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What is your Verdict?

VALIDITY OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
Copyright ©2012 Pastor Kevin R Airrington


Juries in the United States are asked every day to determine if there is enough evidence in a criminal trial to convict a person “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In this article I am going to ask you to weigh for yourself the historical and the physical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from about 29 a.d. and then, you judge for yourself if the Bible is a credible document.

About 2,000 years ago an event was supposed to have occurred and the Bible records evidence of that event.  Much of the evidence that is recorded in the Bible is supported by outside documents and first-century historians.  If the man we call Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead then the Christian faith and the New Testament are complete and entire frauds.  In short, prove the Resurrection to be false and the entire Christian religion would fall apart and Jesus would found to be a liar.

But if true, this single event, above any other in the history of mankind, provides something solid to believe in. It provides evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth more powerfully than anything that he ever said or did.  It proves that Jesus is who He claimed to be: the Son of God.

Any event that claims to be historical must satisfy certain tests of authenticity.  For example, we know that people and events were historical by the things that were said and not said about them in their own time and the time immediately following.

Examine within these few pages the arguments that demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was truly raised by God from the dead. You will then have a solid basis for faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and with your whole heart, soul, and mind lay hold upon the hope of eternal life.

If true, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the single most important event in the history of mankind, and therefore the one most crucial to establish as an authentic historical event. In fact, the Resurrection is the very linchpin of the Christian faith, holding together every claim and every blessing. If the Resurrection could be proven a fraud, Christianity would disintegrate as a total fabrication with little redeeming merit. Jesus would not even be an example of a “good moral teacher,” as some maintain, for his most important prediction—that he would be raised from the dead—would be found a lie.

As Christians, our very salvation depends in large part upon the reliability of the four historical records of the birthlifedeath, and especially the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   The most important, most vital element for our salvation is a deeply held historical factual raised Jesus from the dead.   Romans 10:9 asserts: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  We are trifling with the bedrock of our salvation when we entertain doubts about the historical accuracy of any part of Scripture.  But most crucial are those parts that make historical claims upon which our salvation depends.

Therefore, those who argue that historically the resurrection is not provable and even unnecessary are contradicting the testimony of the apostolic witnesses.  The Apostle Paul’s entire ministry was built upon the foundation of the Resurrection, and it was his personal encounter with the risen Christ that caused him to develop a firm conviction in the reality of this event. In the following verses, I have highlighted in bold type Paul’s statements of the consequences to the Christian faith if the Resurrection of Christ did not, in fact, happen.

1 Corinthians 15:14-20

(14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

(15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

(16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

(17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

(18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

(19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

(20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Later in his life, Paul’s public testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and his proclamation of the Gospel in Ephesus caused such uproar that the Roman authorities took him into protective custody lest he be killed by the Jews.  After several appeals according to Roman law, Paul found himself standing before King Agrippa, his last level of appeal before the Emperor himself.

Given permission to speak freely, Paul launched into a passionate account of his life, concluding with his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.  When Paul then verified the Resurrection from Old Testament prophecy, the governor, Festus, interrupted him and told him he was crazy. The truth of Paul’s brilliant reply remains emblazoned across the pages of human history.

Acts 26:25-26

(25) “But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

(26) For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

Amen! And that is why, taken together, the following historical proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ present evidence that is beyond a reasonable doubt.

1. The Resurrection narratives have the ring of historical truth

The Resurrection narratives (Gospels) bear unmistakable signs of being historically accurate. The earliness of these accounts, at a time when hostile witnesses were present, would have made a fabrication unlikely and dangerous.  There is agreement on the main facts and great variety in the witnesses given, yet they are not a mere repetition of some standardized story with all the discrepancies worked out.  The accounts of Christ’s resurrection appearances are clearly independent of one another, as their surface dissimilarities suggest.  Deeper scrutiny, however, reveals that these appearances are non‑contradictory.  Henry Morris writes:

It is a well‑known rule of evidence that the testimonies of several different witnesses, each reporting from his own particular vantage point, provide the strongest possible evidence when the testimonies contain superficial contradictions that resolve themselves upon close and careful examination. This is exactly the situation with the various witnesses to the resurrection.1

