As we explored all areas of possible explanations on this website for the Resurrection of Jesus, the only valid piece that fits this amazing puzzle is that Jesus physically (bodily) rose from the dead. All natural explanations can easily be dismissed, therefore there must be a supernatural explanation as Jesus predicted.
Here are a few facts to consider:
Jesus' closest companions proclaimed boldly and faithfully until they died (not one recounted and most, if not all died as a martyr), including Jesus' brother James who thought Jesus was "out of his mind", until he saw Him Risen, and the former church persecutor (Saul) Paul turned Apostle, who met Him on Damascus Road after the Resurrection, which changed his life going forward. These are three very important facts that validate the credibility of this important historical event for me.
If you know someone or you are a person who is reading this and have a problem with believing in the supernatural, then what you have read so far on this website must really be getting your head spinning and God just might be stirring your soul (quite the contrary to popular pop culture belief, your soul is who you are, you are a soul that has a body, your body does not contain a soul, and your soul contains a body for now).
Humans are very unique because we are made in God's image. Being a soul inside of a physical body makes us “crave” something more, makes us aware that there is more to life than what we see, and that physical death is not the end of us. I like how Solomon writes this:
English Standard Version (ESV)
Ecclesiastes 3:11 - "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."
With this God given awareness of eternity comes a hope that we can one day find fulfillment, know that there is something past this life because we have a divinely implanted perception that our soul lives on forever, and that this world is not our permanent home, it is only temporary.
Do you know what it was that caught my attention and finally led me to Jesus?
It was this God given cognizance of eternity, as well as yet another God given knowledge which is the Moral Law. I do not want to go into great detail about my personal experience, because I did write a 293 page book about my testimony (Blue Collar Believer go to MY BIO for more info", if you are interested.)
Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; Romans 2:15; & 2 Corinthians 3:3 - seems to point to the "Moral Law" stating:
"..the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness.."
".. write them on their minds,”
"..not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
This begins with the fact that all people recognize some type of Moral Law or sometimes referred to as a moral code, which simply means that some things are right and some things are wrong. So, every time that we argue over right and wrong, we appeal to a higher law or code that we assume everyone is aware of, holds to, and is not free to arbitrarily change. This implies that this Moral Law transcends humanity and this Universal Law requires a Universal Lawgiver.
In 1945, American and British forces began to unearth the horrible evidence that the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler had systematically tortured and slaughtered over six million innocent Jewish men, women, and children during WWII.
After the war, many German military leaders were prosecuted in Nuremberg, Germany, for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” by an International Military Tribunal formed by France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.
Nazi defendants objected to being put on trial because their claims were that they were simply "following orders" and "the laws of their country."
So, on what basis could the International Military Tribunal presume to convene these war crimes trials in Nuremberg?
The answer to that question is found in the opening statement of the lead prosecutor at Nuremburg, Robert Jackson. Justice Jackson stated:
“even rulers are, as Lord Chief Justice Coke said to King James, ‘under God and the law.'”
The Nuremberg Court rejected the argument of Nazi defendants that there was no pre-existing law and appealed to natural law in its judgment, noting that:
“so far from it being unjust to punish [them], it would be unjust if [their] wrong[s] were allowed to go unpunished.”
Despite the fact that the defendants were following orders and laws of their country, they were found guilty of violating a higher law to which all nations were equally subject.
Sir Hartley Shawcross, the British prosecutor, said that there could be no immunity:
“for those who obey orders which – whether legal or not in the country where they are issued – are manifestly contrary to the very law of nature from which international law has grown.”
When our thoughts turn toward the horrors of the Holocaust, we must not forget that the Nazis at Nuremberg were held accountable because of the higher law of God to which all nations, at all times are subject to.
According to the Legal Dictionary, in the "Rule of Law", in the third context as, "rule according to a higher law," it is clearly defined as:
"In a third context the term means rule according to a higher law. No written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice that transcend human legal systems."
So, even international and national law recognize some type of justice that transcends human legal systems. We all do, and this is what I am getting at - personal responsibility.
If the logical outworking of a belief system fails to account for what we instinctively know to be right, it ought to be discarded. Without God there would be no objective basis for morality, no life, and no reason to live it. Yet all these things do exist, and so does God.
It is just about time to come to believe in the most critical and valuable offer God presents in this life..
But hang on just a minute, you might just be thinking if Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, as early Christians believed and boldly proclaimed,
"He is Risen."
"He is Risen indeed."
what about all other belief systems, religions, etc.. why all the confusion?
I understand where you are coming from, as I was there, and as my dad used to faithfully say,
"Been there, done that."
Many years ago, there was a man who dealt with similar issues who answered these questions for me.
