Resurrection, Kingdom, & Shalom
I believe there are two questions that beg to be answered as we celebrate Easter. The first, “Did Jesus raise from the dead?” and the second, “How do I enter the Kingdom of God?”
Did Jesus Raise from the Dead? The Bible recognizes this is the critical question. The Apostle Paul writes that if Jesus did not raise from the dead our faith is useless. He went on to say that Christians are to be pitied above everyone else if He is still dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:14-19). The Resurrection of Jesus is the decisive issue for Christianity.
There is a whole academic discipline devoted to study of the reasonableness of our belief in Jesus. It is called Apologetics. It comes from a Greek word used by the Apostle Peter when he wrote that we should be prepared to give a reason for our hope in Jesus (see 1 Peter 3:15). I will not attempt to give an exhaustive answer to this question. I can, however, point you to men like Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, Lee Strobel and the website veritas.org to find deeper discussions of historical evidence and logical reasonings.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the decisive issue for Christianity.
But let me share three of the reasons I believe in the resurrection of Jesus:
- There were over 500 historically documented eye witnesses who encountered Jesus after His resurrection. Sure this includes the book of Acts from the Bible, but this book has proven to be historically accurate.
- A significant number of His closest followers were murdered for preaching and teaching about His resurrection. Someone might be willing to die for a religious teaching they believe, but the ones who would have know it wasn’t true? I don’t think they would have died for it after the first or second one did.
- Despite all its own problems and failures and against millennia of persecution, the church has had unreasonable success across all kinds of political, social, ethnic and economic boundaries.
If Jesus raised from the dead, then I need to pay attention to what He taught. He spent His entire earthly ministry teaching on the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is wherever Christ reigns. It is where He provides for and protects His children.
When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden of Eden. There He provided for their every need. He met their physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual needs. The Hebrew word for this is Shalom. it literally means to enjoy everything God has for you in abundance. Life in the Garden was living in the Kingdom of God and experiencing Shalom.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they entered into the chaos of being outside of the provision and protection of God. God’s remedy for this is Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. In it God invites us back into the Kingdom to experience Shalom again.
The Kingdom of God is wherever Christ reigns.
And that brings us to the second question.
How Do I Enter the Kingdom of God? In Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News.” Jesus refers to the process of entering the Kingdom as being born again (see John 3).
Being born again, is a challenge to a lot of people. I love the idea the late Dallas Willard espoused when he said that you cannot earn your salvation, but it requires a lot of effort. The process of being born again itself doesn’t earn your right to enter the Kingdom, but entering the kingdom is not a passive thing. Here is the process to entering into the Kingdom of God.
Repent – This means to change the way you think about something. In the case of the Kingdom of God, it means to stop thinking in the pattern of this world and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to understand what God is doing and what He is calling you to do (see Romans 12:1-2).
Believe – This means to change the way you act. In the Kingdom of God it is about putting into practice the teachings of Jesus. The Bible refers to this as the “Way” (see Acts 9:2). Probably the best illustration of this concept is in Matthew 7:24 when Jesus finished His teaching with a story of the wise man who built his house on a rock is like the one who hears His words and puts them into practice.
Confess – This means to admit to the truth. Yes, we need to confess/admit our sins, but even more importantly is the idea of admitting to the truth that Jesus is Lord. That He is the leader of your life (see Romans 10:9).
Baptism – Identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith, but faith without deeds is dead. Saving faith is one where we don’t just believe in Jesus. It is where we believe Jesus. Saving faith leads to action. The entrance into the Kingdom of God is the cross and resurrection. We declare that by submitting our selves to immersion in water (see Romans 6:4-11).
Follow Jesus – Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (see John14:6). He invited those He met to “follow Me.” Life in the Kingdom of God is all about letting Jesus lead us. It is about letting Jesus direct our attitudes and activities, priorities and practices, and our hearts and our hands in everything we do.
For more information about entering and living in the Kingdom of God please use the contact information on this site to email me.