But Now Is Christ Risen
April 17, 2022

But Now Is Christ Risen

Preacher:
Series:

“But Now is Christ Risen”

Scripture:  Ephesians 1:15-20; 1 Corinthians 15:14-26

Subject: Resurrection

Central Theme: Resurrection as Fact

Objective Statement: You can know the resurrection of Jesus Christ as historical fact by hear the main arguments against His resurrection from the dead.

Keyword: Arguments

Argument #1- The Fraud Theory.

Argument #2- The Swoon Theory.

Argument #3- The Hallucination Theory.

Introduction:

Connection:

  • Growing up there are certain shows that I remember hearing and watching in our house.
  • I always try to start with a connecting point. You can tell how hip and relevant I am with this illustration.
  • I remember one of those shows being “Perry Mason”.
    • 3 things I remember
      • The theme song…
      • A character with the name Burger…
      • Perry Mason always made the case…You figured out who it did it in the end.
    • When it comes to the law the question is often “Do you have a case?” or “Can you make the case?’
    • Biblical Christianity is based on a “case”.
    • Biblical Christianity makes an argument.
    • In fact, Easter Sunday- Resurrection Sunday- is a day that we remember and celebrate the most fundamental part of that case.
    • Gary Habermas lays out the six strongest evidences to support the resurrection, which are not denied even by critics, are ones about which no scholar has debated him.
    • These include
      • Jesus died by crucifixion;
      • Jesus' disciples had real experiences that they thought were appearances of Jesus;
      • the disciples were transformed even to the point of being willing to die for their message;
      • James, the brother of Jesus, had real experience wherein he thought he had an appearance of Jesus;
      • Paul also had a similar appearance of Jesus and converted;
      • and the message was proclaimed within one or two years from the crucifixion.
    • Other facts which are also accepted by scholars, including skeptics though not with an overwhelming majority, include
      • Christians' talk of the resurrection of Jesus appears to be of bodily in nature;
      • Jesus was buried,
      • the disciples despaired after the crucifixion thinking that all hope was lost;
      • the tomb was empty;
      • Sunday became the primary day of worship;
      • and Jesus predicted His resurrection appearances ahead of time.
    • When you come into a service at a church like ours there is so much that is going on.
    • There are so many people involved in making it possible for us to be here to do this today.
    • If you think about it long enough, there is a long list of people who are involved in what you’ve already experienced?
      • The immediate volunteers for the day: Songs written, chosen, and prepared for us to sing.  Lyrics put up on screens.  Musicians prepared to play them to aid us in the performance.  Buildings cleaned and prepared.
      • You could also go back into this churches history: A pastor came here to start a church that lead to people being converted to Christianity, people being baptized, and sacrificing their time and energy so that we could use these buildings, and this property to proclaim the Word of God.
      • You could go back beyond this churches history to the history of the pastor- and people who invested in him so that He would go.
      • And if you went back that far you would have to find out who impacted that church and that pastor… And so on….
      • In all of this you’d find out something about every person that passed on their faith to the next person. Each one of the people that got us to this point did so because they had a fundamental belief.
      • There was a historical person named Jesus who really came, lived, and was crucified, and that He rose again from the dead after claiming that he would do so.

Tension:

  • Over the last few weeks we have been examining a portion of the Bible that was written by the apostle Paul called “Ephesians”.
  • In this book Paul makes the claim that the Ephesians (and all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior) are in Christ and are therefore rich.
  • In Ephesians 1:18-20, he says this:

Ephesians 1:15-20

(15)  Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

(16)  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

(17)  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

(18)  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

(19)  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

(20)  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

  • Paul bases the identity of believers in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • The entirety of the claims of Christ must be accepted or rejected on the historical fact of His bodily resurrection.
  • Everything about our faith rises and falls on the historical claim that Jesus rose from the dead.
  • The claim of Jesus Christ, and of Scripture, and of His true followers both past and present is not:
    • Jesus was simply a great man with great teaching, and therefore you should follow His teaching.
    • Jesus was a very moral man, and helped us understand good ethics and morality, and so you should follow Jesus for His morals.
    • The claim is not merely philosophical, or theological, or conceptual- although the implications of his life are moral, ethical, philosophical, theological and conceptual.
  • The claim is fundamentally a historical claim.
  • The claim is that Jesus substantiated His teaching on an actual event- His substitutionary death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead.
  • This is what the apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19.

1 Corinthians 15:14-19

(14)  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (15)  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.  (16)  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: (17)  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (18)  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (19)  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

  • By the way, Paul was a person that once murdered Christians for their claim that Jesus Christ was the risen Savior.
  • His claim was that He saw Jesus alive, and that many other people saw Him alive as well.
  • His argument is that this death, burial, and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament and then substantiated in recent history by people who wrote the New Testament and beyond.
  • There are many people who are skeptical of this claim, and yet belief in this claim has been wide spread every since it happened.
  • In fact, Biblical Christianity grew more rapidly and with more ferver at the time when it would have been most easy to nullify this claim.
  • If Jesus did not rise from the dead then we are yet in are sins. We are believing in vain.  We should close up the service and go home.
  • But if He did rise from the dead, then everything the Bible claims and He claimed are true. There is a heaven and a hell.
  • Your sin must be forgiven.
  • What are the arguments that people give against Jesus bodily resurrection? There are a bunch of people claiming that it is true.  How do you argue against the empty tomb being evidence of a supernatural resurrection?

Body:

You can know the resurrection of Jesus Christ as historical fact by hearing the main arguments against His resurrection from the dead.

Argument #1- The Fraud Theory.

