A Conceptual Understanding of UniteBoston

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about UniteBoston – what a church truly united in Christ’s love would look like… and what UniteBoston is doing to help bring greater unity to this city.

These crazy-looking diagrams below are just a few of what I’ve come up with.

Please note that this is my model and my interpretation of the system that UniteBoston is a part of – I’m just one person and I don’t think I can even pretend to have it all figured out!

First, I started off with the question “What is unity? How is Christian unity formed?” And I came up with this diagram:

The foundation of unity is the shared love that we have for one another. Love is the fruit of relationships, and relationships happen because of a shared experience that two people have together. Shared experiences are the result of a commonality between two people, such as gifting, background, cause, interest, circumstance, location, etc. Although every commonalities is a piece of information, this information in itself does not bring unity – rather, unity comes out of the relationships we have with one another.

UniteBoston’s mission is to better unite the Christian community in Boston through shared experience. We harness the scattered array of information through an infrastructure for communication, as a catalyst for relationships across the body. UniteBoston does this through an weekly email newsletter digest, an online events calendar, and forums to connect resources and needs. We believe that we can use the Internet to communicate information throughout the body of Christ broader, faster, and easier than ever before.

The Opportunity

The body of Christ has an opportunity to go from being church-focused to kingdom-minded. Today, our mentality tends to be “my church,”  “your church,” rather than being of one church, with many sites throughout the city or region. Biblical unity is a strong theme throughout the bible (Ephesians 4, Psalm 133, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 12, Philippians 2:1, Colossians 3:14) and unity even is Jesus’ dying prayer for His followers (John 17). Because of this, I believe that the Church needs a reformation of our identity, mission, and leadership structure in order to be the body that we were created to be:

-We must go from an identity based in a single church, denomination, or culture, to being part of the Body of Christ

-In making disciples, we must go from having independent outreach initiatives, to having Interdependent Shared Mission

-We must build on our church-centered leadership to incorporate Collaborative Regional Leadership

(colors correspond to diagram below)

UniteBoston is a means of harnessing and communicating information across the body, which helps to strengthen our identity, reinforce our shared mission, and facilitate relationships for regional collaboration among leaders. Being able to communicate more efficiently and effectively with one another will produce greater awareness, act as a relational connector, generate greater participation, and expand the possibilities of individuals.

So, yeah! This is just the beginning – I’ve got a lot of other crazy diagrams going around in this little head of mine – let me know if you want to see more.

I’m curious – what do you guys think? Make sense or not? Post a comment below!

P.S. I know the images are a little difficult to see, so here are the raw files online:

Slide 1: http://www.webspirationpro.com/view/1080237a302c2

Slide 2: http://www.webspirationpro.com/view/1080169a7aae

Slide 3: http://www.webspirationpro.com/publish.php?i=1080337a2f6f6


Newsletter 4/29/12

In this month’s newsletter:

Baptisms at Journey Church

This morning, four people (Xavier, Karen, Charity, and Pastor Kent & Gina’s son Kole) were baptized.  Baptisms at our church are a bit complicated – we rent space in a hotel, so we have to carry in a horse trough and fill it up with water from the sink with a hose. But it is always so worth it to celebrate as people take this step – dying to their old ways and rising to new life in Christ.   

Thanks for your prayers for the Cambridge Community Easter Outreach! Although we had to push back the event one week due to rain, over 200 kids came to participate in three egg hunts with more than 4,000 eggs. To the right is an image of everyone gathered around to hear the winners of our free community raffle, where we gave away grocery bags, gift certificates, movie tickets, and more!

Also at Journey Church this month – I preached a sermon on “Is Christ the Only Way?” I have always wrestled with Christ’s claim that He is the only way to God. How could He be the only way? But as I began to look into the historical evidence for the life of Christ, I became utterly blown away at the firm foundation that our faith is built upon.  You can listen/download to the sermon here or look at the sermon notes here

Thinking conceptually about UniteBoston and our work in Boston

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about UniteBoston – what a church truly united in Christ’s love would look like… and what UniteBoston is doing to help bring greater unity to this city. I’ve come up with a few crazy-looking diagrams. Note that this is my model and my interpretation of the system that UniteBoston is a part of – I’m just one person and I don’t think I can even pretend to have it all figured out! I’d love to get your feedback on these – feel free to check them out and post questions/comments on my blog post here

