Very, Very Empty [Excerpts]
A few weeks ago, I attended another one of my high school reunions. I always enjoy those events because they give me the chance to catch up with people again. I like to see how all of our lives are progressing and to get into some good conversations.
At the hotel where the reunion was held, I had a conversation with one of the staff. As we were talking, we had a good discussion about the afterlife. She wasn’t sure what happened when she died. She told me she liked to read, so I pulled out a book and asked her for her name before signing it. She answered, “Cherith.” I had not heard that name before so I said, “Is that a family name?” She replied, “Nope, it is in the King James Bible twice!” Well, I sure didn’t remember it being there so I asked her where in the Bible it was mentioned. She knew the exact verses:
1 Kings:17:1-5: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan….So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.”
As you can see, “Cherith” is the name of a brook in the Bible, and it can mean a cutting or a separation. So as she recited the verses, it led me right to the next question. Now you probably already know what that question is, but remember, a conversation is taking place and not a presentation. We ask questions, but certain things that come up during the conversation will lead you down different paths. You just have to be ready to go in those directions. So I said, “Did you grow up in a Christian home?” She stated that she did, so I then responded, “Do you still believe that now?” And that is when the conversation really took off! She wasn’t sure if Christianity was true anymore. She knew it was her choice to believe and not her parents’ faith that would save her. She also realized she had to study it out to find the answers for herself.
While we continued to chat, I let her know that she just needed to look at the evidence. One of the questions I ask people is: Do you believe Jesus existed? Now I wasn’t asking her that question; I was just kind of sharing it in a general way. But she answered it anyway and said pretty loudly, “Yes.” Then in the same manner I said that I also ask people: Do you believe Jesus died on the cross? She again verbally responded in the affirmative. Once more I said that I will ask people, Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? She responded out loud that she was not sure about that one!
And there you have it. For many people that is the kicker—did He or didn’t He rise from the dead? So what is the answer? Mark:16:6: “And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.”
1 Corinthians:15:17-20: “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” [and many other Scriptures.]
(See: Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29).
Professor Thomas Arnold, former Chair of History at Oxford University and author of the famous volumes History of Rome, was skillfully educated in the study of historical facts. Professor Arnold states:
“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is PROVED BY BETTER AND FULLER EVIDENCE of every sort, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead” (Thomas Arnold, The Christian Life: Its Hopes, Its Fears, and Its Close, p. 14).
(Mark Cahill, “Very, Very Empty, April 2017 Newsletter).