The Church at its Best

Some people are disappointed in the institutional church, and not without reason. Church life can be messy, with denominational differences, power struggles, theological compromise, misplaced priorities, and leadership scandals. There are as many faults in churches as there are sinners in churches, and we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. Churches are as imperfect as the people in them.

A friend once told me he had given up on organized religion. I asked him if he preferred disorganized religion!

It would be easy to get discouraged if it were not for the fact that Jesus Christ is the head of the universal church, which is his spiritual body. If local churches are unfaithful, or divided, or unwelcoming, or hurtful, the remedy is to remember that the true church is the body of Christ. Local churches are at their best when they are centered on him. They can descend into disfunction if they ignore or forget the headship of Christ.

When Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, he emphasized this fact. “He (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). A body without a head is powerless, grotesque and dead. William Barclay wrote, “Jesus Christ is the guiding spirit of the church; it is at his bidding the church must live and move.”

Some practical implications are spelled out in Colossians chapter 3. Jesus is to be central to everything in the life of the church. That is why the letter to the Colossians is filled with references to Jesus. Believers have been raised from spiritual death with Christ (3:1). Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (3:3). Christ is our life (3:4).

“Christ is all and in all” (3:11). Because the Spirit of Christ indwells all believers, there is no place in the church for division, discord, rivalry, and cultural, racial, or social barriers. When the head controls the body, it will be what it was designed to be. That is why Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (3:15). He added, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (3:17).

The author Rita Snowden wrote about her visit to a small town near Dover, England. She was having tea in the late afternoon, when she became aware of an overwhelmingly pleasant aroma filling the air. She asked the waiter about the source of the scent, and she was told that it came from the people passing by. He explained that those people worked in a perfume factory down the street and were on their way home. When they left the factory, they carried the fragrance that had permeated their clothing during the day’s work.

That is an illustration of what the church could be like when it is centered on Christ. We church members should be people who allow ourselves to be permeated with the attributes of Christ. Then when we go out into the world, the fragrance of the Lord goes with us. When the church gathers for worship, everyone will sense the aroma of his presence.

That is the church at its best.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

 

Memories of Mom

Mother’s Day found me remembering my mom, Magdalene Amstutz Faulkner. She was fine musician and a college music teacher. She had high standards for herself and she held her students to those same standards. “Trifles make perfection,” she would say, “and perfection is no trifle.”

Many were the nights I went to bed as a boy hearing her playing the piano, the music of the world’s great composers. She sought to achieve excellence in piano performance in the same way as her hero, J.S. Bach, pursued it, for God’s glory alone.

She worked hard at piano performance. Occasionally there were classical music recitals at the college in which she would perform.  She also composed arrangements of familiar hymns which she would be called upon to play for church meetings.

Mom loved the Bible and she read it daily. She read through the entire Bible many times. She taught a ladies’ Sunday school class for many years. As any good teacher knows, she learned and grew herself by studying the word of God in preparation for teaching.

When I was young, my mother reminded me regularly to read the Bible for myself. She and Dad sought to have a time of family devotions every day in which they read the Bible and prayed with my brothers and me.

Mother was a “world Christian” long before that term was coined by missiologists. She cared deeply about the worldwide expansion of the gospel. She loved and prayed for missionaries whom she knew, especially her two brothers. She followed a regular system of praying for different regions of the world on different days of the week.

She was unflappable. When my brothers and I were worked up about something, she would remain calm and even-tempered. She would respond with, “Rave on. You don’t worry me a bit!” Her gentle disposition was one of the qualities I admired about her.

She valued books. She was never without a book she was reading. If she had a chance, she would tell us about something she had read in a book of history, or a little-known fact she had discovered from reading a biography. She was a lifelong learner.

She was approachable. I always felt I could talk to my mom about what was going on in my world and in the world at large. She would respond with wisdom, humility and good sense. I do not remember her having much interest in reading the newspaper, and I know she did not watch tv news very often. But somehow she  was aware of trends and people in politics, and she shared her views when she was asked about them.

