The Core of the Gospel Biblically

You know, I cannot tell you what incredibly good sense it means to be a Christian. I teach world religions. Trust me when I say we’re the only religion in the world that understands grace. I never disrespect anyone else’s religion! Do you understand? And don’t you let me catch you doing it! I don’t disrespect anyone else’s ministry, and I think quite frankly some of them are out of their minds. But in the open assembly I do not disrespect someone else’s religion. I never disrespect another person’s religion. I try to teach, and I don’t do it adequately I’m sure, but I try to teach the religion, and many times I have them come in. I have an Imam come in or I have a Hindu guru come in or a Rabbi to represent that religion as they would teach it. You see. And when I don’t have someone, like a Zoroastrian or a Jain, I try to teach that religion as I think they would teach it, emphasizing their strengths, but also trying to give you an understanding. I read the Koran every year. It’s just four hundred pages folks, you can do it. You need to know. People come to me and say “Well, the Koran says…”, and I say “That’s not in the Koran, what do you mean, show me” and they can’t, cause I’ve read it you see. People say “Well, the Bible says….” And I say, “That’s not in the Bible, what do you mean? That’s Confucius for crying out loud! Grow up. Don’t mess with me, I’ve read the thing!” You see, you need to read it. You need to read all the sacred scriptures for that matter. It’s taken me years and years to be able to pull that off, so I don’t expect you to be able to do that. But you can read the Koran. It’s really important to understand the other person’s point of view.

 

Anyway, I am so happy to be a Christian. We talk about and understand grace. I have a book in my briefcase called “Sanctity without Starch”. It’s Wesley’s theology of grace. Have you ever heard of a movement called the Emmaus walk? Well I wrote the clergy talk for that, thirty years ago. I took the Cursillo Catholic theology and flipped it to a Wesleyan understanding of grace. So if you’ve ever been to an Emmaus walk or a Chrysalis for that matter you’ll hear prevenient grace, justifying grace, that’s my contribution. But anyway, it makes imminent sense to be a Christian. It really is good news. If somebody comes into your church and they’re naked, what are you going to do, unless you’re just a brick? You’re going to clothe them. Somebody comes into your church and they’re starving, what are you going to do, unless you’re just a stone? You’re going to feed them. Somebody comes into your church and they’re in bondage to the stuff that would attempt to swallow them whole, what do you do, unless you just don’t understand the principles? You tell them about the power of the Holy Spirit, available through personal faith in Jesus Christ, so they can overcome the stuff that would attempt to swallow them whole. I’ve said you don’t have to die to go to hell. I’m re-learning lessons every day. I remember when I was starting my teaching career, I came home one day and my wife was doing a PhD in clinical psychology at the Fuller School of Psychology. I came home and she was in bed with a woman, and she’s no more lesbian than I am. She got confused, really confused. And I’m saying whoa, my son’s in the next room. So she invited us to leave, so we did. And I thought what have I done? It’s got to be my fault. And so I’m one of those self-righteous joggers. You don’t want to be anywhere near me for at least thirty minutes after I’ve jogged, I think I’m the most wonderful thing in the world. It’s too bad we’re like that, but we are, aren’t we. I’m jogging around the Rose Bowl, there’s a three mile circuit around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, my son’s on the bicycle next to me. I’m depressed. You understand depression, you can just imagine what this is like. But I’m depressed. I’m saying “God! Do you love me?” thinking God probably should not. And boom, I don’t hear voices, I envy people who do. I got an insight that went something like this: “Tuttle, don’t you know why I love you? I don’t love you because I’m a God of love, though I am, and I don’t love you because that’s what I do best, though it is, and I don’t love you because I’m supposed to, though I am. The reason I love you is, there’s just something about you that flat out turns me on.” You know, I got the holy giggles, I finished those three miles lickety-split. I got delivered in an instant, my name was no longer Legion. Right then I realized, whoa! There’s something about me that God likes! And you know what, if I’m good enough for God, I ought to be good enough for you, what do you think of that, huh? And I’ll tell you something else, if you’re good enough for God, you ought to be good enough for the one next to you, what do you think of that? And I’ll tell you something else, are you listening? If you’re on sabbatical come on back, it’s late in the evening, our brains take a sabbatical every ninety seconds, don’t mess with me. If you’re good enough for God, you ought to be good enough for yourself. You hear me? Your most important ministry will be helping people understand how much God loves them, because I’m telling you the God’s honest truth, whether you’re a Nigerian or a Mexican or a Frenchman or a Brit or a Swede or an Arab. The most difficult thing to convince people is that God loves them. That’s most of your ministry is going to be helping people understand God loves them. If you can get that right, everything will fall into place. But that’s the most difficult thing, is getting people to know that God loves them. In Islam (I’m not disrespecting Islam), but it teaches nothing about love and forgiveness. It says Allah is merciful, but that’s a different kind of mercy, and a different understanding of God. And there’s this revenge thing in Islam, you’re bound by Sharia law to exact revenge in perpetuity. It never goes away. I was talking to somebody on the plane about Ahmadinejad. He’s just kind of the puppet, and he’s a petty little dictator. But Columbia University invited him to lecture at Columbia University about three years ago, and the president of Columbia got up and called him a petty little dictator. What in the hell was he thinking? Ahmadinejad got up and said “You come to Iran, and I won’t insult you. I may not agree with you, but I won’t insult you.” Don’t you realize Sharia law means that insult is already in the loins of his great-great-great-great-great-grand children. That will come back to haunt us a hundred years from now. You don’t need to disrespect other religions. You talk about Jesus, talk about love and forgiveness. I cannot tell you how important it is to love and forgive people. In Islam there’s no forgiveness, it never goes away. You’re bound by law to exact revenge in perpetuity.

 

Okay, let’s talk about a God of love. God created you because the void was not enough, despite what Reformed theology wants to teach you. I’m not saying I’m right and they’re wrong, I’m simply saying we can’t both be right, we disagree on this issue. I believe that God is a God of love, and the void was not enough and God created us because God wanted someone, something to love. I’m not making a case for literal Adam and Eve, don’t get your noses out of shape! This whole world has grown from two to three billion years old to eighteen to twenty billion years in my lifetime-old. It’s amazing. So I’m not making a case for literal Adam and Eve, I’m just simply saying this is the way the Bible teaches an incredibly powerful truth. And if there was a literal Adam and Eve, it would serve me right. I have a friend who is the senior pilot for United Airlines. He spends ten days a month now flying back and forth from Chicago to Shanghai. One of the smartest people I know, Phi Beta Kappa from Rice, it’s a good school. He believes in a literal six-day creation, twenty-four hour day. You idiot, what are you thinking? This guy is so smart. I invited him to Northwestern University, in Evanston Illinois, to teach six-day creation. And no one laughed at him. No one believed him, but no one laughed at him. He made a pretty good case. You could understand what he was thinking, and how it could be that God did it in six days. Now if God did it in six days it would serve me right. I can show you a three-toed Eohippus in the Museum of Natural History which you’ve all been to. Eohippus, a horse the size of a dog that evolved into a horse, it makes sense to me. I think God created each after its own kind and the kinds evolved. What do I know? What do I care? My problem with evolution is not with the Bible, it’s with science! There’s a huge missing link, folks. It’s an ugly missing link. And no one has come close. I’ve met ‘Lucy’ in Nairobi. Richard Leakey’s museum, it’s just a bone fragment here and a bone fragment there, so don’t be particularly impressed. His book “People of the Lake” written about thirty or forty years ago said between 1.2 and 1.5 million years ago, four strains of humankind evolved simultaneously. And the theory was that the strain that survived and evolved into modern humankind was the macho strain, the ones that ran around smiting themselves on the breast. But you know what he discovered? They were the first to become extinct. You know why? They were loners and they got picked off. That’s why we go to church. The only strain that survived to evolve into modern humankind was homo sapien. Would you like to know why? Homo sapien was the only strain that dared to become community. Margaret Meade says we know community was in place, civilization was in place, at least from the date of the earliest discovered human fossil, with the heel broken femur. The only way you’re going to survive a broken femur is that someone else has to feed you. That’s what church is all about folks. We don’t go to church for the pain. A lot of what happens in the churches I attend is incredibly boring. I walked into a church the other day, it was like a Quonset hut. Five hundred people in there, it was so dark I fell over a chair. And the worship, this charismatic stuff, had me on my feet, wouldn’t let me sit down for twenty-five minutes, until I’m going like this, Lord have mercy let me sit down! I am tired. Twenty-five minutes into this worship, the Brits call it a ‘happy clappy’, let me tell you, don’t leave me here, I’ll tell you what happened. Twenty-five minutes into this worship I looked around and suddenly it occurred to me out of five hundred people, give or take, I was the only one in the room not getting it. Sitting right in front of me was a grandfather, a father and a grandson. Every one of them was getting it. They were worshiping God. I was the only one in the building with an attitude. I need to grow up, don’t I? It all doesn’t suit me, necessarily. I think most of worship focuses on the sacrum, the incarnate word. Every