Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead? – Introduction

I know it has been a few days since my last post and I apologize to all my regular viewers, things have been a bit hectic. Hopefully you’ll forgive me. I thought in the spirit of Easter this would be a good time to address the issue of the resurrection; that is whether or not Jesus really rose from the dead. Perhaps no other issue in Christianity is as important as this one. 1 Corinthians 15 states that the truth of Christianity rests on whether or not Jesus raised from the dead.

So what’s the deal? After all, people just don’t raise from the dead, that’s what makes them, well, dead. So did Jesus raise from the dead? Better yet, can we even know? I usually hear many questions like this every Easter so I’d like to take some time over my next few posts and take a look at some pivotal issues of the resurrection.

As with the series on Mormonism, there is no possible way to examine every single piece of evidence for and against the resurrection. However, I will do my best to provide a thorough yet concise (is this even possible?) examination of the evidence.

The first thing we need to do is determine what the resurrection is and is not. First off, the resurrection is not the same thing as immorality of the soul. In other words, the teaching of resurrection of the dead does not mean your soul goes to heaven when you die according to ancient Jewish teachings. Resurrection is also not the same thing as reincarnation. In most eastern philosophies, reincarnation is often thought of as the evil one faces in this life is thought to be punishment for the wrongdoings in previous lives (i.e. Hinduism). However the Bible teaches that man lives once and then stands in God’s judgment. (A good answer to someone who asks why you don’t believe in reincarnation is because you believe in the resurrection). Resurrection is not resuscitation. Resuscitation is the belief that the person is brought back from the dead to their human state and will someday die again. An example of this would be Lazarus in John 11. Rather resurrection is the raising of the dead into this world. Death is a pre-requisite for this.

Okay, so we know what the resurrection isn’t, so what is it? In a biblical view of immortality, God will, at the end of history, raise up people and reconstitute them as persons. We have a preview of this in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now this has lots of theological implications and I am not a theologian so I am going to leave it at that. My purpose in writing this was just to make sure we are all on the same page when you see the term “resurrection.”

If you are a skeptic of the historicity of the resurrection I’d like to ask you for a favor. I’d like to ask you to keep two questions in mind as we go through this series. First, I’d like you to ask “What are the facts?” Second, I’d like you to ask “What is the most reasonable explanation of these facts?”

I sincerely believe that anyone who fairly and objectively looks at the evidence that is about to be set forth, can only come to one conclusion; that Jesus Christ conquered death through His resurrection and therefore showed Himself to be who he really is, God incarnate.

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