“Without the belief in the resurrection the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, His crucifixion would have silenced any hopes of His being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of His career. The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that God raised Jesus from the dead.” (William Lane Craig)
Here is Paul’s rhetorical argument: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised” (1 Corinthians 15:13–16).
Those who claimed to be “prophets” on whom other religions are based have all died and never been seen again. Even their followers have never testified to seeing them again. The witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection and those who saw Him alive after His resurrection are in the hundreds.
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (15:20). Paul takes this point of resurrection a step further; “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (15:22). He brings this wonderful truth of resurrection right down to you and me. Those who belong to Christ will also be resurrected. “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Do you believe this?
When I ask that question in the title, I am sure you immediately thought of the “great stone rolled to the entrance of the tomb” of Jesus (Matthew 27:60). Knowing who Jesus is and what He said would happen, it is almost laughable that the Pharisees “ordered the tomb to be secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first’” (27:64). All their effort came to nothing!
Turning now to the moment of the resurrection, why was it necessary to roll the stone away from the tomb? Could Jesus not get out of the tomb until it was rolled away? Of course He could!
Peter Marshall says, “The stone was rolled away from the door, not to permit Christ to come out, but to enable the disciples to go in.” To convince them and prove the power of Christ in resurrection, they needed to look in the tomb, see for themselves that it was empty and see “the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7). A profoundly ordered resurrection!
This is followed by Jesus appearing in person to the eleven disciples. There was another stone that had to be removed. “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).
Is there a stone at the door of your heart that is preventing you from having a close, intimate relationship with the risen Lord? It’s time to let the Spirit roll it away!
John R. Stott said, “We live and die; Christ died and lived.” Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again” (John 10:17). He is the only person in all human history who could say that. Many people have taken control of their time of death, but none have ever taken control of what happens after death.
Jesus told the twelve disciples plainly what would happen before it took place; “And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise” (Luke 18:33; also 24:7, 46). Even after His clear declaration, they did not believe this would happen. When it did, they were shocked and amazed, but convinced that their message was going to be based on Jesus’ resurrection.
Every human is born into a physical condition that will end in death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). They are also born into a morally dead condition (1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:1, 5), but can be given new life in Christ by faith in Him (1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13).
The real question is, are you physically alive, but spiritually dead? Or, were you at one time dead, but now you are alive in Christ, never to die? (See John 11:25-26). Your answer makes an eternal difference.
In our blogs, newsletters, training conferences and personal contacts, we try to pass on things that have eternal value. Hopefully, you are inspired, encouraged and at times, challenged to follow a biblical model for faith, practice, evangelism and church planting. All we do is based on one thing!
As we approach Easter, the Church focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and many details surrounding that event. All those details are important. When Paul referred to the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he said some things that should turn our attention toward where our faith is really anchored. Today, we face the same doubters about the resurrection that Jesus and Paul faced. Listen to Paul’s argument.
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised” (1 Corinthians 15:13–15).
That is a very decisive statement! Putting this another way; if there is no resurrection, the whole premise of Christianity has no foundation. Our faith in Christ becomes just a ritual without any meaning, no hope and without power for life or peace for the soul!
The answer to all those who claim there is no resurrection is that “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (15:20). It is an indisputable fact, proven beyond any doubt. That means you have a foundation for your faith that even death cannot stop, interrupt or destroy.
There are conversations I have with Christians who allow doubt and fear to control their hearts. I long for such persons to have ‘spiritual glasses’ that can see the amazing system of divine power and oversight we have on our side. Here are examples that should give you and others insight into the incredible resources God has made available to us at anytime, anywhere, under any conditions.
These first three references come from the Lord’s prayer in John 17:
Do these verses apply to us? Answer: ““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” (John 17:20). What wonderful comfort! Take a moment and read Hebrews 7:25; Jesus prayed for us before He went to the cross, and He is still praying for us at the Father’s right hand in heaven!
In these times of uncertainty, it is not only a time to seize opportunities for spreading the gospel, but also strengthen individuals in the Body of Christ, the Church. Unusual circumstances have hit so many. With loved ones dying, government restrictions prevent loved ones from arranging funerals or family get-togethers. This is difficult to handle and even more difficult to explain to young children who are suddenly cut off from grandparents or relatives.
In conversation with several today over the phone, I discovered that doubts were rising in their minds about their salvation (eternal security) due to world troubles. Many details are behind these feelings, but what I can do is point to truth that we must let stabilize our thinking.
