Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on March 26, 1978
“. . . He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
1st Corinthians 15:4
PAUL, PREACHING TO THE CORINTHIANS, said, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,” and he catalogues the record of Christ’s death, Resurrection and appearances. He speaks as a reporter of facts, saying that Jesus was seen on one occasion by “above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. . . And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” Then, Paul begins to argue that “if there be no resurrection. . . we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ,” and furthermore, our faith is vain. (1st Corinthians 15)
Like so many things in God’s Scripture, you will not really appreciate the importance of that passage until you put it into context. It is significant that Paul gave this message to the Corinthians. He is writing to the church that, more than any other church in the New Testament, has the testimony recorded that the gifts of the Spirit were being exhibited in their midst; he said they were “behind in no gift.” (1st Corinthians 1:7) Almost everything that the modern charismatic revival heralds and highlights finds its basis in Paul’s description of the gifts of the Spirit to these Corinthians. He describes their relationship with the Spirit using a Greek word that is the cognate for our word plutocrat, which means “overfull.” Yet, to these people, Paul argues that without the Resurrection, and without the truth of this factual testimony, our faith is vain.
Paul, that Pharisee of the Pharisees, whose credentials went beyond most of them, who studied at the feet of Gamaliel, would literally burn with a passion for his brethren; his heart bled for their inability to see the truth. (Acts 22:3) He could minister to them, and they could never put him down saying that he didn’t know what he was talking about in their frame.
Like Paul, I suppose I am able to speak to people in the charismatic frame# without having them question my credentials. I grew up in the charismatic frame and had every single spiritual experience that can be had; yet, I still lost my faith. There is no spiritual experience that you can have that is not also a psychological experience because, by definition, a psychological experience is simply you having an experience. Given the presuppositions of an alternative psychological frame, every experience I had was explained away from me. I never turned against God; I just lost my certainty. I became agnostic, which means “not to know” and “not to be sure.” My parents still loved me, but all they could do was just pray and listen to some of my crazy questions. Even though my early experiences were real, I lost my faith in those experiences because my faith was undermined.
Now, Paul was writing to the charismatic participants par excellence of the New Testament world. Nobody was involved in the operations of the gifts more outwardly, no one
had any more genuine experiences of the gifts than the Corinthians; yet it is to the Corinthians that this long passage on the Resurrection in 1st Corinthians 15 is given. That tells me something. It tells me that all of their expressive and experiential gifts would not take the place of the foundation of our faith, which is a fact: Jesus came forth from the tomb.
I am simply fed up with the attack on common sense understanding, thought and rationality by the many purveyors of spiritual mysticism. I grew up in a frame where it was thought that God would topple off of His throne if you asked a question; and, if you didn’t disengage every cog in your brain, God would hate you “till hell doth part you from Him.” I would often hear the verse, misapplied, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit.” (1st Corinthians 2:14) So, in order to be spiritual, you had to cut off the top of your head and make a fool of yourself.
Christianity is based upon a fact. I don’t care how blessed the song is that says, “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” It is good poetry, but it is not a faith that is communicable. It is subjectively true to you, and either marvelous or humorous to look upon, or tragic, depending upon the way you react to it. It has a validity that no one can take away from you, perhaps. But Christianity is not to be based upon a mystical communication of an ineffable, non analytic truth that cannot be shared. It is based upon a fact that reasoned minds can look at.
It is time we understand that God is not anti-intelligence. To these “hop-around Corinthians,” essentially what Paul is saying was, “That which you’re hopping around about is not going to stand because of its hopping energy. It will stand or not stand, but that which makes the faith stand is the Resurrection.” Very few Christians can testify to that fact, and I accuse much of modern Christianity of a royal cop-out when they want to testify to their experience instead of testifying of Jesus.
