The Resurrection of Jesus—Our Own Experience!

7 04 2012

When speaking of the resurrection, we Christians often try to muster some quality, written, historical evidence, to advance ‘The Case For Christ‘. This is sometimes called ‘Apologetics’.

We also point to the radical change of heart and hope and new boldness, shown forth by the once fearful, and denying disciples.

We point to the details of the many ancient prophecies, (David, Moses, Isaiah and others), that are seemingly, arguably fulfilled by Jesus life, death and resurrection.

We point to the baptising preaching activity of John the baptist, before he was murdered, and his pointing to Jesus. We point to the witness of Stephen before he was murdered. We point to the many people in history—who would rather die than deny Jesus—before they were murdered.

We point to the unusual conversion of a famous Pharisee, Paul (Saul), who was so hostile to the message about Jesus, before he so suddenly became a Christian. We point to the large number of people who actually touched, heard, saw and witnessed the Risen Jesus alive after his crucifixion. There were at least 10 occasions, recorded in the Bible.

We point to the historical reliability of the New Testament itself.

We point to the stunning record that over 500 people saw Jesus alive, after his death, at one time in Galilee.

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died (1Corinthians 15:6).

In the laws of evidence, whenever a witness to an event is called before a court, and swears to tell ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth‘, then the court is bound to listen carefully to what the witness has seen and heard, and to take it on face value. And believe the good will of the witness, until other contrary factors may show that the face value of the story lacks credibility.
This is still what all people are bound to do when they see and hear the written evidence of so many accurate and valuable texts from the writers in the early church, as found in the Bible.
However, there is one under-estimated testimony or witness to Jesus Living Presence which it is very important to highlight. And that is, our own story! Our own experience. And that is not merely our experiences! But the very experience of faith itself, which we know!
People are prone to dismiss our ‘experience’ as somehow deluded. Or they see our coming to be a Christian, as a weak moment in our lives, when we needed outside help. Or as some feigned experience, of a Person, that is not really there. However, the fact is that Christians are not primary telling of the things ‘they do’, to try to honour God. Rather we are speaking of the ongoing experience that we have, of the Risen Christ Jesus guiding our lives, and effecting them in highly significance ways. However, in saying that, what we realise, is that the Christ we know by faith is far greater than our experiences of Him, however good and fine – or not – they may be. Faith receives the creative impact of Jesus Christ.
As P. T. Forsyth says: “We know him by faith to be much more than he has ever been to our experience”.
“I know him, and the Church knows Him, as a person of infinite power to create fresh experience of Himself, which is experience of God. My contact with Him by faith is continually deepening my experience of him. And, as my experience deepens, it brings home a Christ objective in history, and creative of the experience, and of the life, and the deeds of a whole vast Church, meant, and moving, to subdue mankind not to itself, but to the faith of the Gospel.” (from The Person and Place of Jesus Christ, P. T. Forsyth, Independent Press, London, 1909, p. 203)
He goes on to say:
“My experienced salvation is not a passing impression but a life of faith. It is not a subjective frame but an objective relation, and even transaction. The peace of God is not a glassy calm but mighty confidence. My experience here is the consciousness not of an impression on me, but of an act in me, and by me.” (p. 204)
What Christ has done for me has become possible only by what He did more powerfully for others whose faith and experience have been deeper and richer than mine, but who reflect my experience all the same, even while they diversify and enlarge it mightily. Standing over my experience is the experience of the whole evangelical succession. And standing over that is the historic fact of Christ’s own person, and His consciousness of himself (“All things are delivered to me of the Father”) as Lord of the world, Lord of nature in miracle, of the soul in redemption, and of the future in judgment.” (p. 204-205)
“Faith is the grand venture in which we commit our whole soul and future to the confidence that Christ is not an illusion but the reality of God. “
So, as we celebrate Easter, we do so with others. Many others. Centuries of others, for whom the reality of faith is greater than the other things in life that they have been fairly certain about. Praise God, for faith’s certainty. And for the reality we know, and our small experience of such a greatness and such a mighty message, and wonderful Lord.Image
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