Just a quick note: According to the 2007 U.S. Census Bureau on World Vital Events as a far as the number of deaths per year, there are 1.8 per second, 105 per minute, 6,306 hourly, 151,338 daily, 4,603,198 monthly and 55,238,376 deaths on a yearly basis.
Foundational Truths: The Importance of the Resurrection of Jesus
I have never understood why Christians all across the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus once a year. I personally think the resurrection should be discussed more than one time a year. After all, Christianity is not simply centered in ethical and religious teachings but on the person and work of Jesus. From a soteriological perspective, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christians are still dead in their sins (1Cor.15:7). Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies.” An important aspect of possessing eternal life is the ability to raise the dead. The Jewish people knew the God of Israel as the only one who could raise the dead (Job 19:26; Ps. 17:15; 49:15; 73:24; Is. 26:19; 53:10; Dn. 12:2;12:13).
Therefore, by claiming the authority to raise the dead, Jesus was exemplifying both the same actions and attributes of the God Israel. Jesus’ resurrection also guaranteed the Christian the opportunity of having a resurrected body’s like Jesus’ (1Cor. 15:20-23, 51-53; 1 Pet. 1:3; Phil. 3:20-21; John 5:25-29). The resurrection also marked Jesus as Jesus as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4), universal Lord (Rom. 14:9; Eph.1:20-21; Phi.2:9-11), and judge of the living and the dead (Acts 17:31).
The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the general resurrection of all humans, which will be followed by the dispensing of God’s justice; to the righteous there will be a “resurrection of life” and to the unrighteous a “resurrection of condemnation” ( John 5:28-29;cf. Rev 20:4-6).
The resurrection was a central part of the Kergma of the early Church. Not only was the Messiah crucified according to the plan of God (Mark 10:45; John 3:16; Acts 2:23; 3;13-15; 10:39;26:23; Rom 8;34;Gal 1;4; Heb1:3;1 Peter 1:2; 19, 3:18; 1 John 4:10), He was raised from the dead and appeared to his disciples (Acts 2:24; 31-32; 3:15-26;10:40-41;17:31;26:23; Rom 8:34;10:9;1 Cor.15:4-7; 1 Thess. 1:10;1 Tim 3:16;1 Peter 1:2;21;3:18;21).
Our Spiritual Condition
Over the years I have asked people what comes to their mind when they hear the word “Gospel.” I have had some very interesting responses. Some say that when they hear the word “Gospel” it brings to mind a choir singing in a church, or a message or teaching of some kind or another. But overall, there seems to be great confusion about this issue.
In the New Testament, the “Gospel” denotes the “Good Tidings” of the kingdom of God and of salvation through Jesus the Messiah, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension (Acts 15:7; 20:24; 1 Peter 4:17). I am well aware that the Gospel is presented in a variety of contexts in the Bible.
A Look at Sin
Imagine someone with a bow and arrow who is trying to hit the bulls eye on a target but they keep missing. This is a picture of what sin is. The Greek word for sin is “harmatia” which means “to miss the mark.” Sin is missing the mark, falling short of God’s absolute standard of perfection. Sin is going astray, being in autonomy of God.
In talking about missing the mark, we are not talking about your CONDUCT. We are talking about YOUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION: A CONDITION is something that is a mode or state of being. Just imagine if you were sick and went to the doctor. You probably want the doctor to give you something to help you with your condition.
Because of our spiritual condition, this means we have to mention the word alienation. Alienation means to be estranged or split apart from someone or even a community, etc. Alienation does not allow us to have the harmony and proper relationship with God that he intended.
Another way to reflect on alienation is to think about the Hebrew word called “Shalom” which means peace, completeness, or wholeness. It can it can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God or between two countries). Why do we lack this wholeness? Sadly, sin causes us to be fragmented. Paul even speaks to the spiritual condition of his audience when he says they they had been “dead in trespasses and sins” (see Eph. 2:1-5 for the entire context).
Because of our alienation before God, one must take the initiative to restore the broken relationship. That is exactly what God has done for us. In the fullness of time (Gal 4: 4-5), God took the initiative by sending the Messiah into the world.
Are You Dead Or Alive? The Need For The New Birth
When I think of the resurrection, I often think of a statement made by well-known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. Ravi says, “Jesus did not come to make bad people good, but dead people alive.”
As Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says, “It is absolutely necessary for a person to be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God. In the central passage in the New Testament about the new birth ( John 3 ), Jesus tells Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, that he will not enter the kingdom of God unless he is born anew. The alternation between singular and plural Greek pronouns in the passage shows that Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus both personally and representatively. The need for the new birth is not only true of Nicodemus, but of the entire Sanhedrin, all Jews, and, by extension, all people.
Some have considered the new birth to be a process a person experiences, even over a period of years. Such an interpretation is not congruent with the tense of the Greek verb in this passage. The aorist tense suggests that the new birth is an event rather than a process. Prior to a certain point in time, a person is not-born-again or regenerated; after that point, the person is.
THE NEW BIRTH allows us to have the supernatural cleansing from sin that God through the Spirit effects on all who believe on his Son. This water-Spirit combination is a reflection of Ezekiel 11, 36, and Jeremiah 31. In these Old Testament passages God’s Spirit is viewed as doing a revolutionary work in the lives of God’s people in the new covenant age.”
A Reminder for Christian Apologists
Now that I have mentioned the importance of the new birth, perhaps some comments will help all of us that are laboring in the apologetics endeavor. Norman Geisler says:
“Paul insisted that “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:14). They cannot even “know” him. But Paul does not say that natural persons cannot perceive truth about God, but that they do not receive (Gk. dekomai, “welcome”) it. Paul emphatically declared that the basic truths about God are “clearly seen” (Rom. 1:20). The problem is not that unbelievers are not aware of God’s existence but that they do not want to accept him because of the moral consequences this would have on their sinful lives. They do not “know” (Gk. ginomskom, which frequently means to “know by experience). They know God in their mind (Rom. 1:19–20), but they have not accepted him in their heart (Rom. 1:18). “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Ps. 14:1). (BECA, pg 540).