Is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ a hoax? Does one commit intellectual suicide by believing in the resurrection? Others may wonder, “What does it really matter? What difference does it make if Jesus did rise again?”
The resurrection does matter because life matters. If Jesus rose again from the dead, then we have assurance we can have life in heaven after this brief, troubled existence. The Apostle Paul, a chief persecutor of the church who turned into a great preacher for Christ testified about the resurrection. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures … after that he was seen of above one hundred brethren at once…then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also” (1 Corinthians 15:3-7). The very truth of Scripture rests upon the resurrection of Christ. The salvation of all who believe relies upon it as well, for “If Christ be not raised…ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Please consider three powerful proofs for Jesus’ bodily resurrection:
Jesus’ body was gone and the tomb empty.
After Jesus died, faithful disciples wrapped His body in grave clothes and placed it in a solid-rock tomb. The authorities rolled a two-ton stone into a slightly depressed groove to secure the tomb’s entrance. Pilate, the Roman Governor, placed his seal upon the stone, securing Christ’s body politically. If anyone dared break that seal, death would result. Finally, a well-trained unit of soldiers guarded the grave, securing His body in the tomb militarily.
What happened to His body? Did his enemies steal it? Surely, if the Roman or Jewish authorities stole the body they would have exposed it for all to see. Christianity would have soon died out. Instead, they resorted to silence regarding the body of Christ and threatened the apostles with violence if they continued to spread the message of Jesus’ resurrection.
Did Jesus merely faint? Some say that Jesus did not actually die but the expert Roman executioners only thought he was dead. Are we to believe that without medical attention, weak, sickly, and hungry he broke free from the 100 pounds of grave clothes, rolled away the stone with his nail-pierced hands, frightened an entire unit of Roman soldiers into shaking dead men, walked miles on wounded feet and convinced his disciples he’d been raised from the dead? This one is harder to believe than the resurrection itself.
It is even more impossible to imagine one of the disciples removed the body. Neither Peter nor Thomas (remember their unbelief and doubts?) were ready to overpower the guards, unwrap the body, deliberately preach a lie that Jesus was alive, and then die for it.
These theories are not plausible. The guard was too powerful, the stone was too heavy and the disciples were too weak-willed to attempt such a deed. He is risen indeed!
The multiple appearances of the risen Christ.
For forty days after his death, Jesus showed he was alive by many “infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). The Scripture tells us of at least ten separate appearances of the risen Lord to various individuals and groups of people. Would anyone dare write these things in the Bible if Jesus remained buried in a grave?
This dispels the theory that Jesus’ appearances were mere hallucinations. Witnesses included both women and men, many who were skeptical themselves until they were assured by the reality of Jesus’ resurrection body. Thomas said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails…I will not believe” (John 20:25) When Jesus met Thomas’ objections by showing his pierced hands and side, Thomas believed in and worshiped the risen Lord by saying, “My Lord and my God.” Yes, He is risen indeed!
The disciples’ transformed lives.
After Jesus’ arrest most of the disciples fled in fear. Peter denied three times that he was a follower of Jesus. After Jesus’ death, they were even more despondent, disillusioned, and unbelieving. Something happened however to prove that Jesus was alive. After they each believed Jesus was physically alive from death, they all hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After Jesus arose, their fear was transformed into faith; their doubt was transformed into dedication that led all the apostles (except Judas) to live faithful unto their death. Ten of the original apostles (all except John) eventually died a martyr’s death.
At one time, I professed myself an atheist. I came to realize that attempts to explain away the authority of the Scripture and the evidence of the resurrection of Christ were vain. Surely, Christ is risen indeed, and He has changed my life and given me the great joy of knowing I will go to heaven someday and that I have hope today no matter what trial or difficulty I may face.
Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25, 26) Believe in the risen Christ so you can be sure of everlasting life with Him!
The incredible teaching of Jesus in the story of the “Rich man and Lazarus” indisputably teaches the reality of hell. This story is not a parable as Jesus tells of a particular rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. In no parable is a personal name ever given. This story teaches the reality of heaven and hell.
The natural man thinks that hell is unreasonable and inconsistent with God’s nature, and thus seeks to invent false doctrines to ease its flaming wrath. Roman Catholics have devised purgatory without any scriptural evidence. Many cults deny a place of eternal suffering. Sadly, even some evangelicals teach annihilation or that the fire of hell is merely a metaphor.
We must never ignore the wrath of God or the terror of His warnings. Many verses in Scripture teach the reality that hell is a very real place. John the Baptist said hell is “unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12). Jesus called hell a “furnace of fire” (Matt.13:42), “everlasting fire” (Matt.18:8, 25:41), and “hell fire” (Matt.18:9). John the Apostle of love calls hell “a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev.19:20; 20:14,15; 21:8) and in Revelation 14:11 we read that in hell “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night…” If there is no hell, then the Bible is a hoax and Jesus Christ is a liar. If you are not a believer, you must flee from the wrath to come. You must be born again. It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus teaches three powerful and surprising lessons about hell.
Do you know who is there? A rich somebody! Do you know who wasn’t? A poor nobody! That would shock anyone listening to Jesus on that day. Someone who never expected to go to hell died and lived in hell. Surprisingly, someone no one gave a chance of salvation rested in Abraham’s bosom, or the place of paradise.
Why is Jesus talking about this? Because the religious Pharisees were like this rich man. They were in danger of hell fire. In Matthew 23:13-15, Jesus in love warns the Pharisees because He wants them to be saved, so He tells them directly and in unmistakable terms, they were going to hell. They did not expect that, but that was their destiny unless they would repent.
