Easter - The Resurrection - Fact or Fiction
Some time ago I asked some students what Easter was all about. Some of the younger ones of course said it was about Easter eggs, the Easter bunny etc. Others said it was just another holiday, a day off of school. And others said it was about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So what, I said, that does not tell me much. They gave me a look that sort off look that said, HUH!
Suppose I said that I knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Explain to me what Easter is about, so that I may want to look deeply into it and maybe become a Christian. Again I received another strange look, like: Say what? About all they were able to tell me, was that Easter was about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Well, thats true, but that is not all.
The fact of Christs death and resurrection is the basis for our Christian faith, for without it our faith would be in vain, and the lives of millions of people would be nothing but misery. In 1 Cor. 15:14, Paul writes if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (KJV) Furthermore he adds in verse 17: if Christ be not raised ye are yet in your sins, and verse 18 They also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." (both KJV)
Therefore the whole of the Christian faith is based on the fact of Christs resurrection, for if He did not rise from the dead then we have no hope of eternal salvation, and we may as well live as the rest of the world and party on, for today we live, and tomorrow we die.
It is important to note that all four gospels deal with the fact of His death and burial, because if there were no death, there could be no resurrection, and again, if there be no resurrection, our hope is still in vain, because we worship a living Lord.
Many throughout history have tried to discount the fact of Christs resurrection by suggesting that Christ feigned His death, or simply fell into unconsciousness, thus the Swoon Theory.
Again, all four gospels writers agree to the fact of His death. Mark says: he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46 KJV) Matthew says He yielded up His Spirit. Luke says He gave up the ghost, and John says He gave up His Spirit. Numerous other scriptural passages also confirm the fact of His death.
Within the gospels themselves we are given several reliable testimonies to the fact that Christ died and that He did not simply fake His death, or slip into a coma. The very first witness we have is the centurion soldier who had commanded the execution squad. Would he not have had to have been a reasonably intelligent man to have commanded a legion of soldiers? Would this soldier not have not known for certain if Jesus had died or not? After all, he would have been given the order to put Jesus to death from someone higher up. To have not made sure that Jesus was dead would have meant his own death under Roman law. By his own words, using the past tense of the verb was, as recorded in Mark 15:39, shows that by his judgment, Christ was indeed dead, when he said : Truly this man was the Son of God. (KJV)
In Johns Epistle, he does not concentrate on the centurion, but upon the Piercing of the side of Christ. Forthwith came there out blood and water. John 19:34 (KJV). According to medical journals, the flow of both water and blood is the result of a ruptured heart, because the heart is protected by a sac of water. Therefore Jesus was dead even before the spear was thrust in to His side.
Another reliable eye witness as to the fact that Jesus was indeed dead was the woman who followed behind as the body of Jesus was being carried to the garden for burial. All four gospels record that this same woman went to the garden on the first day to prepare the body for burial with spices. Had she not been certain that Jesus was dead; she certainly would not have gone there with the spices to complete the burial, which was the custom of the day.
And lastly there is the silent testimony of Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin, and both silent followers of Christ. Again, if they had any inkling of an idea that Jesus might actually still be alive, they certainly would not have continued with the burial.
The evidence therefore seems intact that Jesus had indeed died, and had neither faked His death, nor fallen unconscious.
The next thing that we must consider is the evidence of the missing body. If anyone could have produced the body, then the resurrection theory would have been proven to be false, and there would be no hope of salvation. Nor, for that matter would there be any need for the church as we know it today.
Some however, would have you believe that the disciples stole the body from the tomb where he was supposedly buried. How could that possibly be with the presence of an entire squadron of trained professional Roman soldiers on guard who would certainly know if anyone was approaching the tomb.
Some even argue that the guards were all sleeping. But, did you know that death was the penalty for any soldier caught sleeping on the job? Today if you are caught sleeping on the job, the worst that can happen to you is you might lose your job or get time docked off your pay check with a reprimand. But a Roman soldier was not getting paid by the clock, nor would he dare to be caught sleeping on the job knowing that to do that is a certain death.
But just suppose that they were all sleeping. How would it be possible for them to be sleeping through the noise of the huge stone being rolled away from the tomb? The chances of not one soldier waking up while being right there beside the stone would be astronomically impossible. Just think about that for yourself for a moment. To just roll a large stone on the ground is fairly noisy. But to roll a huge stone on rock would be even noisier still, let alone that the disciples would have had to step over top a whole legion of soldiers.
And one last thought to keep in mind is, if indeed the disciples had been successful in removing the body of Christ from the tomb without waking anyone up, certainly the alarm would have been raised before very long. And when they caught up with the perpetrators, they would have been imprisoned and the body replaced which of course did not happen. Because, for one, there was no body to be found anywhere.
Since there never was a body produced, and since the disciples were never arrested for stealing the body out of the tomb, we can safely assume that Christ had indeed died, been buried in the tomb, and was raised again on the third day just as He said He would do.
So now that proof has been given that Christ was indeed crucified to the point of death, and since proof has also been given that the body disappeared out of the tomb, and since proof has been given that no one stole the body, we must ascertain with proof positive that He was resurrected.
What evidence of proof exists of the bodily resurrection of Christ? There are at least three areas of proof of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. These three include 1) the material evidence of the displaced stone 2) the empty tomb 3) the grave clothes laying there.
