What if the resurrection never happened?

If the resurrection of Jesus never happened God is a liar, we can throw out the Bible, and dismiss Christianity as a hoax. No resurrection equals no God, no Bible, and no Christians, because the underlying promise throughout the Old Testament is that one day God would raise his Servant in Israel to “bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:3-6). And the sign revealing who that servant would be was the promise in Psalm 16:10 that “you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

That verse was then quoted in Acts 2:27 as evidence that Jesus was that Servant in Israel, because Jesus was not left to rot in his grave, exactly as promised in Psalm 16:10. It was used as clear proof in verse 24, that “God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

This was the day that Christianity began, and it was based entirely on Jesus being resurrected from the dead exactly as promised by King David in Psalm 16. And how did David know God’s Servant would be raised from the dead? Because, verse 30, David was “also a prophet and knowing that God had solemnly sworn that a descendant of his would rule his kingdom, seeing far ahead, David talked of the resurrection of the Messiah” (The Message).

The only reason Christianity got started in the first place was because King David’s prophecy of the Messiah’s resurrection came true. The only question we’re left with, then, is how do we know Jesus was resurrected and his body didn’t rot in his grave? The best answer we’ve got “that God has raised this Jesus to life,” verse 32, is Peter’s claim that “we are all witnesses of the fact.”

We have the documented evidence of witnesses. They were there at the time of Jesus’ resurrection, saw with their own eyes the empty grave, and met with the very much alive and well Jesus for several weeks after his resurrection, and put it all down on record what they saw, and even what Jesus said.

We have Jesus’ resurrection on record, therefore. And the only way it can be refuted is by witnesses documenting their evidence to the contrary, that Jesus stayed dead and his body rotted and they can prove it. How? By producing his bones; clear proof we can all admit to. And if it really was so important to people back then to refute Jesus’ resurrection, then they’d make sure they had undeniable proof. But I’ve never read or heard of such proof existing; have you?

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Expect nothing from no one, and see what that does instead

Do you find as you change for the better that other people’s behaviour bothers you more? In my own life, for example, I was extremely impatient with anybody who didn’t drive like me, which meant getting to one’s destination at the fastest speed possible and yelling at any idiots who got in my way.

But that changed. Amazingly, I’ve become a more sensitive driver, aware of the needs of other drivers, and I don’t mind taking my time so I don’t have to rush and make mistakes that put others in danger. Which all sounds very noble and righteous, but it created another problem: I can’t stand it now when other drivers aren’t as sensitive as me. Why can’t they just move up a bit, like I do, so I can squeeze through? Why don’t they watch the lights, like I do, so when they turn green we can all get moving and not get stuck with another red light? Why do they drive out in front of me and not get up to speed quickly, forcing me to jam on my brakes? And on and on the list goes, of people who drive me nuts because they simply don’t notice or couldn’t care less about other drivers and their needs.

It was a bit of shock, therefore, when it hit me that I haven’t actually changed that much, because in reality I’ve still got the same problem. My driving habits have changed, yes, but my attitude towards other people is still very much the same. I’m still expecting them to be like me.

It came as a huge relief, then, to realize that every expectation I have of my fellow humans has already been met by Jesus. I expect humans to be more sensitive in their driving habits, for example, and when they aren’t I blow fuses. But Jesus has already lived the sensitivity that every human needs, plus he’s covered every insensitivity with his death, and he’s also ready and willing to help anyone who turns to him for the help to live as sensitively as he did.

How, then, can I expect anything of people when Jesus has already lived the life of a perfect human for them? The only problem people have, therefore, is not knowing what Jesus has done for them and not turning to him for help. But I have it within my power to change that by showing them what happens in a human who does turn to him.

Or to put it in terms I like: Expect nothing from no one, and see what that does instead, not only to other people, but also to me.

“I have answers. Are you interested?”

I have never said to anyone, “I have answers. Are you interested?” Instead, I’ve been very hesitant in sharing my beliefs, because I feel I don’t know enough yet, I get horribly tongue-tied when I try to explain what I believe, and I tend to leap into long lectures that totally miss the point of a person’s question. I’ve also convinced myself that most people aren’t the least bit interested in what I believe anyway, and God has to call people for their minds to be receptive. And what if people feel awkward around me after they find out I’m religious?

I know Peter told us in 1 Peter 3:15 (The Message) to be “ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are.” I admit, then, that Peter thought it quite normal that people would ask. I admit it’s been normal in my life too, because I’ve asked all sorts of questions looking for answers. I felt compelled to ask. So, why aren’t people asking me, then, “to give the reason for the hope I have?” (NIV). Is there nothing they see in me that warrants them asking? Or is it because I give the impression that my beliefs are private, and I only share them with like-minded people?

But what if some people would really appreciate me explaining what makes me tick, because they see me as a person with answers they wish they had? They never dared ask, though, because it’s awkward admitting ignorance in this culture of opinionated know-it-alls. And what if the answers they’ve had so far have been wrapped up in church speak, full of odd and meaningless religious terms? Worse still, what if they’ve been made to think they’d better change their lives or they’re going to hell?

But shouldn’t my life be an answer already to all those worries and problems? I don’t live in fear of hell. I’m not horribly religious. I’m not thinking I know everything. Instead, I can readily admit ignorance, and I’m not afraid to ask questions, because that’s how you get answers.

So why can’t I say to people, “I have answers. Are you interested?” – having asked the questions myself that got the answers. Perhaps I should ask instead, “Are there questions you’ve wanted answers to?” – because the human brain is full of questions, and it won’t rest until it gets answers. It’s the way we’re built, and Peter clearly understood that, that people are dying to ask, and given the chance to ask they will. And who better to ask than a person who has answers, because he dared to ask questions too?

