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Real Hope Beyond the Grave

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

By Ryan Corrigan


In 2009, I lost a very dear friend in a tragic accident. The night of his accident (within the hour of his death), I had a dream about the biblical hope of the resurrection of the dead. I have never experienced hope as tangible as I felt in that dream. I woke up, John 11:25 was running through my mind over and over.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. - John 11:25

Then almost immediately, the phone rang. The voice on the other end of the line gave me the first news of the tragedy. I was in total shock - both in light of this news but, also that I had this dream right before the phone rang!?!

I was able to share that dream with the grieving family and at his memorial service. For the next few years, while processing his death, I spent hours studying and going deep in the theology of the resurrection. Since then, I have taught on the topic countless times, and it has become the central anchor of hope that my family and I are building our lives upon.

John 11:25 became a central theme in our ministry. A few years later, we had our fourth son, who was miraculously born on 11-25 and 11:25 pm.

In 2022, Charles Criniere, one of my best friends, died in a tragic cycling accident leaving behind his wife and 10 children. This hit me harder than anything else I have ever experienced. I was asked to speak at Charlie's memorial service, so I sat down in the midst of the tears to write a short speech. While I was in the middle of typing a paragraph about the Christian hope of the resurrection, I received a text from another friend that said, "I had a dream last night that you were preaching at Charlie's funeral about the resurrection." Again a dream propelled me to go even deeper into the topic. The following article outlines the major themes I have researched and prayerfully studied over the past 14 years.


The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences we will ever face. The pain of grief can be overwhelming, and the sense of loss can feel insurmountable. What hope is there in the world to deal with this kind of pain? Does religion offer hope in the face of death? I mean, everyone is going to die, right? What about Christianity?

At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead three days later. This event, known as the Resurrection, is a central component of Christian hope. It is the hope that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, so too will we be raised from the dead at the return of Christ. The Bible tells us that the Christian hope of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life is the single most powerful source of comfort and hope for those who have lost their Christian loved ones.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Thessalonians,

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout,with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourageone another with these words." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul says,

"And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." - Phillipians 3:20-21

The Christian hope of eternal life is rooted in the dead being raised and regenerated with new bodies. The hope for all believers is that they will receive the same kind of immortal body that Christ received at his resurrection. This body is not subject to death and decay because of the eradication of sin.

The Christian hope of the resurrection also has implications for how we live our lives in the present. The knowledge that our loved ones will be raised from the dead means they are not lost forever but rather temporarily separated from us.

Furthermore, the hope of the resurrection can provide a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. It reminds us that our ultimate destiny is not simply to exist for a brief time on earth and then disappear into nothingness, but rather that our lives matter, and we live today will determine how we spend eternity. Jesus said,

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life ...For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. - John 5:24,27-29

The resurrection of the dead is unimaginably glorious for those who believe but unthinkably terrifying for those who don't. It is in light of this that we are forced to reckon with a coming day when every one of us will stand before Jesus and give an account for our lives. Jesus tells us that both the wicked and the righteous will be resurrected - one will receive life eternal, and the other - condemnation. In our modern day, we don't like the idea of a single person defining absolute truth. But that is precisely what the Bible teaches - Jesus is that man.

Although Jesus promised to raise the dead, many people are not aware of this. In our culture, the common understanding is that when someone dies, they go to a "better place" and are now in "heaven." (It's also very normal for people to believe in some sort of heaven but not believe in a hell). But what exactly is heaven? What is eternal life? Many people imagine an ethereal, spiritual realm, but is that truly a superior place to our current reality?

The Bible paints a very concrete view of eternal life. The biblical understanding of the resurrection is the conviction that God is a God of life who will ultimately bring about a restoration of the entire created order. This is the view Jesus and the Apostles held. This view sees the resurrection as the renewal of the physical world, not the escape from it¹.

This physical understanding of the resurrection is seen in the New Testament, where the resurrection of Christ is presented as a physical event. Christ was raised from the dead with a new body, but it was a tangible body that could be touched and recognized. Jesus was the firstborn of a new creation, a new humanity, not in the line of Adam but in the line of Christ, and it is truly human but without corruption (1 Cor. 15:47).