“When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language . . . Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia,” on through 17 languages that were heard spoken, and they said, “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God . . . Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day,” that is 9 O’clock in the morning, an hour when no devout Jew would touch a drink. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” (Acts 2:1-17)
Peter didn’t purvey mysticism to the onlookers. He didn’t say, “I know that you can’t understand it, but we’ve got it and you haven’t; and when you get it, you’ll understand.” But immediately, he went right to where they were. He said, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man.” Peter got right down to where they lived; they understood “Jesus of Nazareth, a man.” Peter said that Jesus was “a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.” And what he talked about
were not feelings or mysteries described by Jesus, but actual happenings in that land that they had seen. “Him . . . ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” The crowd knew that; they had witnessed it seven weeks earlier.
Now, Peter builds to the next fact: “this Jesus God hath raised up,” not some spiritualized happening, but a fact, “having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Again, he says it: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Then Peter began to exhort the multitude out of Scripture, and they cried out, “What must we do to be saved?” Peter did not preach his personal experience; he interpreted his experience on the basis of a clear-cut, understandable fact.
Read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. It is one of the most profound Scriptures that you will find anywhere cataloguing the prophecies out of the Old Testament that are fulfilled in Jesus. A few days later, Peter said, “You killed the Prince of life, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; but God raised Him up from the dead.” (Acts 3:14-15) Then Peter is called before the magistrates, and they tell him to either shut up or face the consequences. He lets them know that he serves a risen Savior; and again he says, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree . . . we are his witnesses.” (Acts 5:30-32)
Paul preached in Athens and took on the philosophers of that day. There are some who say, “Yes, Paul spoke in intellectual terms at Athens, but he got his head straightened out when he went to Corinth, and he said, ‘I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1st Corinthians 2:2) But notice, the word to underscore is you. Paul was speaking to those contentious Corinthians, who boasted that one was of Apollos, another of Paul and another of Cephas. (1st Corinthians 1:12) To them he said, “I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus;” he had to get them back on the center track. But at Athens, he came to a town where they had never really heard much of this gospel. The philosophers are gathered on Mars’ Hill, beneath the Acropolis, and they are all waxing eloquent, conveying their views of things. They are so worried that they will leave out some god that they had erected a monument “to the unknown god.” And Paul, ever ready to apply the truths of God, figures out that this “unknown god” was the only one he could use as a starting point to teach the truth. Since that god was unknown to them, Paul would claim that spot for Jesus. So Paul says, “I’ll tell you who this unknown god is;” and he begins to preach Christ, whom he says God ordained as His Son by the Resurrection. (Acts 17:15-31) Every message of the New Testament comes back to that fact.
Those preachers in that day could point to eyewitnesses. We cannot do that, but we can at least do our homework concerning the witnesses who were there. The church is not to preach their experiences, but the resurrected Christ. Experiences ebb and flow; the Resurrection is an unchanging fact and the basis of all of our faith. So today, I want to capsulize the essence of Christianity.
Jesus was sold to me by my professors as just another “good and wise teacher,” and they would lump Him together with the Gautama Buddha, the prince in India; Mohammed, who received visions reduced to the Koran, which is the basis of the Islamic faith; Confucius, the social analyst, who looked at society and decided the ethical formulas that would solve its problems; and on through all the leading founders of religions. Because the world doesn’t want to have to deal with Jesus, they would just like to dismiss Him by putting Him on a shelf designed after their own pattern, creating a Jesus who never existed and who is not going to
force them to make any decision. But there is a startling alternate about the only Jesus to be found in history.
It began to dawn on me that the intellectual giants in university who were shaking my faith had never really looked at Jesus. So I hurled a challenge out, and I have been hurling it out ever since: anybody who says that Jesus is a “good and wise teacher” has to define a source. I happened to take the Gospels: they have stood the test of time; but I don’t’ care what source you want to use. There are some scholars who are beginning to give the newly found “Gospel of Thomas” more credence than its original finders gave it. There is a hypothetical “Q” document that is strictly a creation of scholars. If you can read the original New Testament Greek, you will find that in Matthew, Mark and Luke, the “synoptic Gospels,” it is apparent as you read and watch styles change that each of these writers had a style all his own. You can tell when they are speaking in their own familiar way, and then abruptly the style will change. In Matthew and Luke, you will find bodies of sayings in both Gospels that are obviously quotations from Mark, that little Gospel that was written first. Then, when you compare all three of these Gospels, you will find that they have incorporated yet another common set of phrases from some common source behind all three of them.
