Is it really that crucial to believe Jesus rose bodily from the dead?
Yes. Jesus’ resurrection is the very foundation of the Christian faith! The Apostle Paul emphasized this point to the church at Corinth where some claimed 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).
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus predicted He would die and then 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, He would have been a liar or a lunatic—either insane or the greatest deceiver in history.
2. All four Gospels testify to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). If He had not, the Gospel accounts would have lost credibility and been discarded as historically unreliable documents. They could not be viewed as primary records of the things that happened (Luke 1:3-4), but products of later editing and manipulation on the part of the early church.
3. The central theme and testimony 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.
4. 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 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).
5. Finally, 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 at His second coming. 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 will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die (John 11:25-26).
The resurrection is the crucial point of Christianity which either validates or discredits the Christian faith. This is why the apostle Paul stressed to the Corinthian believers that their faith would be in vain if Christ had not risen from the dead.
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.
The Christian faith stands firm on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection: The incredible truth that has changed the lives of millions throughout history.
As we currently face global conflicts, pandemics, and natural disasters, many wonder if we are close to the return of Jesus Christ. Pastor BJ addresses this important issue by providing a biblical perspective on how to understand the times that we live in.
A terrifying encounter – indescribable and beyond comprehension – awaits those who do not receive God’s provision of salvation. It is an inescapable event that every human being on this planet should soberly contemplate – judgment will one day be a reality to multitudes who remain in the valley of indecision, indifference, or defiance toward Jesus Christ, the only means for a restored relationship with the Creator.
Ultimate and Final
Scripture informs us that following Christ’s millennial reign on earth (during which believers will rule with Him) the Great White Throne Judgment occurs. The bodies of all unbelievers throughout the ages – even those whose ashes were scornfully spread hoping that God would be unable to judge them – will be re-materialized to stand before Him. Every person who is not part of the “first resurrection” will be part of this “second resurrection” – those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be raised from the dead to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
This Great White Throne Judgment is the ultimate and conclusive decision – bringing greater trepidation and eternal significance than any other decree throughout history. White typifies the perfect holiness and purity of God and assures that true justice will be determined and pronounced. There is no rainbow around this throne (unlike the throne in Revelation 4:3) nor any mention of the Lamb because the rainbow and the Lamb exemplify God’s grace, mercy, and redemption. At this judgment the Door of Salvation is closed.
During the Tribulation period when Jesus opens the sixth seal, the sky recedes like a scroll when it is rolled up (Revelation 6:14). However, before this Great White Throne Judgment, earth and heaven (physical universe) flee away (disappear) from the presence of the One seated on the throne (Revelation 20:11). There will be no place to hide as people do with the opening of the sixth seal when they hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains (Revelation 6:15-17). The contaminated universe will be “uncreated” – going into a temporary nonexistence for God’s final judgment foretold many times in Scripture (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36, 41, 42; Luke 10:14; John 12:48; Acts 17:31; 24:25; Romans 2:5, 16; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; Jude 6).
Two books will be opened for every individual appearing before the Great White Throne Judgment. First, God will examine each person’s deeds as recorded in the Book of Works containing the record of the thoughts, words, and actions of every unsaved person who ever lived. The truth of the matter is that all have sinned, violated God’s commandments, and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Without Christ, no one is found worthy to enter into the Kingdom of a holy, just, and righteous God.
Second, the Book of Life (similar imagery to the registry of citizens kept by ancient cities) is opened to see if the names of the condemned are recorded there. Since they did not receive God’s provision of salvation (those before the time of Jesus Christ looking forward to the coming Promised Redeemer and those after the cross looking back to Christ’s sacrificial death for the sins of the world) they must be forever banned from God’s presence (what many of them supposedly wanted anyway). Without having accepted Christ as Savior, they are without hope.
There will be no excuses, no exceptions, and no exemptions; no future appeal from God’s final verdict. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire because they did not believe or receive God’s clear pronouncement:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Millennia ago the psalmist warned that the ungodly would not be approved in God’s judgment:
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous (Psalm 1:5).
Jesus made an even more alarming statement that should make all of us stop and ponder whether He is truly our Savior and Lord:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7: 21-23).
