The Empty Tomb

jesustomb
In light of a talk I’ll be giving on the 23rd of April, I thought I’d get some reading done on Jesus’ resurrection. I found a couple of really great articles that I thought I’d share!

Jesus’ Tomb is Empty! and The Resurrection is Credible & Historical by Justin Holcomb
Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ: A Challenge for Skeptics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli
Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell
Historical Evidence for the Resurrection by Matt Perman
Historical Evidence for the Resurrection by Christopher Louis Lang
Evidence for the Resurrection from Existence-of-God.com

I also found some free PDF books by Josh McDowell: Christianity: Hoax or History?, Resurrection Growth Guide:  The Resurrection Factor, Reasons Skeptics Should Consider Christianity, and Skeptics Who Demanded a Verdict.

http://www.marshillchurch.org/v/nrb7h5bxbr1d

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the resurrection of the body

(This is part seventeen of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

The line of the Creed looks at something that was one of the core reasons I felt as though I could trust that Jesus was the Son of God:

“the resurrection of the body.”

Perhaps someone has told you that even if Jesus was not the divine Son of God, He still teaches us the best way to live; even if there is no Heaven, hell, or eternity, the way of Jesus is still the best way you can possibly spend this life before you die.

But is this true? Is that a Biblical claim or an attempt to diminish the submission that Christ rightfully claims from His followers?

It’s easy, in modern-day America, to make the claim that Jesus’ way is the best way to live, but think about that claim for a moment in light of the Church’s history. Would that claim work in India? Would it work at the underground churches in China? Would it work anywhere Christians are being persecuted today? How would that claim hold up to any of the churches that experienced heavy persecution by the Roman empire?

Paul would say that, if Jesus is not God and there is no resurrection, then we’re wasting our time. In fact, Paul says “if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Cor 15:19, NLT). The Common English Bible translates it like this: “If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else.”

In other words, if there is no resurrection we are the most pitiful people on earth. We’re wasting our time and should just go do whatever we want. All of Christ’s claims hinge on whether or not He was resurrected; because if He was not resurrected, then we won’t be resurrected. And, as Paul says, if our hope is only in this life then we are to be pitied.

Which brings us to the most obvious of all questions, “Is there good evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?”

I believe there is; I also believe that’s an investigation that Christians need to make for themselves, so as to strengthen their convictions and expand their ability to share their faith. Here are some recommended reads if you’re interested:

Online Articles:
Evidences for the Resurrection by J. Hampton Keathley, III
Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ by Christopher Louis Lang
Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf
Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence for the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus
Powerful Evidence For The Deity of Christ: The Greatest Sign – The Resurrection

Books (I’m sure there are dozens of options but these are some of the most popular):

The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus
More Than a Carpenter

Here’s a sermon you could watch if interested:

http://marshill.com/v/nrb7h5bxbr1d

Take a look at any of those resources if you’re interested; laying out the historical argument for the resurrection is far beyond the scope of this entry. However, I do think it’s important for Christians to examine why they believe in the resurrection with the hopes that it will deepen their faith and enhance their ability to share their faith.

But if we believe in the resurrection, how should this affect the way we live?

I think Dan & Barb Evans are an excellent example of how the resurrection can dramatically change the way we live. They have been in ministry around the world for 21 years with Cadence International, a group that specializes in ministering to members of the armed forces. I’ve watched them open their home and their lives to show the love of Christ to many people. They have had a profound impact on the lives of many people around the world (I found one great example here). It’s an honor to know them.

During the fall of 2009, Barb was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. For a while, we weren’t even sure she was going to wake up from her brain surgery, but by the grace of God she pulled through. Soon after, a prayer group was started on Facebook. It has over 650 members from all around the world. I only share that last bit of information to convey how far reaching their ministry has been. For the entire Evans family, it has been a long, hard fight but they didn’t stop ministering. If anything, they have done more ministry, through Barb’s battle with cancer, than ever before. Barb spent the last 19 months of her life knowing that her condition was terminal unless God miraculously intervened. She never lost the faith, but instead found refuge in God. Barb spent the last 19 months living her life to the fullest.

On Christmas Eve, Barb spoke very openly and honestly about her battle, her fears, her hopes, her ministry, and, most of all, her desire to glorify God through her struggle and to finish well. On March 7th, Barb breathed her last and went to be with Jesus. Connie and I went to Dan’s house that night to say goodbye to Barb. She looked so peaceful; no more struggle, no more pain, just glory with Jesus. I leaned over and, with a tear in my eye, whispered in her ear, “You finished well, Barb. You finished well.”