"The ultimate future hope for Christians is based on the resurrection of Jesus, and on the promise that his followers will be raised from the dead as well, to share in the renewal of all things. This means that the Christian hope is not a disembodied 'heaven' but rather the hope for a new creation, in which heaven and earth are brought together in a rich and multi-layered unity. It is not a hope for escape from the material world, but for its redemption and transformation, for the marriage of heaven and earth." N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: HarperOne, 2008), 200.

However, in the 2nd-3rd century AD, the idea of heaven started to move towards a greek philosophical view and away from the biblical worldview that was held by 1st-century Jews². It's hard to overstate the impact this had upon the western worldview. But this is in stark contrast with the biblical worldview of the first century, which provides a framework for the overturning of death and the restoration of God's creation.

In the Bible, heaven is described as the dwelling place of God, and the ultimate Christian hope is the unification of heaven and earth. The Scriptures even suggest that heaven and earth were originally united and will be reconciled in the end⁴.

In the beginning, as recounted in the early chapters of Genesis, God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a Garden of Paradise called Eden. They walked with God in close fellowship, experiencing the unity of heaven and earth with no division or separation. However, sin entered the world and caused a separation between God and humankind, as well as between heaven and earth. Thankfully, God has a plan to restore all things to their original state (and far beyond) through Jesus Christ.

"and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." - Colossians 1:20

"to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him." Ephesians 1:10

While the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead is unique, it is not the only belief in eternal life. Many other worldviews and religions have their own understanding of what happens after death. For example, many eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, believe in reincarnation, in which a person's soul is reborn into a new body after death. In these worldviews, the goal is to break the cycle of rebirth and achieve a state of enlightenment or Nirvana. Thus ultimate salvation for these eastern religions is found in the escape from the physical world and the spiritual unification within a mystical cosmic force⁵.

Even Islam's view of eternity in Paradise is more akin to its 7th-century gnostic predecessors. the Qur'an and Hadith teach that paradise was always separate from Earth and that Adam was cast out of paradise down to Earth. Islamic salvation is therefore framed as the escape from the material world back to the spiritual paradise above. This is very interesting, considering it was supposedly the continuation and restoration of the true Abrahamic faith⁶.

While these beliefs in eternal life differ from the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead, they all share a desire for some kind of continuation of existence beyond this life. However, it seems to me that within these other worldviews that death actually serves as a form of salvation for the 'righteous' since it is their escape into a superior afterlife. In contrast, the Bible teaches that death is humanity's greatest adversary since, at our core, we were created by God to be eternal beings made in His image (1 Cor. 15:26). Death is, therefore, in no way 'natural' but rather penalty for sin, a judgment that befell all of humanity.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. - Romans 6:23

Only the Christian faith provides a construct for the resurrection of the body and the restoration of all things that have been corrupted in creation. Additionally, no other worldview claims to offer a personal relationship with God the way the Bible does.

The single most important thing about the Christian hope of eternal life is that we get to be in intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ forever. Heaven is a great idea, but the Bible tells us that it is not just 'paradise.' The centerpiece of heaven is the throne of God, where He is worshiped night and day, incessantly, forever. Heaven is only great because God is there, and our eternal ecstasy will be gazing upon him and exploding into song.

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the one seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne and say, Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created." - Revelation 4:4-11

In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul wrote, "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'" (1 Corinthians 15:32b, NRSV). This statement highlights that If there is no afterlife, then life has no ultimate purpose or meaning, and self-indulgence is the only reasonable course of action. As Paul continues, "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:19, NRSV).

King Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, sought to find joy and fulfillment in self-indulgence but found it to be ultimately empty. His conclusion was that humans must give an account for their lives because God exists (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Even in the secular world, self-indulgence is now recognized as ultimately unsatisfying and unfulfilling (though few stay true to that mantra).

Furthermore, the inevitability of death means that life is short and uncertain. Modern efforts such as transhumanism seek to merge technology and humanity in order to achieve eternal consciousness, but such efforts remain speculative at best⁷. Billions of dollars are spent on this endeavor every year because, deep down, humanity is terrified of death.

The psalmist writes, "As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more" (Psalm 103:15-16, NRSV). This can seem like a dismal and hopeless view of life.

However, the Christian hope in the resurrection provides a concrete, tangible hope. This hope is based on the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus.

But how do we know that Jesus really rose from the dead? Well, to start with, this event has more evidence than any other ancient event.

