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Resurrection Changes Everything: Dr. Jeremiah Johnston

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2023 5:15 am

Resurrection Changes Everything: Dr. Jeremiah Johnston

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 7, 2023 5:15 am

What's Jesus' resurrection have to do with your life right here, right now? Acclaimed apologist Dr. Jeremiah Johnston makes his case: Resurrection changes everything. He sets out to show why Jesus' victory over death is central to your faith and how we view suffering and death. Johnston examine the latest archaeological and textual findings and presenting tangible, fresh reasons to believe Jesus really rose from the dead.

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Peter makes this beautiful point that because of the resurrection of Jesus, because of that fact, our salvation is protected and kept by God. It is such a powerful promise that no matter what happens to us in this life, our salvation is guarded by God Himself.

We are kept forgiven, kept saved, kept safe in the ark of safety and our salvation in Christ because of the resurrection of Jesus. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Dave Wilson.

And I'm Ann Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So today is Good Friday. I know. It's pretty cool. Which is interesting. We call it good. It's good because of what happened, but the events of the day were pretty tragic. But what's really interesting is you think about this weekend, you know there's a verse in the Bible that if you change just one word or two, it would change the entire rest of the Bible.

What are those? No. Well, you know this passage in Matthew 28, the Easter story, verse 5, it says, Come see where his body lays. I caught that. That would change everything. Yeah, obviously they didn't say he's here.

He's risen. But what if they had said, yeah, he's right here. We wouldn't be here today.

No, there would be no, there'd be no Christianity. It is that crucial. And we've got a guy over here, mm-hmm. Jeremiah Johnson is back in the studio. Welcome back, Jeremiah.

Thank you. Happy Good Friday to one and all. What a great day this is.

It is a great day. And obviously, you know, you're known as an apologist, as someone who studied the fact. I didn't realize, you know, you wanted to get the answers. So, you know, honey, let's go to Oxford. Yeah. Let's study at Oxford and get our PhD. Share a little bit about what you do.

Yeah. My passion is replicating Christian thinking. So there was a time in my life I was a Christian, but not a Christian thinker. And so I love producing content that helps people own their own faith.

And what is my definition of being a Christian thinker? It's being able to answer the difficult questions you face in your life with the truths from Scripture. The will of God for my life is always found in the Word of God. Scripture is truth. We serve a God of all truth. Justin said all truth is God's truth.

It means that every truth I find in life can and will be reconciled with my faith. And so I love guiding people by the hand and saying, hey, what's your difficult question? God's a big boy.

He can take your tough question. And for me, it was this whole notion of the resurrection of Jesus. I knew enough to be dangerous in my Christian faith.

I didn't have confidence. And, you know, what's so great is the more we know about our faith when it comes to engaging with people, the more calm I am now in a faith dialogue, I can really listen. I'm so at home in my heart with the truth. So you don't have to argue. I don't need to argue. Prove your point. I don't need to get offended even when people knock on me like they do you guys as well, when we're criticized by skeptics or those that are deconstructing. I just listen with a heart of compassion because I know the truth. I've been set free in the truth of the resurrection.

And I want to take you back to December of 2012. I was at my viva in Oxford. It means living voice. You have to defend your thesis. And Professor William Telford, who did not believe in the miraculous, was examining me. And he said, Jeremiah, and half the words he's saying are Latin. I'm not a Latin scholar. I don't know if he's complimenting me. I don't know if he is. I don't know. I'm just so impressed by the story right now that I'm trying to get over that part. It was a snowy day in Oxford.

In December, darkness had fallen at three in the afternoon as usual. But he said, I just have one question. I've been reading some funny Latin words. He said, do you actually believe that Jesus rose from the dead? And this is my examination. This isn't a coffee cup conversation. Or is that just imaginative storytelling?

I had written a 93,000-word academic thesis that's now published for dozens who want to read it in an academic monograph series. But I said, Professor Telford, David Hume said, wise men choose probabilities. And without a doubt, the evidence leads me to believe Jesus physically, bodily rose from the grave. He paused.

He had a big British bro tie on, glasses. He said, I don't see it that way. Let's start your examination. Well, Professor Telford later passed me with commendation for my defense that day of the material and the evidence. But I've never forgotten that. And I was amazed that here's a, quote, Bible scholar who didn't believe in the resurrection of Jesus, thought it was imaginative storytelling. And his thought, thousands, millions believe that. Imaginative storytelling.

Imaginative storytelling. And so here's what's interesting about that. You know, I never knew if I went into Bible scholarship, I would someday be quoted in the magazine Vanity Fair. Is that the goal? No, that is not the goal. I don't read it.

