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04.20.2014 (Easter) Pastor Heo
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The Resurrection of the Dead
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
58 Therefore, my dear brother, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
God bless us all with his Word. Christ HAS risen from the dead!
That Christ has risen, holds a unique place in Christianity. This is the only religion on earth that places its hope and claims on the resurrection of its founder. Only Christianity does this. SO, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is fundamental to Christianity.
In the New Testament, there are more than 100 instances of the resurrection of Christ being spoken of. Also, it is very essential in the application of our salvation – provided by in his death. So, about his resurrection, much more could be said. But because of limited time, let’s talk about only ONE topic: the CREDIBILITY of the resurrection of Christ (good topic).
- Credibility = the acceptance of fact in a manner that demands fact and belief.
- Belief upon good authority, reliable facts, and competent witnesses – belief, facts.
This resurrection is a FACT proven by competent facts and deserving full acceptance as a belief. This is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity proven by many infallible proofs. So, for the credibility of the resurrection, there are at least TWO arguments:
- Argument from cause and effect
- Argument from testimony
For example, around us, certain things, conditions, institutions exist today. They are effects of causes or a cause. Every effect has a cause. So, if the resurrection of Christ is a cause, what is the effect?
In church history, there are MANY effects that can be traced to the bodily, physical resurrection of Christ.
#1: The Empty Tomb!
That was an effect. What was the cause? The fact that the tomb was empty was testified to by MANY eyewitnesses – including his friends AND his enemies. The women were first, the angels, the disciples, the Roman soldiers – even the Pharisees later said, “Tell them to say the disciples stole the body.”
On that day, in the early morning, the angels came and rolled away the stone, and sat on the stone and spoke to the women who came to annoint his body with oil. “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is NOT here. He has RISEN from the dead. Come and see the place where he (once) lay.” Pointing.
Wow. Pretty strong evidence that he rose from the dead.
#2: Sunday worship services
Sunday is not the original Sabbath (actually that was Saturday). Who would DARE to change this extremely ingrained and protected day? The Jews NEVER celebrated anybody’s birthday – even great men. They only celebrated events – like the Passover.
Strange then that in the New Testament, the Jewish Christians change this century’s old Saturday sabbath into the FIRST day of the week (Sunday). This is a massive effect, a marvelous effect. What was the cause? Why did they do that?
The resurrection of Christ was the cause for the great change in worship to Sunday.
#3: The Christian church – the body of Christ
Are you here now? We know this is a grand and noble institution. Imagine, what would this world be like without church? Churches sing hymns, and worship God, but also provide mercy, grace, help for others, social justice, social ministries. Where did this great institution come from?
It is a glorious effect from the resurrection of Christ. When Christ appeared to the discouraged disciples and restored their hope, they went out with restored faith in their risen Lord. They preached the story of his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again. And men believed their preaching. And they gathered themselves together to study the Scriptures, and pray, and worship God and preach Jesus to the lost nations. This is how the Christian church was born in this world. It’s cause was the resurrection of Christ. That’s why the church is called “the BODY of Christ.” He is the HEAD of the church.
#4: The Bible – especially the New Testament
If Jesus had NOT been raised. If he’d remained buried, the story of his life and death would have remained buried with him – just like so many other revolutionaries before him. The New Testament is a fact – evidence, proof – of the resurrection of Christ. The New Testament wouldn’t grow out of nothing. But the beautiful story of Jesus life (through the New Testament) grew out of the story of his resurrection. The New Testament is THE BOOK of resurrection.
#5: Testimony of eye-witnesses
Humanly speaking, we need three things to make a trustworthy testimony:
- The witnesses must be competent and 1st-hand witnesses
- The witnesses must be sufficient in number
- The witnesses must have a good character and reputation
All the apostles/disciples qualify in these three. They repeatedly, continually said, “We are eye-witnesses” (and they were witnesses in different places – even up to 500 people at a time – no hallucination can ever be like that).
How many witnesses do we need to make a case today? ONE. Only one eyewitness is enough to prove murder. Two witnesses is OK for a suit against the government. Three is OK for the execution of a Will. In a human court, 7 witnesses is OK for a Spoken (Oral) Will. This is the largest number of witnesses required for court.
But Jesus’ resurrection had OVER 500 witnesses!
Imagine their character and reputation. 12 disciples = we know up until the resurrection they were COWARDS – timid, afraid, even Peter denied him 3 times to a slave girl. And all the others abandoned him and returned to their lives as fishermen when he was arrested.
But, after they saw the risen Lord, they TOTALLY changed – many of them even DIED for him – martyred.
- The fearful became fearless.
- The faithless became faithful.
- They became the tireless preachers of the story of Jesus’ resurrection.
- They proclaimed/declared his story at the risk of their own lives (what a big change!)
- ALL of them died a martyr’s death because of the story of the resurrection (they tried to boil John alive, but he lived and wrote Revelation later).
If somebody asks you about the credibility of Jesus’ resurrection, show yourself.
The resurrection of Christ is the HOPE of ALL hopes.
So, the last verse says, “Stand firm!” because Jesus is risen! “Let nothing move you!” because Jesus is risen! “Always give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord!” because Jesus is risen! “And we know that your (our) labor in the Lord is NEVER in vain!” because Jesus is risen! and he has defeated the last enemy – Satan, sin, death, and hell.
ONLY Jesus can say this (John): “I am the resurrection and the life, and he who believes in me will never die but have eternal life.”
God bless us all with assurance and POWER in the resurrection of Christ.