Book Notes | Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection


Every Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection by Jonathan Dodson.

This book was incredibly helpful as I thought through my sermon for this Sunday.

This is a book I would definitely pass on to someone with questions about the resurrection and its validity. What I appreciated most was how it engaged all those questions, historically and in our culture today. Too many Christians take the resurrection for granted instead of engaging it. It is really a belief that is hard for many people to handle. I think if Christians actually stood back and thought about the beliefs they simply believe and listen to themselves from a secular perspective, they would hear how crazy we can sound. Yet at the same time, there is proof to answer those questions and doubts.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • Humanity seems prone to settle for less. We choose pleasure over life-long relationships, comfort over lasting impact. Many people approach Christianity this way, instead of firmly grasping the life Jesus offers, which is joyful and full of risk, they settle for an hour on Sunday.
  • The mere scope of Jesus’ death sets him apart from any other martyr. Jesus’ sacrifice was not for a few, but for the many. His death was for people across ethnic, cultural lines. In Christ, we have a selfless death on behalf of all humanity.
  • He died to death sin, yes, but he rose to defeat death (Romans 5:15 – 21). Jesus’ crucifixion is set apart from all other martyrs because he did not remain dead. The grave could not contain him. In fact, he isn’t a martyr, he’s a death defeater.
  • Abundant life and purpose are restored in Christ. The life is the same: a restoring of deep intimate relationship with God. The purpose is also the same: reflect God’s image and be a blessing to the world. Jesus creates a new humanity that looks like him. If you are in Christ, you have resurrected life.
  • If Christ hasn’t been raised, the Christian faith is fiction and we are stranded in the fall of humanity, trapped in our imperfections (1 Corinthians 15:17).
  • If you doubt one thing, it’s because you believe another thing. If you doubt that a supernatural resurrection is possible, it’s because you have faith in the natural, that only natural explanations can account for our world. your doubt reveals where your faith is. In this case, your faith would be science. The religious person isn’t’ the only one who possesses faith. So does the secular person. One believes that Jesus rose from the dead; the other believes that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Both require faith. Both mean something for our lives and future.
  • Leslie Newbiggin said, “Doubt is not an autonomous activity.” Doubt is not self-sufficient. It cannot exist on its own. It does not live in a vacuum. Doubt is propped up by faith in something else. To doubt one thing is to have faith in another.
  • Instead of trusting in reason and experience, the religious person trust in religious activity for meaning and life. This could be in church attendance, spiritual disciplines, holy living, generosity, or telling others how many spiritual things you’ve done (Linnea). Acceptance and love from God becomes based on my performance. The sin under the sin is self-righteousness.
  • Jesus is the right target for our faith is because he is the resurrection and the life. It is important to grasp that Jesus is not asking for faith “in the resurrection” per se (a supernatural event), but for faith in a resurrected Christ. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates his power over death, which also proves he uniquely has the power of life. By rising from the dead, Jesus is saying to the secular and religious person: “In your search for meaning, worth, acceptance, and love, I’m what you’ve been looking for. I alone can give you life. All that greatness, acceptance, beauty, love is all found in me. Your god-sized desire for intimacy is meant for God, the God of life. Faith in women can’t get you that. Faith in kids can’t get you that. Faith in a career or money can’t get you that. When we put our faith in the resurrected Christ, we redirect all our desires to their origin, like tracing divine threads of joy, meaning, and purpose all the way back to the source. Jesus isn’t scolding us for our desire to be loved, accepted, beautiful, or even experience greatness. He’s showing us that he, alone is where we find tru love, acceptance, beauty, and greatness.
  • If Christ has not been raised, we are stuck in a tailspin of desire and a life of misdirected faith in this life and the next. However, if Christ has been raised we have forever fulfillment of desire and the final target for our faith. The resurrection points us to eternal life in Jesus. Faith in Jesus will bear fruit not just in this life but also in the life to come. Receiving this promise of bodily resurrection life will be our final step into the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, we remain in our sins and our faith is futile. But Christ has been raised; therefore, your faith in him will be forever fruitful.
  • There are some big assumptions in the gospel: we sin, Christ is strong enough to deal with sin, and that he was stronger than death – he was raised from the dead!
  • At first glance, the death of Jesus is easy enough to embrace. It is well documented that the Roman authorities crucified people regularly. The god-sized claim beneath Jesus’ self-sacrifice is what ruffles feathers. The claim that his sacrifice was on behalf of all humanity troubles both our pride and our intellect. Jesus represented all of us? What gives him the right? Who says we need a representative or sacrifice anyway?
  • Biblically, resurrection isn’t restricted to Jesus. All who have faith in him will eventually gain a resurrected body to enjoy a “resurrected” world.
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


Les McKeown on 4 signs you’re a terrible communicator.

