Friday, October 3, 2008

What About the Resurrection?

In the last post, we looked a little more into the prophecies concerning the life of Jesus. There is so much more to His teachings and life, but to keep this all simple- showing how the Bible is unique- that the Scriptures are in fact Holy Word of a real God, who came to this earth in the person Jesus the Christ, who came for a specific reason. Now many people believe that Jesus was a real person- which we saw in the last post- but many believe He was just an interesting person in history, or that he was one of God's prophets, a good teacher, or just some guy who had a way of convincing gullible people to follow him.There are really only three ways in which Jesus Christ separated Himself from other religious figures and beliefs - Through His claims to be God (which we will look into later), through His death and through His resurrection. There are many, many different religions, some pagan beliefs that were around long before Christ- and many religions now. Some have huge followings like Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. Others have a large following such as Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormonism, which both claim to be Christian. There are many different denominations even among just the Christian religion, as there are different "sects" of religions such as Islam. Out of all the major and even minor leaders such as the gods of ancient Egyptian, Greek or Roman mythology- to the belief in Mohammad, Buddha or Brahman- only One- Jesus the Christ, gave His life for mankind. Others have died of course- but they never offered themselves as a sacrifice for the world. Now, if His story ended there, at the cross- there would not be such a thing as Christian today. Why is this? The other event in which separated Jesus from all the rest- His Resurrection, His raising Himself from death- three days later. How can we believe this is true- after all, it happened nearly 2000 years ago, and there has really been no well documented cases of coming back to life since then. Maybe, if some believe in ghosts- He could have just been a ghost. Maybe He was only reincarnated as Himselfto live life again- for those who believe in reincarnation. There could be any number of possibilities. How do we know which is the truth? Well- we can look at what the scriptures say to narrow it down- "Put your finger here: see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Jesus said this to His disciple Thomas after appearing after His death. A chapter later, we see Jesus eating breakfast with His disciples. In just these few verses, we can rule out the ghost theory. Ghosts neither have solid matter in which to "feel" mortal wounds, nor do ghosts eat. As for reincarnation, I used to think there was some thought to that- but there are just too many things which don't add up- I will not go into a whole argument here though. For one, even if Jesus was reincarnated- that in itself would be unique as He reincarnated into Himself. No one has ever done that if you believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is basically a belief that one has to be constantly reincarnated after death- to live again to make up for whatever past deeds one has done in previous lives. That leaves the theory that He did in fact rise again- in the flesh. So- how do we find out the truth? Mainly in the same way we looked at the evidence for the Bible- through historical, internal, external and witness accounts.As former agnostic Josh McDowell states in his book- A Ready Defense, "After more than 700 hours of studying this subject and thoroughly investigating it's foundation, I came to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on people, or it is the most important fact in history."So- does Christianity have an historically accurate basis, and does sufficient evidence exist for the Resurrection?There is much historic, literary and even legal testimonies for the fact of the resurrection. Roman Historical scholars, Literary geniuses and critics, professors of ancient history and even Chief Justices and lawyers have all written about the facts of the resurrection- in fact, many who have written about the truth of the resurrection actually began writing to refute it- but in studying and examining evidences, they came to no conclusion except for the truth that the resurrection did happen the way it is written about in the Bible.When one reads through the Old Testament in the Bible- the death and resurrection of Jesus is foretold in prophecies. Jesus even pointed these prophecies out to His disciples before He was arrested and crucified. Earlier, I pointed out that Christianity would not exist if Jesus had not resurrected- it is the One most important basis of the whole Christian faith. You can not have a true Christian- that is, Christ based belief if you do not believe that Jesus Christ raised Himself from the dead. The apostle Paul- who was once one of the most brutal "bounty hunters" , that is, he once searched out Christian believers only to imprison, beat or kill through capital punishment. After he saw Christ, he became one of the most fervent followers. He wrote, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ was not raised, then our preaching is in vain; your faith also is in vain. Moreover we are even found as false witnesses against God that He raised Christ., whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised,your faith is worthless." Now, the faith of the early Christians is based on what they saw. Jesus showed Himself to hundreds of people- in different places, different times. Death by crucifixion was a brutal, painful and cruel death. Jesus' disciples saw Him die an agonizing death-most, if not all didn't understand His teachings- telling them He would rise again three days after. It would be hard to see someone die such a death- and believe that you would see them alive again. In my next post- we'll look more deeply into all the historical facts that prove the resurrection- through method, eyewitnesses and Roman/Jewish historical traditions.

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