2. The Apostle Paul’s life and ministry is a strong witness of the Resurrection

At the time Paul met the resurrected Christ, he was an ardent antagonist to the Christian faith.  A highly educated man, he was not easily persuaded of anything that appeared contrary to or inconsistent with the Mosaic traditions.  It could be said that he would have been the last person on earth to accept the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah based on the Jewish expectations of the time. The fact that he became so fully persuaded of the resurrection of Christ that he completely dedicated his life to his risen Lord is powerful evidence of the reality of the Resurrection.   Canon Kennett writes:

Within a very few years of the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus was in the mind of at least one man of education [the Apostle Paul], absolutely irrefutable.2

3.  The empty tomb is a historical given

No reputable New Testament historian doubts the historical fact that the tomb in which Christ was placed after his crucifixion was empty. Therefore, there are only three explanations for it. His enemies took the body, his friends took the body, or Jesus was raised from the dead. The first possibility is extremely unlikely, because his enemies would have certainly displayed his body if they could have, in order to humiliate his disciples, quell the rumors of his resurrection, as well as to cut short any new religious movement that threatened their Mosaic traditions.

It is equally unlikely that his friends would have taken his body, because after his crucifixion they were profoundly disappointed and discouraged and did not believe that he would be resurrected. It is absurd to think that under these conditions they would invent a scheme in which they would steal away the body to fabricate a story they obviously did not believe.

4. The disciples were devout Jews

The disciples were Jews who took seriously their Jewish privileges and obligations. Therefore, it is unthinkable that they would have been party to making up a new religion for personal gain. To a first‑century Jew, such an act was equivalent to lying against the God of Israel, as Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:12‑19 (where he called it bearing false witness, contrary to one of the Ten Commandments). For a first‑century Jew, lying against God and perverting His revelation would mean risking one’s salvation and future participation in the Messianic Kingdom. Would such a person risk divine retribution for a few years of prestige as a leader of a new religion? The answer can only be an emphatic “no.”

5. The testimony of women

The presence of women at the tomb is strong evidence that the biblical record is true. Women had virtually no credibility in the firstcentury Jewish culture, and their testimony in a court of law was considered worthless. For example, if a man was accused of a crime that only women witnessed, he could not be convicted on that basis.  If the account of Jesus’ resurrection were a fable added later in an attempt to authenticate Christianity, why would the record have women be the first to see him and testify to the empty tomb, unless it had really happened that way? Women bringing testimony of his resurrection that is then denied by the male disciples makes the latter look bad, and these men were the first leaders of the Christian Church.  A fabricated story added later by the Church would certainly have painted their first leaders in a more favorable light.

6.  Jewish propaganda presupposes the empty tomb and the missing body

The Jewish Temple authorities paid those who had seen the tomb empty to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body, and they even murdered many of those who preached about his resurrection. With such a powerful incentive to squash the new movement, they would have stopped at nothing to produce Jesus’ dead body if they could have. The fact that they did not means they could not because he was risen.

7. His enemies would have produced his dead body to silence the believers

If he did not rise from the dead, what became of his body?  If his enemies stole it and never showed it openly, that would have encouraged the very rumors of a resurrection that they were very anxious to prevent.  But the decisive proof that His enemies did not take the body is that they surely would have quickly produced it with great fanfare, for they stopped short of nothing to discredit the story.  As William Lane Craig argues:

This is historical evidence of the highest quality, since it comes not from the Christians but from the very enemies of the early Christian faith.3

8. There was no veneration of the tomb

If Jesus was not resurrected, why is there no record of his disciples venerating his tomb as so often happens to religious leaders?  Though God forbade it, the practice continued among the Israelites to the point that God Himself disposed of the bodies of Elijah and Moses lest their followers venerate their gravesites.

9. A non-Christian historian testifies in support of the Resurrection

Josephus, the firstcentury Jewish historian, wrote about Jesus Christ and the growth of Christianity as follows:

And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first did not forsake him; for He appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. And the tribes of Christians, so named from Him, are not extinct at this day.4

Though some have tried to dismiss this corroborating secular testimony as fraudulent, this is unlikely because Josephus’ writings were well received at the time of their writing by both Jews and Romans. He was even made an honorary Roman citizen.

