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Why should Anyone Think That God Cannot Raise The Dead

Acts 26:4-8
'The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?' (NIVUK)

King Herod Agrippa II invited Paul to defend himself against his accusers: that was Paul's right under Roman law. Instead, Paul took the opportunity to give his testimony. He explained how he lived before he met Jesus, how he met Jesus and how that encounter changed his life. Today's verses start that narrative with his strict religious upbringing as a Pharisee.

Paul was born in Tarsus near what is now the south east coast of Turkey. That gave him the automatic right to be a Roman citizen – providing the official protection which had saved Paul's life. His parents were devout Jews who probably moved the family to Jerusalem (Acts 23:16). Later Paul studied as a Pharisee under the highly regarded theologian, Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3) and had developed a passionate religious career for himself.

Then Paul interrupted his testimony by talking about the Jewish hope that one day the Messiah would come to deliver them. The Messiah is Jesus. Although Herod Agrippa's great uncle Herod Antipas had conspired with Pilate to crucify Jesus (Luke 23:8-25), Jesus was raised from the dead. Paul's preaching about the resurrection infuriated the religious people because it made them look as though they were wrong. But Paul wanted the court to focus on the resurrection of Jesus. Even though he was a prisoner, Paul used the occasion to ask the king and all the military and civic dignitaries present, "Why do you consider it unbelievable that God raises the dead?"

God is the Creator life-giver, so why cannot God raise the dead? If God is God, can He not do anything? These are good logical and reasonable questions. By definition, the All-mighty can do anything, however impossible it might be for us. Have you told your friends and colleagues that God raised Jesus from the dead, and He is now alive – wanting sinners to repent so that He can welcome them into God's family? This is at the heart of the gospel: "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." (Romans 4:25). The resurrection is pivotal to the whole gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:14 says, "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." Talk about the resurrected, living King Jesus (www.crosscheck.org.uk). Your friends need to know that He will also be their Judge. He is inescapable, but those who love Him never want to leave Him.

Father God. Thank You that Jesus is alive and has authority to be Saviour, Master and Judge. Forgive me when I ignore my great privilege of introducing my friends to my greatest living Friend, Jesus. Give me the same boldness as Paul had to take every opportunity to talk about Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams