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The Resurrection: The Heart Of The Gospel

A young man returned to his hometown after graduating from a very prestigious University and joined his parents at the small country church they had attended his entire life. After the sermon, the pastor shook the young man’s hand and welcomed him back home. “Thanks a lot, pastor, for the welcome. But I just wanted you to know that I will not be attending Sunday services anymore”, he stated.

“Really?”, the pastor asked, “why?”

“Because I learned at college that God is not real and that Christianity is a sham”, the young man declared bluntly.

“You did?”, the pastor asked.

“Why, yes, I did. As a matter of fact, I would be happy to show you some of my textbooks which tell how science has demonstrated that Evolution by means of Natural Selection accounts for the proliferation of all life on Earth, not God. I bet that would convince you that Christianity isn’t real, just like it did me.”

“No, thanks”, the pastor replied, “I have actually seen a great deal of those kinds of books and, no, it didn’t convince me. I still believe in God and am still a Christian.”

A little taken aback, the young man went on, “Well, how about taking a look at some of the books I studied while enrolled in Philosophy and World Religion classes at the University? I can show you how Jesus Christ is no more Divine than any other man who has ever lived and how Christianity is no more valid than any other religion. Why, it’s no more real than Buddhism or Islam.”

“No. I really wouldn’t be very interested in seeing those, either. I probably read some of those same books in Seminary and they didn’t persuade me in the least bit”, the pastor flatly answered.

The young man was getting frustrated. How could this old, unsophisticated, country preacher not be willing to listen to reason? After suggesting a few more enlightening topics, he finally threw up his hands and said: “Surely there is something that I can show you that will make you realize that Christianity is a big lie and the God of the Bible does not exist?!?”

“As a matter of fact there is”, the pastor calmly replied, much to the young man’s astonishment. “Show me the body of Jesus Christ and I will agree with you that Christianity is a big lie and the God of the Bible does not exist. You told me that Jesus Christ is no more Divine than any other man and that Christianity is no more valid than Islam or Buddhism. But you see, there’s a grave in Medina, Saudi Arabia where Muhammed, the founder of Islam lies buried to this day. The Buddha was cremated, with parts of his body saved as religious relics. I am told that I can visit one of his teeth in Sri Lanka. Both of those men died, and they remained dead and in the grave. But if I go to Jerusalem where the Lord Jesus died, all I will find is an empty tomb. He’s not there anymore! If you can show me the body of Jesus Christ, then I will no longer be a Christian, because my entire faith stands or falls on the reality of His resurrection”

There is absolutely no more important doctrine in the Christian faith than the reality of a literal, physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17:

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

For the earliest Christians, there simply was no more crucial point of faith than to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Yet, according to a Barna poll conducted in 2000, as many as 33% of those who claim to be born-again Christians DO NOT believe in a literal, physical resurrection (1). According to a 1998 Jeffrey Hadden poll, the numbers are even bleaker for clergy. Some mainstream Protestant denominations have more than half of those preaching from their pulpits who harbor serious doubts as to the veracity of the resurrection account (2).

This Sunday, the Body of Christ will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, with many who observe the celebration really not understanding the significance of this monumental event.

Raised For Our Justification

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

Jesus took our sin upon Himself and was delivered unto death as a propitiation for those sins. His resurrection demonstrated the Father’s satisfaction with this transaction. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection showed that God’s wrath was satisfied in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and that that wrath no longer rests on us, if our faith is in Him (John 3:36). If Jesus lies in His grave, then the Father did NOT accept the atoning sacrifice of Christ and our sin debt remains upon us.

Credentials Of His Lordship

“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Romans 1:4)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the crowning piece of evidence that He is Who He says He is. As we mentioned in the story above: there have been a lot of religious leaders who have said a lot of things, but they all have one thing in common — they are all still dead. Only Jesus Christ demonstrated His authority over death through His resurrection from the dead.

If The Resurrection Did Not Happen, Then The New Testament Was Written By Liars

This might sound like a harsh ultimatum, but it is indisputable. If the resurrection (a literal, physical resurrection) did not happen, then every New Testament writer has lied at this point. And if they lied at this most crucial point, then none of their other testimony is worthy to be considered. They all witnessed and testified to the risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:7). If they got this wrong, how can we believe anything else they have to say?

The Resurrection Proves Jesus’ Authority Over Death Itself

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:18)

Since Jesus was raised from the dead, we can have confidence that He will raise us up in the last day, as well (John 6:40). Since Jesus was resurrected, just as He said He would be (Matthew 17:23), we can be confident that He has the power and ability to raise us up as He promised He would. If the resurrection never happened, what hope is there for us? Incidentally, since Jesus also testified that His resurrection would take place, then we must relegate His Words to the same fate as His apostles’ if He was incorrect about this. If Jesus was not resurrected, then He, too, has lied to us.

“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” (Acts 1:3)

Praise God, we do have certainty that the resurrection did actually occur. The Lord Jesus Christ did not remain dead and in the grave. He is alive today and forevermore. We can trust His own testimony as well as that of those who saw Him alive before He ascended to the Father (Acts 7:56). Jesus Christ is alive; He is risen! May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and yours as you take time this Sunday to commemorate His resurrection. May the reality of His resurrection stay with you every day of the year.

(1) Poll results cited can be found at the following website: Click here

(2) Ibid


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12 responses

  1. Thanks, Loren, for another excellent post . . .one so fitting for today! May we all be drawn to Jesus. Blessings, deb

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  2. Loren,

    Beautifully said!….. Christ’s resurrection is filled with such joy and comfort….. It gives us a realistic hope and faith, because it is not baseless, like other religions.

