Summary: Part 2 of 4 in a series covering the things of first importance as presented by the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15
INTRODUCTION: Both friend and enemies of the Christian faith have recognized that the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation-stone of the Christian faith. The people of the church at Corinth were starting to listen to some who said there is no such thing as the “resurrection of dead bodies” and thus some began to question Christ’s own resurrection – listen to Paul’s response – “If Christ is not raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.” (vs. 14) Paul rests his whole response to the issues of this troubled church on our third point of emphasis…the case of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
BACKGROUND: If Jesus did indeed raise from the dead, it’s the most sensational event in all of History, not only that, it also provides conclusive answers to the most profound questions of humanities existence – Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? It provides the answers to questions that modern science and philosophy has not, and will never be able to answer…
ATTACKS ON THE RESURRECTION
• Very few scholars even the liberal ones don’t dare to question the existence of Jesus, the historicity (historical accuracy) concerning His existence is so extensive, that to do so is to commit academic and professional suicide
• Most people, even non-believes love Jesus, or should we say they love part of His message, at least the parts about love, and hope, and peace, while they pay no mind to his teachings about salvation, morality, and eternity, you know… heaven and hell!
• Embracing select (politically corrected and rehabilitated) portions of Jesus’ teachings is acceptable, but there is one line that one dares not to cross… the “resurrection” – nothing (outside perhaps the virgin birth) is more ridiculed by both science and academia
• The enemies of the Faith concentrate the most vicious attacks against Christianity on the resurrection of Christ, but why? (it’s a battle over “word-view”)
• Because they have correctly seen that it is the crux of the matter; with the truthfulness of the resurrection, Christianity stands or falls… destroy the resurrection and you destroy Christianity
• Modern historical approaches have tried to pass off the resurrection of Jesus as just another “myth” created to enhance an upstart desert religion, and make it appeal to the gentile masses
• Myth proponents claim that Jesus’ resurrection (and other events of his life) are similar to those of the ancient gods of mythology, such as Horus, Mithras, Dionysus, and Osiris
• However even a cursory investigation into this claim shows it to be 100% FALSE
• Another common attack doesn’t reject the “fact” of the resurrection, it attacks it’s “form”
• That the “resurrection” means nothing more than the followers of Jesus had good memories of Jesus after He died and a spiritual revival of His teachings took place that was so great, His followers actually had “visions of Him” translation… they were hallucinating
CORE FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH # 3
• Jesus was raised from the dead! (15:4) Paul is stating a FACT… and in the case of issue of current interest in resurrection at Corinth, if it happened once then it is indeed possible!
• Consider the words “Died” and “Buried” they are aorist tense verbs = once and for all action
• Now consider the word “Raised” it’s a perfect tense verb = past action with continuing results
• Jesus is alive and He will always be “alive”
• The statement is “was raised” not “arose” as if some strange episode of the Walking Dead
• He was raised from the dead by the by the “power” of God (Ephesians 1:19-20)
• But what proof (scriptural and historical) that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead?
• There are many, but we’ll focus our attention on just a few…
• (1) The Power of God – If God had the power to create the heavens and the earth, to breathe the spirit of life into lumps of dirt, then certainly it’s no stretch to believe He could raise someone from the dead if He so chooses
• (2) The Ancient Prophecies – The O.T. predicted the Messiah’s resurrection thousands of years in advance. There are 300+ prophecies concerning the Messiah. The probability of someone fulfilling just 8 of them is 1 x10 to the 17th power!
• (3) The Historical Record – The books of the N.T. are also some of the best evidence we have. All 4 of the Gospels were written between 45-80 A.D. Thousands eye-witnesses to these events would still be living, and could give evidence to the historicity of the resurrection
• We also have ample extra-biblical documentation for the fact of the resurrection. Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius; these early church fathers who were contemporaries with Jesus’ disciples