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Lord's Day Liturgy

Resurrection Resurrection

I’m sure someone must have told this to me before because I have many Russian friends. I have so many, that I know it’s better to say I have many Slavic friends, not all of whom are actually Russian.

Anyway, I was informed, or reminded, that the Russian word for Sunday is Воскресенье (Voskresenye). The parts of that word are “up” and “again” and “to rise,” so: “resurrect.” What the Bible regularly calls the first day of the week, what I believe the apostle John did intend to name “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10), and what we call Sunday, the Russian calendar has as “Resurrection.”

We are just a couple Lord’s Days from Resurrection Sunday, but our weekly first day, Lord’s day assembling and communion remind us to start with resurrection.

  • “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4)
  • “if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:5)
  • “present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life” (Romans 6:13)

On Easter, a Russian who would say “Resurrection Sunday” would be saying “Resurrection Resurrection.”. And while that focuses on the gospel of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ, it includes all of us who believe in Him.

Do you know why God is able to strength you according to the preaching of Jesus Christ? Because Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.

May you know:

what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead

Ephesians 1:18b-20a
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Lord's Day Liturgy

Assurance to All

A number of things are established by Christ’s resurrection.

It proves that God was satisfied with Christ’s offering, since Jesus now sits at His right hand (Romans 8:34). It proves that Jesus is who He said He was: the Son of God (Romans 1:4). It secures our justification (Romans 4:24). It causes us to be born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). It shows His authority as Lord of the living and the dead (Romans 14:9).

And the resurrection guarantees the coming judgment. Paul told this to the Athenians:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31)

When we gather around the Lord’s Table we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. We are proclaiming the only way out of judgment, the only way that Christ’s return will be a reason to rejoice, not the day of wrath.

The resurrection establishes Jesus as Lord, the Lord of all believers who rejoice at His name. And the resurrection establishes Jesus as Lord of all, with authority to judge those who currently refuse to acknowledge His name or rebel against Him.

As Christians we do look forward to that “fixed” day. We exalt the appointed and anointed Lord, we are assured of His return. We take refuge in Him, and this comes with the assurance of God’s blessing.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Buried Grudges

Easter is the day (though it’s true every seven days, and for that matter all 365 days) that we remember that God accepted the sacrifice of His Son for all our sin. Jesus died for our anger, lust, adultery, unfaithfulness, and retaliation (think the categories Jesus referenced in the Sermon on the Mount). He died for our grumbling and our envy. He died for our pride, our worries, our self-preciousness. He died for our willful failure to remember and rejoice in what is true.

We have hewn out broken cisterns of bitterness thinking that drinking the bitter cup might at least numb the pain, but of course it makes us more sick. Jesus drank the bitter cup so that we do not need to be sour. We have tried to hide in the darkness of lies and deceit thinking that we could escape trouble, but of course it increases the burden of guilt. Jesus exposed the real nature of lies and bore the wrath of deceivers. We have withheld forgiveness thinking that it would make us feel like we had the upper hand, only to find ourselves locked up in grudges. Jesus died that our grudges might be buried, that we might be forgiven and free from resistance to forgive others.

In Him we have been raised to walk in newness of life. We do not love the darkness, but we come to the light that it might be seen that any patience, humility, faithfulness, joy, love, courage, self-denial, and goodness in us are fruits of Christ’s work, fruits of union with Christ, fruit of Christ’s Spirit in us. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light for sake of fellowship with one another, and remember that the blood Jesus God’s Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Nothing Can Stop Him

What can you do with a whole group of people who know that they will be raised with Jesus and brought into His presence (2 Corinthians 4:14)? Believers, these are truths for you:

God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. (1 Corinthians 6:14).

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)

This is true for each Christian, but it is also true for all Christians, that is, for the church. He will “present the church to himself in splendor” (Ephesians 5:27), He will present the whole body “holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22), He is able to keep us from stumbling and present us “before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

What can the world do with that sort of people? What can threaten them? What can be taken from them? What affliction is not able to be a reason for grace to extend that thanksgiving would spread to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:15)?

We are those with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe, and so we speak (2 Corinthians 4:13). We believe, and so we eat and drink with thanks, knowing that Jesus will bring us into His presence, and nothing can stop Him.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Resurrection and Return

The New Testament is full of things to do because Jesus is coming. Building bunkers to stay low and stay out of the fray is not one of them.

“Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). “The Lord is at and, do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:5-6). We ought to be people of holiness and godliness waiting for and hastening the day (2 Peter 3:11-12). With the end of all things at hand we should be self-controlled in order to pray, to love one another, to show hospitality, and to use our giftedness (1 Peter 4:7-11).

In short we ought to steward the minutes and talents He’s given us so that when he returns He we can given Him a return on His gifts to us (see Matthew 25:14-30). He is coming, so we just conquer.

Also, we commune. The regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper as His Body on the Lord’s Day is an act of eschatology. He will reign forever and we will reign with Him, because He rose from the dead. Our sharing of communion now is a witness to our sharing of the kingdom them.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

Believer, fellowship with your people at this table, eat and drink in witness to His death, His resurrection, and His return.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Taunts of the Assembly

I tell you this, brothers, it is not a mystery: we are all going to die. Actually, we shall not all sleep, as Paul put it (1 Corinthians 15:51). He considered the return of the Lord to be imminent, and, since time on earth is linear, we have to be closer to His return now than Paul.

