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Finding Faith: Why the Resurrection of Christ Matters

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 3, 2023 12:01 am

Finding Faith: Why the Resurrection of Christ Matters

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 3, 2023 12:01 am

Can people in the 21st century still believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Today, Gabe Fluhrer begins to show that the resurrection is not only a verified historical fact, but it also answers some of our most important questions.

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The resurrection of Christ happened. It's a historical fact as much as the fact that George Washington was the first President of the United States. As Christians, we believe in the resurrection of Jesus and we should be bold in those convictions.

But could you defend it if someone was to challenge your beliefs? Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. Many Christians refer to this week as Holy Week and so we're featuring some special messages on Renewing Your Mind beginning with a series by Gabe Fluhrer titled Alive, How the Resurrection of Christ Changes Everything.

So as you're having conversations with family and friends, we trust that these messages will help you know why you believe about the resurrection and why you believe it. He is Gabe Fluhrer. One of my favorite films is the movie Miracle on Ice by Disney, which tells the story of the 1980 US hockey team, which some of y'all may remember. And at the end of that game where they beat the Russians for the first time in 20 years, it switches in the movie to the call made by Al Michaels, who was the broadcast announcer that evening. And his question that he blurts out as time runs out on the clock and the US beat the Russian national team is, do you believe in miracles? And that's a question I think that, you know, all kidding aside and movies and everything else that all of us are going to ask at some point, do we believe in miracles? And the scriptures tell us clearly on every page that miracles happen.

Miracles are real because of who God is. Now we live in an age that has been described as the age of anxiety, the age of anxiety. And you look all around us and you look in your own heart, you talk to people and what are they?

They're anxious, they're worried, they're nervous, especially in the times in which we live. Philosopher Jean Paul Sartre captures how most people go through life and the title of his book, Nausea. Sartre was an, as an existentialist philosopher in the, in the middle part of the 20th century. And he thought that life was nausea.

He thought it was so much anxiety, so much being distraught with things that he titled it, Nausea. Now what's strange, I think about this age of anxiety, this age of nausea is that we live in the time in world history of the most material plenty of any generation that has walked this earth, any generation. We live in the most materially plenteous time of any time in world history. And so here's the question, why are we so full and yet so empty? And so I think one explanation we have for this is that we have lost faith. We're coming off an election in which a lot of people are saying in the media that we've lost faith in the electoral process, in our governments, in our leaders. And, and I think in ourselves as human beings trying to make it through this world, people have lost faith in the human race. But I think the far more serious loss is the loss of faith in the scriptures and in the truth of the gospel. Now let's go back for just a moment though and say that when we lose faith in things like leaders, governments, ourselves, that might not be a bad thing because when false faiths die, what we really are seeing is the funeral of idols, of false beliefs, false systems. And when those die and we have a funeral for our idols, then resurrection faith can enter in.

And so as we launch into this series, here's our goals. We want to look at the evidence for the resurrection. We want to see that the resurrection of Christ happened.

It's a historical fact as much as the fact that George Washington was the first president of the United States. Then we're going to examine the scriptures together and walk through the Old and New Testaments and see what they teach us about the resurrection. And then we're going to apply our results that we've gleaned from our studies and apply them to daily life. Now, what we need to do when we start thinking about the resurrection of Christ, miracles, the supernatural, is understand where we are right now in terms of thinking and worldviews and how most people would hear something like, hey, do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day? How have people been conditioned to hear these kinds of claims? And what we've seen in the past 50 years or so is the rise of what one scholar calls scientism. And scientism is the belief that the natural sciences are the surest, if not the only way to know the truth. So prior to probably 1850, and again, it comes into its own in the early 20th to mid-20th century, people believed that theology could give us truth. People believed that philosophy could give us truth. And then with the meteoric rise of the technological advancements of the 20th century, people now believe that science alone is the only authority.

The problem is nobody can live like that. Nobody can live as if the physical sciences alone give us truth. We all feel, we all have deep emotions that the sciences can't explain. And so as we see this corresponding rise of the authority of science, we also see a corresponding decline in church attendance, in belief in the biblical truth. And we see a despairing kind of skepticism about the gospel.

And so people today, it's almost not even a hostility towards the gospel in so many quarters, as it is an outright apathy to it. So that people living their lives day to day just kind of assume whatever science says is true, we don't question it. And science has told us the supernatural isn't real, that God isn't real.

And so therefore I have to carve out some little way to make meaningful statements and make a meaningful life for myself. And the scriptures, of course, challenge that. And we'll come back to that in just a moment, but notice as well with this rise of scientism, spirituality is not going away, my friends. It's not as if people who believe in the authority of science to give them truth alone have all of a sudden stopped being spiritual people, stopped being what John Calvin described as homo religiosus, man, the religious man.

No, people still are very much spiritual, but what's the phrase they use now? I'm spiritual, not religious. I'm not into all of this organized organized religion. And I'm certainly not into any religion that says there's a book without errors that tells a story about blood, which is what the Bible gives us.

