Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Can We Believe In The Resurrection Apart From The Bible?

Last Sunday, Andy Stanley said during his sermon on how Christianity rests on the Resurrection, not the Bible with this statement (I am paraphrasing), "We start off our Easter service last year by saying believe not because the Bible, but because of eyewitness accounts." A few years ago, I wrote a post asking why is the Resurrection a big deal? In that post, I said three things:

1. Our faith would be worthless.

2. The Resurrection seals our justification.

3. The Resurrection gives us a living hope.

With Stanley's comments, some have wondered if the Resurrection is enough. What I mean is, can we rest our faith that Jesus rose from the dead outside the Bible? We have to be careful here because we don't want people to accuse us of worshipping the Bible or thinking we gain eternal life by having a Bible. The answer to the question, can we rest in believing the Resurrection without the Bible? No.

Yes, the Bible does say that if there was no resurrection, our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins 1 Corinthians 15:12-14. In the verse above, the Apostle Paul wrote:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Christ's death was the fulfillment of Scripture along with His Resurrection which means we can take God at His Word because He promised this would happen. Jesus told the disciples on the road to Emmaus starting with Moses followed by the Prophets that all Scripture was about Him (Luke 24:27). Later He appeared to the rest of the disciples where "he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'" (Luke 24:45-46). We see the Resurrection as the fulfillment of prophecy. How can we get prophecy if we did not have the Word of God?

What if Jesus appeared like He did to Paul? What if He did that today? Could that happen? It might. Was Paul converted at the moment Jesus showed Himself on the road to Damascus? It seem so because my Bible has a header for Acts 9, "The Conversion of Saul." I am most certain that Paul did have an encounter with the Risen Savior, however, he did not immediately go out and preach. After his sight was restored, the Bible said, "For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus" (Acts 9:19). It is most likely during that time he was being instructed in the claims of Christianity, in other words, he was being discipled by the disciples.

Probably one of the most convincing passages is Luke 16:19-31. This is a parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man ends up in Hell while Lazarus was at Abraham's side. The rich man begs Abraham to warn his family about where they will end up if they did not repent. Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29). The rich man protested, "No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent" (Luke 16:30). Sounds like a good idea, right? Not really. Abraham said, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

In the 21st century, we have the Bible. We have warnings in Scripture on what will happen if people do not repent. They have heard sermons and probably read a book yet this still refuse to come to Christ. If they don't believe in the Word of God, how would they believe someone who came back to life. Christians who have had near-death experiences are not filling stadiums. Some of their writings on what they saw are not the same visions. One such story turned out to be a hoax and the publisher pulled the book. After Lazarus (not the same one from Luke's parable) was raised from the dead, people did believe in Christ, but there people who still did not believe. In fact, there was a plot to kill Lazarus (see John 12:9-11).

We cannot believe the Resurrection without the Bible. The Bible tells us that the Resurrection happened. It tells us who saw it and why it is important.

Recommended Reading:

Andy Stanley — We Can’t Arrive at the Empty Tomb without a Bible by Josh Buice

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