Don't encourage it. But I was contacted by a New York Times obituary writer, Sam Roberts. And this is in my brand new book, Body of Proof, The Seven Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.

See, we didn't say it, but he did. Thanks, Jeremiah. I'm excited because he said, Jeremiah, you know, I want to write an obituary about Jesus.

Now think about that. He writes obituaries for notable people for the New York Times. Wow. He said, and I loved it. I got his permission and I got permission from Vanity Fair to publish the obituary he wrote about Jesus. And that's how my book kicks off. And the obituary, he did a fine job. He interviewed me and then he interviewed skeptical scholars as well.

So I wasn't the only one. So I didn't know how is this going to turn out? Is he going to, you know, but it reads beautifully and it ends on a cliffhanger with the empty tomb.

But he interviewed me and his emails were honestly wonderful. Do we know enough for me to write an obituary? Is there enough evidence?

I mean, what's different about writing an obituary for Jesus than Santa Claus or the tooth fairy? Can we know enough? Is there enough information? And that, again, I wrote back, oh, yes, there's lots of information. And it comes out and you can even Google it today, the obituary of Jesus, or you can read it in my new book that he wrote based on the evidence that we presented to him.

Let me ask you, you probably got to know him a little bit in that process. What was his thinking after this was published? Positive. So positively, let me put it in my book. So I think that that's just a remarkable claim that here you have, so for anyone who's listening to us, we have a guy who's at the New York Times who writes obituaries about real people, real places, real events. And he wrote one about Jesus of Nazareth. So what does that tell us? That's a little different than some of the other central figures and belief systems. Yeah, I remember when I was in seminary, I was taking a class by a professor named J.P. Moreland. And I remember one day he came into class, this is early 80s, and he said, he goes, hey, pray for me, I'm going down to USC, the college there.

We're in California to apply for a doctorate. And it's tomorrow. He came back the next day and he said, I was denied.

What are you talking about? He goes, I'm a theist. They wouldn't let a theist in. He goes, pray for me.

They're giving me one audience to go back and convince them I should be in. So we all prayed. He came back the next day, he goes, I'm in. Wow.

What do you mean? He goes, I just presented evidence for why I believe what I believe. And they felt the evidence was, they didn't believe what I believe, but they said, okay, you got a basis for what you have, we're going to let you do it.

He got his doctorate at USC. So walk us through, you pick whatever you want. There's seven best reasons to believe the resurrection.

Here's what I want to encourage people when you're having these conversations. You're free to disagree with the interpretation of the data, but you can't make up alternative facts. You can't make up your own truth when it comes to Jesus's resurrection. There are scholars and skeptics who say that Jesus wasn't buried. There are skeptics that say his body was thrown in a mass burial pit. There are scholars and skeptics who say his body was even eaten by dogs. John Dominic Crossan said that.

They are simply making up other claims, not based on the evidence, but based on their worldview, which is not based on evidence. And so there are seven reasons that I give in the book, Body of Proof. It's a book you could read in about three and a half hours, and you are going to be up to date on all the great discoveries, all of the latest fresh arguments for the Christian faith, specifically the resurrection of Jesus, which of course, as we said in a previous dialogue, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center point of a Christian worldview. Our whole worldview, it goes before Imago Dei, but Imago Dei comes from that. We can say that you're made in the image of God because Jesus rose from the dead.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we reinterpret everything through that lens. And so I threw out seven reasons because seven was all I could get done. And I started lecturing on these seven, and it caught fire. So I'm excited about that. But this book actually, Into God Be the Glory, has an original contribution to knowledge.

And I actually have published this in a textbook that is used in state colleges, I'm very happy to say, with my colleague Craig Evans. There is no motivation if you are an early disciple of Jesus. Here's the original contribution. There was no psychological reason for the disciples to invent a resurrection story if it didn't happen. They didn't need it. What do I mean by that? I don't want to lose our listeners.

You can read all the details in the book. Judaism is a coherent religion. They already believed in a coming general resurrection. They had other prophets, priests, and rabbis who they loved who they could have easily said, oh, we will remember Jesus.

He's so great. He will be resurrected with us someday in the general resurrection. They didn't need a resurrection narrative because Judaism was already a complete coherent belief system. Why would you invent a resurrection? Because the first Christians were Jews, right? So there's no psychological motivation to come up with this story of a dead man coming back to life.

Because you have to remember, we have to read the Bible with first century eyes. In the first century world of Jesus, resurrection was grotesque. All of the Greco-Roman thinkers thought they were so influenced by Socrates and the platonic notion of our bodies are evil. We have to shed our bodies.

