In this season of Easter we have an incredible opportunity to have a conversation with our friends and family about what Christianity is REALLY all about.

What a joyful message of hope we have to share with the world! What a declaration of confidence with certainty! Forgiveness of sins!! Proven by a risen Savior!! Paul gives one of the clearest evidences of the gospel in the book of Corinthians:

1Co 15:3-4 – I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me: that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.…

Paul was expecting people to view Christianity as a faith supported by evidence, not as a religion of superstition or blind faith. Paul emphasizes that the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection had been predicted with accuracy and precision hundreds of years before they occurred: “…just as the Scriptures said”. But he goes even further…

1Co 15:17 – And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.

Paul says a lack of the RESURRECTION of Christ would mean that we are still guilty of our sins. But every Christian knows that it is the DEATH of Christ that has paid the penalty for our sins and earned us a righteousness before God. Why then does Paul say that if Jesus has not been RAISED that we are still guilty of our sins? Because Jesus said His resurrection would be the PROOF that He was who He said He was (God), and that He had the power to do what He said He would do (die a death that would purchase our salvation from sins).

John 10:17-18 – I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again.

The empty tomb is the final word on the truth of Christianity, on the message of Jesus’ offer of salvation to everyone who would believe in Him. We know that since Jesus DID rise from the dead we can trust that our sins ARE forgiven when we accept His sacrifice for us.

In summary, the world is searching for answers. They are feeling confused and unsafe. They are tired of the false promises that continue to disappoint, and the narrative that continues to change. Many are starting to realize that they’ve been lied to, and that they continue to be lied to. They are desperate for something credible and real. They are searching for a solution that actually works. We have that solution. We have the truth.

The Ambassadors Forum is working hard to equip you to share the confident joy that we have in Christ. Please join us for one of our engaging monthly forums where you can ask your hard questions and be equipped to find good answers:
  • Apr. 16 – “The Shocking Things that are Being Taught in Our Schools” by Adrian Toader
  • May 21 – “Biblical Standards for Justice“ by Herb Grey
  • Jun. 18 – “Accurate History as a Christian Apologetic” by Caleb Hilbert
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Hard Question Corner

"How do we know that Jesus is God, and not a creation, like the Jehovah Witnesses (JW’s) say?"

This really is one of the best questions we can ask, since the deity of Christ is one of the central doctrines of our Christian faith.
The answer is that the Bible clearly teaches it throughout, it was Jesus’ own claim Himself, and His resurrection is the most compelling historical truth to confirm it. Here are a few verses that leave no question that Jesus was God (and therefore NOT CREATED):

John 1:1, 14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

John 10:30-33 – (Jesus speaking) “I and the Father are one. ” The Jews then picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Colossians 2:9 – For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.

If Scripture is so clear, how do JW’s come to the incorrect conclusion that Jesus WAS created? Ironically, they try to use other parts of the Bible to support this notion. Below is a verse from their translation, the New World Translation (NWT):

Colossians 1:15 (NWT) – He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

They claim that the word “firstborn” means he was born, which means he was created. But is that how the Bible always uses that term? Many words have a large “semantic range”, a fancy phrase that means they can have different meanings depending on the CONTEXT. “Firstborn” can literally mean “the first one born in a family” (1st example below), but it is also often used as a title of supremacy (2nd example below):

Genesis 41:50-52 – Two sons were born to Joseph… [he] called the name of the firstborn Manasseh… The name of the second [son] he called Ephraim.

Jeremiah 31:9 – …I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Even though Manasseh was born before his brother Ephraim, it was Ephraim whom Jeremiah recorded as God calling the “firstborn” because of the position of honor that he held in God’s kingdom (you can read Genesis 48 for more background on this). It’s clear from context and the rest of the Bible that this is how Paul is using the word “firstborn” to describe Jesus in Colossians as well. A modern translation that does a good job of getting this right is the New Living Translation (NLT):

Colossians 1:15 (NLT) – Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.

As you can see, if you come to the Bible with incorrect presuppositions, or only consider a few verses, or take phrases out of context, you will end in confusion. But taken as a whole, especially with submission to the Holy Spirit as our guide, the whole Bible as the counsel of God is plain truth, truth that sets us free!

Evidence for the Resurrection

Part 4: Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them
Last month, we looked at historical written evidence, Biblical and extra-Biblical, testifying that Jesus was indeed crucified.
This month we will show that Jesus’ disciples truly believed He rose from the grave and appeared to them.

Written Evidence
Scripture tells us that Paul, an apostle of Jesus, knew and worked with the other apostles after his Damascus road experience. Among many other of his quotes in scripture, he said “Jesus’ resurrection is what we preach (1 Cor. 15:10)”. Of course, the Gospels present detailed evidence of Christ’s resurrection and appearances. Circular reasoning! you might say... Keep in mind that the New Testament is not one book written by one person (like the Koran), but a compendium of 27 books and letters written by multiple authors at different times and in different places. Scholars consider these writings to have as much standing as any other historical document. That they were compiled into a book we call the Holy Bible does not detract from their historicity.

The early church fathers testified to the resurrection in their writings.
  • Clement, bishop of Rome (c. 30 – 100) who, according to Polycarp and Tertullian, knew and fellowshipped with the apostles and wrote about their eyewitness experiences.
  • Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (c. 60 – 155) who according to Irenaeus also knew the apostles and was taught by them.
  • Tertullian testified to the martyrdoms of the apostles and said that anyone could find evidence of that fact in a (no longer extant) document named “The Lives of the Caesars” if they didn’t want to believe Christian records.
  • The list goes on and includes Ignatius, Origen, Dionysius of Corinth, etc.
You may ask... why is this important? Surely, we have observed that followers of other religions have been martyrs, having died for beliefs they truly and earnestly held to. Again, you may ask... what’s the difference between the disciple’s deaths and the deaths of followers of any other religion?

Martyrs of other religions come by their beliefs through tradition. Yes, they truly believe in what they die for, but they were not eyewitnesses to a seminal event that fostered their belief system. In contrast, the disciples walked with Jesus and witnessed his ministry on earth including His crucifixion. If the disciples’ beliefs were established through tradition, they would have held firmly to the prevailing Jewish beliefs of the time. Instead, they actually witnessed the resurrection, this one event changing their lives dramatically, such that they went against long-standing tradition and attested to it with their very lives. Martyrs today die for what they believe to be true. The disciples died for what they had observed and knew to be true!

Next month, we will address minimal facts 3) Paul, the church persecutor, was suddenly changed, and 4) Jesus’ brother James, a known skeptic, suddenly changed.

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