I regularly thank God for my mother and her example to me.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

 

Not a “One and Done”

Not long ago I was made aware of an article that appeared in the April edition of Franklin Graham’s Decision magazine. It featured my son-in-law, John Mark Eager and The Mailbox Club, the ministry he directs. It is an international mission reaching children with the gospel and providing discipleship materials to help them grow in their faith.

The story in Decision highlighted The Mailbox Club’s plans to offer free follow-up to children who attend vacation Bible schools across America this summer. VBS programs in many churches are coming soon.

I am writing to suggest that you contact the VBS coordinators in your church. Let them know about The Mailbox Club and what they have to offer. The website, www.tmc4kids.org, has information about how to enroll kids in a systematic plan of age-appropriate discipleship training for children.

It is easy to see sample Bible lessons and to learn how to use them to engage the church in follow-up with children. The Decision magazine article is available for you to read at The Mailbox Club website too. Look for it in the upper left hand corner of the home page.

The choice between no summer follow-up and high quality, biblically faithful discipleship is an easy one to make. There is no cost to your church and The Mailbox Club will send out automatic monthly reports.

VBS should not be a “one-and-done” event. It can and should be the beginning of a growing relationship children have with the Lord Jesus.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

PS — Please forward this to ministry leaders who care about reaching kids with the good news.

Only One Way?

In school you may have read the poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” by John Godfrey Saxe. It describes how six blind men wanted to learn what an elephant was like. Each explored a different part of the elephant, and each had a different way of describing it. When examined from the side, the animal resembled a wall. From its tusk, it seemed like a spear; from its trunk, like a snake,  from its ear, a fan, from its tail, a rope.

“And so these men from Indostan / disputed loud and long. / Each in his own opinion / exceeded stiff and strong / though each was partly in the right / and all were in the wrong!”

The author was making a theological point. He wanted his readers to assume that there is more than one way to think about reality, more than one way to God.

The way our world is today, the problem with Christians is that we think we have the only way to salvation. We claim to worship the only true God. To many people, this is narrow minded bigotry.

Philip Ryken wrote, “Insisting that Jesus is the only way is an especially unpopular stance in a culture based on freedom of choice. . . . Religion is now called a ‘preference,’ which makes it sound like  a soft drink or a shade of paint. If you can go to the college of your choice, root for the football team of your choice, watch the cable channel of your choice, and eat the yogurt of your choice, why can’t you pray to the god of your choice?”

Colossians is a letter written by Paul to first century  believers living in a city which was a hotbed of religious and cultural pluralism. Colossae had a mixture of the pagan gods of Rome, Greek philosophy, eastern mysticism, and Jewish legalism. Many of these influences were blended into  a system of thought that was a precursor to Gnosticism.

This new cult taught that faith in Jesus was not enough. A secret, higher knowledge was needed to obtain wisdom and enlightenment. It taught the worship of angels and sought mystical experiences through secret rites and astrological mysteries.

If you read and study Colossians, you will discover that Paul borrows from the vocabulary of this new philosophy to argue against it. He uses some of their own words to teach what they denied: the sufficiency and supremacy of Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote with unfiltered clarity that Jesus Christ is sufficient: “In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). He is all we need to have a right relationship to God. He is the totality of the divine fullness. He is the cosmic agent of creation. He is the reconciler of people to God. He is over all spiritual forces, both angelic and demonic. By his death he secured victory over sin and the powers of darkness. By his resurrection he is proven to be the pre-eminent one. He is indeed the only way.

This is strikingly relevant today in America as people are being told that all religions are equally valid. They are merely different roads up the same mountain. No single worldview has an exclusive claim on the truth. No religion can claim to be superior to any other.

The only absolute creed in America today is pluralism, the theory that there can and must be more than one kind of ultimate reality. Edward Gibbon wrote about the last days of the Roman empire: “All religions were regarded by the people as equally true, by the philosophers as equally false, and by the politicians as equally useful.”

