Summary: This sermon encourages us to believe in the resurrection despite recent attacks
"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, IF you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."
February 26th, 2007, CBS News reported, “The bones of Jesus have been found.” “Titanic director James Cameron and Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici say they aren’t trying to undermine Christianity with their new documentary that claims the remains of Jesus, his wife Mary Magdalene, and their child – have been found. The two men unveiled two limestone boxes they believe once contained the remains of Jesus and His family during a news conference held at the New York Public Library.
Cameron, best known for producing the blockbuster movie “Titanic” said the $4 million dollar documentary doesn’t set out to undermine Christianity. “No…it’s very far from the case,” said Cameron. “What this DOES is celebrate the “real life existence of this man, who, 2,000 years ago had a vision and communicated it to people.”
The report went on to say, “The claim that the bones of Jesus have been found could challenge the Christian belief that Jesus died and was resurrected three days later.”
Now, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but to say that this documentary “isn’t an attempt to undermine Christianity” – isn’t just disingenuous - it is a bald faced lie. Folks, without the resurrection, there IS no Christianity.
But beyond that - I don’t understand the big mystery here? The Bible has always plainly stated WHERE the bones of Jesus are. The writer of Hebrews tells us those bones are “seated at the right hand of God” … on His throne!
Every so often someone propagates a story aimed at debunking the claims of Christianity. Remember the DaVinci Code? Now it’s the bones of Jesus. Next year it will be something else. Why? Because man knows that the resurrection of Jesus is what sets the claims of Christ and Christianity apart from all other religions. Without the resurrection, the Bible is a farce and we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. So every year or two we will hear a story attacking THIS MOST ESSENTIAL... FUNDAMENTAL doctrine of the church.
The resurrection of Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Church. Well over 300 verses of the Bible support it. We are told that it is a ‘SIGN for unbelievers’ in Matt. 12:38-40. It is the ANSWER for our doubts – Luke 24:38-43. It is the GUARANTEE that the teachings of Jesus are true (Acts 2:22-24) and is the very center of the gospel message itself – Romans 4:24 and 25.
The resurrection provides us with the impetus for evangelism – Matthew 28:18-20, it is the key to the believer’s power to live the Christian life – Romans 6. It is the reason Christians don’t fear death – John 11:25. It is how we know with certainty that Jesus is coming again, Acts 1:11.
And - according to THIS chapter - it is the one doctrine that proves Christians will ALSO be resurrected from the dead.
No chapter of the Bible speaks to the importance of the resurrection like THIS chapter. It is NOT because Paul is trying to convince the Corinthians to believe in the resurrection. They have already accepted it. Instead, Paul emphasizes it because he knows no other doctrine would be MORE excoriated than THIS ONE.
Knowing that our faith would be challenged repeatedly, Paul offers 3 powerful evidences of the resurrection that enable us to successfully defend this doctrine.
We can KNOW that the resurrection is a fact of history by considering the testimony of these three witnesses:
1. First, there is the testimony of the Saints in vv. 1 and 2.
Whenever a case is presented in a court of law, witnesses are called to the stand to either substantiate or undermine the credibility of the person on trial. Since the claims of Christ are on trial, the first witnesses called to the stand are THE VERY ONES who have (a) benefitted FROM the resurrection, and (b) are under attack for believing in it. Paul brings two important points to light: