O. C. Birdwell
"Preach the man, and not the plan," is the cry of many religionists who have the "social gospel" to proclaim. The idea is to preach the goodness, mercy, and compassion of Jesus, but never speak of the plan of reconciliation, nor show how man may take advantage of the peace made "through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20). The man (Jesus) must be preached, but he cannot be preached separate and apart from the instruction he left for man. With this in mind, let us notice the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.
The Death of Christ
For envy the Jews delivered Jesus as they cried the more "let him be crucified." Jesus wore the crown of thorns, was mocked, spit upon, and compelled to bear his cross. As he was crucified between two thieves, passersby wagged their heads, chief priests mocked, and scribes said, "he saved others; himself he cannot save." Jesus died on the cross! The veil was rent, the earth did quake, the rocks rent, and graves were opened.
But there was more in this than just a death. "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3). Our duty in view of his death and to reap the benefits of his death is set forth by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:4. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death." As we are buried in the water of baptism, we are baptized into his death and come in contact with the blood shed for our forgiveness. This must be preached if the death of Jesus is fully proclaimed.
He Was Buried
Matthew tells us that Joseph of Arimathea begged the body of Jesus and "laid it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock" (Matt. 27: 60). Paul preached that "he was buried" (I Cor. 15:4). Not only, then, does the Bible teach that Jesus died on the cross, but it teaches that he was buried. And Paul says, "we are buried with him by baptism into death" (Rom. 6: 4). This simply means that as Jesus died and was buried in Joseph's new tomb, we die to the love and practice of sin and are buried in baptism at which time our sins are forgiven (Acts 2: 38, 22:16). This must be preached when the death of Jesus is preached.
Jesus Was Resurrected
Next, we come to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul affirms that "he arose again the third day according to the scriptures," and that over five hundred brethren saw him at one time (1 Cor. 15:4, 6). The resurrection has been described as the "crowning act" and it gives us the hope that we will also be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20). But does the resurrection of Jesus give light and hope to the skeptic and unbeliever? No, my friend, Jesus died for all men and his resurrection made Possible the resurrection unto life of every human being under heaven, but those who lack faith in him will not be resurrected unto life, but unto condemnation and outer darkness. With the unbeliever will go the one who wants to talk about the love and goodness of Jesus but rejects his commands." And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say" (Lk. 6:46).
In Acts 1:9, we are told, "while they (the disciples) beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Through the prophetic eye of Daniel, Jesus was seen coming "in the clouds of heaven," and being given by the "Ancient of days dominion and glory and a kingdom" (Dan. 7:13, 14). Jesus was raised up to sit on David's throne (Acts 2:30) and David's throne was "established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven" (Ps. 87: 37). Jesus ascended to receive a kingdom, have dominion, and sit on a throne and reign. Paul says that God "raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not Only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:20,21)
The ascension of Jesus cannot be preached in its fullness unless one shows the reason for his ascension. Power, might, dominion, and headship over the church, his body, was given by God. The church is blood bought, divinely ordained, the abode of the saved, and it will finally be delivered up to the Father. "By the church the manifold wisdom of God" is revealed (Eph. 3:10).
The sending of Jesus and the establishment of the church is God's plan for man's salvation. People are added to this church when they believe in Jesus as God's Son, repent of their sins, and are buried in baptism (Acts 2:38-47). If you have been misguided into thinking that you can be saved by believing in the goodness and compassion of Jesus without submitting in obedience to his divine will, you ought to seriously reconsider your position. Your soul is in danger of being lost for eternity.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 46, pp.738-739
October 1, 1970