Your Fears are Lying to You

Dear Christian, your fears are lying to you. Nothing they warn you about can ultimately hurt you. Fear shows its face daily and holds you back from doing things that may not be safe according to the world’s wisdom, but are life-giving in every respect. It tells you that you must save your life, or you will lose it, but the opposite is true. It is time to push fear aside and begin marching more boldly toward the Celestial City.

For those not in Christ, their fears are deceiving them because they are not fierce enough, and they are focused on earthly desires. Their sin and coming judgment are far worse than they can ever imagine. For the Christian, our anxieties are lying to us because our greatest problems, sin and judgment, have been taken care of on the cross, and every other anxiety is, therefore, unwarranted.

Samuel Davies once preached a sermon called “This Very Year You are Going to Die.” He worked from Jeremiah 28:16, a statement that was spoken to Hananiah, which says, “Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die.”  Davies went on to teach that this could be a statement that this true of every one of us, for tomorrow is promised to no one. We must redeem the time, for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

It is time to start living. There is nothing that can come into your life that can separate you from the love of Christ. Don’t worry about your reputation, don’t worry about how dark it could get, and don’t even worry about the fallout of your past sins. Walk through them all with your Lord, and walk through them with boldness, because they cannot touch your life in Jesus.

Your time is coming. If not this year, soon. However far away, it is nothing compared to eternity. What are you doing with this time? As mentioned earlier, most of our time and attention are focused on saving our lives instead of losing them, but losing it for his sake is where it will be found (Matthew 16:25). This self-focus is what produces most of our anxiety. We know that God will take care of our needs, but our fears tell us that we need to be concerned about our wants. It is time to let them go and put our focus where it needs to be. You might spend your whole life trying to lay up treasures on earth, but in the end, moth and rust will destroy, or they will be handed to someone else when you are gone. Store your treasures in heaven where there is an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept for you (1 Peter 1:4).

We have one primary goal in this life, and all other goals are subservient to it. We desire to finish our course and ministry and testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). It does not matter what has happened in the past; it is time to forget what is behind and press forward to what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). All things are working together for the good of those who love Him. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “Without God, man is anxious either trying to anticipate chance or escape fatalism.” With him, however, we are always secure within his providential care, even when it does not seem safe. Lloyd-Jones continues, “We are never in any position or situation outside of God’s knowledge or care. He knows much better than we do ourselves.”

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added (Matt. 6:33). Our fears point to the kingdom of this world, but in pursuing Christ with all our heart, there can be no failure or reason to fear. It is time to pour our lives into pursuing his glory.

Someday soon you will have a tombstone with your name on it, and all the fears that tried to hold you back from living for Jesus will be exposed as the lies they really are. Samuel Davies himself died the same year he preached that sermon at the age of 38. He spent his time living for the Lord, and he is with Jesus where all of his anxieties and troubles are now long gone, as yours will be. Set your focus and live for Jesus, and in that, you will find life. Even if everything in this life falls apart, one day you will stand in the presence of Jesus where every fear must bow.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24

D. Eaton

 

What Does it Mean to Be Poor in Spirit? [Beatitudes]

Poor in Spirit

Poverty is painful. Anyone who has experienced it will tell you that it comes with great distress. We fight against it, and rightfully so. Scripture speaks of the poor with great concern. The poor do not want to be poor. They struggle from day to day to have what they need. If they could get out of the situation, they would, but they do not have the means.

At the same time, we are told, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God.” There are many ideas about what this means. Some have said it means to take care of the poor. Others have said it is to take vows of poverty. Finally, many have simply interpreted this to mean that if you are poor, you will see God.

The main problem with these explanations is that they miss a key word in the text, “spirit.” We are to be “poor in spirit.” In fact, all of the beatitudes are spiritual qualities. They are characteristics of people who have been born from above. The rich, though they have their own challenges in knowing God, are not excluded from seeing God. Likewise, the poor are not guaranteed salvation simply because they are poor. The idea that the poor are good, and the rich are bad is shallow reasoning. There are evil rich people and evil poor people. There are godly rich people and godly poor people. To be poor in spirit must go much deeper than this. Being poor in spirit is more than taking vows of poverty as well because even that can be an act of pretense. It can be done before men in order to receive their praise.

So what does it mean to be poor in spirit? The beatitudes are not things we do to be saved; they are something we become as a result of God’s work in our hearts. They are a change in our nature. Spiritual poverty is realizing we have no merit before God because we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory. According to scripture, our righteousness is as filthy rags. They are unacceptable to a holy God and deserve his wrath. We are also dead in our sins, and nothing we can do can get us out of this situation.

