Now is Christ risen from the dead

A recent survey, published to coincide with the annual Easter celebrations, has revealed that ‘nearly one in four Christians do not believe in the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead’. When one defines ‘Christian’ as someone who goes to church regularly, the percentage of those who do not believe in the resurrection drops to five percent. However, only 57 percent of regular church goers believe every aspect of the biblical record of the resurrection. What, one wonders, do the remaining 38 percent deny?

Given the fundamental nature of the resurrection in the Gospels and the preaching of the apostles in Acts, it seems strange that anyone would both call themselves a Christian and yet deny the resurrection. Paul knew this odd attitude. Writing to the Corinthians, he addressed those who say that there is no resurrection of the dead. His argument is a compelling statement, both of the fact, and of the theology, of this most glorious demonstration of Christ’s power. To reject the resurrection is to reject any meaningful hope in Christ. As he says, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ And then he adds those wonderful words, ‘But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 15:19–20).

Knowledge of the resurrection was not new to the Jewish Christians. We know the Sadducees denied it (Matthew 22:23) while Martha affirmed it (John 11:24). A brief survey of the Old Testament helps to show is just how frequently this glorious truth is presented, both in types, examples, and prophecies.

 

Resurrection types

The clearest type of the resurrection is the sacrifice and restoration of Isaac on Mount Moriah. The account is given in Genesis 22. The important points to note are these; Abraham was commanded to go and offer his son as a burnt offering, v.2, and he told his servants that, after they had sacrificed, he and the lad would come again to them, v.5. Abraham therefore expected his son to be restored to him. That he did not expect him to be spared being offered as a sacrifice is shown by the urgency with which the angel of the Lord called to him, v.11; Abraham was just about to strike the killing blow.

If we ask why Abraham believed his son would be restored to him, we note that this son was the child of promise, the son both of Abraham and Sarah. ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’, v.18, which could not be true if the first proof of the promised line perished on an altar. Abraham trusted the Lord to keep his covenant with him, and so his son must be restored. This restoration is a type of the resurrection.

Another type is the reunion of Joseph with his aged father, Jacob. That reunion is recorded in Genesis 46:28–30. Jacob had believed the deceit of his other sons, and accepted that the bloodied and torn clothing presented to him proved that Joseph was dead, 37:29–35. When Jacob laid eyes on his son and threw his arms around him, he knew that Joseph was alive after all. The one who had been dead was in fact alive. If we add the saving benefits Joseph provided for his family—saving of the body from famine, that is, rather than a spiritual salvation—we can see that this too is a type of the resurrection.

 

Resurrection examples

The two obvious examples are the son of the widow of Zarephath, and the son of the Shunamite. The first of these is found in 1 Kings 17:8–24. The conclusion to the account is that the raising up of the dead child convinced the mother that Elijah truly was a man of God, in whose mouth the true word of the Lord was to be found.

The second is found in 2 Kings 4:8–37. The woman who provided hospitality for the prophet Elisha appeared to have one regret. ‘She hath no child, and her husband is old’ (v.14). Elisha told her she would have a son, and, in the fulness of time, she did. Some years later the child fell ill and died, and the mother took the matter to the prophet directly. The intervention of the prophet saw the child fully restored. 

Leaving aside much that could be said about the significance of these resurrections, it is enough for our purpose to note the fact of the resurrections. God has the power to raise the dead to life, and he is able to use his servants the prophets as instruments to effect this wonderful evidence of his love and power. Those who deny the resurrection must also deny all other resurrections. In the New Testament we read of several, such as the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus’s daughter, Dorcas, Eutychus, and Lazarus. To accept any of these but deny the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ points to a far deeper spiritual problem than mere inability to accept a miracle; it points to a fundamental problem in rightly receiving Christ. To deny both these resurrections and that of the Lord Jesus Christ speaks to a very wrong view of Scripture, that we cannot trust the word of God but must subject it to our own opinions. This was, at bottom, Eve’s grievous sin in listening to the serpent.

 

Resurrection prophecies

One resurrection prophecy stands out clearly, since it is quoted in the New Testament. This is Psalm 16:10, ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’ It is quoted in Acts 2:27, when Peter preached to the assembled Jews and proselytes of the diaspora. It is quoted in Acts 13:35–37, when Paul preached to the Jews in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. On both cases the words are applied by the apostles to the Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Their point is that the Jews have no excuse to deny a resurrected Messiah because of what David said. The words are clearly not applicable to David, who is ‘both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us into this day’ (Acts 2:29). Rather, they were spoken by a prophet concerning the seed whom God had sworn to raise up in David, which seed is Christ, vv.30–31.

When our heavenly Father is moved to reveal a matter to his servants the prophets, we are to take careful note of it. Our God does not reveal frivolities, nor does he issue hard and dark sayings that cannot be understood. Rather, the plain meaning of the words is to be taken as their true meaning. As the two apostles show, these words teach that the Lord Jesus Christ should be raised from the dead.