Socrates thought we could become a star someday. Your souls were immortal. Nobody believed in resurrection. This was a non-starter. It's an embarrassing way in the first century.

And so I get into that. That's reason number four. There's no psychological motivation to invent a resurrection narrative, which then leads into number five. The written and archaeological sources overwhelmingly support the resurrection narrative in the gospels. You mean I can go to the land of Israel today and I can go to burial sites and I can learn a little bit about Jewish burial traditions and that will help me understand Jesus' burial better?

Absolutely. The archaeological studies of the burial traditions, again, show that the gospels get it right. The resurrection narratives, which are embedded in our Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John gospels, are so strong that even atheist agnostic archaeologists tell us the gospels get it right. In fact, if I go to the land of Israel and I meet a friend of mine who's an archaeologist and there's about, you know, most of these are minimalist or they're archaeologists who are atheist or agnostic. Do you know what six books that they use to do their archaeological digs?

They use Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the book of Acts, and Josephus. Really? Yeah.

So here I am at a site and the atheist archaeologist is using Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the book of Acts because it's so well evidenced. It doesn't even make sense though. Yeah. Why they're using that if they don't have the belief.

They do believe that historically they're correct. Right. Interesting.

And yet it stops at the neckline. And so it's so important. So yeah, the archaeology is a huge, huge friend. I call archaeology Christianity's closest cousin. And you have to understand, unlike any other religion in the world, Christianity puts itself to the historical test.

It says, hey, test me in this. You can test our faith against the material culture and our faith wins. It's so well evidenced. So when you look at even his life, one of your pieces of evidence is his power. Yes. Resurrection power.

What's that mean? It means that Jesus had power over death. And I go immediately to John chapter 11. Mary and Martha both have this thought that I'm sure I've had on many occasions. Jesus, if you had only been here, this wouldn't have happened. They both, if you read John 11, they both have the same question for Jesus.

If you had only been here. Jesus, of course, has power over death. It's the only time that I read outside of his cry of dereliction that Jesus screams or yells in the New Testament. He yells, necros agairo, raised from the dead, come out, Lazarus. You know, of course, Bible scholars cutely say if he didn't say Lazarus, everyone who was dead would have been risen from the dead. But Lazarus, duro exo, come out and he comes out alive. And again, this is where in the book I point out in the Jewish mind, Lazarus being dead four days, he could not have been more dead.

In fact, Judaism had a lot of tradition in the first century world. They believe that the Spirit hovered over the body for three days after death. And then on the fourth day, the face kind of gnarled as the Spirit left the body.

So again, in the Jewish mindset, he's as dead as you get. Jesus shows up, they're even concerned about the odor, and says, come forth. So Jesus, again, answers that evidence with his power, those questions with power. Back to your question, that question of if you had only been here, Jesus said, I am here, and guess what? I have power over death.

Watch. Yeah, and you know, one of the, it's your reason number seven. I'd love to hear you talk about this. Jesus' resurrection is the only basis for making sense of suffering. Oh, and wow, for those in our audience who haven't suffered, you will someday. Suffering is something that is not unique, it's something we all share.

It's universal. And grief, and the hard work of grief. And I end the book with this clarion call that Jesus' resurrection is the only way we can ultimately make sense of the suffering in our world. What's beautiful, I've been studying 1 Peter, chapter 1, and Peter makes this beautiful point that because of the resurrection of Jesus, because of that fact, our salvation is protected and kept by God, verse 3. It is such a powerful promise that no matter what happens to us in this life, our salvation is guarded by God Himself. We are kept forgiven, kept saved, kept safe in the ark of safety in our salvation in Christ because of the resurrection of Jesus. So, no matter what happens to us or our loved ones, God protects us according to His power through the resurrection of Jesus. Paul says this in Romans, chapter 8, that the sufferings of this world can't compare with the glory that we're going to have someday in heaven with Christ. And if I may, I interviewed a couple from one of my books who lost both of their daughters after they were serving at a Louise Plough evangelistic rally, Dan and Lynn Wagner.

Normal, Christian, wonderful people. And she said, Jeremiah, we blew up Christmas that year, and it took a lot of time. But I said, Dan, how do you keep going? He had amnesia. He was concussed. People had to keep reminding him both of his daughters had been killed in the accident. Their seats were buckled.

They were killed instantly. And he said, Jeremiah, I'm not living for the 80 or so years on this earth. I'm living for the resurrection. I know I will see my daughters again because Jesus rose from the grave. And I just sat back and I thought, okay, it's the key that it's the only way it's going to make sense someday, Jesus is going to make it right in the resurrection. It's our hope.

