My Journal for Today: My entry today, though prompted by John MacArthur’s poignant devotional for today in Strength for Today, is a very personal and pertinent one for me.
I believe one of the most powerful and provocative questions a Christian can ask a non-believer is this: “How do you explain the historical fact and the long-term impact of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?” Really, for a skeptic to reject Christ, he/she has to be able to explain away the fact/reality of a living Christ and One Who arose from the dead, … as well as why so many intelligent people have come to believe that through the ages.
Unfortunately during many years of my searching for spiritual strength and truth as a self-labeled “agnostic,” no one ever asked me that question. Here I was, searching into all of the “isms” of my day, … Buddhism, Taoism, New Ageism … and finding nothing which satisfied my soul! If someone had asked me the question above as a young, pride-filled man, challenging me to look at the facts, like many other former atheists had done, … much more brilliant men than I, … men like C.S. Lewis, Josh MacDowell, and Lee Strobel, I believe I could have been saved a lot of agony and foolhardiness earlier in my life. But, of course, God knew what He was doing; and what I needed to experience to be able to see truth; and in His time and in His way, he opened my “eyes” to the truth of Christ’s resurrection.
Now I recognize that even though thinking precedes doing, one is not saved through the mind. Being “converted” from self to Savior takes a heart decision; and, somewhat like the Apostle Paul, I had my heart confrontation on a road one day in 1983, where I heard a testimony (on tape) of young man who had become a quadriplegic but one who had found spiritual strength in Christ, the spiritual strength I had been seeking so unsuccessfully in the “isms” of my day. God used my head, i.e., my reasoning powers, to get to my heart; and I made that heart decision based upon my mental understanding of a set of wild circumstance which occurred on the morning of April 13, 1983. So, you can’t tell Bill Berry that God can’t use the head to get to the heart. The Lord certainly did with me.
The Apostle Paul in today’s passage, focusing on 1st Cor. 15: 1, was writing to a tough group of readers, the Corinthians, … former intellectuals and idolaters, who had been enmeshed in a deeply immoral culture (sound familiar – maybe a lot like here and now?!). But Paul in this entry verse to one of the most powerful presentations of the gospel in all of the New Testament [i.e., 1st Cor. 15], attests to the belief of the Christians in Corinth. And John MacArthur, in Strength for Today, points out that The Church over the centuries has continued to testify to the reality of Christ’s resurrection. And we who believe today, now knowing the truth of the resurrection, should (no, “MUST!”) praise our Lord for what He did in being raised to save us all – i.e., all who believe He did so.
Today I happen to be writing this devotional entry in a year where this date is “GOOD FRIDAY,” that day where we Christians remember Christ’s horrible death on the cross. Yes, and as horrible as that Friday once was for our Lord on that cross, we can – from our historical perspective and the truth of the Bible reflect on the day of His resurrection, which lay ahead. And, as the title to a wonderful sermon Tony Campolo once reported that his African-American Pastor had given at a Good Friday service in his church, let me record on this day … It’s Friday; … But Sunday’s comin! [* see note below]
And so, if you are reading this as a believer who has any non-believers in your life, … maybe relatives, friends, or co-workers, … ask them the challenging question I opened with above: …“How do you explain the historical fact and the long-term impact of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?”
Their answer could well shape their eternal future.
My Prayer Today: I believe, Lord! Amen
* Readers who wish to see Tony Campolo reflecting on his Pastor’s now famous sermon can go to You Tube and put “Tony Campolo” in the You Tube search engine. You’ll find several excerpts of Campolo’s famous speech there.
Friday, April 22, 2011
April 22, 2011 … The Church Testifies to the Resurrection
Passage of the Day: 1st Corinthians 15: 1 … (underlined in context)] Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.