Tag Archives: Worship

The Burial of Jesus Christ Essential to the Gospel

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. 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.” – I Corinthians 15:1-5

In our thoughts and presentations of the Gospel, much attention is given to the death and resurrection of our Lord, and rightly so. But there is often times a tendency to go from “He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30) to “Now on the first day of the week…” (John 20:1), as if there are no blessings nor comfort to be had between those events. But there are. Let’s not overlook them.

PAUL VIEWED THE BURIAL AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL

First, a few preliminaries. In the passage quoted above we have one of the most concise summaries of the Gospel in Scripture. In verse 1, Paul says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you”. Immediately following he clarifies the precise points of that Gospel.

He was crucified…buried…raised on the third day… He appeared.

Paul clearly regarded the burial of Christ Jesus as an essential element of the Gospel, and you will note that in Paul’s presentation in Scripture, he does not fail to include it.

JESUS INCLUDED HIS BURIAL AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL

In Matthew 26 and parallel passages, we see Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, wiping it with her hair (see John 12:7). Note in the passage in Matthew, Jesus says,

“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”(26:13).

How many times will it be said this coming Sunday, “We have met this morning to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” Brethren, don’t forget the burial!

Our Lord’s burial is far more than a historical footnote, something that so obviously takes place when you have a dead body.

In our main passage quoted above, Paul twice says these elements of the Gospel were “in accordance with the Scriptures.” In other words, these things have occurred as a fulfillment of prophecy and are essential ingredients of the Gospel message to be taken to the world.

One of those prophecies is found in Isaiah 53. Note verse 9.

“And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9).

A note from JFB on this passage is instructive:

Rather, “His grave was appointed,” or “they appointed Him His grave” [Hengstenberg]; that is, they intended (by crucifying Him with two thieves, Mat_27:38) that He should have His grave “with the wicked.” Compare Joh_19:31, the denial of honorable burial being accounted a great ignominy (see on Isa_14:19; Jer_26:23). and with … rich — rather, “but He was with a rich man,” etc. Gesenius, for the parallelism to “the wicked,” translates “ungodly” (the effect of riches being to make one ungodly); but the Hebrew everywhere means “rich,” never by itself ungodly; the parallelism, too, is one of contrast; namely, between their design and the fact, as it was ordered by God (Mat_27:57; Mar_15:43-46; Joh_19:39, Joh_19:40); two rich men honored Him at His death, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus.

Remember Joseph of Arimathea? A rich man indeed!

“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” – Matthew 27:57-60

The details of the burial of our Lord are covered in all 4 gospels. Yet is it not true, that often times we focus more on the death and resurrection of Jesus and pass right by His burial? I think so.

So what about the blessings of His burial? We know He died, we know He rose again, we know He ascended to the right hand of the Father where He reigns forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

HIS BURIAL GIVES BELIEVERS A HOPE THE WORLD DOES NOT HAVE

Were it not for the mercy and grace of God, had He not intervened at a point in time to show us our wickedness and need for the Savior, we would be hopeless like the rest of mankind outside of Christ.

The world outside of Christ fears death. It is the end of hope for them, yet for the believer, what are we told?

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” – Psalm 116:15.

It pleased the Lord to crush His only Son (Isaiah 53:10), yet the Father did not abandon His Son forever in His burial! Nor will He abandon His true children! Not even in the grave!

Beloved, the world does not have this comfort, yet those who truly are children of God have this blessed hope of not being forsaken in the grave! That’s a blessing! That is the Father looking in our direction, and being pleased because we were redeemed by His Son!

Jesus Christ has transformed even death, sanctified it, set it apart, so that even death is viewed by His children differently than by the world. If we truly believe, we need not fear death nor the grave.

Just as the Father did not forsake His Son in burial, neither will He forsake us. Just as Christ Jesus has risen from the dead, so shall we. God’s Word is true, take comfort!

The Dumbing Down of Worship

A big part of the problem is that we have gotten the unconverted in the church while still unconverted, and as such, they have no love for God, His Christ, His people nor for true worship. – Joel Taylor

JoelOver the last 50 years or so, there has been a dumbing down of Biblical worship and the witness of professing Christians in America. The extent of this process has increased to the point that the present worship or witness is not recognizable to that of the early body of Christians in Apostolic times.