The reality is, due to our sin, every person alive is already poor in spirit. When the text says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” it is not talking about our actual poverty of spirit. Instead, it is talking about the acknowledgment of our poverty.

To be awakened to our poverty of spirit is not something we can do in our power, it must be a work of God. We are naturally proud, and once we acknowledge our poverty of spirit, it is unpleasant and leads to the second beatitude, which is mourning. It is something the old nature does everything in its power to resist, but it is the first step to being filled. Matthew Henry put it this way, “This poverty of spirit is a disposition of soul, by which we are emptied of self, in order to our being filled with Christ.”

We see it exhibited in the life of David when he wrote, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6). David was king. He was not poor in the things of this world, but he knew, before God, he was nothing. There was no merit in David that caused God to save him. It was God’s grace alone.

When you realize you are poor in spirit and see the glory of Christ, it changes you. All of a sudden, we become willing to part with all that we have in order to know him because all we have is worthless without him. To use a parable of Jesus, we become willing to part with all we have to possess the Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:45-46). Moses choose to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (Heb. 11:25, 26).

The author of Hebrews continues, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-of whom the world was not worthy-wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” – Hebrews 11:36-38″.

Why would these people be willing to give up so much? It was because, by faith, they had become poor in spirit and knew where their true riches were to be found. They had died to themselves. They may be poor in spirit, but they have a part in the kingdom of heaven. This poverty of spirit will often translate into a concern for the poor, which is why the two are often associated, but being concerned for the poor does not necessarily mean one is poor in spirit.

Christ is King over his kingdom, and we have nothing in ourselves that can claim any merit to it, but when we see our poverty of spirit, mourn over our sinfulness, approach Christ in meekness, and hunger for the righteousness we do not possess, we will be filled. We will have Jesus, who has filled us with his righteousness. Being in Christ, you’re part of his kingdom, which is under his governance, guidance, and guard. Like Christ himself, his kingdom will never fail, and we shall see God. Only by seeing our poverty can we truly be filled.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3

D. Eaton

The New Atheism’s Leap of Faith

The new atheism has been in the picture for about 15 years now. It came on the scene thanks to books like Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation, among others. Though there truly is nothing new in the atheistic belief system itself or the arguments they are presenting, since most of them are naturalists, what seems to be new, is that these preachers of atheism have become much more dogmatic in their stance. Many of them are even preaching doom and gloom if we do not eradicate religion and belief in God. Most of them focus in on one thing, and that is that they frankly want to know the truth instead of buying into myths and legends, and then they conclude, this is what everyone ought to be doing.

This idea that everyone “ought” to be doing this raises a problem. Putting aside the question for a moment of whether or not there is a God; let us look at this claim of “oughtness” from within their naturalistic worldview. As Ravi Zacharias has so aptly pointed out, “wherever one finds “oughtness,” it is always linked together with a believed purpose in life. Purpose and oughtness are inextricably bound.”

What he is getting at is that the only way we can ever say that something is not as it ought to be is if we know its purpose and proper function. For example, the only way anyone can say that a watch is not working correctly is if they know how it is supposed to work in the first place, or in other words, what it was designed to do. If the watch has no purpose or proper function assigned to it, then there is no way to say that it is functioning incorrectly.

This logical conundrum, however, is precisely the naturalist’s problem. Since naturalism cannot account for mankind’s purpose or proper function, it has no way of saying how it ought to act. Within the naturalistic worldview, mankind was not designed for any specific purpose; we are the product of a “blind watchmaker” which has no purpose in what it is doing. This lack of purpose makes any real statement of what ought to be absolutely groundless.

The new atheist, with their strong focus on reason and being logical, seem to be making a blind leap of faith from a purposeless creation to what they think ought to be. It seems like the responders are not as rational as they had hoped.

-D. Eaton

5 Ways Leprosy is a Picture of Sin

Woman Looking at the Sky --- Image by © Bloomimage/Corbis

If you want a picture of your sin, all you need to do is to spend some time studying the passages of scripture that deal with leprosy. Doing so, you will see countless parallels. With that in mind, here are five ways leprosy is a picture of sin. Many people have expressed these before, so I do not claim them as original. They come from men such as Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon, and S. Lewis Johnson.

