How Do We Know Jesus Died? (Part 5).

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).

How do we know that Jesus actually died on the cross? Aside from what the Bible says in I Peter 3:18, and elsewhere, what evidence do we have for Jesus’ death? Or to put it another way, what are the alternative arguments for Jesus “not” dying on the cross and are they at all plausible?

First of all, there is the Swoon Theory. Second is the Stolen Body Theory. Third is the Hallucination Theory. Fourth is the Wrong Tomb Theory. Finally, there is the Body was Moved Theory. Perhaps, as some speculate, Jewish or Roman authorities moved the body. This is refuted by…

  • The Lack of Reasoning behind it. Having place guards at the tomb to insure no one would tamper with the body of Jesus, what would be the reason for moving the body? Certainly, it could be argued that the Jewish and/or Roman authorities did so to prevent the disciples from doing the very thing they suspected they would do; steal the body of Jesus. Therefore, by moving the body they would hide Christ’s body and therefore prevent the disciples from achieving their intended goal. But this leads us to a second point, which is…
  • The Apostles Preaching. In the face of such boldness on the part of the disciples, as documented in the Book of Acts, why wouldn’t the authorities simply produce the body of Jesus if it indeed had only been moved? The Jewish leaders were enraged at Peter and John in Acts 4 &5 but did nothing to neither prevent the message of the gospel nor suppress it. They also did nothing to produce the body of Jesus if indeed it had only been moved by the religious leaders.

I submit that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus Christ did in fact die on the cross. This is especially important for us today in light of Islam’s flagrant rejection of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Joined to the reality of Jesus’s death is also the reality of His resurrection. What evidences to we have concerning the resurrection of Christ? We will begin to examine these next time.

Soli deo Gloria!

How Do We Know Jesus Died? (Part 4).

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).

How do we know that Jesus actually died on the cross? Aside from what the Bible says in I Peter 3:18, and elsewhere, what evidence do we have for Jesus’ death? Or to put it another way, what are the alternative arguments for Jesus “not” dying on the cross and are they at all plausible?

First of all, there is the Swoon Theory. Second is the Stolen Body Theory. Third is the Hallucination Theory. Fourth is the Wrong Tomb Theory. This perspective states that the reason there wasn’t a body in the tomb is because everyone went to the wrong tomb. This is refuted by …

  • The women who took such special care to note where Jesus’ body had been laid (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55).
  • Peter and John also knew exactly where the tomb was even though they arrived separately (John 20:2-8).
  • The Roman Guards. How could they have been mistaken when such specific plans and procedures had been carefully thought out by the chief priests to guard the tomb so Jesus’ body would not be stolen? (Matthew 27:62-66; Matthew 28:1-4, 11).
  • Why were the guards bribed to lie about the empty tomb if they had been at the wrong tomb? (Matthew 28:12-15).
  • If it was the wrong tomb then why didn’t the chief priests, the Sanhedrin, the Roman Soldiers, Joseph of Arimathea, or even Pilate himself go to the right tomb and produce the body? The conclusion is simple. They were at the right tomb and it was empty because Jesus had risen from the dead.

More to come!

Soli deo Gloria!

How Do We Know Jesus Died? (Part 3).

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).

How do we know that Jesus actually died on the cross? Aside from what the Bible says in I Peter 3:18, and elsewhere, what evidence do we have for Jesus’ death? Or to put it another way, what are the alternative arguments for Jesus “not” dying on the cross and are they at all plausible?

First of all, there is the Swoon Theory. Second is the Stolen Body Theory. Third is the Hallucination Theory. This theory states that the disciples so wanted to believe that Jesus rose from the dead that they hallucinated and actually believed He had risen. This is refuted …

  • By Jesus’ Appearances. Too many people saw Christ after His death for his resurrection to be anything else than what it was. I Corinthians 15:1-8. When He appeared to the disciples they thought He was a ghost. He finally had to tell them to touch and handle Him. He even asked them for some fish. Luke 24:36-43.
  • The Skepticism of the Disciples. The disciples didn’t believe at first that Jesus had risen from the dead. They were skeptical (Mark 16:9-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-25). Thomas flat out refused to believe it was true unless he placed his hands in Jesus’ wounds. They thought words of His resurrection were “idle tales.”
  • The Behavior by the Women. If Mary, and the other women, were so convinced that He would rise then why did they go to the tomb on first day of week to anoint His body? They obviously weren’t expecting Him to be alive (John 20:1-10). In fact, Mary didn’t even recognize Jesus, but thought He was a gardener (John 20:11-18).

More to come! Soli deo Gloria!