This was the former church persecutor (Saul) Paul. One of my favorite Scriptures comes from the Book of Acts Chapter 17. I refer to it quite frequently, and if you are just a casual reader, you will miss many pert ant facts that are worth observing. Though it was penned in the New Testament era, I do think that it applies to today very well, especially in the culture that we live in with all the various belief systems, gods, religions, cults, philosophies, etc.. When I take a look around in world daily, I often put myself in Paul's shoes, sandals, or just his bare feet (whatever he wore or didn't wear. ;-)
Acts 17:16- "Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens.."
Paul was waiting in Athens. Now you have to imagine Athens at the time Paul was there. A great resource for this is in Craig Keener's book "The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament," in which he does a phenomenal job providing proper context and cultural background of the New Testament. It is very thorough and fair.
Keener goes onto say for verse (16)
"Some majestic temples on Athens's Acropolis, such as Athens temple (the Parthenon), were visible from afar; sanctuaries and images stood even in Piraeus and other ports of Athens. The second century travel narrator Pausanias depicts in detail the various idols that consumed much public space in Athens; one could not avoid them. Shrines filled the agora and Acropolis, city streets were often lined with statues of men and gods, and Athens was decorated with the Hermae, pillars mounted with heads of Hermes; many visitors wrote of the evidences of Athenian piety. From an aesthetic standpoint, Athens was unrivaled for its exquisite architecture and statues..."
Does this look and sound familiar as you survey the world, or even your own community today?
The verse continues..
Acts 17:16- "...his (Paul's) spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols."
Paul's "spirit was provoked," taking all of this in. I am sure it was overwhelming to see, and a man in his position, believing what he believed upset him greatly.
So what did he do?
Did he just walk away shaking his head in disgust?
Did he just not say a word to anyone?
Did he think like so many people today think and just say to himself:
"Well, all of this maybe true for you, but it is not true for me, since truth is only relative. All of these false idols I see around me are not harming anyone or anything, so be it, let me move on."
Or perhaps, did he do something quite the contrary?
Acts 17:17 - "So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there."
As you can see Paul did not just "sit on the sidelines" and shake his head in disgust. What he did was something many people would frown upon, because they would think he should have just kept his opinions to himself.
As a believer, I admire his courage, boldness, and follow through to actually stand up for what he believed in and actually do something about it. We all should, especially if we believe wholeheartedly that we are sharing a lifesaving message of the utmost importance.
So what did he actually do?
Imagine today, being a Christian, by yourself, walking into a Jewish synagogue filled with a Jewish congregation looking to "reason" with Jews about Jesus. You certainly would feel a bit out of place especially being on their own turf!
Where would you begin?
The only place to start and worthwhile listening to for a Jewish audience would have to be from the Torah (Old Testament.) Paul could not just whip out a handy dandy Bible, or pull up on his I Phone Scriptures; he really needed to know what he was doing! Most, if not all scholars would most likely agree that Paul surely was an expert in the Scriptures (Torah), and the insane part of him doing this was that he turned his expertise against his former mission which was against Jesus! Paul would have to turn to the Torah to get the Jews attention and show clear indication that Jesus was the Messiah that they were looking for and missed.
What kind of Scriptures was he referring to when reasoning in the synagogue? More than likely verses such as Isaiah 53, among others. There is a clear example of Philip explaining this particular passage being "the good news about Jesus" to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-34. What I always "get a kick out of" is when Philip heard him reading it, he asks him if he understands it, and the Eunuch responds with, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" The bottom line is that the Jews read and knew Scriptures such as this, but needed a guide to rightly point them to Jesus.
Who would stand up and do such a thing? My man - Paul!
Now Paul did not only stop at the synagogue for strictly the Jewish audience and devout persons, he also "went to the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there." I am telling you right now that Paul is my favorite apologist and my hero!
Now what kind of people did Paul encounter in the market place?
I am sure he met with Jews and devout persons, but he also would have bumped into Epicureans and Stoics who did not hold religious beliefs such as the Jews and devout persons of the day. Epicureans were influential only in the educated upper classes. They believed that if there was a god or gods that they could only be known through sense knowledge, like stars or planets, and the ultimate goal in life was pleasure, which they defined as the lack of physical pain and emotional disturbance. Now Stoics seemed to be more popular and held to pretty much an opposite view of the Epicureans, because they opposed pleasure and openly criticized Epicureans.
As you can see Paul's audience would have had very different religious views altogether and certainly very different than what he believed about Jesus and the Resurrection. He had to be a well-rounded apologist to be able to reason with the Jews and devout persons from Scriptures (as we have just went over), and what you will see him do in verses 17:22-29 to gain a Stoic hearing, but with the Epicureans he has much less common ground, but he knew what they believed.
Acts 17:18 - "Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection."
