Subject: The Historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Part 3: The Emergence of the Church
Acts 2:47 “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Paul Harvey was an American radio broadcaster for ABC whose career spanned for over 50 years, from the 1950’s through 2008, with his broadcasts reaching nearly 24 million people every week. He is best remembered for his famous segment called ‘The Rest of the Story’, where he inspired Americans with weekly stories of the goodness and heroism in human nature. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to civilians, which recognizes Americans who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” His legacy continues, as many of his most memorable broadcasts are still aired to remind us of what it means to be an American.
One of his most memorable broadcasts aired back on April 3, 1965, entitled “If I Were the Devil”. In it, he explained the step-by-step method he would follow to destroy the world if “he was the devil”. Let’s examine where he says he would begin, to tear apart the foundation of the world and bring upon it’s destruction.
“If I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee. So, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.”
So, Step #1 in enveloping the world in darkness: start with the United States of America. Not somewhere in Europe, or the Middle East, or Asia. Why America? In his book ‘Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph’, Dennis Prager maintains that what makes America the greatest social experiment in the history of the world, and gives America the ability to combat evil, is its value system. American values are not race-based, nor are they religion-based nor ethnic-based. American values are ideals-based, founded on the ideal of liberty as an ‘unalienable right’ given to all people by God. No other civilization in history claims its citizens’ freedoms are given to them by their God. On top of this ideal, America was founded based on the God of the Bible as the very source of its national values. America was founded on the belief that human rights do not come from other men, but from God. In 2011, the House of Representatives reaffirmed ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ as the official motto of the US, by a vote of 396 to 9.
Once the Devil focused in on America, to remove God from our national identity, Step #2 would be to attack the churches by perverting their message: “I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’” Satan’s goal would be to replace the objective moral commands that Jesus Christ gives to us, on “denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Me” (Mark 8:34), with make yourself your own god, and live according to “whatever is right in your own eyes” (Judges 21;25).
Once successful in perverting the church’s message of the Gospel Jesus Christ, Step #3 would be to focus in on the youth of America, with the lie that the Bible is not God’s word, and that it’s all about you, and then with older Americans, that their security comes from government, not Jesus Christ: “To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington …”
Our verse this week is taken from the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, which is a historical record of the birth and explosive growth of the early church. Verses 31-32 explain why the church took over the culture at that time: “God spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” Paul Harvey emphasized that Satan’s plan to destroy the world would focus first on distorting the message of the American churches before going after our youth. As our verse this week documents, it was the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that was God’s ultimate demonstration to the truth of Christianity. As verse 31 explains, the message of Christ’s death and resurrection was the power behind the growth of the early church: “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
This is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of the resurrection can be seen in the power of His church. Does your church emphasize the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.