Jesus is in charge? Prove it….

If it’s true in Matthew 28:18 that “All authority in heaven and earth” has been given to Jesus, and he is now in charge, then why is there so much suffering in the world still? And if “by the cross,” Colossians 2:15, Christ “has disarmed the powers and authorities,” why does evil still exist? And if, Daniel 7:14, Jesus has been “given authority, glory and sovereign power,” and “his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed,” then where do we look for evidence of it, when the world seems to be getting worse, not better?

Jesus answered all that for us in Matthew 21:43, when he told the Jewish leaders “that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

The clue Jesus gave in that verse that he is in charge, and his kingdom on this earth is real, is the fruit produced in the lives of people to whom the kingdom has been given. This included the people in verse 31, who were already “entering the kingdom of God,” even before Jesus died on the cross. They were the ones who’d taken John the Baptist seriously when he “came to show you the way of righteousness,” verse 32. Jesus explained what that”way” was too, in the previous parable: It was doing what “the father” figure in the parable wanted done, willingly and in obedient action.

So the fruit produced by those to whom the kingdom had been given was obvious: It was their belief that God had sent Jesus to be the first building block – or “capstone” (verse 42) – in the building of his kingdom on earth, and their willing obedience to Jesus as its ruler.

It stands out in clear contrast to those from whom the kingdom was taken away. These were the Jewish chief priests and Pharisees in Jesus’ day (verse 45), who should have been the “builders” of the kingdom of God on earth, but they blew their opportunity because they rejected Jesus, exactly as Psalm 118 said they would: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (verse 42). They would not accept that God had sent Jesus to be the first building block in his kingdom, or the need to obey Jesus as its ruler.

There is only one place on earth, therefore, where the evidence that Jesus is in charge and his kingdom is real can be found: It’s in those who produce its fruit of willing obedience to Jesus as the capstone and ruler of God’s kingdom. It’s the only proof we’ve got, but at least we’ve got that as hope of a better world on its way.

Hello reality; goodbye religion

One thing God got right is death. He said we’d die, and there hasn’t been a human yet who hasn’t died. There is the hope, of course, that scientists will discover how to reverse the ageing gene, but how long will humanity survive when multiple billions of ageless humans have drained the earth’s resources?

Death comes to us one way or another, either in the natural ageing process, often advanced by disease and poverty, or at the hands of other humans. Hello reality, therefore; we’re all going to die.

But hello religion, because religion jumps in with a soothing solution: Death happens, yes, but not to worry, there’s another life after death, based on some vision of the afterlife a man somewhere had. And because so many people in his region of the world believed in his vision, it must be true, right?

But the same argument can be used in support of Jesus, because he also claimed he had special insight into life after death. He even claimed he’d come from God and been sent by God to solve the problem of human death in himself, and humans would no longer have to worry about death if they believed and followed him. And many people in his region of the world did follow him too.

But Jesus’ credibility took a nosedive when he died. So now what proof was there of life after death when Jesus, just like all the other charismatic visionaries in human history, died, and with their deaths the proof of whether they were right or not about their version of the afterlife died with them?

But hello reality; Jesus came back to life again. And the most shocked people of all were his followers, who thought Jesus had been talking through his hat when he predicted he would rise from the dead. But now he’d gone and done it, forcing that rag tag bunch of shattered, despondent men and women to face that reality.

And face it they did. It’s what started them on the road to believing in this man. It wasn’t for any religious reason or superstition based on vague, unprovable visions; it was based on evidence, the pure, raw evidence that a human being had defeated death, and he was standing there and talking to them as proof of it.

So hello reality, goodbye religion, because who needs religion when the proof of life after death has already happened, and a human has defeated death? But religion breezes over that as if it never happened, resulting in all sorts of weird ideas about the afterlife that have no proof whatsoever to back them up.

How is Christianity different to other religions?

Christianity isn’t different to other religions, in that it too, like all the major religions, has symbols, rituals, special commemorative days, named gods, and belief in an afterlife. It too erects impressive buildings, lays out strict rules for how to behave, and attempts to moderate behaviour by the promise of eternal rewards for good people and the threat of something awful for the wicked. And like all typical religions Christianity claims it too is the only true path to spirituality and eternity.

Christianity has also shared the same embarrassing faults with other religions, of divisions and conflicts within, of splinter groups breaking away to carve a purer path, of dealing extremely harshly with heretics, and even justifying the killing of other humans as a godly duty. Christians are also just as vulnerable as members of other religions to judging and condemning anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And like members of all religions, Christians also believe we must escape these horrible bodies of ours and this horrible world into some ethereal bliss that is totally out of touch with why this creation came into existence in the first place.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that many people wonder why we have religions at all, especially when religion has been the cause of so many conflicts, crusades, inquisitions, massacres, burnings, stonings, mutilations, land-grabbings, and the worship of human power and personality. And no religion, including Christianity, can be excused for its stupidity and cruelty by dragging out a list of the good things it has done, because none of the good done has erased evil completely or permanently in the world, or in any religious community either.

Would the world be better off without religion? Of course it would. No more killings in the name of one’s god, no more holier than thou attitudes, no more barbaric practices in the name of religious purity, no more chucking rocks at each other over doctrinal differences, no more fear of eternal torture, no more philosophical rubbish that offers no solution to death or evil, no more worshipping fallible human beings, no more wildly different ideas as to what happens to us after we die, no more wanting to escape this beautiful earth and our wonderful bodies for something fuzzy and meaningless for eternity, and no more self-centred play acting to get oneself saved.

But true Christianity was never about any of those things anyway. It’s about a man who said he was sent by God to give us eternal life, and came back from the dead to prove it. It was all about solving the problem of humans who die. Nothing religious about it; just raw reality.