"the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the most attested event of the ancient world. No other event from antiquity can be supported by such a wealth of evidential data. There are literally hundreds of sources that provide various details surrounding the event, many of which were written within a few decades of the crucifixion." (Habermas, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 45)

If Jesus lived, died, and rose again, then what does this mean? Interestingly enough, all world religions will accept Jesus as some sort of prophet, idea, or spiritual guide. But those other religions seem to pick and choose the parts of Jesus' life that adhere to their worldview⁸.

The looming question that we all must answer is: who is Jesus Christ? who is the real Jesus of history, and how do we know anything about him? And what did Jesus really teach? Should we go to the 93 verses in the Qur'an to find out who Jesus is? What about the gnostic or lost gospels that were popularized in the media by movies like The Da Vinci Code?

The fact is that no historical scholar will go anywhere other than the four biblical gospel accounts to find the authentic Jesus. This is because the four biblical gospel accounts are the only ancient documents from the 1st century that provide eyewitness accounts⁹ for the life of Jesus.

"The Synoptic Gospels, together with the Gospel of John, constitute the earliest and most reliable literary sources for the historical Jesus... Moreover, the Gospels are unparalleled in antiquity as a source of information for a teacher's words and deeds. In short, the Gospels offer the most reliable information about the historical Jesus that we have."- Keener, Craig S. The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009.

There is plenty written about Jesus from all kinds of different religious groups, but all of those documents were written far too late to provide real historical data for the life of Jesus. Even the harshest historical skeptic, Bart Erhaman, agrees with this¹⁰.

"If you want to know about the historical Jesus, the only real place to go is to the Gospels" - Bart Erhamn "Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) pg. 18. "In contrast to the New Testament Gospels, which were written in the first century, these alternative (gospel) texts largely date from the second century and beyond, well after the time of Jesus and the eyewitnesses to his life and ministry.For example, the earliest surviving manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas, a Coptic translation, dates from around 340 CE, over two centuries after the composition of the canonical Gospels" Ehrman, Bart D. "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew." Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 2. "No scholar of early Christianity uses the Qur'an as a historical source for understanding the life of Jesus was written at least six hundred years after the events it purports to describe, by authors who were not eyewitnesses to those events and who had no access to the eyewitnesses. As a result, the Qur'an is not a source for historical information about Jesus, his life, or his teachings." (Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 6th ed. [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016], 312).

So what do the four biblical gospels say about Jesus? In Summary, we find a Jewish preacher who spoke about the coming Kingdom of God. He did miracles, loved the unloved, claimed to be God in the flesh, and then was historically put to death with a massive corpus of historical evidence to also validate that he rose from the dead. Let's focus on the main points why we should believe in the resurrection:

  • Non-Biblical Hostile Sources: We have non-biblical roman historians from the 1st and 2nd centuries who were hostile to the Christians who confirmed that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified under Pontius Pilot. They write describing that the earliest Christians worshiped Jesus as their God and that they were fully convinced that he had risen from the dead. This corroborates the Biblical account perfectly.

  • The tomb was found empty: The fact that the tomb was found empty on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for his resurrection. The tomb was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers, making it highly unlikely that anyone could have stolen the body. If the resurrection was a hoax all the Jews had to do was bring out the body of Jesus and the movement would have been crushed.

  • Eyewitness accounts: Accurate history is recorded by eyewitness accounts. The Gospel accounts were written and compiled through eyewitness testimony. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 says there were many eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus, including his disciples, as well as over 500 people who saw him after his resurrection at one time together. Even skeptical scholars agree that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 was formulated within just a few years of the death and resurrection of Christ based on the style and cadence of the original greek structure, providing us with the earliest Christian belief¹¹. If you know anything about the ancient world, having a testimony this close to the actual event is absolutely amazing, as other ancient history is often written hundreds of years later than the event. The New Testament documents were written during the time when the eyewitnesses were still alive¹². Basically, the early creed was written in a style that had rhythm and rhyme for easy oral memorization and is inviting people who don't believe to go ask the eyewitnesses themselves.

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles" - 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
  • Admission of skeptical scholars Even some skeptical historical scholars, who are often hostile to the Christian faith, have spent their whole lives closely examining the details of early church history. However, they also acknowledge that the earliest Christians, who personally witnessed the life of Jesus, sincerely believed in the reality of his resurrection from the dead. This puts a nail in the coffin the notion that the resurrection of Christ was an idea that developed much later.

