The Foundation (Part I)

There’s a lot of stuff I’m not sure about in this life. I’m not sure if the Dodgers will ever win another World Series. I’m not sure if or when I’ll be able to retire. Heck, I’m still not completely sure what I’m going to do to make a living until I retire! But I am sure of a few things….

I am sure of the love of my wife, who puts up with me and tolerates all the wackiness that I come up with (well, mostly… bad jokes occasionally catch me an elbow!) I’m also sure that the sun will rise tomorrow, and that there will be both sunny days and rainy days ahead.

But when it comes to believing in something that I can build my life on, I keep coming back to the Resurrection. I am sure that Jesus died on a cross, that he was raised from the dead, and that we can have restored relationship with God because of the work Jesus did (and is doing) on our behalf. That is my foundation, the Rock on which I stand.

On my blog, I will occasionally throw out some thoughts and ideas that will seem a bit “out there” to you. In fact, you just may end up thinking I am a bit of a nut case… a few cards short of a full deck, perhaps! But if you’ll notice, my “out there” topics are usually related to non-core issues, tangential stuff. The most basic beliefs of Christianity – that God sent his Son to earth in the person of Jesus, and that Jesus died and rose again – I believe those things wholeheartedly. If I’m a nut or a fool, I hope that I’ll be a fool for Christ – trying to reconcile His Word with wordly viewpoints in a way that makes sense.

When I dropped out of church for a while in my mid-20’s as I grappled with some questions about the faith, one thing that brought me back was the compelling nature of the resurrection. If Jesus truly died and rose again, then that indicates to me that he is who he said he was, and he said that he is the Son of God. If Jesus rose again, I can trust that his teachings are true, and I can trust the Bible as God’s Word. The resurrection is my foundation. Similarly, Jewish folks may look at the exodus from Egypt and the miracles that God performed through Moses as their foundation. They know that their forefathers were rescued from Egypt because the stories have been passed down from generation to generation, and if the stories are true, then they can trust in God, etc., etc….

So, why do I believe in the resurrection? It is the first belief that people attack as being unrealistic, and who can blame them – men don’t rise from the dead, after all! Most non-believers I’ve talked with will agree that, yeah, Jesus was a good teacher, but this whole thing about being God and rising from the dead… that’s just a little too hard to believe. In my case, when I read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and was exposed to his logical arguments for the historicity of the resurrection, I became convinced. Other authors have made similar, in-depth arguments – Lee Strobel (“The Case for Christ”) and Josh McDowell (“Evidence that Demands a Verdict”) to name a few. By the way, both Strobel and Lewis were brilliant guys that did NOT believe in God… but when they tried to prove that God did not exist, they ended up proving to themselves that He did.

Why do I believe in the resurrection of Jesus? There is an overwhelming amount of eyewitness testimony. Hundreds of people saw Jesus after his resurrection, including all 11 of his remaining disciples (Judas the betrayer had already killed himself). The key question is, how reliable was their eyewitness testimony? What evidence should we consider?

I’ll lay out the key evidence (the same evidence that convinced Lewis, Strobel and others) in my next post, but until then, I’ve got a scenario for you to mull over.

Imagine that you were a contemporary of Jesus – one of his disciples. You would know first hand one way or the other whether Jesus was actually raised from the grave or not, right? In either case, how would that impact your behavior?

Think about it……

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One Response to The Foundation (Part I)

  1. Well, this is crazy…. I intended to write a Part II to this post months ago and never did it. Dohhhh!!!!

    Here’s the evidence that causes me to believe in the resurrection:

    1) all of Jesus’ disciples knew whether the resurrection was real or not. If it happened, they were eyewitnesses. If it didn’t happen, they knew it, and any claims they made about the resurrection would have been either a lie or due to hallucination.

    2) All of the disciples with the exception of Judas (who killed himself after betraying Jesus) were put to death because they refused to deny the resurrection was real. (Actually, John wasn’t put to death… they tried to boil him in oil, but he was unharmed, so they put him in prison on the isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation. ie, God wasn’t done with him yet.)

    3) If the disciples were lying about the resurrection, when they were confronted with the option of admitting they were lying or being put to death, I believe that some of them would have “caved” and said “yes, it was a lie… don’t kill me!” But none of them did.

    I consider myself to be a pretty strong believer, and I hope that I would be willing to die if I was confronted about something I believed in. Would I be willing to die for something that I knew was a lie? No way! And I don’t think the disciples would either. And therefore, I believe the disciples were telling the truth. And therefore, I believe the resurrection really happened.

    Further evidence…. The conversion of Paul and what he did afterward is similar to the evidence regarding the disciples.

    Paul believed that the resurrection was a lie and was prosecuting Christians who claimed to believe in the resurrection. He was in a position of power and authority. Later on, he changed sides and said he believed in Jesus because he had met the resurrected Jesus.

    Now, if Paul was telling the truth, it’s pretty convincing testimony that the resurrection is real. What if Paul was lying? Same argument as with the disciples…..

    Paul had a position of power and authority, gave it up, and ended up enduring all sorts of trials, tribulations, torture and spent time in prison, and he was eventually beheaded. Would he have been willing to do this if the resurrection was a lie?

    Can you picture that scenario?

    “Hey Paul…. I know you believe this resurrection stuff is a lie… it is! But if you join us in it, you can give up your good job, your authority, and you can end up in prison and get beheaded! Want to join us?”

    I don’t think so. Paul was willing to endure what he did because he encountered the risen Jesus. There is no other reasonable explanation for his conversion. If the resurrection was a lie, Paul would not have converted.

    Those are my primary reasons for believing in the resurrection. The disciples and Paul were witnesses of the resurrection and willing to die rather than say it wasn’t true. That’s good enough for me to believe in the resurrection.

    And, since I believe in the resurrection, I can trust that what Jesus said is true. And, if what Jesus said is true, I can trust the Bible is the Word of God, etc.

    The Resurrection of Jesus is the Foundation of my faith.

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