Kneel or Stand
You can kneel before Jesus Christ as Savior now or one day stand before Him as Judge. It will be far more fearful to stand alone before the Creator at the Great White Throne Judgment than it is to live for Him in our world today. When King Belshazzar of Babylon merely saw fingers from God writing of his impending judgment and the end of his kingdom on the wall, “his face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking” (Daniel 5:5-6). What will it be like to see God, your Judge, face to face, knowing that He is about to pronounce your eternal destiny?
Those who reject Christ’s sacrificial death as their only means of forgiveness will discover the reality of Hebrews 10:31: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Yet, today is still the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)! My prayer for you is that you make certain that Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, and that your name is written in the Book of Life.
Immediately following the Great White Throne Judgment, John saw a new heaven and a new earth and the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2).
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city…. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost (Revelation 22:14-17).
The preceding is excerpted from Bill’s upcoming book on The Last Days.
Virtually everything we once knew to be wrong is now considered right, and what was once believed to be bad is now deemed good. Our culture has strayed so far from God’s Word that people are blind to the lies that are deceiving so many. The prophet Isaiah accurately commented about such a reversal of morality: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
In contrast to the corruption today, the apostle Paul admonishes:
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you…and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks (Ephesians 5:3-4).
The apostle Peter admonishes:
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct….Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 1:14,15; 2:11; 4:3-5).
Be Aware: Four Stages of Decline
There are four stages through which those living an aberrant lifestyle could mislead people:
Tolerance and Acceptance: Initially, they say they just want us to tolerate and accept their lifestyles.
Endorsement: After tolerance and acceptance, they push us to endorse their lifestyles – which most have done.
Celebration: After endorsement, they push hard for us to celebrate their aberrant lifestyles. Many are doing so.
Punishment: Finally, they want to punish (removal from social media, lawsuits, loss of income, incarceration…) anyone who does not accept, endorse and celebrate their corrupt lifestyles.
Conquer or Be Conquered
Sexual immorality is not just a “disease” that will eat you like a cancer, it is sin. It is contrary to God’s intended purpose for His creation and needs to be, as Scripture says, “Crucified” (Galatians 5:24). Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:16). The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:5-8:
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things….
If you do not overcome the sinful nature, be assured, it will overcome you. Control your flesh or it will control you. Be set free from your vices or be enslaved by them. Conquer your weaknesses or they will conquer you! They will bring you to ruin and hurt the many others you touch through your life and example.
Path to a Victorious Life
Why live a life of continual defeat, frustration and guilt when you can live an abundant and victorious life through Christ? God’s path may not always be easy, but it is the most rewarding – both in this life and the one to come. While overcoming sexual immorality can seem daunting, God will give you the strength to tear down the strongholds and to be all that He intended you to be – even in our sex-crazed culture.
Open your heart to receive that which far surpasses any physical pleasure: a life of purity, peace, and power is worth every effort to obtain it. Sincerely repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Attitudes and actions will change as your mind is renewed by God’s Word (Romans 12:2). The fruit of the spirit – one of which is self-control (Galatians 5:23) – will develop as the power of God’s Spirit works in and through you.
May your life be transformed to live victoriously – the victor in a great contest!
Many astonishing prophecies in Scripture confirm divine inspiration and indicate how close we are to Christ’s return. We’ve selected just a few to consider.
End time Scripture foretells the establishment of a world government (Revelation 13:7; 17:15-18; Daniel 7:23), a global economy (Revelation 13:16-17), and a universal religion (13:8-12; 17:1-2, 15).
It is obvious that a scenario is unfolding revealing the creation of a global system of political power, economic control, military might, and religious unity. Just as Scripture foretold, we are rapidly heading toward a one-world government, a one-world monetary system, and a one-world religion.
A leader will arrive on the world scene coming in the guise of peace and unity – supposedly presenting solutions for the world’s dilemmas. The book of Revelation identifies this person as the Antichrist who will take the reins of the world through deception and intrigue, ultimately leading humankind in a unified rebellion against the God of the Bible. The Antichrist’s cohort will be instrumental in uniting the world’s religions into an ecumenical movement tuned to eventually worship the Antichrist.