1. Leprosy was an inward disease

Even though you saw leprosy on the outside of the body, the real cause of the disease was lying beneath the surface. The sores and other problems were symptoms of the disease, but the cause ran deeper still. Sin is precisely the same. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. The root of sin runs deep. Sin proceeds from a sinful heart. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. – Matthew 15:19

Just like the leper would have the disease long before it even began to show, sin does its work in us well before others may ever see it. It often starts with secret sins, where only we will feel the tenderness. Then it begins to show itself in public sin, then when we defend and justify our sin, it starts to fester and putrify, but it all starts from within.

2. Leprosy was a loathsome disease

It could be felt. It came with uncomfortable numbness, aches, and unhealing wounds. Many of the wounds that the leper would have were the result of the numbness the disease produced. Once the sense of pain was gone, the lepers could be cutting or burning their flesh without even knowing it. Likewise, sin stupefies us and then when our conscience is numb, it wounds.

It had a terrible odor. The aroma would drive others away, but the infected person could not escape it, and at other times didn’t even notice it. Lepers didn’t even like the smell of each other, much like when two sinners get together. The sins of the other often repulse them even though their own sin is just as rancid.

It could also be heard. It attacked the vocal cords causing a raspy voice. In the same way, sin finds its easiest escape through the tongue, which is why James warns us of its power. Even Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Sin can be heard.

Leprosy could also find its way into clothing and the walls of the house. Likewise, sin can manifest itself in the way we dress and what we do with, and in, our homes.

In all of these ways leprosy was loathsome. It could not be kept hidden, and like leprosy, our sin will find a way out, and we will be exposed. There is no hiding the disease, especially from God.

3. Leprosy was a separating disease

Leprosy put you outside of the camp for quarantine, but not only did it separate loved ones, like sin can destroy relationships, but it also separated the infected person from the presence of God. They were considered ceremonially unclean, which meant they were unable to go to the temple to worship, and the temple was where God manifested His presence. Sin does the same. It puts us at enmity with God, severing our relationship with Him and leads to our destruction.

4. The leprous person could not cure themselves

During biblical times, there was no natural remedy, no exercise program or diets, and there were no topical ointments that could touch the depths of the disease.  This lack of a cure, however, did not mean that people were not cleansed of the disease. Miriam only had the disease for a short time on her hand, and God healed Naaman by having him wash seven times in the Jordan. What is impossible with men, is possible with God.

5. Jesus can heal the leper

In Matthew chapter eight we see Jesus touch the leper. The fact that Jesus touched the leper is astounding because if anyone else had come in contact with a leper, they would have become unclean. Jesus, however, touches the leper, and the opposite happens; the leper becomes clean. We are sinners deserving judgment, and God being a just God must punish sin. If God were to let sin go unpunished, it would mean that He Himself would be unjust, so how could God justify sinners without himself being tainted? He did it by bearing the justice and wrath that sin deserved when the Father sent the Son and died upon the cross. For those who have faith in Jesus, their sins can be forgiven because their just punishment was placed upon Christ. God will judge every sin, and His wrath will either be poured out on the sinner or upon Christ in their place. This substitution is why God can be both just and the justifier of sinners.

How do we receive this cleansing? Are there works of righteousness we must fulfill to merit this forgiveness? The answer, of course, is no. In Leviticus 13 we see a picture of how we can be declared clean.

And if the leprous disease breaks out in the skin, so that the leprous disease covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see, then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean. But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. – Leviticus 13:12-14

If the leprous person was only partially covered with the disease, they were unclean, but if the disease covered the entire body, they were pronounced clean. This is a perfect picture of recognizing our sinfulness and coming to the Lord in repentance. If we come to Him and say, “I know I am sinful, but I still have some soundness in me, see these good works I do? Please see them and accept me.” The Lord will say “unclean,” because self-righteousness is like the raw flesh; it is as filthy rags. However, if we come to Him in poverty of spirit, recognizing our real condition, we will say, “There is nothing good in me. I am completely sinful. Have mercy on me a sinner.” The Lord will say “You are clean.”

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

D. Eaton

Pastor Increases Conversions Using a Clickbait Strategy

Clickbait Church

LOS ANGELES, CA – Pastor Magnus Charms, of Relevant Encounter, has seen an 181% increase in decisions for Jesus during his altar calls by using a clickbait strategy. A long-time proponent of relevance, Pastor Charms said, “The church needs to speak the language of the people, and you’ll be astounded the way lives are being changed.”

At his most recent altar call, he told the congregation, “If you accept Jesus as Lord, you will learn seven reasons why Jesus loves you, and number 4 is mind-blowing.”

