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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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The Book Of The Generations Of Adam

"And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." (Genesis 5:5)

"And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." (Genesis 5:5)

What type of feelings do you associate with a graveyard? Sadness, fear, regret? Cemeteries often elicit a very powerful emotional response because of what they represent and what they remind us all of, that is, that this life will end someday for every one of us. Regardless of what a person believes concerning the afterlife, people of all beliefs recognize that this life will one day end.

Chapter 5 of the Book of Genesis is really a graveyard right in the middle of the story of the beginning of mankind on the Earth. We are given little more than a list of names, their children, and how long they lived. And the final words given in regards to nearly every single name on the list are: “And he died.” He was born, he had children of his own, and then he died.

This is the cold and sorrowful tale that a headstone relates. Most often, a tombstone tells noting more than the name, date of birth, and date of death of the individual buried beneath it. It has been said that most people will not be remembered at all beyond the third generation that comes after them. For the vast majority of us, we will be utterly forgotten within 20-30 years after we have passed on. Oh, that we might have a better perspective of the ultimate meaninglessness of the busy activities into which we pour so much of our time and strength!

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)

Chapter 5 of Genesis is a stark reminder of the consequences that sin brings. While these people mentioned who lived before the Flood had remarkably long lifespans, they all still died. And so it is with every generation, save for the last one which will witness the return of the Lord. This life will end one day for all of us.

The Good News is that we will not remain in the grave! For those who are trusting in Jesus Christ, this life is but a preface to the true life that is to come. Indeed, the moment that these bodies cease to be alive, we will be forever present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Though we pass through this solemn graveyard of the Fifth chapter of Genesis, may we all be reminded of the words declared by the Apostle Paul:

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

The consequences of sin brings death to the body, but the Grace of God brings life to the spirit.

“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

The Ironic Nature Of God’s Judgments

When we read Genesis 3:14-19, we notice the irony of the judgments that God places on the devil, Eve, and Adam. The consequences of their actions were not arbitrarily decreed by God, no, they are each symbolic of the motivation that each had for rebelling against Him.

The devilSnake

“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:14-15)

Satan’s original rebellion against God was summed up by his desire to “ascend.” In Isaiah 14:13-14, Satan is quoted as having said, “I will ascend into Heaven…I will ascend above the heights of clouds; I will be like the Most High!” Verse 15 tells us that the result of this was that, “…Thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Here, in Genesis 3:14, we see the same thing happen as God sentences the serpent to crawl on his belly. He sought to soar above the clouds of heaven, now he is relegated to slithering in the dust of the Earth. He who would mock God’s commandment and entice the woman to eat of the sweet fruit of the forbidden tree would himself dine on the dust of the ground. He attempted to form a union, an alliance against God with the human beings that would be bonded and cemented by their common disobedience, yet God would place enmity between the two. He desired to rule over man, yet he would find himself under his heel.

Eve

“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16)

What should have always been an occasion marked solely by joy and celebration would now bear the stain of pain and suffering. Sin tainted the beauty of childbirth which would now be accomplished through sorrow. The woman whose desire had been to become a goddess herself would now be consigned to a subservient role to the man. She who sought to rule would be ruled over herself.

Adam

“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
The labor of the man would be greatly intensified, as well. The ground which freely gave of its produce would now do so only by the sweat of man’s brow. Edible plants and fruits would grow alongside thorns and thistles, grains would now grow up beside tares. The Earth that Adam had held dominion over would no longer freely serve him. Desiring to be a god himself, the man, too, was brought low and reminded that he was but dust. Rather than reigning over the Earth as a deity, he would struggle for even his daily food until he himself returned to the dust from whence he came.

A Pattern Established

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Not only throughout the Book of Genesis, but throughout the entire Bible we see this pattern repeated over and over. Whenever we “sow” iniquity, we can be assured that we will harvest the same. There is often a great deal of irony in the judgments that come upon people, both in Scripture and in the world around us. When we attempt to do things contrary to God, we often find that the consequences are quite ironic as we reap results that are the complete opposite of what we intended.

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