By CRAIG HARRIS
1 Corinthians 15: 12-18 (NIV): But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
Make no mistake, our faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ. It all hinges on that. If you don't believe Jesus really did die and really did come back to life, then you don't believe. And if the resurrection is just a legend or myth, then we are wasting our lives believing it.
But I am every bit as convinced that Jesus really did rise again as Paul was when he wrote this passage. The evidence is just too overwhelming. Never mind that I can feel God's presence. My faith is built on solid evidence - much of it the same evidence that Paul witnessed.
Briefly, here is a scratching of the surface of the evidence: First, the reliability of the Scriptures. Did you know we have more than five thousand manuscripts of the Greek New Testament? Second, Jesus fulfilled at least 350 internal prophecies from the Old Testament, proving he was the Messiah. Third, we have writings of historians outside the Bible that corroborate the stories within it. Fourth, the empty tomb. The Gospel writers all mention that the tomb was empty Easter Sunday morning. If there had been a body there, the Romans or Jewish leaders could have shown it and that would have ended Christianity right then and there. Fifth, Paul says 500 different people saw Jesus after his resurrection. He wrote this only twenty years after the fact. Sixth, why would the early Christians have celebrated Communion and Baptism if Jesus had remained dead?
Seventh, why would the disciples die for a lie? We see in the Gospels that they were basically cowards. Why did these timid lambs suddenly change into the lions of the faith? Eighth, the emergence and growth of the church. The church started with a small rag-tag group of mostly poor people who were murdered and persecuted for their belief. Within two hundred years, it conquered Rome. Ninth, the conversion of skeptics. Scores of non-believers, including Jesus' own brothers, Paul and atheists, have put their faith in Christ after seeing him alive or examining the evidence. Finally, the ongoing encounters with Jesus right up to this very minute.
Our faith is rock solid. Put your trust in the risen Savior today!
Year one of Instant Message is now available for Kindle and Kindle apps. Go to www.instantmessagelive.com. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.