What are the reasons for such a decline? I believe there are two things, among many, that stand out as villains.

Method of Evangelism

The first is the non-biblical method of evangelism or the manner of reaching people for church. Secondly, there is the very pressing problem of accommodating what we do in worship and in the whole of ‘church’ to the desires of children, the youth and their parents. Let me take them one at a time.

In the days of the Apostles, evangelism, the method of reaching those outside of Christ to a saving knowledge, involved that of Christians assembling to worship, receiving instructions, and guidance for both life and finally, the reaching of others for Christ. Worship was a time for being fed the truth by faithful pastors. It was a time to receive guidance in overcoming the world, to know the will of God, and to be equipped (Ephes. 4:12) to minister (serve) in the cause of God and Christ. These same people – fed, comforted and encouraged – would leave these times of fellowship and worship to go forth as ambassadors for Christ. Witnessing was one-on-one, or, if possible, with a whole family. But Christian responsibility did not end when they left the assembly in worship, it was only the beginning. This personal witnessing is now left to the cultic groups who proclaim false doctrine day in and day out. Those who profess to be Christians believe their duty is over after the morning ‘worship’ on Sunday. Those early Christians were brought together to worship God and to be built up for ready service to God as their first and foremost responsibility and privilege.

The witness to the lost, if such exist at all, is left to the faithful man of God and perhaps his staff. What a change from the days of the Apostles. For most who profess Christ, the Sunday morning worship is the end of their responsibilities as a Christian.

What has happened between those early days of Christianity and now? Does God no longer reign on the throne? Has the power to save been altered from the apostolic days? Does the Bible need to be updated for this modern age or just completely removed? I believe God is still God but men have become even more corrupt, just as they were before the flood of Noah’s day. It is difficult to get people to come and worship. The enticement of the world is so alluring. Worship just demands too much of a fellow.  Praying and giving attention to the preaching of the Word demands too much discipline. There has, therefore, been a dumbing down of requirements for ‘church membership’ to accommodate this mindset of the modern man. The New Testament has now been replaced with the pragmatism of men. You do what is necessary to fill the pews, pay the bills, etc. To get the unchurched, the unconverted, into the ‘church’ there has been a seemingly necessary compromise.

A big part of the problem is that we have gotten the unconverted in the church while still unconverted, and as such, they have no love for God, His Christ, His people nor for true worship. Instead of the spirit of Paul who says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16), we now have another gospel with no authority from God. The witness to the lost, if such exist at all, is left to the faithful man of God and perhaps his staff. What a change from the days of the Apostles. For most who profess Christ, the Sunday morning worship is the end of their responsibilities as a Christian.

Accommodating Desires of Youth and Children

A second challenge which has affected the worship of God has been that of the professed body of Christians in trying to accommodate itself to the needs and desires of the children and youth because parents have abdicated their responsibilities to the family. Again, an alteration from the apostolic period. Then, and for years after, by Scriptural standards, the social and child training was left to the family. The husband and wife were responsible, but all has changed in this consumer-oriented, government do-it-all society, and it has dramatically affected professed Christianity in both its worship and witness to the world.

Both of these villains have resulted in the dumbing down of the worship of God. They have diminished the role of God and elevated the role of man in worship. When the worship of God is governed by the unconverted or the desire to get them into the church by watering down the Gospel; or when the worship of God is dictated by the desires of men, then the death-knell of true worship rings loud and clear. Pragmatically turning the local church into a Romper Room for adults has a devastating effect upon our witness.

Oh, that God would revive His people. Bring them to conformity to His will as is set forth in the Scriptures and especially the New Testament. That they would worship under the New Covenant of grace. Would it be that they knew the spirit of David who said, “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the Lord.” Oh, that the prayer of David, in the building of the house of God, would be ours once again:

“Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of Israel our father forever and forever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou doest exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thine hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now, therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise Thy glorious name.” – I Chronicles 29:10-13

May this be our mindset, our hearts desire in praise and prayer in the days ahead.