Summary: In First Corinthians 15, to make his case for the validity of Christ’s resurrection, Paul presents physical evidence (vv. 1-2), a written statement (vv. 3-4), eyewitness testimony (vv. 5-7), and a star witness (vv. 8-10).
The Verdict: He Is Risen!
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
April 15, 2001
Easter Sunday Message
Introduction: I love the last song we sang together—“My Redeemer Lives.” I not only sing that song. I believe that song. I know that my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, lives today. I know in the end He will stand on the earth. I know in the end He will reign on the earth and for all eternity. And I know, as sure as I see you sitting before me, that I will one day see Him face to face. I know that my Redeemer lives.
There may be some of you here this morning that hear me say these things, and wonder, “How does he know? He’s never seen Jesus. Boy, I hope I haven’t visited a church where the pastor claims to have seen Jesus. And, whether or not he’s sure that Jesus lives today, why should I believe? What difference does it make in my life?” Well, let me assure you of two things. No, I’ve never actually seen Jesus. And, as you’ll see this morning, Whether or not you believe in the resurrection of Christ makes all of the difference in your life and your future.
Strong words, I know. Now, let’s see if I can back them up. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to I Corinthians 15. The first ten verses will be the basis of our study this morning.
The central doctrine, the cornerstone of the Christian faith, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So essential to genuine Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that “without the resurrection salvation could not have been provided, and without belief in the resurrection salvation cannot be received” (MacArthur, p. 398). Paul wrote these words to the church in Rome. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Jesus Himself taught that belief in His resurrection was a key ingredient to an authentic faith. “Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25). In order for a person to be assured of eternal life, or in order for a person to claim to be a Christian with any voracity, they must believe that Jesus rose from the grave. Without this foundational belief, without believing that Jesus was raised from the dead and sits enthroned in heaven, then how can we believe that we will one day be with Him?
Over the last few weeks, for those of you who haven’t been with us, we’ve been studying the section of the Book of James that talks about the differences and relationships between faith and good works. In doing so, we discovered that James presents his teaching much the same way we might see a court trial unfold.
Well, we have a similar presentation here in I Corinthians 15. In the first eleven verses of this chapter, a chapter that is known as the most definitive in the entire Bible regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul presents a series of facts in support of his case that the Redeemer lives.
In making his case for the validity of Christ’s resurrection, Paul presents physical evidence (vv. 1-2), a written statement (vv. 3-4), eyewitness testimony (vv. 5-7), and a star witness (vv. 8-10).
The Physical Evidence
When I worked as a gang investigator at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, we loved to gather physical evidence. Gang cases were difficult to prosecute because most of the witnesses were usually gang members themselves and didn’t always make for reliable courtroom testimony, if you could convince them to testify in the first place. Physical evidence never changed its story and it never refused to testify.
I remember one case my partner and I worked where the physical evidence proved critical to the case. It was a drive-by shooting in which a shotgun was used. We knew who was involved. We had people in custody. But we didn’t have a gun. My partner and I literally chased the shotgun all over town, as it was moved from place to place. For a couple of weeks, it seemed that we were just a step or two behind it.
After the shooting, it was placed in the trunk of a car. It was buried in a residential development, in Canyon Country. It spent some time in an apartment in Newhall. It was given to a habitual drug user for safekeeping. And, eventually, it wound up in the hands of a poor guy who thought he got a really good deal at $100, on a target practice gun. He even bought clay pigeons to use with his new toy. Needless to say, he gladly gave us the weapon when he found out what it was used for.