I love it when pastors post their sermons on line. By doing so, they lend all of us permission to respond in the same sphere, the Internet. So I'll start by asking Travis Avenue members to relent on the, "why don't you call the pastor", when the pastor opened his sermons for on-line proliferation outside the walls of a particular location church. In addition, he has the same opportunity to respond.
It's too bad that sermons are rhetoric and that congregations sit quietly. Leadership may think through their statements more seriously if people might stand up and say, "Excuse me pastor, what did you mean by..."
I received a call from a couple of friends that attend Travis Avenue Baptist Church and they said, "You are not going to believe what Pastor Mike Dean said on Easter."
Dr Dean seems to have disconnected from the second centuries Apostle's Creed, as other seminary students I dialogue with these days seem to as well.
While the overall basis of the sermon is agreeable, we should not let small items seep into our minds that contradict truth.
The Apostle's Creed is the work of second century intellectuals in oder to counter the growing Gnostic movement. It helped preserve truth from the letters of the apostles and it continues to do the same today. It has been revisited and updated by our brothers in Catholic Church to ensure that this truth is preserved.
In case your Protestant church failed to teach this creed to you, let me include it herein:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Now let's consider a portion of Pastor Mike Dean's sermon from Easter. He stated,
"So here’s the way it works: Jesus, when He died on the Cross went to a place called heaven or paradise with His Father. He was there for three days, then He was resurrected and given His glorious new body with which he walked out of the tomb and appeared to hundreds of people around Jerusalem. And He was the “first-fruits,” the first of many who will come out just like He did."
Is it the way it works? No. Not if you study the Bible and two thousands years of hard earned study. And does a short blog addressing this issue matter? Yes, because little statements in sermons can mislead the importance of the potion of the Apostle's Creed that states, "He descended into hell".
Christ was not with the Father upon his death. Scripture makes this clear. Let's look at potential scriputre to support the creed that Jesus descended into Hades to identify Himself as the one they had hoped for in faith.
It was clear that, "It was Finished". It is also clear that Christ gave up His spirit to return to his full position as God.
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Pet 3:18-20; NASB)
31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave. (Acts 2:31)
0 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
In addition, while a parable, there may be truth in the description of hell and paradise when Jesus spoke:19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead.[b] There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home.28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
We learn that Christ is not yet with the Father when we read:
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.(John 20:17)
I would fall far short of the great intellectuals if I spend too much time on this. I am no Origin, Clement, Anthony, or St. Augustine, but a study of these greats will put them against this simple statement made by Pastor Mike Dean.
Christ descended into Paradise and made himself known to the ancients as the one they had hoped for, He was their faith. For as Hebrews makes it clear to us, it was by their faith they were saved. But Christ had not yet died and paid the price.
Some seminarians have made the argument that Christ is not bound by time and this was not neccessary. But as the scripture said, "It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. (1 Peter 1:10-12)" We find that time is relevant.
So let the scripture speak for itself and to you, but let's not throw quick whips without strong thought about what they may say, or how they may mislead.
And thanks Pastor Mike Dean for providing the fodder for discussion.
In service, Don