Church of the Resurrection

More quotes (and a little commentary) from PocketCollege.

The Church of the Resurrection
from R.J. Rushdoony
Systematic Theology

—<Quote begins>—

Our subject this day is on the Church of the Resurrection, and our scripture is Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians 2:1-10. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

The church of Jesus Christ rests on a miracle. It was born out of a miracle, the resurrection of our Lord. No resurrection, no church we would have to say. The existence of the church depends upon the fact of the resurrection. Wherever the resurrection of our Lord is denied, the church begins to whither and becomes merely a dead body cluttering the landscape. The miracle on which the church stands is the fact that Jesus Christ who was crucified, rose again from the dead in the very same body, and by his death and resurrection, destroyed the power of sin and death. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 15:17, when he says, “If Christ be not raised your faith is vain. Ye are yet in your sins.” The true church, thus, rests on a miracle, and in the power of that miracle. Both church and members live a miraculous and providential life in Jesus Christ. The church cannot, therefore, see itself simply as an institution. It is the power and presence of God the Son in history, and it is informed and guided by God the Spirit.

The formal gathering of the church as an institution came after the resurrection and the ascension. The miracle of Christ’s resurrection is a miracle of our regeneration, the one leads to the other. We are raised up, Paul says, together and he had made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The exaltation of our Lord is the exaltation of humanity.

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Churches that reject miracles from heaven are dead churches.

Also dead: churches that reject the Holy Spirit.

Rushdoony rightly stresses the importance of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

I would only remind the reader of a secondary but also important addendum:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
-- Ephesians 2:10, ESV

Living beings of flesh and blood act in the real world. As Christ did, so must we. And since we are created to do good works — for God, for each other, and even for the creation at large.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
-- Genesis 2:15, ESV

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Now, it is important for us to emphasize that our text, Ephesians 2:1-10, deals with the church. All too often these verses are discussed in an individualistic fashion, as though the only object of all this, the only point Paul is here making, is our regeneration. Paul emphatically speaks of our regeneration, but in the verses which precede it, verses 20-23 of chapter 1, he speaks of the wonderful miracle, the working of his mighty power, God’s mighty power, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” What is Paul’s point?

What he is saying in Ephesians is that God, by the working of his mighty power, raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, and put all things under his feet, and created the church, and made possible the miracle that takes place in us, so that Paul is speaking, in the second chapter, about the church. In the fifth chapter, he goes on to speak of the church and the analogy of marriage and the church, so that what he is telling us in verses 1-10 of the second chapter is that Christ, having been resurrected, establishes his church and then creates a new creation, his people, to be his kingdom and his church, so that everything in these verses has to be yes, with us as individuals, and with the church. Christ, he tells us, is raised up into dominion, and he has set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality in power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, and then, he tells us that we are delivered, delivered from the dominion of the things of this world, the prince of the powers of this realm, Satan. Who, when he tempted mankind, in Genesis 3:1-5, led them under his dominion into sin and death, but now we are delivered from that dominion to the dominion of Christ and given dominion, because Paul says, in verse 20, that God, having raised up Jesus Christ, makes him to sit at his right hand, his own right hand, in the heavenly places, and in the sixth verse of the second chapter, he comes back to that, and says that, God has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is one of the most amazing statements in the entire epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. We, having been delivered from the realm of disobedience into the realm of obedience, sit together with Christ. What does that mean? It is something no theologian would dare say if it were not in scripture. 

Christ, we are told, is enthroned, in the twentieth verse of the first chapter. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. In the ancient world, when you went into the presence of the king, you prostrated yourself. You fell down on your face before him and you kissed his feet, if he so gave you the privilege. It was an honor to be allowed to stand in his presence. If you were allowed to sit with him, he made you a member of his family, if you sat at his table and you became a prince by grace, but to sit with him and to reign with him is an enthronement. So, what Paul is telling us, that we who, in Adam, were created to be priests, prophets, and kings, but because of our sin, fell from that estate, and became instead slaves to sin, and children of death, children of wrath, now become in Jesus Christ, enthroned. We sit together with him in heavenly places.

One of the most amazing statements in all of scripture, an audacious one. We are called to dominion. We are called to reign with Christ, called to exercise his dominion and power over all men and nations, and to bring them into captivity to Jesus Christ and his word. This is a proclamation of victory, not only of the victory of Jesus Christ over the power of sin and death, but our victory over the powers of darkness so that the whole world is to be brought into the realm of Christ and under his dominion, so that the knowledge of the Lord, as Isaiah tells us, shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Paul, thus, is telling the Christians of their corporateness in Jesus Christ. This is a heavy stress in Paul. He speaks again and again of the body of Christ, and that they are to be members one of another. Even as once they were members of the body of the fallen humanity of Adam, of the realm of Satan, now they are members of Christ and of one another in Jesus Christ. 

