October 12, 2011
Christ Did Not Ascend into the Realm of Mere Religious Ideas
by Alex Crain, Editor, Christianity.com
"Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11 NASB
We live in a world in which critics of Christianity consider the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension completely absurd. They count us, His followers, to be fools. They must. They have no other choice. And we do not live by their opinions.
Rather, we pray and live in such a way so that God might use us to open their eyes to the reality of Christ's resurrection. He is Lord of all and is seeing history through to its appointed end. Nothing can change this.
One way that God opened my eyes to the truth of Christ years ago was by putting me in the company of a Christian who had moved past his fear-of-man issues and was living out the verse above. I remember that he even explained his faith to me, a skeptic, in terms of Romans 6 as if it were true in present history—in real space and time. It was unsettling.
He had mentioned reading Francis Schaeffer, whose book True Spirituality I am currently working through on "Crosswalk the Devotional." This week, in chapter three, Schaeffer dwells upon the Romans 6 message about the necessity of the Christian to believe that he has really been joined in union with Christ. Schaeffer points out from Romans 6 that this is the essential message of the Christian life.
From what I can tell, skeptics and critics who suspect that Christians are just trying to make them conform to a moral or political agenda really don't know what to do with the undiluted message of Christianity—that of being spiritually united with Christ. Quoting Schaeffer:
This is the basic consideration of the Christian life.
First, Christ died in history. Second, Christ rose in history.
Third, we died with Christ in history, when we accepted Him as Savior.
Fourth, we will be raised in history, when He comes again.
Fifth, we are to live by faith now as though we were now dead, as though we have already died.
Sixth, we are to live now by faith as though we have now already been raised from the dead.
What this means to the true believer is that the world's power to conform us to its way of thinking and living is broken. All things look different now.
How can we conform to that which is so marred, so broken, so caught up in revolution against God? The praise of the world is worthless when one has stood in the presence of God. The wealth of the world is worthless when one has seen the treasure of heaven. What is earthly power after one has seen the reality of heaven and the power of God?
And this is not a matter of projecting our imaginations. We recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ indeed lives in the presence of the Father (Rom. 6:10), and this is where we are called to live, alive to God in communion with Him, in communication with Him—saying "thank you" in all the ebb and flow of life.
When I am dead both to good and bad [circumstances that happen to me], I have my face turned towards God. And this is the place in which, by faith at the present moment of history, I am to be.
When I am there, what am I? I am then the creature in the presence of my Creator. It is though I am already in the grave, and already before the face of God. When through faith I am dead to all, and am face to face with God, then I am ready by faith to come back into this present world as though I have already been raised from the dead. It is as though I anticipate that day when I will come back.
Our primary call, then, is to be alive to God moment by moment. Our "doing good" should not become a thing in itself and thus spoil the most basic call of being alive to the presence of God.
Christ was not raised mythically. He did not ascend into the realm of mere religious ideas. He was raised historically in space and time. He lives presently and sustains all things by the word of His power. The dominion of sin is broken. Because He lives, we can live free from conformity to the world and be alive in the presence of our Creator.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Are you joined in union with Christ? Is yours a Christless Christianity that is more focused on your own goals, fears and feelings than what is historically and presently true of Christ?
Further Study on the Validity of the Christian Worldview:
Dr. Greg Bahnsen's peerless lectures: "Basic Training for Defending the Faith" (YouTube)