Opportunity to Give
In just two months, I will be leaving for an 11-month mission trip called the “World Race,” in which I will be serving with fifty other young people in eleven nations throughout the world for eleven months. I am super excited to see what God is doing all over the world!
In being a missionary, I’ve learned the value of being upfront and honest with my support needs. As of today, I still need to raise $1,300 in my World Race account before June 15. This is an awesome opportunity to contribute to what God is doing in nations throughout the world. If you’d like to make a donation, you can visit http://kellysteinhaus.theworldrace.org/ then click on “Support Me” on the left. Alternatively, you can write a check out to “Adventures in Missions” and mail to:
Adventures in Missions
PO Box 534470
Atlanta, GA 30353-4470
In the memo line, be sure to indicate “For Kelly Steinhaus”
Thanks for joining alongside me in this journey!

Prayer Requests:
-Wisdom and guidance for the leaders of UniteBoston – a smooth transition in the next two months is crucial for our organization
-We’re recruiting for people to carry on various aspects of UniteBoston – we have an informational session about these opportunities on May 17. Pray that God would bring people who are skilled, passionate, and available to contribute to our ministry
-Continued breakthrough for Journey Church into this community – lately we’ve been praying for ears to hear our Father’s voice.

Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). I pray that you would be filled with Christ’s life this month.

In His love and joy,


Why I am not a Unitarian

I’ve always wrestled with Christ’s claim that He is the only way to God. How could He be the only way?

I was given the opportunity to speak about this at my church last Sunday, and in doing so I dove headfirst into the historical evidence for the life of Christ. What I discovered literally blew me away.

You can listen to my sermon or download it here:


First, I asked people in Harvard Square about what they think about Jesus, and what they think about His claim that He was the only way to God. Listen to their responses here:

As you can see, pluralism is the prevailing mindset of people in this area.

Why am I not a Unitarian? First, I came to understand that all religions cannot all be correct because they believe contradictory claims. 

Either the Jews and the Muslims are correct in saying that Jesus was a prophet, or the Christians are right in saying that Jesus is more than a prophet, He is the son of God – but Jesus cannot be both God and not God at the same time.

Either there is one God like Christians & Muslims believe, or there are many Gods like the Hindus believe, or there is no God like the atheists believe, but they all can’t be true at same time because they flat-out contradict one another.

It’s illogical to think that God would go over to one side of the world and tell people “here’s one way to become reconciled with me” and then go to another place and say “no, here’s a completely contraductory way to please me,” and so forth.

So we acknowledge that all religions cannot be correct because they are contradictory to one another. So why Christianity? Why believe that Jesus is the way, as opposed to Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Buddha or any other religious figure?

We have to find out what is true – and in order to do this we have to look into the evidence to support a particular belief.

Historians do not debate about the existence of Jesus Christ – looking in ancient sources outside the bible, there are more than 39 secular sources which talk about the person of Jesus, and affirm that there was a man named Jesus who was from Nazareth, lived a virtuous life, performed unusual feats, was crucified in Judea under Pontius Pilate, and whose disciples multiplied rapidly and worshiped Christ as God.

 So the man named Jesus actually lived. But what evidence is there that Christ claimed to be God?
-John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes the Father except through me.”
-Tells people he forgives their sins (Mark 2:1)
-Refers to himself as the messiah, the Christ (John 4:25, Mark 14)
So we see that Jesus didn’t just live, actually claimed He was God on earth. But everyone is free to make the claim as Jesus did that they are the way, the truth, and the life. I can say it or you can say it but that wouldn’t make it true. How do we know that Jesus was telling the truth? What evidence is there that Jesus is who He says He is?

1. Jesus’ life was characterized by extraordinary miracles which defied the laws of nature

Healings, deliverances, signs & wonder followed Him wherever He traveled – Jesus stilled a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee, turned water into wine at a wedding, fed a massive crowd of 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. You don’t see anyone else doing that.

Thousands of people saw and experienced these miracles. Christianity is unique in that it provides publicly verifiable evidence for the life of Christ.

2. Jesus fulfilled ALL the prophecies of the Hebraic scriptures

The Old Testament documents the story of the Jewish people and documents God speaking through people that someone would be coming, a Messiah that the entire Old Testament points towards. There are over 60 major messianic prophecies with 270 ramifications, and every single one of them was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Some may argue that this happened by chance. Peter Stoner calculated the chance that any man might have lived and fulfilled just eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. If you were to take that many silver dollars, lay them throughout the face of Texas, covering the state two feet deep, then mark one dollar, blindfold a man and tell him to pick the right one, the man would have the same chance of picking the right coin as writing eight prophecies that came true on any one man. That’s just eight prophecies, but there were more than 270.