Just because you talk a lot doesn’t mean you’re necessarily good at communicating. In fact, many leaders confuse eloquence with clarity, and as a result, often leave the people who work with them bedazzled by their verbal dexterity, and entirely confused about what to do next.

Brian Stowe on 10 things senior pastors must do to keep their jobs.

This may be the most important post I have ever written.  The Barna Group reported in a 2009 study that senior pastors of mainline churches have an average tenure of only four years.  One of the reasons cited for such a brief stay is that while 93% of all pastors claim to be leaders, only 12% claim to have the spiritual gift of leadership.  You can read the full article by clicking here. The epidemic of pastors leaving their churches, regardless of the reason, is an issue that must to be addressed.

Jonathan Dodson on Why “unchurched” is unhelpful.

  • We say “have faith”; they hear “anti-science.”
  • We say “Christ”; they hear “moral example.”
  • We say “cross”; they hear “arcane human sacrifice.”
  • We say “Christianity”; they hear “Republican and anti-gay.”

5 ways to make sure your content gets shared and goes viral.

Every day, a lot of potentially great content disappears into the ether, never to be heard from or seen again. And others gets shared by hundreds, thousands, or even millions. Why? Believe it or not, most content that resonates share 5 characteristics. With an eye for these 5, you might soon find your content resonating more than it does now.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. Yancey Arrington on The grace of repenting to your kids. We do confession each night together as a family and it is becoming an important practice in our family when we reconcile with each other.
  2. Removing the lid of your organization.
  3. Tony Morgan on 10 things people want before they start to give at your church.
  4. Ron Edmondson on 7 ways to protect a pastor’s kid.
  5. The leader who can’t let go.
  6. Mike Leake on 5 reasons why our small groups stopped doing book studies and why I’m glad about it. We do sermon based discussions in our missional communities and it is the healthiest thing our church does.
  7. Jonathan Dodson on Sermon prep.
  8. One reason why parents (especially men) church attendance is declining.

Links to Jumpstart Your (Short) Week With

  1. Summer family activity book from The Village Church. This is definitely worth downloading if you have a family. 
  2. We are kicking off a brand new series this Saturday at Revolution Church called So You’re Dead…Now What? We’ll be exploring heaven, hell and the afterlife. 
  3. Tony Morgan on the book Replenish.
  4. If you want to go to the next level in any area of your life, get a mentor. Here’s how to catch a mentor.
  5. Why you should read Christian biographies
  6. If you have a child in Planet Rev, here is what they learned on Saturday night. If you aren’t following the Planet Rev blog, you need to do so. 
  7. Scott Cochrane on 3 indicators you are developing the wrong person as a leader. 
  8. The seduction of Pornography and Integrity of Christian Marriage
  9. Jonathan Dodson on What to say when someone says “the bible has errors.”

Links of the Week

  1. Can fidelity work in a movie?
  2. Brad Lomenick on Leadership lessons from playing point guard.
  3. 9 things pastors should know about how adults learn.
  4. Mark Driscoll on 6 ways sex is a gift.
  5. 9 keys to lasting in ministry. This is golden.
  6. Ron Edmondson on How to make your ideas better.
  7. 5 lessons small churches can learn from large churches.
  8. Jonathan Dodson on Getting through challenges to missional communities.
  9. 10 trends that will shape student ministries (and the larger church). This is a great list to consider.
  10. Voddie Baucham on The elephant room. I thought this was a helpful perspective.
  11. How to deal with anxiety as a leader.
  12. Rick Warren on Building a leadership structure for growth.
  13. 7 signs you are burning out and Finding relief from burnout.
  14. If Facebook tempts you. Some good thoughts here especially if you gave up Facebook for Lent.

