In our increasingly secular society, fewer people even believe in Jesus — let alone believe he died for their sins or rose from that tomb. Some believe he was a great teacher, but not their Savior; others think there may be a God but are not really sure. Did he rise from the tomb or didn’t he? He did.
While I was once one of those who weren’t sure I now know with certainty that he did indeed rise from that tomb. How do I know? I know because I really wanted to know if there is life after life. It became a personal passion.
The testimonies of my parents, who believed he did, inspired me, but I soon realized I had to have more than their testimonies to know for sure.
I began my search by pondering life, followed by observing the laws of nature’s God in action, observations that showed me there was intelligent order in the universe, that earth, mankind, and all other living organisms could not have been created by chance.
My next step was to study and ponder his textbook, the Bible; to find a purpose for my life. In that textbook I found a step-by-step lesson plan for my life and for raising my family.
That lesson plan, a plan I refer to as my “ladder of life,” has guided me to a fuller understanding of not only my purpose in mortality but also of Christ’s role in the creation of the earth, of mankind and of the plan to bring each of us back into his presence following our mortal sojourn on earth.
Can I prove to others that he rose from the tomb — no — but I can encourage them to follow the plan that has brought me such joy and personal satisfaction.
One of the lessons in his lesson plan taught me that there is a direct correlation between one’s goals for mortal life and one’s goals for eternal life. Self-preparation plays an essential role for obtaining success either in mortality or preparing for life eternal. Some of life’s best lessons often come after making bad choices and then having to admit them and start anew.
The lesson on the Atonement helped me better understand the three part atoning process Christ went through and what that atoning process means for me and for all those willing to become his disciples and follow in his footsteps.
Part one began with his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he took upon himself the sins of the world. Part two began with the mock trial followed by a scourging and a humiliating trip to Golgotha where he was hung on the Cross and gave his life that we might live eternally.
Part three began when he was laid in that borrowed tomb from which he rose to break the bonds of death and then to return to sit on the right hand of his father in their Kingdom in Heaven — inviting all mankind to follow him.
Many believe this atoning process was only a redeeming process from the fall. But I learned that it is much more than a simply redeeming process, it was the enabling process that enables every human being in their pursuit of life eternal.
Teenagers today are often enabled to further their education with a HOPE scholarship. My education was enabled by the GI Bill, enabling me to have a career — but not without work or effort on my part. So too has Christ enabled all mankind to gain life eternal, but not without effort on their part.
Today, America desperately needs its doubting Thomases to wrap themselves in his text-book of life, learn of him and of his ways, and then thrust their doubts aside and be not faithless, but believing, and say “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) help me know thou truly rose from that tomb.
Christians understand that salvation is a personal matter worth working for.
He whom Christians will worship Sunday, the Prince of Peace, said to all, including doubting Thomas’s and unbelievers, “If any man will hear my voice, and open the(ir) door (heart), I will come in to him” (Rev 3:20) so that he/she can partake of his transforming influence and know true joy and peace — and that he did indeed rise from that grave — and yet lives.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.