Monday, 22 December 2014

More True With Each Passing Century

The Work of One Who Lives

All around the world this Christmas season people will be coming to new life.  Once dead in their sins and trespasses, they will arise and and see the Son of God for the first time.  They will be born again by the Spirit of God.  In every land.  In every nation.

In the early fourth century AD, church father, Athanasius reflected on the reality of his day which continues to our day.  Same truths, same realities, same Lord.  To the arguments and evidences that Athanasius lists, we can add this consideration: his case is tenfold more weighty nigh two millennia later.  The same realities of which he speaks, we, today, can testify to.  But our testimony is even more powerful, since it is about a living Saviour and a living faith which have, like an irresistible leaven, penetrated into many more centuries, many more cultures, more languages, more countries, and many more families and souls. 
Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave.  Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living.  Well, then, look at the facts in this case.  The Saviour is working mightily among men; every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond  the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching.

Can anyone, in the face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life?  Does a dead man prick the consciences of men, so that they throw all the traditions of their fathers to the winds and bow down before the teaching of Christ?  If He is no longer active in the world, as He must needs be if He is dead, how is it that He makes the living to cease from their activities the adulterer from his adultery, the murder from murdering, the unjust from his avarice, while the profane and godless man becomes religious?  If He did not rise, but is still dead, how is it that He routs and persecutes and overthrows the false gods, whom unbelievers think to be alive, and  the evil spirits whom they worship?  For where Christ is named, idolatry is destroyed and the fraud of evil spirits is exposed; indeed no such spirit can endure that Name, but takes to flight on sound of it. 

This is the work of One Who lives, not of one dead and, more than that, it is the work of God.  [Athanasius, On the Incarnation. Translated and edited by Sister Penelope Lawson.  (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1946.), p.46f  ]
The previous century saw the most implacable, industrialised, and determined effort yet seen to overthrow the Son of God.  Militant atheism in Asia and Europe attempted to strip the knowledge and memory and power of Jesus Christ from the earth.  Now, it lies broken, like Ozymandius of old.  

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