March 26, 2018
According to Rasmussen, there are still a majority of Americans (64%) who say they believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead, but that number is down from just 8 years ago when 78% of all Americans said they believed in the resurrection of Jesus. The per cent who reject the resurrection outright has gone from 10% up to 19%, which follows a trend of declining belief in the resurrection among younger adults in America today. These trends are, in spite of the historical evidence that Jesus was actually crucified, that he was actually buried, that the guarded tomb in which he was buried was discovered empty, and that he actually was witnessed alive by many credible individuals following his resurrection, that less Americans believe any of it to be true.
If you go to a typical greeting card display and look for an Easter card you will find cards with rabbits, colorful Easter eggs, and announcements about the arrival of the Spring season. What you want find, unless you are in a Christian bookstore, are cards which celebrate a risen Savior and an empty tomb. Now I’m not opposed to Easter egg hunts, candy bunnies, and the arrival of spring, but the trend of eliminating one of the most witnessed and recorded events in history, and the decline in adults who consider it a relevant fact is alarming. At the current rate, in less than 20 years, a majority of Americans will not accept the biblical account that Jesus Christ died on a cross and raised from the dead as true, and maybe in less time than that.
The apostle Paul laid it out for us by as to significance of the resurrection as believers. “If it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 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. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-20.
Paul also said in I Corinthians 15:50-54, 57, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. But thanks be to God! He gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul says that before Christ returns, what happens to believers who experience physical death is a mystery, but we also know, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” When Jesus returns He will give us a new body, whether we are still alive or we are with Him. Because of His resurrection we will receive a glorified body that will be incorruptible and immortal. It will be a body, that even if our present body is disfigured, deformed, or racked with disease and sickness, will be raised in glory and power. The Bible says also that our glorified body will be a spiritual body, like that of Jesus after His resurrection. I John 3:2, “We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Philippians 3:20-21, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Even the psalmist said in Psalm 17:15, “As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake with your likeness.”
Our Christianity, more than it is anything else, is a belief about the resurrection of Christ. We must view the Christian faith through the eyes of the resurrection. Our faith has absolutely no ultimate value or meaning, apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You cannot have the Christian faith without it. You cannot just eliminate the resurrection as if it were one small part of a whole. If you take the resurrection of Christ away, our entire message falls apart. The fact that Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead in fact, separates our faith from every other religious belief system of the world. This is why Jesus could proclaim, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me,” John 14:6. No one else in history could ever make such a claim, because no one else in history defeated death and the grave.
Have a Happy Easter