How could you destroy Christianity? Many have tried through force. From the earliest years of the church, people have been trying to tear it down. The religious leaders in Jerusalem did their best (Acts 5:40), as did Saul (Acts 9:1-2). Ancient Rome tried. Today, Christian leaders and lay people are regularly discriminated against, beaten, murdered, and more. Yet the church continues.
Others have tried to destroy it from within by bringing in practices that go against the Bible, or bringing in teaching to undermine the core message. In the earliest days there was a move to divide Christians by race (Gal 2:11-14). There was also a move to not recognise that Jesus not only God, but also a man (1 John 4:1-3). Today, there are many practices and beliefs within what are called churches which are not biblical and lead people down the garden path. Yet the church continues.
There is only one sure-fire way to destroy Christianity: show that Jesus didn’t rise. Paul is adamant that if you do that, then Christians have nothing to hold on to.
‘If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain .. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins … If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Cor 15:14, 17, 19).
Only Christianity, of all the religions, has an historical event upon which it hangs its hat. You can’t disprove that someone had a vision in a cave (Islam) or a realisation under a tree (Buddhism). But Christianity is founded on an empty tomb. This means his death worked as a sacrifice. Have you found forgiveness in the risen Lord?
Easter is one of those wonderful times of the year for us to get back to the basics, and to once again ask the question “why?”
“Why did Jesus have to die?” “Why would Christians celebrate this event?” “Why would we decorate our churches with crosses, or wear crosses around our necks?”
Consider Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Think about what Paul says there – He’s already rammed home the point that all people are sinful. We can’t minimise or balance out our sin by good deeds – we’re guilty of crimes against the God who gives us life and breath and everything else.
So Paul says what our punishment is. “The wages of sin is death.” And we’ve earned our wages. We’ve done the crime, now we do the time.
But that’s not the end of the story! This is where Easter comes in, because the one person who didn’t earn those horrible wages is the one who received them! Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t, died the death we should have, and gives us a free gift which we didn’t deserve and couldn’t earn. A gift we receive when we repent and believe: Eternal life.
This is the gospel, the good news. This is why we celebrate Easter. Christ died to save sinners, to give them eternal life. And he proved it by being raised to life again himself. The one who gives life freely is alive now.
Why celebrate Easter? Because the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Join us this Easter as we consider the work of Jesus on the cross and rejoice that God raised him from the dead.