While Paul was "doing his thing", he gained some positive interest from those who were around, as well as negative. The word "babbler" translates a Greek expression applied originally to "birds pecking up grain" but which came to apply to "common chatters in the marketplace" or "those who gathered and spread scraps of others' opinions." If you take notice though, the way that the author of Acts (Luke) records this, these critics of Paul demonstrate their own ignorance by implying that Paul is preaching "foreign divinities", god(s) "plural", but in all actuality Paul is preaching "singular" and only Jesus and His Resurrection.
Acts 17:19-21 - "And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new."
Many centuries before this, Socrates was led to the Areopagus which ultimately led his speech and his hearers to martyr him. Luke, the writer of Acts, more than likely knew that his audience had this common knowledge, which with this illusion would build suspense, portraying Paul as a type of Socrates, but no one would expect the Areopagus to execute anyone for ideas in this particular time period. The Areopagus would have been the highest council of ruling bodies, since Rome had made Athens a "free" city. They had the authority, most likely a rough count of about one hundred elite members, to evaluate new cults, and potential lecturers coming to town.
This is center stage for Paul! It's go time!
Paul Addresses the Areopagus
Acts 17:22 - "So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious."
Notice with great detail here, what Paul did not do. He did not begin his speech by pointing out bluntly, "You are all a bunch of heretics!" It was customary for the period to open up a speech by complimenting the hearers in the opening "exordium," which was designed to secure their favor. Many people should heed this advice when confronting people of other belief systems. When Paul said, "I perceive that in every way that you are very religious," he meant that they were "religiously observant", not that he agreed with their religions, he was being what we would define within proper context being tolerant.
Acts 17:23 - "For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you."
Paul now goes on in greater detail in what he has observed during his stay, and his main botheration is in the religion expressed in and through idols. He also points out brilliantly the altar which read, "To the unknown god," which opens up the door for the basis of his speech. Who they do not know, he does know, and with precise detail, Paul will now beautifully and meticulously make it known to them using points of contact through common ground.
Acts 17:24-25- "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything."
What the casual reader most likely overlooks here, is what Paul actually did and continues to do until the end of his speech. He is emphasizing points of contact shared with Stoicism and the Epicureans. As with Stoics and Greek speaking Jews, they emphasized that God "needs nothing," the same word choice Paul uses and “God giving breath to all”, which both concepts, are completely biblical, but he does not use Jewish Scriptures from the Torah (Old Testament).
The Epicureans rejected temples and sacrifices, and the Stoics believed that God permeated all things and was not localized in temples. Paul had certainly done his homework.
He is by far a master rhetorician adapting to his audience. He speaks differently to philosophers then when he does to farmers or Jews at a synagogue. He adapts to his audience, while using language that is fully biblical and chosen to be intelligible to his audience. I find this to be quite remarkable and a true model for all Christians to build from.
Acts 17:26- "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,"
Paul being a Jew, obviously believed that creation from "one" meant from Adam, which would contradict Athenian tradition of special origin of Athenians from the soil, but he does not mention this in detail to start making his hearers a bit uncomfortable, but chooses to move onto what Greeks could agree with that God was Creator and divider of the earth's boundaries, while possibly having in mind the boundaries of people. Nonetheless, he then moves on...
Acts 17:27-28 - "that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’"
What did Paul do here?
Did he quote Scriptures?
No, he did not!
He is now quoting pagan sources that his hearers would be familiar with. Paul's rhetoric is ingenious and of the highest quality doing things like this! He not only just knew other opposing religious views, he studied carefully, and even memorized pagan works.
"In him we live and move and have our being," has been long attributed to the Greek poet Epimenides, who in one "tradition" was the person who advised building altars to the unknown gods.
"For we are indeed his offspring," is more than likely from the 3rd century B.C. Greek poet Aratus. Although it has non biblical roots, it appears in Jewish anthologies of proof texts useful for showing pagans the truth about God, and Paul may have learned it from there given his Jewish background.
It is now time for the climax of Paul's speech. Up until this point he has built as much agreement, where possible with his hearers. He has reserved the most controversial arguments for the end, and will now break with his audience's views.
Hold on tight!
Paul is not worried about being "sensitive." He will now expose the errors of their thinking in a mighty fashion!
Acts 17:29-34 - "Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them."
Paul, all throughout his speech, got his pagan hearers to "nod in agreement" to most of what he was saying, and then "Bam!" The conclusion of it all boils down to three words:
Everything was not as it seemed to be, and the conclusion shows where his speech was going all along. Paul skillfully and very masterfully used thought forms, deep structural identification with pagan narrative and images within a subversive Christian framework that in the end pointed to the Gospel.
You may have noticed how he communicated Scriptural truth, but never did Paul once quote Scripture to his pagan audience, used only pagan references, and when he does finally reference Jesus, he never even uses Jesus' Name.
