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What If the Resurrection Is Just a Metaphor?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2023 5:36 pm

What If the Resurrection Is Just a Metaphor?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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April 6, 2023 5:36 pm

Episode 1200 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes


Questions in this Episode


1. How does it make sense that Jesus was dead for three days even though it was just from Friday to Saturday?

2. What does it mean that “love never fails” in 1 Corinthians 13?

3. Do the Pharisees in Matthew 13 demonstrate that we have free will to deny Christ?

4. Can Christianity still be true of the resurrection is a metaphor?

5. How can I move from fear in hell to joy in Christ?

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Easter Devotional: Sayings from the Cross

Core Question – Can I Lose My Salvation?


Could the resurrection be just a metaphor? That's one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adrian Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day.

You can call us right now with your question at 833-THE-CORE. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and of course you can always email us at So Pastor Adrian, I have to ask you a question. You have five kids in your house from like 11 down to one. Do you take them on Easter egg hunts?

Oh, good question, Bill. Yeah, I know that that's the thing this time of the year. So actually what we do is a lot of times we get together with my family, extended family, and we'll meet up at a park after church and have some food, barbecue, and usually someone will hide Easter eggs. That's typically not me.

Usually it's grandma or some of the aunts or something like that. And so I think we're planning to do that this upcoming Sunday. We're excited about that.

That should be fun. Usually actually grandma has like one special egg, the golden egg, and she'll put $20 in it or something like that. And that's the egg. I know she's generous.

And so that's the one that everybody's looking for, including me. I mean, if I find that egg, I'm keeping that one. But otherwise, you know, it's just candy and all that stuff. So how about I mean, your kids are a little bit older now, so I'm guessing they don't do the Easter egg hunt thing. But did you as they were younger? Oh, yeah. You know, interestingly enough, a few years ago when they were younger, my wife used to put one on for the neighborhood kids.

Oh, cool. And so she would invite all the neighbors to come over and our neighbors across the street are Muslim. And so but their kids would come for the Easter egg hunt. And then my wife decided to share the gospel story along with the Easter egg hunt. Okay, so they would like open up an Easter egg and instead of a recess, it'd be like a Bible tract.

No, no. They got the candy. She just gently kind of shared the gospel and explained what Easter is all about. And we didn't get any complaints from the Muslim neighbors, which was encouraging. Yeah, honestly, praise God, what a cool way to serve in the community to share the love of Jesus. Well, we do our best.

Not perfectly, but we we really want to reach out to our neighbors as best we can. Well, let's get to a question. And we had we do get voicemails here at Core Christianity, you can call us 24 hours a day with your voicemail, leave us a question 833-843-2673. That's 833 the Core.

Here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Patricia. I want to ask you, how do you get three days and three nights that Jesus was in the earth? Because from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning doesn't make three days and three nights. I have always wondered about that.

And not only I also someone else I know is confused about that. Could you please explain that? Thank you very much. Bye bye.

Hey, Patricia, thank you for that. Now, I mean, definitely a fitting question, considering that we have good Good Friday coming up. So in Matthew chapter 12, Jesus talks about the sign of Jonah verse 38. Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you. But he answered them, an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

So I've heard this explained two different ways. One is that in terms of factoring a day in that time, in that period, just a portion of the day would include the whole day. So if it was Friday night, that was one day, Saturday, and then Sunday, that would be the third day when Jesus rose again. But then the struggle there is, well, what about the night thing, Jesus being in the grave for three nights?

Well, another way to approach this is to think about what John says in his gospel, in particular in John chapter 19, in verse 31. There, there seems to be an indication that the day on which Jesus died, I know this is going to, you know, mess up everything for Good Friday, but was actually on a Thursday, that is Thursday, and then Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday risen from the dead. So John chapter 19, verse 31, speaking about the death of our Lord Jesus, since it was the day of preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for that Sabbath was a high day. And so you have this special festival that's going on, the day of preparation, they don't want to leave Jesus's body on the cross because of the Sabbath beginning on Friday night and Saturday, so that would seem to suggest that actually the death of our Lord Jesus took place on a Thursday night.

