Editor Harris recounts resurrection, preaches Gospel
by Nathan Standford
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)--Is it unusual to hear the Gospel preached and an evangelistic invitation offered at a Baptist college's chapel service? Not at Truett-McConnell.
Dr. Gerald Harris -- editor of the Christian Index, the nation's oldest religious newspaper -- focused on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as foundational to the Gospel.
Harris preached Sept. 13 from 1 Corinthians 15.1-8, dividing his sermon into three points: the prelude, the truth, and the power of the resurrection. He emphasized that Christians need to be reminded of the living Savior and should share that fact with others even on a Christian campus.
"The prelude to the resurrection is that Jesus had to die and that he had to be buried," said Harris, noting that such truths are "elementary, but they are essential" to the Gospel message.
Saying that critics want to devalue the death and burial process of Christ, Harris said, "There are some people who decry Christianity and declare it a bloody Gospel. I even had a professor in college that said what Jesus experienced on the cross was only a minor inconvenience.
"Don't you believe that," Harris said. "Jesus suffered in agony and pain for your sins and for my sins."
"Now when Jesus died," he continued, "it just seemed that death was all wrong -- that death had won."
Harris listed great men of the Bible, such as Noah, Isaiah, and Habakkuk, whose godly lives were silenced by death.
"Throughout history there have been great surgeons, great musicians, great artists, great philosophers, and great preachers who have died, and it seems that no matter how bright or how brilliant they were, they died – and, once again, death had won," Harris said.
"But I want you to know that 2000 years ago, like two gladiators in an arena, death and love fought," Harris said, referring again to Jesus Christ's resurrection.
"Death and love fought all over Jerusalem. All the way up to the realm of Golgotha, and all the way down into the grave," Harris said. "And on Sunday morning, love rolled up its sleeves and pulled the sting out of death, and the victor out of the grave, and proved that love is greater than death."
Moving from events preceding the resurrection to proof it actually happened, Harris said a skeptical society demands evidence: "We say that the victim of Calvary is loose and at-large, but the world says, 'Prove it.'"
"His resurrection is authenticated by many infallible proofs," said Harris, citing Acts 1.3.
Preaching as though from memory, Harris rejected skeptics' claims and defended resurrection proofs by citing Bible verses, and noting Jesus' empty tomb, the fulfillment of prophecy, the testimony of eyewitnesses, the martyrdom of the Apostles, and the establishment of the church.
"Paul's argument for conversion was the resurrection," Harris said, referring to 1 Cor. 15.12-19. "[Paul] said there can be no conversion without it. It is absolutely essential for our salvation.
"We have a Gospel that does not proclaim a Christ who was living and is dead, but a Christ who was dead and is alive again," he said.
In transitioning from the truth of the resurrection to the power of the resurrection, Harris said, "The resurrection produces life."
Citing the Apostle Paul's testimony to show the resurrection has power to produce life-changing transformation, Harris read 1 Cor. 15.8, saying that Paul used the phrase "born out of due time" to refer to his encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road. This was a translation of a Greek word that could have meant abortion, he said.
"In other words," Harris said, "Paul is saying, 'Before I met Christ, I was nothing more than a dead fetus. Judaism had completely aborted me. I was totally devoid of life until I met Jesus Christ.'"
"Jesus Christ can give each one of us that kind of life and also the power to communicate that resurrection life to others," Harris said.
"We interact with dead people all the time," Harris concluded. "People are spiritually dead. If you are a believer, you have life; and if you are not a believer, then you need the life that comes through Jesus Christ. There is no real life apart from Him."
Nathan Standford is a freelance journalist living in Cleveland, Ga.