time I go into a church I want to (13:20 audio cuts out). Every time I see a centre pulpit, what does that say to you? God bless the Baptist. Instead I’d like to dispense with their preliminaries and get on with the meat of the service, which is the sermon. No self-respecting preacher wants full responsibility for what takes place in a service of worship. Half the people could leave after the anthem because that’s what they came to hear. You get the Levites. You want to turn the nation around in one generation, let me tell you a story. I’ve only had two visions in my life, and I don’t remember the other one, but I do remember this one. I’m reading through 2 Chronicles, are you into this, wondering how Hezekiah turned the nation around in one generation, and I’m saying well shoot, I want to turn my nation around in one generation. How did he do that? So I go to bed, living in Lake Forest, Illinois, I dreamt all night, I remember nothing of my dreams, but I remember the sights, the sounds and I think the smells of this vision. Suddenly in this vision, I’m on the streets of Jerusalem. If you’ve not been to Jerusalem, you’ve got to go. They’ve uncovered the steps, the very steps, ten years ago, where Jesus preached. I’ve stood and taught on those steps many times myself. In this vision, I’m standing on these steps and I’m listening to the mothers wailing. You know why? Because Ahaz, who did more evil than all the kings before him, was sacrificing their babies to the god Molech in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. The word ‘hell’ was coined during Ahaz’s reign. Out of the Ben Hinnom, Gehenna! Out of the Ben Hinnom the garbage heap! You know in Jerusalem this is the old city, this is the west city, and the City of David comes down like this, and there’s a valley that comes down here and there’s a valley that comes here and the Mount of Olives is here. This is Gehinnom, this is the Kidron Valley and this goes all the way down to Ein Gedi and empties into the Dead Sea. David went down the Kidron Valley fleeing from Saul. Ahaz is out here, sacrificing Jewish babies in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. And I’m standing right here. This is the Western Wall, this is the Temple Mount, this is the Pinnacle, this is the Triple Gate, these are the steps, here’s the Temple here. It’s the Dome of the Rock now, al-Aqsa’s here right now, and these Triple Gates are walled off. But I’m standing there, you could see the impression of them by the way in the wall. I’m standing there, listening to the mothers wailing down here, and suddenly I see an old man leading a small boy, he has a lantern in one hand, walking toward the Temple Mount. And I’m standing right here, he slips by me with the boy, goes up through the Triple Gate onto the Temple Mount, and as he approaches the steps to the Temple, there are the columns here, Boaz and Jabez, the bronze pillars. Boaz, one of these columns, he has an iron bar stashed right there which he put there that day and Ahaz did what? He desecrated the Temple with pagan gods! Let the lamps go out, and eventually nailed its doors shut. Now I realized the old man is Isaiah and the young boy is Hezekiah before he was co-regent with his dad. Old Isaiah gets this iron bar and he’s working on this door, ka-bang, ka-bang …… (17:00) starts to shake, ka-bang. And as the doors are breached I can hear their feet shuffling across the dusty floors and see all sorts of eerie shadows reflecting off these pagan gods. And I can smell the scent of incense long since gone out. And then I watched the old man take the little boy to the only place not yet desecrated. Where was that? Behind the veil. And the old man puts the little boy prostrate before the Ark of the Covenant and teaches him how to worship, saying “Hezekiah, just look, don’t touch.” And in the first month of the first year of Hezekiah’s reign, what did he do? He opened the Temple, he cleansed it, and get this, he raised up the Levites, the tribe that was responsible for teaching the nation how to worship.