"It is a historical fact that some of Jesus' followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution." - From Ehrman's book, "The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings."
"What is clear is that they [the early Christians] believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead and that this belief was the basis for everything they did." - From Ehrman's book, "How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee."
"The earliest followers of Jesus came to believe that he had been raised from the dead, and this belief proved to be the basis for the Christian religion." - From Ehrman's book, "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew."

  • The movement started in Jerusalem: The fact that the Christian Church was born in the very city where Jesus was crucified is a massive testimony that something miraculous happened. The Church was born only 50 days after the death of Christ in the same city He was crucified within. Remember that this was the same city that was on the brink of riot just 50 days prior, demanding the Romans to crucify Jesus. Then something happened in Acts Chapter 2, and a massive movement consisting of thousands of people suddenly confess that this man from Nazareth, who died a brutal execution at the hands of Romans, was not only still alive, but that he was the God in the flesh, and the long-awaited Jewish Messiah? This is highly unlikely to occur unless something supernatural did in fact transpire¹³.

  • The transformation of the disciples: The transformation of the disciples from fearful and disheartened to bold and fearless witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection is another strong piece of evidence. They were willing to suffer and die as Martyers for their belief in the resurrected Jesus, which is unlikely if they knew it to be false. People only die for things that they truly believe, they don't die for a lie¹⁴.

  • The witness of women: The Gospel accounts say that Jesus appeared to women. This is an absolutely crazy thing to write in the ancient world if you wanted people to believe your story. In the 1st century, the testimony of women was not seen as a reliable source, however, the Gospel accounts do not try to hide this. You would only write this if you were trying to be accurate to the events as they unfolded, pointing to their authenticity¹⁵.

  • The foolishness of the cross: The execution of the roman crucifixion was the most horrific, shameful public display that the Romans had perfected to kill someone to ensure that those crimes would not be replicated by anyone else. No one would pick a leader who had been publically shamed through crucifixion to be the leader of a movement. The 1st century Jews were waiting for a messiah who was a conquering king who would overthrow the Romans. It would have been absolutely foolish to start preaching to a Jewish audience that a crucified man was indeed the messiah unless He had indeed conquered death¹⁶.

  • The conversion of Saul of Tarsus to Christianity. St. Luke records the conversion of a radical Jewish Pharisee who was violently opposed to the early Christian movement who then converted to the Christian faith after having a vision of the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. This man known to us as St. Paul ends up writing the majority of the New Testament and spreading the Christian faith more than anyone else in the emerging church. It is notable to mention that William Ramsay, a British archaeologist and classical scholar, on the historical accuracy of Luke's Gospel:

"Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense; in short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians." - Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (1895)
  • The growth of the early church: The explosive growth of the early church in the face of intense persecution is also a testament to the truth of the resurrection. The church would not have grown at all if the resurrection had not occurred¹⁷

  • Testimonies throughout history: This last point is subjective but compelling because of its collective nature. Throughout Church history, we have the testimony of millions of people that say that Jesus transformed their lives. This includes testimonies of people who said they personally saw Jesus, experienced miracles of healing through prayer in His name, and experienced a personal relationship with Jesus through the His spirit¹⁸.

So why don't all historical scholars believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Well, here is an example from an unbelieving scholar:

"As an historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him. However, as a historian, I cannot prove it either. To me, the presence of certain eyewitnesses in the early Christian movement is a historical fact, for the Christian tradition could not have made them up" - Gerd Ludemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (Fortress Press, 1994), p. 50.

The famous skeptic Bart Erhman's very best explanation of what could have possibly transpired, leading the earliest Christians to authentically believe that Jesus rose from the dead was that the entire group had a simultaneous hallucination caused by intense grief. In his book "How Jesus Became God," he writes:

"The disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection was based on visionary experiences that they had of him after his death. The most plausible explanation for these experiences is that they were hallucinations, brought on perhaps by their intense grief over Jesus’ execution and their fervent hope that God would vindicate him by raising him from the dead."