When Jesus presented Himself as the “Good Shepherd” in John 10:1-18, He makes this contrast; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (10). That word “abundantly” means “a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate; that which is more than enough, beyond the norm, superfluous.” Such “abundant life” is never restricted by our circumstances.
Referring to these sheep that belong to Jesus, He says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29).
If you belong to Christ, you are in GREAT HANDS! If NOT, whose hands are you trusting?
In this day of bad news regarding the COVID-19, the rising number of cases and death toll, it is refreshing to the mind and heart to find persons who are thinking outside the problem. I had a conversation with a couple today in Ecuador who are doing just that.
They have helped us with our Spanish translations and will now update God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) to include the changes in the Third Edition. This will put GPHD in a position to impact all the Spanish speaking countries and locations in the world. Already, there is a high demand for these training books in Central American nations.
But that is not all! They want to make audio recordings of GPHD and GPHC that will include a reading of the Scriptures along with the questions in English and Spanish. This will enable audio learners, literacy challenged, and the blind to go through this study and be discipled and equipped with the gospel.
It is so exciting for us to partner with persons who look for ways to spread the gospel, even when the obstacles seem greater. Actually, they are partners with God in spreading the gospel to the unreached. This reminds us of Paul’s words about Titus; “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 8:23). Partnership like this makes problems in this life seem very small.
In this blog, I want to highlight two translations of our training material that are in process, plus a couple other items of news. The two languages are the Arabic and Farsi. Through an invitation to provide training in countries of the Middle East and West Asia, we have set our goal to have both translations completed and printed in 2020.
A dear brother has completed translating God’s Plan for His Church into Arabic and has started working on God’s Plan for His Disciples. He is a man who goes to great lengths to make sure the translation is accurate. In a sense, he feels that doing this work is going to his own people with the gospel through his translation work.
Just this week, we have received the Farsi translation of God’s Plan for His Disciples. Farsi (also known as Persian) is not in the top ten languages of the world, but is spoken by 110 million people. This in itself gives a sense of the potential impact God’s Word can have through this teaching.
Though we have been restricted from our normal travel around the globe and have canceled several training events, we are very encouraged that indigenous “Timothys” have taken up the challenge to take what they have learned and train others. This is exactly what Paul wanted Timothy to do; “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Pray for them to be confident in the Holy Spirit to enable and empower them to carry on an effective work.
When was the last time you read Hebrews 11? If you haven’t read this Chapter in some time, I invite you to take you Bible with a note book or pad of paper and pen, and read through this amazing account. These are men and women of faith who faced challenges we know little about.
How could they keep going in the face of suffering, even death? As you read, fill in the blanks.
Through faith, Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice because ______________________
Through faith, Enoch walked with God because ________________________________
Through faith, Noah obeyed God because _____________________________________
Through faith, Abraham believed the promises of God ___________________________
Through faith, Moses considered mistreatment and reproach greater riches than worldly wealth because (11:27) _______________________________________________________
Through faith, many others endured because God provided something better for them.
After all the powerful motivation of this chapter, they still did not have what you and I have. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Your ability to endure does NOT depend on you! It depends on where you are looking! Is it Jesus?
Knowing that many of you follow this ministry, I wanted to give a short update. Though we have seen many changes in the last month, and training trips have been canceled, there are other things happening that cause excitement. One of the most important items is the printing of our Third Edition of God’s Plan for His Disciples. We have just received and approved the proof from the printer. Since their printing load is light, they expect to go ahead with production immediately.
Again, we are amazed. One of our “Timothys” in S. E. Asia told us this week that with the restriction in travel, they have turned to Facebook to continue their training. Another “Timothy” in Myanmar carried on the training when Randy had to suddenly leave and return home because of travel restrictions. A brother in Malawi, Africa found our website and is very excited about our training material. Though he wanted to go through our training, conditions have stopped us from making any arrangements, but this did not stop him from diving into translating GPHD into Chichewa.
These are positive examples that God is NEVER STOPPED in His work. He is only asking us to join Him in prayer and encouragement with those He is using. In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus gives the parable of two sons whose father asked to go and work in the vineyard. One said he would go and didn’t. The other said “’I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went” (29). Even if we face doubts and challenges, let us do all we can to “GO” into the harvest for our Lord. You will never see the fruitful harvest until you get involved in some way.
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