How Do We Know Jesus Died? (Part 2).

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).

How do we know that Jesus actually died on the cross? Aside from what the Bible says in I Peter 3:18, and elsewhere, what evidence do we have for Jesus’ death? Or to put it another way, what are the alternative arguments for Jesus “not” dying on the cross and are they at all plausible?

First of all, there is the Swoon Theory. Second is the Stolen Body Theory. This theory argues that Christ didn’t rise from the dead but rather that His disciples stole the body and pretended to everyone that Christ had risen. This is refuted …

  • By the Actions of the Chief Priests. When the chief priests heard that the tomb of Jesus was empty and His body gone, they bribed the soldiers to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body. This would protect the soldiers from punishment. However, why would the chief priest bribe the soldiers to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen Christ’s body if the disciples had indeed stolen the body of the Lord? See Matthew 28:11-15.
  • The Presence of the Roman Guards. In Matthew 27:57-65 we see that the chief priests and the Pharisees came to Pilate and requested that the tomb be made secure so that the disciples couldn’t steal His body. They even had guards posted. They anticipated such a theft taking place.
  • The Sealing of the Tomb. Again in Matthew 27:65- 66 we see that the utmost caution was made to ensure that the tomb couldn’t be breached. Is it possible that the disciples got pass the guards, unsealed the tomb and took the body of Jesus without being detected?
  • The Fear of the Disciples. In Mark 14:50 along with Matthew 26:56 we see the disciples having fled in fear following the arrest of Jesus. With the exception of John (John 19:25-27) and maybe Peter (I Peter 2:21-25) none of the disciples were present at the crucifixion. In John 20:19 we see the disciples huddled in the upper room with the doors shut and locked for fear of the Jews. The disciples believed that as Jesus’ enemies had executed Him, they would soon be next. Is it plausible that these fearful men would seek out Jesus’ body and try to steal it?
  • The Orderly Condition of the Grave Clothes. In Luke 24:1-12 along with John 20:3-7 we see the burial clothes Jesus wore lying in the tomb. The handkerchief that had been wrapped around His head was not lying with the linen clothes but folded together in a place by itself. Does it make sense that had the disciples stolen the body they would have taken the time to neatly fold the strips of Jesus’ burial linen before they left the tomb?
  • The Preaching of the Gospel. If the disciples had stolen the body they would have known that the resurrection story was a lie. Why then would they preach a lie and in some cases die for a lie, knowing it was a lie? See Acts 4:8-12. While it makes sense to suffer persecution for something you believe is true, even if it is not, it makes no sense to be persecuted for something you know not to be true. The only logical explanation is that the disciples were willing to suffer and die for the gospel because they knew that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.

More to come!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

How Do We Know Jesus Died?

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).

How do we know that Jesus actually died on the cross? Aside from what the Bible says in I Peter 3:18, and elsewhere, what evidence do we have for Jesus’ death? Or to put it another way, what are the alternative arguments for Jesus “not” dying on the cross and are they at all plausible?

First of all, there is the Swoon Theory. This point of view teaches that Jesus didn’t die but simply fainted. The cool air of the tomb later revived him. He then lived many years thereafter and died a natural death. This is refuted …

  • By the soldiers. In John 19:31-37, the soldiers broke the legs of both of the criminals crucified on either side of Jesus for the purpose of hastening their death. This was so their bodies would not remain on the cross during the Sabbath. However, when they got to Jesus they saw that He was already dead so they did not break His legs. They also stabbed Him in the side just to make sure that He was indeed deceased.
  • By Joseph of Arimathea. All four gospels (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:38-42) record Joseph of Arimathea, along with Nicodemas and other women, carefully anointing Jesus’ body for burial, binding it in strips of linen with spices and laying His body in a new tomb. Surely they would have noticed if He was still breathing.
  • By Nicodemas. (See previous point).
  • By Pilate. Mark 14:42-47 reports that Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus had already died after only being on the cross for six hours. Sometimes death by crucifixion could take up to six days. Therefore, Pilate had the centurion in charge of the execution verify that Jesus was indeed dead. The centurion did so.
  • By Jesus. If Jesus had simply fainted, and later regained consciousness, this would mean that Jesus would have been a part of a fragrant lie by pretending to have risen from the grave when He would have known that He had not. He would therefore neither be good, nor a moral teacher who should be followed but rather a liar to be rejected.

As the late Paul Little explains, “It is impossible that One who had just come forth from the grave half dead, who crept about weak and ill, who stood in need of medical treatment, of bandaging, strengthening, and tender care and who at last succumbed to such great suffering on the cross could ever have given the disciples the impression that He was the conqueror over death and the grave; that He was the Prince of Life.”

