Augustine once wrote, “Thou wouldst perhaps be ashamed to imitate a lowly man; then at least imitate the lowly God. The Son of God came in the character of man and was made low…He, since He was God, became man; do thou, O man, recognize that thou art man? Thy entire humility is to know thyself.” In Augustine’s mind, humility lies at the heart of humanity.
The early chapters of Genesis tell us that although humanity was created perfect, after the Fall, man was marred by sin. In an act of delusion, Adam ignored the created order of authority. Instead of a sovereign God graciously guiding His creation, man now believes he can be sovereign, lustfully grasping at self-sufficiency. Pride lies at the heart of Adam’s sin. In his act of disobedience, humanity is deprived of its intended nature. Augustine was right when he said, “thy entire humility is to know thyself.” We are in need of our Savior Jesus Christ to restore our humanity. Where Adam assumes responsibility for robbing humanity of it’s meaning, the Second Adam is the demonstration of the fullness of man. The humble servanthood of Christ reflects the very essence of being human.
Jesus as a servant reflects His humanity and gives God’s people a clear picture of what it means to be human. The Gospels are filled with examples of Christ’s servanthood. At every corner you turn, Jesus is performing another miracle, washing His disciples’ feet, or providing a meal for those following Him. Jesus cares about the physical realm, so long as it works towards the spiritual issues, too. Jesus’ willingness to serve sinners does not put His two natures at odds; instead, His willingness to serve sinners lies at the very core of His personhood.
When we hyper-theologize the cross of Christ, we reduce it to a mere point of contention instead of the picture of the Son of God incarnate being the propitiation for the sins of those who the Father had given unto Him (John 10:15; 1 John 4:10). While a foundational understanding of biblical theology must frame our interpretation of Scripture, I’m afraid that sometimes “armchair theologians” neglect the servanthood of Christ. We tend to care all too much about what Christ did in His dying rather than what He did in His living. At the cross we see this true humanity on full display.
John Stott saw the onset of this issue years ago in his work The Contemporary Christian. Stott spends a large section of his chapter titled, “Guidance, Vocation, and Ministry,” talking about how the, “God many of us worship is altogether too religious.” Instead of simply discussing the theological meaning of Christ, in Stott’s opinion, we should evaluate what Christ did with His time on Earth and see what that means for us as Christians today. Stott comments:
Since he is ‘the servant’ par excellence, who gave himself without reserve to the service of God and human beings, it would be impossible to be his disciple without seeking to follow his example of service. He preached the kingdom, healed the sick, fed the hungry, befriended the friendless, championed the oppressed, comforted the bereaved, sought the lost and washed his apostles’ feet. No task was too demanding, and no ministry too mean, for him to undertake. He lived his life and died his death in utterly self-forgetful service. Shall we not imitate him? The world measures greatness by success; Jesus measures it by service.
When one person serves another, a social distinction naturally arises. The servant is watched, with either demeaning eyes or a grateful gaze. Jesus came to flip our fallen social distinctions on their heads, to bend our unnatural tendencies back to their original nature, and live a life of service according to His Father’s will. This is the true meaning of the gospel—that Christ has come and now serves.
This is what is so gripping when theologians begin talking about “condescension” Jesus didn’t come to distinguish Himself from us but instead came to define the fullness of man for us. Rather than coming to earth as a foreign being, claiming His rightful throne, He instead came in the form of man, flesh and blood like the rest of us, so that His glory might be shown in His lowliness. Let us gaze at Christ, both fully-God and fully-man, the Word incarnate, condescended for us!
- Scott Oliphint reminds us that, “orthodox theology has always held that, in Christ, there was not a union of two persons, but rather a union of the person of the Son of God with human nature.” This means that Christ, who is completely and independently the Son of God without taking on human nature, humbled Himself so that He might become a Servant for His people (Phil. 2:6-8). He is the fullness of God (Col. 1:19-20) in human form. Paul reminds us in Colossians 1:20 that Christ’s blood is the means of reconciliation both in heaven and on earth. Oh, may we pause and reflect on the greatness of God displayed in the work of the Son—the Divine Servant, the Slaughtered Innocent, the Victor of Death! Let us not lay aside the work of Christ on the ground for the sake of the work of Christ on the cross, for if we make this mistake, either His living fails to meet the precepts of the Law or His dying no longer makes atonement for the sin of His sheep. As it is written in Proverbs 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” Our view of both the ministry of Christ and the misery of Christ must be balanced, for these are the scales on which our salvation is fixed.