—<Quote ends>—

We are being trained and taught to rule heaven and earth, next to Christ and His Father. When we know and naturally follow God’s ways, God’s laws and God’s ethics, then we will become what God always intended us to be.

Following God’s ways, obedient to God’s definitions of good and evil.

And not following Satan’s promise that “ye shall be like God”, determining good and evil for ourselves, making our own law, as if we were God.

We are not God. It’s about time we learned that.

We will never be all-powerful, all-knowing, self-sufficient, and uncreated.

And we will never be able to redefine the Law, to be whatever we say it is. That is nothing but sin, delusion, defeat, poverty, ignorance, death, hell, and the lake of fire. Eternal Death.

God’s Law is determined by God, for all eternity. It will stand after the last star dies.

But we can — after being washed in the blood of the Lamb, and calling Jesus Christ Lord and God, becoming obedient to His Word — we can be holy, clean, just, wise, sinless, and pure.

Freed from the power of death, by the decision, word, and action of Jesus Christ.

—<Quote begins>—

The Roman Empire was made up of atomistic individuals. The atomism of Greek and Roman philosophy prevailed, and this is why Paul emphasizes so heavily our corporateness in the first or in the last Adam, and this is an emphasis that again must be made, because we, too, live in an age of atomism. Paul shows the unity of the old and of the new, the unity in their heard, and Paul is here laying the foundation for his statements concerning the church in Ephesians 5:21-33. Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism are doctrines stemming from Pelagius, which emphasized the freedom and the free will of man, his independence of God. So that in Pelagianism, salvation becomes a do-it-yourself project. Jesus Christ came only to show us how to save ourselves. As a result, Pelagianism led to atomism, social atomism. The corporateness of man in Christ was lost, and as a result, the doctrine of the church suffered.


Thus, when we speak of the power of the resurrection, we are speaking of what the early church in the didache and many another writing spoke of as the two ways, the two ways: the way of life and of victory, and the way of death and defeat. The way of sin as against the way of righteousness. They way of the powers of darkness and the way of the Lord. The doctrine of the two ways indicated very clearly that whatever weaknesses existed in the early church, they saw clearly the difference that Jesus Christ made. God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love, wherewith he loved us, has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This he has done by his sovereign grace.

Pelagianism leads to defeatism, to atomism. When the church forgets that it is miracle-born, and when we forget that we are miracle-born, born by the power of his resurrection and the regenerating power that is in the resurrected Christ, then we assume that all the power we have in our hands is a naturalistic power. We will assume, as we go to court against the humanists and the statists that all we have as we face them is a humanistic power, a naturalistic power. Surely we must use those powers which God has given us, but we must always remember that we stand in more than in our own power. We are a miracle-born church and a miracle-born people, and to see ourselves naturalistically is to limit the work of Christ and to limit the power of the church, and to limit the power of the believer. You and I are a miracle-born people in Christ, and hence, we pray as we did earlier for Zachery Wagner{?}, and for others, because the resources that are ours in Jesus Christ are more than natural. They are supernatural. We are, Paul says, by way of conclusion, his workmanship. 

—<Quote ends>—

We are saved, tested, purified, and reshaped by the hand of Christ, maker of heaven and earth.

He shapes His people to be like Him.

—<Quote begins>—

As Marcus Barth{?} paraphrases verse 10, “God himself has made us what we are in the Messiah Jesus, we are created. God ordains the good works which we are to walk in as our way of life.” The word that is used by Paul here in verse 10, when he says “good works,” the word “good,” we have in English, as a name, Agatha. Agatha means “good,” and that’s why the name was once so very popular in earlier days. Now, the word that we have in the name Agatha, and in the Greek translated into English as “good” means that which is good in character, in constitution, which is beneficial in nature, that which manifests a godliness which overcomes evil. Paul speaks of this in Romans 12:21. Good works. Not futile works, but good works which overcome evil, which are triumphant, because they are of God and God has created us. He has told us in his word, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” Here is my law-word. Here is the power word, the way of life, the way of power, and the good works for which I have created you, the works which are the works of power. It tells us something about the world of our day, that people believe that goodness is impotent and evil is powerful, that if you’re going to get ahead, because it’s a “Dog eat dog” world, why, you’ve got to forget about righteousness, about goodness, because that has no power. What this tells us is that our world believes in the prince of the powers of darkness, not in Jesus Christ. That it stands not in the resurrection, but in the fall of man, in the tempter’s program of Genesis 3:1-5. It puts its trust in Satan, not in Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection. 