Medical doctors find it difficult to accept this theory as it defies common sense that a group of people would have the same hallucination, which is so vivid and realistic that it leads them all to believe that what they saw was real. Furthermore, it is unlikely for such hallucinations to cause people to go to their deaths because of what they experienced. It is absurd that this is considered the best explanation by the most brilliant academic minds. It takes more faith to believe that the Apostles had a shared hallucination than to believe their actual account. There is a principle of logic and reason that we should believe a firsthand testimony unless we have a very good reason, not to¹⁹. Frank Morrison, a British lawyer and journalist, applied legal theory to the events of the resurrection in his book "Who Moved the Stone?" He approached the evidence for the resurrection as a courtroom case and argued that the evidence was strong enough to stand up in court. Morrison believed that the evidence for the resurrection was beyond a reasonable doubt and that a modern judge would rule in favor of the resurrection if the case were presented in court. Morrison examined the evidence for the resurrection in detail, including the empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts, and the transformed lives of the disciples. He concluded that the only plausible explanation for the evidence was that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead²⁰.

What are the ramifications of the resurrection?

  1. Jesus said he would die and rise again before it happened (Mark 9:30-32).

  2. Jesus said the resurrection would validate everything he taught (John 2:19-22).

So what did Jesus Teach?

  1. Jesus' most famous message is summarized in Matthew chapters. 5-7, where He outlines how to live a pure, holy life of radical faith.

  2. He taught that He would usher in the Kingdom of God and restore created order (Matt. 19:28)

  3. Jesus taught that he was God in the flesh on at least 46 different occasions²¹.

  4. Jesus said His death would be a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28, Mk 10:45).

  5. Jesus said that believing Him is the only way to be saved (John 3:3-15, 8:21-24,10:1-9, 14:6, Mk 16:15-16).

  6. Jesus said He would return, and He would judge all men based on His words (John 5:21-23, 12:48)

The fact is that you cannot honor Jesus as a good moral teacher or prophet without accepting what he said. Many say they love and honor Jesus and his message, but in reality, they either have no idea what He taught (because they have never read the Bible), or they are picking and choosing pieces of Jesus' teachings that appeal to their pre-existing worldview. In the Gospels, there were three main responses people had when they saw Jesus. They either said he was a lunatic, demon-possessed, or He really is God in the flesh - it is the same today when people take the time to read what He said. Neutrality is not an option. He definitely can't just be a good teacher²². Does this sound like the words of a mere moral teacher?

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” - John 8:58
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." - John 17:1-5
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. - Mark 14:61-64

The Bible says that all humanity has sinned and that God has already pronounced the judgment of death upon all men (Rom. 3:23). It tells us that no amount of 'good deeds' can save us. However, God decided to save us in a just fashion by taking the verdict of death upon himself. So God became a man and came into the world to save us (1. Tim. 3:16). Jesus Christ paid our penalty by dying in our place in a real-time, in a real place, on a roman cross in about 30ad. He shed his blood as the final sacrifice to God, which made atonement for all our sins (Rom. 5:9, Matt. 26:28). Not only that, but he has given us the unthinkable gift of eternal life. Jesus extends his sacrificial offering to all humanity, but it needs to be received and believed (John 3:16-18, Rom. 10:9).

The reality is that believing in Jesus Christ and his resurrection is far more than an intellectual exercise. It takes faith - and faith is a spiritual reality. So what are you going to believe?



  1. "The Jewish understanding of resurrection was always focused on new creation, not on a 'heavenly' afterlife as such. Resurrection was never a way of talking about life immediately after death; it was not a belief in 'going to heaven'. It was not even the belief that after a while God would give you a new body. Resurrection was not a redefinition or spiritualization of an old concept; it was not a new and improved version of 'going to heaven when you die'. Resurrection was a mode of new creation."N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: HarperOne, 2008), 71.

  2. "The influence of Greek philosophy on Christian theology is especially clear in the development of the idea of an immaterial afterlife. Prior to the second century AD, Jewish eschatology had focused on the resurrection of the body and the renewal of the physical world. However, with the introduction of Platonic ideas into Christian theology, the focus shifted to the immortality of the soul and the separation of the spiritual from the material world. This shift in focus can be seen in the writings of Justin Martyr and other early Christian apologists who were influenced by Greek philosophy." John Cooper, "Platonism," in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Christianity, ed. Thomas P. Flint and Michael C. Rea (Oxford University Press, 2014), 54. "Few theologians in the history of Christianity have been as important and influential as Origen of Alexandria. His intellectual and spiritual legacy has left an indelible mark on Christian thought, and continues to shape the way that Christians think about God, the Bible, and the world today." - Dr. Brandon Crowe, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary.