Today’s 140-character-driven age leaves us in fifth gear, zooming us past missed opportunities to gaze at Jesus. Pastor and author Thabiti Anyabwile talks about this in the introduction to his book Captivated. Anyabwile notices how, as kids, we are trained not to stare. We are turned into, “expert glancers, visual skimmers, ocular snapshot takers.” He argues that this affects our walks with Christ since this is an innate reaction to the everyday. We occasionally manage a quiet glance towards Jesus as He works in our lives, whether in the beautiful plan of salvation or at His present intercession for His people at the right hand of the Father. Rather than enjoying His ministry towards us, we would sooner accuse Him of being the reason for our pain, hurt, or suffering.
The theology of the cross is a beautiful thing. Christ ransomed His sheep. He secured the eternities of believers. The cross reminds us that Jesus, the Rightful King came as the Suffering Servant for the sake of the elect. But don’t neglect to study the servanthood of the Savior of the world. Strive to, in the words of Warfield, imitate the incarnation. The Man who lived according to humankind’s intended design came not as a foreigner, but as a Servant to sinners, and if we lose sight of that, we are in danger of losing the gospel. Merely sitting at our desks and theologizing about the atonement is of little service to the Church. Proper theology fuels proper worship, including taking up our crosses and serving sinners as Christ has commanded us to do.
The humility of Jesus gives us gives us a portrait of His humanity. In His sinless life, we see His compassion; in His dying on the Cross, we see His sacrifice. Not only is Jesus a friend of sinners, He is the Atoner of many in Adam. Though we may study the theology of His life and death, we must not forget to pay attention to how He used them to serve sinners.
 B.B. Warfield, “Imitating the Incarnation,” in The Savior of the World (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 250.
 John Stott, The Contemporary Christian (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 139.
 Ibid., 140-41.
 K. Scott Oliphint, God With Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 202.
 Thabiti Anyabwile, Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014), 1.
Read More »
The Christian never graduates from the Gospel. It is the very “grace of God in truth” that serves as the foundation for our new life in Christ. Therefore, we should remember, rehearse, and recite the Gospel regularly.
Here are Nine Bible passages on the Gospel that are worth meditating on:
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Romans 3:23-26, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Romans 5:6-11, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Romans 8:31-34, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Ephesians 2:4-10, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Hebrews 2:14-17, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
1 Peter 2:21-25, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Read More »
Over the month of March, we considered the topic of sin here at Servants of Grace. As we’ve looked at this topic, I’ve received a number of email’s and responses to this series in particular on how helpful it was. I appreciate those comments. We aim with each series to be biblical, personal, and practical.
The purpose of this series is to help our readers understand what sin is, how serious sin is, and how great the grace of God, who offers redemption to sinners from sin and new life in Christ.
Since the topic of sin is by and large neglected in the Church today—we wanted to focus a whole month on this topic, not only for the benefits of our readers, but to think through this particular topic for our own lives as well. As we conclude this series with this recap, I want to encourage you—if you missed any of these posts—check them out, or revisit them if you haven’t read any of them.
I hope this series has (or will) encouraged you, exalted in Jesus, and helped you grow in the discipline of holiness through the grace of God.
