Witnesses to the Resurrection

“Unless I see it I won’t believe it!” How many times have you heard someone meake this statement about something incredible that has happened? Many people have made this statement concerning the resurrection of Jesus. Did Jesus really come back to life after being dead in the grave for three days and were there any witnesses to prove this event? The answer to both of these questions is yes, Jesus did come back to life and there were witnesses.

According to an article published be Upcounsel (2019), “It is a general rule that one witness is sufficient to establish a fact, but to this there are exceptions, both in civil and criminal cases.” The article goes on to say that in some cases two witnesses are required but typically never more than two are needed to establish the truth of an event. This brings about the question “How many people saw Jesus after the Resurrection?” It might surprise you that it was a lot of people. The Apostle Paul tells us the following in 1 Corinthians 15: 5-8

             “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”“

Here Paul points out that Jesus was seen alive buy over 500 people after His resurrection. He was seen alive be the 12 Disciples, He was seen alive by 500 brethren, He was seen alive by the Apostles. Paul doesn’t mention it here but Jesus was also seen alive by Mary at the tomb only moments after His resurrection. Jesus was seen by different groups of people, at different times, in different locations. This information is critical because it shows unity in the claims of different people, at different times, and in different locations. These resurrection appearances occurred 12 different times over a period of 40 days. This wasn’t a “one time deal” witnesses by just one or two as some would have you to believe.

Remember, only two witnesses are needed to establish the truth of an event in a court of law today. Over 500 people witnessed and interacted with Jesus after His death, burial, and resurrection. Don’t doubt this established truth?

References

Upcounsel (2019), Legal definition of a witness. Retrieved from; https://www.upcounsel.com/legal-def-witness

GOOD FRIDAY

This Friday we celebrate what is called Good Friday by the Christian Church.  It is the day that we celebrate the day on which Jesus was crucified o the Cross of Calvary. To some, this may seem odd. Why would we celebrate the day that Jesus died on the cross? We find the crucifixion of Jesus detailed for us in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19. All of these chapters describe a horrible death. The Bible tells us that Jesus was beaten by the soldiers, scourged or beaten with a whip, a crown of thorns was made and pulled down over his head, and then he was forced to carry the cross which was his means of execution. The profit Isaiah described this event in Isaiah 52:14, “As many were astonied (appalled) at thee; his visage (appearance) was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” Jesus was tortured to the point that he was hardly recognizable as a man. After this, Jesus was nailed to the cross with iron nails being driven through his hands and feet. There he was left to suffer and die.

After reading these accounts many are left with the question of how we could consider this to be good. We find the answer to this question in the purpose for Jesus’ death and suffering. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The reason that we call Good Friday good is due to the fact that Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross of Calvary is what provides us forgiveness of our sins, and thus eternal life!

When speaking of Jesus’ death on the cross we must also realize that three days later we have the first Easter Sunday. Three days after Jesus’ death came his resurrection! Luke 24 describes for us the event of Jesus’ resurrection. Here we find that very early on the first day of the week several women went to Jesus’ tomb to put sweet smelling spices on Jesus’ body. When they arrived at the tomb they found Jesus’ body was not there. While they were discussing among themselves what could have possibly happened two angels appeared unto them and said,  “Why seek ye the living among the death? He is not here, but is risen…”  Jesus’ resurrection shows us that he is who he claims to be, the Son of God. It also shows us that Jesus’ resurrection shows us that he is who he claims to be, the Son of God. It also shows us that Jesus has the power over death itself.

This Friday, we will be celebrating Good Friday and then Easter Sunday. We celebrate these two particular days because Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary shedding his blood for us so that we can have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus’ death has made it possible for our sins to be forgiven and for us to go to Heaven. We also celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the grave and those who come to him for salvation can say what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hope to see you this Friday and Sunday!

Pastor Tom

THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER

This passage of scripture is dealing with the account of the Philippian jailor coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. After witnessing the miracles that night, the great earthquake, opening of prison doors, and chains falling off of the prisoners, the man came to a realization of the mighty power of God. Being overwhelmed with the situation and not knowing what to do the jailer fell down before Paul and Silas crying out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Of all things in life this is the most important question that you must ask.

Most people today operate under the assumption that Heaven is a given and the only people that don’t go to Heaven are bad people. That state/think that they are not a bad person because they have not done anything bad. They have not murdered anyone, they have not stolen anything, they go to church, they have been baptized, they take communion, and the list goes on and on. People look for outward justification for being “good enough” when the need for salvation comes from within.

Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that  “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” There is not a single person that has ever been born that is without sin. Many people ask how they can be a sinner if they have done nothing wrong. The answer to  this question is found in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  That one man that Paul is talking about is Adam. We know the story well. God only put one limitation upon Adam, don’t eat of that tree! You can do anything you want, all you have to do is live in perfectness, you don’t have to work, you won’t grow old, you won’t be sick, enjoy what I have created for you. But what did Adam and Eve do? They disobeyed God and did  that one thing He commanded them not to do.

