But What if it’s True?

It all stands or falls on this. There’s no middle ground. Jesus’ life isn’t simply an object lesson on living well.

The faith of many millions over centuries hinges on the resurrection that Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday (and throughout the year). If that one moment in history didn’t happen then our faith is a complete farce.

In a letter that he wrote to the church at Corinth a couple of thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul claims that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the whole Christian faith is useless and all the world’s Christians are poor suckers who should be pitied.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that 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, then 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 also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Paul’s saying that the idea of Jesus being a good teacher who said some interesting things isn’t an option. He’s telling us that the whole Christian belief rests on the crucifixion and resurrection being historical fact.

For many, that’s too much of a stretch to believe. How can it be true that someone could be brutally killed yet return to life three days later?

But imagine for a moment that it is true. That would mean that death doesn’t have to be the end because it has been beaten at its own game.

We’ve all been inspired by the lives of others, even knowing that they have died or will at some stage die. Once they’re gone the story of their life, their trials and triumphs continue to influence and motivate us. Surely the story of someone who even triumphed over death itself should give rise to even greater admiration and inspiration … but of course only if the story of them defeating death is true.

When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. – Matt Perman

In an article written some years ago titled Historical Evidence for the Resurrection, Matt Perman takes a brief look at some of the reasons that many people over the past two thousand years have believed that Jesus rising from the dead isn’t just a nice story, it’s fact.

I don’t have time for a useless faith.

I’m not prepared to believe fairy tales and so while many will scoff and think I must be crazy, I will say that I believe that death has lost its sting because God raised his son Jesus from the dead.

That’s what I’ll be celebrating today and for all eternity.

I pray that you’ll take time to consider the significance of the Easter story this Resurrection Sunday.

The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says “He was delivered up because of our sins.” But the apostle Paul goes on to say “He was raised to life because of our justification.” Paul is saying that Christ’s resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future. – Matt Perman

Yes, you might think it sounds like a fairytale, but what if it’s true? What if death can be conquered?

For over two thousand years, millions of people have placed their faith in Jesus as the one who overcame death and now offers the same to those who would believe. Are you going to dismiss that possibility without even looking at the evidence?



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The Question of Easter

Our normal Easter routines have been shattered. Instead of spending time with friends and family, maybe camping or travelling, we’re at home trying to contain a pandemic.

I’m wondering if having that extra time will allow us time to consider some of the bigger life questions.

This is a post that I repeat in the lead up to Easter most years. While most of us will still be talking about rabbits and chocolate I think it’s worth taking a little time to look at the true story of Easter. The closest most of us get to the original Easter story is eating hot cross buns.

The bigger story is about the barbaric killing of a man who many millions of people throughout history believe defeated death and walked out of his tomb some days later. That’s extraordinary. Could such a story really be true or has the legend of this man, Jesus, grown over time?

Whether you’re a believer, apathetic or completely opposed to the person of Jesus, you’ve got to admit that his very existence has shaped much of the world. Whether you think that’s a good or bad thing, it’s simply fact.

With that in mind we really should decide for ourselves who Jesus is or was.

There’s an interesting exchange in the Bible about this very thing.

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

I suppose that if we reset the scene in modern times it might look more like:

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say you’re a good man; others say a teacher; others say a religious leader; others say a misunderstood man; others say a fictional character; others say an irrelevant historical figure; others say a prophet; others say a bigot; and still others, that you’re a guy who gives us a couple of days off each Easter and at the end of December.”

Then comes the question that should be directed to each one of us.

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Jesus was very wise in the way he asked his question. (After all, he is Jesus.) He says to his disciples, “Firstly let’s clear up what everyone else is saying about me.” It can be very easy for us to parrot someone else’s idea of who Jesus was or is. There are so many options that we can easily pick one that sounds reasonable to us.

But Jesus doesn’t give the disciples that option. After clearing up the range of things that others were saying, he focuses in on the individuals in front of him and says, “But What about you? Who do you say I am?”

I believe he’s doing the same today.

