But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee…”
(Luke 24:1-6 ESV)
There are some professing Christians who can speak of themselves in terms of admiration; but, from my inmost heart, I loathe such speeches more and more every day that I live. Those who talk in such a boastful fashion must be constituted very different from me. While they are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s cross, and marvel that I am saved at all… I have to wonder that I do not believe Christ more, and equally wonder that I am privileged to believe in Him at all–to wonder that I do not love Him more, and equally to wonder that I love Him at all–to wonder that I am not holier, and equally to wonder that I have any desire to be holy at all considering what a polluted, debased, depraved nature I find still within my soul, notwithstanding all that Divine grace has done in me. If God were ever to allow the fountains of the great deeps of depravity to break up in the best man that lives, he would make as bad a devil as the Devil himself is. – C. H. Spurgeon
“Whenever we confuse the gospel and the Great Commission with the law and the Great Commandment, we end up reducing the Christian faith to a lackey for whatever political party most of the people in our churches agree with. That’s what I fear has happened — churches today are more divided over who you’re going to vote for in the next election than they are over the gospel. It’s really tragic to see so many people who agree with each other on doctrine not being able to get together in one body because it’s ‘one party’, not ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’. The Bible teaches us what God commands in terms of loving our neighbors, but it doesn’t give us particular social and political policy. On those issues, Christians can and have disagreed.” — Mike Horton
Jesus himself said no.
People sometimes say these stories encouraged their faith or the faith of someone they know. But I think they actually diminish biblical faith by elevating claims of a supernatural experience over the substance of the Scriptures. Most of these claims of seeing into heaven focus on earthbound concerns and stunted human desires that lack what the Bible describes as the heart of heaven—the glory of God, the Lamb who was slain, on the throne of the universe. In embracing these stories we’re saying the Bible is simply not enough, that someone’s mystical experience is needed to verify or “make real” what God has said. But saving faith is putting all our hopes in who God is and what God has said as revealed in the Bible. It is being confident of what we can’t see (John 20:29; Hebrews 11:1), not being convinced by something someone else supposedly saw.
Interestingly, Jesus himself spoke of the uselessness of such testimony for generating genuine faith. Jesus told a story about a rich man in the place of the dead who calls out to “Father Abraham” to go and warn his brothers so they will not end up in the place of torment (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man wants someone who has died and gone to heaven to come back to life and tell about his experience so that his family members will believe what the Scriptures teach about the consequences of failing to become united to Christ by faith.
In Jesus’ story Father Abraham says, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, (meaning, if they won’t believe what the Bible says) they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.” Jesus is saying that everything we need to put our faith in the promises of God, everything we need to find comfort and hope regarding the life beyond this life, can be found in the Scriptures.
“We admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago . . . but such a man today is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and their compeers had said, ‘The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on….”
“It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man, where is the man for the day? We who have had the gospel passed to us by martyr hands dare not trifle with it, nor sit by and hear it denied by traitors, who pretend to love it, but inwardly abhor every line of it . . . Look you, sirs, there are ages yet to come. If the Lord does not speedily appear, there will come another generation, and another, and all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His truth today. We have come to a turning-point in the road. If we turn to the right, mayhap our children and our children’s children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word.”
In religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, meditation involves breathing techniques, posture, and chanting certain repetitive sounds (a mantra) to empty the mind and achieve a feeling of tranquility and connectedness with an impersonal divine being. Roman Catholicism has promoted meditation especially in the form of imagining the physical sufferings of Christ in a way that stirs sympathetic emotions, or repeating set prayers to Mary and the saints. The Puritan practice of meditation is quite different from any of these.
Puritan meditation engages the mind with God’s revealed truth in order to inflame the heart with affections towards God and transform the life unto obedience. Thomas Hooker defined it like this: “Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it effectually upon the heart.” The direction of our minds reveals the truest love of our hearts, and so, Hooker said, he who loves God’s Word meditates on it regularly (Psalms 119:97). Therefore, Puritan meditation is not repeating a sound, emptying the mind, or imagining physical sights and sensations, but a focused exercise of thought and faith upon the Word of God. – Joel Beeke.
The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are
based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast,
the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically
tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just
have to be believed with blind faith. – Parchment & Pen Blog
“The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, ‘Give attendance to reading.’ The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritan writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, ‘Bring the books’; join in the cry.”
“It costs something to be a true Christian. It will cost us our sins, our self-righteousness, our ease and our worldliness.”
”The gospel is the power of God. It does not depend upon me or my faithfulness. If it did we would all be lost. It is God’s power to save and to keep, to justify and to sanctify and to glorify – to take us right into heaven itself… The gospel works and will work, until all that God has purposed by its means shall have been completed.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones