Pastor Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, says the resurrection of Jesus Christ is good news for people of all faiths who seek His forgiveness and make the decision to believe in Him.
"It doesn't matter whether you're Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim or atheist – anybody who trusts in Christ and asks for forgiveness can be assured of a guaranteed reservation (in heaven)," Jeffress asserted during an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that aired Tuesday night.
As he answered O'Reilly's questions about the afterlife, forgiveness and God's judgment, Jeffress emphasized that the best evidence believers have for there being an afterlife is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"I think the most compelling evidence for life after death is that the body of Jesus hasn't been found in 2,000 years," he said. "That's not theology that's historical fact. You couple that with other historical facts like Tacitus, the Roman historian, who said the resurrection was the core of the early church's belief; and that thousands of Jews changed their religious beliefs overnight. ... All of this adds up to something big that happened in Jerusalem, and I think that's the resurrection."
He continued, "For example, C.S. Lewis said that for every human desire there's a corresponding reality in nature. We get thirsty because there's water; we crave physical intimacy because there's sex. The reason we may desire immortality is because it exists (in heaven)."
Even though skeptics might have their doubts, Jeffress further noted that the faith Christians have in the afterlife is "built on the best available evidence of historical events" that surround the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Among the questions O'Reilly posed to the Evangelical pastor is the relationship between good works and faith, specifically as it pertains to people who profess to believe in God, but commit heinous acts against other people.
Jeffress noted that good works are important, but emphasized his belief that works are a reflection of one's faith and don't take precedence over faith. "Good works come after faith," he said. "It's faith that secures our place…"
O'Reilly further commented that he thinks Christians should follow a "code of behavior" that holds them accountable for their actions as they strive to live out their faith. He also shared his belief that everyone will be held accountable for their actions in this life when they are judged by God, who is "compassionate and just."
"God is just," Jeffress replied. "The good news is that when we trust in Christ, we are forgiven. He takes our sin and separates us from it. … If that faith is sincere, we're not going to go around killing people, we're going to act justly because of forgiveness; and that's the good news for people of all faiths."