8 Practical Truths from Christ’s Resurrection

Throughout history of all mankind, there has never been a more powerful event than the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He did what no other man or religion could ever do. He conquered death. And He lives still today. Critics have tried hard to find holes in the resurrection story; skeptics have attempted to prove it didn’t happen. Yet His power continues to impact and change lives. Historical evidence and scriptural truth continue to remind a lost world that Jesus indeed did rise again. And He’s made a huge difference in so many of our lives and in our world because of it.

We’ll looked at the first four in the last post.  

1. It proves who Jesus is.

2. It offers us the gift of forgiveness.

3. It offers us the gift of salvation through Christ.

4. It gives us the ability to live free.

Here are the remaining four.

5. It means that we can have hope

“That you may 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 and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:18-21

Because His power over the grave is living hope, the hope that Christ offers us it’s constant, active, and it lasts forever. It’s never dependent on us and our own abilities; it’s only found in Him. In a world of darkness, we often feel that we’re up against hard struggles, or we’re constantly battling fears and worries that seek to overwhelm us. It’s easy sometimes to lose our hope.

Maybe we’ve tried to put our hope in other temporal things or even in the people that mean most to us. But people leave us or let us down at times; money is here today and gone tomorrow; material possessions fade away.

The only true promise of lasting hope in this life can be found in Christ. He is stronger than all the things that we can lose here in this world. He defeated the powers that seek to pull us from Him. He’s the author of hope and the giver of peace in times when we experience troubles or struggles. If you’ve found your hope has run dry through the difficult seasons you’re facing, ask Him for His help and refreshment in your life. His hope never runs in short supply, and He promises to provide all that we need to live strong and free.

6. It means we can have the power of Christ dwelling within us today:

“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33

The fact that Jesus rose from the grave reveals His miraculous and mighty power. It shows that Christ is victorious over all. It offers us, as believers, the promises that God is with us, and He is for us. His word is full of reminders that nothing we face in this life is greater than His power.

 He gives us the confidence we need to hold on to, so that when we feel weak, we’re aware that He indeed is strong. He helps us in our weaknesses, He works miracles in our lives, even when we can’t fully see all that He’s doing. And we can be assured more than ever, He is fighting on our behalf still today. Jesus knew we would need help when He left this world, so He gave us His Spirit to dwell within us.

That’s the power we have as He works within us. That same power the apostles had as they shared truth. That same mighty power that Jesus had to heal the sick and drive our demons. That same power is offered to us today. We just have to choose to walk in it and recognize that it’s not about us, it’s about Him.

7. It offers the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

This world is not all there is. There’s more still in store. Many of us would agree with that truth, yet it’s easy to walk through life’s problems and stress without an eternal focus. We can get so caught up in the here and now that we forget to live daily with eyes and hearts focused on what’s most important.

Jesus reminds us through His resurrection, that there’s a place for every believer in heaven with Him. He’s saving us a place, and it will never fade away. It’s an inheritance that will last forever. This very truth should give us renewed focused to see those who need to hear His message of hope, and to remember that there’s great blessing and reward still ahead. In this world we will endure troubles, disappointments, and pain, but we can take joy in this: Jesus has overcome it all.

8. It reminds us that He’s coming again!

“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

As Christians we know this truth: Death will not have the final sting. It’s not the end of our story. God reminds us that because of Christ’s victory through His death and resurrection, there is new life both now and for eternity. His word promises that Jesus will come again. Though no one knows the day or hour, we believe His words are true. And all believers will be caught up with Him in the sky –  those who have already died and those who are still alive.

We will all have new and resurrected bodies in heaven, according to Scripture, as we live united with Christ, never suffering pain or grief again. We can trust His word in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that tells us to be absent from the body (here on earth) is to be present with the Lord. We know from Luke 23:43 that Jesus even promised the thief on the cross that he would be with Him that very day in paradise. These reminders assure us, that when we die, our spirits live on in the presence of Christ our king. And He will come again, just as the Scripture says.