No other religion I know about has prophecies given hundreds and thousands of years before were fulfilled in one person.

3. Jesus had a unique moral character 

Jesus claimed to be God – and because God is perfect, Jesus had to be perfect. There is no evidence that Jesus ever sinned in his life on earth. In none of the gospels we find any confession of sin – and others such as Pontius Pilate, John Paul and Peter write about the morality of Christ. This is contrary to saints and mystics in the ages, who as they drew closer to God they got more overwhelmed with their own failure and shortcomings.

4. His Resurrection

Jesus lived, was beaten and crucified on cross, then placed in tomb which was guarded by a huge stone and Roman soldiers, three days later no one could find His body, and then He appeared to over 500 people afterwards. Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University, determined that there is more evidence for the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history

We worship not just a man who lived and died but a God who is bigger than death, who is alive and living through His followers today.

Because of all these reasons, we must trust that Jesus is who He says He is. He must be the way to God.

Still not convinced?

CS Lewis said “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 a 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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Was Jesus a liar? When he made the claim that He was God, He knew He was not God, then he was lying deliberately and deceiving His followers. This would make him a hypocrite because He told others to be honest at all costs. This view of Jesus as a liar doesn’t coincide with what we know of Him or the results of His life or teachings.

Was Jesus a lunatic? Couldn’t he have thought He was God, but been mistaken? But Jesus spoke some of the most profound sayings ever recorded, that are commonly quoted and known throughout society. The skill and depth of his teachings support total mental soundness.

It doesn’t seem that Jesus was a liar, nor a lunatic, so was He the Son of God? Yet one has only so many choices…

But WHY? Why would God send His son in the world to die?

I agree that Christians would be narrow-minded if there really were many paths and they were saying that theirs was the best way. But we’re not saying that – we’re saying that the truth of the matter is that someone had to pay for the penalty of the wrongdoings that keep us from God – and because of Jesus’ sinlessness, He is the only one who can substitute.

When Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life, He wasn’t saying it out of arrogance but out of great compassion. He knew that there something that separated us from God, that only by trusting in Him could the penalty of sin be paid.

I don’t believe Jesus because it makes me feel good, I believe in Jesus because true, only because of what He did that I can be in relationship with God

Acts 4:12 says that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

John 20:31 says “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life in His name.”

What about you?

What do you believe? What evidence do you have to support your beliefs?

As CS Lewis said – You must make your choice. If Christ is who He says He is, it demands a response from us.

If you’d like to give your life to following Jesus, you can pray, “Jesus – I’m sorry that I’ve lived far from you. I thank you for dying on the cross for me. Please enter my heart today. I want to give my life to you.”

I guarantee your life will never be the same. Jesus radically transformed the world when He came, and He will continue to overcome evil with good by living through His followers.

If you’re not there yet, say a simple prayer to ask God to reveal Himself to you. Just talk to God openly. You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart.


Josh McDowell’s book A Ready Defense – http://www.greatcom.org/resources/areadydefense
Lee Strobel’s article “Is Jesus the Only Way to God” – http://www.jesuschristonly.com/sermons/lee-strobel/jesus-the-only-way-to-god.html

We can trust Him

Last month, I attended a meeting at the Emmanuel Gospel Center where a team from True Story Theatre were guest presenters. True Story asked people to share stories about things that were happening in their work life, and then the team would do a short performance to act out the story and emotions. The incredible thing is that the actors did not collaborate together; they simply heard the story and read cues from one another to put the story together with actions, music, and words.

At this meeting, I had the opportunity to share a short part of my life with them – the beginning of UniteBoston, how it grew, then how God is calling me to serve in the nations for a year and my current anxiousness about leaving everything. They did a fabulous job of acting this out – Check it out here:

Honestly I feel like I’m being pulled in two directions. I’m excited about leaving, but I’m anxious about UniteBoston. What will happen? A friend shared with me that it’s probably like having a baby and then giving it up for someone else to raise. I thought that was a great analogy.

The past few weeks, I have had to continually remind myself that it’s not my job to unite the city of Boston; it’s God’s job.

