I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into hell
The third day He rose from the dead;
From “The Apostles’ Creed”
“Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34
We are continuing our walk through The Apostles’ Creed, as we search the Scriptures for the evidences and foundations for our faith. Our journey finds us in a place of terror – hell – a concept that has been argued for and against for hundreds of years. Even some Christians contend that the Bible doesn’t really support the theory of hell, citing terminology and translations they claim have turned hell into something it is not. But Jesus was very clear on the subject, teaching about this place of torment and “darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12) As much as we don’t want to confront it, hell is the place for Satan and His demons – and it is the place reserved for those who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior. God does not condemn anyone to hell, but by choosing to disregard God’s perfect sacrifice on our behalf, unbelievers condemn themselves. Good as they may be, without Jesus Christ, they are cast into hell by their own pride. Man rejects the truth of hell because hell denotes punishment, punishment denotes sin, and sin denotes the truth of “right and wrong.” Sin is the symptom of a greater problem, that of denying the authority of Holy God to set standards of right and wrong. . Hell is a very real place, as is heaven; one is reserved for those who accept Christ and the other for those who reject Him. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”(John 3:36)
Of all the foundations of the Christian faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is likely the most important, for it undeniably reveals Him as God. He performed great miracles throughout His earthly life, healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the multitudes and even raising the dead back to life, but it is His resurrection that becomes the irrefutable evidence of His Deity. Great men of the faith have done great things in God’s name, but they have died, and did not see the light of life again. Even Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from death to life eventually died his final death. But Jesus – Jesus rose from death to life and ascended from earthly life to heavenly life everlasting. Death could not hold on to Him because He was and is eternal.
In His bold address to the Jews, Peter said simply “God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead…because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” (Acts 2:24) It was not a rumor nor an exaggeration, for Peter followed by saying, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” (v. 32) Paul confirmed Peter’s words in Acts 13:30-31 when he proclaimed, “God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead, and for many days He was seen by those who had traveled with Him,” Luke, the writer of Acts wrote, “After His suffering, He showed Himself to [His apostles] and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) Paul adds yet another proof in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 (sel.) “He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time. Then He appeared to James…and last of all He appeared to me also.”
Paul calls the Doctrine of the Resurrection “as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is of first importance because without Jesus’ resurrection, He is just another dead religious teacher. And a dead man cannot save anyone. Paul said “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin.” (1 Corinthians 15:17) Jesus Christ had to die – there is no other way for you and me to be forgiven and cleansed from our sins. Christ had to be resurrected – there was no other way for you and me to obtain eternal life.
The Apostle Peter gives us the blessed benediction to our look at the Doctrines of Hell and The Resurrection:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:3-4
Merciful Father, by Your great love and power, You have opened the way for us to turn from death to life and from hell to heaven. We give you thanks and praise Your name for Your tender mercies. Amen.