The Resurrection of Jesus is not optional


Three days from now Christians around the world will celebrate Easter Sunday, the day of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As that day approaches I have been thinking about that hope filled event and the promise I have from God that is rooted firmly in that first resurrection so many years ago when the followers of Jesus found an empty tomb.

It is almost unthinkable that anyone who calls themselves “Christian” would do so while at the same time vehemently denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I have personally communicated with at least two such people. One of them a church of Christ preacher, the other a badly deceived man who believes little about the Christ yet is a member in good standing in a church of Christ and is referred to as “brother” so and so by others. Can a person really be a Christian and deny that Jesus was raised from the dead? No.

The Apostle Paul both in his letter to the Romans and in his first letter to the Corinthians makes clear the importance of the resurrection of Jesus. First, in the Corinthian letter. In what is without question one of the most clearly stated definitions of the gospel in the Bible Paul wrote these words.

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,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

There is nothing more important than the gospel of Christ!  Paul first reminds the Corinthians of the gospel he preached to them, that they had received it, they were standing in it, and were being saved by it. (the proof of course is that they were holding fast to the gospel, had they not been their faith would not have been genuine) There are many things in the life of a follower of Jesus and in the life of a local church that are extremely important, however, there is not anything more important than the good news about what Jesus accomplished for sinners! Churches that keep the gospel up front and center do well. Those churches that don’t keep the gospel first don’t do so well.

Notice that there are three key parts to the gospel Paul preached. 1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. 2. He was buried. 3. He as was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. This is important! If you take away the resurrection component you have nothing! Try sitting on a stool with two legs! Just so, a gospel without the resurrection of Jesus is no gospel (good news) at all! Paul went to great lengths to assure his readers that indeed Christ did rise from death.

Faith in Christ is useless if there was no bodily resurrection! Paul defends his resurrection teaching in the most certain terms possible!

 “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that 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 futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope  in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)

See what Paul said: 1. If Christ has not been raised my preaching and your faith is a sham! 2. If Christ has not been raised I am misrepresenting God! 3. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 4. If Christ has not been raised those who died with faith in Him have perished! 5. Of all people we are to be pitied if Christ has not been raised. That is some pretty serious stuff!

Jesus’ resurrection was a “bodily” resurrection! Unbelievers parading as theologians and preachers will concede some sort of resurrection but not a bodily resurrection. They will cite 1 Corinthians 15:44 and ignore many, many other passages that are very clear about Jesus resurrected body.

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44)

In this passage Paul simply was giving a contrast between the natural body we are born in and the glorified body we will some day have like the body of Jesus.  He was not saying that Jesus’ resurrected body was some sort of smoky vapor or some ghostly thing that sort of comes and goes. No, the earlier section of chapter 15 makes clear his meaning of the later verses.

” and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)

Now we are talking here of evidence that would stand the scrutiny of a court of law. Eyewitness testimony is powerful! He appeared to Peter then to the twelve Apostles, then to over 500 “at one time”, and then to Paul himself. This Jesus was a real man! He was recognizable, he bore the scars of his crucifixion! Make no doubt about it, this Jesus who was crucified and buried was raised from the dead in a body! It was a glorified body, a body that would not die ever again, but none-the-less a real touchable body. For goodness sake, he walked with his friends, he appeared in a locked room with them, and he ate with them. The last time I checked, spirits don’t eat!

Now for the text I promised from Romans. This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.

 “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:8-10)

How clear can a truth be? It matters not how long a person has been a member of a church, or a preacher, or a missionary, if that person does not believe God raised Jesus from the dead he is not a Christian. There is no Christianity without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! It is not up for debate, it is not optional!

But Jesus was raised from the dead! And we believe that with all we are and know that He was the first of many. who like him will be raised to never die again. All of us are tying to live as long as we can. We take medicine, go the doctor when we think we should, and some folks eat a certain diet hoping  to put off dying as long as possible. But, all of us will die unless Jesus returns first. But we need not fear death at all! Because he lives, we too shall live with him and as long as he lives and that is forever!

On Sunday, rejoice when songs about Jesus being raised from the dead are sung! Because of his life we have life and have it eternally! He arose, thank God He arose!

Happy resurrection day!

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

 

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Reflections on the Resurrection of Jesus


It seems like only a few weeks have passed since I wrote and published on Grace Digest a post entitled simply “Jesus is not dead!” about a year ago. Now the roses, tulips, hibiscus, and a variety of other plants are showing their spring faces. It was a short winter! This Sunday Christians (and many non-Christians) will in some way celebrate or remember the resurrection of Jesus.

This afternoon as I contemplated this time of year, and especially Easter, I focused my thoughts on Jesus fulfilled promise that He would rise again. And, of course he did and his life after resurrection is carefully documented in the Bible and in history.