There is a reference by one of the church fathers that Matthew wrote down the sayings of Christ while he traveled with Him, “not in Greek.” Some have proposed that this missing set of sayings recorded by Matthew may have been the source used by Matthew, Mark and Luke. But there is some source behind the synoptic Gospels that has come to be known as the hypothetical “Q” document that has never been located. And Luke, when he sits down to write, clearly says that others have tried to record these things, but he is going to put them in order and do the job right. So it is obvious that there were sayings of Jesus that were circulated in the early church. You can find certain common sayings recorded in the hymns of the first century and the writings of the church fathers.
Apply the simplest historical test of primary and secondary evidence; whatever source you use to find the so-called “good and wise” teachings of Jesus, in that source you will find Jesus making certain claims so organically and indigenously a part of His teachings that you destroy the sense of what is said if you take them out. He will be making claims about Himself that no mortal man can make without either being as nutty as a fruitcake, or a lying, deceiving fraud.
As C. L. Lewis says, when you confront the only Jesus to be found in history, He comes out of the pages of history as a man either of the order of someone capable of thinking he is a boiled egg, or He was an honest man worthy to have us take for granted the truth of the claims He made about Himself. Let’s briefly catalogue those claims.
Jesus did not preach an ethic apart from Himself; He did not preach an experience apart from Himself - He preached Himself! He said, “I am the door.” (John 10:9) “I am the light.” (John 8:12) “I am the water.” (John 4:14) “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” (John 10:9) “I am the door of the sheepfold.” (John 10:1-7) “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Again and again, He says, “Follow Me.”
Jesus made eternal life dependent upon making Him the center of the religious universe; all other claims flowed out of that. He claimed that the world had something wrong with it that could only be set right if He died, and that the spilling of His blood was a payment
of a ransom that redeemed the whole world. If that were not true, we are dealing with an insane megalomaniac, not with someone worthy to be worshipped.
I challenged my professors by asking them, “How much time have you spent on Jesus’ teachings?” I could ask six or seven questions and find that anyone who says, “Jesus is a good and wise teacher,” has either conjured up that idea in his own mind, or has accepted it as a cop-out from the rest of his “intellectual” friends. Jesus could be good, but demented: He could honestly believe the impossible about Himself, but be too demented and megalomaniac to know it could not be true of a mortal man. He could be wise, if He were deceitful enough and clever enough to make people believe what He said about Himself, but He could not be good. He could be good and not wise, or wise and not good; but He could not be both good and wise.
When I came to that understanding, I knew I had to settle the issue of the Resurrection. Because if you came preaching what Jesus preached, I too would think that you either ought to be committed or that you were one of the nicest deceiving rascals who ever lived. But, if you prophesied your death and resurrection, and three days later you came out of those grave clothes, which in that day were wrapped rather tightly, and came through that rock and through locked doors and sailed off into the blue, I would take another look at you.
That is the overwhelming thing about Jesus. He did exactly that. At the end of over three years of hard study, I decided I had to settle this. I was like a man obsessed; I collected every book I could find on the subject and began to apply some logical analysis.
I have heard every kind of theory given to explain away the Resurrection. The first theory was the one propounded by the first century Jewish leaders: that Jesus’ own disciples stole the body. Another theory was that those leaders took the body for fear that the Resurrection, which had been preached, might happen; they took the body and hid it away so no trick could be played on them. Another theory is that the Romans took the body. Another one is that the women went to the wrong tomb. With eyes swollen from grief, they went stumbling around in the dim light looking for Jesus’ body. They went to the wrong tomb and, lo and behold, it was empty. And they scattered away telling a story. There was no Resurrection; they just went to the wrong hole.
I have heard the resuscitation theories: Jesus wasn’t really dead, and in the coolness of the tomb, He revived and out He came. And the current theory, which is probably a better alternative than the others: it was all planned. At least the Jews who paid attention to Jesus’ sayings had the good sense to say, “He can’t be what He says He is, so He is a blasphemer and a crook.” So along comes the crucifixion myth, and that has to be the greatest con job in the world. The stage was set and He didn’t really die on that cross, which is just a variation of the resuscitation idea, though the variation is that it was a premeditated and expected resuscitation. Another theory is that all the disciples had hallucinations, glorified daydreams.