8 Practical Truths from Christ’s Resurrection

Throughout history of all mankind, there has never been a more powerful event than the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He did what no other man or religion could ever do. He conquered death. And He lives still today. Critics have tried hard to find holes in the resurrection story; skeptics have attempted to prove it didn’t happen. Yet His power continues to impact and change lives. Historical evidence and scriptural truth continue to remind a lost world that Jesus indeed did rise again. And He’s made a huge difference in so many of our lives and in our world because of it.

We’ll look at the first four in the post and consider the last for in a later post. Here’s the first four practical truths that come from the resurrection of Christ!

1. It proves who Jesus is:

“And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 1:4

There is nothing like the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead that proves to a lost world that He is indeed who He says He is. He is Lord. He is savior. He is king. He is victorious. He is risen! There have been many false prophets throughout history, claiming to be God or attempting to lead people astray. But no one else has ever given their lives for a lost world, then miraculously resurrect up from the dead. No one. Jesus Christ is the only one who holds the power over sin and death.

2. It offers us the gift of forgiveness:

“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:10-11

Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross, and He rose again, demonstrating His power over darkness. Love provided a way for us to be forgiven once and for all.

He loosened the chains, He broke off the locks, He opened the way for us to walk in the forgiveness that He so graciously offers. He wiped the slate clean, He’s paid the debt we owe.

3. It offers us the gift of salvation through Christ:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

The message of the cross is that Jesus paid our penalty for death when He chose to die on our behalf. He took our place, so that we could be saved. He was the ultimate sacrifice because He never sinned, not once. He was the only one who could make the way for a great rescue of mankind.

And the power of His resurrection means this: He didn’t stay dead. He’s not still in the tomb. Death couldn’t hold Him back. Darkness couldn’t bury Love and hold Him in the grave. Jesus’ power broke through all that, and His nail-scarred hands that reached out to rescue a lost world is still reaching out today. It’s more than just knowing the facts in your head; it’s about believing the truth in your heart. That’s where the change takes place. That’s how we’re affected by the gospel and power of Christ. He came to seek and to save all who were lost. That’s the message of the resurrection power.

4. It gives us the ability to live free:

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” John 11:25

Jesus Himself is the only One who can give us new life. No one else holds, or has ever held, that power. He redeems our past and restores our brokenness. He gives us great strength and peace, He gives us hope and a future. Through Christ’s victory over death, as believers in Him, we are unchained from the hold of darkness, no longer under the grip of the enemy. Though we will still face battles and struggles in this life; and many days we will find ourselves under attack or up against spiritual forces that try to defeat us, we know where our true power is found. Jesus provides all that we need to live free in this life. He is our rescuer, He is our savior, He is the Word, He is the way-maker. He is the chain-breaker, He is the truth, He is the bread of life. He offers us living water, He is the resurrection and the life.

God’s Discipline

I’m studying and reflecting on Psalm 30 this morning. David was disciplined for his pride, success and self-sufficiency. Dependence upon God was replaced with independence from God (verses 6 and 7a). God humbled him (v. 7b) and “shattered” him (New LIving Translation).

6When I was prosperous, I said,
“Nothing can stop me now!”
7Your favor, O LORD, made me as secure as a mountain.
Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

Do see any possible application to what we’re experiencing today? Here’s the good news: verses 11 and 12 speak of deliverance! The gospel of Christ calls us to turn from our independence from God and turn to dependence upon God. Do not practice “social distancing” with God.

A Valuable Lesson from the Life of Major Ian Thomas

This is a short biography of Major Ian Thomas. There’s a great lesson for all of us!

