Misplaced Humility & the Resurrection of the Dead

We live in an age of misplaced humility. Rather than modestly distrusting our own subjective (inner) feelings on all matters of life and faith - and with steadfast conviction holding tightly to objective, external truth - we do just the opposite. We confidently trust our inner voice while distrusting objective facts and truth which are outside of us. It’s the Oprah Winfrey doctrine -- no matter what happens, you can always trust your heart above all else to lead you down the right path. Christians are not immune to this misplaced humility. How often do we hear God’s Word plainly preached and yet continue to follow after what feels right (and is convenient) rather than what is right? How often do we self-assuredly trust our own instincts above the truth of the Scriptures and the collective wisdom of His Church? How many of us have begun to believe the lie that it is arrogant to hold firm convictions and humble not to have any at all (except, of course, the conviction that we should all be able to live as we please). The popular twentieth-century essayist GK Chesterton commented on this misplaced humility:

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled on the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought to assert - himself. [GK Chesterton quoted in Mike Horton’s “The Gospel Commission”, p.110]

On Easter Sunday we celebrate a key event in the history of redemption, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel. Jesus Christ, through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection has conquered sin, death and Hell for all those who receive Him by faith. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus occurred on the stage of human history, not in our hearts. The Gospel is not, “You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart” (i.e. personal testimony). Rather, the Gospel is that Jesus Christ was literally nailed to a cross for our sins, bodily raised from the dead for our justification, physically rules in heaven over the world and His Church, and one day will return in glory to the earth to judge the world. These are historical, objective facts that are true whether we believe them or not. These historical facts are what make Christianity true, and not just another mythical religion. Mike Horton writes:

The gospel is not our conversion experience (“how I got saved”). It is not a report about what happened or happens inside of us. Rather, it is always a message about what God has done decisively and uniquely in his Son for our salvation. And precisely as a saving Word from outside of us, it changes us forever from the inside out. [Mike Horton, The Gospel Commission, p. 154].

It is not through our own subjective inner religious experience that we are set free from condemnation and Hell, but through the objective, redemptive work of Christ on our behalf. Without the resurrection of Christ, therefore, the Christian Faith is a cruel lie.

In I Corinthians 15:12-19 the Apostle Paul writes:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. [I Cor. 15:12-19]

Dear friends, we are all sinful in every part of our being. No part of our person is untouched by sin. Our thoughts, words, and deeds are corrupt. We must all admit that we fail to rise to God’s righteous standard, as set forth in Scripture. Therefore, not only should we distrust our sinful hearts, but we must look outside of ourselves to the person and work of Jesus Christ for our salvation. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He also said “I am the resurrection and the life.” If Christ did not rise from the dead then these statements are not true, Christ was a liar, and we are still guilty before God (no matter how sincerely we believe otherwise). But Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day. And by doing so He defeated sin, death and hell for sinners like you and me.

This Easter Sunday, therefore, let us repent and put humility and bold confidence back where they belong, showing sincere humility (and suspicion) in regard to the subjective feelings, intuitions, leadings and instincts of our own hearts, and unwavering confidence in the objective truth of God’s law and promises. Easter, like every Lord’s Day, is not a time to celebrate what we have done (or are doing) for God, but what God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, has done for us. The message that motivates us to shout is not, “I’ve had an experience, and there my hope rests,” but rather, “Christ is Risen, and in Him my hope rests.”

What is the foundation of your hope this Easter? Are you trusting in your own subjective feelings, past experiences and good works to save you or are you trusting solely in the objective life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame (feeling),
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

- Pastor Jon