All the different theories really boil down to only two alternatives that any intelligent look at the situation requires: the disciples are either lying, or they are telling the truth. They are either honestly reporting what they saw, as gullible, dumb fishermen and tax collectors who didn’t believe it themselves until it happened, or else they premeditated the whole thing. They made up the story, and it took them seven weeks to work out he details. Then, after working out that super con job, on the day of Pentecost they blasted off the whole story in Jerusalem. They are either lying like that, or they are telling the truth.
Simple laws of logic forced me into a corner that nobody wants to be in. When you meet Jesus, you have a startling alternate: He is either a nut, a crook, or what He says He is. “Oh no, I don’t want to call Jesus a nut, and I sure don’t want to call Him a crook. So I’ll create one that didn’t exist, and pull out of His sayings nice little homilies, and sit Him up there on the shelf with Buddha and with Mohammed, and say ‘How Great Thou Art,’ as long as you don’t trouble me with those other ridiculous claims.” That is a god of their own creation. An alternative is forced: He is either a nut or a deceiver. Or, He is what He said He was. The Resurrection is the crux that makes the difference.
Likewise, when you look at the reporters, you have only two choices. Those who don’t want to have to face the Resurrection, the lazy-minded ones who don’t want to have to deal with the fact, try to explain the passion of the preachments by one of those other ridiculous stories. There are only two possibilities: the disciples either lied, or they told the truth. If they stole the body, obviously they lied. If the Romans took the body, who was most concerned to disprove the message: you and me today, or the Jews? To those Jewish leaders who had brought about His crucifixion, it was a matter of life and death, bread and prestige; if they could disprove the story, they would do it. That is why they made up the lie that the disciples took the body. All they had to do was ask Pilate, and you better believe they were motivated to ask. The theory that the Jewish leaders took the body has to be the least likely explanation. All they had to do was say, “Here, look at it. You nuts, stop preaching an empty tomb; here’s the body.” If the women went to the wrong tomb, just lead them to the right one; everybody knew where it was. It is a ridiculous theory, as you carry the ludicrousness of those ideas to their conclusion. Resuscitation? You don’t “resuscitate” from a Roman crucifixion!
But let me just cut the Gordian knot: they didn’t just preach an empty tomb; they preached a resurrected Savior with whom they conversed and touched and ate with. They didn’t just preach an empty tomb and a resurrected Savior; the kerygma or the preached word of the New Testament included the preaching of the Ascension. “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner.” (Acts 1:11) They preached all three elements, but all the theories do is explain an empty tomb. It still leaves the majority of the preachments of seen appearances and Ascension concocted by the disciples, and they are still put in that corner: either they are making up a lie and they know it, or they are honest reporters.
Furthermore, the empty tomb still stands as a mystery. You can go to Israel today and they will show you two separate, so-called “empty tombs.” Why? Because Jesus’ tomb was lost. Why is it you can find David’s tomb and you can find everybody else’s tomb? Jesus’ tomb was unimportant to His followers. Who wants to build a shrine to an empty tomb? It is far better to have a relationship with a living Savior. The reason the tomb disappeared was because there was no body in it. Anyone with common sense knows that. If there had been a body there, they would still be burning incense there. Four hundred years later, when the church became institutionalized and the artifacts became important, they then started scrounging around trying to find a tomb that the first generation Christians didn’t even care about. And they have never yet found, with certainty, which of the two is the right one. I lean toward Gordon’s Calvary and the tomb that is by it, but nobody knows for sure.