In my prayer times, I feel like God is gently asking me a question, “Don’t you think I know what I am doing?”
Then…”You can trust me.”

Yes, we can trust God. But why is it so hard? Why is it so hard for us to leave the life we know, leave our hopes and dreams, to follow Him? He’s still doing the same thing today that He did with the very first disciples – calling us to forsake all and follow Him. I’m learning that sometimes even the dreams that God births in our heart have to be set aside for a season. Although we might not understand it all, we simply have to have faith and trust…

He never promised us it would be easy. But as we follow Him, pursuing His kingdom, He promises that He will take care of us, and our reward in heaven will be great.

One scripture that I have been meditating on during the past few months is Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We can trust God. He knows what He is doing. Jesus, Give me faith to believe…

Birthday Row

There’s something that I love about early mornings – the stillness, the crispness of the air, the metamorphosis of rich colors transforming the sky. When I was a kid, my dad used to wake up my mom, sister, and I at 4:00am, then drive us to the edge of the Grand Canyon. We would put on our headlamps and start hiking down the trail in darkness, the world around us still so black that it overwhelmed our senses, our eyes searching to find the steps in front of us. As time passed, the sky above and around us would turn from midnight to navy to vibrant blue, the sun gradually waking, bringing forth day into the world and enabling us to see the countless buttes and buttresses extending for miles in every direction. When sunlight hit us, we celebrated the fact that we were in the most beautiful canyon in the world by pulling out the backpacking stove and cooking a gourmet breakfast of Southwestern-style hashbrowns coupled with hot tang (yes, hot tang!)

Through this, I’ve come to believe that there’s no better way to start the day than by watching the sunrise.I think that was one of the reasons why I loved rowing so much – it required me to get my lazy butt out of my bed early each morning and be with with my teammates out on the chilly Spokane River, having finished rowing practice before the alarm clocks of most other students on campus had even sounded.

Since I stopped training, I have gotten out of the habit of waking up that early, but this morning somehow I woke up wide awake at 5:30am. I laid in my bed to listen for the wind (I tend to be a fair-weather rower). It sounded like a still morning so I decided to bring in my birthday with a row. I said a quick prayer that it would be a birthday row, not a birthday swim (as boats can get tippy on the first row of the year!) then headed out the door and walked the two blocks to launch a boat at Riverside Boat Club.

As I came around the bend past the B.U. bridge, Boston came into view and  rays of sunlight started to come over the horizon. I didn’t have my camera with me in the boat, but it looked something like this:

(photo copyright Steve Dunwell, stevedunwell.com)

I felt like God was telling me, “The sun is rising on a new day in Boston.”

The Psalmist wrote:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands…In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
(Psalm 19:1-4)

I noticed that as the sun came over the horizon, everything changed. The monotone world beamed with color. The sunlight penetrated into even the darkest of places, bringing light and warmth to the city of Boston.

Time and time again, I have seen that is a reality in the spiritual world as well. When I was in college, I was searching for the truth, and one night I prayed that I would fully know that Jesus is who He says he is, that God would reveal Himself fully to me. The next morning I woke up and literally the whole world looked different – the grass was vibrant green and the sky was bluer than I’ve ever seen it. There was something in me that had changed –  I knew that everything the bible said was true – my doubts had been replaced by an assurance of faith. There was an unexplainable presence of peace and love in my heart like never before. Something in me had shifted, and the only way I know how to explain this is it was God.

Trader Joe's gave me these flowers to celebrate my birthday. They are super gorgeous and smell even better than they look. Lilies are definitely my fav!

Jesus said: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). There’s something about Jesus – When we follow Him, His light comes into our hearts, into our souls, into our being. In the same way that the sun rising transforms the world that we see, when Jesus comes into our lives, He transforms us to make us more like Him. Later, Peter wrote: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

I praise God for being born this day, 27 years ago, and for Christ revealing His love to me, bringing me from darkness into the light. I thank God for my parents who have loved and supported me unconditionally. I praise God for the friends He has put into my life who are continuing to encourage and hold me accountable to be all the Christ has made me to be. Each person in my life has written a footprint on my heart; I know that I would not be where I am today without each of you.

Tonight I get to go to dinner and swing dancing with friends to celebrate this day. I feel so blessed to have such amazing people to share life with!

