Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why Is It Thought To be So Incredible?

26:1 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
 2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
 4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:1-8 (ESV)
“Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” Paul asks this of people who ostensibly believe in God. That is he is asking this of Jews, though there are also pagans at this meeting. Perhaps a person could go through the entire creed this way, “why is it thought incredible by any of you that God….” Fill in the blank.  
Given the concept of a god who created the world, and this is not a farfetched concept by any stretch of the imagination, why should it be thought incredible that he so cherishes you and your life that he would like to save it in the sending of his Son to die in your stead? Why would it be so far-fetched that he is actually concerned about you as an individual, in you personally?  It isn’t that these things are far-fetched, it isn’t that these things are incredible, it is that they are scarier than hell to our old Adam. It is that we fear having a God like this. It is that we are embarrassed and our embarrassment keeps us captive and sympathetic to our captors of sin, death and the devil, like hostages with Stockholm Syndrome.

But even within Christianity we divide over what we consider to be things incredible for God to do. The Pharisees and the Sadducees divided over the resurrection of the dead. You still find this denied in certain so called Christian circles. Even the very resurrection of Christ, which Paul here shows to be the very center of the Christian gospel. But I am often left wondering what God it is a person believes in when they don’t think God can use water to save an infant’s soul? This person can’t possibly believe that there was salvation in his own baptism, can he? Surely if God can have his way with an adult in baptism he can do that for an infant. What kind of god is it that a person believes in when they don’t believe it possible for bread and wine to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ given for the forgiveness of sins? Can the person who believes this really believe that God could save the world through his own death on the cross? Can a person who denies this, truly believe that God created the world? It would seem to me a very trite thing for the creator of the world who speaks into existences stars, plants and animals, who breaths into clay sculpture the breath of life, to make bread and wine be his body and blood by virtue of his word. Why should this be so incredible, literally unbelievable, something we find impossible to believe?  Jesus we believe walked on water, turned water into wine, fed five thousand with two loaves of bread, but that God causes a virgin to conceive and bear his son?  We are supposed to draw the line there? What would God be if he could not do these things? Would he truly be God? It defies logic to say that you believe in God, but don’t believe this or that article of the creed, that you believe this or that to be impossible. You can point to the laws of nature all you want. The problem is, though we know to great extent how they work, we have not begun to fathom their depths even as much as we have not fathomed God who wrote them. That is to say, we really don’t know them at all. We have ideas of them. These ideas often prove to be faulty as science progresses. Indeed the progress of science is built on the idea that we have not learned all of what is to be known of them. But this we can know, what God has revealed to us, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead for our justification, and we no longer need to fear God, or sympathize with our captors.

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