This Week's Gospel Sermons
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October 31, 2010
The crucifixion of Jesusis important to us because His blood was shed, but truly our faith comes to life through His resurrection — it is at the very core of our faith. All must confess as did Peter that He is “the Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). This was fully declared by His resurrection from the dead. “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4). The gospel preached by Paul was “that Christ died ... was buried ... and ... hath been raised ...” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Baptism is a form of His death, burial and resurrection, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5). Without His resurrection the gospel doesn’t mean a thing; with the resurrection it is the greatest story ever told.
Resurrection is “a rising from the dead” (Thayer, p.41). This assumes that a death has occurred. It is the body, not the spirit, that dies. The resurrection of Jesus was a bodily resurrection. What can we see when we think of the resurrection of the Christ? We see an empty tomb and myriad evidences that Jesus was indeed God among us.
The Empty Tomb is Proof of the Resurrection of Jesus.
The angel announced: “He is not here; for he is risen” (Matthew 28:6-7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6). The women “entered in, and found not the body ...” (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:3; John 20:11-13). Peter and John entered the tomb, saw the linen cloths, but no body (John 20:3-8). The guards reported what happened (Matthew 28:11). The Sanhedrin invented a lie to explain why the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:12-15).
Unbelievers have advanced many theories to explain how the tomb became empty:
The disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept (Matthew 28:13). How could they testify to what happened while they were asleep? How could these few mourning, fearful, disciples muster courage to face skilled soldiers in the night? (Mark 16:10; John 20:19). Were they the kind of men who would perpetrate such a hoax? And would they have suffered and died for a known lie?
His enemies came and removed His body. Why would they do such a thing? They wanted it kept in the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). Why didn’t they produce the body on Pentecost to refute the apostles claim? (Acts 2:24,32). Many who cried “crucify him” later believed (Mark 15:13‑14; Acts 2:23,41; 3:14-15; 4:4).
Jesus swooned away on the cross, later revived in the tomb and escaped. The centurion pronounced Him dead (Mark 15:44-45). How could one in His condition roll away the “exceeding great” stone? (Mark 16:4). If He did not die on the cross, where, when, and how did He die? If this theory is true, then Jesus did not die for our sins (1Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:6,8).
Jesus planned his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection; arranged to be drugged on the cross so as to appear dead, and later to be removed from the tomb by unknown accomplices, that he might be accepted as the Messiah. This theory ignores the presence of the Roman guard (Matthew 27:65). It calls for a series of events that are fanciful, preposterous and false (John 21:24). It totally disregards the character, teaching and works of Jesus while on earth (John 8:46; 1Peter 2:22; Acts 1:1; 2:22).
Some of the Lord’s disciples saw him “in a vision,” hence, his resurrection was symbolic, not physical. Jesus refuted this when He showed His body to His disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:24-29). They did not expect Him to be raised (Luke 21:11,21; Mark 16:13-14; John 20:25). Why did these “visions” suddenly end after forty days? (Acts 1:3). This theory substitutes one miracle for another and does not explain the empty tomb.
The empty tomb, as a proven historical fact, continues to stand as irrefutable evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
The Testimony Of Witnesses Is Proof Of The Resurrection Of Jesus.
He “showed himself alive after his passion” to many (Acts 1:3; 1Corinthians 15:5‑8). Some examples: Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9‑11; John 20:11-18); Other women (Matthew 28:1-10); Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1Corinthians 15:5); Two disciples (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13‑35); Ten apostles with Thomas not present (John 20:19‑23); All eleven apostles a week later (John 20:26-29); Seven by the sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23); “Above five hundred ...” (1Corinthians 15:6); James (1Corinthians 15:7); “All the apostles” (1Corinthians 15:7; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:3-8); Paul (1Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:3‑8,17; 22:14; 26:16).
He showed himself alive after his passion “by many proofs” (Acts 1:3). Some examples: He appeared to those who knew Him beforehand (Acts 10:40‑41); They “ate and drank with him after he arose.” (Acts 10:41; 1:4; Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12-13); They saw Him, heard Him, and handled Him (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-40; John 20:19-20, 26-27; 21:1,14). It is a historical fact that hundreds claim to have seen the risen Jesus, were convinced that it was he, and openly testified to His resurrection.
The Teaching Of The Apostles Is Proof Of The Resurrection Of Jesus.
Fifty days following the crucifixion, in the same place, they boldly proclaimed that God had raised up Jesus (Acts 2:24). They were “witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:22; 2:32). What, in so short a time, could have changed these dejected, fearful, unbelievers into such powerful heralds of the gospel? Only the certainty of having “seen the Lord” (Luke 24:33-34; John 20:25,28).
“With great power” they gave witness “of the resurrection ...” (Acts 4:33; 3:15; 13:29-31). They failed not to “speak the things which (they) saw and heard” (Acts 4:18-20). They endured hardship, persecution and death because of their testimony (1Corinthians 4:9-13). They continued their witness “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The conversion and witness of Paul is further proof of the resurrection of Jesus. He who persecuted the church (Acts 8:1,3; 9:1; 22:4,19; 26:9-11; 1Corinthians 15:9; Gal 1:13) saw the Lord (Acts 9:3-8,17; 22:14; 26:16; 1Corinthians 15:8; 9:1) and became a witness of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 26:16; 1Corinthians 9:1; Philippians 3:10).
It is a historical fact that the tomb where Jesus was laid was found empty, that He appeared alive unto hundreds of witnesses, and soon thereafter His apostles boldly proclaimed that God had raised Him from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus makes our salvation possible (Romans 10:9; 1Peter 3:21); gives assurance of our own resurrection, (1Corinthians 6:14; 2Corinthians 4:14); and “a living hope ... reserved in heaven” (1Peter 1:3-5; Co. 1:5).
“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1Corinthians 15:12-19).
Justification:dikaiwsiv (dikaiosis) — the act of pronouncing righteous, acquittal. “Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:23-25).
Christ was put to death because of our sins, but was raised so that we might be justified. We have now been acquitted — rendered innocent — because He shed His blood and was raised again with power. Man couldn’t become innocent him- self. This is God’s plan, not man’s.
Regeneration:anagennaw (anagennao) — to beget again (born again). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Peter 1:3).
Remember Romans 6? “So that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Just as a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis to a new and different life, we are too regenerated — born again — through the hope we have in the resurrection of Christ.
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.