Paul agreed with the Stoics that men are ignorant of God and His justice, but waited until the climax to faithfully proclaim that he affirms that God proved that He will judge the world through Jesus by raising Him from the dead.
I truly believe that Paul shows a lot about apologetics, pre- evangelism, and evangelism as a model for Christians to follow and share the Gospel, by adapting to your audience.
I shared The Book of Acts Chapter 17:16-34 for very good reasons. Paul's message was addressed to the intellectual elite of his day, it does not produce massive immediate results, but it was effective though, reaching "some" of the elite. We must remember that the Areopagus probably held about one hundred members, but included only those of the highest status, so the conversion of Dionysius is very significant. Damaris would not have been a member of the ruling court, but she may have been a disciple or a student of a prominent philosopher.
There were three type of responses to Paul's message. What were the three responses when the elite finally heard the climax of Paul's speech with the resurrection of the dead?
"Some said they would hear him again about it.”
"Some joined him and believed."
You who are reading this, if you are not already a believer fit into one of these three categories. If you fit into category of "some mocked," I suggest you think again.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "mock" as:
"to treat with contempt, ridicule, or deride or to disappoint the hopes of"
To "mock" would be like to describe the attitude of a criminal who thinks that they have gotten away with a crime by breaking the law. They are not afraid, somewhat relieved, and even a bit proud, thinking that they have gotten away with it, and the authorities are powerless to do anything. I'm sure many people can relate to a classic illustration many of us have indeed experienced. This is when you are driving your car, you look into the rear view mirror and see a police officer with their lights and sirens on. Your heart then begins to race as you look down at your speedometer, realize you are speeding, know in fact, that you are guilty, there is no way around it, and then the police officer blows right by you and pulls over the car in front of you because they were going faster.
You then think to yourself, "Wow that was close. Better them than me, I got away with that!"
Though this was a minor illustration, people who mock feel as though that they have escaped Judgment, there is no need for Repentance, and certainly no reason to even think about Resurrection, because they believe that they have essentially beaten the law, and will never be caught.
Unfortunately this is the heart of those who mock, but if indeed God does in fact exist, which I have all throughout this website dedicated much time and effort to share persuading evidence for the reality of Jesus bodily Resurrection, then there is a huge problem for those who "mock." If Jesus Resurrection is true, then God exists, and we must therefore understand why Jesus did what He did and what the climax of Paul's message is:
Speaking from personal experience now, because it was these three words that persuaded me to become a believer, but in a different order:
Judgment (was the problem)
Repentance (was the answer)
Resurrection (was the solution)
I entitled this page, "Now what?"
These are two words ending with a question mark that speak volumes!
There is no other option, but to believe and understand that God raised Jesus from the dead (physically). As Paul clearly points out to those at the church of God that were in Corinth at the time of his preaching, if Jesus did not rise from the dead...
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Resurrection of the Dead
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 - "Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And 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. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."
These are very strong word choices by Paul. If Jesus has not been raised, then their preaching and our faith is of no value. They would be then found to be misrepresenting God, because they testified about God that he raised Jesus, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. We should also be pitied for believing this, but the verse does not end there. Paul continues in the very next verse…
1 Corinthians 15:20 – “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Paul no longer is using the word “if” a hypothetical conjunction or assumption, and moves on to stating that Jesus rising from the dead as a fact, an event that has actual evidence and existence as the critical piece of information that shows the Christian belief as presented of having objective reality – the truth.
Since this is the truth, there is no natural explanation, but only a supernatural explanation for the Resurrection, and in turn, now there is no escape for the offense of the Gospel.
In David Platt’s book, “Counter Culture – Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age,” which I have just recently read at the time of me writing this, in the opening Chapter entitled, “Our Natural Reaction to God,” he brings up some very interesting points that I never thought of. What I am going to share are just portions of his thoughts..
“Look at the opening pages of human history, and you will see the ultimate problem of the heart. When God creates man, God puts him in the Garden of Eden and says..”
“God makes clear to man that he will be judged based upon his obedience to the command God has given.”
“So how does the created respond to the Creator? Within a matter of only a few verses, temptation to sin sits on the table. The serpent asks the first woman, “Did God really say…”
“Do you see the role reversal here?”
“The serpent’s question revolves around the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We read the tree’s name and think, what’s so wrong with knowing the difference between good and evil? But the meaning of Scripture here goes beyond information about good and evil to the determination of good and evil. In other words, for the man and woman to eat from this tree was to reject God as the one who determines good and evil and assume this responsibility themselves. The temptation in the Garden was to rebel against God’s authority and in the process make humans the arbiters of morality."
"When we understand this first sin, we realize that the moral relativism of the twenty-first century is nothing new. When we attempt to usurp (or even eliminate) God, we lose objectivity for determining what is good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral.”
