By Rev. Mark Creech, Executive Director
Christian Action League
It’s called cryonics, which is the storage of a living organism at ultra-low temperatures in hopes of reviving and restoring that organism to the same living state as before it was preserved. In a cryonic suspension, someone who is legally dead but biologically viable undergoes this procedure.
That’s what the Thomas Donaldson case was all about in the early 1990s. In Donaldson v. Van de Kamp, Donaldson, a forty-six-year-old mathematician and computer software scientist facing a terminal illness from brain tumors, sought the declaration of a constitutional right to premortem cryonic suspension of his body and the assistance of others in achieving this state. He argued he had a constitutional right to achieve cryonic suspension even before his natural death. He believed this procedure was necessary to save his brain cells before the tumors ravaging them destroyed any ability for cryonics to work for him.
Donaldson said he desired that someday he would be awakened in another solar system, cured of his tumors, and resurrected to a new life.
The courts, however, dismissed Donaldson’s complaint, saying the cryonics process would involve aiding, encouraging, and advising a person on how to commit suicide – it would be a form of physician assisted death.
Think of it. Donaldson sued the state of California for the hope of immortality.
Everyone wants immortality. No one wants to die. But unfortunately, like Donaldson, most people search for it in all the wrong places. Some look for it in science or government just as Donaldson did. Others seek for a reason or a way to live forever from some religious cult and its teachings. But the only certainty of life eternal is in Him who said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).
Of course, anyone can claim the power to give immortality. Yet, only one person has ever proved he had the credentials and the genuine ability to grant it. History overwhelmingly demonstrates that Jesus Christ lived the most astonishing life of any human being, giving credibility to his claims to be the Son of God. Then three days after his death, he was reported to have literally risen to life from the dead.
There are many who have denied the resurrection of Jesus, stating alternative theories for it, but none with compelling evidence to prove such theories. When honest skeptics are presented with the question of naming three or four first-century sources that support their hypothesis, they typically answer with silence.
Nevertheless, the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is extraordinary. There are more eyewitness documents for the Resurrection than for anything else in the ancient world. And these documents include more historical details and figures that have been corroborated by more independent and external sources than anything else from the ancient world. Furthermore, there is more than a usual amount of circumstantial evidence supporting Jesus’ resurrection.
The preponderance of the evidence is profoundly in Jesus’ favor that he is who he said he was and he can do what he promises to do: “I am the resurrection and the life.” said Jesus. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).
Still unconvinced Jesus can actually make one immortal? Then perhaps a final matter of consideration would help – the incredible impact of Jesus’ life as expressed in James Francis’ essay of “One Solitary Life”:
“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30. Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never lived in a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property that he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.
[Twenty] centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned – put together – have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.”
If Jesus was not who he claimed to be – the Savior of mankind – then how could his life be the most influential of all time? Moreover, how could his life be the most influential ever….unless he really did raise from the dead?
Tom Donaldson’s suit for the hope of immortality turned out to be an empty prospect. Donaldson died in 2006 and is presumably cryopreserved by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. But wherever his spirit resides in the after life, he now knows the only assurance of immortality is in Christ. By his impeccable life and substitutionary death on the cross, Jesus sued for the authority to grant eternal life. He won his case in the court of God’s justice and the victory was signified by the Judge of all the earth raising him from the dead.
Now everyone who puts their faith in Jesus – and him alone – may actually have immortality. For Jesus promised: “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 14:9).
Saving faith is required to file claim to the benefits of what Christ has secured. The Bible describes saving faith as taking Christ at his Word concerning his identity, his view of one’s own self and the world. It’s recognizing one’s utter helplessness to find life’s meaning and purpose outside of him. It’s turning away from a life governed or defined by one’s own opinions, achievements, or aspirations, but turning to Jesus as the only standard by which to measure all of life. It’s finding the redemptive work of Christ’s blood atonement sufficient for the forgiveness and cleansing of all moral failure. It’s personally looking to him to be one’s own Savior and Lord.
Standing before everyone are two alternatives – the choice to get involved in the calling of God upon one’s life and finding the joy and purpose that come through knowing and following Christ; or to be like Tom Donaldson and all the others who put their trust for life and immortality in a false expectation.
Christ sued for the authority to grant immortality to those who believe in him. He won his case in the Most Supreme Court!!! And his resurrection gaveled the ruling for all eternity. Therefore, choose him, put your life and future in his hands – trust him with your whole heart!