Thursday, April 4, 2013

Victory Though Death

Once again, we are being told that fewer people believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ than ever before:

A new poll released by Rasmussen Reports says that 64% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, down from 77% just a year ago. (Poll: Americans Believing In The Resurrection Drops To 64%)

I have to ask, is it any wonder? The attacks are relentless. The rhetoric has been turned up a notch. Nearly every thing people watch on the History Channel and the like have documentaries (really, documentaries? You've got to be kidding!) that share all the reasons why Jesus could not have risen with almost no one giving an opposing opinion. And we are even being told that it doesn't matter to the Christian if Jesus rose from the dead or not as long as you just believe in Him (cue the theologians that are understudies of men like Rudolf Bultmann).

So, as we celebrate the resurrection every single Sunday, my heart is overjoyed to experience the victorious feeling of Christ rising from the dead. It is an absolute certainty that we worship and serve a living Savior! I believe because I trust the facts published and affirmed that Jesus actually rose from the dead, both historically and physically.

However, in the midst of that euphoria, we must remember that the Cross was where the victory took place. It is the resurrection that affirms that victory. You see, you can't have resurrection without a death, and you can't have death without resurrection. Without both, neither are valid.

Here's what I'm talking about. If you go to the tombs of Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed, they are all still there. For thousands of years, archeologists and explorers have tried to find the bones of Jesus in a tomb, but there are no bones in His tomb. They are simply not there. Think about it, when they find the tomb of Jesus, which was a borrowed tomb, by the way, why would Jesus' name be on it anyway? Don't you think that it would've said Joseph of Arimathea or the like? The tomb is empty. Jesus is not there. No one, including the disciples, could've stolen His body. Think about the Romans, they couldn't have cared less. The Jewish leaders didn't want the body to be missing. And the disciples? Are you kidding me? Every single one of them gave their lives for Christ. Had they stolen the body, they would have gladly recanted and claimed it all to be fallacy. Why do they want to find Jesus' bones? Because, they know, better than most Christians, that without an empty tomb, we are miserable and "still in our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection is a house of cards that would fall, if it were possible, once the bones of Jesus were found. The empty tomb assures that our sins have really been forgiven once we each trust Jesus as our Personal Savior.

So as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, remember that the victory that took place was on the cross and was assured by the empty tomb. We can never think that it was at the cross we faced defeat and the resurrection was where we received the victory. It is the resurrection that proves that my forgiveness happened because Jesus is now risen from the dead, just as He said. And that is why Satan and his minions have attempted throughout the centuries to try and deceive people into believing the resurrection never took place.

The apostle Paul puts it all together for us in chapter 10 when he writes in verse 9

"if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you'll be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation."

The resurrection and the death of Christ are permanently and completely bound together to tell us all that both are necessary for our salvation... for our forgiveness... that we might know true victory in Jesus Christ.

So my challenge to you is to glory and boast in the cross. Celebrate the resurrection because now you can know for sure that your sins can be forgiven if you will trust and ask the Father today. That's what Easter is all about.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

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