Born in 1914 within the city of London, Ian Thomas dedicated his life to the service of the Lord as a child. At age 19, Ian became a “windmill of activity … every moment of [his] day was packed tight with doing things: preaching, talking, counseling” with passionate desire to win souls for Christ. But he found the more he did, the more energy he expended, the less happened. He states: “I became deeply depressed, because I really loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart; I wanted to be made a blessing to my fellow men. But I discovered that forever doubling and redoubling my efforts in order to win souls, rushing here and dashing there, taking part in this campaign, taking part in that campaign, preaching in the morning, preaching in the evening, talking to the Bible class, witnessing to this one, counseling with another, did nothing, nothing, nothing to change the utter barrenness, the emptiness, the uselessness of my activity. I tried to make up with noise what I lacked in effectiveness and power.”

In a state of spiritual exhaustion, one night about midnight, he got upon his knees and cried out God in despair. He continues the story: “I said, ‘Oh God, I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ. I am perfectly convinced that I am converted. With all my heart I want to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure! So far as doing anything more, I am finished…. It is useless for me to continue like this. I hate this double life!’ That night things happened.

“I can honestly say that I had never once heard from the lips of men the message that came to me then. I never had read it in print; but God, that night, simply focused upon me the Bible message of Christ Who is our Life. This was the moment He had been waiting for; seven weary years He had watched me running around and round in the wilderness! He had been waiting for the time when at last I would fall down in hopeless despair. I heard His voice: ‘To me to live is Christ … I am the way, the truth, and the life … If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life … When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear with Him in glory.’ Life! New Life! To me to live is Christ!

“It just came from every area of God’s Word, and very kindly and very lovingly the Lord seemed to make it plain to me that night, through my tears of bitterness: ‘You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you. I have been there the whole time. All the things you have been pleading for, all the things for which you have been asking, have been yours since the day seven years ago, at your request and invitation, I came into your heart at that Crusader boys’ camp; but you see, although you have given mental consent to the truth that I have been in your heart, and have accepted it as a theory, you have lived totally ignoring the fact. You have been busy trying to do for Me all that only I can do through you. Now supposing I am your life, and you begin to accept it as a fact, then I am your strength! You have been pleading and begging for that for seven years. I am your victory in every area of your life, if you want it! I am the One to whom it is perfectly natural to go out and win souls; and I know precisely where to go and find them. Why don’t you begin to reckon upon Me and say ‘Thank you.’

“I simply said to the Lord Jesus Christ that night, ‘Well, it is that or nothing! If this is true, then I am going to thank You for it in sheer cold-blooded faith…. I am going to thank You that if You are my life, and this is true, then You are my victory, You are my strength, You are my power, You are my future! You are the One Who is going to go out now, clothed with me to do all that I so hopelessly have been trying to do in the past seven years!’

“I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years! I had had the Lord Jesus, equal to all my need and in whom I had been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly things, for the whole of those seven years; but I stepped out on my way to the university that morning with a new song in my heart. I was saying, ‘Lord Jesus I thank You for the first time in my life, this is Your day! I no longer have the burden of running my own life.’

“At the end of five weeks God made it very plain to me He had something more to say. He had just begun to whet my appetite. He said, ‘That is My life. You know perfectly well that it has nothing to do with you, because it happened overnight! It is not a new method. It is not a new technique that you have learned. It is simply My life; being what I am, doing the inevitable. This is now the thing you have got to realize; you cannot have My life for your program. You can only have My life for My program!”

Such a life, Ian Thomas would often declare, is not a life of inactivity but of Christ-activity. It is not what you can do for God but what He can do through you. “It is all in Christ, you see; and all of Christ is yours!” Would you be willing to surrender everything and pray, “I do not want any other program, any other kind of life, but the one that You Yourself are prepared to live in and through me!”?

Ian Thomas died in 2007, at age 92, after decades of being a vessel through which God had full access to live His life. In the course of those years, Ian Thomas preached around the world and wrote several books, including: Saving Life of Christ, The Mystery of Godliness, and The Indwelling Life of Christ.

Submit Your Questions on Romans 8 -11

Ever been on a vacation and taken a tour? Kay/I have discovered the advantages of being guided by a knowledgeable tour guide. We learned this the hard way. On more than one occasion we decided to do a self-guided tour. It wasn’t wasted time, but when we talked to others who had a tour guide, we quickly discovered that we missed so much! The tour guide not only explained the history, they also invited questions.

