Hello Church Family,
I was standing in an Illinois graveyard a few years ago with pastor and author, Dr. Erwin Lutzer. It was early one Thursday morning, and unusually cold, with dew still on the ground, soaking my already-frigid feet. Cold toes, though, would prove to be the least of my concerns. As we stood around the chiseled tombstone of one Jacob Miller, Dr. Lutzer suddenly began shouting in the direction of the stone: “Jacob, arise and come forth. Jacob, get up from the grave and come out!” This continued for what seemed like an hour. It was only really a minute or two, I’m sure, but Dr. Lutzer was relentless.
Within seconds, I had my baseball cap down as low as it would go, and I was looking around to make sure no one recognized me. I was disturbed but even more embarrassed. Plus, to be candid, with all the fervor and zeal that Dr. Lutzer was employing, I was beginning to wonder if Jacob might actually rise from the grave, in which case I would have been petrified.
Undeterred by Jacob’s non-response, Lutzer kept yelling. In fact, he apologized for not being loud enough and echoed with even greater conviction: “Jacob, RISE FROM THE DEAD! Get up from your slumber and live!” Still nothing. Finally, after repeated overtures in the direction of this beautiful, yet undisturbed gravesite, Dr. Lutzer stopped and explained what was going on. He said: “I made that commotion to illustrate that salvation is of the Lord. We have just as much ability to raise someone from the dead as we do to save someone with our persuasive speech or argumentation.”
Through our recent study of Genesis here at Northpoint, we have seen the power of God on display. God spoke the word and the world was made. All of it. Out of nothing. And sometimes we say (or think), “Why don’t we see God’s power so visibly anymore?” And the answer is: we do, we just don’t realize it. Every time we see a rebellious sinner moved to repentance and faith in Christ, we bear witness to an unparalleled miracle of God.
Eighteenth century American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, knew this well; throughout his ministry, he painstakingly steered the focus of salvation away from an emphasis on human ingenuity and put it back on the power of God. Edwards argued: “Though means are made use of in conferring grace upon men’s souls, yet ’tis of God that we have these means of grace, and ’tis God that makes them effectual.” In other words, God makes preaching “sink in.” God causes a gospel presentation to “work.” God enables unbelievers to understand the message of Christ.
In just about two weeks (March 2), we will have our baptism services at Northpoint. (I can’t wait!) At last report we had nine people signed up to be baptized on that day. And when that morning comes, and we hear the testimonies of these new Christ-followers, let’s remember that every time we witness someone descending into and arising out of the waters of baptism, we are seeing a picture of the supernatural power of God, a demonstration of the work of the only One who gives can quicken a dead heart and make it alive. That’s just as captivating and amazing as if God were to raise a dead man from the grave.