Besides those three things, we also have the physical appearance of Jesus by many witnesses in many different places at different times. And there is also the historical results which include the personal transformation of the disciples, the advent of the Holy Spirit, and the origin and growth of the Church.
Please allow me to touch briefly on some of these evidences. All material evidences by the way were available and apparent to the contemporary witnesses of the day.
First of all we have the misplaced stone. The tombs in those days were carved out of soft limestone with access through a low doorway. It was low enough that one had to stoop to go through. Parallel and adjacent to the outside wall there was a narrow groove cut in, in which a large circular door was set, which weighed just less than a ton. Before a body could be placed within the tomb, a cleat, like a door stopper was placed in front of the door to keep the door open, otherwise the door would have rolled back into placed and be closed. The cleat then would have been removed once the body was inside, and several strong men would then roll the rock back into place making a strong barrier against vandalism and robbery.
Matthew 27:60 offers proof that Joseph sealed the tomb properly. Once sealed, it would have been impossible for the disciples and certainly the woman to have removed the door from its place without having caused a great commotion before the Roman guards.
Pilate himself also ordered the tomb to be sealed which would have been promptly done as is recorded in Matthew 27:66. This would have included the sealing with wax and imprinted with a ring.
And yet the door was rolled away on the third day as was witnessed by the soldiers themselves, who ran with their tails between their legs after having been confronted by an angel. The soldiers also reported this incident to the chief priest. This in itself is a testimony as to the resurrection of Christ.
The next witness we have, that the stone was rolled away, was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, who were walking towards the sepulchre on the first day of the week. Upon arrival they were confronted by an angel of the Lord who told them to go see the place where the Lord has lain, and then to go and tell the disciples that Christ had risen.
Notice the word HAD. The angel did not say: Go see the place where the Lord IS lying." How could he if the body was not there? No, he said go see where the body HAD lain. The body of Jesus was no longer there. And if the angel told them to go see where the body had lain, the tomb then would have had to be opened. Therefore since it was impossible for the disciples or for the woman to have removed the stone, and since logic would dictate that the soldiers certainly would not, the only plausible explanation is that the stone was rolled away by the power of God, by an angel, or by Jesus Himself.
This then is one of many material proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ whom we worship. For, we do not worship a dead Saviour.
A second material evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the fact of the empty tomb. Again, all the four gospels agree to this. We already have the witness of the two women and the angel of the Lord testifying to the fact of the empty tomb. Added to this are the eye witnesses of both Peter and John who saw for themselves the empty tomb after Mary Magdalene had reported the truth of the empty tomb to the disciples. We have the record of John who after having heard this went and bent down before entering the tomb and seeing that the grave clothes were still there on top of the grave stone where the body had lain. Apparently John thought that the body was still there in the grave clothes while he awaited the arrival of Peter before going in himself. Peter, the skeptic , was not satisfied to just peer inside. He went in and gazed at the clothes. What is significant about Peters observation of the grave clothes is the fact of where the clothes were. The face linen we read in John 20:7 was placed separately away from the other linen and wrapped in a different place. And of course he saw that the body was not there at all. And while Peter was still inside, John came in, saw and believed. John 20:8 Although we have no written record, it is quite likely that some of the other disciples also went and seen the empty tomb.
This account shows without a shadow of a doubt that the body had indeed vanished, not only from within the grave clothes, but also out from the tomb itself. Jesus therefore had risen from the dead as He had predicted and was not held by death or by the bonds of grave clothes. There is no scientific proof to logically prove otherwise the sudden disappearance of the body of Christ.
The third and most verifiable material evidences as to the bodily resurrection of Christ are the many eye witness accounts of His physical appearance. Without these physical appearances it would have been impossible to prove and to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are eleven recorded manifestations of Christs appearance to substantiate His resurrection. Although they all differ widely in time, place, persons involved and results, all four of the gospels agree unanimously to His physical presence which have been attested to by reliable witnesses.
The first witness we have is Mary Magdalene, who after witnessing the empty tomb went and told the disciples about it. She then retraced her steps back to the tomb. There she spied the two angels who enquired of her sorrows. She then became aware of a body standing behind her and thought at first that it was the gardener. It was not until Jesus called her by name, that she realized who it was, and thereby flung herself at the feet of Jesus. He said to her, do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.
Her companions also who had been present with her this second time to the tomb also saw Jesus standing there. The synoptic gospels agree that these persons recognised that it was Jesus standing there. They also fell at the feet of Jesus and worshiped Him as recorded in Matthew 28:9
There is also the record of the two lesser known disciples who met Jesus while travelling down the road on their way to Damascus. We are told that they did not know whom it was to whom they were talking to right away. Scripture tells us: their eyes were holden that they should not know Him. Luke 24:16 KJV The Lord Himself temporarily blinded them in a sense so that they would not recognise Him. As these two disciples were walking along, they were in a deep discussion about all the things that had transpired since the arrest of Jesus to the present time. At this point in time they did not yet know that Jesus had been resurrected.
Out of the blue Jesus began walking beside these two disciples. Jesus we are told began to question them about the events of which they were discussing. He then began to teach them the prophecies about Himself from the Old Testament.
