Summary: I talk about the implications of the resurrection and what it means for Christ’s folowers.

The Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

April 18, 2004

It takes a great amount of faith to believe in Jesus Christ. Think about it. God comes to earth in the form of man. Lives a sinless life and willingly dies on a cross for you and I. Not only does Christ die on a cross but the Scriptures say three days later he rises again. We would have to be fools to believe this right? The Apostle Paul says, if only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.

As followers of Jesus we affirm what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8---

Do we just accept this by faith or is there historical evidence to back this up? As you study the background and the history of the events of the cross and his resurrection there is so many historical and archaeological evidence it will boggle your mind. There is much historical evidence to consider, far more than we have time to look at this morning. But let me give you two things to think about when it comes to accepting the accuracy of what Christ did on the cross.

I. First of all, there was the evidence of the crucifixion itself. All throughout the ages people have tried to explain away Jesus’ death. Some would say that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross but that he swooned. He got really close to death but when they took him off the cross and put him in the tomb…it made him all better. There is so much wrong with that theory, especially when you read the history of crucifixion and understand how violent and how harsh it was…not only before but during crucifixion.

QUOTE: Third century historian Eusebius described a flogging by saying, “The sufferers veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.”

The cross was agonizing. Jesus died by suffocating to death. Medical doctor after medical doctor who have studied the evidence would tell you that there was no way Jesus, or anyone could have survived what he went through.

II. Secondly, there is the evidence of the transformed lives of the disciples.

John R.W. Stott said, “Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection.”

Fact: The disciples deserted Jesus.

Fact: The disciples were confused as to the meaning of his death. Read Luke 24:13-33.

They were downcast and depressed. Yet, when the Lord appeared to them something happened. They were never the same. Most of those early disciples ended up being martyrs for their faith. They were willing to live and die for the gospel. Why? Because their Savior was alive. They saw Jesus with their own eyes.

ILLUSTRATION: Look at the life of James, the half brother of Jesus. Before the resurrection he despised all that his brother stood for. He though Christ’s claims were blatant pretension and served only to ruin the family name. After the resurrection though, James is found with the other disciples preaching the gospel of the Lord. James even calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ.

QUOTE: “All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather than a philosophical system, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. Mohammad died June 8, 632 A.D. and the age of 61 at Medina where his tomb is annually visited by thousands of devout Muslims. Budha is dead, there is a grave. Abraham, is dead, there is a grave. All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims agree that their founders have never come up out of the dust of the earth in resurrection!” Josh McDowell (Evidence That Demands a Verdict)

The disciples finally understand that their Savior died but rose again. Why was the resurrection important to them and important to us today? Let’s look at 1Corinthians 15:12-20.

Now the truths in this verse were written as an effect of there being no resurrection. I want to re-word them and put them in a positive sense because Christ’s death and resurrection is a gift to us. It provides some very important needs for us. (These points were adapted from a sermon by John Piper called, “Six Gifts of the Resurrection.)

1). Because of his resurrection we are forgiven for our sins. Vs. 17 (I begin with this one because this is the most important need all of us have.) The cross purchased our forgiveness. The resurrection validates it. We all need forgiveness and Jesus offers it to us. We are no longer in our sins heading toward a Christless eternity. Praise God for his forgiveness.

2). Because of his death and resurrection we have someone who is absolutely trustworthy. Vs. 14 Our faith is not useless but useful. And we have faith in someone who we can absolutely trust. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. And the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me.” Do you live by faith? Can you say you absolutely trust Christ? What about when the trials come? What about when there is no money? What about when you are about to lose your home? I hope you realize that your faith will be tried and tested. Sure sometimes God brings trials in your life. But I also believe life just happens and things come into our lives that aren’t necessarily authored by God. It is easy to say I trust Christ in a worship service surrounded by your family and friends. But what about when life falls apart?

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