Period. And that's why I want to remind our audience, no matter what you're facing, John 14, 19, Jesus promises that our eventual bodily resurrection is linked with his. Because I live, you will live also.

This is the key to our hope. Therefore, be strong, be immovable. This is what Paul said after 57 triumphant verses explaining the resurrection, which is so powerful.

He said, be strong, be immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain. So you mean the studying the resurrection can make me strong? Yes. Do you mean studying the resurrection can make me immovable?

Yes. That's what the scriptures say. It can make everything worth it. We can abound in good works because of the resurrection. Knowing that God sees it all, our labor is not in vain. Yeah, it makes me think the couples that could be listening right now that have given up hope on their marriage.

Yes. Or maybe on a prodigal, you know, son or daughter. How does the resurrection speak to those situations? The resurrection shows us that God never gives up on anyone, Dave. God is the God of the second, third, fourth, and fifth chance. Jesus is the resurrected Messiah who went walking seven miles on Emmaus to go after Cleopas.

We don't know the name of the other who was on the road to Emmaus. He loved him enough to walk with them. They had hope. They deconstructed in front of Jesus.

Yeah. Luke 24, 21. We had hope. He was the resurrection. And Jesus gives them hope. Jesus will meet us at our greatest point of need. So the resurrection reminds me He's the God of the second, third, fourth, and fifth chance.

No one is beyond His reach. Jesus died for all. And we need to just pray that God will give us the words to say and the moments that we need to speak words. He'll give us the wisdom to listen and the moments we need to be quiet and listen and lend a listening ear. But knowing, though, that the facts of the resurrection motivate me to never give up on a son or daughter, never give up on a loved one, a neighbor, a spouse, a marriage. The resurrection empowers every aspect of my life. And so today I can pray, even on Good Friday, Lord, let me live a resurrection-centric life, because I know that is the key. That's the key. That is the foundation for honoring You in all that I do.

So good. So what do you say to a parent, a mom or a dad or both, blended family, whatever situation? It's Good Friday. They've got a teenager, a college-aged son or daughter, and they're like, hey, we're going to church.

We're going to remember Good Friday. And they're like, come on, Mom. Dad, I don't believe this stuff. You guys have believed it your whole life, and you've tried to make me believe it. I just don't.

I don't buy it. I know a lot of our listeners have, you know, kids. Absolutely. It's our dream as parents that we pray every day that they would walk with God as adult men or women. If they don't believe at this point, coach up the parents.

Absolutely. This is where I do agree with skeptics. Even skeptics will tell you the greatest fact of history is the death of Jesus on a Roman cross. If we can't believe in Jesus' death by Roman crucifixion, we shouldn't believe in Alexander the Great. We shouldn't believe in even the Civil War in the United States because the data is so good.

Because there's so much evidence. And I don't just mean the Bible. I mean writers and thinkers within 100 years of the resurrection event itself. And so I would just encourage you, it doesn't really matter what they say.

If they're in your home, get them to church with you today for Good Friday. Remember this contemplatively, that it did take a body that was broken for us. A real body. A real person.

Jesus. He took on flesh. And what that means transformed the world. It's why it transformed our dating system. It transformed everything we know about antiquity.

And there is a reason, number one, we didn't, maybe in another conversation we can get to, this message of the resurrection changed the world. It brought equality. It brought strength. It humanized people who had been dehumanized for generations. And everywhere the gospel goes, people are freed. Communities find rest and shalom in Jesus. And that is a fact that is worth going to church for tonight. That's good.

Because I was thinking the same thing, Dave. You know, at Family Life we sell the resurrection eggs. And I've watched even one of our sons go through the eggs with his like eight to two-year-olds. There's four kids.

But now your kids are getting older. As a father and a mom at this time of year, what are the things that we want to talk about? We're not going to pull out necessarily the resurrection eggs. But what could the conversation look like, practically speaking? Because I feel like this is a great book to read as a parent, to even discuss with your kids. But let's just say we have that window of time, hey, this is the weekend of the resurrection. People are more open.

Yes. So how would you begin that conversation? Well, I would begin the conversation this way if I'm sitting with my kids. First I'd say, guys, we don't get in some kind of weird religious trance because we're going to talk about Jesus.

That's how it would begin. We don't need any kind of like Gregorian chanting. We don't need any of those mantras. The way I look at Jesus is the way I study anything else in history. If what we say is true, God's a big boy. He can take our skepticism.

And then I'm going to do something that I want to make sure our listeners listen to the whole broadcast and don't clip this warning quote out. I don't privilege the Bible. I don't privilege the text.

