Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

If the Resurrection Happened, Then What?

This is part two of what, Lord willing, will be a three-parter about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In part one, “The Centrality of the Resurrection,” I argued that the Resurrection is central to Christian faith, and therefore should be central to any Christianity vs. Atheism debate.  This second part will be on the ramifications if the Resurrection did happen.  The third part will be my argument that the Resurrection really did take place.

If Jesus Christ were indeed resurrected from the dead, as I believe that He was, what does that mean for you and I?  The Bible is full of accounts of miracles, but there are arguably none as great and/or significant as the Resurrection.  If we are convinced that the Resurrection happened, then it lends great credibility to the Bible as a whole, and most imporantly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here I would like to look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as what verses twelve and thirteen of Jeremiah chapter two have to tell us about sin.

The Bible tells us that God created all of us, and that He will one day judge all of us.  We have all sinned against God.  The Bible tells us that blood and death are the only means that effectively atone for sins and ransom sinners from the wrath of God.  In the Old Testament, God mercifully gave His people a way to have a substitute pay for their sins with its blood and its death in both the Passover and the sacrificial system.  In both of these cases, an animal was a “propitiation” for sins.  This simply means that God reckoned the sins of the sinner paid for by the blood and death of the sinless animal, while at the same time reckoning the sinner righteous by the sinner’s faith that God would be faithful to His promises.

The Bible tells us that the passover lamb, the animals without blemish that were sacrificed, and the scapegoat of the day of atonement all pointed forward to the Messiah that would be once and for all the passover Lamb and the Scapegoat, sacrificed to atone for the sins of all who would have faith in Him and faith that God will be faithful to His promises.  And this Messiah would ransom sinners from the wrath of God, by taking His wrath upon Himself, if the sinners would believe in Him.

This Messiah was and is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul tells us that, “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” (Romans 10:9).  The Bible teaches us that this “belief” that Paul mentions here is a belief that is obedient to the “law of the Lord” and the teachings of Jesus, and that perseveres until the end.  All who have obedient, persevering faith in Jesus and repent of their sins will be saved.

Let us now turn to the Word of God through Jeremiah the prophet in Jeremiah 2:12-13:

“Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

In the eyes of God, all sin is two evils.  All sin is both forsaking God and putting our faith in man-made “cisterns” that are “broken” and “can hold no water.”  Since the first sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all mankind has been forsaking God and foolishly putting their trust in man-made, broken cisterns.  God calls this evil, and says that the only reconciliation is by blood and death.  By faith in Jesus Christ, we become His, and the punishment for our sins is credited to Him.  He paid this penalty on the Cross, once and for all.  If we are His, then our sins are paid for and we receive His perfect righteousness:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

If the Resurrection happened, then this is all true.  If it did not happen, then as the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'”

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July 16, 2008 Posted by | apologetics, Atheism, Christ, Christianity, Religion | Leave a comment

The Centrality of the Resurrection.

I believe that the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is very much central to Christianity.  This comes from both experience and Scripture.  In my experience, I was converted to Christianity in March of 2007 on the basis of the evidence that Jesus Christ indeed rose from the dead.  The apostle Paul talks about the centrality of the Resurrection to Christianity in 1 Corinthians 15:

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” -1 Corinthians 15:14

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” -1 Corinthians 15:17-19

In 1 Corinthians 15:14, Paul makes a direct connection between the Resurrection of Jesus and our faith.  If He has not been raised, then our faith is in vain.  And this is not some atheist saying that the absence of the Resurrection would prove our faith to be in vain.  This is the man who wrote much of the New Testament. 

Then, in verse 17, he says that our faith is futile, “if Christ has not been raised.”  And in verse 18, he says that if the Resurrection didn’t happen, then the atheists (and the Sadducees) are right- when you die, you die, period.  Then in verse 19, he makes quite an interesting argument.  Verse 19 is the second half of an “if, then, if, then.”  The first half goes like this:  If Christ has not been raised, then in Christ we have hope in this life only.”  Then, you get verse 19: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

So, in conclusion, “if Christ has not been raised,” then:
1) Preaching is in vain
2) Faith is in vain
3) Faith is futile
4) Dead people are dead, and not ‘in a better place’
and 5) Christians are, “of all people most to be pitied.”

Therefore, Christ having been raised is both central to Christianity and should be central to any Atheism/Christianity debate.

This is part one of what I see working out to be a three-parter, in response to a couple of comments to my recent posts.  This could change, but as I see it now, part two will be what the Bible teaches about the ramifications of whether or not Jesus was resurrected- namely what that means about God, what that means about our standing before God, what Jesus Christ did to reconcile us with and to God, and what we must do in response to these truths. And part three will be my argument that 1 Corinthians 15:4 is indeed true, namely that Jesus Christ, “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

July 13, 2008 Posted by | apologetics, Atheism, Christ, Christianity, The Resurrection | 3 Comments

Should We Respect Atheism?

Much of what I post here also finds its way to my ‘notes’ section on my facebook profile.  My post last night, “The Atheist Delusion,” received a gentle rebuke from a friend on facebook.  I believe that this paragraph is what he was responding to:

Anyways, if you or somebody you know has been affected by silly, little publishers who allow silly, little atheists to publish their silly, little arguments that try to disprove God, then I would greatly suggest that you delve into David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters.”

