As Easter approaches, I’d like to challenge you with a question: What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you? Is it central to your faith? Perhaps you or someone you know claim to be a Christian, but you’re not quite sure about the evidence for the resurrection – could it be fact or could it be myth?
Regardless of where we stand on this issue, what I’ve learned is that both Christians and atheists agree that the resurrection is the central issue to Christianity. That’s because if the resurrection isn’t true then we’re still in our sins, and following Christ is meaningless! Both believers and non-believers agree that if Jesus rose from the dead then we have an intellectually feasible argument that the claims of Christianity are true. If he didn’t, then all of Christianity falls.
The Apostle Paul wrote about the importance of the resurrection in his letter to the Corinthians. He wrote, “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… For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:13-14, 16-17)
Believing in Jesus’ resurrection is not optional for us as Christians. There is no other name under heaven by which one can be saved, and no other method of salvation other than belief in and identification with Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
So how can we know if Jesus really rose from the dead? This has been the question for the last two millennia and continues today, especially in the past few centuries with the advent of progressive historical, archeological and textual fields of study. The Bible and its claim of resurrection continue to be under intense criticism and attack, yet the evidence of the resurrection is convincing.
And here’s I want you to know: You don’t have throw your "brains in the trash" to be a Christ follower. The fact is, we can know the truth. The reality is we most likely have all the information we’ll ever have about Jesus’ life, death and the subsequent events, contained in the Scriptures.
Consider for a moment just some of the most compelling evidence for Jesus’ resurrection:
- Old Testament prophets predicted it.
- Jesus predicted it openly and numerously.
- After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared 12 different times to over 500 eyewitnesses in multiple locations and times over a 40-day period.
- The transformation of the disciples was radical. They went from being fearful cowards to confident followers who weren’t afraid to die for their faith. People don’t knowingly die for a lie.
- The explosion of the church started in Jerusalem, the same place where we could document that the resurrection happened. For 25 years, right where Jesus did his teaching, people could ask questions and get answers from hundreds of eyewitnesses.
So what does this mean to us? 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. Jesus said, "Because I live, you will live also." (John 14:9)
- 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 3:16-19)
In the end, rejecting or accepting the work of Jesus is not an intellectual issue – rather, it’s always a moral issue. What matters, is not only what happened nearly 2,000 years ago, but also its implications for today. The good news is that those who are in Christ can expect their own resurrection from the dead and life with God for eternity.
This week, we’re starting the series Why I Believe: Finding Answers to Life’s Most Difficult Questions. In it, we will address some of the issues that are at the core of human existence. We’ll also explore the answers to some of the most pivotal questions about the claims of the Christian faith. Questions such as, what happens when we die? Can miracles be explained? Is there really a God? It’s my prayer that during this Easter season we will present our “honest doubts” before God and, in return, receive His love, truth and hope for our lives.
Keep Pressin' Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge