Robert Spence, president of Evangel University in Springfield,
Mo., since 1974, spoke recently with Ken Horn, managing editor of
the Pentecostal Evangel.
Evangel: What does Easter commemorate and what is its significance
Easter is the designated calendar point at which we as Christians
observe the resurrection of Christ. His resurrection proved His
victory over death, hell and the grave. His message and His death
could possibly be cited as paralleling those of other leaders
messages and deaths. But He alone was raised from the dead; His
resurrection validated His message.
Evangel: Some readers may ask, "How can I really know this
Spence: We are removed [from the event] by almost two millennia.
No records are available in the way of media recordings. But, the
Bible tells us Jesus was seen alive by a representative group on
the first day of the week. Later His disciples were together, with
the exception of Judas, and He appeared. The Scriptures say about
500 people at various times saw Him during the 40 days between His
resurrection and ascension. The record of those people is important
evidence, if we are going to accept written evidence from that period
of time. The historical record of Scripture provides a response
for those people.
Evangel: How does a person get the faith needed to believe in the
Spence: First, accepting Christ and His role as the Son
of God. In a persons search for truth, there must be a starting
point. A starting point is what the Scripture says: Jesus came;
this is what He did; here is what He said. Then His resurrection
validated all that.
The apostle Paul talks about the essential acceptance and belief
in the Resurrection. He says, "If in this life only we have
we are of all men most miserable" (1 Corinthians
The Resurrection is the crown jewel of the entire gospel. The Resurrection
affirmed everything that had been promised and everything that had
Evangel: Some people say we shouldnt celebrate Easter
that some of the traditions have pagan roots.
Spence: All of us have seen the emphasis on Easter being
the transition point from winter to spring with new outfits as the
focus. And just as I would not allow someones commercialism
of Christmas to diminish my affirmation of Christs coming
to this world as a babe, I am not going to allow somebodys
overemphasis on clothing to deter me from affirming what His resurrection
means to me.
Evangel: What is an appropriate way for believers to celebrate
Spence: Reviewing the Scriptures can be helpful Lukes
and Marks descriptions. Also, what Paul wrote about our hope
for those who have died in the faith and our anticipation of resurrection
because Christ was the firstfruits. For my wife and me Easter is
a special time. Early in our marriage we had a baby girl who had
surgery and did not survive. Later, our oldest son had open-heart
surgery before he was 6 and did not survive. Easter for us is a
time that reinforces that wonderful truth that, because Christ rose
from the dead, we have two children who are already experiencing
resurrection life. And because He rose from the dead, we too are
going to be with Him and them.
Evangel: Speak to readers who want to commit or recommit their
lives to Christ. How do they apply His resurrection to their lives?
Spence: If Jesus Christ were here on earth today rather
than having been here almost 2,000 years ago, He would say to the
reader, "Will you believe in Me? You can have eternal life
because I rose from the dead and that starts right now."
In other words, understand Jesus message in our contemporary
setting; dont bury it in antiquity.
He invites us to confess our sins, put our trust in Him and live
right now in His strength but, more important, to live forever.