by Mike Ratliff
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:1-7 ESV)
I have been listening to the teaching of R.C. Sproul over the last several weeks dealing with humanistic philosophy and how each form of it has affected the Church. One of those teachings is titled Secularism. This philosophy, Sproul contends, is the driving force behind the collapse of the Christian World View with it being replaced with that of Secular Humanism. This view contends that there is no possibility of any person knowing or finding absolute truth. It demands that all religions be considered equal with each relinquishing its claims of exclusivity. In the visible Church, many professing Christians are secular in their personal philosophy. Since Secularism removes the possibility of absolutes it follows that its proponents must doubt the Bible’s display of the miracles and the supernatural as proof of the deity of Christ for example. It separates Christianity from the sacred and holy and the miraculous. This separation leaves Christianity as just another World Religion. It relegates it to little more than an institution of good works to improve society.
Christianity is not just another ‘World Religion’ nor is it just another philosophy that exists for the improvement of society. No, our Faith consists of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God created everything, but He is transcendent and not part of creation. He is above it and outside of it. However, He is also imminently involved in the management of it. He created Man who fell into sin (Genesis 1-3). Because of this fall the entire human race was plunged into sin. All of the first man’s descendents were born spiritually dead. All are on their way to an eternity separated from God because of their sin. There they will experience the wrath of God. However, God is merciful so He sent God the Son to be incarnate as a man. This is Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect, sinless life. However, sinful men murdered Him. As He died on the cross, the father laid the sin of all of those chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) on Him. His death paid the penalty for their sin. He purchased them with His blood. As these are effectually called and regenerated by God, they believe the Gospel and repent of their sin. God justifies, sanctifies, adopts, and glorifies them. Their sanctification continues for the rest of their lives.
Let us look now at some of the events that transpired the third day after our Lord’s crucifixion. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (Luke 24:1-7). Notice that our crucified Lord is not in his tomb. His body is gone. Angels exclaim that He is risen! He is not dead but alive! Now let us join a couple of Jesus disciples later that day on the road to Emmaus.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16 ESV)
What things were these guys talking about? Obviously, the arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death of Jesus along with the fact that on the third day afterwards His tomb is found empty would be at the forefront of their minds. Who joined their discussion? Jesus Christ, their risen Lord joined them, but they did not recognize Him. Why? God, in His sovereignty kept their eyes from recognizing Him. This is not the result of stress or that it was night. They were kept from recognizing Jesus because that was God’s will. This is supernatural my brethren and this is the sort of thing that professing Christians who are of the secular mindset reject. We accept it because God’s Word says this very clearly. Therefore, to reject this means that those doing so reject that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. If the Bible is the Word of God then it is authoritative and must be obeyed. Do you see now why the secularists desire to strip the Bible of this authority?
And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 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.” (Luke 24:17-24 ESV)
Here we see that these two men knew exactly what had transpired with Jesus’ arrest, trial, and execution. Do you see where their hope was placed? It was that Jesus would be the redeemer of Israel. They knew He was from God, but their hope was that He was the Messiah for the nation of Israel. They missed the point that He was much more than that. They had heard of the empty tomb as well, but didn’t understand the significance of it. Then our Lord opened up their hearts to receive the truth from God’s Word.
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 24:25-27 ESV)
This is something each of us should do. When we see Sacred Scripture correctly, we see that it is all about our Lord and God’s plan of redemption of His elect. If the Bible is not the Word of God and, therefore, not authoritative, complete, and inerrant then this is just another myth that could be an object lesson, but no more. However, to the regenerate Christian this is vital that we grasp these things, know these things, and exercise our faith to believe and live according to them.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:28-36 ESV)
Do you see the sovereign work of God in this passage? As our Lord broke the bread and blessed it these two disciples’ eyes were opened so they recognized the Lord. Then our Lord vanished from their sight. Wow! Then these two men said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” This is what God’s Word does in the hearts of the regenerate as the Holy Spirit works there to teach and train according to what is being read or studied or meditated upon. The unregenerate do not understand this. I debate so many of these fellows who attempt to secularize Christianity and do not like it when we take God’s Word at face value and use it to expound its truth to them. Their grasp of scripture is shallow and has no power because the Holy Spirit is not with them. These two fellows rush back to Jerusalem just as our Lord appears to them again.
My brethren, Jesus is alive and the Bible is God’s Word. It is authoritative, complete, and inerrant. When we view scripture like this then we see that it speaks of our Lord and the redemption of His elect all through it. We have no business trying to be united in fellowship with professing Christians who reject these things. We must not be unequally yoked. Also, we are commanded in God’s Word to contend earnestly for the faith. It is wrong for us to seek peace with the unrepentant.
Examine yourselves my brethren. Ask God to show you the truth about what is in your heart. Repent of what He shows you then devote yourselves to serving Him with your all for His glory alone. Get into God’s Word as you ask Him to open it to your hearts that they may burn as the Holy Spirit does scalpel-like spiritual surgery there. Reject all secular tendencies that attempt to rob you of your faith. To God be the glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!