DBG Weekend Spotlight (Resurrection) 3-31-18

DBG Weekend Spotlight (Resurrection) 3-31-18

As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus—we must remember that the resurrection of Jesus is the high point of Christian theology. Why did the chief priests and the religious community of the Jews try to cover up the resurrection of Jesus (see Matt. 28:11-15)? The truth is—out of all of Jesus’ miracles—from the creation of the world (Col. 1:15-16) to the virgin birth (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:21)—there is no miracle greater than the resurrection that occurred after the brutal Roman crucifixion (Matt. 28:1-10). The resurrection of Jesus stands at the center of Christian theology and points to the validity of all of Jesus’ teachings. If Jesus was not resurrected on the first day of the week (Sunday) after his crucifixion—his prophecy in Matthew 12:40 and John 2:19 would not have been true.

If Jesus was not raised from the dead as the prophet foretold in Psalm 16 the ministry of Jesus would be unfulfilled and he would not deserve to be worshiped. Without the resurrection of Jesus—Christianity falls to pieces. However, since Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to hundreds of people over a 40 day period—we can state with absolute certainty that Jesus is God and that he alone can forgive sins. As you celebrate Easter this weekend—remember one day you will stand before Jesus at the judgment. You need a Savior today who can provide you with righteousness that you will need on that day. Jesus can be your Savior today, but one day he will be your Judge. Jesus Christ deserves praise, worship, and he alone can take away your sin. We know this because of the resurrection. Call out to Jesus today for salvation.

Below are some encouraging clips regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus:

The Jefferson Bible and the Resurrection

The Jefferson Bible and the Resurrection

Today marks what would be the 274th birthday of the third president of the United States of America—Thomas Jefferson.  As the early leader and president of the United States, Jefferson was greatly respected by many.  Jefferson was a great thinker, one who loved books, valued learning, and was the founder of the University of Virginia.

His leadership came during the pivotal era of the American Revolution and is the primary author of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.  Jefferson is also remembered for his compilation of the Bible that has become known as The Jefferson Bible.  Today, his Bible can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum and is the property of the United States National Museum.

The Jefferson Bible

Originally the work of Jefferson took on a much longer name and was never intended to be looked upon as a Bible.  It was eventually called – The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.  With a knife blade, Jefferson cut out the moral teachings of Jesus, excluding the miracles, and compiled what he thought to be the purest doctrines of Christ.

In a letter to Joseph Priestly, a Unitarian minister, from Washington on January 29, 1804, Jefferson wrote, “I had sent to Philadelphia to get two testaments (Greek) of the same edition, and two English, with a design to cut out the morsels of orality, and paste them on the leaves of a book, in the manner you describe as having been pursued in, forming your Harmony.” [1]

Jefferson would eventually carry out his work in Greek, Latin, French, and English.  His desire was to have a comparative compilation in order to compare the texts of Jesus’ moral teaching.  In a letter to John Adams on October 12, 1813, Jefferson explains his idea and the intent of his work by saying:

In extracting the pure principles which he taught, we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms, as instruments of riches and power to themselves. We must dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurges, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of … or, shall I say at once, of nonsense. We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill. The result is an octavo of forty-six pages, of pure and unsophisticated doctrines. [2]

Thomas Jefferson enjoyed reading moral teachings and philosophies before drifting off to sleep at night.  According to historians, The Jefferson Bible” was a very private project. He ordered Bibles while living in the White House and cut them with a razor knife to organize his understanding of the moral teachings of Jesus.  Years later, Jefferson’s work would be purchased by the United States National Museum in 1895.

Jefferson and the Resurrection

Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday (April 13th), but this Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  If Jefferson was alive today, he would celebrate his birthday, but would most likely overlook the significance of what the evangelical church will celebrate this Sunday.  Jefferson desired to look beyond the miracles of Jesus to the morals of Jesus.  However, all such attempts to separate the miracles from Jesus’ morals is like separating the light from the sun.  If Jesus is not God and didn’t perform such miracles as recorded in the New Testament, He would be an immoral liar and deceiver of men—not a worthy teacher of morality.