Links of the Week

  1. The leadership of the Apostle Paul.
  2. Scott Williams on Leadership is like riding a bike.
  3. Jonathan Dodson on Keeping missional communities healthy.
  4. Voddie Baucham on his new book “Family Shepherds.” Anything he writes on biblical manhood and womanhood is worth reading.
  5. Stream the new worship album from Austin City Life. So good.
  6. 12 signs someone is not a good leader.
  7. Relevant magazine on When revolutionaries grow up.
  8. Why the world is wrong about marriage.
  9. Tony Morgan on How leadership teams empower leaders.

25 Ways to Engage Your Neighborhood with the Gospel

On Saturday, I preached about our identity as missionaries. We often think of missionaries who go to another country or culture. The reality is that our world has now come to us. Being a missionary is something that every follower of Jesus is called to, it is not optional and it starts with your neighborhood, where you live. You live there for a larger purpose than that is where you bought a home.

Here is a list of 25 ways (thanks to Jonathan Dodson for compiling this) to engage your neighborhood with the gospel:

1. Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard
2. Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood
3. Sit on the front porch and letting kids play in the front yard
4. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.)
5. Invite neighbors over for dinner
6. Attend and participate in HOA functions
7. Attend the parties invited to by neighbors
8. Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved
9. Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside)
10. Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors
11. Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors
12. Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards
13. Start a weekly open meal night in your home
14. Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute
15. Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety
16. Host a sports game watching party
17. Host a coffee and dessert night
18. Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night
19. Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch)\
20. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards
21. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood
22. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents
23. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas
24. Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team
25. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

See full list of 100

Links of the Week

  1. Jeff Vanderstelt on The elder qualification we often forget.
  2. Theology a hot issue in GOP race.
  3. Grace Driscoll on a Godly wife, woman, mother & friend.
  4. 6 characteristics of spiritual leadership.
  5. Mark Driscoll on Manhood and the fatherhood of God.
  6. Perry Noble on 10 signs you are near burnout.
  7. 30 ways to be missional in your workplace.
  8. Jonathan Dodson on 25 ways to engage your neighbors.
  9. Tim Keller on Salvation outside of Christ.
  10. Russell Moore takes on Pat Robertson. I thought Robertson was kidding when he said this, but Moore calls him to task on his statement about marriage and divorce.

Links of the Week

  1. Chuck Swindoll on The most important thing.
  2. Charles Stone on 5 non-negotiable decisions every leader must make.
  3. 25 ways to be missional in your neighborhood.
  4. Mike Breen on How culture has corrupted the American church.
  5. Jonathan Dodson on Is Pluralism more tolerant than Christianity?
  6. Motherhood is application.
  7. Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO.
  8. Jared Wilson & Tony Merida on Preaching Today.
  9. One of the main reasons students leave church after high school is their faith reflects the faith they’ve seen growing up.
  10. Bill Hybels on Preparation matters.
  11. 6 trends in church staffing.
  12. Carl Trueman on Teaching your kids the trinity.
  13. Scott Williams on Most leadership stress is self induced.

Links of the Week

  1. What the CNN religion blog learned in one year. Shows how prevalent religion and spirituality is in our culture, news stories and how passionate people are about it.
  2. Are you smarter than Anthony Weiner?
  3. Atheists and agnostics know more about the Bible than Christians. Sad.
  4. Jared Wilson on 3 musts for pastors that don’t get put in their job descriptions.
  5. Pete Wilson on Deeper preaching.
  6. Actually, that’s not in the Bible.
  7. Perry Noble on What a husband needs to understand about his wife. Read this, pass this on. So good. Here’s a great line from the article, “if having your wife “not leave you” is the only goal you have for your marriage then you officially suck as a husband.”
  8. 10 reasons why missional communities fail part 1 and part 2.
  9. Ben Reed on Lessons from preaching. This is a good picture into what the weekly role of preaching can do to a pastor.
  10. James MacDonald on Congregational government is from Satan. A strong title, but so true when it comes to what the Bible says.
  11. Jonathan Dodson on Is religious pluralism really tolerant.
  12. 4 ways to be the church for dummies. This is a high compliment for a church.
  13. How to not grow a healthy church.