It would seem strange, therefore, if our Lord Jesus did not also prophesy his own resurrection. He did, and on several occasions. To take just one Gospel, that of Luke, we find this to be true. When Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, our Lord taught the disciples that ‘The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day’ (Luke 9:22). The same truth is taught in 18:31–33. Then, after his resurrection, the Lord Jesus taught two disciples the same truth on the Emmaeus road, 24:7, and he taught the disciples it in the upper room, 24:46.

 

Conclusion

There is much else that could be said about the use made of this truth in the preaching of the apostles. When we read the various Epistles we see how central the resurrection is to the doctrine of our faith. Paul’s lengthy treatment of the subject in 1 Corinthians 15 is worthy of careful reading and study.

In short, how can any who call themselves Christian, deny the resurrection? It is, in a small way, like someone who claims to be a racing driver but who denies there is any point in crossing the finishing line. What sort of racer are they? Not one worthy of the name.

It is highly improbable that any reader of Protestant Truth denies the resurrection, for any who do are of all men most miserable. We are not miserable Protestants, are we? Our joy is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is even now at the right hand of the Father, who raised him from the dead. Is he your Saviour? I pray so.

London Attack – Message from the PTS Chairman

When events such as those which took place in London on Wednesday occur it can be difficult for us to know how to respond. I found that the words of Thomas Cranmer echoed across the centuries to me, urging us as he does to place our trust in the Lord, to follow his paths, and to ask for his assistance in times of trouble.

O God, from who all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both, our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that, by thee, we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Rev. Dominic Stockford

Message from the PTS Chairman on the archbishops’ statement

I note the statement published this week (January 17th, 2017) by Archbishops Welby and Sentamu of the CofE on the issue of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. What they have said deeply saddened me, and is a further sign of the movement that the CofE is making away from the true gospel. There is too much of note in the statement to cover it all here, but I present this one thought as a marker of how far from true Biblical Christianity the CofE has now sunk.

At left: Archbishop Welby with the Roman Pope in 2016

In their statement the archbishops note ‘Many will also remember the lasting damage done five centuries ago to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love.’ Unity must not be maintained if compromise of our faith is what it takes to do so – for Christian unity can only be found between faithful followers of Christ, and through faithful obedience to God’s Word as revealed in Scripture. Man cannot create, or seek, such unity. We are united in Christ’s truth, or we are not united in anything that matters (John 17).

It should be noted that In 2 Corinthians 6.17 it reads ‘Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…’ Clearly this is what the reformers had in mind when the Church they left was unwilling, if not able, to reform. The separation was not unfortunate but necessary and therefore perfectly justifiable. Christ said he would divide. He did, and does. Christ criticizes the Church of Thyatira for tolerating Jezebel. Therefore, either you eject Jezebel; or, if it is Jezebel that holds the levers of power, it is necessary for you to remove yourself from her influence. There is nothing to repent of in leaving the Church of Rome to its errors, nor in pointing out those errors and thereby seeking to lead people to the truth and light that is to be found in Christ alone, and in the Scriptures alone.

Please pray for these men, that God’s Spirit will invade their hearts with his transforming power. Please pray for the Church of England, that it will be restored to the Protestant body that it once was. Please pray for our nation, that it will have spiritual leadership that will lead it to Christ, and who will encourage us all to trust in God’s Word as the sole rule for our faith and practice.

Rev. Dominic Stockford

Britain bans persecuted Archbishops but welcomes persecutors

syriac_gospelAs reported by the Daily Express on December 4, the Archbishop of Mosul, the Archbishop of St Matthew’s covering the Nineveh valley, and the Archbishop of Homs and Hama in Syria were refused entry to Britain to attend the consecration of the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in London, to which the Queen and the Prime Minister sent personal messages of support, and though they were invited by the Prince of Wales, who spoke at the service against the persecution of Christians in their countries.

Dr Martin Parsons, head of research at the Barnabas Fund, which helps Christians escape persecution, said that it was unbelievable to deny entry to ‘persecuted Christians who come from the cradle of Christianity…when the UK is offering a welcome to Islamists who persecute Christians.’ Dr Parsons pointed out that Britain grants visas to Islamic leaders who demand the execution of Christians accused of blasphemy against the Islamic faith, and it routinely grants asylum to senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood despite the fact that they repeatedly incite violence against the Egyptian Coptic Christian community. 

Dominic Stockford, Chairman of the PTS, remarked

Although we have fundamental disagreements over the theology held by the Syrian Bishops, we still believe that the Home Office decision to bar them from entry into the UK is a disgrace. When we set this decision next to the Home Office guidance to presume that senior members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood should not merely be permitted entry, but be granted asylum in the UK, it seems that there is less than balance, but in fact bias against those who profess Christianity, in making these decisions.

