Belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is not a secondary issue. Your salvation depends on it (Romans 10:9)! Jesus told His good friend Martha that belief in Him as “the resurrection and the life” meant that a person “will live even if he dies” (John 11:25-26).
Belief in the resurrection is so important for a person’s salvation that Jesus made a special effort to prove His resurrection to a doubting disciple. Thomas said that he wanted more than eyewitness testimony from his fellow disciples; he needed to see the physical evidence from Jesus (John 20:25).
Eight days later the resurrected Jesus entered the disciples’ room and presented Thomas with the proof he asked for (John 20:26-27). People today don’t have this opportunity, but listen to what Jesus says about believers: “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).
To be “blessed” is to be especially favored, happy, or privileged. No matter what happens to believers in this world, be comforted that you know Jesus, the resurrection and the life.
Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.
Verification of Christ’s resurrection has been investigated more extensively than available evidence of any other event in history! It has been examined and evaluated by some of the greatest scholars, historians, legal experts, scientists and archaeologists. Anyone who honestly examines the evidence will be convinced that Jesus:
presented Himself alive [to the apostles] after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
It is extremely important that Jesus rose from the dead because the resurrection is the very foundation of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul stressed this point to the church at Corinth where many people were claiming there was no resurrection of the dead. Paul asserts that without the resurrection there would be no Christian faith:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
First, throughout the Gospels Jesus predicted He would die and three days later rise from the dead (Matthew 12:38-40; Mark 9:9-10; Luke 18:31-33; John 10:17-18). If He made these assertions and they had not come to pass, then He was either an insane individual or the greatest deceiver in history.
Second, each Gospel testifies to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). If He had not, then the Gospel accounts would have no credibility and would have been discarded as historically unreliable documents. The Gospels could not be viewed as primary sources for those things that happened (Luke 1:3-4), but rather as products of later editing and manipulation on the part of the early church.
Third, the central theme of the early church was the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:37-43; 13:27-37; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). If the resurrection had not occurred, it would have been impossible for Paul and others to persist in affirming that it had in fact occurred – especially in the presence of hostile eyewitnesses.
Fourth, without the death and resurrection, all Christians would still be in sin and under the judgment of God. Paul highlights this point to the Corinthian believers:
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep [died] in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).
Fifth, without the resurrection no one would have the eschatological (the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind) hope of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates His authority over death. Those who place their faith and trust in Him have the assurance that death has been overcome and will be ultimately conquered. As Jesus said to Martha who was grieving the loss of her brother Lazarus:
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25-26).
The resurrection is the crucial point of Christianity which either validates or discredits the Christian faith. Henry M. Morris and Henry M. Morris III summed it up well in their book Many Infallible Proofs – Evidence for the Christian Faith:
If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.
Christianity stands firm on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. It is an incredible truth that has changed the lives of millions throughout history. I am convinced from a lifetime of research and personal experience that the resurrection of Jesus Christ did occur. Our eternal destiny is determined by whether we accept and believe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
While exercising outside in the early morning hours, I noticed the shadow of one of our crosses silhouetted on the lightly snow-covered ground. Looking for the source of this shadow (the security light of our former ministry center – now the Mercer County Area Agency On Aging) it struck me that every person who has ever been born is affected in some way by the Cross.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was determined before the creation of the world. Since the Fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden, God promised a coming Messiah and Savior. Those before Christ’s sacrificial death looked forward to the coming of this Promised One, while those after Jesus’ crucifixion look back to His finished work on the cross.
Both Sides of the Cross
Who I was and what I did before coming to Christ is in stark contrast to who I am and what I do after coming to know Him. My philosophy of life, words, behavior and lifestyle have so dramatically changed that they are in diametric opposition to what they were before. Before the Shadow of the Cross passed over my life, my passions were rebellion, violence and pleasure. This side of the cross my zeal is for obedience, compassion and reaching this world for Christ.
Some thought I was hopeless as a teenager but Jesus knew otherwise. I thank Him virtually every day for His amazing grace to me, received many years ago when I was 18.
How has the Cross affected you? What kind of a shadow (influence) has it been on your life? Has the cross drawn you closer to God and the Savior or are you still hiding – running from or rebelling against the LORD of all Creation? You do realize that it’s time for you to come home! Fall on your knees beneath the Shadow of the Cross and surrender your life to Jesus.