  3. "Origen's central project was to unite Greek philosophy and Christian theology. He brought to his work a comprehensive knowledge of Greek philosophy, especially that of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics.... He believed that the essential truths of Christianity could be expressed in the categories of Greek philosophy, and that Greek philosophy could be employed to defend and explain Christian doctrine." McGrath, Alister E. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. John Wiley & Sons, 2012, p. 131.

  4. N.T. Wright argues that the Christian hope is not for a disembodied existence in a spiritual realm, but for the ultimate reconciliation of heaven and earth. He points to passages such as Colossians 1:20 and Ephesians 1:10 that speak of God's plan to "reconcile all things to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven." Wright notes that this implies that heaven and earth were originally together, and that God's ultimate goal is not to abandon the material world, but to renew and restore it. See N.T. Wright, "Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew," in Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy, ed. Jerry L. Walls (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 66.

  5. "In the Eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, the ultimate goal is often seen as liberation or release from the cycle of rebirth, called samsara. This is achieved through the attainment of enlightenment or self-realization, which involves the realization of the true nature of the self and the universe. This liberation is often described as a state of non-dual consciousness or unity with the ultimate reality, and is often seen as the highest spiritual attainment." (Source: Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, "Eastern Philosophy," in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion, ed. William J. Wainwright, 2005)

  6. "The presence of gnostic ideas, particularly those of Iranian Gnosticism, in Islamic eschatology has been widely acknowledged by scholars. In contrast to the Jewish and Christian emphasis on the renewal of the earth, Islamic paradise and hell are other-worldly, removed from the mundane world of human experience. This is not unlike Gnostic ideas of the soul's escape from the material realm to a higher, spiritual realm." (Asma Afsaruddin, "Islamic Eschatology," in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology, ed. Sabine Schmidtke, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 558.)

  7. Transhumanism is a movement that seeks to use technology to transcend the limitations of the human body and mind, with the ultimate goal of achieving eternal life or consciousness. This movement is based on the belief that human beings can and should use technology to enhance their physical and mental abilities, and that by doing so, they can achieve a new stage in human evolution. For more information on transhumanism, see: Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, "Transhumanism," in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta (Summer 2021 Edition), accessed February 20, 2023,

  8. "Jesus is accepted by nearly all world religions as some sort of spiritual guide. Hindus and Buddhists appreciate Jesus as a good man who taught moral truths, but they do not accept the Christian doctrines of his divinity and resurrection. Muslims, while seeing Jesus as a prophet, reject the Christian doctrines that he is God and that he died on the cross. Jews, too, do not accept Jesus as the Messiah or as the Son of God." (Hexham, Irving. Encountering World Religions: A Christian Introduction. Baker Academic, 2015, p. 159.) According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global transhumanism market size was valued at $65.0 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $2.86 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 49.9% from 2019 to 2026. "Transhumanism Market by Product and Application: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019-2026." Allied Market Research, September 2019,

  9. "The characteristic language and style of the Gospels reflect the testimony of eyewitnesses or of those closely acquainted with eyewitnesses. The Gospels were almost certainly written within living memory of the events they recount, and there is no good reason to doubt the general reliability of their traditions. They were not written for a later age, but for those who had themselves either seen or heard the eyewitnesses. Their testimony is, therefore, direct and unmediated." - Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008. p. 6.

  10. "Although the non-canonical gospels and other early Christian writings can offer insights into the diversity of early Christianity, they are generally less reliable than the New Testament gospels as historical sources for the life and teachings of Jesus. Most of them were composed in the second century or later, and many reflect theological and philosophical concerns that are not directly related to the historical" Ehrman, Bart D. "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew." Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 4.

  11. "Paul cites this creed in the context of arguing for the reality of the resurrection, which indicates that it was already in wide circulation by the time he wrote his letter, probably in the early 50s of the first century. Most scholars agree that the creed itself, based on its style and formulation, must have originated within just a few years of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that is, in the mid to late 30s of the first century, and that it may have been formulated and used even earlier than that. So this early creedal formulation provides strong evidence that belief in the resurrection of Jesus existed very early in Christian circles, perhaps from the very beginning, that is, already during Jesus’ own lifetime" (Bart Ehrman, The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018, p. 74).

  12. "The gap between the events and the written record of the New Testament is unparalleled in the ancient world. Most other Greco-Roman literature was written one or two generations after the events that it narrates, whereas the core of the New Testament was written within the lifetimes of those who were witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection" (Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament, p. 35).