Preaching the glorious truths of Romans 8-11 is much like the tour guide. I’m giving you a lot of information, but preaching does not provide an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Romans 8-11 is unfamiliar territory for most people. Furthermore, there are challenging truths in each chapter. I’m working hard at communicating what the Scripture says, but I suspect you have questions about what you are hearing. That’s great if you do.

I want to encourage you to write out your questions and submit them. Several people have done so already, but many have not.

Please submit your questions by emailing me at gbontrager@tgbc.org. Please do so by Friday, January 17.

Join us Sunday evening, January 19 and Wednesday evening January 22 at 6:00 pm in the worship center as a panel of pastors and laymen answer your written questions. Due to the number of questions, we will not take live questions. We will certainly be available after the meeting or in the days to follow to answer additional questions.

Looking forward to receiving your questions. Again, the simplest way is to email me with your questions at gbontrager@tgbc.org


Pastor Gerald

Two Truths God Taught Me about Himself in 2019

The two truths God taught me about Himself came by way of the following:

#1 God is intimately involved in every detail of my life—the good and the bad. Nothing happens—no matter how bad it may seem—by accident.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God does not abandon His children. My temporary pain has an eternal purpose.

#2 What happens to me doesn’t matter nearly as much as how I respond to it. Quietly trusting God is better than loudly defending yourself.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

#3 Suffering is the best schoolmaster.
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71).

One of the purposes of affliction is to teach us things we would not otherwise know. Until hard times come, our knowledge of God and his Word tends to be rather theoretical, like the man who reads three books on car repair and then opens an auto repair shop. When my car breaks down, I want a man with some grease under his fingernails. If he’s too clean, I worry that maybe he doesn’t have enough experience.

So, from a preacher who has grease under his fingernails, here are the two truths God taught me about Himself:

#1 I AM SOVEREIGN, SO TRUST ME! God is in control. Nothing happens in my life that doesn’t pass through God’s hands first. What a great truth that provides such peace and comfort.

#2 I AM FAITHFUL, SO TRUST ME! God has the power, the resources, and the wisdom to bring about what He has decreed; therefore, I do not have worry or fret about how God will accomplish what He has purposed. I need only to trust Him.

Before 2019 I believed both, but as 2020 dawns I now not only believe them, I know them to be absolutely true.

Worship Christ This Christmas

Follow the example of the Wise Men this Christ. Matthew 2:2 give a clear purpose for why they traveled over 900 miles from the East to Jerusalem, “We have come to worship Him who has been born King of the Jews.” Christ was the object of their worship.

God created us with the capacity to worship. The issue is not if we worship but who, what, and how we worship.

When someone spends all his or her time and money on golf, boating, fishing, sex, gambling, watching television, surfing the internet, or ranting about politics, he or she is making a sacrifice. The alcoholic worships the bottle, the drug addict worships the high, the codependent person worships his or her relationship partner, the greedy person worships money, the control freak worships being in charge, and the helicopter parent worships his or her kid.

The novelist David Foster Wallace, not long before taking his life, spoke these words to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College: “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship…is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough…Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you…Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.”

David Wallace was not a Christian, but he understood worship. Learn a lesson from the Wise Men. Set your focus on worshiping Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Advent 2019

The Whys of Christmas

It’s Advent season, again. I suspect some of you may love the feelings of Christmas, but you are not as excited to hear the stories of Advent yet again.

We need to guard against familiarity. The challenge for seasoned believers is that as they enter Advent yet again for the umpteenth time, they enter with fresh eyes and new wonder. While you may have heard the Advent story for years, I want to encourage you hear it again with wonder and excitement.

The Advent sermon series I’ve prepared this year is THE WHYS OF CHRISTMAS.

