As a Christian, have you ever doubted what you believe and or questioned why you believe it? Do you know if your beliefs in Jesus are based on evidence or on something that someone told you?
It’s OK to examine what we believe as Christians. In fact, we should never have to throw our brains in the trash in order to follow Christ.
I first realized this truth in the spring of 1976. I was weeks away from graduating at a liberal arts college and one day, the chair of the department approached me and asked me a question I’d never forget. He said, “Chip, how can someone as well educated and intellectually astute as you appear to be really believe in a literal Jesus and all this born again stuff?”
He just didn’t understand how I could be this smart student and yet, also be a Christian. For him, these two things just didn’t go together. At that time, I had been a Christian for a few years. I believed my faith and the Bible to be true, but I began to wonder if I had to throw my brains in the trash in order to examine what it meant to be a Christ follower.
This question sent me on a journey for 30 plus years to discover whether there is intellectually feasible evidence to support a faith in the Jesus of the Bible with His claims of deity, eternal life and absolute truth.
At the heart of this issue is Jesus’ resurrection. Did Jesus actually rise from the dead? Our answer to this question is crucial to our faith! If Jesus isn’t alive today and if the resurrection story is just myth or fairy tale, then our faith is meaningless.
Even the early Christian church knew this was an issue of significant importance. The Apostle Paul wrote about it to the Corinthians: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:13-15)
Over the years, some of the biggest oppositions to Christianity were around the issue of whether or not Jesus really died and rose from the dead. But the evidence of these events is undisputed and verifiable.
In the city of Jerusalem there were hundreds of eyewitnesses to not only Jesus’ crucifixion but also his resurrection. Jesus appeared to multiple people in multiple locations during those 40 days after the resurrection. Several historical documents and artifacts – including the Bible – attest the many people who spoke with Jesus, ate with him and heard him teach.
Not only this, but the disciples were also transformed. Once fearful and doubting, the disciples became known as some of the most zealous and bold followers of Christ. They were even willing to die for their faith. It’s a known fact that people will die for what they believe in – even if it might be false -- but no one dies something they know is false.
So what does the resurrection mean to you? Is it central to your faith? And does your life and does your life demonstrate that you really believe it?
Here are three implications for examining the evidence of the resurrection:
- It validates Jesus’ claim that He is “the way the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
- It gives us a hope for the future – and everyone wants hope. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)
- It offers spiritual life right now. By the acceptance of this good news you are saved. (1 Cor. 15:2) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This week, we begin the series, “Why I Believe.” In it, we’ll examine some of the most controversial issues that face Christianity, such as is there life after death? Is the Bible really true? And what about creation – how did we come to be? It’s my prayer that this series will help you openly bring your “honest doubts” before God and come away with solid, logical answers and a deeper, more secure faith.
Keep Pressin' Ahead,
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge