From the Desk of the Associate: What Changed?

Coming off the Easter season, I think it’s important for us not to gloss over or move past the idea of the Resurrection too quickly. You see, it can be argued that the Resurrection validates everything in Scripture, not least of which are Jesus’ claims about Himself, namely, that He is God. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we have no reason to believe any other claims in the Bible. This is not just me making this claim. The Apostle Paul states the same in 1 Corinthians 15 when he says that “if Christ has not been raised from the dead then our preaching is worthless, and your faith is worthless.” So that being said, why do we actually hold to this crazy idea that someone could come back from the dead?

There have been many solid arguments made for the historicity of the Resurrection. One of my personal favorites is the change wrought in Jesus’ disciples. Let us consider these guys before and after they witnessed Jesus alive after being dead. We have their own testimony over and over again in the Gospels, how Jesus claimed that He was going to give himself as a sacrifice for the sins of His people, but that they did not understand or accept Jesus’ claims about this reality. We also see them squabbling over positions of prominence in the kingdom that they believed Jesus was just about to bring about. They mistakenly believed that Jesus was simply going to institute a physical kingdom by overthrowing the Romans and their political and religious puppets. So, the very ones who are testifying to the remarkable event of Jesus rising from the dead are the very ones who paint themselves in a negative light. I do not know about you but if I were going to try to convince people to follow my religion and I was able to play fast and loose with the facts, I would certainly attempt to air brush my own involvement in these events. I would hide my negative words and actions and highlight my admirable characteristics. This is not what we get at all. The Apostles were willing to include even the most shameful words and deeds in their telling of the story. This to me indicates the truthfulness of their testimony.

Let’s approach this another way. Take the Apostle Peter. This man was known to be brash and confident. When Jesus asked His disciples questions, Peter seemed to be the first to step up and take a swing at the answer. Sometimes Peter would hit it out of the park and sometimes he would fall flat on his face. Take the time when Jesus asked the disciples about His identity. Peter very quickly declared that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Immediately after this Jesus declares that He would be killed. Peter again takes a wild swing and declares that this would never happen. Jesus then said, “Get behind me, Satan.” Peter, who would be the leader of the Apostles and the early church was not a paragon of virtue during Jesus’ earthly ministry. During the Last Supper, Peter declared that he would be willing to go with Jesus to the end, but later that night he was unable to even stay up and pray with Jesus during His hour of temptation. Later he fulfilled the Lord’s promise that he would deny Jesus three times. This denial happened to the very intimidating figure of a young servant girl. So that makes us ask the question…How did Peter go from someone who ran away from and denied the Lord, to someone who would, just a few weeks later, preach boldly to the very group who condemned Jesus and put Him on trial? The obvious answer is the fact that Peter saw his risen Lord. Not only did he see Jesus risen, but he interacted with Him several times. In addition, Peter received the promised Holy Spirit.

So, the fact that these weak, squabbling, and dense group of disciples would then go on to change the world with the message of a risen Savior seems to be very strong evidence indeed that they believed the message that they preached. How else can we explain these men being willing to give everything without anything to show for it in human terms? Peter and the rest of the disciples gave it all for the sake of their risen Savior. It has been said that “many people have died for a lie, but few people willingly die for what they know to be a lie.” This is all extraordinarily strong evidence that the Resurrection really took place. This is great news because it is the very thing that secures the future Resurrection of all believers. I guess that is what changed everything and why we call this “The Gospel.”

He Is Risen Indeed!

Baptism Sunday 2021 – Testimonies of Salvation

This Sunday is Easter Sunday (a.k.a. Resurrection Sunday)! On this day, we have an opportunity to celebrate the victorious, glorious resurrection of our God, King, and Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ. We will also mark this special day with the baptisms of an incredible couple, Sam & Mariah Johnson. Check out their testimonies of salvation below…

Hi! My name is Sam and I’m 28 years old. I was born in Texas but raised in Kansas. I joined the Army at 17 and I was stationed in Kentucky. While in Kentucky, I began to go to church regularly at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. While attending this church, I encountered a man named Butch, who was one of the deacons. I believe Jesus put Butch into my life in order to lead me to salvation. I later moved to Kansas where I didn’t attend a church and fell into a sinful life. After a brief suicidal thought, I got out of the Army and moved to Iowa, where I met Mariah. Mariah and I got married in the summer of 2020. We currently have a dog and a puppy. Jesus used Mariah (like He used Butch) to point me towards being saved and to live a better life. I have since come to understand and believe that I am a sinner and Jesus died for my sins. In the future, Mariah and I plan to start a family and continue to live a life together for the Lord.

My name is Mariah Johnson. Growing up, I went to Sunday School while my grandmother attended church. Then, in 4th grade, I began to attend a Wednesday Youth Group, but the focus seemed to be more on games and team building. So, in 7th grade, I began to attend Youth Group at a different church with a friend. This is when I understood the need for a Savior and began my walk with Christ. I later met Sam while volunteering at a camp for individuals with disabilities, and we got married three years later. We look forward to starting a family and raising our kids in the church while continuing to serve the Lord.