Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
More From Pulpit Crimes
09/13/2006 - James WhiteRecall that in Acts 10:42 Peter spoke of Jesus as the judge of the living and the dead, and that this was a definitional portion of the proclamation the Lord Himself commands from His servants. Clearly, this aspect of the biblical message was vital to the first generations of the faithful, but it has fallen out of the consciousness of a wide portion of the church today. The meek and mild Jesus standing at the hearts door looks very little like the powerful judge of the living and the dead announced in Scripture. The Jesus of the Bible is indeed a gracious, loving Savior. But there is an order to divine truths, and before Jesus can be experienced as Redeeming Friend He must be seen as Creator, Maker,Judge, Lord. Inverting the order may save us from the frowns of men but it likewise creates the kind of malaise we see in so many would-be-Christians today. The wonder of Jesus as Savior is that as just judge He could so properly leave us to wrath, but, in mercy, He does not.
The charge Paul delivers to his beloved son Timothy is lodged with solemnity in the presence of God and of the divine judge, Jesus. This is not a human charge. It is not witnessed solely by a human tribunal. This kind of high adjuration is hard for modern Westerners to fully grasp. We have lost, in the main, any sense of honoring those in authority. Even our highest public officials are regularly mocked in the media, or asked what kind of underwear they prefer! The weight of representing a high standing person is difficult for many to understand today, so the picture of receiving a charge in the presence of the Father and the Son does not strike us with the solemnity it should. Western individualism has deeply seated the concept of egalitarianism in our thought. Rarely do we experience true solemnity, especially in the context of the commissioning of one to go and represent another who is high and exalted and full of authority. And yet this is surely what Timothy would think of here. He would have seen with his eyes, or depicted in art, the commissioning of representatives of high officials, even kings and emperors, and so he would have a context in which to hear Pauls words. His mentor is giving him a solemn charge in the presence of the very judge of all mankind.
Notes on Acts 10:42
09/05/2006 - James WhiteHere are some notes I wrote up on Acts 10:42 for the book. Now the trick is converting notes to final text.
And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.Let's consider what we can learn from this description of preaching in the early church. First, we see that it is a divine command. He ordered us to preach to the people.Christ, to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given (Matthew 28:18), commands us to preach. It is not an optional activity. It is not, Well, if it is convenient, we will invest a little effort.It is a command of Christ to His church, a divine imperative. There are not many activities defined for the church where it can be said with certainty, Christ ordered us to engage in this activity, but preaching is just such an activity.
In this context preaching to the peoplehad a particular meaning; those doing the preaching knew there would be resistance and a cost (John 9:22). This was due to the content of the message. To proclaim the One crucified by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem as the One appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead was to take a stand that admitted no compromise. Anyone who would knowingly confess Christ in this manner was taking a definitive step with lasting results. But given that this is a command, obviously, those fulfilling the command could not choose to edit, alter, or soften, the message itself. It was an all-or-nothing message. They were not testifying that Jesus might bethe Judge of the living and the dead. They were not testifying that Jesus was the Judge of some of the living and some of the dead, either. This was a message that was directed at each and every person inwhatever audience they addressed (since, we would assume, everyone fits into the two rather all-encompassing categories of the living and the dead).
Note as well that proclaiming Jesus as the Judge of the living and the dead is not quite the same thing as saying Jesus will be your best buddy. It is not the same as saying believing in Jesus will fix your financial woes and straighten your teeth and improve your marriage. In fact, accurately identifying Jesus as each persons judge is anything but attractive. In fact, outside of the work of the Spirit of God in a persons heart, this message will repel. Think of it: Hello Mr. Criminal. You know you are guilty. And here comes the judge.
This message was delivered in the form of a testimony. We testify to these things. I swear that this is true. Ive experienced it myself. I have acknowledge Jesus to be the judge of the living and the dead, and I have put my faith in Him so as to receive forgiveness of sins. By testifying we are putting ourselves on the line as a matter of integrity, but we are also joining our audience as fellow sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. It is only as the redeemed that we point others to the Redeemer, as those forgiven testifying of the source of forgiveness.
And finally, there is a key term used here that has truly been lost in the large portion of preaching and proclamation today. Solemnly. This is actually part of the term to testify. Our testimony is to be solemn, serious, fitting of the subjectof proclamation. There is something unnatural about speaking of eternal judgment, redemption, forgiveness, lordship, and life, in the context of light-hearted entertainment and Hawaiian shirt informality. I'm sorry, but it is hard for me to take a man seriously who rides a Harley into the service, for example, or who is going out of his way to be viewed not as a herald of a majestic person with a weighty message but as my buddy, my pal, my next door neighbor. This kind of seriousness, fervency, gravity, is not inconsistent with the joy that marks ones own testimony of redemption and forgiveness. Nor does it mean ones proclamation has to be boring, stiff, or lacking in interest or even appropriate humor. Sadly, we live in a day when many who come intothe fellowship lack basic listening skills or the discipline to listen for almost any length of time at all. An appropriate, topic-sensitive use of humor can refocus an audience so that you can press home an important statement. But humor can never become the vehicle of real Christian preaching. When we testify that Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead, that is not a joking matter. One cannot but speak of such weighty matters with a solemnity fitting the subject.