Let those thoughts sink in for a moment..
Mr. Platt made quite an awesome observation here! It is quite remarkable that he entitled these thoughts, “The Greatest Offense: The Gospel and Culture.”
“Offense” right from the get go in the opening Chapter of Genesis with the first man and woman! We all know the story, Adam then blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, everyone wants to play the blame game, but no one wants to take responsibility for their actions, especially moral failures. God knew this and provided a way for forgiveness and this was Jesus’ selfless sacrifice on the Cross.
It then became more offensive. The Apostle Paul and other early Christians preached “Christ crucified, which was a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles” 1 Corinthians 1:23, as well as the message of a “stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense” Romans 9:33. Why was the message of “Christ crucified” a stumbling block, a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offensive?
It is because everyone thought that the Messiah would be an earthly king and not die the humiliating death, like a common criminal, of the worst way possible at the time, named crucifixion, even if in fact God provided proof by Resurrection.
Although the “Gospel” means “Good news,” it is still offensive. By “offensive” I mean that we all want to create our own way to God. If there were a million different ways, we would want a million plus one. The issue is not how many ways there are to lead to God, the issue is we want to believe that we can make our own way. This is the essence of sin, trusting our ways more than God’s ways.
Many people evidently think they have escaped judgment for their sins. They think that they are presently succeeding in mocking God with no consequence. What they fail to realize is that God allows this not because He is powerless to stop it, but because He has appointed a time to rectify things, and that time has not yet arrived. It will, but in the meantime even the most foolish outrages are permitted to continue with hopes that another heart can be reached by the Gospel and a soul saved before The Day arrives 2 Peter 3:8-10. Those who think otherwise are being deceived.
We are all by nature sinful and separated from God with no hope of remedying our situation. God provided the means of man’s redemption in the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” But to truly comprehend how good this news is, we must first understand the bad news. As a result of the fall of man every part of him—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. God has declared that man’s sin dooms him to an eternity separated from God. This is where man pays the penalty of sin.
Some may like to argue that it is not fair, this is on Adam!
Wrong, we are all responsible for our own sins, and there (in our own sins) we will find ourselves buried under the guilt of our own failures because we discover that we have sinned far more than we could have ever realized...
From the Ten Commandments we have false worship, idolatry, misusing God's name, violating the Sabbath, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, lying/libel, and coveting.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus took some of these same sins to a new level! Regarding murder, Jesus said, “Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.... But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell”. Regarding adultery, Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
Paul tells us “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
In addition to this we are told in 1 John 5:17 that “all wrongdoing is sin,” and in James 4:17 we are informed that anyone “who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”
This is not an extensive list of sins, but it should give ALL people plenty of things to think about for a lifetime! We are all sinners, and stand guilty as charged.
This would certainly be bad news if there were no remedy...
But God, in His incredible loving and gracious mercy, has provided that remedy, a substitute for us—Jesus—who came to pay the penalty for our sins by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the essence of the Gospel which Paul preached—the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus on our behalf.
When we come to the knowledge of this, our old nature dies with Jesus on the cross, we are buried with Him, and then we are gloriously resurrected with Him to a new life. Paul declares that the true gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” by which he means that salvation is not achieved by man’s efforts, but by the grace of God through the gift of faith Ephesians 2:8-9.
I am yet again speaking from experience here, because, we then are given a completely new nature 2 Corinthians 5:17 with a changed heart and a new desire, will, and attitude going forward - I, as well as countless others before me, can testify to this fact that only people who have accepted this offer have experienced the fruit of the Holy Spirit produced in us by His power. Those who are saved by the power of God will always show the evidence of salvation by a changed life.
Do you desire peace in your life?
Of course you do, we all do, we all want peace, and this is the only way to find that kind of peace, true peace, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding -
English Standard Version (ESV)
Philippians 4:7 - "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Are you ready to make that change?
If so, the most beautiful thing about it is that you could not do so without God loving you so much, that He is actually drawing you to do so...
English Standard Version (ESV)
John 6:44 - "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."
I have never been a big fan of what is known as "the sinner's prayer." You can flip through a Bible day and night, and you will never find one. The closest you will ever come to is what Paul says here:
English Standard Version (ESV)
Romans 10:9-10 - ".. if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."
So, a "true sinner's prayer" would only represent what a person already knows, understands, and believes about their sinfulness and need for salvation. Saying a type of "sinner's prayer" is simply a way of declaring and praying that you are relying on Jesus as Lord and Savior.