Here are the articles in order:
1) Sin and Biochemical Brokenness by David Dunham
2) Overcoming a Sinful Theology of Lent And Fasting by Zach Barnhart
3) Two Dangers and Three Duties in Confessing Sin to One Another by Nick Batzig
4) Indwelling Sin, Positional Sanctification, and Progressive Sanctification by Dave Jenkins
5) Living However You Want: A Look at Romans 6:1-2 by Dave Jenkins
6) The Biblical Evidence for Original Sin by Matt Perman
7) Four Thoughts on How Sin Does Its Work by Brian Hedges
8) Seven Ways to Wage War against Sin by Chris Poblete
9) Can Sin Exist in the Church? by Matthew Fretwell
10) Sin is No Friend by Jason Helopoulos
11) Series Killers, Hiding Sins, and the Glorious Hope of Forgiveness in Christ by Kevin Halloran
12) How To Walk In the Light and Deal with the Sin of Hatred by Mike Boiling
13) Despising and Embracing Temptation by Zach Barnhart
14) The Contagion of Sin by Brian hedges
15) Mortification: Seven Phases Along the Sin-Killing Continuum by Thaddaeus Williams
16) No More Conscious of Sin by Nick Batzig
17) The Imputation of Christ by Matt Perman
18) Crucified with Christ: How the Cross Kills Sin by Brian Hedges
19) What is the Biblical Evidence for the Imputation of Adam’s Sin? by Matt Perman
20) Envy by Mike Leake
21) Fleeing Worldliness and Pursuing Christ by Dave Jenkins
22) Dealing with Unrighteous and Righteous Anger in Our Lives by Dave Jenkins
23) What is the Difference Between Original Sin and Imputed Sin? by Matt Perman
24) Twenty-Six Recommended Books on Sin by Dave Jenkins
Read More »
Editors note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers understand what sin is, how serious sin is, and how great the grace of God, who offers redemption to sinners from sin and new life in Christ.
In March here at Servants of Grace, we’ve been considering the topic of sin. We live in a time where sin is often minimized or even ignored. A right understanding of the doctrine of sin will help us to not only see ourselves rightly in light of Jesus, but also to glory in the Christ. Furthermore, understanding the doctrine of sin will strengthen our witness, since it will help Christians put to death their sin, understanding that Jesus died in the place of His people and for their sin.
Through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, Christians are convicted of sin, empowered to make much of Jesus for the purpose of being about His mission—seeing the lost saved and disciples made. A right understanding of sin will help the Christian to see the world, not as they want, but as it really is. It will also help Christians to understand God, revelation, humanity, Christ, his saving work, the church, and eschatology. It will help us as we engage in evangelism, missions, pastoral leadership, ministry, ethics, preaching, counseling, and much more.
The following list of books reflects, in my view, the best teaching on the doctrine of sin. Some are newer and some are older. The list is provided in no particular order. I trust you’ll enjoy them as much as I have.
Read More »
Jesus in John 11:25 said, “I am, the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” The lengthiest explanation of Jesus’ resurrection is found in 1st Corinthians 15. This whole chapter is about how if Jesus did not bodily rise in victory over death, then Christianity is false and dreamed up by liars to give false hope to people. In this article, we will examine the biblical evidence, historical evidence, and arguments against the resurrection.
The resurrection of Christ is the most known and celebrated miracle in the history of the world. There has always been consensus that it is in many ways the core of our faith:
Thomas Arnold (Professor of modern history at ….Oxford….): “No one fact in the history of mankind is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort” than the fact that “Christ died and rose from the dead.” Bishop B.F. Westcott: “Indeed, taking all the evidences together it is not too much to say that there is no historical incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ.” John Locke said, “Our Savior’s resurrection is truly fo great important in Christianity; so great that His being or not being the Messiah still stands or falls with it.” Billy Graham: “The entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection.” Martin Luther: “Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” John R. Stott: “Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.” William Lyon Phelps (Yale Professor: “In the whole story of Jesus Christ, the most important event is the resurrection.” Benjamin Warfield (Princeton Professor): “The resurrection of Christ is a fact.”
Having taken a look at what some people have said regarding the resurrection let us now turn to the Biblical evidence for the Resurrection of Christ.
Rooted in History
Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah promise that Jesus would be born into humble circumstances to live a simple life, die a brutal death, and then rise to take away our sin. (Isaiah 53:8-12)
Jesus predicted His resurrection
On numerous occasions Jesus plainly promised He would die and rise three days later (Matthew 12:38-40 Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34 John 2:18-22).