Jefferson didn’t embrace the deity of Christ nor did He believe the New Testament authors were accurate in their transmission of the pure doctrines of Christ.  Jefferson rejected the Trinity and believed that the apostle Paul (the New Testament’s most influential teacher and brilliant theologian) was guilty of corrupting Jesus’ teaching.  In a letter in 1820 to William Short, Jefferson wrote:

We find in the writings of his [Jesus’] biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. first a ground work of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, & fabrications. intermixed with these again are sublime ideas of the supreme being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest morality & benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility, innocence, and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition & honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed. [3]

It’s one thing to deny Jesus’ power over nature and His ability to walk on water—which is a subtle way to deny Jesus’ deity, but Jefferson went much further in his theological downgrade.  As a result of his attempt to shrink down the Bible to the morals of Jesus, Jefferson was led to deny the foundational truth of Christianity—the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  If you read “The Jefferson Bible,” you will not find one word about the resurrection of Christ.  In his cutting and pasting, he skipped over the miraculous works of Jesus and this included the resurrection of Christ—the foundation of Christianity.  Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.  Without the resurrection, Jesus is far from a good moral teacher.

For Thomas Jefferson, reason transcends revelation.  This is where many people have trouble as they attempt to “make sense” out of God.  The sovereign God of heaven and earth who rules the totality of the universe is beyond reason.  The God who spoke the world into existence from nothing—ex nihilo—doesn’t make sense.  The God who sent His Son to enter the human race through the womb of a virgin is far above human rationale.  The God who lived in the very flesh He created and subjected Himself to death, even the death of a Roman cross, transcends human explanation.  Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, died in the place of sinners and was resurrected from the dead on the third day.  This doesn’t make sense.  This is why we gather for worship each Sunday.

Jefferson traded in the highly exalted and resurrected Jesus for a cheaper version—one he could reason with.  Jesus does’t make sense, and His gospel is considered foolishness to the learned minds of sinners.  The Jews demanded signs, the Greeks sought after wisdom, and the sons of the Enlightenment in the early days of the United States pursued reason.  All of them missed the resurrected Jesus who rules over heaven and earth.

Make no mistake about it, today Thomas Jefferson understands with brilliant clarity that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.  Some day you will too.  Why not bow before Him and confess Him as Lord today?  He is worthy of your attention and worship because Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead.

Luke 24:6 – He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,

  1. Thomas Jefferson, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted textually from the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French & English, (Digireads.com: 2009), Loc. 257 – Kindle Edition.
  2. Thomas Jefferson, A Letter to John Adams, Dated: Oct. 12, 1813, [accessed: 4-12-17 at 2:23pm].
  3. Quoted by Thomas Kidd, “Faith and History” [accessed: 4-12-17 at 11:33am].
The Proof of the Resurrection

The Proof of the Resurrection

Have you talked with someone who doubted the resurrection of Christ?  Many people don’t believe that God exists.  In spite of all of the knowledge surrounding us in this world, they refuse to believe.  We could start with a long list of proofs to validate the existence of God as we seek to reason with the heart of man.  Perhaps creation would be a great place to begin.  The bright sun in the sky screams of God’s existence.  The small hummingbird or the intricate details of the human anatomy point to an intelligent designer.  However, these wonderful points do reveal that God exists, but we can’t know Him intimately through the blazing sun or the darting speed of a hummingbird.  How then must we come to know God and how will we answer the question of Jesus’ resurrection?

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, the apostle Paul was writing to the church at Corinth.  In those two verses, Paul made a point that we must not overlook.  Paul spoke of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and he did not tell the church at Corinth that he was delivering that message based on his apostolic authority.  Paul was reminding the church about these core truths of the gospel, but his foundational authority was the Word of God.  Notice the way Paul crafted the statement:

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

The Scriptures were Paul’s authority and that’s where he pointed the church at Corinth.  Paul understood that long after he was gone, the skeptics would need something more than a dead apostle’s word to stand upon.  They would need substance.  So, Paul gave them substance by pointing to the authority of holy Scripture.  Often skeptics will not be satisfied with the Bible as the validating proof of Jesus’ resurrection or the mere existence of God, but it remains the foundational proof and we must begin with the Word of God.