Peace with Rome?

no_peace_with_romeThe Daily Telegraph (October 5, 2016) reported that at a service to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s visit to Pope Paul IV, ‘Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury have publicly pledged to press on towards the full reunification of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches’.

Only a couple of obstacles remain. Once overcome, the way would be open for the Church of England to come back under the Pope’s authority.

What are those obstacles? Rome’s denial of the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone? Rome’s attitude towards the Word of God, that it is but one part of the repository of truth, along with tradition and the Church’s magisterium? The vaunted claim of the Bishop of Rome to be Christ’s Vicar on earth? The doctrine that the Pope, speaking ex cathedra, is infallible? The assertion that there is no salvation outside of the Roman church? The blasphemous worship of our Lord’s mother? The pagan veneration and intercession of the saints? The lying ‘miracle’ of transubstantiation? The placing of intermediaries, in the form of priests, between God and man?

No. The only obstacles are the introduction of female ordination in the Church of England, and the present attitude towards same-sex relationships—an attitude which has yet to be formalized, as the parties concerned within the C of E are far from a consensus on the matter. The implication is that once a way forward has been established, no further obstacles to reunion remain.

Bishop Joseph Hall (1575–1656) wrote a treatise entitled ‘No peace with Rome’ in which he set out the fundamental differences between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. He concluded that it is not possible to have peace with Rome. Unless Rome were to change fundamentally, there could be no agreement between the reformed and the unreformed. Were Rome to change in the required matters, she would cease to be Rome.

It is perfectly obvious to all observers that Rome has not changed. Yes, she has learned to speak in a way that appears to embrace other interpretations, and she has ceased to be openly hostile to ‘different traditions’. Yes, liberal theology has worked its harm in Rome’s system as much as it has in Protestantism. Yes, there are calls from some within Roman Catholicism to introduce female ordination. Rome is not the monolith she would have us believe. But neither is she a trustworthy guide in spiritual matters. If the Church of England reunifies with Rome, Protestants of other denominations beware; all will suffer as a consequence. Let us pray against this deserved judgment of God upon us.

Philip Tait

PhilipTaitThe Rev. Philip Tait, formerly Director of Ministry for the PTS, ceased employment with the Society during April. During his tenure he brought some helpful ideas to our work, and produced some thoughtful and challenging articles for the Protestant Truth magazine on a variety of subjects. He joined us at a significant time of change for the Society, as well as in society generally. His presence helped us to work through some of those changes, moving towards a stronger and more certain future. His gentle and good-humoured approach was much appreciated. We are most grateful for his time of service to us, and our prayers are with him and his wife. He continues to serve the Lord in a semi-retired capacity in the North-east of England, where his labours remain much appreciated.

The post of Director of Ministry will not be re-advertised.

EU Referendum Result

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The Council of the PTS gives heartfelt thanks to God that the British people have voted to leave the European Union.

We urge all our supporters and friends to thank God and to pray that our country would return to the Protestant Christian faith upon which our constitution is founded.

Soli Deo Gloria.

On behalf of all at the Protestant Truth Society I would like to thank those who have been praying for God’s will to be done regarding the outcome of the referendum, and encourage them to continue their prayer for our Government – that it may be guided to ‘do justly, and to love mercy’ in its subsequent workings.

Dominic Stockford, Chairman

PTS Stand at Christian Resources Exhibition

Left to right: Andrew Price, Duncan Boyd, Ruth Price, Regan King

The Protestant Truth Society ran a stand at the Christian Resources Exhibition from May 17 to 20 at the ExCeL Centre in east London.

The stand had a wide selection of PTS literature, including a number of copies of booklets from the Time Travellers’ Club and Garry Williams’ latest pamphlet Why Protestant Truth Still Matters. Many people took copies and spoke appreciatively of what was on offer.

The main focus of the stand, however, was the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Large numbers of the PTS pamphlet Why Christians should vote to leave the European Union and also of the bookletA Christian Case for Leaving the European Union were distributed. They were, on the whole, received enthusiastically. A number of people came back to ask for more to give to their friends or churches.

Our presence at the CRE will certainly help to raise awareness of PTS in the wider Christian world, and, God willing, made a useful contribution to the referendum on the EU. This is probably the most important political decision that our country faces since joining the EEC in 1973. It is the prayer of the Council of the PTS that the UK will leave the EU and return to the faith on which Britain’s Protestant Constitution is based.

Duncan Boyd of PTS Council organized the team, and was ably helped by Regan King, the minister of a Baptist church in Islington. Andrew Price and his wife Ruth manned the stand faithfully every day. Edward Malcolm, the PTS Vice-Chairman, also rendered valuable assistance on the Wednesday.