So that's another way, that's another way to approach this dilemma, and so those are the two explanations that are oftentimes given, I really don't think it's, you know, I don't think there's any contradiction here or anything like that. And ultimately, right, just knowing, when we think about the entombment of Christ, him being there in the grave under the power of death, if you will, the beauty and the theology behind that of Christ really sanctifying the grave, going down into it to conquer it, and then rising out from the grave victoriously for us, and so that's what we're celebrating this week. God bless.

Amen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, we would love to hear from you. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Joel calling in from Mankato, Minnesota. Joel, what's your question for Adriel? So, I understand how the prophets didn't really end with the Old Testament but continued on with the New Testament with, like, Paul and John and Peter and stuff, but I was just wondering if maybe Paul made perhaps maybe the greatest prophecy when he said that love never fails in 1 Corinthians 13 verse 8, and that he also proclaimed that prophecies will fail in that sense, but love never fails. Yeah, Joel, so here's how I think about it. It's really interesting. There have been some studies done in recent years on prophecy, the nature of New Testament prophecy, what is the difference between the prophets and the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, and then some of the things that you see in the New Testament.

I think some of that has been helpful. It's important for us to understand that the prophets in the Old Testament, they had a very particular role. They were a part of the theocracy in Israel, and they were called by God specifically to come alongside of the kings in Israel and call them to be faithful to God's covenant. They would warn them of the judgments that God had threatened in places like Deuteronomy if they weren't faithful to God's covenant, and so some people have referred to the Old Testament prophets as covenant prosecutors. Think of them like that, prosecuting the case, the terms of God's covenant with his people. Well, with the New Covenant, the theocracy in Israel is done away with.

We don't have that anymore. We have the New Covenant Church, and so those Old Testament prophets served a very particular role for a period of time. I think those kinds of prophets ended with John the Baptist. I think Jesus indicates that in the Gospels. There's this great shift moving from the time of the Old Covenant to the time of the New Covenant, but here in the New Testament, we see individuals who are very closely associated with the prophets as these witnesses who speak the word of God.

I would point to the apostles like the apostle Paul, and so is he the greatest prophet, having talked about the fact that love never ends? As for prophecies, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease.

I don't know that I would put it that way, and I don't know that specifically. What Paul is doing there in 1 Corinthians 13 verse 8 is he's trying to highlight for a church there in Corinth, the church in Corinth, that was struggling with the spiritual gifts and the right use of spiritual gifts in the context of worship. He's trying to call them to love, and he's saying love, true Christian charity, love for God first and foremost, but love for each other within the body of Christ, that is the ultimate sign of the Spirit in your life. Not whether you're speaking in tongues or prophesying or healing the sick, all of those things. God can do whatever he wants, but the fact of the matter is what we need above all else and what the Corinthians desperately needed was love.

That's why he says love never ends. When Jesus returns, we're not going to need these spiritual gifts anymore. Our faith will become sight, our hope will be realized, but love is going to endure into the age to come, and we're going to experience that perfect love for God and for each other. That's what the apostle Paul is highlighting there. Thanks, Joel, for your question. Hey, Joel, thanks so much for calling in, listening to Core Christianity.

Let's go to Elizabeth, who is in Missouri. Elizabeth, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, I had a question about Matthew 13-15. Jesus explains that he's speaking in parables because people have closed their eyes and otherwise they would understand. So I wonder if people, not being born with their eyes closed, but having chosen to close their eyes, if this suggests pre-will instead of predestination, because otherwise they would understand.

Great question. The first thing I'll say is a lot of times when we look at the parables of Christ, what we miss is that formula, the parabolic formula, he who has an ear to hear, let him hear, is actually something taken from the Old Testament, Elizabeth, in particular in the prophets. You see this typically when God is bringing a warning to Israel because of their hardness of heart.

