What if it’s True?
Do you have special Easter traditions with your family? Do you cook a ham, and hide easter eggs? For the past two thousand years Christians have been celebrating the fact that Jesus was crucified for our sins on Good Friday, and he rose from the dead on Easter. He conquered sin and death. Some would argue that this never happened, and will live their lives like God doesn’t exist. But what if it’s True?
The Apostle Paul was one of the biggest critics of Jesus Christ. He was a religious leader and he hated the idea of Christianity. He went around persecuting, arresting and torturing Christians, trying to force them to deny Christ. Then one day Jesus appeared to him personally, and Paul became the greatest Christian missionary that ever lived. His life was completely transformed by Jesus Christ.
Paul establishes the resurrection as an undeniable, undisputed fact of history. This is the very heart of Christianity. If Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, and come back from the dead three days later, there would be no basis for Christianity. Everything revolves around this fact. This is a unique aspect of Christianity. No other religion is based on the resurrection of its leader.
Paul wrote a treatise on the resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15. He almost wrote it like a district attorney in a court of law. I want a highlight a few verses from this chapter. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “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,”
There are some pastors and Bible College professors, even today that claim that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, or if he did, he didn’t rise again. The Scriptures, and history are very clear that this is exactly what happened. Don’t let anyone tell you Jesus didn’t really live on earth. There is absolutely no doubt he was a real person. There is an incredible amount of historical documentation about him.
There was a weird theory invented to explain away the resurrection. They try to say that Jesus never really died on the cross. He just swooned, and they assumed he was dead. When he was laid in the tomb, supposedly, the cool air from the tomb revived him. The problem is, there were hundreds of witnesses to his death. He not only died, but a Roman lance was thrust up and through his side. Blood and water came out which is a medical description of what happens to the heart of someone who has died on a cross.
A Roman soldier in charge of a public execution would never leave a scene before making sure the person was completely dead. If the person didn’t die, they would be killed in the same manner. A person who is hung on a cross is forced to push up on the nail in their feet to take a breath. Every breath. The soldiers began breaking the legs of the men on the cross to make it impossible for them to push up and breathe. They wanted them to die quicker. When they came to Jesus they were surprised he was already dead, and stabbed him in the heart with their lance to make sure he was really dead and not just faking it.
When Jesus was taken down from the cross, his body was carefully washed, and wrapped very tightly, along with a fortune of embalming spices and perfumes. The tightness of the wrap, and some 75 pounds of spices and perfume would have suffocated him if he was alive. If there was any life left in his body, they would never have prepared his body for burial.
The entire Old Testament spoke of a messiah, and predicted his death for our sins. Every time the Old Testament Jews sacrificed an animal it was looking forward to the perfect sacrifice. Everything pointed to the cross. If Jesus didn’t die there is no sacrifice for our sins, and we are all hopelessly lost.
Then we have the soldiers ordered to guard the tomb. They would never have left their post, or fallen asleep for fear of being executed themselves. The Gospels tell us the Sanhedrin, the Jewish group of high priests that insisted Jesus be crucified, paid off the Roman soldiers. They told the soldiers to say they fell asleep, and the disciples stole the body. If their commanders caught word of this, the Sanhedrin would protect them. If the story was true, the soldiers would have been the first to deny it, because it would mean their lives for sleeping while on guard duty. Besides that, if they were sound asleep, how did they know the disciples were ever there to roll away this huge stone, and carry off a corpse?
A Long List of Eyewitnesses to the Living Christ
V. 5-8, “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.”
Paul lines up a list of eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ. Luke, the doctor, was a traveling companion with Paul. Luke interviewed a number of eyewitnesses to get the story of Jesus, and wrote it down in his Gospel, the book of Luke. Paul would have heard these same interviews with eyewitnesses.
Cephas, or Peter, the very one who had denied that he knew Christ 3 times to a little girl. He had seen Jesus alive after he was laid dead in a tomb. Something had to have happened to cowardly Peter to totally change him into the fearless proclaimer of the Gospel he became.
The eleven disciples (minus the traitor Judas) seen him alive. The people who had been with him day and night for three years. They knew him well and wouldn’t have been fooled by an imposter. These were good and honest men, from a variety of different backgrounds. There was no reason to doubt any of them.
Jesus was also seen by his own brother, James. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, James thought Jesus had lost his mind, and he and his mother tried to get him to go home with them. James became a believer in Jesus and was the head of the church in Jerusalem. Jesus’ own family confirmed he really died, and that he subsequently raised from the dead.
Then he appeared to about 500 people, many of who were still alive and could testify about seeing him when the Gospel was written. If the Gospel wasn’t true, surely the people who were there would have stepped forward to say it was a lie.
Finally, Paul himself seen a glorified Jesus Christ. Paul went from being the chief persecutor of the church, to its greatest missionary. Critics have no explanation for this.
