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Our Faith Is Not for Sale

Easter is an event in the Christian faith rooted in the historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus and cannot be reduced to another commercial holiday.

 


Easter, like most Christian holidays, has been hijacked by commercialism and folklore. We have Easter eggs, Easter candy, and bunny rabbits. And then there are the usual allegations of the pagan roots of Easter.[1] But the truth is that Easter is not a day or season of the year; it is an event. The event is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is the seminal moment in human history that forever changed the course and destiny of countless numbers of lives.

 

Because Jesus was raised to life by the power of God, sin and death were conquered and a peaceful relationship with God was made possible. Accordingly, some Christians prefer to designate Easter Sunday as “Resurrection Sunday” to dissociate it from egg hunts and etymological stunts.

 

The Foundation of Our Faith

 

The bodily resurrection of Jesus is non-negotiable, for without it, Christianity has no veracity or capacity. The witness of our faith is that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and if He did not, we are more than liars, we are losers as well (1 Cor. 15:14–17). So, our credibility rests on the testimony of the apostles who vociferously proclaimed that they saw Jesus with their own eyes, touched Him with their own hands, and heard Him with their own ears after He was brought back from the dead (1 John 1:1).

 

At the same time, the efficacy of our faith is grounded in God’s omnipotent power that was put on display when, early Sunday morning, He troubled the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and resurrected the same dead body that was wrapped and laid in it. That resurrection power is the agency by which our dead human spirits are revived, causing us to be born again, and by which our physical human bodies will one day be raised to life at the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:16–17).

 

Three Resurrection Witnesses

 

Now, there will always be deniers and doubters, but the message of the cross and the empty tomb is a message that must be received by faith. Faith, however, is not wishful thinking or a grammatical subjunctive indicating possibility. No. It is trust in the character and capacity of the person making the claim. Thus, our trust is in three reliable witnesses that firmly root our confidence in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the village of Nazareth.

 

1. We have the witness of the Savior. In Revelation 1:18, John—one of Jesus’s church leaders—encountered the resurrected Christ who gave him a revelation of what would happen from that time through the completion of this season of human history. During that encounter, Jesus told him, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

 

John served as an apprentice of Jesus for a little over three years. He knew Jesus personally. He saw Jesus murdered at Calvary; he saw Him after His resurrection from the dead; and he saw Him as He ascended to heaven. There could be no confusion in John’s mind as to who Jesus was and is. It was some thirty years later that Jesus appeared to John while he was banished to the island of Patmos when He declared His previous death but present and ongoing life as well as His authority over the abode of the dead and death itself. So, our most important witness is the very words of Jesus—He speaks for Himself.

 

2. We have the witness of the Scriptures. Acts 2:30–32 is a portion of the very first sermon given by another one of Jesus’s apprentices named Peter. When the Father sent the Holy Spirit to live in those who trusted in Jesus, there was great speculation as to what caused His followers to be so exuberant. Peter explained to the devout Jewish audience that their joy resulted from the promise of the Father to pour out His Spirit on His people. Additionally, Jesus from Nazareth was the fulfillment of prophecy: “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, [David], foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.”

 

Peter was quoting from Psalm 16:8–11 to help his fellow countrymen understand that David’s proclamation of faith in God to deliver his body from the grave had far greater implications than himself and pointed to and rested upon another Person to whom his words applied—that Person was Jesus. Thus, David’s words recorded approximately 1,000 years earlier in Scripture were prophetic in that they foretold of Jesus’s physical resurrection and ascension to his throne in fulfillment of God’s promise that he would have a Descendant who would perpetually sit on it. So, the Bible foretells and confirms Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

 

3. We have the witness of the Spirit. In Romans 8:11, the apostle Paul is writing concerning the power of the Holy Spirit to help the followers of Christ live righteously. He goes on to explain how the Christian’s spirit is alive because the Holy Spirit lives in our human spirit, although our bodies are still subject to death because of sin. However, the same Spirit that lives in us is the same Spirit that will upgrade our physical bodies. He says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

 

The Romans needed to know that the transformation of their lives was inside-out. They were undergoing a metamorphosis in their souls because they had already undergone a metamorphosis in their spirits by their faith in Jesus Christ and receiving of the Spirit of God, i.e., the Holy Spirit. In addition, the Spirit served as a promise from God that just as He raised Jesus’s physical body from the dead, He would do the same for them. Thus, the Holy Spirit is an inner Witness of the physical resurrection that is to take place in the life of every follower of Jesus (Eph. 1:13–14).

 

Faith AND Facts

 

There is nothing wrong with dyeing eggs for Easter and purchasing pink and yellow bunny rabbits. Easter can be fun—and it is fun—but it must be factual. We celebrate it not because we get to give our children loaded Easter baskets or because we get to wear our newest Sunday outfit; we celebrate Easter because Jesus has risen from the grave with the power of death and the grave. As the young people say, these are “facts.”

 

As long as we are on this earth, there will be continuous attempts to discredit the miraculous birth and bodily resurrection of Jesus from Nazareth. Our entire faith rests on and in Him. Nevertheless, we must be rooted and persuaded in what we believe, because our faith is not for sale.

 

Rev. Isaac Hayes is an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and author of Men After God’s Heart: 10 Principles of Brotherly Love. He is also a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.


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