PTS at Christian Resources Exhibition, London

ExCel_Exhibition_Centre

The PTS will be represented at the forthcoming Christian Resources Exhibition in London.

Located in ExCeL, in Docklands, the exhibition runs
May 17 – 20, 2016.

This is an opportunity to make the Society known to the wider Church.


PTS publications will be available

including latest booklet and leaflet for the EU Referendum.

Download exhibition floorplan
showing location of PTS stand P41B.

Opening Times

Tuesday 11.00am 6.30pm

Wednesday 11.00am 6.30pm

Thursday 11.00am 8.00pm

Friday 11.00am 4.00pm

For further information visit the CRE website

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The European Union – A Protestant View

June23

It is clear that campaigning on the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union has got off to a bad start, with both sides more concerned with criticizing their opponents, and prophesying disaster if they do not win, than with putting a positive case for remaining or withdrawing. Such has been the tone of these exchanges that it has been satirically suggested that before long someone will be prophesying a plague of locusts. This is no way to conduct a serious debate.

The issues are mind-bogglingly complex – finance, free trade, control of borders, immigration, and so on. Perhaps the central issue is that of the sovereignty of Parliament. At the moment European Union law ranks higher than United Kingdom law, and European Union legislation passes into effect without any parliamentary debate or vote.

Is there a distinctively Protestant view on this? Vatican City is a sovereign state, and enclave within a European Union member; but not itself a member. It is difficult to judge how much influence the Vatican has on European Union affairs, but my feeling would be that it is less than the Church leadership would like. The European Union of today is a very different creature from the original six-member European Economic Community established by the Treaty of Rome(!) in 1958. In the area of social legislation, for example, it is pursuing policies that seem a long way from the concerns of traditional Catholicism. See, for example, the European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality 2013 Update on European Union Gender Equality Law, which is at http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/your_rights/eu_gender_equality_law_update2013_en.pdf. The elaborate title and complicated web address seem symptomatic of the level of European Union bureaucracy.

Nevertheless, the Vatican has not been able to resist getting involved. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See (in effect, the Vatican Foreign Secretary) gave an interview in which he gave a clear signal of the Vatican’s – presumably the pope’s – view:

The Holy See respects the ultimate decision of the British people – that’s for the British electorate to decide. But I think we would see it as being something that is not going to make a stronger Europe. Better in than out.

Meanwhile the pope was awarded the Charlemagne Prize. This is a German award ‘given to public figures or bodies distinguished by their outstanding work towards European unity or co-operation between its states.’ The awarding committee’s citation seems to take ‘Europe’ in the narrow sense of the European Union: ‘In a time when the European Union is facing the greatest challenge of the 21st century, it is the Pope “from the end of the world” who orients millions of Europeans to what the European Union brings together at its core: a valid system of values, respect for human dignity and civil liberties, the uniqueness of human beings whatever their ethnic, religious or cultural background and respect for our natural resources.’ I think we can take it that the Vatican is in favour of the European Union, and that the rest of Europe perceives the Vatican as being in favour of the European Union.

All this implies that the Vatican is seen as having some moral authority in Europe; otherwise it would be absurd even to notice the opinion of the head of a non-member state (the Vatican City) who is himself by origin from a non-European state (Argentina). That should give us as Protestants something to bear in mind when we come to cast our votes.

Further, there is lesson from church history in all this:

Getting rid of continental jurisdiction over the UK is as easy an enacting an Act of Parliament. It was an Act of Parliament that brought in major EU powers. It is through amending or repealing that same Statute that EU powers can be limited or removed.

England had to do this before. In 1533 Henry VIII was worried about the succession and believed his marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be void, as he had married his brother’s wife. The King wished English divines to settle the matter without fear of Rome intervening and overruling. The Crown appealed to long history and custom, and to the powers of Parliament, to assert its own authority at the expense of the see of Rome. Parliament willingly passed an Act preventing future appeal of legal cases to Rome or elsewhere overseas. The UK wanted to make its own decisions. Royal will used Parliamentary authority to allow the Crown to end appeals to Rome.

In language which rings down the centuries Parliament said: ‘…this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and King…And whereas the King his most noble progenitors and the nobility and Commons of this said realm, at divers and sundry Parliaments…made sundry ordinances, laws, statutes and provisions for the entire and sure conservation of the prerogatives liberties and pre-eminences of the said imperial crown of this realm, and of the jurisdictions spiritual and temporal of the same, to keep it from the annoyance as well as the see of Rome as from the authority of other foreign potentates attempting the diminution or violation thereof…’

(Quoted from http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2012/06/07/this-realm-of-england-is-an-empire/)

‘This realm of England is an empire’, that is, it is subordinate to no foreign power. It was by asserting the independence of England in this way that Henry VIII’s Parliament accomplished the first steps of the Reformation in England. And that too should give us as Protestants something to bear in mind when we come to cast our votes.