By Dr. Mark H. Creech
Christian Action League
Dr. Billy Graham says that once when he visited Russia, he heard an incredible story about a Russian village. Sometime after the Bolshevik revolution, a local Communist leader was sent to advocate for all the supposed virtues of Communism and to sway the people away from religion, which Karl Marx had argued was “the opium of the people.” After a long and passionate, vehement speech by the Communist leader, he said to the local Christian pastor quite contemptuously: “I will give you five minutes to reply.” The pastor responded, “I won’t need five minutes, only five seconds.” He then rose to the platform and gave the Easter greeting: “The Lord is risen!” With one loud concerted voice, the villagers thundered back: “He is risen indeed!”
A little more than two millennia ago, the apostle Paul stood on the slopes of Mars Hill in Athens – that great center of intelligentsia – the place where Socrates, Plato and Aristotle had taught – a place of unprecedented culture – and insisted that all of it simply represented nothing more than an effort of mankind to discover truth in the midst of life. He essentially contended that their search was ineffectual – none of their deepest problems had been resolved. And with the beauty of the Acropolis in full view across the valley, Paul argued, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men 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 men by raising him [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
These words by the apostle caused consternation then, and do the same today. When I was in India as a short-term missionary, many of the Indian people told me that few people would oppose my preaching of Jesus as a great religious leader. But what would produce anger is if I preached that Jesus was the one and only true God – that all men were destined to be judged by him. If I were to contend that He is Lord of the world – that this universe belongs to him and all must live by his rules and ultimately be judged and examined on his terms – this message, I was rightly warned, would result in hostility, rejection and even persecution.
Nevertheless, despite the way the world all too often dismisses it, this is exactly the message of the resurrection – the holiday we celebrate this week. As the apostle Paul contended, the fact of the resurrection proves that Jesus is Lord. It is the heart of the Christian evangel.
Skeptics have certainly aimed their best guns at the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And why wouldn’t they? To admit to the truth of the resurrection is to have to admit that Christ is indeed the redeemer and hope of the world – the one to whom all men from every tribe and tongue is accountable.
Still, no credible theory to repudiate Christ’s resurrection has ever succeeded. The late Dr. D. James Kennedy once noted, “In over twenty years of studying the resurrection, I have found that it is like an island guarded by all sorts of reefs positioned around it in concentric circles. Any ship that attempts to get through to destroy that island will be grounded on one or another of these reefs…All one has to do to be even more convinced about the resurrection of Christ is to examine these theories to see how vain they are.”
Kennedy also rightly contended, “The evidence for the resurrection of Christ, in the minds of those who have taken the time to examine it, is very, very significant. I have met many people who do not believe in the resurrection of Christ, but I have never met one person who has read even a single book on the evidences for the resurrection who did not believe it.”
During the campaign for the Marriage Protection Amendment in North Carolina, I have often heard the opposition say that the people who are trying to protect marriage as one man and one woman are on the wrong side of history. I strongly beg to differ with that assertion. If the resurrection of Jesus says anything, it demonstrably declares those who trust, love, and obey him are the ones who are on the right side of truth and history. History, mind you, is His-Story (talking about Jesus). And anything that repudiates God’s order, whether it’s advocating for gay marriage – something that defiles the glorious picture of the relationship between Christ and his bride the church (Ephesians 5:22-32) – or any other challenge, is clearly on the wrong side of history.
The Scriptures teach the resurrection of Jesus was like the Gettysburg of God’s battle with the forces of evil. At Gettysburg everything turned around for the Union forces and the Civil War was essentially won. It would only be a matter of time before the Union would completely prevail in the conflict. The Bible teaches something similar happened at the resurrection of Christ. At the resurrection, victory over evil in the universe was secured and Christ’s lordship established. And it’s just a matter of time before Christ’s rule on the earth is brought to full fruition.
So where is history really headed? Psalm 110:1 says: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.”
In other words, the resurrection is proof that God has ordained Christ to be the ruler and judge of all the earth. Therefore, God is busy breaking down every philosophy, every political system, every false religion, and every enemy of Jesus, making them a foot stool for his feet. The enemies of Christ may be allowed to prosper for a while, but every one of them will be brought down if they don’t repent. So to reject Christ and his lordship is to make oneself an enemy of him and to be on the wrong side of history.
So what about you? In light of the evidence of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, will you believe? Will you trust him for the forgiveness of your sins? Will you surrender to him as your Lord? There are only two options: Repent and believe or become a footstool.
In the face of great antagonism to Christ and the Christian way today – the skepticism of academia – the sacrilege of pop culture – the railings of the politically correct – the mocking of unbelief – to the Easter greeting, “The Lord is risen,” won’t you thunder back from your heart of hearts, “He is risen indeed”?
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).