Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
There are times when the basics are important in life. Occasionally it is important to reexamine the basic premises of our beliefs and the reasons for our faith. This month’s presentation is about just such essential information we all need to rehearse on occasion, the basic evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This month’s article, “Proof of the Resurrection” is from an audiotape lecture Dr. Martin presented in 1974. Key to this proof is the eyewitness testimony of those who wrote the New Testament. The apostle John particularly makes it clear throughout his Gospel that the events he describes were witnessed by himself or others. This is pointed out in John 1:7–8, 19, 3:11, 26, 33, 5:31, 12:17, 21:24, and other instances in the Gospel.
In a June 2007 Christianity Today web interview Professor Richard Bauckham discusses his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006) at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/juneweb-only/123-42.0.html. Prof. Bauckham states:
“In the case of the Gospels, I think we have exactly the kind of testimony that historians in the ancient world valued: the eyewitness testimony of involved participants who could speak of the meaning of events they had experienced from the inside. … That the witnesses were insiders, that they were deeply affected by the events, is part of the value of their witness for us.”
In light of this interview, you will see that Dr. Martin’s presentation was ahead of Prof. Bauckham in considering the value of the original eyewitnesses of the Gospel and the entire New Testament. The fact that they were witnesses, even participants, and that they were sympathetic to the events, according to Prof. Bauckham and Dr. Martin, gives credibility and integrity to their witness.
Christ’s resurrection is most important for you personally. His resurrection proves that Jesus was the Messiah. 1 Because He was resurrected, you shall be also.
Understand that you are kept alive moment-to-moment by God’s whim and will. The next moment after you read this sentence God could remove His spirit of mankind 2 from your body that energizes your soul,
“Then shall the dust [your body] return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
If you believe in Christ’s resurrection (2 Thessalonians 1:10), your next conscious moment after your death will be the sound of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16). You will feel yourself rising into the air. Suddenly your physically resurrected body will be changed into an incorruptible, immortal body.
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead [you, me, Paul and all the saints of God] shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?’”
1 Corinthians 15:52–55
Unlike everything in our present physical lives — this change will be permanent! Those resurrected to spiritual life will never die (Luke 20:36). Christ’s victory over death is complete (verse 54 is citing Isaiah 25:8) for you personally, and eventually for every other human being also.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [singular in Greek] of them that slept [died]. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
1 Corinthians 15:20–22
From the moment that you “put on immortality,” you will be able to see Christ as He is. You will have taken your first step to become like Christ (1 John 3:2). This will all occur because Christ was first resurrected. He was “the firstfruits of them that slept.” The witnesses to Christ’s resurrection had an advantage, but it was a physical advantage. You and I and all others who have not witnessed Christ’s resurrection have a blessing from God for believing without having seen the resurrected Christ — yet:
“Jesus said unto him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’”
We are grateful that so many of you express to us that you appreciate the material we presented over the past years. Dr. Martin’s research is as relevant today as when it was first presented. It is my role to edit his older material and, as has been said, we should “eat the meat and throw out the bones.” By “bones” I mean information that Dr. Martin later changed from his original presentations in earlier times and places. The “meat” is material that is timeless, and gives straightforward explanations of biblical doctrine and history that is as relevant and true today as when Dr. Martin gave it. It is a tremendous legacy that we intend to preserve, defend, and promote to the ends of the earth. You are helping us do that.
We are thankful for all that you do: telling others about ASK, letting them know about the ASK website and printed material, encouraging us through your notes and emails, giving your financial donations, and praying for us that God will continue to bless this undertaking so that all our efforts may continue to bless others. In New Testament times people were able to give “in kind” with goods, services, and produce. I wish those times could come back, but modern society does not operate that way. We are too scattered. Yet we are able to communicate instantly over thousands of miles and around the world.
Your financial support upholds and sustains us so we can continue to communicate to the world as efficiently as possible, God willing. May God bless you. He has certainly blessed us through you, so we may continue to bless others by helping people understand the Word of God.
Christ’s resurrection was the essence of the Gospel of God. That announcement is the Good News; it is the Gospel. As Dr. Martin said often, the Gospel does not tell people how to get saved, but the Gospel tells people that they are saved already. That is indeed good news. It is certainly easier for all of us to do than to try to “get people saved” by convincing them to “do” works to save themselves.
The best part for us all is that we will individually participate in a resurrection similar to His when He, as the firstfruit of God, will resurrect each of us who believe in Him as our Savior. Thank you for assisting us to get that message out to others.
David W. Sielaff
1 See my May 1, 2006 Commentary “Christ, Messiah, and the Gospel” at http://www.askelm.com/news/n060501.htm. See also my article “Christ and Messiah” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d051001.htm, and the follow-up article “The Gospel of Messiah” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d060501.htm. DWS
2 See Proverbs 20:27; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Zechariah 12:1; 1 Corinthians 2:11. DWS
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