Mark of the Beast (666)
Revelation 13:16-18 makes known how the Antichrist and False Prophet will obtain and maintain control of this global society:
He [False Prophet] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast [Antichrist] or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.
Temple in Jerusalem
For 2,500 years (since 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, taking Jews captive to Babylon) there was no independent nation of Israel. Yet the prophets foretold that end time events would focus in and around the tiny nation of Israel, and that in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation period, the Antichrist will desecrate the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul mentions in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that the Antichrist “sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” John, in Revelation 13:14-15, reveals that an image set up in honor of the Antichrist will be given breath so that it can speak and that all who refuse to worship the image will be killed.
The Two Witnesses
What about God’s Two Witnesses in Revelation chapter 11? For centuries people were baffled by these verses about the entire world looking at their dead bodies. Yet the whole world is now capable of seeing their corpses displayed on the latest form of visual media. Revelation 11:7-12 provides the context:
When they [the Two Witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast [Antichrist] that comes up out of the abyss [bottomless pit] will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified [Jerusalem]. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.
The Two Witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days until they finish their testimony at which time the Antichrist is able to kill them. For three and a half days their dead bodies will lie in the street of Jerusalem as people from every tribe, nation, and language will look at their corpses. It is interesting that although these Two Witnesses are from God and empowered by Him, the world will be so undiscerning and unrepentant that they will despise and reject them. Many, many people – deep in rebellion against the God of the Bible – will rejoice over the deaths of the Two Witnesses and celebrate by exchanging gifts.
Amazingly, this prophecy of the entire world looking at their dead bodies can now be literally fulfilled through worldwide television, global satellite transmission, and Internet technology.
I have been in many villages around the world. Some of the places were so remote that the people stared at me because they had never seen a white person in real life, let alone someone with blue eyes. Yet even in these secluded areas there was usually someone – whether it was in a hotel, business, or someone’s house – who had a television or computer with people gathered around to watch events as they occurred around the world.
Every Eye Will See Him
Echoing the words of Daniel 7:13, Revelation 1:7 promises:
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
How could the apostle John in the first century A.D. predict this universal viewing by his own inspiration? It would have been impossible without a true revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Flesh Will Rot
Zechariah 14:12 gives a horrific description of the plague that will strike all the peoples who gather to go to war against Jerusalem:
This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
Although this refers to a supernatural judgment by God on the forces gathered against Israel in the end times at Armageddon, it is eerily similar to what would happen to those within the radius of the detonation of a thermonuclear bomb. The faces and skin of the invading armies melt like hot wax dripping down a candle. While prophecies such as Zechariah 14:12 may have seemed like science fiction not too many decades ago, modern weapons now can cause its very fulfillment. And keep in mind that God’s spoken word (by which He brought the universe into being) is far more powerful than any nuclear explosion.
The Earth Will Be Burned Up
Second Peter 3:10-14 states:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire [melt with fervent heat], and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.
These verses were once used by skeptics to disprove the Bible. How could there be a fire big enough to burn the whole world? People derided these verses before World War II, but after the emergence of nuclear weapons, able to melt the basic building blocks of matter itself, many began to see the potential for the fulfillment of these prophecies – even apart from God’s supernatural intervention. The nuclear weapons of today are many times more powerful than the two bombs which decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.
Prophecies Have Not Changed
Should one think these prophecies are just a modern translation of the Bible or have been reworded to reflect our times, I have an 1862 and an 1880s Bible (long before any reasonable explanation for the fulfillment of these verses came to light) and they say the same thing. Likewise, the prophecies and descriptions in even ancient Bibles are the same.
The Lord Wants None To Perish
There is widespread awareness that some amazing prophesied events are happening on the world scene. Those who believe in Jesus Christ know that the Lord’s coming draws near. It would be wisdom for us to commit our lives to the God who inspired these prophecies.
The Lord has delayed His coming because:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Today is the day to make certain your heart and life are right with the Lord. Do not delay – the prophetic clock is ticking and nearing the midnight hour. Always be prepared to meet your Lord by way of death or rapture. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!
