TOPIC:“The Hope That Causes Us To Sing”
by Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
TEXT:I Peter 1:1-7
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the crowning event in the life of Jesus. The very foundation of Christianity stands or falls with the resurrection of Christ. It was the Apostle Paul who declared: "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain...And if Christ be not raised...ye are yet in your sins" (I Corinthians 15:14, 17). And as he further states: "we are of all men most miserable" (I Corinthians 15:19). Now what is Paul telling us here? If the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a hoax, then our preaching is useless, our faith is nothing, our forgiveness null and void, and we are the most pitiful people in the world. But the resurrection is an established fact.
The resurrection was the one single event that literally transformed those early disciples from a bunch of fearful workers into a company of courageous witnesses. Their hopes were dead but came alive again with the news of our Lord's resurrection. After His death these followers of Jesus were disillusioned, defeated and discouraged. They were ready to throw in the towel. Their despair caused them to desert Christ and go back to their fishing. But once they heard of His being raised from the dead they became dynamic, dedicated and disciplined. Mary the mourner became a missionary. Peter the liar became a leader. Thomas the doubter became a declarer. Paul the persecutor became a preacher. You can scarcely believe the change that came over them.
The truth of the resurrection gave boldness to their testimony and gave courage to their witness. From fearful they became fearless. Persecution could not silence them. We read of them: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marveled” (Acts 4:13). “The Lord is risen!” now became their thrilling message. I ask: How do you explain this dramatic transformation and dynamic change in this group of defeated disciples? What gave them the courage to be beaten, persecuted, and eventually, put to death for their faith? What gave Paul and Silas such hope that caused them as prisoners at Philippi to sing praises unto God at midnight?
It was their belief in the historical fact that Christ was convincingly and truthfully alive. These eye witnesses testify to the actuality, the reality, and the absolute certainty of the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. They saw Christ, touched Him, walked with Him, talked to Him, and ate with Him. We can confirm that on at least ten different occasions while on earth the living Christ visibly presented Himself to human eyes and was personally touched by human hands.
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