Why did Paul describe the Resurrection as the tenet of faith, without which our faith is futile and we're still in our sins? Why did the evangelistic proclamation of the Apostles focus so much on the exaltation and victory of the Son of God over death? We know why Jesus had to die - but why did Jesus have to rise?
That was the subject of our meeting on Sunday. We were looking at the Resurrection of the Son of God - his ultimate victory over Satan, Sin, Death and Hell. We'll never be able to give a full account of the empty tomb if we think about Jesus' resurrection merely as his 'supreme miracle' - like the raising of Lazarus, just many times more powerful. The resurrection of the Son of God wasn't a coda to heaven's work of redemption; it was its great, dramatic climax, the fulfilment of OT expectation. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, when the disciples went to bed on that first Easter Saturday, little did they know that all human history was about to die in the night.
Find a full set of notes below, which also include two appendices. (Dedicated to the Trinitarian significance of the Resurrection, and to Paul's description in Rom 4 that Christ was "raised for our justification.") Also find below a great, rousing Resurrection hymn from the Gettys!
We're in the middle of our five-part series on 'Soteriology' - our doctrine/s of salvation. Having established the Power of the Cross (the Servant King enduring horror and shame, 'for us and for our salvation'), we looked last Sunday at the Work of the Cross. How exactly did Jesus' death procure our salvation? How did he win our redemption?
As we discovered last time, the Cross is at the centre of Christianity. Paul says in Gal 6:14 that he will boast in nothing else. Indeed, the history of the Church has been one long story of reckoning with it! With that in mind, we looked at how the ancient Church understood the death of Christ on the Cross, how the medieval Church understood it, and then how the Reformers reckoned with it - all in conversation with Scripture.
On the Cross, Christ is the great Victor - conquering Satan, sin, death and hell.
On the Cross, Christ is the God-Man - standing in our place, doing what we never could.
On the Cross, Christ is our True Example - showing us what love really means.
All of these are good and true answers, and consistent with scripture to a greater or lesser extent. But these are all but melodies without a harmony. There is one answer that unites them all. It's there in the early Church. It's there in the medieval Church. It's there in the modern Church. And it's there in the Scriptures. What is this answer?
On the Cross, Christ is our substitute - pierced for our transgressions.
He became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
At the end of March, the 'second years' (those who have completed the Foundations course) met at Gill Brown's house for the first time in many months. It was lovely to be together again. Many thanks to Gill for her wonderful hospitality. It was truly a 'Rivendell moment'!
After we had completed the Foundations course we had a number of options: we could study more advanced systematic theology; we could examine particular scriptural themes, or we could stop meeting altogether. Instead, it was decided that what God's people need is the application of sound, Christ-centred theology. These big, majestic truths of Scripture must be met with a concern for Christlikeness. The puritans called this 'casuistry'; the ancient Christians called it 'virtue'.
Some might think this is somehow inferior to systematic theology. To the contrary, this is its fulfilment. After all, the end of all theology (and the end of a theologian's career!) is the so-called 'beatific vision' - that moment when we will see him face-to-face, as Moses did, like a friend. We will have no need of mediatory language or theory. We will know him perfectly. But much more than this - Scripture tells us that we will not just perceive his likeness, we will be perfectly conformed TO his likeness. Christlikeness is the goal of all things, just as Christ himself is the end of all things.
The Virtues sessions are concerned with cultivating Christlikeness - indeed, the apostle Peter tells us that we have been chosen as his people "in order that we might proclaim the virtues of him who called us" [1 Pet 2:9].
In this, our first session, we started by telling two big stories about what it means to be human and to flourish - one comes from Greek philosophy, the other from Scripture. We saw how the early Christians were aware of the first story, but consciously adapted it, reversing it and correcting it in the wake of Christ's resurrection. The Greeks spoke of virtue as the path to human flourishing, the end of all things. The authors of Scripture, however, spoke of Christ as the end of all things, through whom all things will be made new, and we now united in him - being conformed to his image, partaking in his virtue, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Second year TTS students - click here for the notes for Virtues S1! If you can't remember your password, please do get in touch.
"[So] many are the Saviour's achievements that follow from his Incarnation, that to try to number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. ... [Everything] about it is marvellous, and wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word, and is smitten with awe" [Athanasius - De Inc. VIII.54]
What a joy-filled time we had last night! Truly, God loves his Word, and the Spirit delighted in making us delight in him. We were studying the doctrine of the Incarnation - this awesome truth that the God of all Creation added to himself a human nature, and dwelled amongst us. If you were to go back, the tiny Christ child wouldn't have glowed. There would have been nothing about his appearance that set him apart. And yet, if were to hold this vulnerable little infant in your arms, he would have in the same moment been holding you - your atoms, your flesh, even your very being.
What an amazing doctrine! (Who says theology has to be dry...?!)
Below you can find a few things:  the Getty song we played last night, Joy Has Dawned;  a full set of notes (with lyrics to the Getty song AND a bunch of extra material, including an appendix looking at how heretical groups deny the truth of John 1:1c), and  the other song we play - Totally God, Totally Man by Sovereign Grace Music.
From Genesis to Revelation, there's one unbroken story - and it's all about Jesus.
Last night we met for our first session of 2018, looking at the doctrine of the Incarnation. You guys were very patient (!) as I sought to lead us through the magnificent theatre of God's drama - from walking with us in the garden, to the "it couldn't be" moments when the Son of God seemingly appeared to the OT patriarchs & prophets, through to his promise to Isaiah, "I AM COMING" [Isa 66].
Then we turned to the NT - and we saw not only how Jesus constantly alluded to this prophetic expectation, but he played the role of God himself, giving himself titles and offices proper only of the LORD God of Israel.
What can we conclude?
That God is God, and God is Christlike.
That the God-Man is our Champion.
And that there's one story - Immanuel, God with us.
Find notes below as well as a copy of the song I played.
Second year TTS students - click here for the S8 notes!
Welcome to the Theology That Sings blog. Here you'll find news of upcoming events, as well as notes and notices.