It is not the one who commends himself or herself, or even the one who is commended by others, but the one who is commended by the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:12, 18). When all is said and done, the only opinion that really matters is the Lord’s. He is the One we stand before to give an account of our lives. He is the One who holds our destiny in His hands. He is the One from whom we want to receive praise (1 Corinthians 4:5).
There is an eternal difference between seeking the praises of men and seeking the favor of God. The first focuses on oneself and temporal recognition, while the latter focuses on Christ and heavenly honor. Both provide rewards. Praise from people may last a lifetime but bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom will last forever.
As you read the following verses, ponder whether you love the praise from men more than praise from God:
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him [Jesus], but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43).
Will you allow the praises of people, prestige, popularity, personal gain or pursuits of pleasure to undermine your commitment to Jesus Christ? Far better than obtaining recognition from and the praises of people, is to cultivate an attitude and a lifestyle that gain approval from the Lord.
As did Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 24:3), we wonder ourselves when Jesus will return. Bombarded daily with headlines of wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters and the spread of diseases, the reality of His return seems closer today than ever before. As I am writing this article, the news headlines of a potential war between America and Iran, the continual global spread of the coronavirus, worldwide crop failures, locust plagues in Africa and China and an earthquake in the Caribbean (of all places) echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.
While every generation since Jesus ascended into heaven has anticipated His return, there is a uniqueness about our generation – especially with Israel a nation once again. However, to avoid falling into the trap of so many date setters, I recognize that no one knows that day or hour, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36). Yet, while we do not know the specific day, we as believers are not ignorant of the signs that will precede Jesus’ return. As we continue to hear of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in various places, let us not forget the first sign Jesus told the disciples to be aware of – deception. In fact, Jesus even warns that false christs and false prophets will arise showing great signs and wonders to deceive the world. This deception will be so great that Jesus says, if possible, even true believers (elect) will be deceived (Matthew 24:23-26). This theme of deception continues on throughout the pages of the New Testament, as the Apostles Paul and Peter confront the dangers of false teaching that had crept into the church (2 Corinthians 11:1-14; Galatians 1:6-10; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2).
To avoid the deception that comes through false teaching, Christians are given numerous commands: We are called to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us (2 Thessalonians 2:15), be on our guard (2 Peter 3:17), fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), encourage and rebuke (Titus 2:15) and contend for the faith (Jude 3). These commands (specifically the call to contend) captures the heart of this study which will take us into an in-depth look at the book of Jude – a book that was specifically written to equip believers to avoid the deception of false teaching and persevere in the truth of God’s Word.
In our study (future blogs), we will examine the call to contend for the faith as we address the dangers of false teaching, the fruit of false teaching, the identification of false teachers and how to persevere and stand firm in the midst of deception. The intention of this study is to go beyond giving just factual information about the book of Jude. It is designed to enable you to warn others, while at the same time provide safeguards for your own life against false teaching.
My passion for this study comes out of personal experience in how false teaching has affected people I greatly care about. One dear friend became a spiritual casualty of the false teaching that permeated the church he attended. That teaching led to the destruction of his faith and the spiritual devastation of his entire family. Another has been caught up in the pattern of spiritual addiction. Devoid of discernment, her life is in a constant cycle of trying to find her next spiritual high. These two reflect the need for all of us to contend for the faith so that our loved ones and ourselves may avoid the traps of spiritual deception.
Integrity: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness” (Apple Dictionary).
The highest example of integrity/honesty is God Himself. This quality is important to believers because we represent Him here in this fallen world. Believers are examples to unbelievers every day whether we like this role or not. It’s just the way it is. When we fail to live up to His standard, we sully God’s reputation as well as our own and hurt those in our sphere of influence.
According to Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
We need to realize that men and women in the church will disappoint, fail, or even disgrace the name of Christ. But we don’t serve them; we serve God. He does not disappoint!
In addition, how are you doing in living up to God’s example? Though they may curse you, the world sorely needs Godly examples. (Check out Psalm 89:35; Titus 1:2; Hebrew 6:18.)
Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.
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.
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.