An invitation was given to Jesus to join these two disciples for an evening meal. It was while Jesus sat and broke the bread, giving thanks that the eyes of the disciples eyes were opened, so that they finally recognised whom Jesus was, at which time Jesus vanished from their presence. These two guys were so overjoyed by this experience that they forgot their meals and ran back to Jerusalem.
The next sighting we have of Jesus was by the disciple whom had shut themselves up into an upper room in fear of being arrested by the Jewish leaders. Suddenly Jesus materialises before them without having walked through the door. To assure them that He was not a ghost, He proceeded to show them His hands and the side bearing the scars of the cross convincing them thoroughly of His resurrection. This of course turned their sorrows into great joy. And to further convince them of His real presence, He ate some food.
Thomas, from whom we get the phrase; A Doubting Thomas; was not present with the disciples when Jesus made His first appearance into the upper room. And when he heard of this event he said : Except I shall see in His hands the prints of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. John 20:25 KJV
Thomas was able to witness and see for himself these very things the very next week in the very same chamber. Thomas indeed did not only see, but he also touched the prints and the scars of the cross where he is recorded as saying: My Lord and my God. John 20:28 KJV All the disciples were now totally convinced of the bodily resurrection Of Jesus, for they would not believe otherwise without the actual physical appearance of Christ as proof positive.
Another major appearance of Jesus according to 1 Cor. 15:6 was to more than 500 people at the same time gathered outside the city. It is quite likely that at the time of Paul having written this epistle, that the majority of those whom were present at this gathering were still alive. Many converts of Pentecost were also like still alive at the time of Pauls writing this epistle. This would have been about 25 years after the resurrection.
A third appearance of Jesus before His disciples was at the Sea of Tiberas as recorded in John Chapter 21 with seven of His disciples. This occurred after they had had an evening of fishing with no luck, so they went out again in the morning, but they still were not having any luck.
While they were dragging their nets Jesus called out to them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. When the tried to pull in the nets after this attempt, to the amazement they were unable to because of the abundance of fish. It was then that John recognised that it was Jesus standing on the shore, and then Peter jumped into the water and began swimming to shore. Upon arriving to shore the disciples found that Jesus had already prepared some fish on a fire. Again, they had no doubt that this was Jesus.
Jesus appeared yet once more to 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee where Mark records the final words of Jesus to His disciples to go out to the entire world and preach the gospel. Mark 15:15
A special appearance was granted to Stephen who was boldly preaching the Word, when he looked up to the heavens and said; Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56 KJV) This, just before he was stoned to death.
There were probably more sightings of Jesus that we have no recordings of, but for all of His recorded appearances, none were purposed for the sheer experience of amazement. All of His appearances had objectives behind them. It is true that at His first appearance to His disciples, they did not believe at first that it was Jesus, but in the end they all truly believed.
The variety and times and places which Jesus appeared made it difficult to refute the truth of His resurrection. All of these appearances occurred in broad daylight, so there could be no confusion as to the possibility of hallucinations or discrepancies due to darkness.
The reality of Jesus is indisputable. He is well documented to having taught many people, to have performed certain miracles, to having been hung on the cross and died, to having been placed within the tomb for burial, and to having been witnessed by too many people alive after His resurrection. The historicity of these events is too well documented and witnessed to have been a pure myth, or a combination of fact and fiction.
What other evidences exist of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How about the miraculous transformation of the disciples themselves? When they were all gathered together after His death on the cross in the upper room, they were hiding from more than just the Jewish leaders. At this time they were a disgruntled bunch. As far as they were concerned, they had lost everything in their cause of following the one who would take them out of their misery of being led by a foreign nation. His kingdom had not arrived as they had hoped and Christs many promises seemed empty. At this point they were about to fold up and return to their former jobs. Disunity itself was threatening to break up this motley crew.
Each disciple carried with him a temper which was out of harmony with Christs final words to them to love one another. Peters brusqueness, John with his nasty temper, Thomas and his pessimism, and Philip with his materialism would eventually cause a clash if they were to remain together.
Jesus knew this of course.
But, between the time of Christs crucifixion and the day of Pentecost a remarkable transformation occurred within these same disciples. This disgruntled bunch was to become the nucleus which would cause a stir in the world like none had seen before. They would soon defy the leaders which had killed their Messiah, be imprisoned and some martyred for the cause of proclaiming the gospel to the world.
Peter who had cowardly denied Christ three times a week earlier would now stand up boldly accusing the Jewish leaders of having killed the Messiah and affirm that God had restored Him to life. James the half-brother of Christ, who had earlier rejected Jesus as the messiah, became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Thomas the skeptic changed his attitude to that of worship.
The most remarkable change was that of Paul who believed the principal of resurrection, but rejected the Messiah. This same Paul whose main goal was to destroy and eliminate Christianity was found one day riding a horse down the road to Damascus with the sole intent of taking to court and persecuting believers. Oh his way he was intercepted by a manifestation of Jesus, and from here on took on an about face with a totally different attitude and was strong in the cause in proclaiming the gospel Of Jesus Christ. This change was so dramatic that those who had known him before were confused about his complete turnaround.