He has also found that it is hard for people to resist a red circle. In a recent sermon titled, “What Happens Next Will Shock You.” He told his congregation that if they came to Jesus, their life would have a red circle around it, and the only way they could find out what would happen next is if they came forward.

Pastor Charms is not without his critics. Pastor Levi Habakkuk, of Ecclesia Church, warned, “It is true that many are coming forward, but conversions tend to last for about 10 seconds before they are on to something else.” He went on to say, “Some congregants never made it down the aisle before they were distracted by a protester holding a sign reading, ‘If you recognize these five things, you grew up in the 80’s’”

When told of this, Pastor Charms, replied, “I know something else Pastor Habakkuk said that will leave you furious. Come forward on Sunday and I will tell you.”

In the end, he left us with this, “Regardless of what you think of my altar call tactics, you must hear our praise band’s acapella rendition of Mary Did You Know. What they do half-way through will leave you breathless.”

D. Eaton

I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow – John Newton

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

I hoped that in some favoured hour
At once He’d answer my request,
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with his own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried,
‘Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?’
‘Tis in this way,’ the Lord replied,
‘I answer prayer for grace and faith.

‘These inward trials I employ
‘From self and pride to set thee free;
‘And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
‘That thou may’st seek thy all in me.’

-John Newton-

Gordon Clark on the Verbal Inspiration of Scripture

The verbal inspiration of Scripture is the truth that the Bible is exactly word-for-word what God wanted to say. This doctrine is constantly under attack by liberals and postmoderns. They argue that God did not put the writers of Scripture in a trance and use their bodies to write the Bible, nor did He audibly dictate to them exactly what to write like an executive to a secretary, and we agree with both of these statements. So how did God get word-for-word what He wanted out of the writers? Below is a great quote by Gordon Clark on this topic.

“Verbal inspiration therefore must be understood in connection with the complete system of Christian doctrine. It may not be detached there from, and a fortiori it may not be framed in an alien view of God. Verbal inspiration is integral with the doctrines of providence and predestination. When the liberals surreptitiously deny predestination in picturing God as dictating to stenographers, they so misrepresent verbal inspiration that their objections do not apply to the God of the Bible. The trouble is not as the liberals think, that the boss controls the stenographer too completely; on the contrary, the analogy misses the mark because the boss hardly controls the stenographer at all.

Put it this way: God, from all eternity, decreed to lead the Jews out of slavery by the hand of Moses. To this end he so controlled events that Moses was born at a given date, placed in the water to save him from an earthly death, found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, given the best education possible, driven into the wilderness to learn patience, and in every way so prepared by heredity and environment that when the time came, Moses’ mentality and literary style were the instruments precisely fitted to speak God’s words.”

Gordon H. Clark – God’s Hammer, The Bible and Its Critics

Troubled Enough to Have Something Worth Saying

Both men had a fire in their eyes with Jesus at the center, but their flames were different. Have you ever noticed that you can listen to someone talk about Jesus, but as they are saying all of the right things, there still seems to be a disconnect? While others you run into always seem to be able to focus you like a laser beam on what truly matters.

When I see it in churches, I sometimes call it the programmatic versus the spiritual, but I doubt that is the best way to describe it. The problem is that it is hard to put a fine point on it because the programmatic is not wrong in itself. Even spiritual churches have programmatic elements. I think I use the word programmatic because it sometimes feels that way. The leaders appear to be doing what they know they should be doing, but they do not seem to be doing it in a way that tells me that they believe their very lives depend upon the Gospel they are preaching. So what makes the difference? I suppose it all comes down to the hearts of those involved.

The first man, a church leader, had a fire in his eyes and Christ was at the center, but Jesus seemed to be a means to an end. Everything surrounding the ministry where he labored was orthodox. People came, heard the word, and were often even blessed by his preaching, but in his heart, he was building his own kingdom. A place where the people would revere his name; a place where he could leave his legacy. His faith was real, but he still seemed to have one foot planted in the world, and it showed. Well, not to everyone. There were many in the congregation with hearts split between heaven and earth as well, and they did not seem to notice.

They did not notice, at least, until they got a chance to hear the second man begin to speak because the fire in his eyes was pure. Where the first man had the tendency to view knowing Jesus as a means to building his ministry, the second man saw knowing Jesus as the goal. He had found the Pearl of Great Price and was willing to sell all he had to have it (Matt. 13:45-46). Christ was beautiful to him so that is what he pursued. His ministry was something he did to show the world the beauty of Christ so others could know Him too. There was a love for his Lord in his eyes that made you want to know your Savior the way he did.