 

You want to turn a nation around in one generation? Teach the people how to sing. And you can’t do it like I like to do it all the time. I had to go to church to figure that out. I need to grow up! It takes all different kinds. Now some of it is a bit happy-clappy, quite frankly. Worship is that which gives you an awareness of God’s presence in your midst, and if it doesn’t, leave it out of the worship service. If you can’t take the offering to the glory of God, leave it out! Put your bushel basket at the door and let people bring their tithes to the warehouse. Don’t mess with people, life’s too important, worship’s too important. We can’t play games, we can’t afford time for playing games, it’s too late! We can’t do that anymore. That’s why you go to seminary. Billy Graham once said to me “Tuttle, if I knew for sure Jesus was going to wait four years to come back, I’d spend three of those years in seminary. The point is we ought to be able to save you thirty years. You’re fifty-three years old, for crying out loud, you need some help. We can save you thirty years. We can get you into stuff you couldn’t get in thirty years on your own.” That’s what seminary is all about. Not all of us do it well. I’m ashamed of some of the stuff I’ve taught. I’ve taught people stuff I no longer believe, but you would expect me to learn something in forty years, wouldn’t you? At least I’m honest enough to tell you the truth. We want to better prepare you for life in ministry, we want to give you a heads-up on some things, we want to remind you of what most of you know already. It really is important to help people know that God loves them. That’s the heart of the gospel. Jesus is Lord, that’s the heart of the gospel. Whatever it takes to communicate that Jesus is Lord is the core of the gospel. What does it take?

 