There is no record of any objection being raised to this passage by early detractors of Christianity, and had this been a fraudulent and late insertion into the writings of Josephus, this fact would have been openly debated in the literature of the day. Because this did not happen, the silence of the critics is damning to their cause.5

10. No alternative explanations in the early non-scriptural sources

There is no alternative explanation for the rise of the Christian Church given in early historical sources that would even attempt to give the “real” story.  In the event that the story was fabricated, surely some critic would have attempted such an alternative explanation.  But the only adequate explanation for the rise of the Church that has ever been given is that the early Christians believed Jesus had been raised from the dead.

11. The biblical records of the Resurrection appearances give a unified witness

The Four Gospels and the Apostle Paul give a unified witness of eleven resurrection appearances.  Because these records are harmonious and noncontradictory, the burden of proof is upon those who would say that they do not tell the truth.

The eleven resurrection appearances, in their likely order, are as follows:

  1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; John 20:11–18)
  2. To the other women (Matt. 28:8–10)
  3. To Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)
  4. To the two men on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13–35)
  5. To eleven of the disciples (except Thomas-Luke 24:33–49; John 20:19–24)
  6. To the twelve a week later (John 20:24–29; 1 Cor. 15:5)
  7. To seven disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1–23)
  8. To more than five hundred followers (1 Cor. 15:6)
  9. To James (1 Cor. 15:7)
  10. To all the Apostles [this could be speaking of the Ascension](1 Cor. 15:7)
  11. To the Twelve at the Ascension (Acts 1:3–12)6 

12. The idea of Christ’s new body was a totally foreign concept

The disciples had enough trouble believing that Christ would die and then be raised, and would never have even conceived of the idea of the Messiah having a different body.  It is virtually inconceivable that early Christians fabricated such a story, which even today sounds like science fiction to many doubters.

13.  Modern scholars and historians admit that there is strong evidence of his bodily resurrection

J. P. Moreland confirms this and quotes other scholars:

Almost no New Testament scholar today denies that Jesus appeared to a number of his followers after his death. Some scholars interpret these as subjective hallucinations or objective visions granted by God which were not visions of a physical being.  But no one denies that the believers had some sort of experience. The skeptical New Testament scholar Norman Perrin admitted: “The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.” Dunn, professor of divinity at the University of Durham, England, agrees: “It is almost impossible to dispute that at the historical roots of Christianity lie some visionary experiences of the first Christians, who understood them as appearances of Jesus, raised by God from the dead.”7

Thomas Arnold, former Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford, and one of the world’s greatest historians, made the following statement about the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead.8

Simon Greenleaf is one of the most highly regarded legal minds ever seen in America. He was an expert on the laws of evidence, and the founder of the Harvard Law School. He analyzed the accounts in the Four Gospels of the resurrection of Christ in terms of their validity as objective testimonial evidence, and concluded:

It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.9

14. The conviction of his followers in the Resurrection

Those who first published the story that Jesus had risen from the dead believed it to be a fact.

They rested their faith not only on the fact of the empty tomb, but on the fact that they themselves had seen Jesus alive after his burialHe was seen not once or twicebut at least ten recorded times; and not just one at a time, but in groups of two, seven, ten, eleven, twelve, and over five hundred.

15. The martyrdom of his followers for their belief in the Resurrection

The firstcentury believers preached and acted with conviction about the truth of his resurrection, many of them even dying because of their belief. If his friends had stolen the body to make it look like he had been resurrected, they would have known that they were believing a lie, and men do not become martyrs for what they know to be false.

16. The unanimous testimony of eye-witnesses, who could not all have been deceived or deluded

Some critics say that the early Christians had a vision or a hallucination of Christ after his death, in the same way people today claim to have “seen” the pop icon Elvis Presley.  Could it not have been an ecstatic visionA dreamA fantasy of an excited imagination?  Perhaps an apparitionNone of these is at all probable, for different groups of people do not keep on seeing the same hallucination. Over five hundred people in a crowd would not all dream the same dream at the same time.