Remember, eternity will be determined by your association with the cross. The cross of Christ is our only hope to see our departed loved ones again. For believers, it is a guaranteed promise! As Bill Glass succinctly said, “Christ arose! Your redeemed loved ones will too, and you can spend eternity with them in God’s presence.”
Prompted by the recent revelation about Ravi Zacharias, in this podcast we will address questions that come up when we see spiritual leaders fall. How do we support those who have been spiritually hurt by these failed leaders? Can we still use their materials? Were they ever really saved?
When Karen was 17 and I was 18, we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. Less than two weeks later, at that young age, we ran away and got married. We could have easily failed both in our Christian walk and marriage had it not been for the encouraging words of Rev. Guy Bongiovanni and Rev. Roger Shaffer. Both of them and others at Farrell Christian Assembly and First United Methodist Church of Sharon, as well as those from various denominations, encouraged our growth in our faith and knowledge of Scripture. As a result, we have served nearly 50 years in various churches and ministries – 43 of those years here at Bill Rudge Ministries.
Have we faced times of discouragement and difficulties? A plethora of times! There were those whose goal, it seemed, was to discourage us from obediently serving Christ and to dissuade us from following Jesus’ call into ministry. But the encouragers (through God’s Holy Spirit) superseded them and God accomplished His work in and through this ministry, built from day one on God’s Word and the leading of His Spirit.
Peter and Paul Versus Nero and Herod
During the first year of my new life in Christ, I worked with two other young men, considering them Peter and Paul because of their strong commitment to Christ. By word and example they encouraged and strengthened me in my faith. However, after a few months, they moved on and were replaced by two men I regarded as Nero and Herod – constantly seeking through lying words and dishonest behavior to oppose and undermine my faith in Jesus Christ – needless to say, a challenging time in my early Christian life! However, that year revealed to me the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error; between those who love Christ and those who despise Him; and deadly effects of discouraging words versus lifelong benefits of encouraging words.
From the Beginning …
Recently, Karen and I reviewed all the names on the plaques of donors for the three ministry centers we built on faith. We were joyfully reminded of all the people who helped us on these and many other ministry projects. We reminisced about the many individuals, families, businesses and churches who have stood with us and supported us throughout the years. Many of those who helped us are now with the Lord receiving their eternal reward.
None of us knows how much time we have, so we want to thank all the supporters of this ministry (from its very beginning until the Lord comes) for all you have enabled us to accomplish. We say it often, yet never enough, that we appreciate each and every one of you. Truly, you are a vital part in making the dream and vision God gave us 43 years ago become reality. May God bless you in this life and throughout eternity for your faithfulness to Him and your generosity to this ministry.
… To the End
The pages of Scripture are laced with those who spoke words of faith and courage, thereby inspiring others to phenomenal achievements. There were also those who spoke words of doubt and unbelief, influencing others toward devastating defeats.
As a chaplain, I have heard words of faith spoken by many dying Christians which uplifted entire families. I have also been at the bedside of those not knowing Christ’s love and forgiveness, speaking words of doubt and despair – giving no comfort or hope to their loved ones.
Day by day, how you live your life and what words you speak, will result in the words you speak at the time of your death to those you love the most.
The following is such a passion of mine that I keep it on my weekly prayer and fasting list:
May the thoughts and attitudes of my mind, the emotions, desires, goals, dreams, vision and motives of my heart, the words of my mouth, and my behavior and lifestyle be pleasing in Your sight.
My heart’s longing is to glorify the Lord by being a faithful witness physically (Romans 12:1), mentally and emotionally (Romans 12:2), and spiritually (Romans 8:29). I desire to live by His biblical precepts and reach my maximum potential in all aspects of my life. It is my aspiration to walk in discipline and self control – including the words I speak.
I do hope you will make a commitment before the Lord today that with His help, strength and empowering, you will seek to speak in such a manner as to bring hope, healing and happiness to others. Use your tongue to positively and powerfully pronounce your faith in Jesus Christ and the assurance of His coming again. Use your words to motivate and inspire believers to remain faithful until the very end. Use your lips to praise the LORD and encourage the downtrodden!
As the Psalmist proclaimed:
My tongue shall declare Your righteousness and Your praise all day long (Psalm 35:28).
Excerpted from Bill’s new E-Book The Power of Words.