My Brother David D. Flowers recently finished posting a series titled “Heaven to Earth” in which he discusses the importance of the resurrection of jesus. I think David offers some good substance, but as I scan the landscape of Christian blogging and books, I am surprised at how little we speak of resurrection. In all our talk of “church” and “culture”, there seems to be little discussion (and far less understanding) about the resurrection from the dead.
Our church recently finished a chapter by chapter study of 1 Corinthians. When I got to chapter 15, I was compelled to spend 3 weeks in this one chapter. The power of Paul’s words as he discuses the meaning and practical everyday application of Jesus’ resurrection, made a huge impact on my own life. Over the coming weeks, I want to share just a small portion of our study and answer the question that confronted Paul, “Is There Life Beyond the Grave?”
In thinking about the possibility of a future life, I am struck by the fact that in every culture, in every age, there is legend, myth, and story to answer the question, “is there life beyond the grave?” One famous example is Mary Todd Lincoln. When confronted with the tragic assassination of her husband at the hands of John Wilkes Booth, Mrs. Lincoln turned to seances in search of hope. While some may think Mrs. Lincoln crazy for her search, she is not so different from any of us. In our own way, each of us seeks to answer this question and how we answer it will have consequence on the way we live our life today? This short video offers an excellent contrast among different religions and how the Christian answers the question of life beyond.
Death is real? Our need for hope is real? There must be an answer? Followers of jesus recognize that the answer begins with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our view of life beyond the grave is quite different from any other religion, but is it true? Can we really believe in a Jesus who raised from the dead? We are not the first to ask this question.
Just a short 20 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were those in the church at Corinth who began to question if this event really happened. And even if it didn’t happen, would it really matter?
Is belief in the resurrection of Jesus necessary?
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and said, “yes!”
1 Cor. 15:1-11 (ESV)
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Paul was convinced that the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead was of primary importance to his preaching of the Gospel. It was the driving force and energy behind his every action and justification for his deep sacrifice.
Paul would later instruct the Church in Rome, that the resurrection is the only hope for the world that we will be saved from sin.
Romans. 10:8b-10 (ESV)
…The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
So, “is there life beyond the grave?” Yes! There is a life beyond life and, as a follower of Jesus, I belive the only hope of entering eternal joy is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
But is that really something that the modern/enlightened/scientific mind can embrace? I will answer that question in my next post.