(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:
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):
Here’s a sermon you could watch if interested:
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.