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The Resurrection – The Best Starting Point for the Gospel – Magnificent Obsession

Where is the best place to begin explaining the Gospel to a non-Christian?  In Memphis a lady suggested to me that we should always begin with creation and Genesis – this is the Ken Ham approach.  But we can begin at many different points.  For me the key is the resurrection.  If Christ is risen then everything is changed.  Here is this weeks Premier ‘thought for the day”

Here are some quotes from the chapter of Magnificent Obsession on which it is based.

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime Martin Luther.

Today, I would say the claim concerning the resurrection is more impressive than any by the religious competition–  Anthony Flew

41Ui+9ZycNL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_The claims can be stated once more in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. The actual bodily resurrection of Jesus (not a mere resuscitation, but a transforming revivication) clearly provides a sufficient condition of the tomb being empty and the ‘meetings’ taking place. Nobody is likely to doubt that. Once grant that Jesus really was raised and all the pieces of the historical jigsaw puzzle of early Christianity fall into place. My claim is stronger: that the bodily resurrection of Jesus provides a necessary condition for these things; in other words; that no other explanation could or would do. All the efforts to find alternative explanations fail, and they were bound to. N. T Wright The Resurrection

Resurrection makes Christianity the most irritating religion on earth – Tim Keller

“Let us, however, consider this settled; that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection.” Calvin Institutes 3:10:5.

`”Accordingly, he alone has fully profited in the gospel who has accustomed himself to continual meditation upon the blessed resurrection” Calvin Institutes 3:25:1

“The resurrection, therefore, is the place to begin if you are looking for a satisfying faith on which to base your life. Do not waste a lot of time investigating every religion under the sun from animism to Hinduism. Examine the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus instead. If he is risen you need look no further.” Michael Green


Three crosses stand upon a hill. So black against the sky and still

So still and black against the sky The three of them, and we stand by

After the pain, the blest relief

After the doubt, the firm belief After the dark,

the dread and sinister The moment comes when angels minister

The sap is rising in the trees

A scent of spring is in the breeze Good Friday passes.

After gloom Christ bursts in glory from the tomb.

If there is no Resurrection – you’re following a Dead Christ

Premier Thought for the Day 5 – The Difficult Doctrine of the Cross



  1. Totally agree dear brother that the Resurrection is the key and also agree that we can begin at many points when telling the good news of the Gospel to an unbeliever. But I think Scripture shows us that starting at the fact that God created us and the world is necessary knowledge for an Gentile unbeliever to process the Gospel. The Sermon in Acts chapter 3 is too the Jews and begins with Abraham because being Israelites they already knew from an early age that God created everything including them. The Sermon in Acts chapter 17 is to the Gentiles and begins with ‘The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,…’ because they were pagans and did not know the truth about Creation. If a person is told that God created the entire Universe and everything in it then they are confronted by the awesome power of God and the fact that He is in control, which makes them feel small and is the perfect antidote to pride (a good starting place to hear the Gospel). If they then are told that God is also THEIR Creator then it shows them that they are responsible to God because He made them and that God as their Creator has a right to punish the sins that they have committed against them (again a good starting place to hear the Gospel). So dear brother I would suggest that starting at Genesis and Creation is not just the Ken Ham approach but is the necessary approach to give unbelievers in our modern ‘Gentile’ biblically uneducated society the basic and essential knowledge in which to puts Jesus Christs death and Resurrection in a meaningful context leading to better understanding of their need to believe in Jesus and be saved from their sins.

    1. and also agree that we can begin at many points when telling the good news of the Gospel to an unbeliever

      Perhaps you’d like to share some of this good news with me, in that case, Alasdair?

      1. He just did! But the soil is drenched in weedkiller so the seed cannot take root. I wonder why swine sniff around pearls?? Beats me!

      2. Of course Arkenaten, it would be my pleasure. Please find below 2 excellent animations (The book of John in 2 parts – 8 mins each) that will explain the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus Christ came to save sinners and anyone who believes in him as their Saviour will be saved and have forgiveness and eternal life. Good news indeed my friend. Any questions please ask (either myself or David).



      3. Lets take it step by step.
        1st Question, Alasdair.
        Why did the character Jesus of Nazareth have to die by Crucifiction rather than old age?