Wendy Wippel is a molecular biologist who specializes in genetics. The following are excerpts from an article in The Lamplighter magazine. Used with permission.
It’s the Christmas season, and amid the baking and the bustling and the bows, it’s easy to lose sight of what the fuss is all about — a baby. As the old carol asks, “What child is this?” There’s a lot riding on your answer. Because that baby is the central figure of human history. Human history, in fact, is divided into two eras (BC and AD) by His existence. (Your birth date? Counted from His.)
• He never traveled more than 100 miles from home, but His followers permeated every country in the world with His story.
• He never wrote a book, but more have been written about Him than anyone else in history, by far.
• The first book about Him, the Bible, has been translated into more than 500 languages, and portions of it into more than 3000 languages.
• He had only 12 disciples, but billions of people discuss His teachings every day.
• He was homeless during His public life, but most of the world’s most beautiful buildings were built in His honor (Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, Hagia Sophia, Chartres, St. John’s Cathedral, and so on.)
• He died as a criminal, but today thousands of names of cities and countries memorialize His life. (San Salvador, for example, which means Holy Savior.)
• He never married, but more wedding vows have asked His blessing than any other.
• He never had kids, but there’s a really good chance you’re named after one of his family or his friends.
• Untold numbers of people throughout history have willingly gone to their deaths rather than renounce His name.
Jesus is recognized by skeptic and saint alike as the turning point of history. What child IS this? We’ve had 2000 years to speculate: A really moral man? A great philosopher? A champion of social justice? A pacifist? A mythical figure? A revolutionary? An example for all of us to follow?
Those really aren’t the right questions, though. The real question is “Who does He think He is?” And Jesus, tellingly, said none of the above. Jesus said that He came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus said that He came to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In fact, He said that He came specifically for one moment in time, His crucifixion (John 12:27).
What child is this? We all have to answer that question for ourselves. And eternity rides on our answer. Why? Because God created humans to be with Him. But you probably know what happened next – Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule that God established, and humanity became tainted with sin. And as descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherited that condition. We’re all SIN positive.
The problem is that sin can’t survive in the presence of the holiness of God. But that same God still loves us and wants us to be with Him. So Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. We’re what was lost (John 1:12; 3:16).
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great for you, but it’s just not my thing.” Or, “I have my own faith.” Or, “We all worship the same God.” Then what child is this? One that made some pretty amazing statements:
I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me (Matthew 28:18).
Nobody else said things like this. Not Mohammed. Not Confucius. Not Buddha. Nobody. People these days say that makes Christianity exclusive. Except that Jesus also said that whosoever believes in Him can have eternal life. Whosoever.
So what child is this? You can call Him a liar. You can call Him a lunatic. Or you can call Him Lord. “Undecided” isn’t really an option. He didn’t mean for it to be.
Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be the Messiah, a Messiah described in Isaiah as “wounded for our transgressions,” whose chastisement made peace for us with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life as a ransom for many. Nobody else said that. Nobody.
That’s what sets Jesus apart. Only He laid down His life for your sins and mine. And when He died on that cross (a fact documented in Roman records) it would have certainly seemed that was the last history would hear of Him.
But the cross that He died on is now the world’s most common symbol, engraved on tombstones, mounted in and on churches, scattered on hillsides and hung around a whole lot of necks.
So what child is this? That’s the question. And the answer … God, in the form of Jesus, left heaven to seek and save that which was lost, meaning you and me. When He died on the cross, God was saying that He loves you. He Himself came to earth to give His life as your ransom. It was the God of all the universe, whispering into your ears, “I do.” And that God, who still loves you, stands at the altar, waiting for your answer. He’ll wait. He has all eternity to do so. Do you?
And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass (Revelation 15:2).
During the brutal time of the Tribulation, many people will accept a false political leader (the beast), worship a false deity (his image), and procure food, clothing, and shelter by participating in an electronically controlled economic system (the number 666).
But there will be those who are victorious over these demonic systems because of the “blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her [Babylon], my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Rev. 18:4-5).
The Greek verb translated “piled up” means “to glue” or “to stick together.” These vile sins are stuck together, one on top of the other, until they reach heaven itself.