    Another fact that points to the truth of Christ’s resurrection are the historical accounts of how the early Christians died for the truth….. Peter would not have been willing to be crucified upside down for a lie….. Paul would not have been willing to be beaten many times for a lie….. John would not have been willing to be exiled for the rest of his life….. The early Christians who witnessed the resurrection were willing to endure tortures and die for its truthfulness….. Their staunchness speaks volumes.

    Thank you for this witness.

    Margaret

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  3. Thanks, Deb. I hope your Holiday is filled with blessing.

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  4. “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” ( 1 Cor. 15:6 ESV)

    Bible critics today like to think that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax perpetrated by just a few radical, misguided conspirators. They posit that these conspirators had ulterior, political motives for what they did. But when we read about the cruel and horrific fates that the Apostles endured because they would not recant their belief that Christ was risen, it’s hard to believe that they would endure such torture for something they knew to be false. I agree that this, in itself, is a profound evidence for the truth of Christ’s resurrection.

    According to what Paul writes here in 1 Corinthians 15:6, there were literally hundreds of eyewitnesses still living who had directly seen the risen Savior and could attest to the truth of the resurrection. It might be easy to dismiss the testimony of a few, but several hundred? How many cases have been proven in our courts of law based on the testimony of significantly less?

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  5. Loren,

    Without His resurrection, death would not have been defeated. The Good News, to be complete, has to include His birth, His death AND His resurrection. For those that claim otherwise, in that He was not fully resurrected, fool themselves to their destruction. We just can’t go around changing the message of His word to suit our pet beliefs especially in the critical issues that are key elements to His work in securing salvation.

    Great Post!

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  6. Very well said, Tishrei!

    We weren’t given the option of deciding which portions of Scripture we find palatable and which ones we do not. God didn’t submit His Word to us for our approval, He gave it to us so that we would put our trust in Him.

    I remember reading about a group of liberal Theologians calling themselves “The Jesus Commission” who, years ago, met to discuss which statements of Christ were accurate and which were questionable. They decided to draw a line through the portions that they considered either “inaccurate”, “unlikely”, or “questionable.” What was the criteria for their decisions? They decided based on what they personally felt were statements that Jesus would have made. By the time they were finished marking up their Bibles, they were left with about one-fifth of the Sermon on the Mount and 2 or 3 parables!

    What an arrogant affront to the plenary inspiration of the Bible and to the sovereignty of God Himself.

    Thanks, Tishrei. And happy Easter….I mean happy Eid il Fitr…I mean, have a blessed and happy Holiday :)

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  7. Hi Loren,

    I seem to have some vague memory of what you just commented regarding the “Jesus Commission.” Can you imagine the chutzpah it takes to change the word of God? I realize that some people change the meaning of scripture to suit their beliefs or that some people simply ignore some scripture as if it wasn’t there. But to actually sit down as a committee, calling themselves the “Jesus Committee” and start deleting scripture. That takes moxie. They may be proud of themselves as to what they did but one day they will stand before their creator and have to face judgment for that act. UNBELIEVABLE. It’s frightening to even think about doing something like that.

    And happy Easter….I mean happy Eid il Fitr…I mean, have a blessed and happy Holiday

    I’M HOWLING WITH LAUGHTER. That was FUNNY as all get out!

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  8. Loren & Tishrei,

    Yes, I had to laugh, too — but with a great deal of sadness mixed in….. I know a gal who exuberantly proclaims exactly all that, along with much more….. She also is happy and excited to include Buddhist and Hindi celebrations, claiming spiritual ties to most all religions….. She thinks of herself as being very “advanced” spiritually.

    She “knowingly” feels that those who only claim Jesus as a Savior from sin are terribly blinded and unable to “advance” spiritually….. She’s ready to “celebrate Easter” with gusto. Of course, she refuses to discuss “religion” with anyone who is “set in their ways”.

    Margaret

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  9. I thought you might like that. I enjoyed your “Easter Rant” but couldn’t resist giving you a little ribbing about it :)

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  10. There is something inherent in human nature that wants to embrace “Ecumenicalism.” I mean, after all, we don’t want to offend anyone or hurt their feelings by suggesting that their deeply held religious beliefs might be wrong. So, in the interest of being tolerant, people pat each other on the back, shake one another’s hands and tell each other: “That’s OK, there’s nothing wrong with your beliefs, they’re just as good as mine.”

    Even many non-religious people find this type of approach rather silly. There was a humorous episode of the T.V. show “Community” right before Christmas where the students of this Community College were trying to be “Politically Correct” by not excluding others and focusing on one particular Holiday or another. Between Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and everything else, they decided to observe “The non-specific mid-Winter Celebration.” The greeting cards they sent to each other were hilariously ridiculous!

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  11. Hi Loren and gang! As I read your last comment Loren, I remembered working at the post office and one year the postmaster came around and told us that we could no longer say “Merry Christmas” to our customers as we delivered their mail. We had to say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”. ! I’m not sure any of us adhered to that policy, but there it was! Blessings, Deb

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  12. What a mess this notion of “Political Correctness” has made! I have a friend who is a confirmed atheist and even he told me he doesn’t understand all the ruckus over saying “Merry Christmas.”

    He told me: “I think that if somebody tells me Merry Christmas, or God bless you, or any other religious greeting, I am just grateful that they are wishing me well according to what they believe, whether I share those beliefs or not.” That made sense to me, but I guess not every non-Christian sees it that way.

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