God alone is absolutely good, our Lord tells us, and all good works therefore, manifest his power, his nature, and are in faithfulness to his law-word. We must, as children of the resurrection, believe in the impotence of evil and the power of God as manifested in good works. To believe in the power of good works is to deny Satan and Satan’s program. To deny the power of the good is to affirm the victory of Satan. The church of the resurrection is called to be a victorious church. Its Lord and Savior is he who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and he has called us to sit together with him on the throne of his realm. We cannot sit together with him if we do not believe in his word, and the power of the good works which he has called us to and ordained us for, but if we believe in him and are faithful to our calling, our ordination to good works, we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Let us pray.

Thou hast made us, O Lord, and shall thy work decay? Thou hast made us and called us to sit together with Christ in heavenly places. Thou hast ordained us to good works and to the overthrow of the prince of the powers of the air. O Lord, our God, make us faithful to our calling that we may indeed be more than conquerors, that we may triumph in the face of the powers of darkness, over evil and sin, over the powers of humanism and statism, and bring every area of life and thought into captivity to Jesus Christ our Lord. Make us ever mindful that we are miracle-born, and that we are called to a miraculous destiny. Bless us to this end, we beseech thee, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

—<Quote ends>—

It tells us something about the world of our day, that people believe that goodness is impotent and evil is powerful, that if you’re going to get ahead, because it’s a “Dog eat dog” world, why, you’ve got to forget about righteousness, about goodness, because that has no power. What this tells us is that our world believes in the prince of the powers of darkness, not in Jesus Christ.

I wonder who taught them this?

It certainly wasn’t taught in the Bible!

<Turns to the Religious Professionals and the Seminaries.>

What was it that God said about worthless servants?
(Never mind out-and-out traitors!)

‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”
-- Luke 19:26-27, ESV

Don’t forget: Jesus was not referring to some idiot idolator in this passage. He was referring to His supposed ‘loyal servants’. The kind of people who were given 10 minas1 :

  • and then threw three of them off a mountain for a laugh,
    “Look at the shiny money fall!”
  • gave five to a suspiciously reptilian ‘friend’ who told them exactly what they wanted to hear
  • and blew the rest chasing sex and the favour of powerful men.

Any resemblance this has to the American Christian Church is… yeah.

To believe in the power of good works is to deny Satan and Satan’s program. To deny the power of the good is to affirm the victory of Satan. The church of the resurrection is called to be a victorious church. Its Lord and Savior is he who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and he has called us to sit together with him on the throne of his realm.

Good works don’t save anyone.

Even for Jesus Christ, it was the combination of flawless behaviour (which does include good works, but also excludes ALL bad works and words) that demonstrated His impeccable evidence as Lord, God, and Saviour of Men and Creation.

That being said… doing good works, as defined by God1, is evidence for listening to the Holy Spirit, honouring and obeying your Maker. And that is as true for a Japanese Shintoist who shows kindness to all, as for an old-school Australian Atheist who is openly disgusted with the illogical ideological lies of the modern Academy, or a wealthy Moslem who donates half his fortune to feed and care for poor Moslems.

Good works do not save anyone: not them, and not us. But even partial obedience to the Law of God will be rewarded, to the giver or his descendants and nation. Even if he is an unbeliever.

But God calls His children to do more, to be more, than this.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
-- James 2:14-26, ESV

Our behaviour, as well as our words, show what is in our hearts.

“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
-- Matthew 5:43-48, ESV

There must be holy action, as well as holy faith, for us to be true, obedient sons of the Father in heaven.

1 Just for reference:

The mina was worth ‘100 drachmas’. Accordingly, the present-day value would be $65.40, which amounted to about a fourth of the wages earned annually by an agricultural worker.(Luke 19:13-25)

Answers, how much is a mina worth in the Bible?

So, a fast guess would be $30,000 for an agricultural worker in 2021 (the most common occupation in Jesus’ day, and for absolutely everyone until about 1870 or so.)

Using todays agricultural wages, $30,000 divided by four is $7,500, multiplied by ten makes it $75,000 for ten minas. Nothing to sneeze at even today — where the average savings is $400! – and humongous money for Jesus’ time.

Imperial aristocrats would just laugh at such piddling sums, then and now.

But Jesus wasn’t talking to them. If He was, His language and demeanour would be VERY different.

The greater the authority, the greater the responsibility… and the greater the Divine punishment for wilful disobedience.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
-- Psalm 2, ESV
The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
-- Psalm 110, ESV

Why must Christians disciple the nations to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

First, because Jesus Christ demands it.

Second, so that they can have a better destiny than the future they have earned: to be torn apart, filled with corpses, broken, dead, and forgotten by the direct command of God Himself.

Repentance isn’t only for the individual, but for the nation as well.


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