April 8, 2023
How odd that his enemies understood him better than his friends! His enemies placed a guard and sealed the tomb. His friends ran away. One denied him three times. At first reports, they regarded it as nonsense and did not believe (Luke 24:11). They didn’t understand the scripture (John 20:9). They were afraid of the Jews (20:19). Their hearts were hard (Mark 16:14). In a sonnet, D.A. Carson captures the mood:
No heroes, these: defeated followers all,
Their nurtured faith extinguished, snuffed the flame
Of courage. Quite abandoned now the game
Oneupmanship (“Not I, Lord; I’ll not fall!”),
Displaced by furtive fear’s disabling pall.
More crippling than the sickening fear, the shame;
And cowed by common cowardice, they came
Upstairs together, spiritually mauled.
Reports come in of shattered, vanquished Death,
Of Life’s appearance in triumphant mood.
Begins the birth of hope, the death of death,
Of failing, faithless men with faith endued.
Arranged of old, unqualifiedly new:
Such change is what an empty tomb can do.*
Their unbelief, cowardice, and misunderstanding are hardly résumé enhancements for religious leaders. Their unflattering testimony about themselves is unlikely to have been made up. So, how do we account for the dramatic change in their lives from cowards hiding from the Jews to courageous proclaimers of the resurrection of Jesus. C.F.D. Moule stated it this way:
If the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole of the size and shape of Resurrection, what does the secular historian propose to stop it up with?
The explanation for the change from “old” to “unqualifiedly new” is best explained by “what an empty tomb can do.” Jesus was raised from the dead.
But the “unqualifiedly new” of the Apostles and early Christians was no minor affair. The dramatic event of the resurrection brought a dynamically different life in the disciples. The New Testament can talk about crucifying the old self, putting on the new self, and newness of life. That’s spiritual major surgery not a Band-Aid. Jesus was not a religious good luck charm to be dragged out of the drawer a couple of times year. Jesus became their life and their Lord. What about in your life? “Such change is what an empty tomb can do.”
*D.A. Carson, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century (Baker Books, 1994), p. 67.
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Posted by Russell Holden
April 21, 2022
Our faith and our salvation are built upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The historical fact of His resurrection cannot be over emphasized. There is no way in which we could speak of it too often, for it is a key and critical component to everything we believe. As Paul writes to the church at Corinth (who were doubting the resurrection of the dead), “But if there is no resurrection from the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain… and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 17-19, NASB) Without the resurrection of Christ, our faith is meaningless, we are still in our sins, and we have no hope for the future.
“But the fact is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, NASB) This is the glorious fact! Jesus was raised! There are many powerful and convincing proofs of this fact. There are many eyewitness accounts of this fact. We can be assured that His resurrection is real, and our faith can solidly rest in this reality. And because He is risen, we are no longer in our sins! Because He is risen, we have hope of seeing our loved ones again! Because He is risen, we too will be raised with a glorious new body! Christ is the first fruits of those who have died. He was the first to rise, never to die again, and we will follow after Him.
Because of the resurrection, there is a momentous day coming for us. The Lord Jesus is going to return from heaven, and when He does, we will all be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53, NASB)
Are you ready for that day to come? Will you be found in Him on that day? Those who are in Christ in this life will share in His glorious resurrection. Let us praise God with all our hearts today because Jesus is risen!
Leave a Comment » | 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:52-53, resurrection, resurrection of Christ, resurrection of Jesus, resurrection of Jesus Christ | Permalink
Posted by Scott Colvin
April 14, 2017
Because of Easter, some may be thinking about the resurrection of Jesus. For some it may be a strong belief. Others may view it as a myth. Among the latter, there may be some who still cling to the Christ of faith, which means Christ as some sort of ideal although they believe the historical Jesus is moldering in a grave somewhere. Others who hold a mythic view of the resurrection may wish the whole things would disappear into the dustbin of history. The most rabid of this sort may even view religion as dangerous. And of course, there may be some who believe, if asked, but for whom such belief doesn’t have much impact on life.