You are cornered when you look at the facts: these men either lied, or they told the truth. Now, there is no such thing as logical historical certainty. By definition, that means you have access to all logically available evidence. So, if you cannot be an eyewitness, all you can get is relative certainty. But, you can have a psychological reaction to evidence. That is
why a judge always cautions the jury: here comes the attorney, he blurts something out and the judge says, “Strike that from the record.” Too late, it is already engraved in the minds of the jurors; the psychological response is inevitable. I had to settle it for myself, as anybody else does, and this is the evidence of the Resurrection: I said these men are either lying and know they are lying, which is worse, or they are honest men. I could spend an hour on the internal evidences of their telling the truth, but I want to quickly race through the most convincing proofs today, that we might give a reason for our faith.
First, each of these men underwent a cataclysmic change. If you slice the history, on one side, they are of a certain personality character and, on the other side, they are different. Now, I believe that a lie can change a man, but we see a profound change in a group of men so graphically laid down, and in every case, the change is for the better. I find it difficult to believe that telling a lie would effect that change.
Peter was a messed-up, unstable, undependable, self-serving kind of rascal. The thing that stands out to me is Mark’s record of Peter. Mark is the young lad whom Paul refused to let travel with him because of his failure. Mark is rescued first by Barnabas, but then Mark spends years with the apostle Peter getting his training. Then, Mark writes his Gospel and his source was Peter. I challenge you to find in any Gospel as black a picture of the apostle Peter as you find in Mark’s Gospel. Now, if Peter were a lying scoundrel, he could have passed on a better story about himself to Mark. And Mark, who had failed so miserably, is also transformed and changed. The same lad Paul wouldn’t let travel with him because he ran away from the pressure, Paul calls for in his dying hour, saying, “Send Mark; he is good for me.” (2nd Timothy 4:11) In-between was Peter’s training. I visualize Mark saying to Peter, “I let Paul down; I failed” And I can just see Peter saying, “Let me tell you, Mark, what I did.”
You can see that record of Peter’s instability and failure and drawing back from the cross, then boom! Peter becomes the “rock” on which the church is formed. He can write to Christians scattered all across Asia and say, “Sure, you are going to be persecuted, but you are the children of a heavenly Father, act like it. You are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom; act like it. You are pilgrims heading for a heavenly land; act like it.” And he expresses amazement that they would love the One whom they have not seen. (1st Peter 1:8) Then, when the time of his death comes, Peter says, “Turn me upside down; I’m not worthy to die the way my Lord died,” a profound change from self-centered instability to rock-ribbed, committed, unchanging faith.
Look at John, the “son of thunder,” who would call fire from Heaven down on those who would oppose him. (Mark 3:17, Luke 9:54) You want the best seat in the Kingdom? John sent his mother to ask for it. (Matthew 20:20-24) On the other side, John becomes the epitome of love. The “son of thunder,” self-centered, jostle-for-the-best-seat mama’s boy, becomes a never-ceasing expresser of love. That is a profound change.
James, the Lord’s brother, would lay hands on Jesus because he thought “He was beside himself.” (Mark 3:21) The people who are the toughest on you are always your relatives. James becomes the pastor at Jerusalem, proclaiming this truth. A profound change.
Thomas is consistently the doubter. You can trace his pattern throughout the Gospels, and unless you look for it, you will miss it. Jesus is going to go through Samaria; it is a dangerous journey. Thomas jumps up and says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16) That is courage, that is love, but it is humanism. Thomas thought his Lord
would actually be killed by human hands, when Jesus had taught over and over again that “the shepherd lays his life down.” (John 10:11) In John 14, Jesus is talking about mansions, and he says, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Up to that point, Thomas understood everything. Jesus says that He is going to go away; you don’t’ have to be spiritual to understand that. He says that He is going to build mansions; you don’t have to be spiritual to understand that. He says that He is going to come back and get them; you don’t’ have to be spiritual to understand that. He says that He is going to take them where the mansions are; you don’t have to be spiritual to understand that. Now He says, “Where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas was listening to every word. He butts in and says, “I don’t know the way! We don’t know the way, so how can we know it?” The rest of them were just hopping around over the mansions, but Thomas was listening.