It could have only been the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the empowering of the Holy Spirit which caused such a great transformation within the lives of these men. There is no other explanation for the sudden change of heart, and change of attitudes to stand boldly and fight and persecute the very ones who had previously been their enemies, where they simply cowered before.
Just look at the change within your own lives since you were saved. Some of you, like myself have come from a course background of bars, drugs, sex and booze, where every second word coming out of your mouth was foul with its origins from the depths of hell.
Now look at yourselves. Where you once turned your backs on those who tried to profess the Word of God to you, you are now yourselves boldly proclaiming the gospel. What could have caused such a remarkable transformation where the words that now pour from your lips are a sweet melody in the ears of God? What could have caused such a transformation where once booze and drugs gushed through your veins, and now the rich beautiful blood of Jesus flows?
What I ask again could have caused such a remarkable change in you and me? Shout it out loud from the roof tops and from the mountain tops.
Only the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death to life could have caused the remarkable transformation in the lives of you and me and many millions as well. A dead man could not have caused such a change. Only a living resurrected Saviour could have caused this awesome remarkable transformation that we see in the lives of so many.
So my friends, kids, and neighbours, the next time someone asks you what Easter is about, dont just tell them that Easter is about Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. Tell them with boldness and power that Easter to me is about God who came to earth in the form of a man, and died a cruel horrible death on the cross to save your souls from the sure fiery pit of hell. Tell them he paid the penalty of death for your sins, which you so richly deserve.
Tell them this very same Jesus Christ, who is God, arose from the dead on the third day after being crucified on a cross, is now up in heaven and one day soon He is coming again to take us who believe on the work He did on the cross home to be with Him forever.
Tell them, that if this were not so, then you to would be going to hell, not to heaven, because if all this were not true, then there would be no heaven, no hope of eternal glory. If Jesus had not risen from the grave, then all of our preaching and teaching is in vain, and we all would die a sinners death.
TELL THEM, I BELIEVE IN THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.
TELL THEM, THATS WHAT EASTER MEANS TO ME.
Importance of the Resurrection 1 Cor. 15
Or Life After Death!
(Will I Live Again)
Once again the Christian world looks to the Cross as this is the time we celebrate Easter, or the resurrection of Christ. The secular world also celebrates Easter, but only for the fun of it. There is no other appeal to them to celebrate Easter other than for the fun in eating Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies etc. It offers them no satisfaction beyond the here and now. It offers them absolutely nothing for the future, nor for eternity.
But the Christian world looks to Easter for much more than the here and now. We look and celebrate Easter because it offers us hope for eternity. Life eternal and new resurrected bodies, and to live with Christ our God forever.
The attachment is a sermon I shared with my congregation several years ago, It asks the question, "What or why is the resurrection important?" I trust the answer will bless you and that you will be inspired to look at Easter perhaps anew and seek a closer fellowship with Christ today.
There are few guarantees in this world.
But there is one thing that we can be certain of.
And that is that we all die.
Why must we all die?
The answer is given in Rom. 3:23 & 6:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Rom 3:23 (King James Version)
For the wages of sin is death . Rom. 6:23 (King James Version)
There is no way around it. We all have an appointment with death.
Heb. 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (King James Version)
So what then?
Is there nothing more then after death?
Do we just live a few years and then die into eternal oblivion with no trace left behind as if we had never lived?
If this is the case then, we might as well live, as we want, do what we want, enjoy life to the fullest and then die.
As some say, Party on, for tomorrow we die.
Or is there more?
Is there more to life after death?
Will we live again?
Thats the question we are looking at today.
Will we live again?
Read 1 Cor. 15
From what I gather after reading this chapter, there is more to life after death.
But there still remains one question.
On what can I base the fact that I will live again?
Scripture tells us that Jesus was the Messiah, the one who came to save us from our sins.
We are also told that He was God and that He died on a wooden cross and was raised to life again.
For who else but God could raise oneself from the dead.
From this fact we can base the truth that there is life after death, because He claims that He can & will raise us up from the dead again to live forever.
But now we have to come to a conclusion on whether indeed this was an actual historic event, or was it just a myth?
Was Jesus resurrected from the dead? True or false.
To answer this question we have to turn and find some acts to prove one way or the other that Jesus was raised from the dead as scripture claims He was.
So what proofs do we have that He was raised from the dead.
1 Cor. 15:4 tells us that on the 3rd day after He was buried He rose again.
This is corroborated by we are told by many eyewitnesses.
How many claim to have seen Him?
He was seen by some of the disciples and then by over 500 witnesses and by Paul himself, as well as by James the half brother of Jesus and all the apostles. V:5-8
Is there any other evidence that Christ was raised from the dead?
There are indeed several evidences to prove that Christ was raised from the dead.
What are they?
Lets look at the facts.
Fact #1 -The Broken Roman Seal
A seal was placed on the tomb after the tomb was sealed by the Roman soldiers.
A seal was a mark of authenticity, which was used and is still used today in many parts of the world.
A seal is used mostly on legal documents.
The seal was found to be broken which means that the tomb had to have been opened.
Fact # 2 The Empty Tomb
Several people went to the empty tomb and saw that the tomb was empty of all but the linen in which the body was wrapped in.
What they observed was that the linen lay exactly where it was placed in the tomb, undisturbed as if the body was still within.
Yet there was no body within.