Two things seemed to separate these men and their ministries. The first had to do with their reliance. The first one worked with a high degree of self-reliance, where the second one knew his weakness so well that he dared only to rely on Christ. The second aspect had to do with their focus. The first, to some degree, still had his mind set on the things of the world. Even when he preached on setting your mind on things above, he did it with a heart that hoped he was establishing his own glory. The second man had been broken. His heart had been set free from this world. He knew it could no longer satisfy, so he had given up pursuing its glory a long time ago. One seemed to be walking home and calling others to go with him while the other appeared to be fairly content in this strange land.

Here is what I noticed in their preaching, to take a thought from Jayber Crow, one of them was troubled enough to have something worthwhile to say. One was unable to show us the emptiness of even the glorious things of this life in comparison to Christ because he had yet to see their vanity. The other one felt a shuddering within him, that knew that the things of this world were trembling all around us. No matter what the topic, his words and actions shone like a spotlight on our glorious Savior and our true homeland.

So what about you? Where is your heart? Is Jesus the end you seek, or a means to an end? Are you awake enough to feel the frailty of this world convulse beneath you to such a degree that you dare not place your hope in it? We aspire to be like what we find beautiful. May your love for Jesus compel you to grow into His likeness, because if we have no desire to be conformed to His image or make his name known, we may not truly find Him beautiful like we say we do. We may still have our hearts set on this world. May God show us its vanity compared to Himself and turn our eyes heavenward. May we be troubled enough by this world to have something worth saying, and if we are too comfortable, may the Lord shake us from our slumber. May we be able to acknowledge that we are strangers and exiles on the earth.

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. – Hebrews 11:14

D. Eaton

Defending the Resurrection of Jesus: The Core Facts Approach

Resurrection

There are several approaches to defending the resurrection of Jesus. One way is called the core facts approach. It involves using four core facts held by Christian and non-Christian scholars and applying them to naturalistic explanations of the resurrection. Here are the four facts.

1. Jesus was crucified and died
2. Jesus’ tomb was found empty
3. The Apostles believed they had experiences with the risen Christ.
4. Christ’s disciples were radically transformed after these experiences.

1) Jesus was crucified and died– Virtually every scholar holds to this proposition. They believe that Jesus was crucified and that He did in fact die. Rarely is this fact contested. The idea of the actual crucifixion being a conspiracy is not one that is generally held. He was nailed to the cross and died.

2) Jesus tomb was found empty– The first point that this core fact assumes is that Jesus was actually buried. William Lane Craig, in his article The Empty Tomb of Jesus, goes into great detail and gives us five points why scholars believe this. 1) There are many early sources that attest to the burial of Jesus. 2) Even skeptical scholars agree that it is unlikely that Joseph of Arimathea was a Christian invention because he was a Jewish Sanhedrist. Christians were at odds with the Sanhedrin, so why would they create a story of a Sanhedrist doing what was right in burying Jesus. 3) The story of the burial is simple and is not trying to conjure theological reflection, and it is non-apologetic. 4) It is also believed because this type of burial was the custom in dealing with the death of a Holy man. 5) Finally, this is the only burial tradition that existed, which means it would have been entirely out of character to do something different. The belief in the burial is necessary because it is needed to believe in an empty tomb. He had to be buried, and they had to know which tomb he was buried in to find it empty. Why it was found empty is where scholars differ.

3) The apostles believed they had experiences with the risen Jesus– Again most scholars will agree that the apostles had some experience which they believed was the risen Jesus, but they do not agree on what the experience was. Some say it was a hallucination; some say it was the ghost of Jesus, and others believe it was the physical resurrected body of Jesus. These issues will be covered in the arguments against the naturalistic theories about Jesus’ death and resurrection, but no one disagrees that the disciples had some kind of experience.

4) Jesus’ disciples were radically transformed after these experiences– We can look at the example of Peter, who denied Jesus three times in fear of his life during the events that lead up to the crucifixion. After these experiences with the risen Christ, he went on to be the leading spokesperson for the resurrection of Jesus. He was later crucified and would not back down even if it meant death. In fact, all of Jesus’ disciples were killed for their belief, except for John, who was dipped in boiling oil and survived.

Virtually every scholar holds the four core facts listed above. In light of these four facts, there have been three naturalistic arguments which try to explain that Jesus did not rise from the dead. They are 1) the swoon theory 2) the hallucination theory, and 3) the stolen body or conspiracy theory.

