Seeing isnt believing when it comes to resurrection faith. Something much deeper must happen in a persons heart or they wont believe even if Jesus stands in front of them. The real scandal surrounding the resurrection was the pathetic response by Jesus own disciples. Though He had repeatedly told them He would come back in three days, their first response to the empty tomb was to wonder who stole the body. When some of the women reported seeing Him alive they dismissed their report as delusion. It gets worse. Even when He stood in front of them and they saw Him with their own eyes they doubted. Apparently the human brain is so conditioned to the finality of death that accepting a resurrection, or for that matter even life after death, meets a profound psychological block. No matter what we may say religiously, death is death to us and it takes a miracle in our own hearts to actually accept the fact that God raises the dead (Mt 28:17).
Today lets listen to the resurrection account again, enjoying the beauty of it, but also observing the unbelief in so many who saw evidence of His resurrection firsthand. And then lets watch as resurrection faith finally dawns in their hearts. Of course, this scenario confronts us with the question, do we really believe He is risen, and if not what is this wonderful faith and how would someone who longs to truly believe, receive it?
How important is resurrection faith?
Listen to what Paul says:
if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Ro 10:9, 10)
Its not enough to hear a report about Jesus resurrection. I must actually believe it happened in my heart. But as we noted, thats easier said than done, yet Paul says to be saved:
1) I must be willing to unashamedly confess Jesus as my Lord before others
Matthew 10:32 - Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven
Ultimately, what comes out of my mouth will reveal what I really believe in my heart.
Matthew 12:34 - For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
2) I must believe Jesus rose from the dead and is alive with me now. In other words, I must meet Him in my spirit and have an ongoing relationship with Him. He cannot be to me a martyred human or a dead prophet. He must be alive and with me now.
To understand this lets remember what we mean by the word heart. In some situations you use the word to point to someones emotions, but thats not what Jesus and Paul mean by it. They use the word to identify the essential person or spirit which animates each of us. Its the eternal part of me and you. You might say, the real me or you. So, to believe in my heart means to recognize and accept Him in my spirit. And if that foundational encounter hasnt happened, the eyes of a person refuse to see Jesus even when He is standing in front of them. Our eyes can only see what our heart is willing to believe.
What is faith? Faith is a:
1) Gift (Eph 2:8, 9)
God gives faith as a gift. It comes as a revelation to the heart which cant be
achieved by careful reasoning.
Evaluating facts might remove a mental obstacle, but cant produce faith itself. That is something God alone can give. To whom does He give this gift? He gives the gift of faith to:
a) Those willing to accept what their spirit hears and sees (Mt 11:25, 26), humbly submitting to His authority.
b) Those who know they need mercy acknowledging they have violated the voice of their conscience and are sorry rather than defiant.
2) Miracle (Ro 10:12-17)
There is something about believing the promises of scripture that is essential to opening our eyes to the resurrected Christ. Standing in front of them the resurrected Jesus pointed His disciples to the Word: (Lk 24:25-27, 32, 44-48; also Lk 16:30, 31).
When God speaks to us by the Spirit or through the written Word, how do we respond? Abraham chose to believe and the miracle took place (Ge 15:5, 6; Ro 4:17-22)
God is the One who must place the miracle of faith in us, but we are the ones who must open the door of our hearts (Rev 3:20) to accept His gift. Our natural minds will always struggle against this because surrender is costly and the spiritual world seems confusing.
God can encounter us just as well through His written Word as though a personal visit, because the real obstacle is our will not our intellectual questions.
Faith is not a once-for-all revelation. It is a spiritual awakening that must be watered and fed.
Colossians 2:5-8 (vs 9-15 describe our faith).
1 Thessalonians 5:11 - Therefore encourage one another and build up one another...
4) Gamble (1Co 15:1-8, 12-19, 29-32; Php 3:7-11).
In logical, scientific terms you cant prove or disprove the existence of God. So every human must live by faith. We all base our lives on a faith assumption: there is a God / there is not a God; Jesus rose / Jesus did not rise; eternal life exists / it does not exist.
Or, a person puts their faith in another religions answer.
To do nothing is to default to functional atheism.
We are all betting on what lies on the other side of death.
Faith is the key that unlocks the door to true knowledge. You recognize a 4th (or 5th, if time is the 4th) dimension: the spiritual world. The Bible explains forces that are at play in human experience, and as you watch, life begins to make sense. You see everything with different eyes. You wonder how you could have missed seeing what is now so obvious. Its like youre living on another planet. Yet before faith came, this was all nonsense.
This brings us back to the earlier question: Do I really believe He is risen, and if not, what must I do to receive this faith?
If faith us a gift, then I need to start by asking God to give me this gift.
If faith is a miracle, then I must decide if Im willing to open the door of my heart and welcome the risen Jesus, because Ill have to bow my knee and surrender to this Lord when I meet Him. Am I ready to do that?
If faith is a seed, am I willing to feed and water that faith over the remainder of my life by regularly worshipping and hearing the Word preached and gathering with other believers?
If faith is a gamble, is Jesus the One Im willing to cling to when I step through the veil of death? Or is there another I trust more?
If faith is a key that unlocks true knowledge, am I willing to let God renew my mind and turn me into someone the world thinks is deluded? Have I the courage to confess Him before others?
1) If you were to die tonight, do you feel confident you are ready? If not, what troubles you? If so, tell us why.
2) Was there a moment when you became certain Jesus is alive? If so, tell us about it.