This is the question I was asked to answer and present this Easter morning at our home church, Memorial Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
This sent me on an investigative hunt not only through the most compelling evidence, the “many proofs” as Luke states (Acts1.3) in the Scriptures, but outside it. This question takes the resurrection out of the realm of philosophy and into the realm of history. We claim and put our all our faith in this event that we believe actually occurred in human history. That event, simply, either did or did not happen.
One convincing truth is the changed lives, and even more powerful, the deaths of those who saw the resurrected Jesus Christ.
These men were commanded by their risen Savior to go into all the world, preach and make disciples and teach them to obey His commands. And they did so. But, rather than deny the truth they knew and were spreading all over the world, they accepted the following consequences;
- Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome.
- James was beheaded in Judea.
- John was exiled to Patmos and either died there or was beheaded.
- Andrew was whipped and crucified in Greece.
- Thomas was speared to death in India.
- Philip was whipped and crucified in Egypt.
- Bartholomew was skinned alive in Armenia.
- Thaddaeus was crucified in Persia.
- Matthew was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
- Simon was crucified in England.
- James was beaten and stoned to death in Jerusalem.
- Matthais was burned alive in Syria.
- Paul was beheaded in Rome.
- Stephen was stoned to death in Jerusalem.
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Before a crowd of angry opponents of the gospel, threatening to kill him, Stephen was granted a glimpse into heaven;
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts7.55-56
Enraged, the crowd rushed at Stephen, dragged him away and murdered him. With courage and grace from the Spirit and glimpse of his Savior ready to receive him, Stephen, cried out for his murderers to be forgiven for this evil.
I wonder how a glimpse of our risen Savior would change our behavior. It turned the apostles for cowards hiding behind locked doors, to bold witnesses of the gospel throughout the world, enduring bearings, imprisonments and death from all sides.
How would it impact our conversations with neighbors, co-workers, family and friends?
How would it impact how we spend our short time in this life?
How would it impact our urgency to share what we know and have experienced?
We have been blessed to live in an age where we do not get to see Jesus physically. “Blessed are those that have not seen yet have believed (Jn20.29).” We get to experience the risen Christ in many other ways however. And this truth and gospel we know, because we have witnessed, compels us on. And still, God is commanding and sending his disciples all over the world. We take this same power and Spirit wherever God has us.
Father, thank you! Thank you for opening our eyes and rescuing us from our darkness. Thank you for grace and mercy from our wickedness. Thank you for your Holy Spirit filling us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Thank you that you are ever with us. Allow these truths and promises to give us courage to share you love with boldness. Amen. Amen.
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16.9
Our heart and passion from God is to be in South Africa as soon as possible. We desire to share the love we have been shown and teach others to do the same. Ultimately, we want to see Christ known among all the nations and all the glory given to Him who is worthy! Amen. Yet, and as His plan is higher and better than ours, God directs our steps. We have full confidence in the why and what, while we depend on His how and when.
If He wills for us to arrive in SA as soon as possible according to our new timeline, our new target is September. We need training and financial clearance before we can leave. And to clear training, we need to attend a 2-week Field Prep Seminar at the end of this month. To attend, we must be at 85%. We are praying for 6 partners in 6 days that could meet this need. God provides. He always has. He will glorify Himself in all circumstances and we praise Him because no matter what, we know He is good and His plans are better than ours.
Would you pray for his glory to be known here and now and in South Africa?
Would you pray for the impact of the reality Christ has risen to change how you talk and act with urgency where God has placed you right now?
Pray with us that God might provide for us as only He can.
6 partners in 6 days.
South Africa in September. Cleared not by financial requirements or training requirements, but cleared and sent by God and His Church.
6 partners in 6 days.
Amen. May it be so. All glory to God.