This is why Paul puts such emphasis on the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. The first chapter of Colossians is one of the great Christological passages in the New Testament (along with John 1, Hebrews 1, and Philippians 2). There is a finality and authority in his teaching about Jesus in Colossians. I recommend that you read it carefully.

The Colossian believers had “heard the word of truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). They had believed what it taught about Jesus (Colossians 1:4). You and I need to do the same thing as we navigate life in a pluralistic culture.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Fear and Trembling

To teach the Bible is a sacred privilege and solemn responsibility. James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” I know I am accountable to God for my ministry and that produces in me a deep reverence not unlike fear and trembling.

Having written that, however, I confess that it has been a joy to be a pastor who was and is dedicated to the teaching of the Bible. I was fortunate to serve in healthy churches, among people who valued Bible teaching Sunday after Sunday.

I worked hard at it. I studied the Bible many hours every week. There were other pastoral duties, of course, such as administration, counseling, personal evangelism, and visitation. But I gave priority to the hours for study and preparation for preaching. I believe that most of the people in the churches I served understood and appreciated that fact.

My preferred method was Bible exposition, teaching the Bible verse by verse. I sought to teach the meaning of a biblical passage, as best I could, in accordance with the intention of the human author and the Divine Author. If I wanted to teach on a particular topic, such as the Holy Spirit, or family life, or what the Bible says about the future, I selected a Bible passage that emphasized that subject and simply taught what the Word of God said about it.

For most of my pulpit ministry I taught through books of the Bible. In this way I taught most of the books of the New Testament. Verse by verse Bible teaching required me to give attention to all the major themes of the Bible comprehensively, not just my favorite subjects. I also taught through many of the books of the Old Testament, especially the psalms, wisdom literature, and the prophets, as well as the study of prominent biblical characters. I explored foundational themes such as creation, highlights of Israel’s history and prophesies of Christ.

In addition to teaching the content and interpretation of the scriptures, I sought to show their relevance to the lives of people today. I tried to illustrate my messages with stories and examples from contemporary life. This was to try to help people apply the teaching to their lives as Christians.

Believing that Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Bible, I wanted to include the gospel in every message in some way. The Bible’s main theme is how human beings may be in a right relationship to God. This is only possible through faith in Jesus the Son of God, his sacrificial death and his glorious resurrection.

In view of the eternal importance of this subject, it is clear why those of us who teach the Bible will be held to a higher standard of accountability. Let every pastor and Bible teacher approach this task with fear and trembling.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Out of the Depths

The past several months have been difficult ones for me. A bad fall, two surgeries,  and unwelcome side effects from Parkinson’s medications have reminded me of how precious is good health. More than once I have called out to our heavenly Father “out of the depths” of uncertainty and anxiety. Psalm 130 has been a source of help for me.

It is one of the penitential psalms. It was quoted in prayer by the Hebrew people when they came to worship and to confess their sins at the temple of God in Jerusalem. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy” (Psalm 130:1-2).

The writer of Psalm 130 was suffering emotionally and spiritually. His mood was dark. He was struggling with guilt feelings. Some believe Jonah prayed this psalm from the belly of the great fish as he repented of disobeying the call of God (read Jonah 2:2-3). Like the writer of this psalm he felt the weight of sin and regret and he wanted to be free of it.

In a dinner table conversation Martin Luther was asked which psalm was his favorite. He replied that Psalm 130 was among his favorites because it expresses themes which we find in the doctrines of grace: forgiveness, redemption, justification, the complete removal of the sinner’s guilt.

Guilt is different from feeling bad because of a violation of a social expectation. It is not a false, neurotic guilt that has no basis in reality. The guilt spoken of in the Bible is true moral guilt before a holy God. It is the sense that we are not what we ought to be because we know we have broken God’s moral law.

When we become aware of our sins and shortcomings, we may choose one of two options. We may repress those guilt feelings and resist the Holy Spirit’s conviction. This is what many people do, but it only makes matters worse. It is better to confess our sins to God and receive his grace and forgiveness.