It was as if Jesus had just vaporized out of the wrapping or somehow slithered out of the linen without disturbing one fold.
Remember that the Jewish custom was to wrap a body in linen which was a foot wide laden with about 100 pounds of spices within the folded layers.
Rather than running to Rome or to far away cities like Athens, the people whom saw the empty tomb went straight to Jerusalem.
By staying near by it would have been impossible for enough time to have lapsed which would have made it impossible for their story to have been corroborated.
In this way others could have gone straight away to see for themselves, which both Peter and John did. Luke 24:12; John 20:3-6
Fact # 3 The Stone Rolled Away
In those days a tomb was sealed with a stone weighing in at about 2 tons, which is 4,000 pounds.
This stone was also laid within a groove, which was carved into the rock so that it would be impossible to roll the stone away, nor to be able to fall away.
It would have been impossible for the disciples or any other to creep up and roll the stone away and steal the body of Jesus, especially with a crew of Roman guards watching over it with strict orders to protect it from any would be robbers.
The stone would also have to have been rolled uphill.
Fact # 4 The Roman Guard
It was surmised by the skeptics that the entire Roman squadron had fallen asleep and the disciples had stolen the body of Christ.
Did you know that any soldier caught sleeping on duty was put to death?
The Roman legion was likely the most disciplined army ever.
They paid strict attention to every detail of their command.
To not fulfill a command meant certain death by being burned alive with their clothes still on them.
So it is not likely that one soldier fell asleep, let alone an entire squadron of soldiers.
Fact # 5 Jesus was seen by many
Again we have the witness of well over 500 people those including disciples, apostles, and followers, both Marys, James the half brother of Jesus and more.
Many of these could have been questioned even at the time of Pauls writing to the Corinthians, as many of the witnesses were still alive.
For this many to have reported to be truth we can well believe to be so, especially since many died a martyrs death for their belief.
Many will die for the truth, but no one will die for a lie.
Again Christ appeared to Paul before he was converted on the road to Emmaus.
Up to this time Paul was actively persecuting any who claimed that Jesus was the Messiah.
Fact # 6 The Bold witness of the Disciples
When Jesus died on the cross all the disciples ran off and shrank into the woodwork.
They were a defeated lot.
They no longer felt that they had the truth when Jesus died.
But when they all witnessed Him alive again, thy became bold witnesses of the Gospel truth, many dying a martyrs death for what they knew to be true.
They laid down their lives willingly.
Look what many went through to proclaim the truth.
Many were stoned to death, fed to the lions, tortured, crucified and many other hideous things all to stop them from proclaiming the truth.
All they had to do to save their lives was to say that Jesus was dead.
But not one did, and many today are going through the same and dying a martyrs death for what the world believes to be a lie.
There are many more proofs, but let these suffice to prove the resurrection of Christ.
So now we have proof of Christs resurrection.
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain. 1 Corinthians 15:17 (King James Version)
So Why Is Resurrection so Important?
The fact of His resurrection and our hope in also being raised from the dead is tied together.
For if not for the first, then there would be hope for the second.
Because Christ was raised from the dead we can now have confidence that we to would rise from the dead to be with Him some day eternally.
For whatever reason would there be for Jesus to come and die to save us from our sins, to rise again, if we to were not raised from the dead?
These two facts are two inseparable truths.
One without the other is pointless.
Paul gave us 7 arguments to prove this point.
The first being already given that if we are not raised then all our preaching is in vain, and Christ Himself would not have been raised from the dead.
And our faith would be useless. V:13,14
There would be no joy to living this life without the hope of being raised again.
If these facts are not true then the witnessing of the apostles, disciples and even our own would be a lie. V:15
All would be guilty of deceit.
And if this were true then all authority of the Bible can be thrown out the window.
We would not be able to believe one thing written in scripture.
If there is no resurrection Paul argues, then Christ Himself is also not risen. V:16
And if Christ is not risen, then our faith is futile, & we are not forgiven for our sins. V:17
And if this be true, the Christs death had no atoning value, and all who have trusted in Him, did so in vain.
Thus to reject the resurrection is to also reject the value of Christs wok on the cross.
And if there is no resurrection then all those who died living a life of hope In Christ have also died hopelessly and do not rise again. V:18
And lastly, if Christ be not risen & there is no resurrection, then we who are alive today are also living a hopeless life and are to be pitied. V:19
We would be no better off than those whom have a false outlook on scriptures like the J.W., Mormons etc.
Is that it, are we done for? Have we no hope?
If that is all to life then we might as well eat and drink; for to morrow we die 1 Corinthians 15:32 (King James Version)
Or another way to put it, Party on for tomorrow we are going to die anyways.
-But that is not the end of it all.
We have the affirmation that we will indeed live again. V: 20-23
Paul goes on to give the order of the resurrection.
What is it?
1. The first to rise was Christ Himself. He is listed in this passage as the first fruit v: 20, 23
the first fruit in Lev. 23:9-14 was a type of Christ in that at the beginning of the harvest a sheaf of wheat was picked and waved before the Lord as an offering.
Christ was also our first fruit in that he was given as an offering and the first to rise.
2. Then all believers shall rise. V:23 (b) 1 Thes. 4:13-18
All who have died trusting in Christ shall be raised first.