I have had the honor and privilege to be used by God, as just simply a tool to lead many unbelievers up to this point, that were from India, Vietnam, Namibia, Ghana, Portugal, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, Mongolia, Romania, South Africa, Namibia, and even here in the states; sometimes in person, on the phone, or even through social networking and private messaging. I have seen broken hearts mended in just a moment’s time, frowns turned upside down, goose bumps run up and down individual’s arms, and tears of sorrow instantaneously turn to tears of joy. Although each and every experience with a person was quite unique, there was no other person that I have ever witnessed a kind of godly sorrow, repentance, and finally coming to realize and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior like my dad. This moment will be frozen in my mind until the day I die, a priceless picture that only had three views by myself, my dad, and Jesus.
What you need to understand first is that my dad was more than a father to me, he was my best friend. The fact is though that when I became a Christian at 32 years of age, my life changed in many significant ways, and from there on in, my faith, for my dad, was more of an instrument to ridicule, mock, and make fun of, because he was a stubborn agnostic who would have reminded you very much of Archie Bunker from “All in the Family.”
In the book I wrote, “Blue Collar Believer,” I write about him extensively, especially our conversations that we had together in great detail regarding his gripes with God, Christianity, endless demands of proof, and my apologetic responses. My defensive arguments just seemed to be never getting anywhere and were just falling on deaf ears until something extraordinary happened and this was the fact that he was going to die.
It is amazing how the reality of death can sometimes put life into perspective. This is especially true for someone like my dad who had a very proud heart, no one could tell him what to do, thought he was in control of all things, and did what he wanted, whenever he wanted, and no one could tell him any different. You watch pride subside rather quickly in a person such as this when they realize that they are no longer in charge, notified in a hospital by a physician that their prognosis is terminal, damage is done, there is no cure, and the remaining time they have left living is very short.
This man had escaped death many times and had so many close calls I could not even begin to try to calculate the exact number of times he just needed to take a new medication, change his diet, have some type of in and out procedure or surgery, etc.. In such circumstances, with any other person, they would have never lived through it; but God in His extraordinary love, mercy, grace, and patience with my dad, let him live on another day.
Now the stage had been set and there was no remedy – no more magic pills, no more in and out procedure or surgery, the death sentence had been scheduled. It was devastating news for him, because he always feared the unknown, especially his own death, which he never thought about, but had no choice now, the clock was ticking, and time was running out…
This is when he began to ask honest questions and really listen for the first time in his life, because he was no longer in control. Doubt was always in his voice and demands of proof were required from him, but I never once pushed religion on him. I just listened, answered his questions, and was compassionate, loving, and cherishing the remaining time I was allotted to have with him. Then, one day, sitting at his bed side in a rehabilitation room, when I was about ready to go home for the evening, he completely took me off guard, and said,
“Hang on a minute. I think I am ready.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. We were not talking about religion or anything; so I asked him,
“What are you ready for?”
He then said, in a thick New York accent,
“You know, become one of yoose. One of those guys who follow Jesus. What do I have to do, sign something?”
Then on the evening of June 15th, 2015, my dad swallowed his pride and humbled his heart for the first time in his life after a very heartwarming conversation, and with tears in his eyes, a sorrowful and repentant heart, I witnessed the most stubborn man I ever known, close his eyes, and humbly say:
“God, this is the first time in my life I am going to really believe. I believe that You died and were resurrected, and You said that all who believe this will go to heaven. Lord, cleanse me of my sin, make me a new person. Thank you for dying for me. In Jesus Name, Amen”
There was not a dry eye in the room, and it was only myself, my dad, and Jesus present. Three short months later my dad then went home to be with the Lord. Though my dad did not have much time in life to really get to know the Christian faith in great detail, his fear of death was gone as he clung onto the hope of eternal life during his remaining days focusing on Jesus. We will see each other again someday, this is what keeps me going, as I do miss him very much.
So as I stated a little earlier, a "true sinner's prayer" would only represent what a person already knows, understands, and believes about their sinfulness and need for salvation. Saying a type of "sinner's prayer" is simply a way of declaring and praying that you are relying on Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Let me make this clear. There are no "magical" words that you say and there is no standard format that results in salvation. It is only believing in Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection to be true that can save you; the moment you believe this, it is done.