We need to be aware that there are many ideas of who Jesus is but in the end we need to answer that second question for ourselves.

Jesus looks at us all saying “But What about you? Who do you say I am?” Not who do your parents say I am; not who do your workmates say I am; not who does Richard Dawkins say I am; not who do your philosophy books say I am; not who does your pastor say I am; not who does your church say I am, but “Who do you say I am?”

Whether we say we believe the Bible’s idea of who Jesus is or not, we can’t afford to just grab someone else’s ideas on this one. We need to be open enough to have our views challenged. We need to look at how we came to hold the views we do and decide if that’s a good enough reason to think that way.

All the arguments about what people believe about Christians and their views are secondary and irrelevant until we decide what Jesus is about.

If we truly look at the evidence for ourselves and decide that Jesus was just a man we’ve got nothing to lose but if he was who the Bible claims and we don’t acknowledge it, our life could be at stake.

I’m siding with Peter on this one when he answered, “Who do you say I am?” with “The Christ of God.” Exactly what that means for me and the way I live my life is something that I will continue to grapple with for the rest of my life.

Who do you say Jesus is?



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How Do We Hear from God?

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Does God speak to people today? If so, how do we hear from God? How can we be sure that we are following the direction he has set for us?

Throughout history people have claimed to hear from God and used that as an excuse to say and do some very ungodly things. Is there a way to know if we’re hearing from God or just following our own agenda?

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98five Sonshine FM is Rev Dr Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today Ross talked about hearing from God. We talked about some practical steps that will help us discover where God is leading us. Ross also gave some warnings that are helpful in seeking direction.

You can hear our discussion by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.



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Walk to Water 2013

walktowater2013

Last year over $72,000 was raised in Australia through a project named Walk to Water. It helped supply many people in Nigeria with clean running water without having to walk many kilometres for low quality or diseased water.

For many women and children, this means an eight kilometre walk to the nearest water pump is their only option, a regular struggle that can take more than half a day. It’s not unusual for women to return from the borehole carrying two full jerry cans of water, weighing between 20 to 25 kilograms each. On many occasions, their children are carried as well, or come along to help.

The United Nations has estimated that the population of Sub-Saharan Africa spends 40 billion hours per year collecting water – that’s the same as more than two years’ worth of labour by Australia’s entire workforce.

Walk to Water is an initiative of Open Doors where churches and community groups participate in sponsored walks to raise funds.

The funds from the walks this year will once again be used in Northern Nigeria to build more deep boreholes in remote villages.

With a population of 158 million, Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest countries. Its people make up one seventh of the population of the entire continent. However, the area of Northern Nigeria is also an incredibly dangerous place to live as a Christian. Believers are regularly targeted by extremists, with their families, churches and businesses put in jeopardy because of their faith.

This morning during my radio program I spoke to Jeanette from Open Doors to find out what they’ve been able to achieve and what they’re hoping to do next. You can hear our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.



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Not Marked

NOTMARKED

Mary DeMuth has a story to tell. It’s a story of sexual abuse and it’s a story that others need to hear. I’ve read some of that story in her upcoming release  The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You.

Mary has written Not Marked, an honest book that provides a way towards healing for abuse victims and their families.

Sexual abuse does NOT need to mark you.

It did mess with me. For far too many years. Flashbacks invaded my sleep. I startled far too easily. Sex within marriage became scary and complicated. I often wondered if I’d ever be normal. I even disconnected from those I loved the most.

The mark that sexual abuse gave me felt indelible, permanently inked with a Sharpie pen. And no matter of scrubbing erased it. (Have you ever felt this way?)

The problem was, I felt that I should be “over” it (and well-meaning people said those same things to me.) After all, I became a Christian, and I heard all those sermons about everything being made brand spanking new. I believed that when I met Jesus, all those scars and marks and fears would instantly leave.

This book has amazing potential to help those who feel they’ve been marked by sexual abuse but Mary needs help to fund the publishing of the book.

Mary needs your help now to reach her goal so that others can be be helped and healed. Please visit her indiegogo page and consider making a contribution.



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