BEYOND A DOUBT 4-16-17 Easter

BEYOND A DOUBT

April 16, 2017

 

             You have each been given a book entitled “The Case for Easter”.  It was written by Lee Strobel, who worked as the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune.  He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale.  When his wife became a Christian he was quite upset, as he himself was a staunch atheist at the time.  So he set out on a quest to disprove the resurrection of Christ.  This is not a work of fiction.  This is a true story, a streamlined version of “The Case for Christ”, which has also just been released as a movie, that Ed and I recently watched in Joliet.

          Lee, like Thomas, was not a person to accept someone’s word for it that Christ had risen from the dead.  In both cases, Jesus answered their doubts, because out of His love for us, Jesus “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  In Thomas’ case, Jesus let Thomas actually touch Him, and put his hand into His side where the soldier had thrust a spear into Him.  And then Thomas did indeed believe. 

          In Lee’s case, however, he didn’t want proof so he could believe.  He wanted proof so he could convince his wife that her faith was unfounded, so she would go back to being the person she was before she accepted Christ.  Lee went to top experts in their field seeking evidence to prove at least one of the following three:

  1. Jesus never actually died on the cross
  2. Jesus’ body was never really absent from the tomb
  3. Jesus was never really seen alive after his crucifixion

Obviously, I cannot go through all of the evidence that was presented to him in the timeframe of this message.  But I assure you, he had sought out such notable authorities such as Alexander Metherell, M.D, PH.D, who has extensively studied the historical, archaeological, and medical data concerning the death of Jesus of Nazareth; William Lane Craig PH.D, D.TH., who had brilliantly debated a national spokesman for American Atheists before a crowd of nearly 8000 people, and that aired on over 100 radio stations; and Gary Habermas PH.D, D.D.. Let me read you what Lee wrote about Gary’s debate with Antony Flew, one of the leading philosophical atheists in the world, when they debated the question, “Did Jesus rise from the Dead?”:  “The results were decidedly one-sided.  Of the five independent philosophers from various colleges and universities who served as judges of the debate’s content, four concluded that Habermas had won.  One called the contest a draw.  None cast a ballot for Flew.”  One of the things that Gary pointed out to Lee was that experts are convinced that 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (some of which we recited together as part of Affirmation #888 UMH) was a creed of the early church, and not merely the writings of Apostle Paul.

          Each of these experts that Lee met with shredded the opposing theories based on documented evidence.  It was proven beyond a doubt that Jesus most assuredly had died on the cross, that the tomb was indeed empty on Easter morning, and that Jesus appeared to many witnesses after His resurrection.

          In the end, Lee Strobel became a Christian.  Not because he had set out to.  Not because he blindly believed.  But because he had sought out the truth, and when it was presented to him, he could not refute it.  Therefore he accepted it, he accepted Jesus into his heart, and he became a changed person.  And ever since, God has continued to use him to reach others that doubt as he did.

          Indeed the entire Christian faith is built upon the fact that Jesus died on the cross as the only possible perfect sacrifice for our sins, sins that would keep us from communion with a holy God for all eternity if Christ had not covered them with His blood, AND on His resurrection.  If we read further in 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul says this, “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… 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 of all people most to be pitied.”

          So where are you at in reference to Christ’s resurrection?  Do you believe it with all your heart and mind?  Do you want to believe it, but still have a few doubts?  Or do you, like Lee, not want to believe it, but if presented with enough evidence, might be willing to accept it?  Or do you not want to even review the evidence, because you are trying hard to convince yourself that it is only a myth, and you are afraid of the truth?  If you are already a believer, you will enjoy this book, and might even be able to use it to help a friend that is an unbeliever come to know Christ.  If you have a few lingering doubts, this book will help you to overcome them, so you can have a faith grounded in facts.  Or if you are already certain that it could not possibly be true, give the book a chance.  You just might find, like Lee did, that the evidence is overwhelming. 

          In Jeremiah 29 we read these words from the Lord, “Call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart”.  It is my prayer that you will indeed call upon the Lord, seek Him and find Him.  He will answer all your questions, address all your doubts, love you and give meaning to your life, as well as prepare a place for you to spend all of eternity where He Himself will wipe away every tear from your eyes; and where there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).  And that beats a basket of chocolate eggs any day.  Amen!

Children's Message:

I wrote the children a poem for Easter titled "The First Easter"...

Jesus isn't a fairy tale, a myth, or a lie.

He is God Almighty, who came here to die,

And to rise again on the third day.

So trust in Him, there's no other way

To live forever in heaven above,

and be filled with joy, and peace, and love.