“If you O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4). Here we find a summary of the major themes of the whole Bible: law and grace; justice and forgiveness; God’s wrath against sin and his redemption from sin. The good news is good because it is about the rescue that is available from the bad news of judgment.

We may be thankful for the little conjunction “but.” Verse 4 of the psalm says, “But with you there is forgiveness.” Many times, when the accuser, the enemy of my soul, has reminded me of my multiplied sins and failures, this verse has comforted me with the assurance of forgiveness.

We have a hard time forgiving others. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves. Some people have a hard time forgiving God! This psalm is a reminder that God is different than we are. He loves to forgive. It is his prerogative to forgive freely, fully, graciously.

So we are taught to wait before the Lord (v.5). We do not like to wait. Impatience is baked into American culture. We don’t like to wait at traffic lights, for elevators, in doctors’ offices. We like same day delivery, fast food, and instant messaging. But the psalm tells us to wait in the presence of the Lord.

“In his word I put my hope.” This is solid faith and certainty that God will keep his word. Commenting on this, Derek Kidner wrote, “It is the Lord himself, not simply escape from punishment, that the writer longs for. Notice that this is more than wistfulness and optimism. In plain terms, he speaks of a promise (his word) to cling to. . . . Night may seem endless, but morning is certain, and its time determined.”

The psalm begins in the depths but it closes in the heights. I have read that the deepest trenches at the bottom of the earth’s oceans are almost 36,000 feet below the surface. The highest mountain is 29,000 feet above sea level. In the closing verses we are taken to the highest spiritual mountain peaks: God’s unfailing love and redemption. I cannot read verses 7-8 without thinking of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner

 

 

Being and Doing

When Howard Hendricks was a student at Wheaton College, his mentor, Dr. H.C. Theissen told him, “Hendricks, master the Master’s life!” On that basis, Hendricks devoted himself to the lifelong study of the four gospels.

One of the advantages of reading and re-reading the gospels, is to show us how we may “learn from” Christ (Matthew 11;29). The apostle Peter reminds us of the importance of following “in his steps” ( 1 Peter 2:21). This is discipleship.

There is a phrase in Mark 3:14 that illustrates this. When Jesus called his twelve disciples, it was so that “they might be with him and that he might send them out. . . .” I cannot help but notice how being with Jesus precedes doing things for Jesus. Before the Lord sent them out he wanted them to spend time with him.

He chose Philip, Nathaniel, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the zealot, Andrew, John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon, whom he nicknamed Peter. He chose them to be his apostles and to learn from him. (Judas Iscariot heard and saw, but he did not listen and learn.)

What did the Lord want these men to learn from him? He modeled perfect holiness and taught compassion, servanthood, prayerful dependency upon the Father in heaven. He was the embodiment of sacrificial love. He cared for the weak, the poor, the marginalized. Their being with Jesus was for the purpose of their learning from him the principles of God’s kingdom.

Many people seem to think that the first requirement the Lord puts upon us is to do something for him. But the first requirement in discipleship is not doing but being. Jesus is primarily concerned with what we are becoming. He wants to remake us in his image. This is a process called sanctification. He wants us to be like himself (Romans 8:29).

Are you spending time with Jesus? Is there a part of your day when you have uninterrupted fellowship with him? A time when he speaks to you through his word and you respond to him in prayer? Some call it private worship, some call it daily devotions, some call it a quiet time.

It doesn’t really matter what you call it. What matters is that there is the cultivation of a growing relationship with Jesus. Out of that “being” relationship flows the “doing” of effective ministry.

E. M. Bounds, in his classic book Power Through Prayer wrote, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.”

Just as certainly as the Lord invited ordinary men to be with him, so he invites you and me to spend time with him. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, God “has called you into fellowship with his Son. . . .”

Pastor Randy Faulkner

 

 

 

 

 

His Presence is Enough

Nature is predictable. It operates on the basis of fixed laws. Release a stone from your hand and it always drops to the ground. Put a kettle of water on a hot stove and the water will boil. A commercial aircraft weighing over 450 tons can supersede gravity and fly because it operates in accordance with laws of aerodynamics. Nature operates in a predictable manner.

