Thursday, August 6, 2009

Did Jesus Really Die?

SKEPTIC: Before he was crucified, do you think Jesus knew that he would be resurrected in 3 days?

PREACHER: Jesus knew that he was going to be resurrected in three days. In Mark 9:31 and Luke 9:22 He is quoted, saying that He would be killed and would rise again on the third day.

SKEPTIC: If Jesus knew that he was going to be resurrected in three days, what exactly is the sacrifice he made? How precisely did Jesus "die for my sins" if he jumped out of the tomb after 36 hours? That's not dying - that's more like being in a coma. If you're really dead, you're dead. Like forever.

PREACHER: Aren't you limiting reality to just this material world? A Biblical view of reality says that there is a spiritual world that transcends the material. When one dies he is only physically dead and the spiritual part of the person continues to exist forever. That eternal existence is "life" if you are in fellowship with your Creator, and "death" if you are separated from Him. Since all men are sinners and born separated from God they are facing that eternal spiritual death when their physical life ends. Christ died on the cross both physically and spiritually. Being the infinite God he was able to come back to life from that, also having suffered death (separation from God) sufficiently enough to have taken upon Himself the judgment of all who would believe in Him. Facing that terrible judgment, He was in fear of it in the garden the night before, but as it says in Hebrews 12:2, He willingly went to the cross because of the joy of the outcome, the salvation of all who believe in Him.

SKEPTIC: So are you saying that Jesus was resurrected spiritually, but NOT physically?

PREACHER: He was raised both spiritually and physically. What made you think that it had to be one or the other?

SKEPTIC: In doing a bit of research, it seems that Christians can't even agree among themselves whether the resurrection was physical, spiritual, or both. But nonetheless, my original point still stands. Jesus didn't really die. Death is permanent, unless you want to change the definition of the word.

PREACHER: I think you have a different definition of the word death than I do. As a materialist don't you see death as the final end, extinction with nothing after it, and any return to life is impossible? That is not my definition of death. Death from a biblical standpoint for humans is both physical and spiritual. Physical death is when this body quits working and can't start up again until God performs a miracle of new life. He promises that those who believe in Him will rise physically again to live forever with Him, and He promises that those who have rejected Him will be raised physically to experience eternal death (not cease to exist). Spiritual death is the state in which we are separated from our Creator. You can be spiritually dead and physically alive. Jesus experienced physical death. They took Him down from the cross and put Him in the tomb because He was obviously dead. He experienced spiritual death when He cried out, "My God, why have You forsaken me." That He rose again from the dead and then ascended to His Father is proof that He regained His spiritual life as well as His physical life. So, Jesus died and rose again both physically and spiritually.

SKEPTIC: My definition of death is the one from the dictionary: "the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism." Permanent. I understand the Christian theology that you talk about, but you really are changing the definition to suit your theology. If you want to be a little more honest, you should change the theology to something like "Jesus temporarily died for your sins."

Of course, the whole original sin idea is operating on a pretty convenient closed loop. Christianity invented the notion that we're all born full of sin, but Jesus saved us by dying on the cross. It's not much different than a doctor who makes you sick so he can make you well again and stay in business.

PREACHER: I am in compliance with the definition of death you give. "Organism" refers to only the physical. That is what happened to Jesus. It doesn't refer to the spiritual. The spiritual part of Jesus never ceased to exist, it was temporarily separated from the Father. After He paid the penalty for sin the spiritual gave life again to the physical and He was resurrected. Of course if you believe as typical materialistic atheists do, the spiritual does not really exist anyway. It is only conceptual.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and encouraged them to touch Him, saying that a spirit does not have flesh and blood, but He did. That in no way denies that He was also spiritually alive. Later on in the epistles of Paul He is referred to as a life giving Spirit. That does not deny the physical life either. You are insisting on a either-or-only view of spiritual and physical. I believe that both are parts of reality.

Materialistic atheism also works within a closed loop. It says that anything that man cannot sense or measure scientifically doesn't really exist. Therefore, there is no need to be concerned about the spiritual world. So, the reader of this blog can make the choice between your partially educated opinion that the spiritual doesn't really exist, or can consider that God has really spoken to us and revealed Himself in the man Jesus Christ, who both physically and spiritually died and rose from the dead.

SKEPTIC: Fine. You're right. The reader of this blog can agree with my "partially educated" opinion, based on science and reason, or they can agree with your apparently fully educated opinion, based on ancient myths and superstitions.

PREACHER: Ancient myths and superstitions don't recall history accurately nor do they tell the future accurately. The Bible does both of those, so I don't put it in that category. I am probably not as educated as you are. But, I place more stock in revealed Truth than someone's opinion. Do you really think that your opinion is infallible? Science and reason assume that the universe is understandable to the human mind. That makes sense to me because a God who communicates with us in an understandable way created it. A universe that started by chance and random events wouldn't be understandable to the human mind.

SKEPTIC: If God communicates to us in an understandable way, why are there so many different understandings of the Bible? You know, Nostradamus supposedly told the future, too. Maybe you should worship him, too.

(Go here for an interesting debate on the historicity of the resurrection.)

(Please join the debate by leaving your comments below!)


  1. God does communicate with us in an understandable way but every person is given free will. And, unfortunately certain people who do not follow Jesus' teachings misconstrue or present his teachings in a false nature. That is due to sin.

  2. Small tidbit: People perhaps have different understandings of the Bible because of the experiences they've had in life. So if I've felt deprived of attention and very lonely growing up, the messages that might stand out the most to me are that God loves His people (all of them, including those who don't love Him), and that I am not alone.

    In contrast, if I felt very safe and loved growing up, the disciplinarian in God might stand out to me more. Likewise, within the sole context of love or the sole context of disciplinarian stand other interpretations ... the key perhaps is, in the Spiritual realm, to connect with God by the Spirit He has put inside of us and trust Him that He speaks truth. We communicate that differently because we're all different parts of the body... but just because we're different doesn't mean there's only ONE right person and a thousand wrong people.

  3. Teresa and Carole. Thanks for your comments. Well said! Nostradamus can hardly be compared to the Bible. His prophesies are so vague that they can mean just about anything. Not so with the prophesies in the Bible. He never accepted worship from other human beings. Jesus did.

  4. Paul: For the record, I'd be happy to accept worship from other human beings, too, although I've always wondered why Jesus felt that he needed people to worship him all the time. Maybe he didn't get much love growing up? Of course, since we have no record of what he did between the ages of 12 and 30, I guess we'll never know. I mean, geez, that's a pretty big gap in his biography.

  5. Those years in Jesus' life that we don't know about were not that significant for our salvation, so they are not recorded. Jesus (since He is the Second Person in the trinity) is worthy of worship. Check out your definition of worship. I would never want to be worshipped.

  6. If you don't know what happened during the missing 18 years, how do you know that they "weren't significant for our salvation?" It just seems to me that if you're going to write the story of someone who was supposedly the greatest man who ever lived, you'd want to have the complete story and not one with a huge gap in it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.