There are written, non-religious historical records from the same period that speak of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The fact is, there is more proof just for the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross, and rose again three days later than there is proof that Napoleon Bonaparte ever lived.
V. 12, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
There were people during that time who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. They believed this life is all there is. Once your dead, that’s it. Some people then and now claim to have an intellectual problem with the resurrection. They don’t believe miracles happen. The Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death at all, and neither did the Greeks. Paul was probably the greatest intellect of his time. Paul had no problem with the resurrection of Christ. He had seen Jesus with his own eyes.
To deny the resurrection of the dead is a direct attack on the Gospel. Denial of the resurrection was something that crept into the early church, and is still around in some churches today.
Liberal theology teaches Jesus’ resurrection simply can’t be true. This is despite the mounds of evidence that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that he did indeed rise from the dead.
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Jesus only pretended to raise Jairus’s daughter; and the widow’s son; and Lazarus. He died a martyr’s death, was buried and remained dead. That is what the devil would have us believe along with those with a liberal theology. If that’s true, the whole story of Easter is a lie. Christianity cannot be true. It would never have gotten started in the first place.
V. 13-14, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
This should be printed over the door of every liberal church and seminary in the world. If you are a pastor and you don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, then your preaching is totally in vain. It does absolutely no good.
Those who don’t believe in a resurrected Christ have nothing to offer a sin-cursed, dying world. They offer no forgiveness for the sinner who is too ashamed of the life they have lived to go on.
One hundred years after the first missionaries arrived in Zaire, Africa, there was a Christian gathering in celebration. There was a very old man who stood up to give a speech. He said he was going to die soon, but he needed to tell something that happened when he was young that no other living person knew about
The old man told the story of the first white missionaries. His people didn’t trust them at first. They decided they would slowly and secretly poison the missionaries and watch them die. One after another the children and the adults got sick and died. When his people saw how these missionaries died, never giving up their faith, they decided to believe the message of the Gospel.
The missionaries never knew they were being poisoned. They didn’t know why they were dying. Their faithfulness to the Lord convinced the people of Zaire the message of the Gospel was true.
V. 15, “We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.”
If the liberal theologians are right, then all the apostles and prophets of the early church were liars and false witnesses. The missionaries who gave their lives died in vain. All of the preaching in the book of Acts involves eyewitness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, and the main reason for Acts is to bear witness to this fact.
V. 16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
Everything comes to a screeching stop at the door of the tomb if Jesus is still dead. Even though he is beautifully embalmed, with a kings ransoms worth of spices, and perfumes, it is still just a decaying dead body. If Jesus is dead, Christianity has no more to offer than Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
The Living Bible paraphrases it this way. “Death came into the world because of what one man (Adam) did, and it is because of what this other man (Christ) has done that now there is the resurrection from the dead. Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, being members of his sinful race, and wherever there is sin, death results. But all who are related to Christ will rise again.”
This is a very important passage for a number of reasons. This clearly states that sin came into the world because of one man, Adam. Prior to that, the world was good. It was the way God created it. With sin, came death. Death was a symptom of sin. Since there was no sin on earth before Adam, and since there was no death on earth before sin, there was no death before Adam.
That means the New Testament clearly teaches that the Theory of Evolution is false. A lot of theologians try to compromise the Bible with the theory of Evolution. They call it Theistic Evolution. It’s the idea that somewhere, sometime, millions of years ago, God created the world and set it evolving. After a few million years or so, the first human evolved, and somehow we ended up with a sinful nature. If there was no sin before Adam, and no death before sin, that can’t be true.
Another theory is called the gap theory. This theory teaches there is a gap of millions of years between verse 2 and 3 of Genesis chapter 1. They say when the earth was without form, void, and dark, it was a period of millions of years accounting for fossil records of monsters on the earth. Let’s look at this for a second.
Genesis 1:1-3, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
If there was no sin before Adam, and death came because of sin, these fossils of dead animals and people could not have occurred before the time of Adam because there was no death before sin.
If you read the rest of Genesis 1 you find that there was also no dry land until the second day.
The bottom line. If the Theory of Evolution is true, then the Bible is not true. But, if the Bible is true, then the Theory of Evolution cannot be true. You can’t have it both ways.
One man brought sin into the world, and we are all born sinners because of Adam. One man brought salvation and forgiveness to the world through his shed blood on the cross. Jesus rose from the dead proving the resurrection is true. Praise God!
How a Tea Bag teaches Jesus
Are you a tea drinker? The lowly tea bag can be shown to be a type of Christ. Every tea bag has a label. Jesus had lots of labels. Son of Man, Son of God, Prince of Peace, Lord, Messiah, Savior. A sign was hung above his head when he was crucified that said, King of the Jews.
