Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On the Resurrection from the Dead

Sometimes we, as Christians, can emphasize the cross to the point we forget about the resurrection. Now I do not want to minimize the importance of the cross, where Christ paid the price for our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians  2:13-15; Ephesians 1:7). But this is validated by the resurrection. First, it demonstrates that Christ is who He claimed to be (Romans 1:4; John 2:18-22; Matthew 12:39,40). It shows that salvation has indeed been accomplished (1 Corinthians 15:1-19; Romans 4:24,25; 1 Peter 1:3). It is the basis of our own hope of resurrection (Romans 8:11; John 14:19; Colossians 3:3,4). Further, having died with Christ to our former life, we are raised with Him that we might live for Him (Romans 6:4-11; 7:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15).

There are, of course, many different responses to it by sceptics. There is the idea that Jesus or the disciples came up with some kind of plot where Jesus did not really die or that the disciples stole the body. I think the best answer to this is from Chuck Colson, who was involved in the Watergate scandal. He asks how, if a group of men with all the power of the presidency could not keep Watergate under wraps, do we expect a group of powerless fishermen could have pulled off such a conspiracy that still has not been exposed. Or it could be explained as some sort of mistake; they went to the wrong tomb or suffered from joint hallucinations.  But if so, it is strange none of their critics found the mistake. Or it could be they were merely describing a mystical experience. But none of the accounts seem to bear this out.

But the most common idea is that it is a legend that grew up slowly over time. But the resurrection is the heart of Christian teaching (1 Corinthians 19:1-19); without it there is nothing for Christianity to be about. They had plenty of moral philosophers and rabbinical scholars at the time; without the resurrection, Jesus would have disappeared into the crowd.  And if the resurrection is some tacked-on extra, it is difficult to see how the Christian message could have been totally changed in that short of period of time. Especially since in, at most, only about thirty years after its founding, Christianity was considered something worth dying for, and by at least that point had critics who would have been delighted to explain how Christians had changed their story, if they had.

So the resurrection is the heart of Christianity, and based on it sin and death and hell are overcome. And based on it we have a faith worth living and dying for. Now those who are determined to reject on principle the idea of the miraculous will not believe it, no matter what the evidence. But we should always remember that our faith is not based on some vague philosophy, but a historical event. One empty tomb in Palestine makes all the difference.

1 comment:

  1. "the resurrection is the heart of Christianity"

    Amen Mike!