Summary: Whether we are or are not convinced that Christ rose from the dead does not affect the reality of the Resurrection. The Bible presents it as objective history. But if we accept its reality by faith and live consistently in light of it, it changes our l
"Reality Based Faith"
NOTE: Here is a suggested bulletin insert I wrote. The Sermon follows it, after the **** ed
Doubting Thomas and the Audacious Claim of the Resurrection
by Ed Vasicek, pastor, Highland Park Church Kokomo, IN
Thomas the Apostle was certainly a great man of faith, but he was skeptical and cynical by nature. The week before Christ was crucified, when opposition to Christ by the leaders was becoming intense, Jesus decided to go to Bethany, near Jerusalem, where Jesus’ enemies were strongest. The disciples were against such a plan, but Jesus was determined. He intended to resurrect His dear friend, Lazarus.
What did Thomas do? He responded, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Thomas was a dedicated follower of Jesus. He believed Jesus was the Messiah and was willing to risk his life for Him, as you can see in this context. But Jesus rising from the dead? Once again, truth was stranger than fiction.
When Thomas doubted the resurrection, he was not rejecting Jesus as much as he was rejecting the concept that Jesus could resurrect Himself (all three Persons of the Trinity participated in the resurrection, including the Son, according to John 2:18-22). He could not reconcile how Jesus could be God’s chosen Messiah and still God could allow Him to suffer the ignoble death of the cross. He was paradigm blind: the Jews knew that the Messiah was going to defeat Israel‘s enemies and bring in the Golden Age. Thomas did not understand the concept of one Messiah but two Comings. All he knew was that He who had worked so many miracles could not deliver Himself from the Romans. Thomas was thrown for a loop.
Lest you go too hard on Thomas, remember the other disciples did not believe in the resurrection (except for John) until they themselves saw Jesus. They thought the women were crazy, and Thomas thought the other apostles were crazy in the same way. Jesus’ followers simply found it difficult to swallow the idea of the resurrection. The idea of the resurrection IS a crazy, absurd thought. It just happens to be true. That is why Paul says that the Gospel is “foolishness to them that perish.” It is an offensive, scandalous message to those whose hearts are hard.
The previously skeptical apostles became so convinced of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus that they suffered torture and laid down their lives rather than deny its authenticity. They did not espouse the resurrection as a theory: they were convinced, against their skeptical natures, that it was a fact. As church history and modern evangelical experiences demonstrate, convinced skeptics often become the greatest Christians. They become the Josh McDowells and the C.S. Lewises.
We who live in the church age have heard about the resurrection of Christ since childhood. The “absurd edge” of our belief doesn’t register because we are used to hearing about it. But everything in the Christian faith hinges on this one event. If it is untrue, Jesus was just an egotistical philosopher who called great attention to Himself and made audacious claims. If it is true, Jesus surely is the Son of God and the Scriptures are the Word of God. Those who trust Christ will enjoy eternity with God in heaven while those who reject Him will enter into “outer darkness.” The resurrection is either history’s greatest hoax or history’s greatest event. For those of us who believe, we can testify that the resurrection, which occurred nearly 2,000 years ago, has changed
1. The Arab world was inflamed at Al Jisira TV for misleading viewers into thinking the US was losing the war.
2. Behind every conflict or difference are assumptions, slants, and personalities; by emphasizing one detail to the exclusion of others, it is possible to technically speak the truth but still be horrendously misleading.
3. But no matter what people say, what happened is what happened.
4. Many modern Americans hold to a philosophy called existentialism. Most people who do so are unfamiliar with this term, so let explain it as they would:
"What is true for you may not be true for me and vice-versa. If it works for us, that is all that matters."
5. Bible-oriented Christianity refuses to join that club. We maintain that spiritual truth, like physical truth, is often just as objective and factual.
6. And nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the resurrection.
7. Our entire faith hinges on the belief that Christ rose physically and literally after being dead for days.
8. Paul writes: 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.