Philosophy Lite: Our great hope is the resurrection
Tomorrow, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. There will be larger crowds in our churches for this event than when we celebrated Christmas last year.
When Jesus came into the world, He came to die. His death and resurrection was the greatest act of history and His resurrection guarantees that we will all rise again - the saints to glory and the unbelievers to everlasting shame.
There is not a lot in the Old Testament about heaven, except to say that it is the abode of God.
In the early days of Judaism, the idea of an afterlife was uncertain; many believed in Sheol, a shadowy abode of the dead; it was spoken of as the equivalent of the grave.
The Saducees of Jesus day did not even believe in the resurrection.
Salvation in the Old Testament isn't discussed primarily in terms of "going to heaven - but in terms of belonging to God" as his people.
In Psalm 65, David laments, "For in death, there is no remembrance of thee; in Sheol who can give thee praise?" And yet, on the positive side, he said in Psalm 16:9-11, "Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption."
While the word resurrection does not appear at all in the Old Testament, the word appears in the New Testament 41 times. Jesus came for more than to die and be resurrected, he cleared up a lot of questions about how we were to live. He gave us a new covenant of Grace and the assurance of eternal life.
The idea of eternal life is in our genes, so to speak. The Bible says, He hath put eternity in our hearts.
Blaise Pascal said, "Which is harder, to be born, or to rise again?"
Man recognizes his greatness and shudders to think that a creation of such importance should not be immortal.
Someone has said that eternity is not something that is coming - we are in it now. While the body may die and suffer decay, the human soul does not die. The near-death experiences of thousands of people testify of their spiritual body experiencing a touch of heaven. The idea of the resurrection and eternal life can give people the incentive to endure great trials.
Fredrick Nietzsche said "He who has a why can endure any how."
Frank Morrison was an English journalist who set out to prove that Jesus' resurrection was a myth. His probings however, led him to discover the validity of the biblical record and his book has become a classic on the subject.
The apostle Paul in a letter to the Corinthians wrote, "God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."
This is our great hope. Happy Easter to all; Sing Hallelujah!
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.