2 Corinthians 4:14
These lyrics “Because He lives I can face tomorrow” are familiar to us I think. The song that goes by that title was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither in the early 1970’s. While the song may be familiar, the backstory might not me to many of us. This song was written in a time of national struggle and personal fear, as described by Mrs Gaither in several interviews. She testifies that God brought an overwhelming peace to their souls in the midst of anxiety and this song was the overflow of that spiritual comfort they received. The lyrics, so beautifully written, point us to the truths of the incarnation and the resurrection to fuel our praise and provide us the same comfort that Bill and Gloria rejoiced in.
“God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grace is there to prove my Saviour Lives.
Because He lives I can face tomorrow…”
The Comfort of Jesus’ Resurrection
2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Paul describes his suffering as momentary and light affliction against the backdrop of eternity (2 Cor 4:17). He points out that his faith is the same faith that we have (2 Cor 4:13). The truth of Jesus’ resurrection is cited by Paul in verse 14 as the cornerstone of this faith that enables the believer to “face tomorrow”, even when ‘tomorrow’ looks painful. ‘Tomorrow may be painful, but someday will be the last day of all this pain. That last day of pain is called by Paul in 1 Tim 1:11, our “blessed hope and glorious appearing” of Jesus. The truth that Jesus is alive is foundational to the Christian’s comfort in the midst of pain. Paul keeps his eyes upon His resurrected king and that enables him to face all his trouble and experience the spiritual comfort of divine grace. Paul see’s through eyes of faith, one day all his sufferings will be a distant memory that will not be worthy to compare (Rom 8:18) to our new life in the physical presence of our Christ.
The Truth of “He Lives”, is Not Enough to Bring Comfort
Let me explain. What I intend to communicate is the truth/facts of the resurrection are not enough. The author of Hebrews makes this plain. Two people may hear the same religious facts, but unless those religious facts are mixed with religious faith the students are not benefitted. To illustrate this point, consider the historical argument for the resurrection with me.Here’s at least one formulation of the historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus:
No serious scholarship denies that Jesus was a historical figure who lived in the setting that the New Testament depicts. There are many who deny the supernatural miracles that the NT ascribes to Jesus, and many deny the authenticity of Jesus’ divine claims on Himself that frequent the Gospel accounts. In all four gospel accounts; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each book climaxes with Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion. Clearly, those who deny the supernatural miracles of Jesus would view this as fiction and not fact. But, let’s explore the historical record with an open mind for whatever clues we may find in our search for truth. Modern scholarship agrees that Jesus did live, and was crucified on a Roman cross outside of Jerusalem in the same setting that the Gospel writers depict. Moving on from the perspective that Jesus’ life and death on a cross are historical facts, we ask the question “are there any historical facts that point to the resurrection of Jesus?” As a Christian, I answer this question in the affirmative. Yes. The sceptic naturally objects, “what historical facts?”.
The cornerstone of the historical argument is simply put; there is an empty tomb where Jesus apparently was laid to rest after His cruxifixction. Jesus’ followers fearfully hid themselves during his crucifixion, but suddenly had a change of heart that drove them all to proclaim one unifying message of Jesus’ resurrection. Their single message was never recanted by a single apostle even in the face of death. Each apostle experience violent persecution, and all but the apostle John died as a result of publicly proclaiming this resurrection as fact.
In addition to the historical fact of the apostles violent deaths, we consider the question of motive. What would produce such an incredible and unified effort to spread this belief of Jesus’ physical resurrection? The Christian answers the question of the apostolic motive simply; “the apostles were motivated to spread the message of Jesus’ resurrection because Jesus did in fact resurrect and commanded them to go into all the world to preach this gospel to every creature. However, the sceptic objects. How the sceptic objects to the Christian view varies. In my experience, the most common objection is that the apostles were effectively “cashing in” on this new religion in a similar way that the sceptic may view modern pastors today. This most common objection is easily refuted on the basis of the apostles poverty, lack of political influence, and consistent violent persecutions against people who propagated this message. The apostles gained nothing of material value through spreading the message of Jesus’ resurrection, but they lost nearly everything this world had to offer them. Therefore, the most probable conclusion is that they believed they had indeed seen, eaten with, learned from, and been commissioned by Jesus of Nazareth after his crucifixion and resurrection.
That is one form of the historical augment for Jesus’ resurrection. I like it. It excites me. But the truth is, believing the resurrection to be a historical fact is not comforting. The comfort of the Holy Spirit in the believers life doesn’t flow out of well intentioned arguments based upon history. No. God’s Spirit uses the Word, the Bible, He inspired to transform hearts, open eyes, and bring a supernatural comfort to people.
The Truth “He Lives” Needs a Scriptural Interpretation
1 Corinthians 2:12-14
Paul points out that our faith isn’t rooted and grounded in the wisdom of this world. The historical argument is, I think, an example of the “enticing words of man’s wisdom (1 Cor 2:4)” that he is addressing. Paul isn’t trying to demonize this apologetic, but he does clearly explain that faith is received by God’s Spirit using His word (1 Cor 2:9-12). He goes on in the chapter to express the impossibility of the natural man coming to faith outside of God’s Spirit moving upon the sinner (1 Cor 2:13-14). Therefore, the proper apologetic does not argue from history, but argues from the Holy Bible.
Feeling the Comfort of Jesus’ Gospel
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, finds a believers comfort in God’s Spirit opening his eyes to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is the Spirit of God who is renewing Paul’s inward man day by day. Have you experienced this comfort? Bill and Gloria have. They felt God’s comfort, so they wrote and sang about it. “Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow”, is a song that I think Paul the Apostle would say Amen to.