Monday, April 5, 2021

Take Heart

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33 ESV

The resurrection as a verifiable, historical event is the center point of the Christian faith.  Without a resurrected Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin and no reconciliation to God.  That's exactly why the power of the enemy was so concentrated on that time and place, sealing Jesus in a tomb behind a stone with a detachment of soldiers to guard it.  But the power of God was also concentrated on that time and place, so much so that the earth shook, the temple curtain--symbol of the boundary between the presence of God and the souls of humanity--was ripped in two, it got dark and graves were opened (Matthew 27:52)and their occupants resurrected.  

Even so, on Easter Sunday, the sermon I heard in a friend's church was another review of the historical facts of the resurrection contrasted with the world's attempts to make it unbelievable.  What else would you preach on Easter?  But discrediting the historical accuracy of the resurrection is doing the same thing that the Roman soldiers did to Jesus on Calvary.  It separates humans from the very thing they need to forgive their sin and reconcile with God.  So pastors stand in their pulpits on Easter Sunday and affirm the historical accuracy of the scripture because that opens the door to an understanding of truth that leads to salvation of the soul.  

Many of the theories that have been brought forward to attempt to discredit the historical accounts of Jesus rising from the dead aren't really plausible arguments.  The tomb was being guarded by soldiers who would have been executed if they allowed the body to be stolen.  Then there's the idea that Jesus simply fainted from loss of blood and from having a spear thrust into his side and revived when he got into the cool tomb where, after being severely beaten and hanging on a cross, was able to roll a massive stone back from the inside and somehow walk out without being seen.  The claim is also made that the women who went to the tomb simply went to the wrong one.  Those claims, while they represent attempts to explain away a miracle in the world's terms, are not really plausible or believable.  

The most powerful argument made by the world against the resurrection of Jesus is a reliance on intellect.  Humans do not rise from the dead, according to the intellectual argument, hence such stories are legends built by Jesus' disciples, his followers who vented their frustration by creating the Jesus of the gospels out of the character of the itinerant Jewish rabbi to whom they attached themselves.  Somehow they persuaded Paul to join them, inventing--according to their perspective--a dramatic and intense conversion experience to go along with the legend they were building.  It was Paul who took the simple gospel account of Mark and turned Jesus into world savior and legend, a myth as compelling as the stuff the Greeks imagined, according to the perspective of human intellect.  

Factually, there are a lot of holes in that argument.  Paul, along with several of Jesus' original twelve disciples, met death by execution because of their testimony to the truth of Jesus' resurrection.  It's not very likely they would put their lives on the line for something they invented and didn't really believe.  Nor would the literally thousands of Christians who met their death at the hands of an executioner because they would not deny their belief in the existence of God, that Jesus was his divine and human son and that he was sacrificed as an atonement for sin.  By any accepted historical standard, the written account of the crucifixion and the resurrection were historical, not fictional. 

But the main fight against belief in God, and the specific means by which he chose to forgive sin and redeem his human creation today is the intellectual argument that relegates "religious beliefs" to some kind of mystical, unexplainable domain and simply make a statement by setting it aside and leaving it out of education altogether.  Children in our culture are compelled to attend school until they turn 16 years of age or they finish the eighth grade, and a specific curriculum of core subjects is required, along with minimum standards of achievement.  What message is sent when the Bible is rarely mentioned and when it is, only as an example of ancient poetry or literature?  Students get the message from the educational establishment that what is taught in school is important, and what is not taught isn't.  And that is reinforced by curriculum objectives which contradict Biblical truth.  

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.  And this is the spirit of the antichrist of which you have heard that it is coming and now it is already in the world.  I John 4:2-3 NRSV

That's why we exist. The education that is provided at Midwestern Christian Academy not only includes and integrates Biblical truth in its curriculum, including the confession that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, its whole philosophy rests on the foundation of the Bible's revelation of God to humanity and his redemption of us by grace through faith in Christ.  The education of a child is not complete without it.  


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