If you now understand that you are a sinner and in need of salvation through Jesus, you can pray something like:
“Heavenly Father, I come to you today with a humble heart. I realize that I am a sinner and that I have repeatedly disobeyed my conscience, Your Moral Laws implanted within me, offended You in the process, and understand that I will have to stand before You one day to give an account of my life. If You judged me now I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin, but I am now trusting in Jesus as my Savior. I believe that His death and Resurrection provided for my forgiveness. Luke 9:23 says, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” I realize that this is a lifelong commitment I am making and to take up my Cross and follow Jesus means that life is no longer about me, but living for Him. This will not be an easy task and I will have to make many adjustments, but I pray for the strength to do so. The cost maybe high, but so too are the blessings, and eternal rewards. Change me from within, use me for Your glory, may Your will be done in my life, it is no longer about me, but You and You alone. Thank you Lord for Your grace, mercy, and love, and forgiving me. From this day forward guide and direct me; In Jesus precious and mighty Name I pray this heartfelt prayer.– Amen”
If you have said this and meant every word, or something like it, let me be the first to say, “Congratulations, you have made the most important decision of your life, and welcome to the Christian family. I am now your spirititual brother. I rejoice along with the angels of God, as right now there is much joy in Heaven as Jesus states here:
English Standard Version (ESV)
Luke 15:10 – “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Also, shoot me an e-mail, I would love to get in touch with you personally and welcome you to the family.”
A word of personal advice, from me to you, going forward:
I recommend that if you have a friend or a family member who is a Christian, please let them know what you have done as soon as you can; they will rejoice and welcome you to the family as well. It is also just so important now that you connect with a believer so they can help you along in your new walk. They can either help or direct you to a mature believer, you can discuss baptism by immersion, and how to grow in the faith. You will begin to see the world differently as the Holy Spirit opens your eyes and heart to amazing things. You will need someone to confide in and talk to about it. Life truly begins to get “eye opening” when you become a believer, because you were once “blind but now you can see.” You shall see what I am talking about, hold on tight, and just wait.
If you are not a big reader, then reading the Bible may not interest you. The fact of the matter is that getting both the Old and New Testament on your mind and in your soul is just so important. Reading just a chapter a day will only take about 5-10 minutes and the Holy Spirit, I guarantee it, will “speak” to you through the Word.
There is also yet another way to do this which I believe is highly beneficial, and most believers are unaware of its true potential; that is listening to the Word. Though I have been reading and studying the Bible daily for 9 years now, I just recently began to listen to it. I am getting just so much more from it, and this may be because both the Old and New Testament writings are from ancient oral cultures. The world of early Christianity placed a high value on oral teaching and continued to recognize the value of hearing something over reading it.
Only the elite of 1st century Palestine were functunally literate and if you think about it, they were Jesus’ opponents – Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests, and Sanhedrin. Almost everyone else of Jesus’ listeners were non literate.
Throughout the Gospels, these facts seem to be confirmed when Jesus cited verses from the Old Testament, His standard format when He addressed the elite like the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests, and Sanhedrin was, “Have you not read..”
When Jesus cited verses from the Old Testament to the common men and women, His standard format was, “You have heard it said..,”
Orality was how Jesus transmitted information to his hearers and accompanied His style of teaching in order to speak their language telling stories, using word pictures, dramatic actions, metaphors, and the like to communicate truth. There may be something here that we have truly missed as a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. Most of the elite of Jesus’ day missed His teachings and did not believe in the Resurrection. It was only to the common people who understood who He was and believed in His Resurrection.
Maybe there is something here for us to consider, because I truly am getting a lot more out of listening to the Scriptures on audio. You be the judge though, whether reading or listening, just get the Word in you.
I would recommend beginning by reading or listening from the New Testament, specifically the Gospels first (Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke). This way you can first get acquainted with Jesus’ life and ministry. Then go on to Acts, which is a second volume to Luke’s Gospel and get to know the Apostle’s preaching and the establishment of the early church. You can then go on from there in order to Romans with Paul’s primary theme of presenting the Gospel, to 1st Corinthians, and so on that teach us how to live our lives as a believer, both the do’s and don’ts. You then can move onto the Old Testament beginning with Genesis telling us how God created the world and how mankind fell into sin, as well as the impact that fall had on the world and so on. Take your time with it and pace yourself, because it may seem overwhelming at first.
What you really need to keep in mind is that no matter how old you are right now, today is a spiritual birthday for you, and you must remember that any life starts as a newborn. Milk throughout the New Testament is used as a symbol of what is basic to the Christian life. The following is a great example:
English Standard Version (ESV)
1 Peter 2:2-3 – “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
A “spiritual newborn” will only grow as much as he or she reads or listens and obeys and applies the Word to his or her life. Maturing is entirely up to the individual and there are many believers out there who have been a believer for many years, but spiritually they are still newborns, because they have not matured, and cannot understand the deeper truths of the Word.
Paul and the author of Hebrews record how believers were not growing in their faith, and they could only give them "milk" because they were not ready for solid food:
English Standard Version (ESV)
Hebrews 5:12-14 – “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
English Standard Version (ESV)
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
Take your time, and remember – baby steps. You must first learn how to walk before you can run, it is a process that takes time. Investing in a Bible with explanatory notes, commentary, footnotes with cross-references, brief notes that clarify definitions of a words, maps, charts, and illustrations will be very helpful.