Okay, Genesis. It didn’t take Adam and Eve long. How many of you have heard of Paul Tillich? Most of us were taught that Paul Tillich was a heretic. I met Paul Tillich once at Northwestern. We invited him to an auditorium to speak, and there was a piano stand up there and a chair on this big stage probably a hundred square feet, big stage, like where plays take place, you understand? And he was alone on the stage, one chair and a little podium, a piano stand-type podium. He got up and lectured, I thought it was tolerable. After he lectured, a student jumped to his feet and said “Doctor Tillich, I don’t think you’re a Christian.” You know what Tillich did? Would you like to know what Tillich did? Tillich looked at the man, he turned around, he went back to his chair, he sat down and he put his head in his hands and wept. And the man wasn’t always right, but occasionally he got things right. This is one thing he got right. He said “The beginning of sin is when we attempt to become autonomous from God.” Tillich got that right. Sin happens when we attempt to live as if there is no God. Adam and Eve, the old devil says “eat of the fruit and you’ll become like God.” They didn’t become like God, they just became aware of their own nakedness. And sin cannot bear the light. There’s stuff in my life I’m tickled to death you don’t know about, and I’m kind of feeling lonely here, but I suspect there’s stuff in your life you’d just as soon I didn’t know about. Yes, please, yes help me! Thank you. I don’t know if you want to go far enough to praise God, but thank you for identifying with me here brother. But we don’t hide anything from God. Sin cannot bear the light. That’s why John Wesley….. (22:30) the creation of God’s love not God’s wrath, because he imagined someone presuming to plead their own case, showing up in heaven with their sins hanging out. And Wesley said God, out of God’s love, created the darkness of hell to give just such presumption a place to escape the awful exposure. Heaven would be the worst kind of hell for an unrepentant sinner. To stand before the blazing holiness of God with your sins hanging out for the rest of eternity. Don’t you preach some sinner into heaven, you’re not doing him any favors. Sin cannot bear the light. And if you know what God does, listen to this, you won’t believe what God does. When Adam and Eve sinned God withdraws beyond the veil because he knew they could not bear the light. He did not want them to suffer. They didn’t become like God, they just became aware of their own nakedness. They couldn’t even hear the voice of God without covering themselves with fig leaves. It’s the first words out of the mouth of God after the fall are what? “Where are you?” That’s evangelism. Where are you? God’s the first evangelist. The first words out of the mouth of God after the fall “Where are you?” God withdraws beyond the veil, and so spirituality for the rest of eternity will have its nose pressed against the glass darkly trying to catch a glimpse of the tree of life. And then suddenly Adam and Eve were mortal and sin-prone after being created righteousness-prone, now they’re mortal and sin-prone. You don’t want to eat from the tree of life and be mortal and sin-prone. I’d be happy to die, I’ve got about twenty more years. Most of you are still in your prime, don’t mess with me, I’m too old, I’m in the ground in twenty years! Happily so. When you get to be seventy years old, dying ain't no big deal. Bring it on! I’m not going to rush it, I try to take care of myself, but I’m not afraid of it. Bring it on. I’m going to heaven. I don’t want to eat that tree of life, not this side of the grave. I want to eat that tree of life as soon as I get to heaven. Bring it on. So God withdraws. There’s a veil. It’s not a veil, it’s dimension. Where is heaven? It’s right here. Didn’t someone warn you not to sit in the front row in my classes? They should have done that. Are you okay? God, since the fall has done everything God can do to re-establish a relationship. Now take that to the Koran. God wants to establish a relationship, a loving relationship. “Where are you?” Within generations of the fall, humankind had nearly perfected its own evil, and was about to destroy itself. The only way to save the remnant was the flood. I’m not making a case for a literal flood, don’t get your noses out of shape, though it would serve all of us right if there really was. I think there was probably some kind of a flood, I think that’s been fairly well proven. The flood was to cut us right back to the roots to preserve the remnant. But within generations of Adam and Eve we did it all over again. Just about perfected our own evil and destroy ourselves. We even built this tower thinking we don’t need God to get to heaven, we’ll build us a tower to heaven. Humankind, in community, there’s nothing we cannot do for good or ill. We were about to destroy the remnant. The only way God could preserve the remnant was to confuse us. Break us out of community. That’s the last paragraph of what we call primeval history. What’s primeval history? We have no approximate date, which introduces the first paragraph of patriarchal history. We have an approximate date for Abraham: between 1800 and 2200 B.C. I’ve done the research, trust me on that. So what does God do? God wants to establish a relationship. Abraham’s father worshipped the sun and the moon! Abraham had apparently evolved to the place where he could understand the concept of one God. Why is God a jealous God? Because God is the only God that is God, for crying out loud. What’s the most important thing in your life? Stanley Jones said that’s your god, what has your attention has you. What’s the most basic common denominator that supplies the ruling force for your life? That’s your god. And if you’re worshiping a god that’s less than God, you’re worshiping a god that makes horrible demands but gives precious little in return. But you worship the God that is God, you’re worshiping a God that makes horrible demands but gives back press down, shaken together running over. I said that in the opening prayer. Abraham could understand the concept of one God, so what does God do? Abraham, we’re going to cut a covenant, you and I. We’re going to do it. Took the animal, divided it, Abraham the firepot……. (28:15) the same fate befall us. There was even a provision for covenant renewal when you messed up. What was that? How did you renew the covenant? This is all-important. Sacrifice. Blood sacrifice. After several generations, sacrifice no longer read the heart I’m sorry. It just became right, it became religion. I never liked religion quite frankly. And finally God says folks, I’m up to here with your sacrifices. Obedience is sacrifice. I’m sick to death of your sacrifice, I want to cut you a new covenant.