    2. It all seems so simple doesn’t it – you just tell the poor ignorant godless folk these things and hey presto “We got another church-goer here Boss.”

      Thank goodness it doesn’t work that way – well, at least not with many of those of proper age; which of course is why the faithful have always been so terribly keen to get in to schools and “teach religious education” to the children.

      Here in Victoria, Australia we had a protracted battle several years ago to even get the option for schools to say no to religious education. For years the legislation with regard to this had been interpreted in such a manner that schools approached by the Christian organisation which trained religious education teachers were compelled to allow them half an hour each week to teach religious education.

      The “teachers” were simply volunteers from local Christian churches who had undergone a cursory training course. When they were teaching their “class” every other student who wasn’t attending were not allowed to pursue any of the formal curriculum.

      Despite the guidelines stipulating that this “education” was not to take on the guise of proselytization the aims of this sort of arrangement were patently transparent. The head of the Christian organisation overseeing this program was recorded as declaring to an annual meeting that the children in schools were a “God-given mission field”.

      Happily this group and many of the other thinly disguised attempts to gain converts amongst school-age children to Christianity via after-school activities run by Christian groups have been kicked out of schools.

      ….and the world is still turning despite this apparent fall in to godlessness.

      1. A tragedy that the education of my two children should have been put on hold every week so that volunteers from the local Christian church could come in to the school to try and gain new converts?

        Your sense of tragedy needs some refining.

      2. I don’t see an inconvenience in your children’s school timetable as the epitome of tragedy either John. Your whole tone is sarcastic and hostile towards Jesus and Christians. Why?

      3. I am hostile towards the continual attempts by the faithful to force their personal religious convictions on to others – particularly children.

        When the head of a Christian organisation providing “religious education” to schools declares the children attending those schools to be a “mission field” I have every right to be hostile.

    3. Alasdair,
      Yes and No. There is are vast numbers of people out there who do not know that the God who made us sent his Son to die in our place, so that we, putting our trust in him, might have our sin and guilt removed and be saved. You are right that we cannot meaningfully get to the Resurrection without contextualising it in terms of fallen Man’s sin and the Creator God’s grace. However, in among the crowds that need to know there are ‘time-wasters’ who don’t really want to know and what they don’t want to do, most of all is consider the claims of the Resurrection upon them. Therefore, when someone asks about ‘Evolution’ for example, beware lest their intention of asking is to cause you trouble. Why not attempt even then to talk about the Resurrection? Seekers will hear about Creation in Resurrection context and timewasters will generally do anything to avoid facing up to the truth that hundreds of people saw the risen Christ.
      Remember that to add anything to the Gospel as a necessary adjunct is to preach a different Gospel. It is a good safeguard to to preach a Creator God and a Created World in the context of a Resurrected Saviour.


      1. It is also worth remembering this:
        The way is not to focus on “turning from” but who people are to turn to, Jesus and all his Glory, is it not? Jesus is Better. Having everything in life without Jesus is to have nothing. Having Jesus but nothing else is to have everything.

        The following are Gospel Coalition abstracts from Dr Sinclair Ferguson book “The Whole Christ” looking at repentance, legalism and antinomianism (there’s much more in the book.) a book well recommended widely.

        “Christ should be presented in all the fullness of his person and work; faith then directly grasps the mercy of God in him, and as it does so the life of repentance is inaugurated as its fruit.” (101)

        “At the end of the day we cannot divide faith and repentance chronologically. The true Christian believes penitently, and he repents believingly. For this reason, in the New Testament either term may be used when both dimensions are implied; and the order in which they are used may vary. But in the order of nature, in terms of the inner logic of the gospel and the way its ‘grammar’ functions, repentance can never be said to precede faith. It cannot take place outside of the context of faith.” (104)

        “Faith will always be penitent; repentance will always be believing if genuine.” (104 n. 17)

        “Grace rules out all qualifications by definition. Grace therefore eliminates boasting; it suffocates boasting; it silences any and all negotiations about our contribution before they can even begin. By definition we cannot ‘qualify’ for grace in any way, by any means, or through any action. Thus it’s understanding God’s grace—that is to say, understanding God himself—that demolishes legalism. Grace highlights legalism’s bankruptcy and shows that it’s not only useless; it’s pointless; its life breath is smothered out of it.” (110)