Some modern Christian apologists have argued that it is irrelevant whether or not Christ actually was physically raised, because his “spirit” went to be with God.  God then supposedly gave Christ’s followers a “vision” of Christ continuing to live “spiritually” at God’s side. Such a mystical and spiritualistic concept would not have satisfied the Hebraic mind of the disciples, however, who believed the dead to be dead until raised in a bodily, physical resurrection.  It would also have placed the Christian faith on a subjective, mystical basis without historical claims and would not account for the early disciples’ energetic witness of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

17. The unbelief of the disciples concerning his resurrection

With the exception of Joseph of Arimathea, the followers of Jesus did not believe that he would die and then be resurrected. They were not expecting the event, and when it happened they did not believe it at first. They considered it an “idle tale” (Luke 24:11 ‑ KJV). They did not believe it until they had to, when they were directly confronted by the risen Lord.  Henry Morris writes:

One thing is certain: the disciples could not have fabricated the story of the resurrection from their own imaginations. On the contrary, they somehow failed to anticipate it even after such an abundance of prophetic preparation for it, both from the Scriptures and from Christ. It took the strongest of evidences to convince them it had actually taken place.10

18. The idea of a resurrected Messiah was a hard sell to the Jews and absurd to the Greeks

The picture of Jesus was not in keeping with then current conceptions of what the Messiah would be like (a theocratic ruler who would deliver Israel from Gentile oppression) and it would have been hard to convince others of its truth.  The Greeks, with their doctrine of the immortality of the soul, thought the idea of a bodily resurrection absurd and unnecessary (Acts 17:32).  If the disciples had invented an event or a doctrine around which to build a new religion, it would have been more in line with the standard expectations of the day.

19. He could have gotten out of the tomb only by resurrection

The “swoon” theory has proposed that Jesus was not really dead when they buried him, and that he “came to” again. But in that case, weak and exhausted, encased in heavy grave wrappings; he could scarcely have moved, much less removed the heavy stone door (about 2,000lbs) and gotten out of the tomb.   Furthermore, the Roman authorities had sealed the door, and even if he had been successful in moving the stone, the guards would have rearrested him and further humiliated him. Since there is no record of such an event, it must not have happened, because his enemies would have made much of such a bizarre happening.

20. The very existence and growth of the Christian Church makes no sense if he was not raised

Some critics say that the resurrection was a later addition to the story of Christ, invented years later by the Church to glorify a dead hero.  But it is known, from historical records outside Scripture, that the sect known as Christians came into existence in the reign of Tiberius, and that the thing that brought them into existence was their belief that Jesus had risen from the dead.

The Resurrection was not a later addition to the Christian faith, but the very cause and incentive for itThey rested their faith, not on historical records, but on what they had seen with their own eyes. The records were the result of their faithnot the cause of it. Christianity hinges on the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection, for without it the entire faith is found fraudulent.  Had there been no resurrection, there would have been no New Testament, and no Christian Church.

21. The disciples had nothing to gain by fabricating a story and starting a new religion

His followers faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyrs’ deaths. In light of this, they could never have sustained such unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie.  Religion had its rewards for them, but those rewards came from a sincere belief that what they were living for was true.

22. The unanimous testimony of the early Christian leaders

If the empty tomb and resurrection was a fabrication, why did not at least one of the disciples break away from the rest and start his own version of Christianity?   Or why did not at least one of them reveal the claim as a lie?  The Temple authorities were willing to pay good money to anyone who would provide such information.  Or if money was not alluring enough, what about the possibility of proving the Resurrection a lie in order to draw disciples away to follow some enterprising would‑be cult leader?  History has shown that this role is a popular one, and this would have been a golden opportunity.

Without the strong and persuasive evidence of the Resurrection, the continued unity of the early Christian leaders is inexplicable in light of the human tendency to want to promote oneself.  The assumption that they were all committed to the truth of their message is the only adequate explanation of their continued unity and the lack of any revelation of fraud.  Those who lie for personal gain do not stick together very long, especially when hardship decreases the benefits.

23. All of the alternate explanations proposed for the Resurrection lack credibility

In light of the evidence of the empty tomb, the Resurrection appearances and the rise of the Christian Church, a reasonable person should conclude that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a wellestablished historical fact.   In a court of law, such evidence would compel conviction unless contradictory evidence could be brought forward to introduce “a reasonable doubt.”   But all alternate explanations and theories are extremely doubtful and counter‑intuitive.

