Two thousand years ago, thousands of Jews, including Jewish priests, became followers of Jesus of Nazareth because they had become convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior of the world, who had been predicted hundreds of years before by Hebrew prophets. They often literally followed him to their own Roman crosses, or to torture, exile, and confiscation of property, because Jesus proved to their satisfaction that he was the Messiah by fulfilling Messianic prophecies and by being resurrected by God from a literal, physical death. A death which his followers had witnessed. The Roman executioners of Jesus were sufficiently convinced that he was dead that they gave his body to a man called Joseph of Arimathea to entomb it.
But Jesus’ death was followed by his resurrection, attested to by no less than five hundred of Jesus’ disciples who claimed that for a period of about forty days after Jesus was resurrected, they saw him, talked with him and shared meals with him, even touched him at his own insistence so they could be certain they were not seeing a ghost.
Reason and logic proclaim that when people claim to have been eyewitnesses to something accept torture or execution rather than deny it, first, they are telling the truth, and second, what they claim to have seen is of life-changing importance.
The physical resurrection of Jesus from a literal, total, physical death is the foundational fact of the Christian faith. If that is not true, none of the rest of Christian beliefs can be trusted. If it is true, then the rest of the Bible can be trusted too. Here is just some of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus:
The resurrection of Jesus is the most important fact of all history, if it’s true. Here’s why: according to the Bible, Heaven and hell are both real, all of us are going to one or the other, and the choice is ours. This is what determines whether we will go to Heaven or not:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
We all know what hell is like, right? Lake of fire, bottomless pit, the abyss, “eternal death”. But what do we know about Heaven? Are there any positive things about life in Heaven? Is it just “you don’t get fried for eternity”?
Let’s start with the big, obvious plus factors. We have trashed this earth badly. Unless we at least manage to end overpopulation, war and pollution, and develop abundant renewable clean energy, we won’t be able to clean up the earth. So how about a new earth?
We’ve trashed space around earth, too, with about 500,000 to 900,000 pieces of (man-made) “space junk” in low earth orbit. Traveling at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour, it has become a serious threat to space missions and to the commercial use of space. And to President Trump’s Space Force. “Even tiny paint flecks can damage a spacecraft when traveling at these velocities.”
So how about a new atmosphere? Let’s get rid of dangerous meteorites and asteroids while we’re at it, so we don’t have to worry about being wiped out a la the movie “Deep Impact”. Impossible? Not for the God Who created this heavens and earth. Done. No problem, King Jesus says: “Then I [the apostle John] saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more … And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ ” (excerpt from Revelation 21:1-5)
Would you like 100% effective, no-side-effects disease prevention through natural, holistic means? Ha! If we’re going to fantasize, how about no more death? Guess what: it’s already all part of the plan:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. (Revelation 22:1-3)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
OK … how about … ending harmful solar radiation? God is way ahead of you, friend:
“They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” (Revelation 22:5)
And one big thing that you don’t hear much about in connection with Heaven – pleasure!
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
But people have always been the most basic problem of earth. Humans, with their greed, their selfishness, their perversions, their savagery and treachery … What’s God going to do about us? Remember I mentioned hell?
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)
We’re in trouble. The Bible states that we are all like that at heart:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 53:2-3)
We need to become new beings to be fit to live on the new earth:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
“… don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” (Galatians 6:14-15)
Have you become a new creation through faith in Jesus? If not, what is holding you back? There are people on this site who will be glad to talk to you about it if you like.
RZIM: On May 19, our beloved founder and apologist Ravi Zacharias went home to be with Jesus. RZIM’s CEO, Sarah Davis, shares this reflection on her father.