Easter weekend in Boston

Are you curious what happens on Easter on Boston? Well, I took my camera around with me last weekend to show you all the amazing things happening to celebrate Christ’s resurrection in Boston! I then put a little video together – check out:

-Unity Covenant and foot washing with Grace Street and Journey Church
-Cambridge Community Easter Egg Hunt
-Easter Vigil service at the Church of the Advent
-Joint Easter Sunday Morning Service

I am just fascinated with the vast array of God’s kingdom…from the humility of washing another person’s feet, to the smile on a little girl’s face who finds an easter egg, to the awaiting of Christ’s birth in a dark room, to the joy felt with people all worshipping Christ together – all of this shouts “Jesus!” He is in all, and through all. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

One of the last things that Jesus told the disciples was: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (John 16:22).

We celebrate a risen Lord, one who did not simply die but who rose from the grave so that we can forever be in a relationship with Him. This is good news! Rejoice in that today, and always. Nothing that happens in the world can take away the assurance of this life we have in Christ. Hallelujah!

Eight Reasons Why I Believe that Jesus Rose from the Dead

This week is Holy Week, the final week of the Lenten period, where Christians throughout the world are taking time to pray and reflect on the last days leading up to Christ’s death on the cross.

The beauty of the gospel is that it doesn’t end with Jesus’ death. There is something different about Jesus than any man who has ever lived – His resurrection. The resurrection is essential to our faith, because “if Christ had not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith…And if Christ had not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthinas 15:14,17).

The gospel is good news because although Jesus Christ was a human, he was also fully God and never sinned. When He died on the cross, He loved us so much that He took our sinful ways, our crap, our mess-ups (we all have them!) on Him. Yet death couldn’t even hold him down; the Spirit of God raised Christ into heaven, and if you fully put your trust in Jesus, you can have that same Spirit living in you (Romans 8:11). This is good news! This is the gospel!

I admit that this might sound a little out there, but hear me out. The evidence that Jesus rose from the dead is astounding. Whether or not you’re a follower of Jesus today, I ask that you consider these eight pieces of evidence for Christ’s resurrection, written by John Piper, a gifted pastor, author, and theologian:

 Eight Reasons Why I Believe That Jesus Rose from the Dead

by John Piper

1. Jesus himself testified to his coming resurrection from the dead.Jesus spoke openly about what would happen to him: crucifixion and then resurrection from the dead. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31; see also Matthew 17:22Luke 9:22). Those who consider the resurrection of Christ unbelievable will probably say that Jesus was deluded or (more likely) that the early church put these statements in his mouth to make him teach the falsehood that they themselves conceived. But those who read the Gospels and come to the considered conviction that the one who speaks so compellingly through these witnesses is not the figment of foolish imagination will be unsatisfied with this effort to explain away Jesus’ own testimony to his resurrection from the dead.This is especially true in view of the fact that the words which predict the resurrection are not only the simple straightforward words quoted above, but also the very oblique and indirect words which are far less likely to be the simple invention of deluded disciples. For example, two separate witnesses testify in two very different ways to Jesus’ statement during his lifetime that if his enemies destroyed the temple (of his body), he would build it again in three days (John 2:19Mark 14:58; cf. Matthew 26:61). He also spoke illusively of the “sign of Jonah” — three days in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:3916:4). And he hinted at it again in Matthew 21:42 — “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” On top of his own witness to the coming resurrection, his accusers said that this was part of Jesus’ claim: “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise'” (Matthew 27:63).

Our first evidence of the resurrection, therefore, is that Jesus himself spoke of it. The breadth and nature of the sayings make it unlikely that a deluded church made these up. And the character of Jesus himself, revealed in these witnesses, has not been judged by most people to be a lunatic or a deceiver.

2. The tomb was empty on Easter.The earliest documents claim this: “When they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:3). And the enemies of Jesus confirmed it by claiming that the disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:13). The dead body of Jesus could not be found. There are four possible ways to account for this.

2.1 His foes stole the body. If they did (and they never claimed to have done so), they surely would have produced the body to stop the successful spread of the Christian faith in the very city where the crucifixion occurred. But they could not produce it.

2.2 His friends stole the body. This was an early rumor (Matthew 28:11-15). Is it probable? Could they have overcome the guards at the tomb? More important, would they have begun to preach with such authority that Jesus was raised, knowing that he was not? Would they have risked their lives and accepted beatings for something they knew was a fraud?

