Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Significance of the Resurrection

by Ron Livesay

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in all of history. Without it, we have no Gospel, no salvation, and no hope.

Scoffers make light of it and call it a myth or a fairy tale. They do this because they actually understand its significance, and the truth of the resurrection must be undermined if Christianity is to be trivialized. Even some who claim the name of “Christian” minimize its importance. Some believe the resurrection was only a “spiritual” resurrection, not a bodily one. In other words, the body of Jesus is still in the grave, but He rose in a figurative sense to give us hope of a better life, or some such nonsense. Others will say that the resurrection is “only a doctrine, and after all, doctrine is divisive and unimportant. We need to emphasize unity, not doctrine.” This idea is very dangerous. Without biblical doctrine, there can be no truth, and Christianity has no foundation. It is reduced to opinion based on feeling. Such foolishness is typical of modern-day false Christianity.

When I was teaching at a Christian school in Temecula, CA, I had a student in my junior Bible class who was a Muslim. Although he was not a Christian, he was a very good and knowledgeable Bible student and got an “A” in my class. The class met the last period of the day, and he stayed after school many times – for a while it was almost daily – to discuss the Bible. Sometimes he would stay five minutes and sometimes he would stay up to half an hour. We had many good discussions of Scripture.

One day he said the following: “Mr. Livesay, I have to give you this – if the resurrection really happened, then Christianity is true.” He understood the significance of the resurrection. Christianity stands or falls based on the truthfulness of the resurrection. If it really happened, Christianity is absolutely true. If it did not happen, Christianity is a hoax.

My student was quick to add his opinion that “of course, the resurrection didn’t really happen, because Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.” He told me he believed in The Gospel of Barnabas, but that he rejected its teaching that Judas died on the cross instead of Jesus. Instead, he believed that the individual who actually died on the cross was one of Jesus’ brothers, but he offered no proof for this other than his own opinion. I pointed out that it didn’t make sense that one of His half-brothers would have taken His place just so Jesus could claim to have been raised from the dead to prove He was the Messiah, especially since His brothers did not believe in Him until after the resurrection. He thought about it for a minute, and said, “I think you got me on that one.”

The real point here is that my Muslim student and friend actually understood the significance of the resurrection far more than it is understood by many professing Christians. The Scriptures make this significance very clear. “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead…" (I Corinthians 15:12-20, NKJV).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead. That is a fact of history, absolutely proven and utterly impervious to criticism. Regardless of all the dishonest skepticism that has been thrown at it, we can be confident that “…now Christ is risen from the dead…” and Christianity is validated.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

by Ron Livesay
Christianity stands alone among the “world religions” for two very important reasons. First of all, we Christians have a God who loves us. The majority of the people in this world worship gods who are angry and must be appeased, while our God, the Creator of all things, loves us, cares for us, and shows His grace to us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, NKJV)

Second, we have a risen Savior rather than a dead prophet. “But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (
Matthew 28:5-6, NKJV) Our Lord Jesus Christ has defeated death, the thing that all of mankind fears, and He has made salvation a reality. His resurrection validates Christianity, the Gospel, and the Bible in its entirety. It is utter foolishness to reject Him, when his miraculous resurrection, the event that validates all truth, has been established beyond question.

The resurrection is a more solid historical fact, based on eyewitnesses and documentation, than many other facts that people believe without question. Very few would doubt that Ben Franklin flew a kite with a key on it, that George Washington crossed the Delaware, or that Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. Why do we believe these things? We believe them because there were eyewitnesses, and the events were documented and are now in the history books. Yet, many events found in history books are less provable historically than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was seen alive after his death by many individuals and groups, one of which was larger than five hundred, and much documentation has been written attesting to the facts surrounding His resurrection.

It is interesting that this event is left out of history books, while many other far less established events are included. The reason is obvious. Men do not want to accept this truth, because it validates all of God's truth, and that places great responsibility on humanity to respond appropriately to that truth. It is much easier to be intellectually dishonest about the resurrection and relegate it to merely being “religious belief,” while claiming it is some kind of violation of the so-called “separation of church and state” to allow this truth to be taught and accepted as fact. It often boils down to the fact that many people make a deliberate choice to believe what they want to believe, regardless of the truth.

Truth is consistent with the facts. Certain historical events are factual, based on the standards for establishment of historicity, even though they are rejected by many who do not want to believe them.

· Irrefutable historical fact: Jesus Christ walked the earth.

· Irrefutable historical fact: Jesus Christ was crucified and died.

· Irrefutable historical fact: Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.

No amount of hiding the truth on the part of those who write history will ever change the facts. The fact of the resurrection absolutely establishes the truth of all of the Scripture and the validity of Christianity and the Gospel. Many people choose not to believe the truth, because it requires something of them. Anyone who does so is only fooling himself, and that at his peril.

The great message of Christianity is that the God who created all things, the God who loves us, gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, and that He not only died for us, He defeated death forever by His resurrection. God does not ask us to feel anything or to have an emotional experience, although some do. He only asks us to have simple, childlike faith in Him and what He has already done for us. When all is said and done, all human endeavor and all human wisdom will evaporate into ashes, and the one important issue will be each individual’s answer to the question asked so long ago by Pilate during the trial of Jesus. “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (
Matthew 27:22, NKJV)

Thursday, March 28, 2013