The resurrection of Jesus from death is the bedrock of the Christian faith but it is not an isolated event. As important as Jesus’ resurrection is, it does not stand alone, at least it will not. My friend Edward Fudge said it best. In one of his popular gracEmail installments he said,

Jesus’ resurrection was not an isolated event. It was the first in a long series. Imagine Jesus and all his people holding numbered tickets, with Jesus’ ticket marked “No. 1.”

The Resurrection started nearly 2,000 years ago when God called “No. 1” and Jesus rose from the dead. Then, in keeping with his plan announced through the ancient prophets, God paused — until a time known to him alone (Psalm 110:1). When that time arrives, God will resume the Resurrection with “No. 2” and all the numbers that follow.

I sincerely hope that many of those dear people who will make one of their twice annual appearances in a house of worship will hear the truth that being raised out of death was not only for Jesus but for all of those who were, and are, and will be, faith followers of the One whose life we celebrate at Easter.

A resurrection like that of Jesus awaits all of God’s children by divine decree. As Brother Fudge correctly said, Jesus was “No. 1” out of millions who will finally be resurrected. The resurrection of the people of God is the final step in God’s redemptive plan to make sinful human beings fit for heaven and the glory of God.

Each of that unknown number will at the resurrection of the saints receive a body like the resurrected, glorified body of Jesus. It will be a body that is recognizable, can be seen and touched, one that can enjoy a meal with friends, and yet can appear in a room with the doors shut. It is a body that is well suited both to earth’s atmosphere and the heavenly places of the Father. It is a body that will be no less than a trophy of the glory and grace of God to put on display His matchless love, give him glory and praise in eternity, and enjoy the inheritance given by grace.

There is good news! You can get out alive! Jesus conquered death and gives life and immortality to those who obediently trust Him alone. Jesus said to a friend’s sister who was in grief,

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:25,26)

I close with the question Jesus asked “Do you believe this?” I hope you do. The resurrection of Jesus confirmed he was who he claimed to be and that his promises are sure. He offers forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a home with him in eternity. Just take him at his word, He is trustworthy above all others.

For the Life,

Royce Ogle

Jesus is not dead!


What is the big deal about Easter?

That he (Jesus) was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:4-8)

The big deal is, Jesus is alive! He is in heaven. And, He is coming back. Yep, the same Jesus his followers had seen and touched, shared meals with, and heard make promises went up into the clouds as they watched. And, this promise was given by two messengers from God.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

The truth that again and again got the Apostles in hot water with the church crowd was that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the bedrock of the Christian faith. Paul said it this way.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that 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 futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

Make no mistake, everything depends on the factual account of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead!

If Jesus was not raised from the dead there is no hope for any of us.

What appeal does dying and staying dead in a grave have to you? It has none to me either. If Jesus was not raised, we will not be raised, and after all, the goal is to live eternally.

If Jesus was not raised from the dead there is no Christianity!

Paul says it like this, If Christ has not been raised from the dead his “preaching is vain and your faith is vain“. And, “Your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

The cross and its significance is very important but if Jesus’ death was the end of the story He would be no different than any other man who died for his faith.

HE IS ALIVE! CELEBRATE!

This Sunday Christians around the world will celebrate and remember an empty tomb and a risen Saviour. It is His life everlasting that we celebrate. His life is our life if we are in Him.

WILL YOU LIVE FOREVER? EVEN AFTER YOU DIE AND ARE BURIED, WILL YOU LIVE AGAIN?

There are many, many promises that you can, or that you will. One I really like is this one.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.’ (Romans 8:11)

Easter is the believer’s celebration of everlasting life. It is the acknowledgement that death has been defeated, that sin will finally be eradicated, and once again Peace will rule in an eternal kingdom.

He Himself is our blessed hope, and our blessed certainty! Happy Easter to you.

Agape’

Royce


Alive one more day…so far


I don’t know when my life will end but I do know where my human body will stop at last.

The place is jut waiting for me in Lake Dallas, Texas. As of this moment I plan on waiting to go to that last destination as long as possible.

Remember the verse of the song “Everybody wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die”? That’s me. This morning I read the obituary column in the local paper and about a half-dozen people younger than me had died. There is little that is a better reminder of one’s mortality.

Thankfully, this small piece of real estate in North Texas is not really the end. It is the place where my temporary home will be planted. But some day the one who said to Martha “I am the Resurrection and the Life” will call his own to himself and the bodies of believers will be recreated as immortal beings living in bodies that reflect the glory of Jesus Christ, like him, with him forever.

So, for me, what is called in the Scriptures the “blessed hope” (the return of Jesus) is a blessed certainty. The question is never “If?” but rather “When?”.

These days of family gatherings, parties, and fun are filled with pain and misery for some of your friends, neighbors, or perhaps even family. The sorrow of who is missing from the festivities is very, very painful for some survivors. So, be respectful, be sensitive, and give space to those who are still grieving. Be a good listener, weep with them, hug them, and just be with them at their request. That is the best gift you can give someone who is grieving.

Merry Christmas all,

Royce