Jesus died on the Cross
The death of Christ was a brutal event where He underwent many sleepless nights of trial and beating that left Him exhausted. He was scourged, crucified, a spear thrust in His side, wrapped in roughly one hundred pounds of linens and spices which would have killed Him by asphyxiation. Through this all Jesus survived, but He could not have endured three days without food, water in a cold tomb carved out of rock, and so He died. (John 19:34-35)
Jesus was buried in a tomb that was easy to find
Jesus was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in death. Jesus was a very poor man who could not afford an expensive burial plot. After Jesus died on the Cross a wealthy and well-known man named Joseph of Arimathea gifted his expensive tomb for the burial of Jesus. This made the tomb easy to find as soldiers were assigned to guard the tomb, and the disciples and women who visited the tomb found it empty all knew exactly where Jesus’ dead body was laid to rest. Had Jesus not risen from death, it would have been easy to prove it by opening the tomb and presenting Jesus’ body as evidence. (Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57-30)
Jesus appeared physically alive three days after His death
The Jehovah Witnesses reject the physical resurrection of Jesus while maintaining that He rose spiritually. This alternative explanation for Jesus’ resurrection does not agree with the historical facts. Following Jesus’ resurrection many people touched His body; His disciples clung to His feet, Mary clung to Him, and Thomas the doubter put his hand into the open spear hole in Jesus side. Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection and they were uncertain if He had truly physically risen from death. The Scriptures are clear however that Jesus went out of His way to prove His bodily resurrection. (Matthew 28:9; John 20:17, John 20:17; John 20:20-28). There is no credible historical evidence from the time period of Jesus to validate any alternative explanation for Jesus resurrection other than His literal physical resurrection. (Luke 24:36-43).
Jesus resurrection was recorded as Scripture shortly after it occurred
Mark’s Gospel account of the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion mentions the high priest without mentioning him. Mark did not mention the high priest by name because he expected his readers to know whom he speaking about. Caiaphas was high priest from 18-37 A.D the latest possible date for this tradition is 37 A.D. This date is so close to the death of Jesus there would not have been sufficient time for a legend of His resurrection to occur. This proves that the biblical record of Jesus’ resurrection was penned while eyewitnesses were still alive to verify the facts. His resurrection was not a legend that was developed after the time of Jesus. (Mark 14:53-54, 60-61, 63)
Jesus resurrection was celebrated in the earliest church creeds
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This statement is accepted as the earliest church creed which began circulating as early as 30-36 A.D., shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. The early age of this creed demonstrates there was not sufficient time between the crucifixion and the creed for any legend about Jesus’ resurrection to accrue. In addition, the witnesses mentioned were still alive and available to be questioned about the facts surrounding the resurrection. The early date of this creed also proves that the church did not corrupt the truth about Jesus with fables and folklore like the resurrection. Rather, the early church simply clung to the plain and incontrovertible facts of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus resurrection convinced his family to worship Him as God
James, Jesus’ half-brother, was originally opposed to the claims of his brother. A transformation occurred in James, after he saw his brother resurrected from death. James went on to pastor the church in Jerusalem and authored the New Testament epistle bearing his name. He was also actively involved in shaping the early church, which suffered and died to proclaim to everyone that Jesus is the one true God. Jesus’ mother, Mary was part of the early church that prayed to and worshiped her son as God, as was Jesus’ other brother, Jude, who wrote a book of the New Testament bearing his name. While it is not impossible to imagine Jesus convincing his own mother and brothers to suffer persecution in this life and risk the torments of hell in eternal life for worshiping him as the one true God unless He truly is. (John 7:5, 1 Cor 15:7, James 1:1, Acts 12:17; 15:12-21; 21:18; Gal 2:9, Acts 1:14, Jude 1).