This very predictability gives rise to science. Men and women investigate, develop theories, conduct experiments, then form conclusions based on evidence that nature behaves in a certain way under certain conditions.

The Bible teaches that there is a Mind controlling nature. Natural laws are a  way of describing God’s activity in nature. God created nature. God sustains nature.

If an all-powerful God can do that, he can, if he chooses, suspend, or interrupt the natural processes he himself created. He can break into the ordinary course of things in a way that is not natural, but supernatural.

This is what Jesus did. Sometimes he acted in extraordinary ways to meet the needs of people and to demonstrate his authority as the Son of God. These extraordinary acts of God are what we call miracles.

It is not unscientific to believe in miracles. Science has nothing to say about whether miracles may or may not occur. If people object to the possibility of miracles, they do so on religious, not scientific grounds. Science can verify or disprove natural, not supernatural phenomena.

Christianity is a faith which is based upon miracles. God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. Many events in the ministry of Jesus were miraculous signs of his deity. Jesus died on a cross and arose from the dead. He ascended to heaven. He promised to return to earth in power and glory.

For example, there is an event that took place in his early ministry which is a vivid demonstration of Jesus’ miracle-working power. Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Lake of Galilee in a fishing boat. Jesus was asleep in the stern of the vessel. An unusually powerful storm arose. The waves were so high that the disciples feared that the boat would be swamped.

“The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'” (Mark 4:38). The Bible doesn’t tell us what they expected the Lord to do about the situation. They had seen him perform miracles before. Probably they were hoping for one now.

The next verse says Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the waves saying, “Quiet! Be still!” Then we are told that everything became perfectly calm on the lake. What is this but a supernatural intervention?

The disciples were awestruck. They asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41).

This story shows us who Jesus is. He is the God-man. In his humanity, he slept, exhausted after a long day of ministry. In his deity, he demonstrated his miracle-working power over his creation.

The story also contains a hint as to how we might respond to the dangers that erupt in our lives. Jesus had already told his disciples that they would get to the other side of the lake (Mark4:35). Even though he was sleeping, he was with them in the storm. His presence was their guarantee that they would make it to the other side. This was a test of their faith.

There will be times in our lives when we may be tempted to feel that he is unconcerned. We may be tempted to panic when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. We may be tempted to forget that he is nearby and has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

As a boy I was taught little song in Sunday school: “With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm.” As a pastor, I observed this in the lives of many people of faith and courage who were counting on the Lord to be with them in the storms of life, whether or not he performed a miracle.

They had learned to trust him. I remember one godly lady who had terminal cancer. When I visited her I asked her what the Lord had been saying to her in her illness. Her response taught me a lot about the life of faith. She said the Lord had been saying to her, “Just trust me.”

For her, his presence was enough.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

 

 

 

 

The Resurrection is No Joke

At this time of the year our thoughts turn to our Lord’s death and resurrection. Eternal life is offered to us because Jesus died for our sins and rose again in victory over death. This is what we celebrate on resurrection Sunday.

Yet there have always been those who deny the resurrection. The gospel of Mark describes an encounter Jesus had with some of his religious detractors. They did not believe in an afterlife or bodily resurrection. The way our Lord responded to them provides us with a reassuring basis for our own hope of life with God after death.

Jesus’ enemies wanted to do all they could to discredit him in the eyes of his followers. They tried to use the scriptures to disprove the resurrection. So they referred to part of the law of Moses which made provision for the care of widows in ancient Israel (Deuteronomy 25:5-6).

They treated the subject as a riddle, stretching the law to a ridiculous extreme. “Suppose,” they said, “a man died, leaving his widow with no children to care for her. So, in accordance with the law of Moses, the man’s brother married her to continue the family line in his brother’s name. He also died, leaving no children. So she married a second brother who died, and a third, and a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth. The woman had had seven husbands, all of whom died” (Mark 12:20-23 my paraphrase).