Contrast the sins of those connected with Babylon, to your sins. We know that no believer is without sin (1 John 1:10). But when we do sin, “we have an advocate with the Father.” An “advocate” is defined as one who assists another or pleads the cause of another (1 John 2:1).
So meditate on this: Jesus Christ is your advocate! Because the righteous One is the payment for your sins, your sins do not pile up. You can go to God and confess your sins to a faithful mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6) and He will “cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Your sins do not “stick together” like the unrepentant sinners of Babylon. Your sins have been forgiven since you received Christ as your savior. And “no one is able to snatch [you] out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).
Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.
One of the prophetic keys to God’s plan before He returns is the restoration of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 37:21). Through prophets such as Ezekiel, God foretold a day when He would gather the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth and bring them back to the land He had promised them. The fulfillment of this prophecy began in 1948 when Israel became a nation, and continues to this day as more Jews return to the Promised Land.
In biblical times Israel sought assistance from other nations for protection against an impeding enemy. For instance, as the Syrians threatened Israel, King Ahaz called upon the help of Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:7). Later, King Hoshea would try and break his alliance with Assyria as he sought the protection of So, king of Egypt. This decision ultimately led to the northern tribes being conquered and exiled from the land by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17).
In the present, Israel has looked to America as its source of help and protection. However, a new political regime could quickly change the relationship between America and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech of several years ago, before a joint session of the United States Congress, accurately noted that Israel may have to stand alone. Their position will ultimately force Israel to recognize that her only true source of protection is God Himself. The following words by the prophet Isaiah should be a reminder to Israel of the dangers that arise when trust is placed in man:
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD (Isaiah 31:1).
At the end of his speech Netanyahu quoted the following words by Moses, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them” (Deuteronomy 31:6). It is unfortunate he did not quote the remainder of the verse, because it reminds both Israel and America where this courage comes from: “for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
While many trials and tribulations lay ahead for Israel, God will one day change the hearts of the Jewish people and bring them to a full understanding of their Messiah:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10).
America has been the greatest nation in the history of the world. Built upon the principles in God’s Word, she has seemed invincible. Once honoring the LORD, she forsakes and rejects the ways of the One Who has blessed and protected her.
America is hardening her heart to the God of the Bible and enthusiastically embraces beliefs and practices contrary to His nature and will. Accordingly, the testimony of Scripture, the lessons of history, and the witness of God’s Spirit announce America’s inevitable fate – unless she repents.
We must turn from the morally bankrupt path we are pursuing. Instead of following the trends of secular society, the Church must be guided by God’s Word and His Spirit.
Are We Deaf?
Why have we trampled under foot the very Word of God? Are we deaf to God’s calls to repent? Are we too stiff-necked to turn back to the LORD and walk His path before it is too late? Does this generation not realize that the apocalyptic events described in Revelation are on the verge of occurring? As cataclysmic judgments loom at our door, how can we continue this foolhardy course?
Any discerning person can recognize what is happening: America is being methodically attacked and the glory of our beloved country is rapidly diminishing. Under the pretense of protection, U.S. and global citizens are being methodically monitored, strategically controlled, and systematically enslaved. Increasing surveillance and loss of privacy are speeding us toward the reality of Revelation 13 – not being able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead.
Are We Blind?
Scripture has proven to be amazingly accurate throughout history and is being fulfilled today. Are we too blind to see that many of these prophesied curses are already being experienced in America for violating God’s laws? We are facing impending judgment, yet so many have stopped-up ears, blinded eyes, calloused hearts with values too twisted to recognize what is coming.
Although initially written millennia ago for the nation of Israel, Moses’ words are relevant for America today. God promised great blessings for obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Leviticus 26:3-13) and restoration for repentance in violating His Word (Leviticus 26:40-45; Isaiah 1:18, 19). The LORD also strongly warned of harsh consequences for rebellion, disobedience, and the persistent violation of His decrees (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-39; and Isaiah 1:2-31).
One day America, like Judah, may be invaded, our people humbled and taken captive. One day those who are selling out America and betraying her by actively or passively undermining her historic values will sit in mourning over the loss of our great cities – as the Jews grieved for Jerusalem when they were taken into Babylonian captivity.
