Video of Dr Brad Long sharing an Easter message for our day.
Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. This Sunday is Easter, the special Sunday for Christians to relish the joy and truth of Jesus’ resurrection. Indeed, it is the central doctrine of the Christian faith without which there is nothing to believe in or live for. Paul declares resolutely,
“ 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. ….” 1 Corinthians 15:13-17 NIV
The Apostles Creed features the resurrection of Christ front and center:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Jesus Christ crucified, dead and buried, raised from the dead and ascended into heaven is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. From the earliest days of the Church, it has been taught that Jesus’ resurrection body also seals our hope in our resurrection to new life in Christ.
This doctrine is so foundational that from the moment the tomb was discovered to be empty, Satan has worked every possible contrivance and scheme to distort and to compromise the message that Jesus bodily rose from the dead. This is Christianity 101.
Christians, let us be certain. In the world today, there are two great assaults against the resurrection message of Easter. The first comes from Islam. The second is from Liberal Progressivism.
Mohammed asserts in the Koran that someone other than Jesus died on the cross. The lie is followed by the logical belief that, since Jesus didn’t die on the cross, He also didn’t rise from the dead. This satanic deception accompanies Muslim thinking and teaching concerning Christianity and Christians around the world. In Islamic countries, the persecution of Christians is growing day by day. Some groups teach that not only is it justified, but that is a good thing for Muslims to threaten, persecute and kill Christians and Jews and destroy temples and churches. Any threat to the supreme authority of their prophet, Mohammed, and to the Koran, must be denounced and destroyed. Muslims are not evil people. However, they are deceived. The Devil has built a powerful and humanly impregnable stronghold of deception in Islam as a cultural, political and religious system.
For many of us in the West, there is another stronghold of deception nearer to home. Liberal Progressivism has been destroying the Church from within for more than 100 years. Like a deadly cancer, this belief system has infiltrated the Church posing as a sophisticated interpretation of the faith. In fact, it represents an entirely other religion. It cleverly maintains that Jesus did not rise from the grave bodily, but, rather He rose figuratively in the hearts and minds of His followers.
Pastors, congregations, denominations, and seminaries which hold this view of Jesus’ resurrection proudly call themselves liberal, enlightened. All the words are there—they read the same Bible, recite the same Apostles Creed, and celebrate Easter. But, when they speak of resurrection, they mean something else entirely. They don’t believe that Jesus, physically dead, physically rose from the dead on the third day. For them, dead Jesus did not get up alive and leave the tomb empty. Rather, they speak of this as a visionary event that took place in the life and faith of the first disciples.
I am reading a new book that just came out called, The Last Week, by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossman. They tell a big subtle lie in this book. And, like most lies, it is effective because there is some truth in what they write. Some of their teaching is consistent within orthodox Christianity. But all of a sudden, it struck me: They don’t believe that Jesus, who was dead, got up alive on the third day, literally, in the self-same body, a la The Scots Confession. When they write about Jesus’ resurrection appearances, it becomes clear they are talking about something very different than physical resurrection. The encounter of two disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus is highly illustrative.
“If we were to use but one story to make the case that Easter stories are parabolic narratives, this is the one. It is difficult to imagine that this story is speaking about events that could have been videotaped. Moreover, the story is marvelously suggestive… This story is the metaphoric condensation of several years of early Christian thought into one parabolic afternoon. Whether the story happened or not, Emmaus always happens. Emmaus happens again and again—this is its truth as parabolic narrative. “
That is an absolutely brilliant lie! Do you see what they have done? “Emmaus happens again and again” is beautiful and true as the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to new believers. But, by discounting the eyewitness account as parabolic narrative, they have left no plausible basis for how this happens again and again in real life. This teaching robs the Christian faith of all power. Resurrection power is out of the question for these false teachers. No wonder the churches where such lies are taught and preached are dead and dying.
In all His resurrection appearances, Jesus is physically present. Sometimes, people don’t recognize Him immediately. He seems to appear and reappear as He wishes. He can walk through walls. The discussion of the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body and our eventual spiritual bodies deserves much attention. CS Lewis imagined our spiritual bodies as more substantial, more physical than our current bodies in The Great Divorce. Yes, Jesus’ appearances in His resurrected body are surprising and feel other-worldly, but when He reveals Himself to His followers, He always makes sure they understood He has physically risen from the dead. He eats food. He lets them touch Him. Jesus resurrection appearances are recorded as actual, historical events.
If the technology had existed in Jesus’ day, the disciples would have no doubt videotaped Jesus eating the piece of fish to prove that He was not a ghost. They would have recorded the wonder and joy on Thomas’ face as he put his finger into the actual, healed up wounds of the resurrected body of the Lord Jesus.
It was just as difficult in the 1st Century for people to believe that Jesus rose from the dead as it is today. Note again and again the doubts they had. The resurrection of the body was just as improbable to believe then as it is now. Hence, the account of the Emmaus disciples describing their hearts burning within them as Jesus spoke to them and revealed Himself to them in the breaking of the bread, to quell any doubt. Thomas’ insistence that he would only believe Jesus had risen when he had touched the Lord’s resurrected body.
This Easter when we proclaim the good news to each other, “Jesus is risen!” and respond, “He is risen, indeed!” , we make a true statement upon which all the rest of our faith hinges. We make this proclamation over and against two great demonic strongholds in the world today.
Let us join Christians in Egypt and in other Islamic countries in praying for Muslims to be freed from satanic deception. May the resurrected Jesus continue to appear to Muslims in dreams and visions to show them exactly who He is, their Lord and Savior.
Let us pray for liberal progressives in our very midst, that they would repent of their unbelief and idolatry and that they would come to know truth and experience the true reality of the Triune God of Grace, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The resurrection is real and not just some figurative event that took place in the minds of the disappointed, grieving disciples. The “metaphoric condensation of several years of early Christian thought into one parabolic afternoon” does not give us any hope in the face of the powers of sin, of the devil and of death—those are not metaphoric parabolic realities, but are terribly real.
The good news of Easter in which we live and rejoice is that Jesus really did rise from the dead. He did, in fact, leave an actual tomb empty. That truth is that through His resurrection, Jesus set us free from the actual powers of sin, Satan, and death which would seek to bind and enslave us for all eternity.
Yes! Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!!!