  • December 1, Why the Genealogies? (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 2:35-38)
  • December 8, Why the Virgin Birth? (Matthew 1:8-25; Luke 1:26-28)
  • December 15, Choir Christmas Musical; Why the Name Jesus? (Matthew 1:21)
  • December 22, Why the Wise Men? (Matthew 2:1-12)

The goal of the sermon series is to go deeper into these questions so we come away with a greater sense of amazement of what God did in sending His Son, Christ, to be our Savior.

This is also the reason we produced this devotional guide. My hope is that you will use this devotional guide every day through this Advent season. When you ponder the weekly sermons on the whys of Advent, my prayer is that you will experience hope, peace, joy and love in Christ.

Parents, I want to encourage you to use this devotional guide every day with your children. The Advent season is a great opportunity to teach theology to your children. Use the sermons I preach on Sunday mornings to explore the meaning of Advent with your children.

And may God deepen our love for Christ and the story of Advent.

Making Your Time with God’s Word More Profitable

Pastor David and I are teaching a class on Wednesday evening on How to Approach the Study of God’s Word. Last night (10-30-19) I shared a resources from the Navigator Organization that has been around for at least forty years. It is a simple, but effective way to develop a profitable time with God as you study the Word. Here’s the approach.

As you study, keep these questions in mind:

  1. What example is there to follow?
  2. What command is there to obey?
  3. Is there a sin to avoid or forsake?
  4. What does this passage teach about Jesus Christ and God?
  5. Is there a promise to claim?
  6. Is there a difficulty with which I need help?
  7. What is my prayer from this passage for today?

From experience it has been proved that we both receive and retain more if we write down our findings. Here are a few more suggestions:

  1. Read over and study the preceding questions until they are fixed in your mind.
  2. After reading through the portion you are studying, go back and take it a verse at a time. When that is an answer to one of the questions, jot it down as briefly as possible on the sheet provided for that question.
  3. Study a book through from beginning to end, either a paragraph or a chapter a day.
  4. Each day add to what you found the preceding day.
  5. When you finish studying a book, file the sheet for the book. Soon you will have your devotional commentary on the Bible.
  6. Do not become discouraged when you receive only a few definite answers for some particular portion. The important thing is that you receive something. As we walk in obedience to what we have revealed to us, we shall receive more.
  7. It may take a couple weeks—or even a month—to really become acquainted with this method of study. Stay with it until regular habits are established. Once you start, you will always thank God for firmly establishing the habit of daily Bible study.

It takes time to develop this discipline, but it is time well spent. Begin to apply this approach to your Bible study. You’ll discover a deeper experience with God and His Word.

Join us on Wednesdays at 6 pm in the Worship Center as we practice this approach. We’re covering 1 Timothy 4:1-5.

Learn the Gospel (Part 2)

In the previous blog (Learn the Gospel, Part 1) I said that the first task in learning the gospel is to be sure we know what the gospel is. The gospel is God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself for His glory and their good.

The gospel is called “good news” because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human begins, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I am not! God extends to us His grace in Christ to redeem us from our sins.

The question I’m posing is this, “How does a believer learn the gospel beyond an intellectual definition?” In other words, how does a believer come to learn, that is to possess a deep understanding, of the gospel.

I’ve asked this question to our Deacons and Yokefellows and to several other people. Here’s a list of responses: 1) By preaching; 2) through teaching in Sunday School and/or small group studies; 3) by personal daily Bible study; 4) by living the gospel out each day of our lives; 5) by sharing the gospel with others; and 6) by singing the gospel. Those are all great answers.

But here’s one on my list that may shock you! We learn the gospel when we sin.

The gospel encourages us by reminding us that God’s grace covers our every failure. No string of obedient days would bring us closer to God and no streak of bad days is going to condemn us.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). This does not mean we have a license to go out and sin so we can learn the gospel. But what it does mean is that when we sin, we experience the grace of God to forgive us.

The grace that justified us is the same grace that sanctifies us. Thank God for His amazing grace!