I was recently reading that one of the most compelling arguments for the Christian faith is the simple fact that it survived. If you think about it, the odds against it were incredible.
Andy Stanley says:
If you look at the typical building blocks that result in the longevity of a movement, Christianity has none of them. The longest-enduring movements throughout history were political interests backed by military might or social efforts fueled by the power of the people. Some movements had superior weapons; others had powerful unions. Even the peaceful protests that we know of succeeded because they appealed to the sympathies of the masses and resulted in political power.
Yet the first century Christians were not at all organized and were basically considered to be cults in places where they resided. They were utterly powerless against all the forces that surrounded them. And yet the early church survived and continued to grow. It eventually became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
How can we explain this?
Clearly, the primary reason was the Resurrection of Christ. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, Christianity would have been dead in the water. It was the risen Christ that emboldened those early believers to go out and penetrate the Roman culture.
Back in 2005, Newsweek magazine had an article that examined all the historical evidence and data for the Resurrection of Jesus. Many were shocked because the article concluded that it is almost certain that Christ had risen from the dead. The writers and editors came to this conclusion because, historically, there is no other possible alternative explanation for the birth of the Christian Church, other than the fact that the early Christians had indeed seen the risen Christ.
Clearly, it was the Resurrection that enabled the early Christians to possess the courage to lay down their lives for their faith. As many historians have noted, the primary reason that so many pagans were won over to the Christian faith was because “Christians died well.”
In II Corinthians 1: 9, 10, the Apostle Paul speaks of living with the sentence of death consistently hanging over him. He goes on to say that, “I am learning to not trust in myself, but in the God who raises the dead.” Paul then concludes with these words, “It is upon Him whom I have set my hopes.”
Paul is not putting his hope in just any god or spiritual being but in the God who raises the dead.
This is a great question we all should ask: As finite human beings who will one day face death, upon whom or what have we set our hopes?
* Since Richard will be on vacation with his family this week, and because next Monday is the day after Easter, there will be no blog posted next week, the week of Monday April 6.