2.3 Jesus was not dead, but only unconscious when they laid him in the tomb. He awoke, removed the stone, overcame the soldiers, and vanished from history after a few meetings with his disciples in which he convinced them he was risen from the dead. Even the foes of Jesus did not try this line. He was obviously dead. The Romans saw to that. The stone could not be moved by one man from within who had just been stabbed in the side by a spear and spent six hours nailed to a cross.

2.4 God raised Jesus from the dead. This is what he said would happen. It is what the disciples said did happen. But as long as there is a remote possibility of explaining the resurrection naturalistically, modern people say we should not jump to a supernatural explanation. Is this reasonable? I don’t think so. Of course, we don’t want to be gullible. But neither do we want to reject the truth just because it’s strange. We need to be aware that our commitments at this point are much affected by our preferences — either for the state of affairs that would arise from the truth of the resurrection, or for the state of affairs that would arise from the falsehood of the resurrection. If the message of Jesus has opened you to the reality of God and the need of forgiveness, for example, then anti-supernatural dogma might lose its power over your mind. Could it be that this openness is not prejudice for the resurrection, but freedom from prejudice against it?

3. The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 2:243:154:2).Their explanation of this change was that they had seen the risen Christ and had been authorized to be his witnesses (Acts 2:32). The most popular competing explanation is that their confidence was owing to hallucinations. There are numerous problems with such a notion. The disciples were not gullible, but level-headed skeptics both before and after the resurrection (Mark 9:32Luke 24:11John 20:8-9, 25). Moreover, is the deep and noble teaching of those who witnessed the risen Christ the stuff of which hallucinations are made? What about Paul’s great letter to the Romans? I personally find it hard to think of this giant intellect and deeply transparent soul as deluded or deceptive, and he claimed to have seen the risen Christ.

4. Paul claimed that, not only had he seen the risen Christ, but that 500 others had seen him also, and many were still alive when he made this public claim.”Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). What makes this so relevant is that this was written to Greeks who were skeptical of such claims when many of these witnesses were still alive. So it was a risky claim if it could be disproved by a little firsthand research.

5. The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian church supports the truth of the resurrection claim.The church spread on the power of the testimony that Jesus was raised from the dead and that God had thus made him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). The Lordship of Christ over all nations is based on his victory over death. This is the message that spread all over the world. Its power to cross cultures and create one new people of God was a strong testimony of its truth.

6. The Apostle Paul’s conversion supports the truth of the resurrection.He argues to a partially unsympathetic audience in Galatians 1:11-17 that his gospel comes from the risen Jesus Christ, not from men. His argument is that before his Damascus Road experience when he saw the risen Jesus, he was violently opposed to the Christian faith (Acts 9:1). But now, to everyone’s astonishment, he is risking his life for the gospel (Acts 9:24-25). His explanation: The risen Jesus appeared to him and authorized him to spearhead the Gentile mission (Acts 26:15-18). Can we credit such a testimony? This leads to the next argument.

7. The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers.How do you credit a witness? How do you decide whether to believe a person’s testimony? The decision to give credence to a person’s testimony is not the same as completing a mathematical equation. The certainty is of a different kind, yet can be just as firm (I trust my wife’s testimony that she is faithful). When a witness is dead, we can base our judgment of him only on the content of his writings and the testimonies of others about him. How do Peter and John and Matthew and Paul stack up?

In my judgment (and at this point we can live authentically only by our own judgment—Luke 12:57), these men’s writings do not read like the works of gullible, easily deceived or deceiving men. Their insights into human nature are profound. Their personal commitment is sober and carefully stated. Their teachings are coherent and do not look like the invention of unstable men. The moral and spiritual standard is high. And the lives of these men are totally devoted to the truth and to the honor of God.

8. There is a self-authenticating glory in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection as narrated by the biblical witnesses.The New Testament teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…. He will glorify me” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit does not do this by telling us that Jesus rose from the dead. He does it by opening our eyes to see the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the narrative of his life and death and resurrection. He enables us to see Jesus as he really was, so that he is irresistibly true and beautiful. The apostle stated the problem of our blindness and the solution like this: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6).

A saving knowledge of Christ crucified and risen is not the mere result of right reasoning about historical facts. It is the result of spiritual illumination to see those facts for what they really are: a revelation of the truth and glory of God in the face of Christ — who is the same yesterday today and forever.

Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.