Then they asked their big question. “If there is to be a resurrection, whose wife would she be in the hereafter?”  They thought they had outmaneuvered Jesus. We can almost hear them snickering at the ludicrous joke they made out of the resurrection.

Jesus’ answered that the resurrection is a certainty. It is not a joking matter. He said that they did not really understand the scriptures they claimed to believe. And in denying the resurrection they were denying the power of God (Mark 12:24). After all, the God who created the universe is perfectly capable of raising the dead.

He clinched his argument by reminding them that the God they claimed to believe in, the God of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark12:27). The three patriarchs, long dead, were still alive in God’s presence. In heaven they continued to be who they were on earth, but without the limitations of earth.

Jesus also addressed the strange riddle posed by his adversaries. In the resurrection there will be an entirely new order of existence. “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage,” he said. “They will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark12:25). Now our Lord was not saying we will become angels. He was saying that in the resurrection God’s people will be like the angels. beautiful, powerful, created beings, engaged in the happy service and worship of God.

Marriage here on earth, as wonderful as it can be, will pale in comparison to the perfection of our relationships in heaven. Our relationships there will be unspoiled by misunderstandings, slights, frustrations and disappointments. There will be no jealousy, selfishness, offenses, or sin in heaven. In heaven we will know and love each other with a perfect love.

John Newton said, “When I get to heaven I shall see three wonders there. The first wonder will be to see many people whom I did not expect to see. The second wonder will be to miss many people whom I did expect to see. The third and greatest of all will be to find myself there.”

Jesus answered his critics who challenged his teaching on life after death. In his brilliant response he linked the resurrection to the existence of an all-powerful God and the authority of his written word.

In stating that God is not the God of the dead but of the living, Jesus is teaching us that those who die in faith will live with him forever. Is your faith in Jesus? In John 11:25 he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner

More Alive Than Ever

C. S. Lewis had a profound influence on the life of Sheldon Vanauken. Vanauken became a Christian when he studied under Lewis at Oxford University. In his book A Severe Mercy he described their last meeting.

Over lunch at a pub in Oxford they had spent time pondering the nature of life after death. When they had finished eating, they stood outside for a few moments and just before parting ways, Lewis said to Vanauken, “I shan’t say goodbye. We’ll meet again.” Then the great scholar plunged into the traffic to cross the street while Vanauken watched his friend walk away.

When Lewis got to the other side of the street, he turned around, anticipating that his friend would still be standing there. With a grin on his face, Lewis shouted over the din of the passing cars, “Besides — Christians never say goodbye!”

During this season as we anticipate the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection, it is important to remember that the hope of eternal life is not based upon wishful thinking. Our assurance of life after death is based upon the promise of Christ.

When Jesus was accosted by some of his detractors who denied that there would be a resurrection, he told them they were in error, badly mistaken (Mark 12:24). His opponents were religious skeptics who believed that this life is all there is. They believed the soul perished with the body. There would be no rewards or punishments after death.

This materialistic philosophy exists today. Doubts about life after death are widespread, especially now as our nation moves further away from biblical values. People seem to be pursuing pleasure and prosperity for the here and now, with little thought for a life hereafter.

The Lord Jesus answered his critics in Mark 12:25-27 by directing their attention to God. He is alive. He is the giver of life. Eternal life resides in God. Jesus quoted the Bible where God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:5-6).

Then Jesus said something that is a key to our understanding of life after death. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive! If they are alive with God, then my parents are alive with God. My brother’s baby who died is alive with God. My friend Stanley who was killed in Vietnam is alive with God. They will be resurrected when Jesus comes again.

That is why C.S. Lewis said what he did to Sheldon Vanauken, For a believer in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The American evangelist Dwight L. Moody famously said, “Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal — a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

“He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” This brief statement of Jesus is proof that faith in him includes the certainty of overcoming death. It is a promise of eternal life.

Pastor Randy Faulkner