It’s just so important to study in context. Taking verses out of context is way too common and leads to tragic errors and misunderstandings. Exegesis and eisegesis are two conflicting approaches. Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. Exegesis is concerned with discovering the true meaning of the text, respecting its grammar, syntax, and setting. Only exegesis does justice to the text. Eisegesis is a mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation. Eisegesis is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. Eisegesis is concerned only with making a point, even at the expense of the meaning of words.
There is a boat load of advice that I can give, but the best advice I can leave you with is:
Begin praying immediately for direction, wisdom, and be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Don’t just pray before you go to bed, pray when you wake up until it is time to go to sleep. There is always time for prayer and always something and someone to pray about and for.
After I shared The Book of Acts Chapter 17:16-34 and Paul's message addressed to the intellectual elite of his day, it did not produce massive immediate results, but it was effective, reaching "some".
There were three types of responses to Paul's message and at this point, the same type of responses can go for what you think with all I have shared on this page “Now What?” and all the other pages on this ministry website (Blue Collar Believer Pastoral Apologetics) as a whole, unless of course you were already a believer.
So we already went over if you fit into the category of:
If you are still reading this and “mocking”, please know that you have not escaped Judgment, there is a need for Repentance, and certainly many persuading reasons to think about Resurrection, and to take Jesus seriously. I suggest you start from the top and begin reading again. Also, please get in touch with me, because I would personally like to pray for you.
The next category is:
"Some joined him and believed."
I guess I can say that if you found the information that I shared on this page persuading enough, the Lord opened your heart, and you are now a believer, I praise God, and welcome you to the family.
The last category is:
"Some said they would hear him again about it.”
This would mean that you are still a bit skeptical, are keeping an open mind, and you are willing to hear more some other time, either from me or someone else. This is a great place to be and I can only hope that with this website it was a tool to get you to seriously think about Jesus. I cannot make anyone believe He is who He said He was and His Resurrection, it is my job only to point to and show that there is good and very persuading evidence to believe it as Truth.
There may also be some emotional barriers or obstacles that only you know what they are. You may also be having trouble with people that you have known personally who claim to be “Christians” but act otherwise.
“Supposedly” Gandhi got a taste of false Christianity, although I can’t seem to find a very reliable source for this quote:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Also, according to the Bible.org website, on one of their pages (although I can’t seem to find a very reliable source for this as well, only “Our Daily Bread, March 6, 1994”), the page states:
“In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.
So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned. “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.” That usher’s prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.”
-Our Daily Bread, March 6, 1994
Now, whether this information is true about Gandhi, it really does not matter, because I am sure that this does happen day in and day out in many churches across the globe. I do believe that there are many hypocrites out there that have done plenty of harm and turned a lot of unbelievers off unfortunately from the message.
Do you realize how sad this is?
It is so sad because it has nothing to do with what true Christians believe and the heart of the matter, the truth of Jesus Resurrection.
Greg Koukl, Christian Apologist from Stand to Reason (STR), states:
“In some circles there’s pressure for Christian ambassadors to “close the sale” as soon as possible. When pressed for time, get right to the meat of the message. Get to the Gospel. If the person doesn’t respond, you’ve still done your part. Shake the dust off your feet and move on.
A wise ambassador, though, “seasons his words.” He weighs his opportunities and adopts an appropriate strategy for each occasion. Sometimes, the simple truth of the cross is all that’s needed. The fruit is ripe for harvesting. Bump it and it falls into your basket.
Usually, though, the fruit is not ripe; the nonbeliever is simply not ready. He may not even have begun to think about Christianity in the right way. Dropping a message on him that, from his point of view, is meaningless or simply unbelievable doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, it may be the worst thing you can do. He rejects a message he doesn’t understand and then he’s harder to reach next time.
Now here is my own more modest goal. I want to put a stone in his shoe. All I want to do is give him something worth thinking about. I want him to hobble away on a nugget of truth that annoys him in a good way, something he can’t simply ignore because it continues to poke at him.
Whether the opportunity is a short one with a transient audience or a long one with a captive audience, my goal is the same—a stone in the shoe.
Some people are good “closers.” They’re good at getting the sale. What they don’t realize is that harvesting often comes easily for them because, in God’s sovereignty, many ambassadors came before them planting, watering, and weeding, one by one tending to the plant, cultivating healthy growth until it was ripe and ready to reap.
So here’s my suggestion. Follow the strategy I use when God opens a door of opportunity for me. I don’t know how long the door will be open, so I pray quickly for wisdom, then ask myself, “In this circumstance, what is one thing I can say, one question I can ask, one thought I can leave that will get him thinking?”
Then I simply try to put a stone in his shoe.”
I do pray that this website has at least “put a stone in your shoe,” if in fact "you will hear again about it,” someday. God bless