        “There is only one genuine cure for legalism. It’s the same medicine the gospel prescribes for antinomianism: understanding and tasting union with Jesus Christ himself.” (157)

        “Antinomianism may be couched in doctrinal and theological terms, but it both betrays and masks the heart’s distaste for absolute divine obligation, or duty. That is why the doctrinal explanation is only part of the battle. We are grappling with something much more elusive, the spirit of an individual, an instinct, a sinful temperamental bent, a subtle divorce of duty and delight. This requires diligent and loving pastoral care and especially faithful, union-with-Christ, full unfolding of the Word of God so that the gospel dissolves the stubborn legality in our spirits.” (161)

        “Divine indicatives give rise to divine imperatives. This is the Bible’s underlying grammar. Grace, in this sense, always gives rise to obligation, duty, and law.” (168)

        “Commandments are the railroad tracks on which the life empowered by the love of God poured into the heart by the Holy Spirit runs. Love empowers the engine; law guides the direction. They are mutually interdependent. The notion that love can operate apart from law is a figment of the imagination. It’s not only bad theology; it’s poor psychology. It has to borrow from law to give eyes to love. . . . Neither the Old Testament believer nor the Saviour severed the law of God from his gracious person. It was not legalism for Jesus to do everything his Father commanded him. Nor is it for us.” (168–169, 173)

        “Divine indicatives give rise to divine imperatives. This is the Bible’s underlying grammar. Grace, in this sense, always gives rise to obligation, duty, and law.” (168)

        “Commandments are the railroad tracks on which the life empowered by the love of God poured into the heart by the Holy Spirit runs. Love empowers the engine; law guides the direction. They are mutually interdependent. The notion that love can operate apart from law is a figment of the imagination. It’s not only bad theology; it’s poor psychology. It has to borrow from law to give eyes to love. . . . Neither the Old Testament believer nor the Savior severed the law of God from his gracious person. It was not legalism for Jesus to do everything his Father commanded him. Nor is it for us.” (168–169, 173)

        My view is that when the focus moves from both the caught and taught aspects of Gospel of Jesus (Keller frequently proposes that the Gospel isn’t just the kick- start of the Christian life but is the A-Z of Christianity, and at the centre of all preaching to grow, to sanctify us in Christ) to a focus in church on anything but, which amounts to idolatry, putting the distractions, other loves, first, as a matter of personal preference, choice That is a personal, individualistic, and theological place where disillusion, discouragement, and a dousing of a flame of faith starts and continues, the opposite of the fanning of the flame.

        Why would I attend church, if not to participate in the worship of our Supreme and Superb Triune God. At any service where that doesn’t happen, I’d rather be somewhere else, and I feel cheated, not fed or watered, nourished.

        Resurrection Day:
        It also may be worth recalling that not only is Sunday Sabbath in Christianity a day of rest, it is also Resurrection day, every Sunday, where we can rest joyously,(paradoxically even in, or through , times of trouble) in the finished work of Christ.
        But, non of this is practical, will come the criticism. I’d suggest that the Church can be no earthly good unless it is so heavenly minded, including end-game, book of Revelation, minded

  2. Here’s an interesting thing, Wee Flea. If you google Magnificent Obsession you’ll likely get a Wiki page about a novel written in the 1920’s. In it, the book’s chief protagonist is saved from drowning in a boating accident, however a doctor renowned for helping others, dies on the other side of the lake because the resusitation crew was occupied saving our hero. After hearing this, he resolves to train as a doctor himself and help others. The book is apparently based on Matthew 6. “Do your good works in secret, and not from any expectancy of Earthly reward”. In a sense the doctor dies so our hero can live, and the hero cannot repay the doctor, he can only attempt to do good for others.

  3. @ John. “I am hostile towards the continual attempts by the faithful to force their personal religious convictions on to others – particularly children.”

    The Christian church started after the resurrection when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit – and the Apostles preached the good news by the power of the Holy Spirit – and people were converted and added to the church. Is this what you call ‘forcing personal religious convictions on to others’? The bible calls it evangelism. It is not about forcing people to convert because it is the Holy Spirit that converts. It is not about getting people into churches – it is about telling people the good news that Jesus paid the price for their sins so that they can be saved from their sins and not go to hell, which is the just punishment. It also means that we can have a much better life now too!
    Obviously John, you don’t believe that – yet – or maybe never. That is your choice. But at least you have been told. My life was all but ruined before I became a Christian. Now I have a better life than I could ever have dreamt of.