I look at it dispassionately. Now, do I believe the Bible is the word of God? Infallible?

Yes, for those that are listening. But I'm just saying for my kids, this is what they told me in Oxford. Don't privilege the Bible. Treat it like any other text. Hold it under the critical eye that you would any other document and then let's find out if it's really true. And then I would just walk them through the body of proof and I would say, well, you know, Jesus called it. Jesus Adam braided it.

He foreshadowed it. He raised people from the dead showing he had power over death. And we look at archaeology and I would take them to these facts, not feelings.

These facts changed the world. Nobody felt like believing in Jesus on resurrection morning, by the way. And the very fact to, and I just want to say this to people, the very fact that we have women eyewitnesses, Jesus and his movement in early Christianity are attacked viciously.

And I get into this in body of proof by thinkers like Porphyry and Celsus. What? Your savior was found by women.

Dumb women is basically what they say. And even Judaism was very chauvinistic. Better to burn the Torah than teach it to a woman. Jesus comes along.

He's resurrected. The first witnesses are females. And so, wow, the church brings equality to the sexes, to women. And who would make up that story?

Nobody. That's my point. Not in that culture. If you were making up a religious story, you're doing it all wrong. You've got bodies coming back from the dead.

You've got women who are uneducated as the key witnesses. By the way, the gospels are doing something cool. Luke chapter 8. It was women who took care of the financial needs of Jesus' ministry. Verses 1 through 3, we get their names.

Those are the same names of the women who are the resurrection witnesses in Luke 24. This is why St. Luke opens his gospel. He uses this powerful word.

We can have a certainty about our faith. We were autoptes. He literally, it was like an autopsy.

That's the same word. We saw it. We felt it. We can believe in this. So, therefore, we can have a certainty in our faith.

You know, it's interesting to think. I was going to say, hey, you know, parents, here's what you do. Get Jeremiah's book, The Body of Proof, and give it to him. But here's what I would say. Don't give it to your son or daughter.

You read it. That's right. Because I think a lot of our kids look at us as parents and say, I'm not sure you even know what you believe. Such a good point.

Because we don't. Right. And, I mean, as a mom or dad's listening to you today and yesterday, they're probably going, I don't know any of this. And I should. This is on me to be a workman of the Word of God, but also of the history of the truth of the resurrection. This is big time. It is. And how can I convince a son or daughter if I don't even know why or what I believe? Right.

Start there. Well, I think, too, I remember doing a chapel for a women's basketball team. And some of the women on the team were Christians. And so, after chapel, they started talking.

I was there. And the unbelievers were like, this is garbage. Like, this is the dumbest thing. Who could ever believe this if you have a brain? And then the Christians got all riled up. And they're like, no, because it's true. And I was watching to see if they could defend their faith. And they said, how do you know?

And it was great. I mean, they were incredibly passionate and loved Jesus, but they said, because I just feel like it's true. And I've seen God change my life. But they kept going like, but how do you know he rose from the dead? And so, maybe it's not hard for us to believe for me.

I've just, it's been easy. As I read this, like, yes, yes, I believe this. Dave has been more skeptical. But it's been good for me to learn how to defend my faith to the people that think this is garbage.

This is dumb. Who in their right mind could believe this? And this is an amazing weekend that we get to not only believe it, to experience his grace and his power. And I would just encourage people, you know, I'm with Dave, because in Matthew 28, Jesus is ascending. He's resurrected. He's ascending. Some are worshiping, and Matthew adds, and some are still doubting.

And Jesus loved them all. You know, so I don't know where you are on the Mount of Ascension this weekend. You might be doubting.

You might be all in. Guess what? He's right in front of you.

You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jeremiah Johnston on Family Life Today. It's Good Friday, and we're about to celebrate the greatest event that happened in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ coming up in just a couple of days. The tomb is empty. What great news. Jesus is alive. His bones are not buried someplace in the Middle East.

He is alive right now. And that's so exciting that we get to celebrate that as believers. Well, Jeremiah's book is called Body of Proof, the Seven Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus and Why It Matters Today, such an important book. And you can pick up a copy at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. We want you to enjoy the rest of this weekend as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior.

And we believe the path of following Jesus begins with thinking outside of ourselves. So as we celebrate this weekend, let's also look forward to next week, where we can join Dave and Anne as they talk with radio host Brant Hansen about the flaws we all have and how to get outside of ourselves to live a more fruitful life. That's coming up next week. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, Happy Easter, and I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-07 06:50:15 / 2023-04-07 07:03:05 / 13

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