The second powerful surprise about hell: look what is in hell and what is not, Luke 16:24-26.
Incredibly, the rich man still possesses conscious memory, emotion, and he feels the burning pain of fire in hell. There are two words for the suffering of hell translated “torment” in this passage. In verse 23 and 28, the word torment is basanos, which speaks of conscious pain. The Scriptures use it of those suffering sickness (Matthew 8:6) and the suffering of those in hell (Rev.14:10; 20:10). The other word translated “torment” appears in verses 24 and 25. This word (odynaō) describes the emotional anguish of Mary when Jesus was lost, and they sought him sorrowing (Luke 2:48). This passage clearly teaches the conscious, irreversible, and immense physical and emotional agony in fire far beyond anything one can imagine.
Surprisingly, what does not exist in hell is any escape. Once a person lands in hell, there is no reversing this awful destiny. There is a “great gulf fixed” and no one can pass from heaven into hell or vice versa. Neither can anyone find any relief in hell, nor can anyone import even a drop of water into that infernal dungeon.
Many people have the false notion that one can pray for the dead and reverse their suffering. The Scripture does not teach this, but does teach the very opposite. All prayers and attempts to win the lost must be done while the loved one lives on earth, and prayers for the dead are vain.
The third powerful surprise about hell: look what the rich man in hell is concerned about and what he is not, Luke 16:27-31.
This rich man in Luke 16:27, 28 said, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
Incredibly, the rich man in hell became concerned about witnessing and sharing the Gospel with those who are lost. Although he was in hell, he was concerned about missions and the salvation of those who still had an opportunity to escape this awful destination. The word “send” is used many times of how the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (John 5:23, 24, 30, 37). The word “testify” is used of apostolic preaching (Acts 10:42:18:5).
Surprisingly, the rich man in hell had no interest in the condition of anything material. He did not inquire about his previous passions: his luxurious home, his expensive wardrobe or his exotic cuisine (Luke 16:19). He was not preoccupied about many of the issues that continually distract us in this life: clothes, food, houses, sports, entertainment, politics or the stock market!
Since those in hell have extreme concern that their lost loved ones would be saved, we also ought to have the same burden. Are you actively seeking to go and witness to others around you so that they can be saved from sin and eternal death in hell, or are you preoccupied with lesser things?
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Matthew 25:46 says, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Where will you spend eternity? Make sure you are saved. Where will your loved ones spend eternity? Seek to witness to them while there still is time. Jesus died to save us from hell and rose again to give us life!
Who is the Holy Spirit? In my last blog I wrote that the Holy Spirit is not merely a power or force, but He is a Person. In this blog, we turn to three powerful reasons why the Holy Spirit is deity, or that He is a Divine Person, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead.
The Holy Spirit as presented in the Bible as the same essential deity as God the Father and the Son. Therefore, we ought to worship, adore, love, and obey Him as God. The Holy Spirit is God! Men deny this truth as often as they deny the Deity of Jesus Christ. While there are many reasons for us to believe in the Holy Spirit as God, here are three powerful proofs.
1. The Holy Spirit possesses attributes that only God possesses.
God Himself alone is all knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present. The Holy Spirit fully possesses these attributes. Isaiah 40:13 says, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being His counsellor hath taught Him?” That is, because the Holy Spirit has perfect and complete knowledge, He did not need any counsel in creating and preserving the material world. Zechariah 14:6 declares that God’s work is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” This underscores that the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. Psalm 139:7 the writer declares, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” Yes, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent who leads us and holds us up throughout our days. The Holy Spirit is also eternal (Hebrews 9:14) and absolute truth (John 14:17). The truly amazing reality is that the very Person of God, the Holy Spirit, dwells in us. He is our power who is ever present with us. God challenges us always to depend upon His power. This is truly wonderful!
2. The Holy Spirit is given Names and Titles only to given God.
He is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ (1 Cor. 3:16; Romans 8:9). The reason He is the Holy Spirit is His pure holiness (Acts 1:5). He is the Spirit of truth for He is absolute truth (John 16:13). He is the Spirit of promise because every promise of God is breathed out by Him (Ephesians 1:13). He is the Spirit of the Lord for He is One in essence with the Father and Son (2 Cor .3:18). The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of grace and glory, of life and holiness. We can praise our great God and His Spirit for who He is!
3. The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and Son
The Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and Son. Many Scriptures teach us this. For example, at Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit like a dove descended upon Jesus in the waters of His baptism, and the Father spoke from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16, 17). They are one in demonstrating full approval of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and Son in our access to God in prayer. Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through Him (the Son) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Every time we seek access to God in prayer, which should be continually, all three Persons of the Godhead are intimately involved. God attends every prayer we make because the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together as one.
We also see their oneness is in their glorious attributes. Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” What is truly fascinating is that one could switch these attributes around between any of the Persons of the Godhead and not be in theological error. The grace of the Holy Spirit and Father is equal to the grace of the Son. The love of the Father is equal to the love of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The communion of the Father and Son is equal to the communion we experience with the Holy Spirit. They are one!
Finally, the Great Commission powerfully demonstrates their oneness. The Great Commission to the church commands that every soul is baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). Being baptized in the name of the three persons of the Godhead show that they are co-equal and co-powerful. The phrase “in the name” also speaks of disciples submitting equally to the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptizing disciples is at the heart of the Great Commission and shows that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in seeking and saving the lost.
We must daily walk in fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our Great God!