  13. "The Christian movement started in Jerusalem just a few weeks after Jesus was executed. It was initiated by Jesus' disciples, who claimed that he had been raised from the dead and had appeared to them. This was a bold and risky claim, and it is difficult to see how it could have gained any traction if it were not true. Moreover, the fact that the movement began in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus was crucified, suggests that the disciples were convinced of the truth of their claim and were not afraid to proclaim it in the very place where Jesus had been executed. This is a strong apologetic for the reality of the resurrection." (Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994. p. 360)

  14. "History records that all of the apostles except for John died as martyrs. The evidence is strong that the apostles truly believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and that they were willing to die for this belief. It is unlikely that they would have died for something they knew to be false." (Sean McDowell, "Evidence for the Resurrection," in Evidence that Demands a Verdict, ed. Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017], 245).

  15. "The testimony of women as the first witnesses to the empty tomb and the risen Christ would have been a liability in the patriarchal culture of the ancient world. If the empty tomb stories were invented, it would have made more sense to have male disciples discover the empty tomb. The fact that the Gospel accounts include women as the primary witnesses to the resurrection, despite the cultural bias against their testimony, points to the historical authenticity of the accounts."Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004), 68.

  16. "Crucifixion was an ignominious and disgraceful way to die, reserved for the lowest classes of society, and was not seen as a mark of divine favor. Moreover, the idea of a crucified messiah was completely foreign to Jewish expectation, which looked for a conquering king, not a suffering servant. This was a major stumbling block for many Jews who encountered the Christian message in the first century." (Source: Michael F. Bird, "Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology," in Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity, ed. Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne [London: T&T Clark, 2012], 95.)

  17. "The explosive growth of Christianity in the first three centuries is a historical phenomenon. People who followed Jesus were willing to die for what they believed about Him. They had no political power, no wealth, and no army. They were subjected to intense, painful persecution, and yet Christianity grew at an unprecedented rate. This explosive growth in the face of persecution is evidence of the resurrection. The disciples’ lives were transformed by an experience so powerful that they were willing to endure death for their beliefs." (source: Wallace, J. Warner. Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. David C Cook, 2013.)

  18. "In my years of studying Christian history, I have read countless stories of people who have had dramatic encounters with Jesus that have transformed their lives. These stories range from visions of Jesus to miraculous healings, and the common thread is that they all point to a personal encounter with the living Christ. While some may dismiss these stories as mere legend or myth, the sheer number of testimonies from people across the centuries cannot be easily explained away." Brown, Michael L. "Revolutionary Encounters with Jesus." Charisma House, 2005.

  19. "There is a principle of testimony that we should believe what a firsthand witness tells us unless we have a very good reason not to. This is a principle of logic and reason, and it applies to all sorts of claims, including historical ones."Copan, Paul, and William Lane Craig. "The Kalām Cosmological Argument." In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, 101-201. John Wiley & Sons, 2012. (p. 130)

  20. "If the facts are as stated in the foregoing pages, and this I believe can be proved beyond reasonable doubt, then it follows that the tomb was actually found empty. Any judge in any court of law would regard it as established beyond dispute. So short of discovering the actual body of Jesus which might serve to refute the testimony of the witnesses, it is difficult to see what more evidence one could reasonably require." Turek, F. (2004). I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, p. 256

  21. "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." Lewis, C.S. "Mere Christianity." (1952).

  22. [Matt. 9:6; 9:15; 11:27; 12:8; 13:41; 16:27; 18:20; 21:9; 22:42; 23:37-39; 24:30; 24:35; 25:31-32; 26:28; 26:63-65; 28:18-20; Mk. 2:5- 12; 12:1-12; 13:26; 14:62-63; JN 1:51; 3:12-15; 3:18; 5:23; 6:20; 6:33-35; 6:38; 6:60-63; 8:23- 29; 8:56-59; 10:14-16; 10:29-31; 10:38-39; 11:25-27; 12:44-46; 13:13-14; 13:19-20; 13:31- 32; 14:7-10; 14:23-25; 15:4; 15:26; 16:14; 16:27-28; 17:1-5; 17:10; 17:11; 17:20; 20:22] For more on this subject see this book

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1 Comment

Sean Cates
Sean Cates
Feb 23, 2023

Great study! This is our hope!

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