There's this threat of judgment. You see this also in the New Testament. There's more sort of parabolic language in the book of Revelation, in Revelation 2 and 3, when Jesus is addressing the various churches there in Asia Minor, saying things like, you as an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

So usually when we hear this kind of language, we should think warning, warning, danger. In part, what was happening there, and this is what you touched on there in Matthew chapter 13 verse 15, there's this judgment that is falling, in particular on the religious hypocrites in Israel, those who should have known better. They are the Word of God. They claim to be teachers of the Word of God, and yet they hardened their heart against Jesus and against his word, and so quoting Isaiah there in verse 14, we read, You will indeed hear, but never understand, and you will indeed see, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their eyes they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn, that I would heal them. Now it sounds to me like, specifically Elizabeth, you're wondering, does this mean that they weren't predestined, or specifically you're thinking about the question of predestination, is that right? That's correct.

Okay. I don't know that I would go here specifically to have that discussion, but one thing I can say is, if people who believe in the doctrine of predestination and those who don't believe in it, everyone agrees that mankind is accountable, responsible for the things that we do, that when we're judged, we're judged for our sins, for our turning away from the Lord, and I think that's one of the things that you see here very clearly, is these religious leaders who had the Word of God turned away from it, they hardened their hearts against Jesus, and so the reality of human responsibility is something that I think everyone needs to and ought to affirm if we're going to be faithful to the text of Scripture. Now there are other passages that seem to indicate that the Pharisees were under God's judgment, that they were not the children of God. I mean, very clearly, Jesus says to them, you are of your father, the devil, and in part, sometimes I think people might go to those texts to talk about the doctrine of predestination and God's choice of individuals, but I think if you're concerned that maybe this means that people are not responsible, that you shouldn't have to worry about that. What's very clear in this text is that we are responsible for our sins, and we're judged because of them. Now, when it comes to salvation, we praise God for His free grace and mercy because I think each and every one of us, we're walking in darkness and blind, and if it wasn't for the work of the Holy Spirit and God's grace in our lives, we would continue in that, and so I think that's where the grace of God comes into this discussion.

Elizabeth, thanks for your question, for studying the Word of God, and pray that you have a wonderful day. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez at Easter week here, and we have a great resource that actually ties in really well with Easter, especially if you have a friend or relative, a work associate who maybe is an agnostic or an atheist or, you know, just is skeptical about the claims of Christianity. This book will really help you to answer some of those tough questions and also strengthen your faith at the same time, and it's a book by Lee Strobel, who is just one of America's top apologists and apologetics writers, and it's called The Case for Christ. Yeah, Bill, The Case for Christ is actually one of the most purchased books on apologetics and probably for good reason. In the book, Strobel, a seasoned journalist, former legal editor at the Chicago Tribune, basically chases down the story of Easter, the story of the resurrection, and as he does, he comes to realize that there's a lot of good reasons for embracing, believing the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus. And so, as we've said many times on this broadcast before, we want to help you in your Christian faith to have a solid understanding of what you believe, why you believe it, and I think this book is going to help you do that, so get a hold of this resource. It really will help you answer some of those tough questions you might be receiving, more and more so in today's world, people who just make claims about Christianity that are completely untrue, and you can respond to those through what you learn from this book. Again, it's called The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and you can find that by going to forward slash offers. Again, forward slash offers.

Well, our phone lines are open. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, we'll be taking calls for the next 10 minutes or so, so jump on the phone right now. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also leave a voicemail at the number as well, and you can always email us at questions at Adriel, here's an email from one of our listeners named Tabitha.

She says, Hi, Pastor Adriel and Bill. For my entire life, I have had no problem believing in the gospel writing and the message of Christ's resurrection. But now, the more I hear about it in church, the more I'm having doubts.

Life and the world after 2,000 years is still struggling and suffering, as it always has. But somehow, Christ's literal resurrection is supposed to change things for the better. I guess I'm wondering if it was all just a metaphor for something else that awakens in us spiritually. Is there anything wrong with having that view, or do we need to be a believer in a literal resurrection? Tabitha, we do need to believe in the literal resurrection, the bodily resurrection of Jesus. It wasn't just a metaphor, some spiritual teaching. Jesus rises in our hearts or something like that. We read the gospels, it's very clear that Christ was with his disciples after he died, was entombed for three days, rose again, and then was with them, eating and drinking and walking and talking in the flesh.