It's a book without errors that tells us the story of blood atonement by the son of God for sinners. The minute you say anything like that, oh, well, I'm spiritual, but not religious. And that's an interesting point for us to seize upon because what it tells us is that for all of the grandiose claims of science to explain everything, people still desperately want to know there's something beyond the material world.

They want to know that there's something beyond death. I was watching a, a video not too long ago of a philosopher, Herbert Fenegret, who wrote a book when he was in his forties. I think that would have been back in the, in the seventies or early eighties on why nothing happens to you when you die. And then they did a video with him and I think it was about 98 before he died. This video was filmed a few years ago and he'd lost his wife and he deeply loved his wife. It was beautiful to watch how he described her and how much he missed her, how much he had missed her as they would sit and listen to Mozart together. And he was in his home in his nineties being assisted to, to live by somebody making him breakfast, dressing him. And he was sitting there weeping, missing his wife.

And it broke my heart as he said, you know, I think I might've been wrong about some of these things. It's easy to write a book about nothing happening when you die, when you're healthy and well. It's a far different thing to think that way when you're facing death in the face. And yet even with this rise of scientism and the, the death of kind of any kind of submission to the gospel or love of the truth of the gospel, or even belief in it, this rise of spirituality has brought us to a place where people who desperately want meaning are looking for it anywhere but the truth of the gospel.

They're looking for it in any kind of Eastern spirituality mixed with some self-help mixed with even as I've just read an article in the New York Times about this, the rise of astrology among millennials now. So here we are saying that we can send people into space now with private companies. We can heal diseases and yet people will still look to the stars to give them the truth and say it's ridiculous to talk about miracles. So what we see then is the vacuum left by atheism and scientism filled by spirituality that wants nothing to do with the scriptures. And so then the question becomes, can we believe the resurrection? Can we still believe that Jesus, the sinless son of God, the eternal second person of the Trinity who took to himself body and soul, came down from heaven, lived among us, lived a sinless life, died in atoning death, was laid in the tomb and walked out the third day? Can we still believe that? And my answer is yes.

And we'll get into a variety of reasons of why I believe we can answer yes in our upcoming talks here, our lectures here. So let's look at one place that tells us something of why we can believe this in the scriptures, Luke chapter one and verses one through four. I remember when I first became a Christian reading these verses with new eyes and having a deeper appreciation by the Holy Spirit for what he's saying through Luke here. Here's what Luke says, in as much as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

So here is how Luke opens his gospel and Acts, the book of Acts, as best we can tell, is book two of Luke's gospel. So he wrote this two volume series for this man named Theophilus and he tells us why. He says, we were eyewitnesses, eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivering these things to them.

And he says, having followed all of these things closely, I've compiled these materials so that you might know for sure everything is true. Now, let's just pause here and recognize that the quote unquote holy books of the world, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, other so-called revelations from God, don't read like this. There's this concern for history on every page of the Bible, that the God who created history, controls history, speaks into history, works in history.

And so, therefore, in the mindset to which the gospel of Luke originally came, there is a deep love of history. And one of the arguments you'll hear against the resurrection is, oh, these ancient people, they were so superstitious, they had no idea about what modern history looked like. They were just gullible.

Well, one of the things I like to tell our students in our student ministry at our church is, just go ahead right now and try to live for two weeks without grocery stores, cars, cell phones, internet, everything else, like they would have had in the ancient world, where you had to get your own food somehow, find water every day. I'm willing to bet most of us would not have lived very long. In other words, these people were not gullible, superstitious fools in the ancient world. They knew the difference between truth and falsehood. They knew the difference between myth and reality. And so, when Luke writes like this, that would not have been surprising to who he's writing to. And he's saying what we all would, I think, still say today. What happened?

Can you give me an account? And if we were asking Luke that, he would say to us, well, sure, I've actually studied this and compiled materials and made a search of things and done my homework, as it were. And here's what really happened. And notice that phrase, eyewitnesses. This is a massive phrase in the Scriptures, because if you read Old Testament law, where there are no video cameras, there are no tape recorders in the world that the law of God comes to, what was so important when it came to crime and justice and law? Eyewitness testimony. This is why the law of God in the Old Testament says things have to be established on the testimony of witnesses. Because when life and death were at stake, witnesses had to tell the truth.

It was basic to that society. That's why there were such harsh laws if someone was caught lying. Because, again, without the aid of the things we have in modern life to show us what happened, if you lied, you could lose your life. And so Luke is in that cultural milieu of the importance of eyewitness testimony, and he says, that's what I'm going to give you. And if we were to turn over to 2 Peter 1, 16, we see the same thing from the Apostle Peter.

He says, we did not follow cleverly devised myths, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. In other words, we weren't gullible ancient people who would believe whatever was offered to us when we talk about somebody being in the tomb and then the tomb being empty. It's so easy to act as if, you know, well, they just probably believed that Jesus was some kind of Superman who got out of the tomb.

