In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
- Acts 1:1-5
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
- Romans 14:7-9
“With a frequency that is amazing, the Bible affirms the fact of the bodily resurrection of Christ. Perhaps the most direct of all its statements is Luke’s account in the book of Acts, where he reports, ‘To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days’ (Acts 1:3). What are we going to do with these ‘many infallible proofs’? Someone asked my colleague George Beverly Shea how much he knew about God. He said, ‘I don’t know much, but what I do know has changed my life.’ We may not be able to take all of this evidence into a scientific laboratory and prove it; but, if we accept any fact of history, we must accept the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (Devotion for 13 August)
In Lee Strobel’s writings, he talks about how the resurrection is ‘proven’ in that the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection, primarily the apostles, went to their death as martyrs when disclaiming that Jesus rose from the dead might have saved their lives. He also said that when Luke wrote the books of Luke and Acts, and Paul wrote his letters, and most of the rest of the New Testament, there were many eyewitnesses that were still alive, but there is no evidence that anyone refuted the claims in what is now considered the New Testament of the Bible. Many argue, with so much digging and fact checking, that the Bible has more authenticity than do the histories written during the same period. There are more preserved manuscripts.
So, simply waving a hand and dismissing this proof is not a proper intellectual response. But somehow Christians are the crazy people because they believe it.
Easter will be upon us soon. We are already in the Lenten season. Our hearts should be prepared for the remembrance celebrations during Holy Week. But besides the children carrying palm fronds into the church on Palm Sunday and the people you never see any other time of the year wearing their fancy clothing on Easter morning when they “grace the church” with their presence, we need to remember that we are celebrating something that actually happened.
Christ rose again.
Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father.
Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to counsel us and guide us.
All of this is real and true. God allows us to make the choice whether to believe and trust in Jesus or not, but there is a penalty for not choosing wisely.
“If devotees of the kingdom of the cults, adherents of world religions, or liberal scholars are correct, the biblical account of the resurrection of Christ is fiction, fantasy, or a gargantuan fraud. If, on the other hand, Christianity is factually reliable, his resurrection is the greatest fear in human history. No middle ground exists. The resurrection is history or hoax, miracle or myth. fact or fantasy.
‘First, liberal and conservative scholars alike agree that the body of Jesus was buried in the private tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. As a member of the Jewish court that condemned Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be Christian fiction (Mark 15:43); Jesus’ burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea is substantiated by Mark’s gospel (15:46) and is therefore, far too early to have been far too early to have been the subject of legendary corruption; the earliest Jewish response to the resurrection of Christ presupposes the empty tomb (Matthew 28:11-13); and In the centuries following the resurrection, the fact of the empty tomb was forwarded by Jesus’ friends and foes alike.
“Additionally, when you understand the role of women in first-century Jewish society, what is extraordinary is that this empty tomb story would feature females as the discoverers of the empty tomb. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that—like it or not—they were the discoverers of the empty tomb. This shows that the gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. In short, early Christianity could not have survived an identifiable tomb containing the corpse of Christ.
“Furthermore, Jesus gave his disciples many convincing proofs that he had risen from the dead. Paul, for example, points out that Christ ‘appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep’ (1 Corinthians 15:6). It would have been one thing to attribute these supernatural experiences to people who had already died. It was quite another to attribute them to multitudes who were still alive. As the famed New Testament scholar of Cambridge University C. H. Dodd points out, ‘There can hardly be any purpose in mentioning the fact that most of the five hundred are still alive, unless Paul is saying in effect, ‘The witnesses are there to be questioned.’
“Finally, what happened as a result of the resurrection is unprecedented in human history. In the span of a few hundred years, a small band of seemingly insigniﬁcant believers succeeded in turning an entire empire upside down. While it is conceivable that they would have faced torture, vilification, and even cruel deaths for what they fervently believed to be true, it is inconceivable that they would have been willing to die for what they knew to be a lie. As Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the famous Royall Professor of Law at Harvard put it: ‘If it were morally possible for them to have been deceived in this matter, every human motive operated to lead them to discover and avow their error … If then their testimony was not true, there was no possible motive for this fabrication.’ ”
- Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Book (Question 56)
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.