The Resurrection of Jesus Christ as Christianity’s Centerpiece - page 3

 

 


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From the Spring 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ as Christianity's Centerpiece

by Benjamin C. Shaw, Student Fellow, and Gary R. Habermas, Ph.D.

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 Fifth, the early church persecutor, Paul, was likewise converted when he was convinced that the risen Jesus had appeared to him. Paul provides us with his own accounts of his conversion, as he was transformed from terrorizing the church to being a committed follower of Jesus and martyr for his faith (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8–10; Gal. 1:12–16, 22–23; Phil. 3:6–7). In addition to Paul’s own writings, Acts recounts his conversion three separate times (Acts 9:1–19; 22:3–16; 26:9–20). This means that the report of Paul’s conversion comes from another eyewitness, as well as an early and independent source. Additionally, both Paul and Acts describe the various persecutions that he subsequently endured as a result of his conversion (e.g., 2 Cor. 11:23–29; Phil. 1:12–14; Acts 13:50).
 For these reasons, among others, the overwhelming majority of scholars from diverse theological backgrounds think that these five facts are historically secure. Naturalistic theories such as Jesus’ apparent death have consistently failed to adequately account for these points. Jesus’ resurrection is supported by exceptionally strong facts, and this should encourage Christians to grow and be confident in their faith.

Believers: Grounded in the Resurrection

  Established on a powerful historical foundation, how should these events influence the lives of believers today? The resurrection of Jesus is not simply a historical reality to be intellectually affirmed (cf. James 2:19). The event has dramatic consequences—existential and practical effects—in both the present and the future. Here we will address a few of these effects to demonstrate why Christians today can live a life that is encouraged and empowered by Jesus’ resurrection.
 One critically important aspect of Jesus’ resurrection is this: without it, forgiveness of sins would not be a reality (1 Cor. 15:17; cf. Rom. 4:25). The forgiveness that Christians receive is based on the gracious act of God in and through Jesus. Another consequence is that this grace should be likewise extended through us into the lives of other believers (1 John 4:19–21).
  Another benefit of Jesus’ resurrection is hope both in this life and in the future. Peter explains that, because of the resurrection of Jesus, we are able to rejoice even in the midst of persecution (1 Pet. 1:3, 6–7)! Knowing Peter’s own testimony of suffering puts teeth in this admonition. But there’s even more here. Jesus’ resurrection also secures our future inheritance, and no one can take it away from us (1 Pet. 1:3–5, 8–9)! As Paul also points out in many texts, Jesus’ resurrection ensures the believer’s afterlife.6 Thus, as there is confidence in Jesus’ resurrection, so too should there be confidence in our future resurrections.
 Accordingly, as Peter pointed out, Christians never live for the future world alone, but Jesus’ resurrection brings meaning into the present as well. Don’t believe the adage that Christians are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. In fact, it is precisely because Jesus died and rose again from the dead that the present life is anything but trivial or inconsequential. As C.S. Lewis commented, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”7

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