 

Remember Plato’s cave? Just reading about that in a book on the plane. Plato’s Cave. You have a cave, you have a fire in front of the cave, a figure walking in front of the fire casting a shadow on the back wall, see this? And Plato says if you’re so situated in the cave that you cannot see that which is casting the shadow, after several generations you begin to confuse the shadow with reality. The Jews had confused the shadow, the old covenant, the Old Testament (new covenant, New Testament) with reality. It was always only a precursor. And so God, Jeremiah 31:31-34, all of salvation history pivots on that passage, those verses. You know what Abingdon did when I wrote that book on the Story of Evangelism? They wrote me and said how come it takes you one hundred and fifty pages to get to Jesus in a book on evangelism? I said because evangelism begins in the garden. “Where are you?” You don’t understand evangelism. If it were not for the covenant there would be no cross. Once you buy into the concept you have to be faithful to the principal. There’s no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. God could have done it differently. God chose not to. God wanted to make himself known in a way that humankind would understand. God is like that! God wants to make himself known to you in a way that you can understand. There’s no fine print in the Bible. God’s not the great divine concealer. God’s the divine revealer. It’s all in bold print. Do this and you shall live. I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more. Don’t you love it?

 

As an aside, I had an experience. I told you my PhD was in Roman Catholic mysticism. And reading these old mystics for months, ten, twelve hours a day, six, seven days a week for six months, it works on you. I stumbled on a little girl, twelve year old girl in Spain at the height of the inquisition, the height of the anti-monastic movement, and the little girl had visions of Jesus. And of course the inquisitors thought only that the priest should read the Bible because we wouldn’t understand it, we’d misunderstand it and hurt ourselves. And the inquisition summoned this little girl before them. Can you imagine them in their robes and their eye hats, this little twelve year old girl. The chief inquisitor said “Little girl, next time you see Jesus, ask him what sin I confessed at my last confessional.” And she said I’ll do that. So he sent her home, called her back the next week. “Little girl, did you see Jesus?” Yes, I saw Jesus. “Did you ask him what sin I confessed at my last confessional?” Yes, I asked him what sin you confessed at your last confessional. “Well, what did he say?” The little girl looked at the man and said “Jesus said tell the man I forget.” Don’t you like that? Forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more. It’s a real story. It was told for truth. One of the stories out of the middle ages, I don’t know whether it’s true, but you get the point.

 

Old Testament, old covenant, there are different words to describe what happens. The old covenant sin is ‘propitiated’. Literally it means covered over, like sweeping things under the rug. You know what the word is for the new covenant? Sin is not propitiated, it is ‘expiated’. Do you know what expiate means? To root out. It’s gone. Most of my theology is from the ninth chapter of Hebrews, my covenant theology. Read it tonight, it’ll bless you. There are three hundred Old Testament prophecies predicting Jesus. Matthew takes those prophecies and tries to prove that Jesus fulfills all of those. That’s what Matthew is all about, you do understand that don’t you? Matthew is about proving that Jesus fulfills all of the Old Testament scriptures. Sometimes when I read the Bible through I like to put ‘P.F.’ by a lot of statements in the Bible. You know what it means? Prophecy fulfilled. You’ve all seen my ‘P.F.’s’ in the book of Matthew, there are a ton of P.F’s. What’s the first prophecy out of the mouth of Jesus to open his ministry at Nazareth? Isaiah 61 good news to the poor, blind. Isn’t that just like Jesus? Man he’s a good Jesus! He’s a great Messiah. He’s a piece of work. Human sacrifice without sin. He was sin-prone and mortal but remained, get this are you listening, remained sinless with less advantage than Adam. If that doesn’t get to you, you’re just a brick. Jesus, the son of the living God, remained sinless with less advantage than Adam. Fully human, as human as you are son. You understand the Old Testament? How many of the Christian churches in Africa, Nigeria for example, really have their base in the Old Testament? Because you understand tribes. You understand tribal religion.