It took a genius to strike these character pictures. Who is the doubting one when the crucifixion comes and the Resurrection is reported? It is Thomas who says, “Not me. I won’t believe it until I see it. I have to touch the mark of the nails and put my hand right into His side.” And the day comes, Jesus is there, and He says, “Behold My hands and My side.” Don’t ever forget that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to believe without seeing,” but He also said, “Behold.” He offered to submit to the test, and Thomas falls down and says, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:24-29) And it is that doubting one who pierces the Himalayas to take the testimony of the gospel to the roughest land of philosophic conflict, never to waiver. To anyone with common sense who looks at this truth, it is inconceivable that a lie would effect that change.
Finally, you don’t pay the price they paid for a lie. Bartholomew was flayed to death, skinned alive with a whip. Peter was crucified upside down. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Every disciple, save one, paid with a martyr’s death. Mark was dragged to death in the streets of Alexandria. Luke was hanged by idolatrous priests on an olive tree in Greece. They paid a terrible price. You don’t do that for a lie.
But more importantly, St. Thomas Aquinas’# great proof of the Resurrection: they each paid that price, alone. Now, I could possibly conceive of these disciples making up a lie to save face: they invented the great myth, uniting to save face and sell this “bill of goods” to the world. As long as you kept the disciples together, there would be group pressure on them. I could believe that together they would hold out on the lie, for a time at least and possibly to the end, because there is something about group pressure that would hold them to the story. The astounding thing is they paid the supreme price for the story they told . . . alone!
Let’s imagine for a moment: you are Thomas. You have pierced the Himalayas; you don’t know where I am. There is no television, satellite, radio or telephone. Or, imagine you are the apostle Peter, you are up in Rome. You don’t know where Thomas is; I don’t know where you are. Suppose I am Bartholomew, down in Armenia. I am tied to a stake and they are going to skin me alive with a whip. All I have to do is say, “Wait a minute, fellas. I confess it was just a story to save face.” I would lose face with my converts, but I could catch a boat through the Mediterranean and alter meet up with you, and we could shake hands and you would never know the difference. That isn’t the way it happened. Each of them died alone. And never anywhere in the pages of history will you find the slightest variation from the uniform story. It is psychologically inconceivable that not one of these men, dying in remote corners of the then known world, would not renege on the story. You just don’t pay that price for a lie.
I remember saying this to my professor at Stanford. He replied, “I’m convinced. Those men believed what they were saying. So, one of your other facts must be wrong.” We just don’t want to believe.
I was in Israel when they were filming the movie Jesus Christ, Super Star. I never saw such garbage. The movie star has a star on the door of his dressing room; he is heralded with praise. They tell a nice story about a pathetic man and it ends with the crucifixion. The story they are telling ends with the storytellers getting on a bus and riding off from the location into the good life, leaving Jesus on the cross with no Resurrection. But the ones who told the real story of the Resurrection paid with their lives. Which one are you going to believe?
The Resurrection happened. And if it did, then the claims of Jesus had better be listened to. He is the door, He is the light, He is the way, He is the resurrection and He is the life. And that which Jesus illustrated in His own life, and became as the first fruits, is the source of my hope and the source of interpreting every experience I have. Why do I believe that if I pray and receive an experience, it is really of God, when a psychologist can explain it away from me? Because this Jesus said, “If I ask my Father for bread, He won’t give me a stone.” This Jesus said, “If I ask Him for a fish, He won’t give me a serpent.” (Matthew 7:9-10, Luke 11:11) So, when I am asking my Father for something His Word tells me that others of His children have, then what I get from Him will be from Him, and “greater is he that is in me, that he that is in the world.” (1st John 4:4)
I closed my books one summer day and I said, “What is my next move? Ask God to knock me down or message me every day, to let me know He is alive?” Some came to Jesus and said, “Show us a sign.” He said, “There will be no sign but the sign of Jonah,” which He interpreted as a sign of death and resurrection. (Matthew 12:38-40) It dawned on me, growing up in a revival movement, I had become too sign-oriented. God was not bound to give me any more signs; He already gave me one. My job was to act like the God who proved His integrity by bringing Jesus forth from the tomb would keep His Word for me.