Psalm 22 was a clear Messianic prophecy dedicated to the death of Jesus.  As Jesus was dying on the cross, He called out to the Father by quoting Psalm 22:1 in Matthew 27:46.  Likewise in Psalm 16, we see a clear prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection.  Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11 in his sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:24) to prove Jesus was raised from the dead.  Psalm 16 was not speaking about David, because David’s body did see corruption, but that was not the case with Jesus.  In his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, John Calvin writes, “Now there are many passages of Scripture in which Christ’s death and resurrection are predicted, but nowhere more plainly than in Isaiah 53, in Daniel 9:26, and in Psalm 22.” [1]

Although Paul went on to discuss the eyewitnesses and other logical proofs of Jesus’ resurrection, He didn’t start there.  His starting point is where we must always start – the Bible.  The Word of God is sufficient, authoritative, and reliable.  It was written over a period of 1,500 years by 40 different authors and the central story of the entire Bible is the drama of redemption secured by the Son of God.  The validating truth that our hope is secure in Christ is the fact that He rose from the dead.  Where is Buddha?  Where is Muhammad?  All of the other religious leaders of history have died and it was proven that they had no power over death.  That was not the case with Jesus.  After being put to death on a Roman cross (a historically validated event), Jesus was buried in a tomb and on the third day, He was raised from the dead.  Charles Hodge writes:

It is true that Christ was buried and that he rose again on the third day. These facts were included in the revelation made to Paul, and he proceeds to confirm their truth by abundant additional testimony. John 20:9 and Acts 26:22–23 teach that these facts were predicted in the Old Testament. [2]

Have confidence in the Scriptures as you point people to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  1. John Calvin and John Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 10.
  2. Charles Hodge, 1 Corinthians, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995), 273.


Doubting Thomas and his Strong Faith

Doubting Thomas and his Strong Faith

We have all heard the stories of “Doubting Thomas” and how he refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.  What we can learn in the Scripture from this account of Thomas and the resurrection of Jesus is quite profound.  

John 20:24-29 – Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” [26] Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” [27] Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” [28] Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” [29] Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [ESV]

This is the weekend when we celebrate the proof that Jesus is God and that we have hope in Him.  We celebrate because of the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  In fact, John MacArthur has rightly summarized the importance of the resurrection of Jesus by saying, “Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking its place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation.”1

We can learn several things:

  1. Thomas seemed to lack faith and needed evidence to believe.
  2. Jesus appeared to Thomas on the eighth day following His resurrection.
  3. Thomas believed.
  4. Thomas made a profound declaration about Jesus deity – calling Him “My Lord and my God.”

As we think about doubting Thomas’ lack of faith, we must consider the rest of the story.  Church history tells us that some years later, Thomas remained a faithful follower of Jesus.  He was taken into captivity for preaching the gospel of Christ and asked to recant.  When he refused to recant, tradition and history tells us that they drove pine spikes through his body trying to get him to deny Jesus, but he refused.  They took glowing red plates and placed them on his body, and even under the singeing of human flesh, he refused to recant.  Because Thomas was resolved that Jesus is Lord and that the proof rests in His resurrection from the dead, he refused to recant.  Therefore, they took him and burned him because he refused to deny Jesus.

While we often criticize Thomas as the doubter, we must consider how he finished life.  He was tortured for his faith, and refused to recant.  Why?  Because Jesus had appeared to him in the flesh and Thomas understood this one truth – Jesus is LORD God.

How strong is your faith in Christ?  Will you continue to persevere to the end?  Be like Thomas – as Jesus instructed, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

1.  The MacArthur Commentary Series, 1 Corinthians, Moody, 1984, p. 398.