But wait a minute! What about the rest of us? Are we also not to be raised with Christ?
Paul stops there with the dead in Christ. He does not mention those of us who will be still alive when Jesus comes to gather His children.
Do not fret. To find the answer we must turn to 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
We read v:15b we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17: After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
(New International Version, ©2011)
So there we have it.
All who are Christs will be raised up to be with Him
Those of us who die before His coming have assurance of being raised from the dead and to be made alive forever more, and those of us who are alive at His coming will be raised from the earth to meet up with those who preceded us.
What will our bodies be like when we are raised?
Paul does not leave us completely in the dark regarding this issue. V:35-49
Paul gives us the illustration of a seed to answer this question. V:36-38
Just as a seed from a plant must first die, then when it is planted into the ground it produces another plant, which is of the same kind as what it came from.
Likewise when our bodies die and fall into the ground, our bodies when raised up will also be raised to be the same kind as before.
That is they will be human and we will look exactly as we did while still alive on earth.
We will recognize one another.
We will still have our individuality.
But there will be certain changes.
The moment we are born the body has already begun the process of deteriorating leading to death.
But with our new bodies that will change.
Our new bodies will be made incorruptible v:42 no longer susceptible to disease and death
Our new resurrected bodies will no longer be subject to weakness, nor any need to be replenished, like as Christ we will not need to eat or drink, though we probably could. V:43
Nor will sleep be a necessity.
Like Christ we will be able to pass though material things.
We will have spiritual bodies
It is difficult to know exactly what our bodies will be like, but we do know that Christ has promised us new bodies that will not die.
We will be immortal no longer subject to death.
And one last thing.
Because flesh and bones cannot enter into heaven (15:50) our bodies will be changed but in the twinkling of an eye, (52) our bodies will be changed
This is the promise of the rapture, the promise of our bodies being changed in preparation for heaven to live forever with Christ.
This is the promise that yes; we shall live again after death.
Can we be certain all of this is true?
Yes we can, because we have the Word of God Himself in the form of Jesus Christ who told us all these things.
If He says they are so, then they are so.
If but one thing He ever said is untrue, then we cannot trust anything ever written in the Bible.
But we know that all is true.
Because Christ liveth in me testifying all that He said is true.
The merciful Jesus picture is copyrighted: http://www.merciful-jesus.com
Easter and the Resurrection -- Testimony
Considering all the evidence for the resurrection of Christ it simply boggles my mind how anyone could live through life and not consider the claims of Christ as to who He was and if what He said regarding eternal life was true. For myself I had to know.
As a young boy I was raised in the Catholic church and the one good thing I can take away from that experience was that it did give me a foundation for faith in Christ and developed a healthy fear of God in my heart. I never questioned Christ's resurrection. I simply believed it all was true. However in my teens I began to question the requirements for salvation. I had to know now whether I was going to heaven or hell. So I began to read the Gospels and came away from it with the conclusion that it was impossible for a man to live the way Jesus described or to be saved based on works. So I stood convicted and my fear of God increased. This began an ongoing inquiry with God regarding salvation. I had to know where I was going before I died so I asked Him to show me the way.
One night I was walking up a dark road looking at the stars and said this: 'God if you are there I want to know you, I want to be a small part of You.' I had never heard the full gospel of salvation by faith. No one ever witnessed to me. But during my first year at University I began to come upon tracts and booklets on the gospel. The more I read the more I knew I was a sinner in danger of hell. One great booklet was called 'Here's How' (can't recall the author) it explained the gospel regarding how we are sinners and need to be saved by faith. It left me with deeper conviction but my heart did not yet understand how to cross over into faith.
Then one night, March 11, 1972, I was reading a Bill Bright booklet called 'Jesus and the Intellectual'. He was the man who began the 'Campus Crusade for Christ' ministry to university students. In the conclusion of the booklet he presented Christ's challenge in Revelation 3:20 of Jesus knocking at the door of one's heart.
Rev.3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (NASB)
In a sudden flash light entered my heart. Bill Bright explained this; if Jesus is God He cannot lie. If He says He is knocking and will come in He will do it.
I literally felt as though I had the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in a cornered position as a sense of excitement filled my heart. I then said this: 'Jesus you said if I open the door you will come in, so I am opening the door and you have got to come into my heart. You cannot lie about doing this'. In that very moment faith entered my heart, I repented and I knew that He, the Resurrected Christ had come into my heart and life. From that encounter I knew He was living and real.
That is why I often ponder how it is that men can live a whole lifetime and never personally inquire of God and ask Him to reveal Himself to them and show them if He is dead or alive. If Christ is a risen, living person, then He is capable of revealing Himself to anyone who desires to know Him. If they inquire of Him personally and directly with complete sincerity of heart.
That is why your compilation of the evidence of His resurrection is so valuable. Anyone who reads this is presented with much to consider and inquire of God.
The Resurrection is the most significant event in history. People need to know this is true.
It happened and the world and the church have lost sight of it's importance.
Their lives depend on it for eternity. Today everything the enemy is doing is based on eliminating the need for a crucified and resurrected Savior. The world is saturated with a false gospel of access to God apart from Jesus Christ.
