Thursday, January 08, 2009
Pity the Fools . . .
Resurrection Skeptics in the Church?
I'll bet with that main title, you were expecting a post about Mister T. Nope.
You know, I expect skepticism with unbelievers. I can be very patient with it. However, when professing Christians express skepticism about biblical truth, it's hard for me not to get very, very testy.
In a recent meta exchange not too long ago on another blog, a commenter who leans toward the Emergent crowd was defending skepticism on the biblical account of the Resurrection. I normally would link to the blog as its a favorite of mine, but I don't want to give the commenter any publicity. The blog administrators and other commenters handled him well enough, but the discussion has been simmering in my mind for a while.
It's not my purpose for this post to defend miracles, or get into some sort of scientific discussion or debate about incidents in Scripture unbelievers might find hard to swallow. My intent is more to deal with professing Christians who don't have a problem casting off core doctrine and biblical authority. I'll begin with this. Deny the Resurrection, and you are guilty of damnable heresy. Here's a few statements from God's Word . . .
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:12-28).
Did you catch that? If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins. In reality, the fools are not those of us who believe that God raised His Son. The fools are those who claim to be His followers and yet call Him a liar through dismissing the testimony of Scripture.
While we're at it, let's look at something the Lord Jesus Himself said . . .
And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:23-32).
A couple of points jump out at me in that passage. Believing that the Lord Jesus is who He said He was -- and that includes the testimony of God's Word as a whole -- is mandatory. He is the Son of God -- God incarnate -- who took our sins upon Himself on the cross. He died for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification. Not to believe this means that you will die in your sins and spend eternity separated from God. Jesus said to be true disciples of His, we must continue in His Word. Not bits and pieces of it. All of it.
The Resurrection is inseparable from saving faith in Christ. You cannot dismiss or deny the Resurrection and be a true believer and disciple of Christ. If you deny the Resurrection, you are not a Christian.
We'd better begin proclaiming that truth again, and loudly, from our pulpits and our seminaries. And if there are pastors in our pulpits, teachers in our Sunday schools, or professors at our seminaries beginning to fudge on this issue, it's time to show them the door.