Therefore, Christians are being rational, sensible, and fully consistent with common sense when they rest their faith on this wellestablished historical event.  Not only is there compelling historical evidence to back the beliefbut extravagant benefits in the future are promised to those who believe it.  According to the Bible, the only sure promise of everlasting life for mankind, both individually and collectively, depends upon belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As Halley writes:

What a Halo of Glory this simple belief sheds on human life. Our hope of resurrection and life everlasting is based, not on a philosophic guess about immortality, but an historic fact.11

What is your Verdict?

From my research I have found 23 pieces of evidence proving the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have more evidence of proof of the Resurrection than we do evidence that Abraham Lincoln ever lived.  Yet, you believe Abe lived, don’t you?

Maybe this article has helped you come to your own verdict and you are ready to offer the same kind of prayer that changed my life over 23 years ago.  Perhaps you are still skeptical; let me encourage you to continue in your research, but act quickly as the Bible says we are not guaranteed our next breath here on earth.  Hear me for just a moment, there is a lot riding on your verdict!  If Jesus really is the Son of God, then your eternal future depends on how you respond to Him.  John 8:24 says, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”  Those are strong words; I get it!  But please understand my friend, they are meant with the most concerning love for you.  Jesus paid it all for you.  He is opening the door to Heaven for all who will put their trust in Him.  The choice is yours.  The evidence is in; it is not disputable — what is your verdict?

1.  Henry Morris, The Defender’s Bible (World Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995), p. 1576.

2. New Bible Dictionary (Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1975), p. 1087.

3. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics   (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL, 1994), p. 277.

4. Translated by William Whiston (originally published in 1737), The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus (The Winston Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1957), p. 535.

5. For more on the authenticity of Josephus’ reference to Jesus, see Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1999), pp. 55–57.

6. Traditionally, Judas Iscariot is excluded from the number witnessing his ascension because of the record in Matthew 27:5 that seem to indicate that Judas went and “hanged himself” shortly after the crucifixion. It seems more likely, however, that Judas was received back into the company of the disciples in the period between his repentance and the Ascension, which he witnessed. After he saw Jesus ascend, and all hope of the restoration of a Davidic kingdom lost, Judas went and killed himself. His absence then precipitated the need to replace him, which became the first order of business after the Resurrection (see Acts 1:16–26). If Judas had killed himself before the Resurrection, it is logical to assume that Jesus himself would have been involved in choosing his replacement, since he chose the original 12. The fact that Judas was received back into the company of the disciples after his betrayal of Jesus speaks volumes about the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus, as well as the committed brotherhood of the disciples.

7. J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1987), pp. 171 and 172.

8. Thomas Arnold, Sermons on Christian Life (London, 1854), p. 324.

9. Simon Greenleaf, the Testimony of the Evangelists (New York: 1874), p. 28.

10. Morris, op. cit., The Defender’s Bible, p. 1574.

11. Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1955 edition, p. 497. 

 

Other Information, Books, Booklets, and Articles available from:

Airrington Ministries: www.airrington.com

Save a VillageTM: www.saveavillage.org

For Further Evidence

Craig, William Lane, Reasonable Faith, Westchester, Ill Crossway, 1994

Geivett, R. Douglas, & Gary R. Habermas. Eds. In Defense of Miracles. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press 1997

Habermas, Gary, & Antony Flew. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987

Hanegraaff, Hank.  The Third Day. Nashville: W Group, 2003.

Morrison, Frank.  Who moved the Stone? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987

Wilkins, Michael, J. and J.P. Moreland, eds. Jesus Under Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985

Wilson, Ian. Jesus: The Evidence. San Francisco: Harper 1988

Schonfield, Hugh. The Passover Plot. New York: Bantam 1965

Johnson, Timothy Luk. The Real Jesus. San Franscico: Harper 1996

Strobel, Lee. The Case For Easter. Grand Rapids:Zondervan 2003

 

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Living Stress Free In Today’s World

Pastor Kevin R. Airrington

I.  Introduction

Just over 25 years ago, I wrote my first sermon.  It was entitled, “Why Worry?” I was excited to preach it.  When the day arrived, I am not certain if all the words came out right and at least one point my nerves got the best of me and even though I had notes in front of me…I completely lost my place.  Ironically, I began to worry, worry mostly about what others thought.   Sensing my distress, friend and mentor, Alan Baker of Medford, Oregon looked me in the eye, let a out a chuckle…then smiled and said, “You stinking devil!”   I heard a couple of Amen’s and suddenly, what the devil tried to rob…I was back in control of.

