Well I’m sitting in Sydney airport about to board a plane for Melbourne. It’s been a grand few days. The ‘One’ event at the Sydney Entertainment Centre was a great night. Very challenges talks from Lennox and Piper, including Piper’s classic ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ sermon. I’ll write up my thoughts from that later, along with the rest of my musings on the conference. In the meantime, here is Lennox’s talk from Day 2, continuing his journey through Acts 1. Especially watch out for his point about the fulfillment of the Jewish festival calendar. Very interesting stuff! (thanks to Steph Mcardle for letting me copy her notes from the first part of this talk since I was busy editing my last post)
Session 5 – John Lennox
The world associates Christianity with the absence of thinking.
Faith from hearing from the word of God
The ascension: how can you believe the defying of the law of gravity? But Luke was a scientist, the only scientist who writes in the Bible
People hate the supernaturalism of Christianity.
Luke speaks of angel coming to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John the Baptist. Zechariah was a senior religious leader. Believes in God, spoke with the angel but cannot believe he could have a son at this ages. Couldn’t believe that science would be defied.
It is people in holy religious office that can’t believe in the supernatural dimension.
Luke is aware of what the challenges for Christians are, and yet starts his gospel with this
We don’t just face atheists who don’t’ believe in the supernatural
Ascension – he was taken up and he disappeared in a cloud
Luke stresses that it is visible
“saw” – he was actual and visible
Deliberately visual b/c it was the same way as he’s going to return. We can’t forget this, it is essential to gospel.
1 thess 1
Conversion is turning to God and wait for his return.
Need a well-balanced view of eschatology: wait for return & be involved in gospel work. What a contrast to atheism: the hope that we will one day be with Jesus. Acts starts by telling us he is returning. There will be judgment.
How will you give an account of yourself?
How you measure other ppl you will be measured.
The non-believer says to us:
‘Your Jesus never saved anyone’
Jesus rose from the dead. His power was demonstrated and the disciples realized that he is invincible. Because he used the ultimate weapon of the enemy against him and reversed it!
So the disciples think: ‘surely he will now take over!’
This raises lots of problems for us
Why didn’t he deal with pain and death right there and then?
Why are the nations still battling and tearing each other to pieces?
Disciples focused on outward and physical and missed the spiritual.
For us we can go the other way. We can focus on the spiritual and miss Luke 17:23-24. When he comes it will be utterly visible.
The very thing the atheists accuse Christians of – fermenting violence – is the same thing that Jesus was accused of and vindicated.
So the disciples ask the question.
And Jesus gives them the most powerful answer.
He left them.
So begs the question, where do we stand in history? What do we expect to happen?
We are to get on with the gospel, in the power of the HS.
But there’s more to be said. When Peter stood up he mentioned restoration. (3:19ff)
Calendar of Jewish festivals
Passover, First fruits, Pentecost, trumpets, yom kippur, tabernacles
Passover – found fulfillment in Christ’s death
First fruits – Resurrection: First fruits of them that slept (+ Col. 1:15)
Pentecost – coming of the Spirit
Still three to go! Yom Kippur, Trumpets, Tabernacles
Tabernacles – Is 25 – messianic banquet
Why should we trust God?
There is a space between when Jesus came in the incarnation and when he will return
The existence of that space is going to raise many questions in our hearts that’s why Acts takes it so seriously.
The reality is that we live in a ragged and painful world that’s not yet restored. Is there any reason to trust the whole thing to God?
The biggest reason is the cross.
The world has got a rottenness at its core.
If there wasn’t an interval between the first and the second we wouldn’t have got saved.
So no simple answer, but a window.
If that is God on the cross, it shows me that at the very least God has not remained distant from this question but has become part of it. The festivals that have been fulfilled (Passover, First Fruits, Pentecost) become powerful evidence that the other will be fulfilled.