Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Thoughtful Skeptics Agree"

John 5.25, 28-29a NASB

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.”

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth…”

Have you ever wondered why the institution of the church has thrived for two thousand years and still going strong? The movement started with one man who promised, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16.18). Renowned philosophers and philanthropists, leaders and statesmen, nations and religions have all come and gone, but the church of Jesus Christ remains. Why?

Perhaps there is a reason for the church’s longevity. Could it be that the great things Jesus did were so great that history and culture will simply not permit this man to be forgotten? Millenniums and generations of people and events have passed away. Only a few remain hidden in the dark pages of forgotten and dusty old history books, but no one can erase the memory of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

I did pretty well with my March Madness bracket this year. My wife loved college basketball and got me hooked in the years before her early death last August. I had Villanova going all they way last ... and they did!  Adonica would have been so proud of me!

Eight years ago, front page news in local newspapers all over America read: “Kansas Wins!” Mario Chalmers of the Jayhawks hit a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation play sending the final 2008 NCAA men’s basketball championship game into overtime. Kansas went on to take the title with a 75-68 win over the Memphis Tigers. What an unforgettable game! Or, was it? Less than 36 hours later, there was no mention of this game in the Oregonian. I searched E1 to E10 of the Sports section. Nothing! The game was great, but apparently not that great. No one, except perhaps players, coaches, and family, remembers the glory days of March Madness 2008. Games, even great ones, appear for a moment in time, and then forever disappear.

Not so with the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “…the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God; and those who hear shall live” and “…all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth…” We spiritualize words like these insinuating that Jesus meant leaving “the tombs” of sin and rising to new life in faith. However, Jesus meant literally and exactly what He said: “…the dead” and “all who are in the tombs shall… come forth”. Historically, that’s what happened! 

“The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had
died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection
they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
Matthew 27.52-53 NIV

Jesus Christ rose from the dead and so did “many holy people” in Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago. This may be the only event in history that qualifies as truly unforgettable. The resurrections of Christ and other departed saints who heard “the voice of the son of God” were observed by hundreds of people 20 centuries ago (1st Corinthians 15.6). These eyewitnesses knew what they saw and refused to deny the fact of the resurrection even upon penalty of martyrdom. The resurrection was, and remains to be, permanently seared into civilization’s memory. 

Even thoughtful skeptics would agree... the church of Jesus Christ is never going away.

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