Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Easter Letter 2014
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, ESV).
April 9, 2014
Dear Members and Friends of Second Reformed Church,
We are in the Lenten season and Easter is upon us.
The Scripture I have quoted above is a summary of the Gospel message by Paul. A central piece of the Gospel message is that Jesus physically rose from the dead – He was not just a spirit – He was not just a fond memory – no, He really and truly, in the same physical body in which He lived and died, rose from the dead and walked among His people again.
Ah, but the word “physical” is not used in the text I have quoted. Does it really matter if Jesus physically rose from the dead. Some people ask me why I harp on saying that Jesus physically rose from the dead. There are at least two reasons:
First, the Scripture tells us that Jesus could be touched, that He could handle material things, and His Body was missing (cf. John 20:1-18, John 20:27, John 21:9-14).
Second, God considers the material world good, promised to give the material world to His people, and said our bodies would be restored as proof of our adoption (cf. Genesis 1:26-31, Matthew 5:5, Romans 8:23).
If the material world is good, contra our twenty-first century American Platonic sensibilities, why would God get rid of the physical realm? Does the Creation glorify and prove God’s very existence? (cf. Romans 1:18-23).
Justin Martyr, a Christian apologist writing in the mid-second century A.D., explains the goodness of the physical body in his book, On the Resurrection:
“But the proof of the possibility of the resurrection of the flesh I have sufficiently demonstrated, in answer to men of the world. And if the resurrection of the flesh is not found impossible on the principles even of unbelievers, how much more will it be found in accordance with the mind of believers! But following our order, we must now speak with respect to those who think meanly of the flesh, and say that it is not worthy of the resurrection nor of the heavenly economy, because, first, its substance is earth; and besides, because it is full of all wickedness, so that it forces the soul to sin along with it. But these persons seem to be ignorant of the whole work of God, both of the genesis and formation of man at the first, and why the things in the world were made. For does not the word say, “Let Us make man in our image, and after our likeness?” What kind of man? Manifestly He means fleshly man, For the word says, “And God took dust of the earth, and made man.” It is evident, therefore, that man made in the image of God was of flesh. Is it not, then, absurd to say, that the flesh made by God in His own image is contemptible, and worth nothing? But that the flesh is with God a precious possession is manifest, first from its being formed by Him, if at least the image is valuable to the former and artist; and besides, its value can be gathered from the creation of the rest of the world. For that on account of which the rest is made, is the most precious of all to the maker.” (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.viii.vii.html).
Join us in worship this Holy Week:
4/13/14 Palm Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11 “Who Is This?”
4/17/14 Maundy Thursday 7 PM
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 “Love One Another”
4/18/14 Good Friday 7 PM
Psalm 116:1-8 “You Saved My Life”
John 20:1-18 “I Have Seen the Lord!”
In His Service,
Rev. Dr. Peter A. Butler, Jr.