Summary: a topical sermon examining core reasons for believing that Jesus really did rise from the dead
Islington Baptist Church April 15, 2001
Who here knows what a legend is?
A legend is a non verifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as having in fact occurred.
“It has often happened that those who loom large in their own time engender legends. Stories or tales are reported as having happened but about which there is no historical proof.” Typically these stories and tales begin to appear in excess of 100 and generally more years after the actual person has lived—because no eyewitnesses left to dispute the tales. “These tales are told to others and endure by finding their way into songs, children’s stories, plays, books and film or television”
One example of a legend involves King Arthur. Everyone knows the grand stories of King Arthur, which first began to appear 500 years after he supposedly lived. Arthur, who may or may not have been a real king in the 500’s A.D. There are few who have not heard mention of Arthur and the knights of the Round Table or of Merlin the Magician or of Lancelot or of Arthur’s hunt for the Holy Grail. All of these tales are just that: tales, myths, fanciful descriptions. These accounts are non verifiable stories that have been handed down to us and expanded upon century after century. These are legends.
I. There are some who view the accounts of the scriptures regarding Jesus, his life, ministry, death, and resurrection as being legend, myth, fantastic tales. This is an utterly false conclusion.
The Bible’s accounts of Jesus are not in any way legends. As just mentioned, a legend is a non verifiable story that has been handed down, popularly accepted as fact, and expanded upon century after century.
-The Bible’s account of Jesus and in particular his resurrection are verifiable. Reasonable, verifiable and plenteous evidence exists to support the assertion that Jesus rose from the dead—which we shall consider today.
- contrary to legendary material, the Bible and its accounts of Jesus have not been embellished and expanded upon century after century. The Bible in terms of its content has always been static and unchanging. The N.T as we know it was complete before the end of the first century and unlike legendary stories who had no eyewitnesses to dispute what was being said—many eyewitnesses abounded who had every opportunity to dispute the scriptures testimonies regarding Jesus—and they didn’t
My goal today is this: to build a case for believing, just as the Bible attests, that Jesus indeed rose from the dead. Today we are going to consider rock solid evidence for believing that Jesus rose from the dead. The ultimate conclusions of such a goal is this: that if you are here and have not become a follower of Jesus Christ that you indeed would be moved to such a commitment.
II. When it comes to Jesus’ resurrection and reasons for believing that he did, the primary witness we have is the Bible.
The Bible resoundingly proclaims that Jesus rose from the dead and is Lord and Savior.
Now I realize this, if you are indeed a skeptic at this point your first objection is this: Why should I trust what the Bible says. Why should I believe the Bible when it speaks of Jesus and his resurrection. Is not the Bible just a legend?
The Bible and its accounts are not legends. The Bible records real and verifiable history. The Bible is the word of God and one can trust so on the grounds of the following reasons.
1. The Bible’s testimony of itself: words of God.
1000’s of times the Bible makes this assertion “These are the words of God”. In II Peter 1:20-21 it says “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” We must allow the Bible to testify regarding its origins as it is the primary witness. Imagine if you were that the Bible is on trial. Well the Bible is the star witness, it is allowed to testify.
The next question of course is: can the Bible’s testimony regarding its origins be trusted. I say to you yes.
2. Archaeology supports the Bible.
When you read the scriptures you ought to note this: the people, places, events that are detailed, as much as possible, have been completely confirmed through the work of independent archaeologists. The Bible is not a sloppy book filled with imaginary people, places and events. The Bible details real people, events, places: none which has ever been disproved. The Bible is a reliable historical document, but its more than just that: By extension I would propose to you that what the Bible teaches about Jesus is true.