It usually happens after every time I preach in Japan. I get to the place where Christ died for our sins. Then I flip over to the big colored picture of the Cross on my O.N.P. and come to the Resurrection scene. There are the “frightened disciples huddled together in mutual fright…and into their midst appears none other than their murdered leader: Christ Himself.
‘Thinking they were seeing a ghost, they cowered and fell back. Then their living Lord showed them the nail holes in his hands and, to Doubting Thomas (the others were just as bad), he revealed the wound in his side. He said, ‘It is I; quit being afraid—only believe.”‘
Here is the key turning point in history, humanly speaking. What transformed a cowering, shivering little band of defeated revolutionaries into an invincible, indefatigable army that literally turned the world upside down? The stupendous fact that their murdered leader had conquered death and was alive forever more. Now they sensed the royal power of an endless life flowing through their veins; they were twice-born sons of the King of Life.
Here was the fulfillment to his almost forgotten promise: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” Here were the original “dead men on furlough” that Lenin copied when he commissioned his little band of 40,000 revolutionaries.Here is the missing “Lost Chord” of much 20th century Christianity. Here is the difference between the true and the false, the dividing line between Christianity and all other religions. Christ arose!
But right back to the beginning. Right here was where the university students, standing around the back, would always politely put on their caps, bow low and excuse themselves. As one said: ‘Thank you for the interesting story, but you see, we’re scientific. We can’t believe in these miraculous fairy tales, these old wives’ tales. If Christianity was only more factual and scientific…well, goodbye.”
Christ arose—so what? What difference does it make? Just all the difference in the world. It was so tremendously important that war-time Japan forbade (under penalty of arrest and imprisonment) that Christian ministers should preach one word about it. Why? Let Evangelist Tamezo Yamanaka tell you.
‘The reason why I and 450 other Protestant preachers were thrown into jail was for preaching on the forbidden text found in Acts 17:30-31:
“The previous times of man’s ignorance, God overlooked, but now commandeth men everywhere (including you, the thought police, the Emperor himself) to repent: because God hath appointed a day in which He (God) will judge the world in righteousness by that man (Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of Lords) Whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance (proof, guarantee, evidence) unto all men, in that God hath raised Jesus from the dead.
“Here is the very heart of the matter of the three famous questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going when I die? The police told us we could preach that Christ was raised from the dead spiritually, but to preach and believe that Christ rose bodily from the dead and that this was the proof that the Japanese people (including the Emperor himself) were to be judged by Jesus Christ— why, this was the sin of ‘Lese Majeste,’ grand treason against the imperial eternal country Yamato Damashi. But I could not deny my Lord. In that one verse is written the plain fact:
“If you don’t here and now repent of your sins, make a complete about-face, trust and believe in God’s son, Jesus Christ, as your only savior and substitute for sin, you cannot be saved. If you are not saved, that verse warns you again to repent because, if you do not, you will surely be called to account for your sins at the great judgment morning when you arc called before the righteous judge of the universe. Then you will hear one question: What did you do with Jesus— accept of reject Him as your personal savior?
” ‘…What will you do with Jesus
Neutral you cannot be
One day your soul will be asking
What will He do with me?’
“That’s why I chose to spend two years in prison rather than compromise my faith in my saviour who died for my sins, was buried and on the third day rose again from the dead,” Evangelist Yamanaka concluded.
On this Easter Day, this scene is being re-enacted behind the bamboo curtain. Satan is the same; he just operates in different guises in different settings, but always with the same purpose. Yet this Easter time, with satellites racing through space, the basic question is still the same: Will you meet this righteous judge as your personal savior who will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into your eternal joy with me?”
Or will you meet him as your personal judge who will say, “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity into everlasting fire?” Why not make this Easter your day of remembrance, your day of decision as you receive the gift of Salvation by Faith in the Risen Son. Then you can sing the words of this hymn (written after the writer spent an afternoon witnessing to an atheist who asked him to prove Christ was alive). Where’s his address?
“…He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today
You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart.”