I was shocked to hear the preacher assert, “A dead Jesus is a useless Jesus” – it sounded blasphemous to my ears … get the rocks ready for a corporate stoning !  But he continued,  “A dead Jesus cannot save anyone, cannot forgive anyone’s sins, cannot heal the sick, cannot bring comfort to the distressed, cannot bless the needy – in fact he can do nothing at all – so, a dead Jesus is a useless Jesus”.  German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke never did pull any punches, and always shot from the hip – this was hard-hitting stuff. And hit me it did – suddenly, I saw it – he was absolutely right.

It’s why Governor Pilate handed over the dead corpse – because he no longer considered Jesus as a threat – a dead Jesus is a helpless Jesus – he’s manageable – he’s useless.  Of course, Pilate failed to understand who he was dealing with, and three days later the lifeless Jesus rose again, emerging from His tomb fully alive, having conquered death.

Now for me, the central Christian message focuses on a Living Christ, working in today’s world, offering possibility of new life and hope for mankind. So far as I’m concerned New Testament Christianity involves a vibrant, life-enriching, personal relationship with this Risen Lord, and nothing less.

Would St Paul recognize what often passes for ‘Christian faith’ today ?  I doubt he would ever countenance the bewildering development, highlighted by Professor Richard Dawkins recently: that of so-called Christians who do not believe in God, who are actually ‘non-believers’.  Yes, folks,  apparently we now have ‘Christian’ atheists !

But as a true champion of faith St Paul underlines Evangelist Bonnke’s assertion. He writes:  “Face it – if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we’re guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God – sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection. And if Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot”.

It’s vital I take a moment to consider whether the Jesus of my acquaintance is a lifeless, wooden, historic Jesus, respected by much of modern Christendom, or whether He is the Living Head of a people called the Church – known also as His Body.

If I have a historic, but dead Jesus, there is no relationship, no assurance, no eternal life possible. It’s only as Living Head that Jesus has authority – and grasping that reality is what transforms me from self-centred living, into following (however falteringly) the One who is eternally alive.

There’s a world of difference.

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