1) Arguments against the swoon theory– The swoon theory is the argument that Jesus never actually died on the cross, he merely went into a swoon, a kind of coma or unconsciousness, and later he was revived by the cool of the tomb. The first thing we notice is that this theory violates core fact #1 that Jesus was crucified and died. It also violates core fact #4; Jesus disciples were radically changed after the experiences of seeing Jesus. This raises the question, would the disciples have been radically transformed by the sight of a half-dead Jesus? The swoon theory is not a highly regarded argument because of these violations, but to not commit the bandwagon fallacy, let us look at a few other reasons why this is not possible. A) Kreeft and Tacelli in the book Handbook of Christian Apologetics, point out that Jesus’ body was completely encased in a winding sheet (we know this from the burial tradition mentioned earlier). How could a half dead man escape a virtual straightjacket? B) We know that a swooning corpse could not have overpowered the Roman guards. C) Who moved the stone? D) Kreeft and Tacelli also make a great point that the swoon theory actually turns into the conspiracy theory, because the disciples attest to a resurrected Jesus, who did not swoon. The conspiracy theory will be addressed later. E) Finally, a swooning Jesus would have had to die eventually, so where is His body?

2) Arguments against the hallucination theory– the hallucination theory is the theory that the disciples did not really see a resurrected Jesus, but merely hallucinated. This theory would explain why the disciples were radically transformed because they actually thought they saw a resurrected Jesus, but this violates core fact #2; Jesus’ tomb was found empty. If the disciples were hallucinating why didn’t the Romans take them to the grave and show them the body when the disciples began preaching. This would have stopped them in their tracks. Kreeft and Tacelli bring up some other arguments also. A) There were too many witnesses. At one point Jesus appeared to 500 people at on time. Did they all have the same hallucination? B) One of the criteria that doctors say is needed hallucinations of this type is that the people expect to see what they see. The disciples didn’t expect to see Jesus. In fact, when they did see him they still didn’t believe, which lead to Thomas touching His wounds, and hallucinations do not have material properties. C) Jesus ate. Hallucinations do not eat. At one point the disciples sat down and ate with Jesus. If this was a hallucination, then either a hallucination (Jesus) ate actual food, or the disciples ate hallucinated food. It is clear from all the details of the appearances of Jesus that they could not have been hallucinations.

3) Arguments against the stolen body or conspiracy theory– This is the idea that the disciples stole the body to make people believe Jesus had actually resurrected, but this violates core fact #4 the disciples were radically transformed. How could a group of men go from being men who feared for their lives to men who would die for their beliefs if they knew that their beliefs were a lie? Another argument is that this goes against the character of the disciples. These were honest, upright men who would have had to violate their core beliefs to pull this off.

Some might say that it was not the disciples who took the body but the Romans, but we have already shown earlier that if it were the Romans, all they would have to do to put a stop to the disciples preaching would be to produce the body. This also violates core fact #3 that the disciples believed they saw a resurrected Jesus. If the Romans had taken the body then the disciples would have had hallucinations, and we have already shown that this does not work.

Up to this point, there has not been a plausible naturalistic explanation for the resurrection of Jesus, which leaves us with the alternative that he did rise physically from the dead.

He is not here, but has risen. – Luke 24:6

D. Eaton

Roosevelt and the Lonely Missionary

Theodore Roosevelt was coming home from Africa, where he had been hunting big game. When he boarded the ship at an African port they rolled out the red carpet for him. The crowds gathered on the dock and applauded him. When he boarded the ship he was given the finest suite on board. All through the voyage he was the center of interest. Everybody went out of the way to favor the great man… Another man boarded the ship at the same time. He was and old missionary who had given his life away for Christ in Africa. Now his wife was dead, his children were gone, he himself was old and worn out, going back to America. But no one noticed him… No one applauded him. He was just a lonely old man.

When the ship docked at San Francisco a great crowed greeted Mr. Roosevelt. They applauded him. When he walked out upon the deck the bells rang, the whistles blew, and again they rolled out the red carpet and he landed amid pomp and glory… But no one was there to meet the old missionary—no one noticed him. He went to a small hotel to spend the night. That night he knelt by the side of his bed and prayed, “Lord, I am not complaining, but I just don’t understand. I gave my life for You in Africa, but it seems that no one cares. There was no one to greet me, no one to encourage me when I came home. Lord, I don’t understand.” And then it seemed that the Lord reached down from heaven and laid His hand on the old man’s shoulder and said, “Missionary, you are not home yet.”

1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

-W. Hershel Ford, from the Simple Sermons series