Worry and stress is part of life.  But is there a way we can recognize stress and attempt to minimize it?  Let’s find out.

Is it possible to live stress free in today’s world?  That’s a good question we should all ask ourselves, because stress is one of the prevailing characteristics in today’s world.  We live in a tension-charged, fast-paced world that is full of demands and complexities that have caused the stress level of the people of our society to reach epidemic proportions.

A couple of questions we must ask ourselves are, “Does Jesus offer us a stress free life?”  And does the Bible offer us solutions to living a stress free life?  I believe the answer to both of these questions is yes and that’s what I want to look at in this essay.  We will be looking at the subject of stress and the constructive solutions we can apply for living successfully in an environment that fosters stressful living.

1.  A Biblical Picture Of Stress Free Living.

Let’s begin by looking at a portion of scripture found in Matthew’s Gospel that shows us very clearly that Jesus intended for us to have a stress free lifestyle.

Matthew 6:25-33  “…do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air… why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field… if God so clothes the grass of the field… will He not much more clothe you… but seek first the kingdom of God… do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This passage of scripture offers us some real hope in today’s tension-charged, fast-paced world that is full of the many complexities of modern life.

2.  Defining Stress.

Stress is simply defined as “a factor that creates a mental, emotional, or physical strain.”  It is “a state of unresolved tension arising from the pressures, irritations, and demands of life.

In biblical terms, the word “affliction” is the closest equivalent.  Affliction can also be defined as “the pressure which affects a person’s life.”  It is a broad term which includes many factors which contribute to stress.  Affliction in the Greek means anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulations, and trouble.

Keep in mind that God did not promise us that we would be exempt from the things that cause stress and anxiety, but rather He would enable us to live in such a way that these things would not affect us.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Stress is a universal problem which periodically troubles Christians and unbelievers alike.  Even Paul referred to the stress he experienced when he wrote: “We were pressed out of measure”.

2 Corinthians 1:8 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”

II. Common Symptoms Of Stress.

How do you know whether you are experiencing stress or not.  Maybe you are and you are not even aware of it.  You may think that what you are experiencing is the normal function of life.  Stress can breed a host of destructive symptoms which affect us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • mental and emotional fatigue
  • drug and alcohol dependency
  • loss of appetite
  • physical weariness
  • high blood pressure
  • frequent headaches
  •  stomach problems
  • heart problems
  • migraines
  • ulcers
  • insomnia
  • hypertension

Stress often produces a sense of anxiety, irritability, frustration, restlessness, and depression.  It creates a feeling of hopelessness and disillusionment which undermines a person’s sense of purpose, direction, and meaning in life.  Stress can keep you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.

III. Common Causes of Stress.

What are some of the common causes of stress in our lives?  There are a number of things that contribute to stressful living, especially in our society today.  The unrelenting pressures of contemporary life, the constant challenges and deadlines of our fast-paced society, the ever-changing state of our unstable world, and the pressures of fear and uncertainties concerning the future all contribute to stressful living.

  • the tempo of life the strain of demands and responsibilities
  • a failure to seek adequate rest and relaxation
  • a poor use of time
  • a poor diet
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • wrong priorities
  • spiritual conflicts
  • a tendency to overextend ourselves
  • lack of exercise
  • insufficient communion with God
  • unresolved inter-personal conflicts
  • emotional problems
  • procrastination
  • unresolved sins

How to Join the Coronary Club: Membership Requirements

  1.  Never say No to a request ‑ always say YES.
  2.  Your job comes first; personal considerations are secondary.
  3.  Accept all invitations to meetings, banquets, committees, etc.
  4.  Go to the office evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
  5.  Golf, bowling and hobbies are a waste of time.
  6.  It is a poor policy to take all the vacation time which is provided to you.
  7.  Never delegate responsibility to others; carry the whole load at all times.
  8.  Do not eat a restful, relaxing meal ‑ always plan a conference for the   dinner hour.
  9.  If your work calls for traveling ‑ work all day and drive all night to make your appointment for the next morning.
  10. 10. Fishing and hunting are a waste of time and money ‑ you never bring back enough fish or game to justify the expense.
  11. Take the briefcase home on the evenings when you do not go to the office.  This provides an opportunity to review completely all the troubles and worries of the day.

