Today we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On Sunday we celebrate his resurrection. What both of these historical events deal with are God's love for us, and his providing redemption for us from our sins: those sins which effectually separated us from God because of his perfect righteousness.
Many have attempted, without success, to deny Christ's existence. With historical sources too numerous to deny, they were left with denying that he was who he claimed to be: the Messiah, the son of the living God.
The historical record is replete with references to not only Christ's existence, but his crucifixion and resurrection as well. To begin with, all of the apostles fled when he was arrested in the garden. They then hid from the authorities, fearing for their very lives. However, after his resurrection, the apostles were no longer afraid, but boldly proclaimed the Gospel in public. James was the first to be executed. The remaining 10 all suffered persecution. All suffered a martyr's death except for John. These facts are recorded in secular records.
What was it that so changed the apostles from cowards into fearless men? The only thing that could have changed them so dramatically was the fact that they had seen the resurrected Christ. That would have been the only thing that could have given them the courage to go through what they went through.
The very first witnesses to the resurrection were women who followed Christ. The fact that this is recorded further attests to the credibility of his resurrection. In that culture, at that time, a woman's testimony was not considered reliable. This not only gives credibility to historicity of the resurrection, but it also elevated the status of women, in the fact that their testimony was accepted for the first time.
If this had been a made up story, no one would have thought to provide the testimony of women as proof of his resurrection.
In addition, we only have to acknowledge the positive impact that the advent of Christianity has had on the world. It was Christianity that spawned the birth of science. Virtually every scientific discipline was founded or pioneered by scientists who were unapologetic Christians: that despite the fact that many so called scientists deny him today.
The printing press was invented by Gutenberg to mass produce the Bible. Public education was begun so that everyone could learn to read the scriptures and govern themselves by the principles contained therein. Groups like the YMCA, the Young Men's Christian Association, and the Red Cross were all founded by Christians to serve their fellow man.
The principle of free enterprise capitalism comes from the teachings of the Apostle Paul in II Thessalonians 3:10: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Lest anyone thinks that that was Paul's doctrine alone, consider what Paul said in Galatians 1:11-12: “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received by revelation from Jesus Christ.
The advent of Christianity and the principles that are contained therein provided the inspiration to found the United States of America, the greatest nation in the history of the world. Sadly, much of the luster has been lost as we disavow the principles on which we were founded.
More importantly, however, is what we do, not only as individuals, but as a people, concerning God's reaching out to us. God wants to reconcile us to him. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ satisfied God's righteousness in that our sins had to be paid for. If we paid for them, we would all be eternally separated from God. Christ's resurrection provides our justification and enables us to fellowship with God, not only now, but in the future, throughout all eternity.
God's love was for us was so great that his son suffered an ignominious death in our place. This he did for us to restore our relationship, which we, through our sin, had broken.
God has reached out to us through Jesus Christ and wants to have an intimate relationship with us on the spiritual level. I encourage all to accept that offer God has made and to restore a right relationship with God. There is no one thing that you can do that is so important.
I encourage all who haven't yet embraced Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, to do so today. It will be the most important, consequential decision that you will ever make.
Douglas Wellman is a resident of Fort Wayne.