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1 Corinthians
15:1-11

 
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. 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. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (ESV)
Fantastic Salvation
Pentecost Tuesday
17 May 2016
Gnosticism in both its ancient and modern forms denigrates the incarnation of the Son of God. At best Christ only seems or appears to be human. He then becomes a phantom of humanity or a projection of human appearance (Schopenhauer!). He certainly cannot be a true human being born of Mary's flesh and subject to the suffering incumbent upon humanity.
 
If Christ only appears human, then it brings under suspicion the validity of the acts which He did in the flesh. A phantom Savior offers a phantom salvation to phantoms. Since we are not mere phantoms but "share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham" (Heb 2:14-16). Note that Christ comes not even to help angels, which are spiritual beings, but the children of Abraham, flesh and blood creatures like us. Everything done by a mere phantom is merely fantastic, that is, a puff of fairy dust. Instead Christ treads the dust of the earth for a life time, sharing the byways of humanity with humans as a human. He is no phantasm, but a man like us working a real salvation through the flesh.

 

Tertullian

"Heretics started by assuming the impossibility of an incarnate God. Since Christ's being flesh is now discovered to be a lie, it follows that all things which were done by the flesh of Christ were done untruly-every act of human interaction, of contact, of eating or drinking, even His very miracles. If with a touch, or by being touched, He freed anyone of a disease, whatever was done by any corporeal act cannot be believed to have been truly done in the absence of all reality in His body itself. Nothing substantial can be allowed to have been effected by an unsubstantial thing; nothing filled by a nothingness. If the habit were supposed, the action was supposed; if the worker were imaginary, the works were imaginary.
 
"On this principle, too, the sufferings of Christ will be found not to support faith in Him. For He suffered nothing who did not truly suffer; and a phantom could not truly suffer. God's entire work, therefore, is subverted. Christ's death, in which lies the whole weight and fruit of the Christian name, is denied although the apostle asserts it so expressly as undoubtedly real, making it the very foundation of the gospel, of our salvation and of his own preaching. 'I have delivered unto you before all things,' says he, 'how that Christ died for our sins, and that he was buried, and that He rose again the third day' (1Co 15:3).
 
"Besides, if His flesh is denied, how is His death to be asserted; for death is properly the suffering of the flesh, which returns through death back to the earth out of which it was taken, according to the law of its Maker? Now, if His death be denied, because of the denial of His flesh, there will be no certainty of His resurrection. For He rose not, for the very same reason that He died not, even because He possessed not the reality of the flesh, to which as death accrues, so does resurrection likewise.
 
"Similarly, if Christ's resurrection be nullified, ours also is destroyed. If Christ's resurrection be not realized, neither shall that be for which Christ came. For just as they, who said that there is no resurrection of the dead, are refuted by the apostle from the resurrection of Christ, so, if the resurrection of Christ falls to the ground, the resurrection of the dead is also swept away. And so our faith is vain, and vain also is the preaching of the apostles. Moreover, they even show themselves to be false witnesses of God, because they testified that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise. And we remain in our sins still. And those who have slept in Christ have perished; truly destined to rise again, but maybe even in a phantom resurrection, just like their phantom Christ."

Tertullian, Five Books Against Marcion, 3.5
 
Prayer
Lord Christ, You are not a phantasm but a man born of the Virgin Mary. Help me to confess Your incarnation and the real salvation that comes through that flesh to a world enmeshed in the lie of spirituality disconnected from reality. Amen.
 
For the Atsinger family bereft of siblings, that they would mourn with hope and courage
 
For those who, disillusioned by churches that have given up the gospel, are seeking the truth, that they would find the preaching of Christ
 
For all those who are sunk in sexual immorality, that they might repent of their sins of the flesh and seek the mercy of the incarnate Lord
Art: DYCK, Anthony van  Pentecost (1618-1620)

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