This past weekend we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I would say the most helpful and encouraging aspect of Christianity to me when I am dealing with doubts is the historical fact of the resurrection.
In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth about Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead.
“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, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
It is important to know that Paul wrote this letter around 55 A.D. Meaning many of those “five hundred” who encountered Jesus after he came back to life were still alive. Because of this, the crux of Christianity itself (Jesus’ resurrection) was verifiable. It was not what people believed to make themselves “feel better.” Quite the contrary, many early Christians were killed because of their faith.
What is also interesting to note is why eleven of the twelve disciples of Jesus were killed. They were not killed because of their faith. They were killed because they claimed to have seen Jesus after his resurrection and would stop at nothing to tell others about it. They were murdered not because they were Christians, but because they would not recant Jesus’ resurrection.
Jim Elliot was one of the five Christian missionaries killed on January 8th, 1956, by the Auca Indians in Ecuador while attempting to reach these remote people known for their brutality both towards those not in and even those in their own tribe. You may have heard of their story from the movie “End of the Spear” produced in 2006. He writes this in a journal entry,
“There has been a sense of discouragement and doubt come over me through this….There is a strong pull to the philosophy that ‘chaos created this lump of clay in his own image’- and to let fall the whole gamut of theological arguments. Again, I’m held by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Where it not that I believed that Jesus was seen of men and proved Himself to be supernatural in outwitting death, I would throw the whole system back to the troubled skies and take raft down the Mississippi today. But the fact is founding, settling, establishing. It holds as nothing else, and gives the sense that there are answers, not yet discovered, for which I must wait.”
As was Jim, I am held by the resurrection of Christ. In the words of the apostle Paul,
“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.” -1 Corinthians 15:14-15