Jesus resurrection was confirmed by his most bitter enemies like Paul
Paul was a devout Jewish Pharisee who routinely persecuted and killed Christians. After an encounter with the risen Christ, Paul was converted and became the most dynamic defender and expander of the church. Had Jesus not truly risen from death, it is absurd to assume that Paul would ever have worshiped him as God, particularly when Paul rightly believed that worshiping a false God would send one into hell. Paul hated Jesus and would never have changed his religious practice unless Jesus had risen from the death to prove him wrong. Finally, Paul insisted that Jesus had risen in almost all of his letters that are in the New Testament. (Phil 3:4-6 Acts 7:54-60, Acts 9).
Historical Evidence for Jesus Death and Resurrection
After studying the biblical evidence for the resurrection for Jesus’ resurrection it is now important to examine the historical evidence for Jesus. The historical evidence for Christ’s resurrection is overwhelming. The testimony of these non-Christians is important because it confirms the truthfulness of the biblical accounts of Jesus. The argument from many non-Christians is there no historical evidence to substantiate the Resurrection. Not only is this charge false it dismisses the evidence without even considering it, which is to violate the principles of sound research in order to justify one’s opinion. Let the historical evidence presented here speak for itself, and realize this is only a sampling of the massive historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ.
In the Tetestimonium Flavianum,” he says: Now there was about this Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these men and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
Suetonius (70-160 A.D.)
Suetonius was a Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House. In his biography of Nero, Suetonius mentions the persecution of Christians by indirectly referring to the resurrection: “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition [the resurrection].”
Pliny the Younger (62-113A.D)
Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to the emperor Trajan describing early Christian worship gatherings that met early on Sunday mornings in memory of Jesus’ resurrection day: “I have never been present at an examination of Christians. Consequently, I do not know the nature of the extent of the punishments usually meted out to them, nor the grounds for starting an investigation and how are it should be pressed. They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error accounted to no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day[Sunday in remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection] to change verses alternately amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god.”
Wilbur M. Smith in Therefore Stand: “The original accounts of Buddha never ascribe to him any such thing as a resurrection; in fact, in the earliest accounts of his death, namely, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, we read that when Buddha died it was ‘with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.” 60/385
Professor Childers says, ‘There is no trace in the Pali scriptures or commentaries (or so far as I know in any Pali book) Sakya Muni having existed after his death or appearing to his disciples.’ Mohammed died June 8,632 A.D., at the age of sixty-one, at ….Medina…., where his tomb is annually visited by thousands of devout Mohammedans. All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhists, and Mohammedans agree that their founders have never come up out of the dust of the earth in resurrection.” 60/385
Theodosus Harnock says: “Where you stand with regard to the fact of the Resurrection is in my eyes no longer Christian theology. To me Christianity stands or falls with the Resurrection.”
Professor William Milligan states: “While speaking of the positive evidence for the Resurrection of our Lord, it may be further urged that the fact, if true, harmonizes all the other facts of His history.” 43/71.
Bernard Ramm says that even “the most cursory reading of the Gospels reveals the fact that the Gospels deal with the death and resurrection of Christ in far greater detail than any other part of the ministry of Christ. The details of the resurrection must not be artificially severed from the passion account.”
Many impartial students who have approached the resurrection of Christ with a judicial spirit have been compelled by the weight of the evidence to belief in the resurrection as a fact of history. An example may be seen from a letter written by Sir Edard Clarke, K.C. To the Rev. E. L. Macassey:
As a lawyer I have made a prolonged study of the evidences for the events of the first Easter Day. To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling. Inference follows on evidence, and a truthful witness is always artless and disdains effect. The Gospel evidence for the resurrection is of this class, and as a lawyer I accept it unreservedly as the testimony of truthful men to facts they were able to substantiate.
Professor Bernard Ramm comments: “In both ecclesiastical history and creedal history the resurrection is affirmed from the earliest times. It is mentioned in Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians (95 A.D), the earliest document of church history and so continuously throughout all the patristic period. It appears in all forms of the Apostles’ Creed and is never debated.”