At the moment they disobeyed His command, man committed treason against God and sin entered into their hearts. Adam’s sin has been passed down through every generation to you and me today. It isn’t our works that make us a sinner or a righteous person, we are sinners because we are born as sinners by nature. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death…”  Our sin causes death, both physical and spiritual death. We will all die physically but because of sin we are already dead spiritually. This spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a literal Hell. But wait, there is also good news found in the second half of Romans 6:23, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Peter 2:24 tells us, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should  live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed.”  Here Peter tells us that when  Jesus was hanging on the cross the sins of the world were placed upon Him.. My sin and your sin was placed upon Jesus. God’s wrath against us was poured out on Jesus. Jesus willingly took the punishment that was due to you and me upon Himself.  He did this so that we could have forgiveness and eternal life in Heaven.

In response to the Philippian jailor’s question Paul said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” God has already done all the work. Jesus died for you and rose again. All you have to do is receive, in faith, the salvation God has to offer. Remember, our good works can’t save us. Salvation only comes through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. You need to cry out to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and be your personal Lord and Savior.

God Bless

Pastor Tom

April Fools

My youngest daughter was very excited to wake up this morning and tell us that we should be getting a call from the school time now saying that classes would be cancelled for the day. When I asked her why she said because of the snow we got last night. I got up to look out the window, knowing it was April Fool’s Day, to hear her start laughing hysterically and shouting, “April Fool’s Day!” Even the mere thought that our kids would be missing another day due to snow this year is not funny on multiple levels.

While April Fool’s Day is a time for children to play innocent pranks on their parents actually being a fool in life is not a funny thing. The scriptures actually have a lot of things to say about being a fool and none of them are good, Psalm 14:1 tells us, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” When an individual believes there is no God that belief will impact every part of life.

In Matthew 7: 24-27 Jesus tells us a parable about two men. The wise  man built his house on a rock and the foolish man built his house upon sand. When the rains fell and the storms raged the house built on the rock remained standing while the house built on the sand fell and was destroyed. The meaning of this parable is quite easy to understand. Each person is building a life and we need to have a proper foundation if our life is going to remain firm during troublesome times. If we look at verse 24 we find that in order to have a proper foundation we not only need to hear the words of Jesus but we need to do them, or put them into practice. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house on a rock.”

The reality is that life can be difficult. Just because you are a Christian does not mean that life will be easy, but it does mean that if your foundation is built upon Christ you will be able to weather the storms. When troublesome times come, when the report from the doctor isn’t what we expected, when relationship issues get out of control, when the grade on the exam wasn’t what you needed, remember Psalm 119: 105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light onto my path.” God’s word will show you the way, provide you with comfort, and give you hope.

Pasto Tom

Joy and Guilt

Today I would like to talk to you about joy and guilt. There are many Christians today that are not experiencing a joy filled life. Paul tells us the following in Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Paul tells us that we are to be filled with all joy and peace. Yet so often I talk to Christians that report that the feeling of joy is missing from their lives.

While there are many reasons why people are not living lives filled with joy, I have typically found that most Christians don’t experience joy in their lives due to overwhelming feelings of guilt. Guilt robs us of our joy and causes us to live defeated lives. This is not where the Lord desires us to be.

As we read the Scriptures we see two different types of guilt being discussed. The first guilt is a Godly Guilt. In 2 Corinthians 7: 8-9 the Apostle Paul speaks of the letter he sent to the Church at Corinth where he strongly rebuked the believers of particular sins that were being committed and overlooked in the church. The result of the letter was a feeling of sorrow or guilt that led them to repentance and a restoration of their joy. We must also consider what Jesus tells us in John 16: 7-8. Here Jesus promises the arrival of the Comforter, or the Holy Spirit. Jesus states that when the Holy Spirit comes He will reprove the world of sin. When we as believers walk in sin the Holy Spirit will produce a feeling of guilt within our hearts. While this guilt will rob us of our joy we must remember that the purpose is to drive us to confession and repentance. Once we have confessed our sins and repented our joy is then restored. This Godly guilt, is in fact, a good guilt.

Another type of guilt the Christian can experience is a False Guilt. If you have repented of your sins and confessed them to the Lord and you are still plagued by guilt those feelings are called a False Guilt. This feeling of guilt is  one of condemnation and comes directly from Satan. We must remember that the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and became a Child of God, we became a hated enemy of Satan. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is called the accuser of our brethren. Satan stands before God both day and night bringing accusations against us and pointing out our sins. He is also whispering in our ears, “Remember that sin you committed? You sin all the time! Maybe the Lord really didn’t forgive you!” The result of Satan’s whispering accusations in our ears is a False Guilt robbing us of our joy. When Satan has established a False Guilt in our hearts we must remember the promises of the Lord found in 1 John 1:9 “ If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Also Romans 8:1,  “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” When we have been forgiven, we have been forgiven no matter what Satan may say, We need to let go of confessed sins, we need to move on, and we need to press on.

Pastor Tom