C.S. Lewis wisely observed, “One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”* In other words, I think the importance of the claim about Christ means that everyone should seriously investigate the case for Christ. And this also means examining our own presuppositions and worldviews that might get in the way of such an investigation. Skeptics have examined and become believers. But upon belief, we should never take it lightly.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). Although we must read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for the eyewitness testimony, I’ve found the serious studies of others have helped me sharpen and strengthen my own belief in the resurrection. One of the first books that I read of this type was Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison. Frank Morrison is the pen name of Albert Ross. Ross set out to write a book that would disprove the resurrection. He ended up convincing himself of the truth of the resurrection and writing a very different book. First published in 1930, the book continues to be in print. Here is a list of helpful books.
- Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison
- The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence by Simon Greenleaf. Greenleaf was a law professor at Harvard. For those who can wade through 19th century prose, it has helpful insights into looking at the evidence of the gospels.
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Strobel was a newspaper reporter for the Chicago Tribune. When his wife came to belief in Jesus, it upset his perfect atheist marriage. He used his investigative talents as a reporter to attempt to disapprove the resurrection. He ended up becoming convinced of the resurrection.
- The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona
- Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith by W. Mark Lanier. Lanier is a successful trial lawyer. His book brings his experience with evidence to the task of examining Christianity. This book begins with questions about God and morality before dealing with Jesus.
- Cold-Case Christianity by Wallace J. Warner. Warner is a LA homicide detective. He also began as a skeptic, but examined the case for Jesus using his skills as a cold-case, homicide detective. He became convinced of the resurrection.
The evidence of this case demands to be examined by everyone. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
*C.S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” God in the Dock, p. 101.
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Posted by Russell Holden
April 15, 2016
Paul’s tour de force on the resurrection is 1 Corinthians 15. It was prompted by the denial of the resurrection by some in the Corinthian congregation (15:12). Paul first gives evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Paul notes the Scriptures and the many eyewitnesses which include himself. To deny the resurrection is to deny Christ’s resurrection. For Christ not to have been raised, then faith is futile, we are still in our sins, and we are of all people the most to be pitied. But Paul will have none of that: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. The resurrection of Jesus is connected with the future hope of Christians. Jesus is the basis of our hope.
But questions remain: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35-58) Maybe the deniers were troubled by these questions. Greeks typically believed in a life after death without resurrection. Many Jews had a crude conception of resurrection. If you died lame or blind, you were raised lame or blind. Paul gives us our best glimpse at the resurrection body.
Paul provides us with an analogy. Our physical body at death is like a planted seed. There is continuity between the seed and the plant to come, but there is also transformation. Paul reassures us that God knows how to create different kinds of flesh for different kinds of purposes, and He can bestow varying degrees of glory. In other words, resurrection is not a mere resuscitation but a glorious transformation.
Paul illuminates by a series of contrasts. Our physical bodies are perishable, but the resurrection body will be imperishable. Our physical bodies face the dishonor of death and decay, but the resurrection body will be raised in glory. We experience weakness now, but we will be raised in power. We have a natural body now. One suited to the current natural world. We will have a spiritual body.
We need to be careful when we see this word “spiritual” that we don’t think immaterial like Casper the Ghost. We need to hold on to the word “body” and remember that Jesus in the resurrection was solid and touchable. The spiritual body will be animated by God’s Spirit and suitable for the transcendent realm of the age to come.
We have to admit the details are few. We still likely have many questions about the resurrection. But the resurrection body is not a mere resuscitation of the old. It is a transformation. It is something more glorious and suited for eternal life with God.
It is enough to trust our Maker. Jesus conquered death in his resurrection. And death will be conquered for each of us in our resurrection. With that hope we live in encouragement knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
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Posted by Russell Holden
March 29, 2016
J. Warner Wallace was an L.A. County homicide detective. He knows something about solving crimes with multiple suspects. He has experience in investigating conspiracies. He notes that while conspiracies are popular in movies and novels, they are actually very difficult to pull off in real life. Successful conspiracies have several traits in common:
- A small number of conspirators. Lies are difficult to maintain. The more people involved in the lie, the more likely the conspirators will be tripped up.