More to come!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Proclaim.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

What is the believer’s identity in Jesus Christ?

First, all believers are a chosen race. Second, believers are a royal priesthood. Third, believers in Christ are a holy group of people. Fourth, the church belongs to God. As one theologian says, “As Israel was “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,” so too believers today are chosen, are priests, are holy, and belong to God.”

What then is our purpose and mission in possessing these four privileges? Our purpose in light of what all believers are in Christ is to proclaim, announce and speak about Jesus Christ. Proclaim (ἐξαγγέλλω; exangello) is the word from which we derive the English word angel. Among the many responsibilities angels possess, one of their main functions was to announce God’s truth as God’s messenger. God calls us to announce His great and wonderful character in saving sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

God calls sinners out of the evil realm of darkness and death (Ephesians 2:1-3). This is the realm we all were a part of in our unconverted existence. But God, by His grace, called and summoned us into a covenant relationship with Him. This is truly wonderful.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way in Ephesians 2:4-7. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Remember your responsibility to tell everyone what God has done for you in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Remember to also live a holy life before God and others in light of all you are in Jesus Christ.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Our Sure Foundation.

For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (I Peter 2:6).

One of the supporting evidences the Bible is the Word of God is the perspective the writers of the New Testament had toward the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul frequently quoted from the Old Testament as God’s holy revelation (Romans 3). So did Jesus (Matthew 5-7). So too does the Apostle Peter.

When Peter writes, “For it stands in Scripture,” he was saying that the subject of Jesus Christ being our living stone, and believers also being living stones because of Christ, is found in the Old Testament: the Scriptures.

The word “stands” means contained. Contained in the content of the Old Testament writings is the doctrine of Christ being a stone or foundation for the believer. The passage to which Peter refers is found in Isaiah 28:16.

In Isaiah 28:16, the subject is God the Father. He lays or brings about and appoints a stone in Zion, which is another word for Jerusalem and Israel. The stone which God appoints is not just any stone, but rather a cornerstone (ἀκρογωνιαῖος; akrogoniaios) meaning a capstone, which is an essential stone for a building’s construction.

Notice also this stone, this cornerstone, is chosen (ἐκλεκτός; eklektos) and precious (ἔντιμος; entimos). These thoughts regarding Jesus are not unique to the apostle, but rather are also taken from the prophet. There is an agreement in what both men are saying. The Apostle Paul concurs in Ephesians 2:20.

The purpose of Jesus being our cornerstone is that he who believes and trusts in Him for salvation will never be ashamed for having done so. The word “ashamed” means to be humiliated or disgraced. This will never happen for those who believe in Christ. Our salvation and security in Christ is a like a sure foundation.

The hymn writer put it this way when he wrote:

The Church’s one foundation
 Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation
 By water and the Word:
From heav’n He came and sought her
 To be His holy Bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
 And for her life He died.

Rejoice today in that Jesus is your rock, your foundation which will never be moved.

Soli deo Gloria!

Called to be Christ-Like.

4 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:4-5).

Christians are called to be Christ-like. Isn’t it interesting the not only does the Apostle Peter call Jesus the living stone, but he also identifies believers in Christ as being like living stones. When I visited Israel several years ago, I noticed that in the Galilean area many ancient and present day buildings were/are constructed from the stones found in the local countryside. One family my tour group visited was in the process of building their new home out of the stones collected from a nearby hillside

In maintaining this symbolic image, Peter goes on to say the God is building believers, much like a builder uses stones, into a spiritual house or dwelling place. The phrase “are being built” means the work God is doing He is accomplishing in the lives of believers. It is His work, of which the believer is the beneficiary. Each believer in Christ increasingly becomes a holy sanctuary or temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

What is God’s purpose in doing this construction in us? The answer is so that believers would become a holy priesthood. What did the Old Testament priests do? They were holy, or dedicated, to offer up sacrifices to God. That is what God has called believers in Christ to do for His glory and honor.

As one commentator explains, “All believers are priests (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 4:16; Revelation 1:6) and need no mediator other than Jesus Christ to approach God directly (I Timothy 2:5). Such priestly service requires holiness (cf. 1 Peter 1:16, 22). Praise to God and doing good to others are spiritual sacrifices that please Him (Hebrews 13:15). However, “living stones” may also offer themselves as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1), acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

We have much to offer God, through Christ, in gratitude and appreciation for all that He has done for us. Let us love God and serve others for His glory today, and as we do so let us thank Him for the privilege.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Rejected by Men.

