Did Jesus Actually Raise From the Dead?

Many in our day reject the reality of the resurrection of the dead.  “We live in the 21st century” they argue “and we all know the people do not raise from the dead.”  The Bible tells a different story.  All of Jesus’s disciples (except Judas who hung himself before he could see the resurrection) claimed even unto death that Jesus rose from the dead.  There are many ideas that people put out to disprove Jesus resurrection.

  1. The Disciples stole Jesus’s body. This faulty claim goes all the way back to the 1st century but ignores the fact that people will not die over a made up story.  Almost all of the disciples who are accused of lying about the resurrection, were killed for preaching Jesus as raised from the dead and none of them changed their story even when given the opportunity to avoid death. The disciples were clearly not lying.
  2. The Disciples were mistaken. This argument makes sense at first since it is clear they were not lying.  The problem is that Jesus did not just appear to the 12 disciples but he even appeared to 500 people at one time (1 Cor. 15:6)! Your telling me that 500 people + the 12 were hallucinating?  Not only this but the gospel records that the disciples did not just see Jesus, they met with Jesus and touched Jesus over the many days before he went up to heaven. The disciples were not mistaken.
  3. Jesus was not really dead; he was buried alive. The problems with this are extensive. 1. Crucifixion is not lived through. 2. Jesus was stabbed in the side after he was declared dead and blood and water flowed out of his side(John 19:34). 3. The stone had to be unsealed and rolled away, something that not even several healthy men could not let alone a crucified man. 4. The guards at the tomb had to have been fought by this almost dead Jesus… You get the point.  Jesus was truly dead.
  4. Jesus never existed. This is a claim that really comes out of desperation due to the impossibility of the above arguments. Even secular historians do not buy this idea.  The first reason is from #1 above.  People do not die over something they lied about, let alone for a person that never existed.  Not to mention the fact that we have four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) written by separate people and they all agree with each other.

Clearly we know that Jesus is real, he did die on the cross, he was risen from the dead, he did ascend into heaven, and he is coming soon.  It is time for us to follow him and make his name know among all people before he comes back to gather his people and bring judgment on those who do not obey the gospel.

 

If Christ was not Raised is the Gospel Still Good News?

Rudolf Bultmann was a liberal theologian in the early 19th century who believed that the gospel is still important to preach even though he says  the resurrection “simply cannot be a visible fact in the realm of human history”¹, and “a historical fact that involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable.”²  Despite hes denial of the resurrection Bultmann still encourages the proclamation of the gospel and even the preaching of Jesus as a crucified, risen savior!

This is such a strange thing for me to understand.  It is strange because the truthful reality that Jesus has been raised from the dead is central to the Christian hope.  If the resurrection were not true, then why preach the gospel?  There is no good news in a dead savior.  Paul says  “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ.”  and “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Co 15:12-15, 32–33). The gospel makes no sense without the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of our resurrection is no way secure if Jesus is still in his tomb.  Going further than this, Rudolph Bultmann’s assumption that Jesus was not raised from the dead is based on his denial of the supernatural based on naturalistic presuppositions that are not compatible with the Christian faith.  Also, with this skepticism of the supernatural and the denial of Jesus’ resurrection, the Christian can have no hope in his regeneration because that in itself is a supernatural work of God that can be likened to a death and resurrection.  If Christ is not raised from the dead, we are still in our sins.

Moreover, when you read through the book of Acts, you can see that whenever the gospel is proclaimed, the resurrection of Jesus and his present reign at the right hand of God is also emphasized.  If Jesus is not the present King from David’s line that will sit on the throne forever, the Kingdom of God has no hope and the Church’s future is uncertain.  On the contrary, because we know that Jesus is alive and ruling from Heaven, we can be sure of our salvation, our future resurrection, the future of His church, our freedom from sin, and the power to do his will.

¹Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2 vols., trans. Kendrick Grobel (New York: Scribner, 1951), 1:3. Rudolf

²Bultmann, Jesus and the World (New York: Scribner, 1958), 8.

Cultivating Apologetic Opportunities

In today’s sermon, Peter tells you in 1 Peter 3:15, to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  In short, Peter is calling you to be ready to share your faith, particularly with unbelievers.  What are some ways you and I can practically do that?  Are you intentional about making opportunities to be with and share with unbelievers?

In their book Everyday Church (the book I’d mentioned last week that uses 1 Peter as a model for the church reaching the unchurched), Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, pastors in England, quote another pastor in Texas on 8 ways to be intentional in cultivating relationships with unbelievers:

(1) Eat with non-Christians: Go to lunch with a co-worker, have them to your house, strike up conversations with them at restaurants, invite them to a cookout or picnic—flee the Christian subculture.

(2) Walk, don’t drive: get to know the people around you.

(3) Be a regular: not hard to do in a small town where there’s not 20 options for haircuts, food, etc.

(4) Hobby w/non-Christians: fish, hunt, sew, or join a club.

(5) Talk to co-workers: use breaks intentionally to get to know people, let them know you’re praying for them, get to know them outside of work.

(6) Volunteer w/non-profits: food pantry, Salvation Army, Northern Tier, etc.

(7) Participate in town events: instead of watching TV go to what’s happening in town: PA in the Wilds, carnival, Canoe/Kayak Classic, Open Mike, etc.

(8) Serve your neighbors: weeding, mowing, checking mail for elderly, offer to pick up groceries when you’re going, help them unload their car, etc.