The Resurrection: if Jesus came through that rock and sailed off, then I can believe the rest of it. He said, “Where two or more are gathered, I am there.” (Matthew 18:20) He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) I read of Elisha going out to war and the enemy’s army was surrounding him. The poor young servant was with him; he looked at the army of the Syrians, and he just about had a heart attack. Elisha said, “God, open his eyes.” Elisha didn’t say, “God, fill the hills;” he just said, “Open his eyes to see what is already there.” And that servant looked around and saw the chariots and horsemen and fire of God were on every hill (2nd Kings 6:17) I can believe that, because it is of the same order of God’s power as bringing Jesus forth from the tomb.
I closed my books, and I made a pledge that day. I said, “If I never felt anything until I died, then from now on, I’m going to order my life as though God meant what He said and He will do what He said. He said He would never leave me, so from this day forward, if I never feel His presence, I’m going to take for granted that the most real Presence with me all the time, everywhere, is Him, until He takes me to be with Him.” “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” not because of your experience. That which happened to Elisha’s servant was a manifestation of what was already there. Jesus’ presence is not dependent upon my attitude and action; the manifestation is but the appearance to me of what is already there. Our faith has a basis. We need to know that Christianity stands upon a fact of history that 1,900 years has not been able to undermine. That is what makes Christianity solid.
The gifts of the Spirit are not amazing at all to me. If I can believe that Jesus went through a rock, I sure do believe He can come into me. I literally believe that, as we can implant a little atomic generator that can power a nuclear submarine, there is Life that comes in us, the very Life which is God’s own Life, and takes up its abode in us. What we call the “gifts of the Spirit” are but the “expressions of the Spirit.” A force that can bring Jesus through a rock and lift Him up, and one day take us home to be with Him, can surely give the utterance to my tongue, can surely augment my mental powers with discernment and knowledge and wisdom, can open up the dialogue relationship and, as Romans 8 says, bypass my infirmities and take my prayers to God as an Intercessor on my behalf according to the will of God, and that is in addition to what Jesus is doing in verse 34, interceding at the throne.
The charismatic renewal is the most sensible expression of the Resurrection, so let’s not cheapen the reality of what God has done by making a world think you have to cut your head off to be spiritual. Jesus came down and moved into a tent of human flesh to make God understandable. (John 1:14) Yet, some “super spiritual” ones have been confusing it ever since, trying to put it back in never-never land. God intends to be understood. And this Easter day, walk out of here as ordinary Christians and say, “Thank God, I don’t have to go nuts to be a Christian.”
Re-printed with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott
Prayer Requests for April, 2013
For Isaac Douglas (Danville, Illinois), who is seeking another sentence reduction. (He had his sentence reduced once last year.)
For William McAllister’s (Taylorville, Illinois) friend, Shirley Ragland.
For Jamie Workman’s (Holdenville, Oklahoma) Mom who has Alzheimer’s disease.
For Robert Russell’s (Sumner, Illinois) Mom, Billie Rose, for health.
For Willie Clark (Lubbock, TX) who is being treated for cancer. His release from the hospital was delayed. He has to have two more months of chemotherapy.
For Marge Price (Fayetteville, Arkansas). Her husband, and our long-time friend, Don passed away this month.
For Bob McDaniel (Rodney’s Dad) who has been in the hospital for several weeks.
For Johnnie Dunnum (Lexington, Oklahoma). (His hernia was healed.)
For Michael Small’s (Illinois) step mother Suzanne. She is still being treated for vision problems.
For Joseph Runge’s Mother, Mavis (Illinois) who suffered a stroke several months ago. (She is regaining strength and feeling.)
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who is being treated for heart disease. He has had many recent trips to the hospital. (Dennis is stable for now.)
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health. He has diabetes.
For Cody Campbell (Florence, Arizona) who has been dealing with a serious throat infection. He also has a hernia problem not being treated.
For Jacob Cota (Prescott, Arizona) who has back problems (Sciatica nerve).
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for health.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who has a few health issues.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for a lower custody level.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). He is awaiting another court ruling.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free. (His lung cancer has been in remission since 2008.)
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
Note: The bolded parenthesis is for those of you who wrote in asking if any of our prayers were being answered.
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