I have grave concerns for this nation I love so much. Every Fourth of July for the past several years I have pondered the gradual – sometimes dramatic – changes in America. I see the flag at our ministry center swaying in the breeze and wonder how long it will fly.
Over three thousand years ago Joshua sent three thousand Israelites to conquer the walled city of Ai. But they were routed by the men of Ai.
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? (Joshua 7:6, 10).
Once Joshua dealt with the sin issue in the camp of Israel (see Joshua 7:11 – 26) they victoriously conquered Ai.
Many Christians today are on their faces prostrate before the Lord – in repentance, prayer, and fasting. While prayer is powerful and essential, it is also imperative that we get off our faces and fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for our lives. What is that purpose? Being witnesses for Christ to a lost and dying world (Acts 1:8).
Obviously, don’t quit praying! But rise up and share your faith in Christ any way you can. Use your phone, letters, e-mail, texts, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other forms of media. Witness to telemarketers and anyone who will listen.
God desires to bring many more to salvation before the Rapture of the Church. Perhaps He is using this current crisis to help us get His Gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14). If the coronavirus could so easily and quickly multiply to infect so many people, how much more can believers multiply their testimonies to impact an entire world for Jesus Christ. Begin today!
The apostle Paul entreats us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13). As you see the Day of the Lord approaching, realize that each passing moment brings you closer to eternity.
New Levels of Depravity
Our decadent society is free-falling into an abyss of unrestrained, uninhibited, gratuitous sexual addiction. All limits have been removed as virtually anything and everything is acceptable. Today’s generation has adopted the attitude of the Israelites in the days of the Judges, when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
In various ways people in this day and age take the behavior of ancient pagan fertility rites to new levels of depravity. We live in a world given over to every sexual perversion imaginable as people, driven by an appetite for erotica, unsuccessfully attempt to satisfy their lust for sexual gratification. The Bible says –
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19).
Many Christians and even pastors carelessly pursue practices and lifestyles that are destructive to their health and testimony, disastrous to their families and devastating to their congregations.
Broken lives, ruined marriages, traumatized families, diminished health and damaged testimonies could be avoided if a fruit of the Spirit – self-control – is exercised. However, those who refuse to repent and do not endeavor to develop discipline, then God’s discipline – whether it comes from reaping the consequences of seeds sown or through remedial judgments – will clean up many in the Body of Christ who tolerate or flaunt immorality.
Come out of Babylon
Time is running out as this nation and world rapidly disintegrate morally. Collapse seems imminent. Priorities and pursuits need to change. Each person must repent of the sin and vileness in their lives and homes. God exhorts each of us to resist the pervasive spirit of apostasy and wanton immorality. He is calling His people to come out of Babylon “so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
The apostle John encourages everyone who lives in the hope of Christ’s return to purify themselves (1 John 3:2, 3).
The apostle Peter tells us to live holy and godly lives as the day of the Lord approaches (2 Peter 3:9-14).
The Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to remain faithful.
Challenge to God’s People
In spite of an increasingly corrupt world, Jesus is coming back for a Bride without spot or blemish. So it is time His Church cleans up her act. This is a day and age for believers to evaluate our lives; examine what we are entertained by, contemplate what our minds are exposed to, consider the words we speak, and ponder the meditations of our heart. It is a time to purify our minds and bodies.
Each of us will be tried and tested in our pursuit of holiness and purity. The enemy will use every opportunity and method to pollute our minds with vile images and tempt us to compromise our lives with sinful behavior. We can and must resist by the might of His Spirit and the command of His Word.
The Church does not need pastors who merely tell us how human they are by confessing all their flaws and dark secrets. We need ministers who will show us how they overcame them by the power of God’s Spirit and the authority of His Word. We need Christian leaders who will lead by godly example in a darkening and desperate world. We need those who will inspire us to maintain disciplined lifestyles so we can be effective witnesses with testimonies that shine brightly for His glory.
While God offers the free gift of salvation to everyone who will believe and receive, it is imperative that we seek to walk a path of strength and wisdom in pursuit of purity, maturity, and righteousness as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.