4 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:4-5).

Even though Jesus is the living stone, He was rejected by men. To be rejected means to be regarded as unworthy and to be perceived as something bad. In man’s eyes, Jesus was unworthy of their worship when He lived on earth and He remains unworthy in many people’s perspectives even now as He is in heaven. The Prophet Isaiah prophesied this in Isaiah 53:3:

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

This is the opinion of the world regarding Christ and His followers. But how does God the Father view God the Son? The Son is chosen, meaning uniquely selected for the task of salvation, and precious, which means honored. God the Father chose the Son to accomplish His will. The Son was willing to obey and fulfill the Father’s will (John 10:7-19).

Much like Christ, Peter says we too are chosen and precious in the sight of God (1:1, 18). What a wonderful privilege and position we as believers in Christ possess before God the Father.

May we choose to live today in light of our exalted privilege.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Reformation Day, 2017

Happy Reformation Day. It was five hundred years ago today that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis on the Castle Church Door in Wittenberg, Germany, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. We have spent close to a month examining this significant moment in history, along with the individual God used to bring it about: Martin Luther. I trust you have been as blessed as I have.

The impasse which occurred between the Reformers of the 16th Century and the Roman Catholic Church remain in full force today. These issues are as critical now as they were then. What key takeaways from the Reformation would we be wise to apply to the context of Christianity in the 21st Century?

The first would be that the sole authority for the Christian is to be the Scriptures: Sola Scriptura. Then, and now, the Roman Catholic Church views Scripture as deferring to the church’s authority and traditions. This was not the view of Luther Calvin, or the other Reformers. This was the foundational issue in the Protestant Reformation.

However, I am concerned that there are those within Evangelical Protestant churches who do not have the viewpoint that the Scriptures alone are our sole and primary authority in matters of faith and practice. I am concerned that believers opt for their own opinions and attitudes to shape their decisions, rather than obeying God’s Word. It is when these attitudes and opinions run contrary to the Scriptures, the Scriptures are often set aside. This is not becoming the exception, but rather the norm.

 

For example, when a Christian is unhappy in their marriage, they may feel free to pursue and engage in an extra-marital affair. It doesn’t matter to them what the Bible says about adultery. They want to be happy and woe to the pastor who confronts them about their sin in accordance to Matthew 18:15-20 and Galatians 6:1-2.

Secondly, the commitment to objective truth instead of subjective experience is another lasting benefit from the Reformation. Martin Luther went from one religious experience to another; not only as a child, but also as a young adult. He constantly sought relief from his guilt over his sin by pursuing a religious experience. Whether it was promising to become a monk during a violent thunderstorm, constantly confessing his sins in the monastery, or traveling to Rome and climbing so-called sacred stairs on his knees while reciting the rosary, his life prior to conversion was a search for the right experience where he would find peace with God. However, his peace with God eventually came not from an emotional experience, but rather through the truth of the God’s Word specifically contained in Romans 1:16-17. On the basis of biblical truth, God credited Martin Luther with Christ’s righteousness, which resulted in Martin’s positional, personal and emotional peace with God.

Today, many seek a subjective, religious experience for the sake of a subjective religious experience alone. Their desire for a religious “high” becomes the goal they pursue, rather than the pursuit of objective truth. This is not only true at youth conferences, but also at women’s and men’s conferences. It is also seen in regularly in churches. Few are the worship leaders, pastors and conference speakers who resist this pandering to the crowd for an emotional response. They’re out there, but they’re few and are far between.

Thirdly, there is the commitment to the doctrine of sola fide or faith alone. This is a short-handed slogan which summarizes the doctrines of grace alone and Christ alone within the specific context of the biblical gospel of salvation. For more churches than I would care to estimate, the gospel has become a self-help movement focused on personal peace and financial affluence. Your best life now, so to speak. It may be summarized by one church which has as its slogan, “Join us! Where it’s okay to not be okay.”

The Reformation is far from over. It continues on and is as critical today as it was in Martin Luther’s day when biblical truth was at stake regarding how a sinner becomes righteous before God.

There are those who teach and believe that Scripture plus the church is the believer’s authority. That grace plus human merit saves. That faith plus works is necessary to be made righteous. That Christ’s righteousness along with one’s own is indispensable for salvation. That the glory of salvation is to be shared between God and man.

Today’s children of the Protestant Reformation hold that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone based upon the teachings and truth of the Scriptures alone.

May we continue to hold to these truths as tenaciously as did Martin Luther. It won’t be easy, but “Here we stand; we can do none other. God help us!”

Soli deo Gloria!