    As for children, I agree that people who minister to children should be well trained and be good teachers. The bible tells us that ‘zeal without knowledge is not good’. The tragedy I see is that you think it is bad news, not good news and that seeing children as a ‘mission field’ is preying on them to force them into faith or into church. Many who become a Christian would have loved if they had become a Christian earlier – so that they could have made less a mess of their lives than they did. Sin hurts and destroys. God loves your and my children more than you or I ever could and wants what is best for them. In my view it is better if they become Christians and the earlier the better – but I cannot ‘force’ anybody to become a Christian. But in my view, if a child walks with Jesus all the days of their life – then that is truly wonderful – for them. I have been praying for children for years and will continue. I wouldn’t share my faith with children without their parents permission though – but if my child went to a school which had a Christian ethos then I would expect that they would be taught Christianity there. I love the idea of faith schools – I think faith is very good for children. Obviously you don’t.

    1. @John, given the choice between the Christian values and ethos and a worldview which is systematically dismantling this and attempting without any shred of physiological evidence whatsoever to tell our children at aged 5 that they can be any gender they wish to be, I know which I prefer. Do I have the right to be hostile to the attempts of the unfaithful to force their personal irreligious convictions on to others – particularly children?

    2. Yes, that is the sort of double-speak that those looking to “teach” their message to children often indulge in.

      Many of the Christians who fought tooth and nail to retain their right to march in to Victorian primary schools and spread the “good news” were just completely unable to accept the fact that some of us parents might just have an issue with our children having their education stopped purely so that some well-intentioned volunteers from a church could rattle on about Jesus to young children for half an hour every week.

      The place for Christians to gather children in to a room and tell them about Jesus – if they must – is in a church. Parents who wish their children to be informed about the Christian religion by Christians can do so outside of school hours and in their personal time.

      Like you say: “In my view it is better if they become Christians and the earlier the better….” – that is precisely the attitude that the Christian groups going in to schools here had.

      I also have a slight quibble with the phrase “good news” when the news entails labelling a six year old child a “sinner” . Perhaps that is just me. I understand there are lots and lots of parents who are quite happy to have their children labelled as such. I am not one of them.

      I’m not sure how I should react to someone telling me that there is a god who loves my children more than me and wants what is best for them. I think I might be inclined to tell them to mind their own business, that I adore my children and that as it so happens I also want what is best for them and considering I live with them and care for them I am better placed to see that my wishes for them come true.

      1. You know what John – I think you’re right! Christians should be ‘kicked out’ of schools to make way for those who really know what is best for your children! After all the agenda of LGBTQ activists and organisations is informed by degrees in children’s welfare and experience not just an ‘attitude’ and a cursory training course. And of course – it is very much their ‘business’ – and it’s for the benefit of your child – whether or not you agree – and nothing to do with affirming the identity of those propagating this beneficial ‘knowledge’. Don’t be fooled by the ‘it’s a boy and it’s a girl’ celebrations – because those body parts that you washed and kept clean as a parent and viewed as beautiful and part of your child’s identity are dispensable – if they decide that after all – you were transphobic by celebrating their birth and naming them the way you did. Silly old-fashioned transphobe dad! Body parts can be chopped off or added as you chose. After you have taught your children what their body parts are for and the basics of hygiene – it’s someone else’s job to confuse – no sorry – educate your child – that although it is obvious what their body parts are for – they can use these parts for other reasons if they prefer – like anal sex or oral sex – that although their parents taught them to respect others and be kind and to stand up for themselves – that they might prefer – with another’s permission- to engage in sado-masochism and bondage – because even though we tell children not to bully others – if the others agree to be hurt and humiliated – it doesn’t count – and even if we taught them to respect themselves and stand up for themselves – if they want to – they can offer themselves to be humiliated, hurt and abused – because it’s not abuse if you allow it. That’s what Peter Tatchell is recommending for sex education in the UK and he has the welfare of children at heart – unlike those Christians who ‘march’ into schools …’proselytising… under the guise of education’.
        Formerly when studying science at Cambridge – you had to study theology for one year first – because it was considered to be the queen of sciences that underpinned all science- but imagine all that ‘rattling on about Jesus’ for a whole year – they must have been off their heads! We are so much more informed and sophisticated now. You must educate you children in the ‘proven’ science of evolution because we now ‘know’ how the world made – no, happened – and we now ‘know’ how life – what’s life????- started – and how it just ‘reproduced’ just like that and developed from a bacteria to a person. Your 5 year old says “daddy how do you ‘know’ – did you see it happening?” No – I believe it because other people told me it was how it happened – really special people – scientists – they’re gods really because there’s nobody above them. Don’t forget to tell your children to choose words when speaking to Christians that show disrespect and ridicule and falsely accuse because then your children can grow up just like their dad. Lovely!!

