Thursday, March 8

Jesus-Not So Easily Dismissed!

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 AND that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:3–8)
Please notice in the foregoing verses that I have emboldened the "and" in verse 5. Why? For those of us who have heard these all our lives, if you are like me, we would stop quoting at verse four. We would assume that we had then provided a thumbnail sketch of that which constitutes the gospel. And in a sense that would be correct. Indeed, salvation, redemption, or the new birth (all referring to the same event) are accomplished by the finished work of Christ on the cross and his subsequent entrance into glory. But, Paul does not end there. He includes (after our English comma) a listing of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances. Why point this out? Most who've studied God's Word already know this, right? Well, maybe. I accentuate verses 5-8 because God the Spirit did so. And since the Spirit so inspired the Word, we ought to see their inescapable importance. 

Many ostensibly wish to unseat Jesus Christ as the exclusive Savior of the world. Today, it is popular in the doctrine of "toleration" to give all religions equal validity--not freedom to express them, but equality of truth! There's a huge difference. We assert here in the United States that according to the Constitution everyone has the right to believe anything they wish. That is true, and we support that right. But as someone has added, not everyone has a right to their own truth. Truth lies outside the subjective reasoning of mankind. It is objective, unchanging. Jesus indeed claimed to be the very embodiment of truth (John 14:6). But for him to make such a claim successfully, he had to demonstrate that what he claimed was in fact true. And that is where verses 5-8 come in; they demonstrate that most critical of God-claims Jesus made, that is, that he would die, be buried and rise again from the dead. And once he did rise, he didn't hide the fact. He went public on several occasions and before various types and numbers of people. 

What sets Christianity apart from all other religions is precisely this, namely that the Jesus who made outlandish claims of deity fulfilled them and THAT in front of the masses. He kept nothing hidden. That being the case, a reasonable person must not simply dismiss the evidence, but react to it. One may reject it out of hand, but one cannot simply dismiss it. Such objective evidence demands (a la Josh McDowell) a verdict. Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. Indeed, Jesus said, "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

I close with this quotation from Daniel Webster. Though alluding to different issues, his faith lands exactly where one's faith must land, on the evidence of One who did what he said he would do.
If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but, if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity. The Bible is the book of all others for lawyers as well as divines, and I pity the man who cannot find in it a rich supply of thought and rule of conduct. I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. The miracles which He wrought establish in my mind His personal authority and render it proper for me to believe what He asserts.” (Torrey, R. A., Feinberg, C. L., & Wiersbe, W. W. Vol. 3: The Fundamentals : The famous sourcebook of foundational biblical truths).

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