Thank God we have a living Savior
March 29, 2018
I am a Christian because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. It’s just about that simple. The opening words of Genesis revealing the creative utterance of God are breathtaking. The poetry of the 23rd Psalm reflecting a deep intimate relationship between a man and his God is unsurpassed. The Messianic birth narratives revealing God’s commitment to redeem humanity through incarnation are sublime. Added to these are any number of biblical histories, prophetic utterances and ethical teachings. And we must always cling to the cross, brutal and bloody, proving Christ loves us beyond description.
While the entirety of Scripture is God-breathed, profitable in every way, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the starting-point of Christian faith. As Paul writes in Ephesians, God’s saving power for believers “is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:19b-20). Moreover, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
Yes, the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead is where Christian faith begins. Not only that, but Christ’s resurrection has no parallel in the world’s major religions. The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path of Buddhism provide a form of ethical instruction, as does the Islamic Koran. Clearly, Christians find both utterly deficient for life and godliness, but some form ethics and code of conduct are found in all religions.
What is not found in the world’s religions is the assertion that God became man, was crucified and died for our sin, and after three days in the grave rose from the dead in triumph over sin, death and the grave.
Moreover, the New Testament goes beyond asserting Christ’s resurrection by offering evidence for the resurrection. The evidence begins with the empty tomb and the eyewitness accounts of the apostles to the resurrection. It continues with the preaching of Peter in Acts 2, the healing of the crippled beggar in Acts 3 “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6), the creation of the church, and the martyrdom of the apostolic eyewitnesses to the resurrected Lord. Don’t forget, Christianity is rooted in history. It is not merely a collection of wise sayings and rules for life. Jesus lived, died and rose again in a specific place, at a particular time, and interacting with thousands of people.
Recently I returned from Burma, a country that is officially Buddhist. There are more Buddhist pagodas in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay that there are church steeples in Dallas, TX. The largest of these is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Rising 325 feet, it is covered in as much as 60 tons of gold. Why have Burmese Buddhists invested such wealth in this pagoda? Because they believe it contains eight strands of hair from Buddha himself. They know he’s dead. They don’t believe he’s a god. But in the hope of having good karma they worship him in this way.
Thank God we have a living Savior -- resurrected, reigning and coming again! I hope you have a wonderful Resurrection Sunday this Easter and that every day you experience the victory of Christ’s resurrection.