The wave of the anti-Christ spirt has swept over the world and is increasing. If one watches many videos on the internet regarding Christ or the resurrection; or people's experience of encounters with Him, the comments from some are found to be intensely hateful of Christ and God.
It amazing how much the world hates Christ, particularly those among the younger generations. It's as said in the word. Romans 3:18. 'There is no fear of God before their eyes'.
And in 2 Peter 3 v3-4.
"37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (King James Version)
So it is now and today.
Unless otherwise mentioned: Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
When I think of the word "hope", I think of the word: maybe." Why, because the word hope paints the desire for something wished for, but may not happen. My dictionary defines the word hope as; "to want or wish for something with a feeling of confident expectation." Synonyms for the word hope are expectation, optimism. All of the words give me a slight negative connotation, like "maybe".
Do you see what I mean? When I think of the word hope, I think of an expectation of something that may happen, but may not. Which brings me back to the word maybe. Maybes synonyms include the words feasibly, perchance, and possibly. All of these words give me the feeling of a 50-50 chance, or a 25-75 chance etc. If I were a betting man, which I am not, those kinds of odds dont exactly leave me with a feeling confident of expectancy. These odds are like the weather forecast often. The weather report may say there is a 50 or maybe a 45 % chance of rain. Well, if I am planning on going fishing with my nephew, I dont care for those odds, no more than I would like a 50-50 chance of winning the lottery.
So why do I bring this up? The Bible uses the word hope a lot. In connection with things of the Lord. For example, in Acts 23:6 Paul says to the council and high priest; "of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question (King James Version). Here Paul is telling these folks that he is placing a high expectation, that Jesus promise of the resurrection of the dead will be met.
Upon looking closer, and looking up the word hope in a concordance, it changes my understanding of what the word hope means and gives a more positive outlook when I think of hope. The Greek Dictionary of New Testament describes the word hope as: "to anticipate, usually with pleasure, expectation, or confident faith."
I now look at the word hope with a better outlook. In the context of Biblical Scripture it gives me a more sure fire expectation that what is hoped for is a certainty, and not a "maybe.
In our English language another dictionary gives the word the following description: "a feeling that what is wanted will happen; desire accompanied by expectation." Joseph Stowell says that in this description, it does not necessarily mean that the hope, the expectancy is necessarily grounded in reality. For example, and this is a laugh for Canadians. Bob may hope that the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey team will the Stanley Cup this year. That really is a laugh because they are so far behind in the standings, they would pretty much have to win every game from here to the end, into the playoffs and finally win the last game. GIGGLE! (pardon me if I stepped on some Leaf fans toes)
In another context I may hope that the weather will be sunny next weekend, so that when my nephew and niece come out to visit, they will be able to play outside some. That is a hope, but not necessarily a reality, for we know that the weather is rather unpredictable, you just never know for sure what is going to happen. Hope here is a desire, not necessarily a real expectation, or a reality.
Turning back to Biblical hope, these hopes are a trusted reality, that we not only desire, but that we may know for sure that a hope in the Bible is a certainty, that it will come to pass. We can know that these hopes will come to pass because the Words in the Bible are inspired and inscribed by God Himself. And since we know that God cannot lie, (Titus 1:2) we can know for a certainty that what God has promised will come to pass.
Some of these hopes in the Bible which we can be assured of are; we can hope in a new heaven and a new earth, in a heaven beyond which we look forward to and the fact that Jesus said that He would come back again to take the redeemed home with Him before mankind completely destroys himself.
The greatest hope we have is found in the fact of the empty tomb, of whom He promised that the grave would not hold Him. He also promised that He would rise from the grave in three days. These truths have been corroborated by many witness and written of by some who were not necessarily believers in a Messiah. If not for His resurrection, we would have no hope of eternity in heaven with Him. For as the apostle Paul wrote; "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen; then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain," 1 Cor. 15:12-14 (King James Version). Please read the entire section [up to verse 26].
Take a few minutes if you will and have a closer look at the many promises and even prophecies that are written in this section. For example it was written in ages past that Christ would be raised from the dead. This section also tells us that all power and authority will be given unto Him And it tells us that as His last feat He will defeat death, for death will forever be put to rest. In eternity no one will ever die. What an awesome promise is that?
Knowing that Christ was raised from the dead, it also gives us the hope, the promise as He has said that we to will all be raised from the dead and be with Him in heaven. Now, that is a promise I want to hold on to. If God has promised to redeem us and to raise us with new glorified bodies fit for heaven, do you think that He will? For sure! So we can also hope and trust that, that will happen indeed.
Another word we could use in exchange for the word hope and trust is faith. Faith is putting our trust, our hope in something that we cannot see. For example, at the top of the CN tower in Niagara Falls Ontario, is a section of thick clear glass which is several feet thick. When you go up there you will see that there is no barrier around the glass at all. Therefore it must be deemed to be safe. Yet, some will venture to walk on it, while others will not. Those who walk on it are showing that they have faith that they will be supported to walk on it. When you step out onto the front steps of your house, you are placing faith that these steps will support you.
Here is a statement of faith which I believe we can place our faith on, hope in, trust in, believe in with all of our hearts. Paul wrote; "Being confident in this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6 (King James Version).
