House, p. 105

There is great power in the gospel to save. I've seen it at work in others, and I've experienced it at work in myself. There is no person beyond redemption.  Because it is God's work His salvation is both immediate and ongoing, pervasive and final. God has promised that His fully-orbed salvation purchased through His Son will accomplish its purposes. God intends to save us both thoroughly and finally. This we must believe and this we must encourage and speak to one another. There is no true Christian life and experience without the saving effects of God's redemptive work. Be encouraged by the sure effect of God's salvation from Philippians 1:6, 'And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.'