- Conspirators need thorough and immediate communication. That is why investigators separate suspects for interviews. Without knowing what others are revealing, it is more likely someone will confess the lie.
- Conspiracies operate best over a short time span. It is difficult to lie. It is increasing difficult to lie over a long time period. The tendency is for someone to break down and confess.
- Conspiracies work best when the conspirators have a close relationship bond like family members. It is tougher to convince someone to “give up” the other in such a situation.
- Conspirators are more likely to maintain the lie if they are under little or no pressure. Put pressure on a conspirator, and he will likely give up the truth to save himself.
But what does this have to do with the Bible? Wallace was an atheist until at the age of thirty-five he turned his investigative skills to examine the gospels and the Christian worldview. He knew how to examine a cold-case. He believed in the proper handling of evidence. His book, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, tells of his journey into faith. Taking his experience with conspiracies, Wallace believes he knows the disciples didn’t conspire to fabricate the resurrection account of Jesus. He notes the following:
- There would have been too many apostles involved in the conspiracy.
- The apostles had little or no effective way to communicate with one another in a quick or thorough manner.
- The apostles would have been required to protect their conspiratorial lies for too long a period of time.
- While there were certainly pairs of family members in the group of apostolic eyewitnesses, many had no relationship to each other at all.
- The apostles were aggressively persecuted as they were scattered from Italy to India.1
Wallace states in the movie God’s Not Dead 2, “There are several common characteristics of successful conspiracies, and I don’t find any of these attributes were present in the first century for those who claimed to be witnesses of Jesus life, ministry, and resurrection.”
I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and that changes everything. But my belief is based on evidence. The above is just part of one person’s search for the evidence. If you want some books suggestions, I’d be glad to give them to you. My plea if you not certain is to examine the evidence.
1J. Warner Wallace, “Why I know the Disciples Didn’t Conspire to Fabricate the Resurrection of Jesus,” https://stream.org/know-disciples-didnt-conspire-fabricate-resurrection-jesus/
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Posted by Russell Holden
April 18, 2014
I had a professor who spoke of the one circle man and the two circle man. He would draw a circle on the chalkboard for the one circle man, and two circles that overlapped a bit for the two circle man.
The one circle man is the person who believes that nature is all there is. The single circle represents the physical universe. If you attempt to talk to the one circle person about a miracle, for example, the resurrection of Jesus, he has ruled such things out of bounds. He will say such things cannot happen. No amount of evidence will be convincing. because he views the universe as a closed system. That’s all there is. He is a one circle man.
The two circle man believes in the natural universe but also believes in a spiritual realm and the existence of God. Or, if not certain about God, he is at least able to grant the second circle as a possibility to be reasoned about. If you attempt to talk to the two circle person about a miracle, for example, the resurrection Jesus, he is willing to consider the evidence.
The two circle man also believes the universe usually operates by physical causes and effects. Miracles are not claimed to explain everything. Miracles would be viewed as something rare, that is why they are by definition wondrous. But the two circle man doesn’t rule them out of bounds by definition. He is open to the possibility that God can intervene in this world and do something instantaneously that cannot be explained by natural causes and effects.
The one circle man sometimes thinks that his one circle worldview is to be identified with the scientific enterprise. But the two circle man can do science as well. In fact, science grew up in the midst of two circle thinkers — the Christian west. The two circle man believes that this universe is orderly and understandable, because the Creator made us with senses and minds that correspond to that reality and lead us to true knowledge about the world around us.
The one circle man will sometimes unknowingly borrow from the two circle man. He will talk about the pursuit of truth and moral values and even meaning, failing to realize that those things to have substance must come from the other circle — the circle he denies.
Some one circle men will even wistfully talk about the Christ of faith even though they believe Jesus of Nazareth is mouldering in the grave. Their one circle life doesn’t allow for a resurrection, no matter the witnesses, no matter the prophecies, and no matter the tremendous transformations that occurred.
I’m a two circle man. I’ve not ruled the evidence as out of bounds. In your life, how many circles?
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Posted by Russell Holden