What is Paul saying here? He is saying that God has begun the redemptive work of changing us, who are believers. Once we were lost in our sins, walking about daily in sin, with no thought or concern for the things of God. But once you told God that you believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins on the cross, God then begins a cleansing process that lasts for your whole life time here on earth. This is a process that will continue until Jesus takes us home to be with Him in heaven. God is working on you daily, changing you, molding you, more and more daily in the very image of His Son.
In this Paul says we can be confident, hoping, trusting that the cleansing work that God has begun in you will continue, and not stop until the fullness of time is come when Jesus will shout and call us home to be with Him. 1 Thess. 4:16-18
That is an awesome promise He has given us. It is something which we can put our hope, trust and faith in. We can know for a certainty that the work which He has begun in us will be completed one day.
Hebrews says; "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1. King James Version).
The 11th chapter of Hebrews is a listing of many men and women who gave their hope, their faith, believing that the things which God had promised would come to pass. Even though many did not see with their physical eye these promises come to pass, they still kept the faith, believing that what had He had promised would eventually be brought to pass.
Many of these folks were martyred for what the believed in, dying horrible cruel deaths, because they would not give up believing in faith the promises of God. Please read this chapter carefully and see how strong was their hope, their faith. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the "Faith" chapter for good reason. Read and see for yourselves why.
Biblical faith seen here gives substance to that which we hope for. It is a faith that we can bank on, a faith so strong that we can place our hope in a certain future event so completely that it preoccupies our entire perception of life and radically alters our behavior in the process. Do you have that kind of life altering faith in a hope of things not yet seen?
Biblical hope should stir your heart to help you keep focussed on the goal, of the hope, the promise of Christ's eventual return, and of our eternal home with Him in heaven. Paul writes, "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doeth he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Rom. 8:24-25 (King James Version)
Hoping, placing our faith in something unseen , Paul writes should create within us an eagerness for its consumation, that we should perservere, hold out, waiting expectantly for the fulfillment of that hope which is unseen.
The Greek word used here for perserverance in this context is made up of the two words upo and meno. Upo means "under" and meno means "remain." This word paints the picture of remaing firm in our hope, in our faith, never giving up hope, holding out, holding on with a strong grasp awaiting the consumation of the thing hoped for.
As Peter was looking forward, with perserverance, he shouts out in praise for the hope which we have in the promise of an undefiled, incorruptible reservation in heaven. 1 Pet. 1:3-5 In fact, looking closer at this chapter, I see that it is a chapter of hope. I would perhaps have called it the Hope Chapter. Read and see if you would not also agree. Read the entire chapter of 1 Pet. 1:1-25. Does not this chapter also cause you to shout out and praise God?
We are told that the Holy Spirit is working in the background of our souls prompting us to continue in hope, in trust for the promise of our salvation, in which He seals this promise. Eph. 1:3 This means that the promise of our salvation is secure, it is sealed, and unbreakable. God when He makes a promise, you can bet the His promises are eternally secure and sealed. Nothing but nothing in heaven, hell or earth can cause God to break His promises. Now, does that not want to make you jump up for joy shouting praises to Him? Jesus Himself confirmed the promise of our salvation, of our eternal security when He said to His disciples, "Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God; believe also in me. In my Fathers house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also" John 14:1-3 (King James Version)
Does that not sound like a promise, a hope that we can trust and count on?
God has put that hope within our hearts, promting us to look forward with great anticipation to a better place than this earth. If we did not have this hope within us, with nothing to look forward to beyond the here and now, we would likely all be filled with dispair. For there would be nothing to get excited about, not to look forward to, nothing to hold on to, nothing to hope for, to trust in. Hope is the chain, our link to a greater beyond, to a bigger and better world. Perhaps that is why this world is in such a mess. Because the majority of the world's population does not believe in our God. Therfore they have no view of what the Lord has promised us beyond the grave. Therefore they have no hope for nothing past the grave and nothing to look forward to. There is nothing to hold out for in anticipation. How sad that must be.
Anchoring our hope in God eternal, and the glorious future He has promised for us, expands our souls to hold out for and to keep looking forward in expectation of a marvelous beyond. Everytime I look up and marvel at God's creation, I am reminded that He does exist, that His promise are sure, that the hope I have in His promises for me are eternal and not a blind hope. But a hope, a trust a faith that is rock solid. It causes me to get excited and to look forward to what He has in store for me.
1 Cor. 2:9 tells us; "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. (King James Version)
We cannot imagine in our finite minds the marvel of what is awaiting us in heave. It would blow our minds if we were to see it today in these mortal, sinful bodies. This gives an even greater, desire, an even stronger reason to hold out in faith, and await what He has in store for me.
Is there anything that can separate us from the love of God, from the things He has prepared for us? Paul answers that for us in Rom. 8:35-39. Read for yourselves this passage and see id you do not agree.
The time for our reward is drawing near when He shall shout and call us home to Him. I pray that you also are as excited as I am, looking forward to the promises He has in store for us in the other side of eternity. I pray you are longing as I long every day to go home to be with Him.
Where is your hope, your faith, your trust? Is it in the here and now on earth that you have placed all your faith in, where mouth and rust can eat and destroy? Or is in in the the eternal where neither moth nor rust cannot destroy?
Shout for joy and lift up your heads for our redemption draweth nigh !