On this Easter Sunday morning, we will sing the “When I Survey/Oh the Wonderful Cross” medley, “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” and close our worship with “He Lives.” My message is on those last, strong words of conviction written by Alfred Henry Ackley in 1933:
“You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”
That strong testimony made me think about the best-selling book by Lee Strobel that has been made into a movie in theaters right now: “The Case for Christ.” Let me give you some background on this true story. Lee Strobel is a graduate from Yale Law School. He was an investigative reporter that eventually became the Legal Affairs Editor for the Chicago Tribune. And Lee was a thoughtful atheist.
“As far as I was concerned, the case was closed. There was enough proof for me to rest easy with the conclusion that the divinity of Jesus was nothing more than the fanciful invention of superstitious people. Or so I thought,” Lee wrote.
Strobel determined that if there was no God, no heaven or hell, no judgment or accountability, then there was no reason not to live as a hedonist, looking for the next and best high possible. He had awards all through his office, but laid in an alley on a Saturday night in a drunken stupor. When he would come home at night, his little daughter would just gather her toys and go to her room. It was safer and more quiet there.
Then something happened that changed his life forever and propelled him into a two year investigation that became his most significant story ever. . .his wife encountered Jesus and invited him into her heart.
Strobel’s book, and the movie that followed, details the long and in depth process of investigation Lee began. His initial aim was to disprove the divinity of Jesus and hopefully get his wife back. He looked at the eyewitness accounts in the Gospels, the evidence outside of the Bible and in archeology, and then he focused on the resurrection. He interviewed people like: Ben Witherington, Gary Collins and D.A. Carson (all highly respected scholars). He focused on these questions: “Did Jesus think He was God?” “Was He Mentally Ill?” “Did He act like God?” and “Did He fit the Description of the Messiah in the Old Testament?”
At the end of his two year pursuit, Strobel gave in and encountered Christ for himself. He made the case and responded to the evidence. As I dove into this story for myself, I was taken by the most compelling evidence that served as the deepest catalyst in Lee Strobel’s investigation. It wasn’t the mountain of documentation from experts in the fields of theology and archeology; it was the impact Christ had in the heart and life of his wife.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
Alfred Henry Ackley was so very right. . . “Ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!” The most compelling evidence in the pursuit of God is still a personal encounter with the Risen Christ. On this Easter Sunday, you can encounter the living Jesus too.
Take a look at these clips on YouTube of “The Case for Christ:”