This is the first in a two-part series on the whereabouts of Jesus between His death and resurrection.
One of the more puzzling questions about the redemptive work of Christ is where His soul went between death and resurrection.
The Gospel writers confirm that Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb after His death, and remained there until His resurrection.
But what about the immaterial part of Jesus – namely His soul and / or spirit?
One view is stated in the Apostles’ Creed: “He [Jesus] descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.”
The meaning of this phrase is much debated. The traditional interpretation is that Christ went to the abode of the dead to preach the gospel to Old Testament saints in order to set them free for the full experience of heaven.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church embraces this view, as do many Protestants.
However, theologian Wayne Grudem points out that the troublesome phrase, “He descended into Hell,” is a “late intruder into the Apostles’ Creed that never belonged there in the first place and that, on historical and Scriptural grounds, deserves to be removed.”
The feasts of Israel are religious celebrations remembering God’s great acts of salvation in the history of His people. The term “feasts” in Hebrew literally means “appointed times” and in Scripture the feasts often are called “holy convocations.” They are times God has appointed for holy purposes – times in which the Lord meets with men and women.
While there are many religious celebrations in Jewish history and custom, seven are most significant: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. God established the timing and sequence of these feasts to reveal to us a special story – most significantly, the work of the Messiah in the redemption of mankind and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth.
Satan is clever but not original.
He cannot create, procreate, raise the dead, or inspire Scripture. But he can take things God created for good and twist them for his deceitful purposes.
He is especially proficient in false religions, from Algard Wicca to Zoroastrianism. While the world’s wayward faiths are diverse, the evil one’s fingerprints are on all of them.
To illustrate, let’s look at similar patterns in two very different belief systems: Islam and Mormonism.
It would seem these religious organizations have little in common. Their doctrines and rituals are distinctly different. Yet their claims to truth bear remarkable similarities. Consider six such parallels.
Has anyone ever asked you:
“Why are all Christians homophobic?”
“Why should I worship a God who allows children to starve?”
“If Jesus is so great, why are so many of His followers jerks?”
Tough questions, to be sure. And making matters worse is the questioner’s tone, implying that he or she is not really looking for an answer.
So how should we reply?
That’s a topic Randy Newman addresses in his book, Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did.
Newman, who has served in ministry on college campuses, at the Pentagon, in churches, and in various academic settings, writes that a diverse audience requires diverse approaches. “If Jesus teaches us anything about evangelism, it’s that He used a variety of methods with a variety of people,” he notes.
Newman says any evangelistic approach requires three skills: (1) declaring the gospel; (2) defending the gospel (Christian apologetics); and (3) dialoguing the gospel. That third skill is the focus of his book.
“Often neglected, difficult to master, but absolutely essential, this skill of giving and taking – asking questions and bouncing ideas back and forth – might be just what our postmodern audience needs,” he writes. “We need all three skills if we’re to be Christ’s ambassadors in the twenty-first century.”
Reading the Gospels, we see that Jesus often responds to questions with a question of His own. His goal is to get beneath the question to the heart of the matter – whether strict legalism, as in the case of the Jewish religious leaders who chide Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, or a faulty view of Christ’s divinity, as in the case of the rich young ruler.
Does the Bible command tithing?
If we don’t tithe, are we robbing God?
Doesn’t the Old Testament teach tithing, while the New Testament stresses giving?
These are important questions, and every sincere Christian wants to get the answers right.
The Bible is our authority – and the last word on this issue. While it isn’t possible in this article to conduct an exhaustive study, we may highlight what the Old and New Testaments have to say.