  4. @ John. It’s funny how when somebody reflects reality to you ie. the world we live in – anti- Christian – pro- LGBTQ indoctrination for kids – pro children choosing their gender – pro the dubious ‘science’ of evolution – the irrational and Orwellian banning of the idea of intelligent design or God as creator – you find it extraordinary! And then you verify my description of your anti-Christian sentiments – your ridicule and hostility – with more of the same! Bit of an atheist merry-go-round. Yawn!

  5. Just for the sake of accuracy I think it only fair to point out that the reality you claim to reflect is only your own.

    I don’t believe I have ever commented on the subject of LGBTQ on David’s blog so I’m not quite certain why you felt you had to ramble on about your misguided thoughts on that subject.

    Not that you intended it as such but your musings upon the different ways in which people obtain sexual satisfaction was, though a little disjointed and poorly written, at least mildly amusing. I simply don’t spend any of my time wondering what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms as it doesn’t bother me and it would appear – at least from the manner in which you commented on the subject of sex in your last post – that the time you devote to such thoughts are not doing your blood pressure any favours. Perhaps you should consider putting those sorts of thoughts aside .

    By all accounts the world you live in – if what you write about is any guide – is completely Christian; which is why I find your lamentation that the world is anti-Christian just a little silly. If you choose you can see out every single one of the days you have remaining to you here on Earth lying prostrate at the altar of the god you have chosen to embrace. But you cannot persist in being angry and disappointed that the rest of world won’t follow you.

    1. John,
      It would be good if you could express clearly what you think Christianity, or being a Christian is, and the essential beliefs, particularly without indulging in the common coinage of atheistic,, captious carping.
      But you may consider this:
      Whether you agree or not, and cleary “not” is your starting point, the fact that you have such a heart of love for your children, is but a reflection of the love of God the Father. Atheistic science has little to say about that love you have, sex and reproduction, yes, but not that lion-hearted but human fatherly love.
      These snippets (not in the order they are written) are from a Christian who lived in no less tumultuous times as ours:
      ” …the Father’s love to us precedes our love to the Father. Our love to the Father is the result is the result of thje Father’s love to us.
      The father loves the child when the child does not know the father, much less love him. It is thes same with us (1 John 4:10. We are by nature “haters of God” (Rom. 1:30. (That is sinners) God in his own nature is a lover of men. So God’s love must precede ours.
      “The Father’s love precedes all other reasons for loving. The Father’s love not only precedes our love but anything that is lovely in us. “But God demonstrates his own love towards us, in the while we were still sinner, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8)
      “The love of God is a love of rest, contentment and delight. ..Because God’s love is so full, so perfect, so absolute…When God is said to “rest in his love,”it means he is satisfied with the object of his love and will not seek for a more a satisfying object to love. His love will make its home in the soul on which it is fixed forever. This verse (Zeph. 3:17) also shows God delightingin the object of his love. Herejoices as one that is fully satisfied in the object he has hosen to love…
      “The mutual love of god and the saints are also similar in that their communion of love is in Christ and through Christ.
      “The father communicates all his love to us through Christ and we pour out our love to the Father only throgh Christ.
      “Christ is the treasuryin which the father places all the riches of his grace taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love…
      ” All the fruits of God’s love are first given to Christ. Christ then gives them to us..
      ” Love in the father is like honey in the flowers. Itmust be in the comb before we can make use of it. So Christ must extract and prepare the honey of God’s love for us…”
      Extracts from the chapter “Communion with God the Father” from “Communion with God” John Owen (Banner of Truth”)

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