 

It’s almost time to quit isn’t it? We’ve got to get serious here. I’ve covered about one third of today’s and tonight’s lecture. That’s alright, don’t panic, we’ll be alright. We know that there was a corpus of teaching common to the New Testament. The core, we’re still talking about the core, the least you can believe and still be a Christian. If you take the……..(35:50) for example and analyze them, you see there was a basic core of teaching common to all of the Biblical preaching. A core. C.H. Dodd, ….(36:05) preaching, said you can summarize the gospel under about five or six headings. You ready? Then we’ll quit, honest to goodness we will. Beginning of a new age, number one. This is the beginning of a new age. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that new age. His conception, I really do believe in the virgin birth, it makes marvelous sense to me. I think Mary conceived of the Spirit. It’s like me believing in the resurrection. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, what did they do with the body? Don’t mess with me. Where did it go? The Romans are not going to take it, the Jews aren’t going to take it, the disciples aren’t going to take it. Then all the disciples are martyred except for John. Do you realize one in sixty Christians were martyred for the first three hundred years of the life of the church? Did you know that? One in sixty! Murdered, died for their faith for the first three hundred years. How many people do you have coming to church on that big service? Six thousand. One in sixty, do the numbers. Jesus was the fulfillment of that new age, his conception, his birth, his early life, his baptism, his temptation, his ministry. I keep harping on this, go to the Galilee, do you realize you can ride on a bicycle from Capernaum to Bethsaida Julias to Chorazin in a half day on a bicycle. And seventy percent of the miracles that Jesus worked were worked within that triangle. And there’s no one there, there’s less people there now than there was in Jesus’ day. You can just walk and feel. I stayed in a monastery there for two months in the famous cell, with the Sea of Galilee lapping up against the side of the building. During the Gulf War, I watched the scuds go over and I didn’t see a tour bus for two months, not one. You go there now and you see parking lots filled with a dozen tour buses all the time. But, just walk. They’ve just uncovered the gate in Bethsaida Julias. The very gate. Peter and James and John and Andrew from Bethsaida Julias, they walked through that gate, I mean you’re right there! Jesus had to walk through that gate to heal the blind man. First time I went there, there was nothing there. There was a wall, and I got up on top of it, and I fell and I destroyed something that had been there for two thousand years! I did it in five minutes. There was nothing there. I found a sign on a tree where the blind man was healed. But now you have to pay to get in! Boy, things change. His death, I’ve told you, fulfills there’s no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. His resurrection. Folks I beg you to believe that Jesus was resurrected. I’m not sure what came out of the tomb, but I know what went in and when it came out, it left nothing behind. I got locked in the church of the Holy Sepulcher one night. Spent the night there, slept on a bench with a bunch of nuns. Had thirty minutes in the Garden Tomb, I’m in the Tomb by myself. You get thirty seconds now. Have you ever been there? I had thirty minutes in the Tomb. I fell asleep on the Tomb of Jesus. His death, the man really did die, don’t tell me he didn’t die. Muslims don’t believe he died. Gnostics don’t believe he died. Because they’ve got this old Greek body and soul business where the soul is God within you and the body is evil created by some demiurge. And so salvation is to come out of the body and be absorbed into some kind of divine blob. There’s a lot of world religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, sixty percent of Buddhists are Theravada Buddhists, they don’t have a transcendent God. But Mahayana Buddhists do believe in a transcendent God. That’s the Tibetan kind, Chinese Buddhism is Mahayana Buddhism. But do you realize if you have any kind of religious affiliation you cannot be a communist? What are they thinking? His death, he really did die, and resurrection, he was raised. I believe it. Staking my life on it. If that didn’t happen I’m a dead man. Bring it on happily. I am a fool. I have been preaching a lie all of my ministry, fifty years. I believe the body was transformed into a glorified body. The first fruits. It won’t happen to you until he returns. When you die you may have some kind of spirit. I’ve sensed an awareness of people who’ve died, you may not have.

It’s time to go. Okay, I love you guys. I’m glad God brought us across each other’s paths. I am really praying that you will get from this class what you need to get from this class in order to be more effective in life in ministry. We’re just building, these are foundation blocks, we’re doing the theology. We’ll do the history tomorrow morning. But we’re doing the theology. I want you to understand there are good reasons for believing the way you believe. That’s why I want to start with a story tomorrow that you’re going to tell me about from the temptation. We’re over a little bit, you want to stand up and grab on. Ask God to give us a good night’s sleep.