The Jewish explanation
The earliest attempt to provide an alternative explanation for the resurrection of Christ did not deny that tomb was empty (Matthew 28:13-15). The Jews claimed that the body was stolen, thus admitting the fact of the empty tomb. The tomb was closed with an enormous rock and sealed by the government, and there is no explanation for how the rock was moved while being guarded by Roman soldiers. Second, if the body had been stolen, a large ransom could have been offered to the thieves and they could have been coerced to produce the body. If the disciples had taken the body then the only thing the Jews would have had to do is to persecute the disciples enough to give up the body of Jesus. Thirdly, if the body was stolen, how are we to account for the fact that Jesus appeared to multiple crows of people, proving that he was alive. Finally, the theft of the body is unlikely and still fails to account for it returning to life.
The historical testimony of those who were not Christians stands in agreement with the Scripture that Jesus died and rose again because those are facts established from the Bible and history. Having examined the biblical, historical and some of the arguments against the resurrection, it is clear that the resurrection of Christ is a historical and biblical fact.
Every year Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Many people believe in the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection but have not become Christians by placing their personal faith in him. Jesus promised that He would not only rise from death to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that He is God, but also that He would judge everyone who has ever lived and determine their faith (John 5:16-30). His first promise came true when He rose from death, and his second promise will come true either upon our death or upon His return. The opportunity in this life is to repent, and turn from sin only extends in this life. There are no second chances after death to repent. Jesus is more than just a good man, teacher, prophet, and priest; He is the Son of God who died for the sin and sinners, was buried, and rose again. Forgiveness and eternal life are made possible only through Jesus’ own death and resurrection for humanity.
The burial and resurrection of Christ form two thirds of the Gospel. The Gospel is not secondary it is primary. Paul reminds Christians in 1stCorinthians 15:1-3, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” Paul makes it clear that the content of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. These are the “words of Christ” which Paul speaks of in Romans 10:17.
Having now examined the biblical, historical and some of the arguments against the resurrection it is now time to make a decision. Will you come, hear, and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ? Jesus often divided His audience into categories those who play pretend with Him, and those who take up their Cross and follow Him. The same is true today; those who accept the gospel will be saved by believing and confessing that Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been the clarion message of the Church for two thousand years. There is no other message that God has authorized other than His gospel. Any message that takes away from the gospel dismisses Christianity entirely. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of man’s souls. Man’s deepest need is Christ’s righteousness. During His life, Jesus demonstrated that He cared for the poor, weak, sick, and so many more by ministering His healing power which stemmed from the fact He was the Son of God. People knew that Jesus was the real deal and were attracted to Him because of His divine authority and power. Christians today have been empowered by the Resurrected Christ to spread His gospel to the ends of the earth; calling people to repent of their idols and turn to the living God, and His Son Jesus Christ whose death forever satisfied the wrath of God. It is this gospel that is the foundation stone for the Church and by it believers, “stand” (1 Corinthians 15:1).
Do you have assurance that your sins are forgiven? Do you know where you are going when you die? The only One who can offer you forgiveness from your sin and empower you to live a new life is the Resurrected Christ who died, buried and rose again. Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Flavius Josephus, “Jewish Antiquities,” In The New Complete Works o Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1999), 18.63-64).
Read More »
Suetonius, Vita Nero 16.11-13.
Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96.1-7
Kenneth L. Woodward, “2000 years of Jesus,” Newsweek, March 29, 1999, 54.
For more on the evidence for Jesus read Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Historical evidences for the Christian Faith by Josh McDowell
Editors note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers understand what sin is, how serious sin is, and how great the grace of God, who offers redemption to sinners from sin and new life in Christ.
Psalm 101:3, “I will not allow before my eyes any shameful thing. I hate those who act crookedly; what they do does not attract me.”
Let’s face it. We live in a world where all manner of entertainment is literally at our very fingertips. Movies, music, television shows, video clips – all can be accessed on a phone, tablet, or the good old fashioned television set. I will readily admit the enjoyment of laying on the couch or in bed and watching something of what I hope to have some level of entertainment value all in the name of taking my mind off a busy day.
