John was in exile for his fidelity to the Word of God, and his faithful testimony to Jesus Christ. The place was Patmos; that sterile, desolate island in the Egean Sea. He, seated near the rocky shore, looking toward Ephesus and Smyrna, was in the Spirit when he heard behind him a great voice.
Turning to see the voice that spoke with him, he saw seven golden candle-sticks, and in the midst one like unto the Son of man clothed in glory. John fell at His feet as one dead, and He laid His right hand upon him saying, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1:17-18).
From this utterance I take these three words — "I AM ALIVE." I consider this the most wonderful and comprehensive statement ever made.
Into it enters the fulness of the manifestation of the Son of God incarnate, glorified; in it is the salvation of God to men in all its fullness and power. The great evidence that Jesus is alive is the fact itself. Jesus Christ has not been alive from the dead for over eighteen hundred years to leave it still necessary for me to attempt to prove the fact by literary criticism, or to argue it from the trustworthiness of the witnesses, nor to show the hollowness of the pretense of His enemies, the absence of the body, etc.
If Jesus Christ has been alive from the dead for these centuries, and the proof of the matter still rests on historic vindication of the transaction of His coming forth from the grave, I submit that it would not make much difference whether He were alive or not. If His being alive were purely a historic matter, it would be—to the world—little more than the accuracy of history.
Jesus Christ being alive means so much more than this.
The history is evidently true, on the face of it, but Jesus Christ is able to demonstrate the fact that He is alive. This is the view the Apostle Paul took of it, when he says to the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14). They knew whether the message Paul brought was a vain one, whether it had come to them in the weakness of falsehood or in the power of God. They knew whether the chains of sin, which bound them, had been broken, and whether a new life had come in.
If their religion were simply a human effort, founded upon an intellectual conviction, then in it there would be no conclusive evidence. But if their religion were an inwrought experience by the power of God, as a result of their faith in the testimony that He was alive, then they knew that their faith was founded upon the fact.
We are taught the way to believe; we are enabled to complete the intellectual and heart conditions and the Holy Spirit does His work—the burden of our sins is taken away, the condemnation of our conscience is removed, a clear sense of the Divine favor comes into the soul, and we have the experience of being new creatures. We are translated into a new realm, and have conscious fellowship with God. We walk with Him and are taught of a further application of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to cleanse from all sin, and to give a more perfect revelation of Him in the soul.
In response to this further teaching, we put ourselves in the proper relations, and the power of His resurrection lifts us into the fullness of His blessing of purity and love. Now our knowledge of the fact that Jesus Christ is alive does not depend so much on the historical statement; the great evidence is the fact that He is here and doeth the work.
How much we owe to the fact that He pleads in our behalf before the Throne!
That we are out of hell; that our sins have been taken away; that the cleansing blood has been applied; that we, today, look up and on with hope, is all because He prays for us. We know that His intercessory prayers reach our need.
The answer to His intercessory prayer is the Holy Spirit. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, spoke of the resurrection of Jesus and of His exaltation and said, “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. THEREFORE, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:33, 36).
I stand with the disciples at Pentecost and hear that marvelous therefore; yes—therefore He is alive. I stand with Saul of Tarsus in Damascus; with that company of believers in Samaria; with Cornelius and his soldiers in Cesarea; with John Huss; John Wesley, and say "THEREFORE, He is alive."
Jesus Christ is alive! He will take a man from the depths of sin, debauched, degraded, despairing, and lift him up in newness of life and set him among His princes. He, being alive, manifests His presence and power.
Phineas F. Bresee, Excerpt from a sermon published in The Nazarene Messenger, April 10, 1902.
Used with permission from Nazarene Archives for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.