Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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The Easter I’ll Never Forget

By on March 22, 2016

Matthew 27:57-28:20

There was a chill in the pre-dawn darkness as our family stood in front of the cabin situated in the middle of the camp. It was our first Easter in Zimbabwe and we were eager to see if the stories we’d heard were true. And they were!

Just before sunrise a woman began singing a “resurrection” hymn. Soon she was joined by the others on the “Women’s Side” of the camp as they roused from sleep and put away their makeshift beds. The men soon responded with their deep, mellow voices as the singing moved toward the anticipated crescendo of praise.

As the rising sun breached the horizon everyone rushed together into the middle of the camp, joyously singing and shouting, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Then, much to our surprise the crowd parted into small groups, running down dirt paths and into the neighboring villages, greeting sleepy people with the happy news, “He is risen! He is risen, indeed” It was the Easter I’ll never forget.

The virgin birth, sinless life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ are at the heart of the Gospel. Without any one of these realities, the others become only meaningless and ineffectual. And without all of them together, Christ’s promise of His return would be seriously in doubt. This means the reality of the resurrection is a matter of urgent importance.

Skeptics have always challenged the truth of each one of these key realities. The resurrection of Christ has been under frequent attack. But like an anvil that has worn out many hammers, Christ’s resurrection is a reality that has survived the assaults of the critics. Matthew 27:57-28:20 provides us seven “witnesses” who affirm the fact we serve a living Savior. Listen to each witness as you read through the passage.

1. The “stones” attest to the reality of the resurrection (27:57-61).
“Come see the place where he was lying” (28:6)

2. The skeptics admit the reality of the resurrection (27: 62-68).
“The deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ “ (27:62)

3. The soldiers agree to the reality of the resurrection (27:54 comp 28:11ff).
“The guard reported to the chief priests all that had happened.” (28.11)

4. The servants announce the reality of the resurrection (28:5-10).
They “ran to report it to His disciples.” (28:8)

5. The Scriptures affirm the reality of the resurrection (Psalm 16, 22).
“All the ends of the earth will bow down before Him.” (Psalm 22:27)

6. The Savior assures the reality of His resurrection (Matthew 28:6).
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

7. The saved acknowledge the reality of the resurrection (28:9-20).
They “took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” (28:9)

Throughout history, one great distinction of the Christian faith is that, unlike all others, we serve a living Savior. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Is He alive in your heart?

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12

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  • Barbara K. Stidham

    I was a university student while Brother Tom and his family were in Zimbabwe. I was praying for them as he had been my pastor in Tulsa, OK and I felt the LORD calling me into missions in that church. It is thrilling and challenging when I hear my African friends share how long they worship…sometimes all day on a Sunday. They don’t hurry away for a sport event but love to sing praises to Jesus. We served as Missionaries in Thailand and now my husband pastor’s an International church in Chicago. We can certainly learn from our Christian African brothers and sisters!!! He is RISEN indeed!!!!! Barbara McLaughlin Stidham

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  • Chuck Streets Jr.

    Brother Tom, While traveling in the car today I was listening to one of your sermons given during a luncheon at Eastwood Baptist – “How Thirsty Are You?” from Psalm 42. I then received an e-mail updating me on your new blog post. Thank you for your ministry of the word and your heart for spiritual awakening! Praying for you in this new and different journey in life. He is risen indeed!