Unresolved stress can become an extremely destructive condition.  The accumulated effect of longstanding stress can eventually lead to a condition which is commonly referred to as “Burn-Out Syndrome.”

IV. Principles For Stress Free Living.

Let’s keep in mind that God desires for each one of us as His precious people to live a stress free life that is rich in God’s fulfillment.

Psalms 66:12  “…We went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to rich fulfillment.”

When we look to God’s solution in any matter that has the tendency to bring stress in our lives, He will bring us into a rich fulfillment.  The key is learning to trust Him and His way rather than our poorly devised plans.  Let’s look at some of God’s principles for stress free living.

1.  We Must See Things From God’s Perspective.

Life is filled with a wide variety of circumstances.  Some situations are positive, some are negative.  However, the circumstances we encounter, regardless of the nature, often produce feelings of stress.  This is especially true of the adverse situations which suddenly affect or alter the course of our lives.

A great deal of stress can be alleviated or minimized by viewing our circumstances from a godly perspective.  If we fail to perceive our life situations, at any point, as God perceives them, then we become susceptible to stress.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This can be a real liberating revelation which has the potential of freeing us from much of the self-imposed stress we experience by seeing our circumstances in a negative light.

In one of Germany’s famous art galleries, a painting called “Cloud Lane” hangs at the end of a long dark hall.  It appears at first to be a huge, ugly mass of confused color ‑‑ unattractive and foreboding.  Upon closer examination, however, you see an innumerable company of angels.  Theodore Cuyler writes, “How often the soul that is frightened by a trial sees nothing but a conglomeration of broken expectations.  But if he analyzes the situation from a position of faith ‑‑ he will soon discover that the cloud is God’s wonderful chariot of providence, full of angels of mercy.”

2.  Deal With Unresolved Sins & Conflicts.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Sin generates inner tensions and conflicts and if it’s unresolved, whether public or private, we must sincerely seek Christ’s cleansing power and forgiveness.

Whatever your conflicts may be, learn to deal with them as they come up.  The more you put them off, and the more they pile on top of one another, the more stress you will experience.  If you are experiencing irritations in your marriage or whatever, deal with them.

Conflicts with others create incredible amounts of stress.  If we are harboring hostility, hatred, resentments, or offense, we should seek genuine reconciliation, healing, and forgiveness through the scriptural steps God provides.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

3.  We Must Redeem Our Time.

Many people waste time and manage it poorly.   The inevitable result is a stress-filled consciousness.

Ephesians 5:15-16  “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

This also involves pacing ourselves in such a way that we do not take on to much in a given time, but we understand our limitations.  This also involves taking time for rest and relaxation.

4.  Give Everything To God In Prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

A great deal of stress is the direct result of shouldering the burdens of life without turning to The Lord in prayer.  We have access to “the peace of God” when we release our burdens to The Lord.

1 Peter 5:7         “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

When we fail to release our problems and cares to Christ, we begin to experience increasing tension, anxiety, and fear.  Prayer is one of the most powerful remedies for stress.

5.  Trust In God’s Word.

Romans 15:4  “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

The promises and counsel of scripture provides us with a rich storehouse of stress-relieving comfort and peace.  Stress often results from failing to stand upon the absolute reality of God’s Word, in spite of our circumstances.

When we confront life’s problems, dilemmas, and uncertainties with the reality of God’s Word, we can effectively overcome a great deal of stress we suffer.

6.  Fellowship With One Another.

Romans 15:32  “…that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.”

2 Corinthians 7:13 “Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.”

Fellowship can often provide a potent remedy for stress. 

Studies have proven that interaction with loved ones and friends helps relieve the pressures of stress.

Those who isolate themselves and withdraw from people and relationships suffer a greater degree of stress-related problems.  Companionship with others provides access to warmth, love, understanding, comfort, counsel, and encouragement.

Copyright © 2011  Pastor Kevin R. Airrington.  All rights reserved.

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