By Chip Ingram, Crosswalk.com
When I was in college, a professor asked me a question I will never forget. "Chip," he said, "I can't understand one thing. How can someone who seems to be as bright as you are really believe in a literal Jesus and the Bible and all this 'born again' stuff?"
He was basically asking me if I had thrown my brains in the trashcan to be a Christian. I realized then that I didn't have solid intellectual answers for hard intellectual questions. And so I began a journey to discover feasible evidence to support my faith in Jesus and the Bible.
What I have learned over these 20-plus years is that there are great answers, but they all start with one central building block . . . one foundation . . . and that is the resurrection of Christ.
If you think I'm being too strong, listen to the apostle Paul. "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Cor. 15:14, NIV). If the literal resurrection of Jesus isn't true, Christianity doesn't hold water; so it's vital to examine the evidence. Here are five reasons why I believe in the resurrection. I pray they encourage you in your faith this Easter season.
1. The death of Jesus was undisputed
Critics try to discredit the resurrection by saying that Jesus didn't really die-that He was near death, but revived in the tomb. Consider the evidence. Jesus was flogged, beaten within an inch of His life, and crucified-one of the cruelest forms of torture and death ever devised. The Roman soldiers were so convinced that they didn't even break His legs as they had the other prisoners. They gashed His side, and water and blood flowed out. His body was wrapped in 100 pounds of myrrh, spices, and linen. Jesus was unquestionably dead.
2. The burial of Jesus was public
One theory says that the disciples merely went to the wrong tomb. But the tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, and it must have been prominent. If it were the wrong tomb, the Jewish leaders could easily have gone to the right tomb and produced the body, thereby halting the Christian movement before it began.
3. The grave of Jesus was secure
The story quickly surfaced that the disciples stole Jesus' body while the guards were asleep. But these guards were the fighting machines of their day, and could have been put to death for sleeping on the job. It is highly unlikely that even one fell asleep. And don't forget the stone. It would have taken about 20 men to roll away the stone that sealed the entrance of the tomb. It is absurd to think the disciples rolled away the stone and removed the body without waking the guards.
4. The evidence for Jesus' resurrection is convincing
I'm using the term "convincing" in the legal sense-beyond a reasonable doubt. The preponderance of evidence points to the fact that Jesus was dead and that He rose from the dead. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared 12 different times to more than 500 witnesses-both followers and skeptics-over a period of 40 days.
5. The message of Jesus' resurrection is life-changing
One of the most convincing evidences of the resurrection is the transformation of the disciples' lives. Look at Peter. After Jesus' death, he was too fearful to admit he even knew Him. But only weeks later, we see Peter passionately proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. What happened? He met the resurrected Christ! In fact, 11 of the 12 disciples willingly gave their lives in service to this Jesus whom they saw alive from the dead. The disciples were in a position to know for certain whether Jesus rose from the dead or if the whole thing was a hoax. And their wholehearted devotion to the Lord shows clearly what they believed to be true.
The resurrected Lord has transformed my life and the lives of countless others for more than two thousand years. Because Jesus rose from the dead. Because the Scripture is true.
"How Firm a Foundation" Hymn
This Christian hymn was published in 1787 by John Rippon. The obvious theme of this hymn is the firm foundation that God provides to us in a turbulent world. Rippon rejoices in the fact that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can rely upon the solid foundation of the Lord to keep us calm and encouraged.
1 How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, >is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
2 "In every condition, in sickness, in health,
in poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth,
at home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
as days may demand, shall thy strength ever be."
3 "Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand."
4 "When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress."
5 "When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."
6 "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"
Source: Hymns to the Living God #241
Used with permission. Copyright 2002 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved. www.lote.org.
About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.