Every tea bag has a string. The string represents the whip that was used across his back. Every string reminds us of that.
Every tea bag has a staple. When you pull out the staple, it is very small, but it reminds us of the nails that were used to nail Jesus to the cross. It reminds us of the lance that pierced his side.
Little holes in a tea bag. Jesus had holes from the crown of thorns. He had holes in his hands and feet. He had holes in his flesh from whipping. And he had a hole in his side from the lance used by the Romans.
Jesus died for our sins. The tea in the teabag represents the blood that Jesus shed. It colors us. It changes us.
The bag represents the empty shroud that wrapped Jesus in his death. That shroud was found in the empty tomb, as if the body passed right through it. The empty shroud in the tomb was more proof of the resurrection.
V. 30-32, “Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
During Paul’s time, Christians were being persecuted. They were constantly in danger. In Ephesus, Christians were already being thrown to the lions. If there is no resurrection, why would any sane person go through this? Why would a person follow a religion into death, when it would be such a simple matter to bow to the emperor? Paul is saying it wouldn’t make any sense.
But the fact is, that Paul and others did go to their death proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only way into Heaven. They knew that the moment they closed their eyes in death, they would open them alive in Heaven.
V. 35, “But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
These were the skeptical questions being raised by those who chose not to believe in the resurrection. Paul seemed to lump them in with people who today who proclaim the earth is flat, no matter the proof.
V. 36-38, “You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.”
This is an amazing passage. Paul is not only shutting down the critics who were proclaiming “since there is no resurrection, live however you want.” He gave us some insight to what happens to us when we die. Paul said it’s not unlike when we plant a grain of corn, or wheat. The body that dies and is buried is not the same body that will be resurrected. When you plant a grain of corn, you get a corn stock with lots of ears of corn – not just a single grain of corn. You get something far better and more complicated.
From this little dry dead seed, an entire new plant springs up. From our own dry, dead body, God will raise up a new body that He has already designed.
V. 39, “For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.”
This is an interesting verse. Paul makes it clear that all flesh is different. Those who teach the theory of Evolution like to tell us that we are the same as the animals. They teach that animals sprang up from fish, and birds sprang up from animals. The truth is we are not the same. Within just the last couple of decades scientists have determined that the flesh of animals, fish, birds, and humans are all different. They are not related. They proved only the last few years what the Bible said over 2000 years ago.
V. 50, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
Paul is reminding us that only those who belong to Christ when they die will enter Heaven. You are not a Christian because you were born in America, you are not a Christian because your parents were, or you were baptized as a baby. You have to accept Jesus Christ as your savior personally.
I recently heard a story about a child who was deathly allergic to bee stings. If they were stung, the family had an epipen. This is like a portable syringe with a needle to immediately give him a shot to prevent him from dying before they could get him to the hospital. As most kids, he was terrified of needles, but he was even more afraid of bees.
One warm spring day they were driving down the road with the windows down, when a great big bumblebee flew in the window. The Dad quickly tried to shew it out the window while trying to pull safely to the side of the road. The little boy was crying. Then the Dad reached out and snagged the bumble right out of the air. He squeezed his hand tightly on the bee for several seconds.
After a few moments, the Dad let the bee go free from his hand. As soon as he let it go, the boy became frantic once again as the bee buzzed around in the car. The father realized the terror his little boy must be in. He reached his hand out again. This time he opened his hand to his son, and pointed to it. Right there, stuck in the palm of his hand was the bee’s stinger. He said, “You see this son?” he said. “You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I took the sting away for you.”
V. 53-57, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do you know Jesus?
For the past two thousand years we have been celebrating the fact that Jesus was crucified for our sins on Good Friday, and he rose from the dead on Easter. He conquered sin and death. He told us because he died, and lives again, we too can have life after death. We no longer have to fear death if we are a Christian, because of his work on the cross and his Easter resurrection.
Do you know him today? I’m not asking if you know about him, but do you know him. Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Are you ready to accept his free gift of salvation?
I heard a prominent pastor on the radio the other day pleading and begging for people to come to Christ. I’m not going to do that. It has to be your decision. If you want to become a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ, you can pray a simple prayer such as something like this. There are no magic words. What matters is the attitude of your heart. Pray something like this: “Heavenly Father, I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me of all of my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross for me, and for rising from the dead three days later. Please come into my heart, and my life, and be my Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, and you meant it, God has begun a work in you. Now I want you to do three things:
- Pray. Prayer is simply talking to God, like you would talk to a good friend. Be honest, and use normal language like you would with a friend.
- Start reading your Bible. The Bible is not just one book, but rather 66 books bound in one volume. Start reading in the Gospel of John. It will make a lot more sense if you read the Gospel of John first.
- Find a church that teaches the Bible, and get involved.
One more thing you should do is to find the best person you know and tell them what you did.