They could see the wounds in his hands and in his side. The Bible is very, very clear about this. There are some who have tried to spiritualize the message of the resurrection, but I think that that has devastating consequences on our faith. In fact, it undermines the entire Christian faith, and that's something, Tabitha, that the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15. He's writing to the Corinthians, and they're struggling because while they affirm that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, some of the Corinthians within the church there were denying the general resurrection of believers, so they didn't think that they were going to rise at some point in the future. So Paul addresses them in verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 15, and he says, If Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

We are even found to be misrepresenting God because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that 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 futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people, Paul says, the most to be pitied. He's saying, look, if the resurrection didn't happen, let's just imagine that for a moment, as terrible as it is. If the resurrection didn't happen, here's what that would mean. If Jesus didn't actually bodily rise from the dead, one, the Christian faith would be empty. Our preaching would be in vain, Paul says. Your faith would be in vain. It's empty.

It's worthless. Two, if Jesus didn't actually rise from the dead, we're misrepresenting God because we've been testifying that God raised Him from the dead. Paul is experiencing all sorts of difficulty, trials, tribulation, because he's holding fast to this message, but he's saying, look, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, we're lying. We apostles have not been telling the truth. Three, and this one gets me, if Jesus didn't really rise again bodily, you are still in your sins. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, you are still dead in sin. The last thing he says is, if Jesus didn't rise, those who have perished in Christ, those who have died, he uses the phrase, they're fallen asleep, well, they're lost. They're forever gone. They don't have any hope.

And so, I mean, just think about how devastating this all would be. Now, the good news is, he says in verse 20, but in fact, Christ has been raised. And so what are the implications of that? If Jesus has been raised, your faith is not empty. It's not in vain. It has substance to it. It has reality to it. What we've been preaching is not false.

It's true. And you are no longer in your sins. That is, you are no longer a slave to sin, captive to sin, dead in sin, because when Jesus rose again from the dead, he loosed you of your sins. You were justified through his great work.

He was raised for our justification. So you want to talk about the sort of practical implications. How was that event of the resurrection supposed to impact the world today?

Well, those are all some of the ways that it was supposed to, and that it has very truly impacted the world today and over the last 2,000 years. But Paul goes on to say, right, we have the hope of the future resurrection as believers, but we also have the hope that God is going to put all things under subjection to Christ. That is, that the evil we see in the world, the sin, the brokenness throughout creation, one day that is all going to be restored, even death itself is going to be finally abolished, and the resurrection of Jesus, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, was the first part of that process.

And since Jesus rose from the dead, we can have confidence, certainty, that that process is going to be completed. And so we celebrate. We have to celebrate. We get to celebrate this great message. What a great message for Easter. Thank you for that, Adriel.

We have time for one more quick email before we go. This one comes in from one of our listeners who says, Sometimes I feel like I'm a Christian just so I can avoid hell, but I don't necessarily enjoy being a Christian other than getting to avoid hell. I feel badly about this. Am I wrong to feel this way? Do you have any words of advice?

Okay, first, you're not alone. I think a lot of people maybe turn to God at first because of that fear of hell. But the thing is, we have to move from slavish fear to love. The relationship that God wants to have with you is not one of, you know, I'm just constantly terrified that God is going to throw me down into hell because I'm such a horrible person or something like that.

No, God wants you, obviously, there is a holy fear that we ought to have before the Lord, but there's also this love relationship that's rooted in the fact that you recognize that God first loved you. That in order to save you from your sins, from condemnation, from hell, God sent his son into the world so that you might be redeemed, so that you might have fellowship with him, so that you might experience his grace and his spirit. And so I would just say God invites you into that, to experience it, to know it, and as you grow more and more in your understanding of God's word and in your understanding of the love of Christ, which is immeasurable, as Paul says in the book of Ephesians, I hope that that moves you from a place, and I know it will, of slavish fear and anxiety to rest and joy and a holy reverence and fear for God, but also a great love because of his mercy. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-The-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-06 18:13:32 / 2023-04-06 18:23:30 / 10

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