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Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6 ESV)

Are all religions essentially the same? Aren’t they just superficially different? As the Beatles have said in song, “Love is all you need.” Yet love seems to be in short supply! It is not as easy as they make it seem, because Love for God is the only command God has given us and yet how many of us have loved God with all our heart a single day of our lives? Jesus taught that the love of many will grow cold and people will be judged for their evil thoughts and activities unless they believe Jesus was the real deal. And our text today shows that the original preachers did not consider their message of “first importance” to be “love is all you need.” Rather they preached that Jesus physically resurrected and that his innocent death on the cross paid for the problem many refuse to admit, that we love ourselves more than God.

At least love seems to matter to us, but does the truth about reality matter to us? Should we not love truth as well? Everyone seems to have an opinion, but does our Great Designer have His say in the matter? Christianity is essentially based on what Jesus said and did. And He didn’t come preaching about kindness and love. He came preaching forgiveness from a Holy God who has promised wrath and judgement for the loveless sins you and I have committed. He came offering himself as a substitute “ransom” to pay for the sins of many who will trust and believe him. Sin is a debt. Sin is misplaced love. Sin is an evil crime. Sin is setting our own purposes for our life above and against God’s purposes for us. In short, sin is a refusal to love the truth.

What is God’s purpose for us? We exist to worship him and to enjoy him forever. How do we accomplish that? It can only start by trusting that Jesus told the truth that he came from God to fix us and that all others who claimed the same were “thieves and robbers.” All religious founders cannot all be correct about God and eternal life because all religions fundamentally contradict each other. How does one begin to sort through all that confusion? Ideas and theories are abstract and hard to test. But the story of Christianity has, from the beginning, been a story that tangibly enters into human history for us to test.

God offers us Jesus as a test for truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father but by me.” How do we know that Jesus was telling the truth? The whole religion stands or falls, according to Paul if we continue reading this chapter, on whether Jesus really did rise from the dead or not. If so, then God has given us proof about who he is and how to relate to him and proof that Jesus’ warning of hell is not just some fear tactic to gain converts. If not, then the search goes on into ever foggier territory, but I have found that Jesus’ claims and the original Christians’ claims about Jesus are all true. Whether we know it or want to admit it or not, all the historical evidence points to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, and in this hope, we are saved from our pride, from the devil, from death itself, and from God’s eternal punishment for our otherwise unquenchably rebellious spirit. Would you begin to consider Jesus and his resurrection? And consider the Word of God. These have been given as accessible proof, not only of our desperate condition and the frightful punishment for evil, but also for the good news about Jesus and his cross and resurrection which saves us from it.

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Recently, much scholarship, both skeptical and Christian, has delved into a homicide detective’s approach to consider the basic facts about Jesus and his alleged resurrection. Becoming a detective, we find that the Case for the Resurrection of Jesus much resembles that of a murder case, except instead of a dead body at the crime scene, we have a walking, talking body. Everyone, believer or unbeliever, must account for at least these historical facts about Jesus if they are to adequately explain the origin of Easter.

Time of Death
Jesus was killed on April, AD 30 or 33, on Friday during the Jewish Passover. The cause of death was crucifixion and a Roman executioner confirmed his death by running him through with a spear. He was then buried in a rich man’s tomb, provided by Joseph of Arimathea, a ruling Jewish authority.

His Empty Tomb
Aside from the crucifixion, the Empty Tomb has been said to be the most reliable historical fact related to the case of the resurrection. It is by far the earliest explanation given, not only by Christians, but by Jesus’ Jewish and Roman enemies whose counter-claim was that the disciples stole Jesus’ body. A stolen body assumes an empty tomb.

Friends’ and Enemies’ Eye-witness Claims
Any detective considering an explanation of this murder mystery must also explain the eye-witnesses. They claim to see, to doubt having seen, to speak with, and to eat with Jesus after his body had “gone missing”. They claim this even though it often meant their death for stubbornly holding to it. We can even “interrogate” a once hostile witness named Paul of Tarsus by reading his letters. Paul says he hated Jesus until he met him face to face while on the road to persecuting more Christians in Damascus.

Read perhaps Cold-Case Christianity or GaryHabermas.com to investigate for yourself.

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Since Erik just posted a long reflection on evidence, and I lack imagination, I figured I’d do the same.

Recently I had a short debate with someone who gave me a reason for rejecting the resurrection of Christ.

1) We have no present day examples of resurrection

2) We do know that people make up resurrection stories to make things interesting,

Therefore: It makes more sense to claim that there was no resurrection, because we have no evidence of the former in present day empirically measurable ways, and we also know a motive for lying.

Sounds pretty convincing, no? Well, there are some kinks.

Premise one is actually something Christians claim. If Christ was simply one of a list of other individuals (no matter how rare) that were resurrected, the resurrection itself would not be evidence of Jesus’ divinity (as Christian theology has historically claimed it to be). The early Church knew that resurrection was a one-time event in history, which is why Christ’s resurrection was so important (note that unlike Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, etc. Jesus was not simply resuscitated).

It would be strange of Paul to base an entire theology around Christ’s resurrection (as he does in 1 Cor 15:12ff) if resurrection was something that happened commonly.

The second point does provide a motive for why someone would lie about a resurrection, but this motive has not been adequately tied to those making the claim (the apostles, who seem to have gained little from the lie), and has not actually been linked to an actual proof of a lie (ie. showing their claim conclusively to be false).

The above reasoning only provides support for why the particular claim of the resurrection of Jesus Christ should be treated with suspicion. It does not provide adequate reasoning for rejecting that resurrection out of hand. Quite simply, the person’s reasoning was inadequate to come to the conclusion he had hoped to draw.

A legal friend of mine once claimed that it was at least enough evidence to make the claim “on the balance of probabilities (the burden of proof in civil cases in Canadian courts)”, though in a legal situation, we would still have to look at the evidence surrounding the actual event, no just reasons for why we would normally disbelieve such claims if given to us in a simple claim.

In Court, even if the defendant’s story seems outlandish, it behooves the court to listen and let them try to overcome even a high burden of proof.

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