As I was doing this very thing the other night before bed in the name of relaxing, I decided to watch via my Amazon Prime service an episode of Frasier. For those not familiar with that program, it was on television from 1993-2004 and continues to be shown as re-runs so check your local listings if you are interested. Frasier starred Kelsey Grammar from Cheers fame as a Seattle based radio psychiatrist named Frasier Crane who lives with his father Martin Crane, his father’s caretaker Daphne Moon with Frasier regularly interacting with his brother Niles who we will discuss in a moment. As far as sitcoms go, this one is relatively tame or so I thought. Something I watched the other night made me realize the subtlety of perversion that creeps its way into entertainment wrapped up in a nice little blanket of humor.
So let me describe the episode I was watching. Niles Crane, a self proclaimed happily married man, seems to take a liking to Daphne, the attractive British caretaker of his father Martin. During a party to celebrate Frasier’s purchase of a local artists painting, Niles and Daphne find themselves in the kitchen. Now Daphne was legitimately in the kitchen preparing some food; however, Niles took the opportunity to find time to be around Daphne even going so far as to take a quick sniff of her hair. When questioned by Daphne as to whether he had just sniffed her hair, Niles quickly stated he had not since after all he is a happily married man. Overall, this was a relatively short scene over the course of a 23 minute episode.
What is the big deal you might ask? This is just a bit of societal humor and after all Niles did not act upon his impulses. Both responses can be affirmed as true; however, what society deems as appropriate is not necessarily what Scripture deems as appropriate. Psalm 101:3 declares we are to set no shameful thing before our eyes. How do we know the actions of Niles Crane are included in the category of a shameful thing? The answer lies in Scripture which clearly notes “that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) One can clearly state that Niles Crane was certainly lusting after Daphne unless for some reason he was truly interested in what type of shampoo and conditioner she was using. Of course we know that to not be true simply by observing the manner in which Niles acted to include his outright lie of doing the very thing Daphne questioned him about.
What are we to do as believers given the sheer volume of such garbage within the entertainment industry today? Are we to give a little chuckle and move on thinking such a small snippet of a program will have no impact on our lives? Are we to completely remove ourselves from watching any form of entertainment given the pervasive manner in which this type of shameful act resides throughout our programming options? Should we be more discerning in what we watch knowing the impact the repetitive or even singular act of watching such things has on our lives? For me and my family, options two and three are becoming increasingly the approach I am taking. To simply give a little chuckle or to try and turn a quick blind eye or to even endure that which is shameful goes against the clear command in Scripture to set no shameful thing before our eyes. Now this is serious business and may for some involve a massive paradigm shift in what we watch and even what we listen to. But I ask those who might balk at this suggestion what is more important? A little bit of so-called humor thinking it has no impact or the pursuit of holiness in order to bring glory to God?
Are we willing to place every part of our lives under the Lordship of Christ to include our eyes and our minds or are we insistent on keeping that little part for ourselves? Sinful behavior within our lives often starts with just a tiny little seed that is planted, often as a result of something we have watched or listened to. We see society champion lustful behavior portraying it as nothing more than a passing whim. Unfortunately, that passing whim turns into impure thoughts which turn into lust which turns into adultery which turns into broken marriages and broken homes.
Now I am not declaring that simply because you watched Niles Crane sniff Daphne Moon’s hair that you will suddenly have the urge to go out and involve yourself in an adulterous affair. That would mean that I am now planning an adulterous affair since I watched that bit of shameful programming. What I am saying is be diligent to screen and to be aware of what you are watching. We are fast becoming numb and flippant to the sinful behavior society is promoting. In the end, what is better? To turn the television, phone, or tablet off and spend quality time with your family reading God’s word, taking a walk, playing a game or something of a positive nature or to sit and “relax”, soaking in the incessant and deleterious nonsense we are told by God to flee from? The proper choice seems rather clear and admittedly the right choice is often difficult. It takes the movement of a couple of fingers to turn off that device and to turn on that which is “true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). For those who want to be a loving bride for their Bridegroom King Jesus, doing that which glorifies Him is a must!
Read More »