As we're going to see, that was the last thing on their minds. Because ancient people know, like modern people, dead people don't come back to life on their own. Tombs don't just magically empty themselves. And that's why Peter and Luke and the rest of the scriptures are concerned for us to see the verity, the truthfulness of the message they bring us about the resurrection of Christ. A couple of other things here. And one of the main realities we have to come to grips with as we read the scriptures, especially about the resurrection of Christ, is that it was not, and miracles in scripture and generally are not just things that happen. They're not just facts out there. They are part of a larger story.

They are part of a larger framework. And I emphasize that because today, again, given the assumptions of the culture makers and opinion makers all around us, it can be easy to see miracles as something like a violation of natural law. That's how we hear them defined in secular terms. Miracles are a violation of natural law. Well, the scriptures don't have that category of some kind of laws of nature that operate independent of the creator of nature. So miracles are not a violation as if God somehow started the world, left it to its own, and then every now and then decides to put his hand back in it.

No, God sustains the world moment by moment. He was one, one through three among many places tells us. And when God acts in history and does a supernatural miracle, whether it's a floating accident or the resurrection of Christ, that's part of a larger framework, part of a larger history that again and again tells us that when God acts, he's doing so for purposes, for reasons. And we'll, we'll talk about that when we come to the Old Testament prophesying the resurrection. Now, something else we, we need to realize when we think about the resurrection of Christ and our coming resurrection as believers is that the resurrection of Christ and our resurrection are not two separate events, as one scholar put it.

Now that's how we think of it, right? There was Jesus's resurrection 2000 years ago. There will come a time when he returns, the dead will be raised to life and will be judged.

And that is all true, but the scriptures frame it slightly differently so that when you get to 1st Corinthians 15 and Paul begins to speak about Christ is the first fruits from the dead, that's Jewish feastal language, the feasts of Israel, the feast of first fruits that, and even today in agricultural societies, that the first fruits are what is going to be indicative of the rest of the crop. So the way the scriptures look at Christ's resurrection and our coming resurrection is not two separate events, but two episodes of the same event so that Jesus's resurrection begins the resurrection harvest that will be brought to completion on the last day. So his resurrection is the first episode and basically as he ascends to heaven on his, in his ascension and pours out the Holy Spirit, we could say he's really saying to us to be continued. And then at the end of all things, he brings it to completion. And so when we think about that, what it should do is help us to realize that when God raised Jesus from the dead, he was making a promise to us. He was making a promise that as we'll see in our studies gives us unshakable hope, unshakable hope that everything he's told us is true and that there is going to come a day where the harvest will be complete.

The end gathering will come to an end and what began in Jerusalem will be brought to completion. So then the resurrection of Christ answers what might be the major question of our age, the most important question people are asking and answering and when not finding a true answer are despairing over. And that question is this, is there anything beyond nature?

And if so, what is it or he like? And the Christian answer is this, the triune God made the world and everything in it and he sent his son because he loves sinners, loves them. Even though he should be their enemy and their judge, he loves sinners, sends his son to live and die and be raised in their place so that when the Christian answers the question, is there anything beyond nature?

He or she answers with a resounding yes. And the proof is as solid as the empty tomb. That the God who rules nature, the God who made nature is also the God who would come down and live among us and teach us about ourselves and bring us back to his father and pour out the Holy Spirit on us so that for maybe the first time ever in our lives, we can have true hope. We can know for sure what happens when we die. And again, returning to what we said about scientism and I think of again that philosopher who is despairing of what happens when he dies when he dies and the answer is right before all of us, isn't it? It's right there in what Jesus told us at the beginning of the Gospel of John, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.

And that's exactly what he did. And therefore the resurrection answer for us is almost deceptively simple. The resurrection answer is the realm beyond nature is better than nature itself because nature is fallen and the resurrection proclaims to us that there will come a day when it will be restored and made even better. And all of that began the great work of restoration, the great work of redemption, the great work of reclamation in the complex of events that was the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension of Christ and then the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit, such that what is coming will be so much better than what it is now. And when he finishes what he started, we will know the certainty of what he's already proclaimed to us in his Word, the certainty that Luke wrote about, the certainty that Peter tells us about, the certainty of life beyond the grave and the certainty of the truth of the Gospel. So what does the resurrection of Christ tell us immediately? You can know for sure it's all true. And in an age desperate for meaning and desperate for truth, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead will be one of the most important truths we can proclaim from the Gospel.

That was Gabe Fluhrer and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind. The resurrection of Christ is an essential doctrine. To deny the resurrection is to deny the Christian faith. And Gabe Fluhrer's series Alive, How the Resurrection of Christ Changes Everything, surveys the evidence both inside the Bible and outside the Bible to help you give a summary of what the resurrection of Christ is like to give a solid defense of the resurrection. This series is eight messages in full and we'll send it to you for your donation of any amount. You can give your gift today by visiting or by calling us at 800 435 4343. Not only will we send you the DVD, but you'll have lifetime digital access to both the messages and the digital study guide. Visit today at With so much evidence for the resurrection, how do atheists and theological liberals try and explain it away? That's what we're going to learn tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-03 02:41:54 / 2023-04-03 02:51:03 / 9

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