He encouraged me to “remember to stay humble.”  The most obvious place where humility was lacking was in calling these publishers, these atheists, and their arguments “silly” and “little.”

I’m not sure who it is that he quotes, but in C.J. Mahaney’s book “Humility: True Greatness,” he provides a quote that says something along the lines of, “at every stage of the Christian walk, pride is our greatest adversary/enemy, and humility our greatest friend.”  I give that idea (I would say quote, but there’s a good chance I’m misquoting it) a hearty ‘Amen!’

However, I would just like to think out loud a bit here.  On one hand, I believe that it is totally possible to be right in the wrong way.  By that I mean that you can be communicating truth, but do so in a way that turns people away from the truth.  Not on the basis of whether or not they believe it to be true, but on the basis of the way it was communicated.  If this is what my friend meant, then his gentle rebuke was warranted.

On the other hand, if what he meant is that I should show more humility by way of respecting atheism, then he was flat out wrong.  I believe that we sinners often sin in two ways when it comes to common misconceptions with regards to pride and humility.  Because our worldviews are far too often shaped by things outside of the Bible, we have a worldly view of pride and humility that is skewed.  Because of that, we often are guilty of sinful pride toward God when we keep our mouths shut in the name of humility.  The other side of the same coin is that we do not act as we ought in humility toward God for fear of being perceived as acting pridefully towards others.

So my answer to the question posed in the title of this post is a resounding “no!”  We should not respect atheism.  The reason that I wrote what I wrote last night was that I was greatly encouraged by Robertson’s book.  He is, for all intents and purposes, a nobody.  Conversely, Richard Dawkins is, for all intents and purposes, a somebody.  Robertson is a Scottish Presbyterian minister that I had never heard of until I picked up his book, and a man that few know.  Dawkins is a professor at renowned Oxford, and could very well be considered the current ‘Emperor of Atheism.’  Robertson discusses the children’s fairy tale about the Emperor’s New Clothes in his book.  And in his book he makes a very compelling argument that Dawkins, the ‘Emperor of Atheism,’ indeed figuratively has no clothes. 

So to see a relative nobody so effectively disarm arguably the world’s greatest atheist was very encouraging to me.  And when it comes down to it, atheists and their arguments are both “silly” and “little,” as I said in yesterday’s blog post. 

However, as my friend said, we need to remember to stay humble.  I need to remember to stay humble.  But for the grace of God, I would still be in the blissful ignorance of my atheism.  Therefore, what we need is to find a way to manage the tension between loving the atheist and giving their “silly, little” atheism no respect.  And make no mistake about it, atheism deserves no respect.  And men like Richard Dawkins deserve no respect.  He wrote “The God Delusion” to support atheism.  He wrote this book to try to do away with religion.  What is at stake with this book?

Souls and their eternal destination are at stake.  His book is an outright attack on Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  Let us have compassion for Richard Dawkins, and let us pray for God to send somebody to him with the Gospel.  And let us pray for his salvation.  But let us also pray for the failure of his work.  Let us pray that the great number of souls that come into contact with his book will see that they are nothing more than the Serpent’s lies.

The First Part of what, Lord willing, will be a three-part discussion in order to oppose atheism by providing evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is called “The Centrality of the Resurrection.”

July 13, 2008 Posted by | apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, humility, respect | 6 Comments

The Atheist Delusion

At the beginning of my freshman year in college I saw a book in my college library called simply “There is no God” (I’m pretty sure that is what it was called, at least).  My faith was definitely fragile at the time, as I had really only started to think through things for myself that I had believed my whole life.  Until then I mainly believed them because my family and many people that I knew believed them.

This seems extremely foolish to me now, but at the time I remember thinking along these lines after I saw that book, which I didn’t even pick up much less read:
1) It is difficult to get a book published.
2) This book, “There is no God,” has been published.
3) Therefore, it is at least debatable whether or not there is a God.

I don’t recall these thoughts having a huge effect on my straying from the faith.  However, it at least played a small part, and it is worth noting that I remember it almost six years later.

I think that Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” could have a similar impact on others.  Today I started reading “The Dawkins Letters” by a Scottish Presbyterian minister named David Robertson.  In this great little book, Robertson has compiled a series of letters that he sent to Dawkins in response to “The God Delusion.”  He addresses the myths that Dawkins puts forth as proof that there is no God, and that those who believe that there is a God have been deluded.  There are many holes in Dawkins’ logic, and Robertson definitely hands him the berries in this brief little book (I got the saying “hands him the berries” from here; incidentally, Douglas Wilson has written “The Deluded Atheist: A Response to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion“). 

Anyways, if you or somebody you know has been affected by silly, little publishers who allow silly, little atheists to publish their silly, little arguments that try to disprove God, then I would greatly suggest that you delve into David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters.”

July 12, 2008 Posted by | "The Dawkins Letters", "The God Delusion", apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, David Robertson, Richard Dawkins | 2 Comments