The Risen Christ and the Radiant Church
A Sermon on Acts 1:1-14
September 13, 1981 – Westminster Chapel (London)
While the world is both gripped by and repulsed by materialism, the church of today is not prepared to answer those who come asking about what makes Christianity work because it does not today have the knowledge or joy which was once the common possession of the church’s first centuries. Carl Henry argues that one thing which the Early Church would be greatly disturbed by would be the way Christians walk around with such lackluster joy. They knew that Jesus was the risen one, who had called, commissioned, and confirmed his church. They were able to live with hope in the face of all that opposed them because they knew that he was at the right hand of the Father and with them through the Holy Spirit. If our church is going to regain its “radiance,” we need to regain this “post-Easter after-glow” of the early Church.
“We are in the clutch of our material possessions. They ring our spirits dry. And the world, which has this materialistic spirit, impinges on the life of the church.”
“If the church is going to count for much, amid this confusion, and this uncertainty, and this longing, she will need the truth and the joy and all these spiritual realities that the early Christians had in an environment that was almost totally contrary and largely hostile. She will need the lost radiance that seems to have gone for much of contemporary Christianity.”
“The evangelical churches have indeed the Easter glow. But what the early Christians seem to have had was not the Easter-glow, but the post-easter after-glow, an ongoing radiance that was nurtured beyond Easter morning.”
“There are thousands of organizations, even in this one great city, with a good and commendable humanitarian purpose. But the church is the one movement in all of history whose vocation is defined for her by the crucified and risen Jesus. … What differentiates the church from all the moral and philosophical movements of history is that the task of the church is a task that was annunciated by resurrection lips: ‘Go, ye, into all the world.'”