While I do grieve for those she left behind, I’m not sad for Barb. Why? Because there is a resurrection. Barb was able to finish well because she knew that there is a resurrection; she knew that, on the other side of death, true life was waiting. She knew that, through His death, Jesus conquered death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Barb knew that something far greater waited on the other side of her death.

But we’ll discuss that in depth with the next post.

The third day He rose again from the dead

(This is part nine of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

This post will examine the most important event in human history. After Jesus died and was buried He stayed in the grave during the Sabbath (interesting) but

“The third day He rose again from the dead”

A couple entries ago I mentioned that Christ’s death on the cross was the second most important event in human history. His resurrection is the single most important event in human history. I was once told that, as an aspiring preacher, the only thing I should preach is the cross. That’s foolishness because there is far more to Jesus than his death on the cross! For example, His death on the cross would not have achieved the forgiveness of sins if He had not been divine, nor if He had sinned, etc. So while His death on the cross is very, very important, it’s not the only thing that is worth mentioning.

It would be impossible for me to overstate the importance of Jesus’ resurrection. But one secondary detail I think is worth addressing first. Some people will argue that Jesus was only in the grave for one day. They’ll say something like, “He died and was buried on Friday, He was in the tomb on Saturday, and then Sunday He rose from the dead. He was only dead one day!” That’s a very Western way of counting the days. The Eastern Jews of Jesus’ day would have counted Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning as three days, which is why they said He was in the grave for three days.

But back to my main point: the significance of the resurrection. Why do I say this is the greatest event in human history? Well, I’ll give you three reasons.

First, the resurrection is proof that God found Jesus to be a worthy sacrifice for our sins and that we have been forgiven. Romans 4:25 says plainly that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” The NIV translates Romans 4:25 as, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” So we see that Christ died for our sins, but was resurrected for our justification. This may seem like a fine distinction, or even hair-splitting, but Romans 4:25 emphasizes the importance of Christ’s resurrection. Wayne Grudem puts it this way in Systematic Theology: “When Christ was raised from the dead, it was God’s declaration of approval of Christ’s work of redemption.”

Second, the resurrection gives us power to live a new life. We find that Jesus’ closest followers deserted Him once He was arrested (Matthew 26:56, Mark 14:50, John 16:32). In fact, one of His followers is so scared he runs off naked (Mark 14:51-52)! Peter, His most outspoken and devoted disciple follows Him “from a distance” after He’s been arrested (Matthew 26:58, Mark 14:54, Luke 22:54). Next Peter denies Jesus three times; once to a servant girl (Matthew 26:69-70, Mark 14:66-71, Luke 22:56-57, John 18:17). But at the beginning of Acts, we find this same Peter bold and outspoken (Acts 2:14). Peter is even arrested for preaching about Jesus and appears before the high priest and his council and refuses to stop sharing the Gospel (Acts 5:27-29). What caused this change in Peter? The resurrection! Peter encountered the Risen Christ and was never the same. Peter testifies to this in his own letter when he writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3). We are born again through the resurrection of Jesus. Romans 6:4 tells us that “we too might walk in newness of life.” That is the power of the resurrection.

Finally, Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope for our resurrection in the future. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope that we will be united with Him through our death to sin, and resurrected like Him after we die (Romans 6:5). In fact, the resurrection is the only reason it makes sense to be a Christian (1 Corinthians 15:17). Paul goes so far as to say that Christians should be pitied if Jesus did not resurrect (1 Corinthians 15:19). Some people would say that, even if Jesus never really existed or was not really God, the way of Jesus is still the best way to life. Paul disagrees! Paul says we are to be pitied more than all men! That hardly sounds like Paul would agree with that teaching. Fortunately, Jesus did resurrect and we can have the hope that we will be raised in glory, just as Christ rose from the dead in glory (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). This is the kind of hope that gives us “glorious and inexpressible joy” (1 Peter 1:8). This is the kind of hope that gives a married couple the strength to face terminal brain cancer; the kind of hope that keeps a single mom going when it feels like the weight of the world is about to crush her; the kind of hope that saves marriages; the kind of hope that heals soldiers with PTSD; the kind of hope that keeps Christians faithful in the face of temptations, suffering, and persecution; the kind of hope that can change the world. Praise God for the hope that He gives us through His Son!