If the Lord tarries, as they used to say, then we will all die. But, and this is the good news for Christians, we shall all be changed. We will be raised in Christ.

The questions, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” are taunts against death. “What can you do to us now, death? You’ve lost all your teeth.” These taunts are individual, and they are also the taunts of the assembly.

Our bodies will be raised, and we as the body of Christ will be raised. In the resurrection we will have identity as Christians and as the church.

We have that identity in seed form even now. If you are a believer, you have the promise of full fellowship. If you are a believer, you have the present experience of fellowship, both with God through Christ and through the Spirit with one another.

So we share communion in celebration of victory, by faith in both the firstfruits of victory and the final victory. Together we remember Christ’s death and His triumph over death. We are mere mortals, but we will be mere immortals not long from now. We shall all be changed, thanks be to God!

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Not As I Will

Jesus is risen from the dead just as He said. His resurrection is the first of its kind and all of us who believe in Him will be raised when He returns. While we sing in thanks and praise and hope, how else can we celebrate the significance of this great news? In other words, how can we make Easter great again?

We can, and should, give up our sins for which Christ died. We can, and should, give up trying to make our self-righteousness look acceptable to Him. We can, and should, give up our grudges toward those for whom Christ bore condemnation already. And, following Christ’s example, if we want to make Easter great again, we should give up our own wills.

In Gethsemane, sorrowful and troubled, falling on His face and praying, Jesus said, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). After returning to His sleeping disciples Jesus went away a second time and prayed, “Your will be done” (verse 42). And after that, “he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again” (verse 44).

It’s not a surprise for Him to pray this way. He told others, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). What is surprising is how we think we’re going to get fruit by saving our seed (John 12:24). But Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

Give up your self-sufficiency. Give up your schedule to glory. Give up your arrogant plans (James 4:13-17). Give up looking to your own interests (Philippians 2:4). “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Have the mind of Christ, and give up your will for Easter.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Comfort from the Dead-raiser

We’re going to be talking about resurrection in church for the next couple months leading up to Resurrection Sunday, and, for that matter, we’re going to be talking about it forever in the resurrection. In the meantime, prior to our resurrection, God’s Word reminds us that when we think about God we should think about His resurrection power.

In 2 Corinthians 1 Paul wrote about his afflictions and then about the comfort God gave him in his afflictions. His afflictions were actually pretty bad.

“We do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (2 Corinthians 1:8)

He had just told them that he was comforted, and that his affliction was for their comfort and salvation (verse 6). But the heaviness and pain and sufferings were real. He thought he might die any moment, and it was bad enough he might have preferred death. Believing the gospel doesn’t make life more easy but it does tell us that there is more after this life.

We endure as we hope in God, and God wants us to remember who He is.

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

God is the Dead-raiser. Jesus called Himself “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:24). He is the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3), and His ability to comfort us is tied to His ability to raise the dead. Therefore, “Let us hold fast the confession our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Look for a Second

On the first day of the week we worship because Christ rose from the dead; the first day changes all the other days for good. Likewise, His resurrection, though only something that happened once, is just the first of many in a different way. He will not rise from the dead again, but because He did many more will after Him.

Paul told the Corinthians,

in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:20–23, ESV)

On the first day of the week we remember the first fruits. “First fruits” is one Greek word, ἀπαρχή, a word that refers to the beginning that represented more. Just as there is no need for an outline without at least two points, so a first signals us to look for a second, for a succession. Paul called Jesus the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18), the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29).

We are an army of new men, the offspring of His offering. Supernatural life was breathed into us. We have hope not only in this life but in the life to come. We are no people to be pitied, we are a people purchased and raised and promised the glory of an imperishable body. Jesus is the first fruits and we are part of the rest of the resurrection harvest.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Top of the Faith Chart

When we co-opt the apostle John’s language and talk about faith as victory that overcomes the world, we do so without smirking or crossing our fingers behind our back because our faith is in victory that overcomes death. If your god can’t do something about death then he can only offer so much.

Abraham believed in the God who overcomes death.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Hebrews 11:17–19)

Faith that believes in resurrection power is at the top of the faith chart. What is more impossible than being raised from the dead? In Abraham’s case, he was prepared to act based on it. In our case, we are prepared to eat and drink based on it.

There is no “figuratively speaking” with the resurrection of Jesus because He died. He wasn’t almost sacrificed. He carried the wood of His altar, was bound by nails to it, and though God could have sent 10,000 angels to take Him off the cross, a “close to death” would only made us close to salvation. He died and was three-days-buried dead.

But then He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. The angels told visitors to His tomb: “He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.” He was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” This is literally speaking.

When we eat the bread and drink the wine we proclaim His death but not because He’s dead. He lives! Our faith is in the resurrection and the life! May your faith be nourished by such a meal in such a powerful Savior who has overcome death for us.