Anastasis: Moral Order by Abidan Shah, PhD

ANASTASIS – MORAL ORDER by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Growing up, I remember watching the expansion of our church building. Dad and the building committee had hired the contractors and the work began. The longest work was the digging of the foundation. This was a deep concrete pylon foundation to ensure that no storms or monsoon rains could ever impact the building. I mention this because we’re living in the age of moral storms with monsoon rains of immorality. I was hesitant to preach this third message in our series “ANASTASIS,” but when I asked our staff, they strongly suggested that I do. Main point: The great reset has begun (per Klaus Schwab), while some were busy complying. Among other things, it has fundamentally altered the meaning of right and wrong. Morality has taken on a new basis. Many were discussing or warning about the dangers of this trend. Now, it is here, and it’s spreading. Those who understand what’s happening and are willing to educate themselves and stand against it will remain. Those who are complacent and ho-hum will be sucked into this even before they know it. It is high time that we go deep, and I mean deeper than ever before if we’re going to build on a solid moral foundation in a shifting sand world. We must hit the bedrock of resurrection ethics.

Acts 1      1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Context: We often skip past this passage, but there is so much packed in here. Jesus did not disappear after the resurrection. He stuck around for 40 days, revealing himself in 12 different appearances to over 500 men (plus women and children). These were not just to say that he was real “flesh and bones,” but it was also to teach some very important lessons regarding the kingdom of God. Bottom line: Jesus stuck around to teach his disciples how to live in light of the resurrection (based on Oliver O’Donovan’s Resurrection and the Moral Order and Matthew Lee Anderson’s summary/analysis):

1. When it comes to ethics, history is divided into 2 poles: creation of the world and the resurrection of Jesus. As you know, creation was cursed because of Adam’s sin, and has been waiting on a resurrection. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:21 “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

2. The Resurrection of Jesus helps us look back to the creation and look forward to the fullness of the kingdom of God. Based on the Resurrection of Jesus, we must learn how to live in the here and now. In other words, resurrection is the key to the moral order in this life. If we only look at “right and wrong” from the perspective of “what feels right” or “what is best,” it is not enough. We must dig deep.

3. The World as it was created is “orderly.” Vertically towards God and horizontally towards natures and others. Also, there is an order to things. Teleology – “there is a goal.” From the Bible we know that we are not random, but we were designed for something/someone. Westminster Catechism captures this in the question “What is the chief end of man?” “It is to enjoy God and glorify him forever.” In this shifting sand culture, “it is to enjoy self and glorify self forever.” (Imagine a cellphone that is run over being used for some other purpose than what it was designed to do)

4. Of course, there are those who deny this kind of morality or even teleology. Now, science wants to “free nature” from its purpose or moral philosophy wants to “free the will” from any purpose. Universal laws are just labels! Science is now being used an ally and even an apologist for this moral reset. Ultimately, humanity is dissolving in the “polarization of technological will and its raw material.”

For e.g. Just last week, the new director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center chose to take her oath on Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot instead of the Bible.

5. What is reality? It must have an order and it must be headed somewhere. The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the answer to natural order from creation, history, and the fullness that is still coming. Ultimately, true knowledge comes in Christ.

Colossians 2       8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

6. This knowledge is given to us in God’s Revelation, the Bible. The Holy Spirit enables us not only to understand it but also to submit to it.

2 Timothy 3      16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 16     8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

New moral challenges shouldn’t shake us but cause us to dig deeper in the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may know even better how to let Christ shine to the glory of the Father.

7. We are free to obey.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

8. This is easier in personal or church life, but how about with politics? This is where politicians must be willing to set aside the polls and choose what is right. This is only possible in a “Christian political tradition.” Hence, we believe that Christians should have a significant influence on the Government.

9. Back to Christ. This is all centered on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1        9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

10. The Church is to represent this truth before the watching world. Unfortunately, the church is not only retreating but also compromising without truly considering her calling of being the Salt and the Light, the City on a Hill.

11. Love is the key.

 Matthew 22       36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Typically, there are 2 options suggested (both are inadequate): God, self, others (God is just one of the options); Love for God’s sake (no deep vested interest).

Instead, resurrection of Jesus takes us back to the order of things in creation – every person was designed to “enjoy God and glorify him forever.” This is why we evangelize, and this is why we stand for biblical values. You can love like this only through Christ. If you love Christ, then you can be the Good Samaritan. This also ties in with 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

12. If there is truly a resurrection of the just and the unjust, then I love you enough to tell you the gospel and help you on the path to do what you were created to do. I do this with my eyes on the day when the books are opened, and your name is found in the book. Hence, morality also matters.

Colossians 3       1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Invitation: Are you saved? Are you telling others how to be saved? Do you understand the implications of Christ’s resurrection for the life here and now?

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