  • Defined: Theory says that Jesus’ resurrection was a hoax.  The resurrection is a big deception.
    • Includes theories that-
      • Either the Women went to the wrong tomb
      • Or Jesus body was stolen by Joseph of Arimathea, the gardener, the Roman Soldiers, the jews
      • Or the Disciples hid the body and then lied about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance.

Disciples stole the body…

  • Jesus’ death and resurrection was a very public event in the week of the year where Jerusalem would have been the most populated.
  • The tomb was guarded by either Roman Guards or Jewish temple guards.
  • Roman Guards were just good. If they were overtaken they would have had serious career problems.
  • Jewish temple guards work for people who had every reason to keep Jesus’ body in the tomb, so that they could keep the evidence that Jesus was, in fact dead.
  • The tomb was blocked by a massive one a 1.5 to 2 ton stone that was “sealed”.
  • So, for the disciples to steal the body they would have had to overcome the guards, and move the gigantic, sealed stone without anyone seeing or hearing the noise it would have accomplished for that to happen.
  • Remember also that these disciples had just lost their leader and had scattered in fear.
  • These same disciples went on to die, not for the idea that they had a promise in mind, or an idea or an ideaology that they believed in. They died because they saw Jesus Christ die and rise again, and it was on this basis that they put their faith in Him to the point that they were willing to risk everything.

Acts 4:12-20

(12)  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

(13)  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

(14)  And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

(15)  But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

(16)  Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

(17)  But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

(18)  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

(19)  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

(20)  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

  • What could have emboldened the disciples from crucifixion day to the day of pentacost? On crucifixion day you see the disciples running scared.  On Pentecost you see them standing up in front of a crowd and telling them to believe in the person that they had crucified, and God had raised from the dead.

Acts 2:22-24

(22)  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: (23)  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (24)  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:32

(32)  This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

  • And the crowd didn’t go crazy on them. More than 3,000 put their faith in Jesus and started the church at Jerusalem.

Acts 2:37

(37)  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Acts 2:41

(41)  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

  • When it was most easy to debunk, people believed in droves.

Romans stole the body…

  • What would be their motive for stealing the body?
  • What would be their motive for keeping the body? Keep the peace.  Keep people from doubting their authority.

Jews stole the body

  • Last thing they wanted was rumors about a resurrection
  • If they did steal the body, when rumors began that he had risen, they would have very quickly produced the body.
  • If someone stole the body, how do we account for all the appearances after Jesus’ death?
    • To Mary Magdane (John 20:11),
    • To the “other women” (Matthew 28:9-10),
    • To Peter (Luke 24:34),
    • To 2 disciples (Luke 24:13-32),
    • to 10 apostles (Luke 24:33-49),
    • to Thomas and the other apostles (John 20:26-30),
    • to 7 apostles (John21:1-23),
    • to all apostles (Matthew 28:16-20),
    • To all the apostles again (Acts 1:4-9),
    • to 500 brethren at once (1 Corinthians 15:6),
    • to James (1 Cor. 15:7),
    • to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:7)

You can know the resurrection of Jesus Christ as historical fact by hearing the main arguments against His resurrection from the dead.

Argument #1- The Fraud Theory.

Argument #2- The Swoon Theory

  • Defined:
  • The swoon theory purports…
    • That Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross.
    • That the Roman Soldiers didn’t notice that he wasn’t dead.
    • That the Bible lies when it say that “blood and water flowed”- something that could have happened only post-mortem.
    • That Jesus lay completely motionless and un-revived when the women prepared his body, wrapping it from head to toe with about 75lbs of spices, and they didn’t notice him living.
    • That Jesus revived in the tomb after being tortured and crucified.
    • That he moved the 1.5 to 2 ton stone away.
    • That somehow he got past the guards without them noticing.
    • That he went across Jerusalem in this state with no one seeing.
    • That when he saw his disciples, they didn’t notice what would have been an incredibly poor physical condition, believed that he had in fact died and rose again, and then gave their very lives for this idea that Jesus had resurrected…

“[Jesus] couldn’t possibly have faked his death, because you can’t fake the inability to breathe for long.  Besides, the spear thrust into his heart would have settled the issue once and for all.  And the Romans weren’t about to risk their own death by allowing him to walk away alive.  [The Swoon Theory] is a fanciful theory without any possible basis in fact.”   ---Dr.Alexander Metherell

You can know the resurrection of Jesus Christ as historical fact by hearing the main arguments against His resurrection from the dead.

Argument #1- The Fraud Theory.

Argument #2- The Swoon Theory

Argument #3- The Hallucination Theory

  • Defined: The disciples simply had visions and dreams of Jesus’ resurrection.  They merely thought that they saw Jesus alive again.
  • No evidence medically that hallucinations are contagious.
  • These so called “hallucinations” are so varied, specific, and numerous as to not be taken as hallucinations at all. *See post resurrection appearances in point number 1 under “Jews stole the body”
  • These so-called “hallucinations” included Jesus being touched, cooking meals, and eating food. Hallucinations don’t do that.
  • Medical science tells us that hallucinations generally occur when…
    • Someone is deprived of food and water
    • Someone has mental problems
    • Someone is on drugs
    • Someone is expecting to see something…
  • The disciples fit none of these categories.
  • If the disciples had hallucinated these things, Jesus is still dead in the tomb. When they made these claims and thousands of people were converted, Jesus’ body would have been produced by the authorities who had every reason to oppose this new teaching.
  • There are other theories as to what actually happened on that 1st
    • Jesus resurrection was just a spiritual resurrection.
    • Jesus’ resurrection is just a heart thing- his rising is symbolic- he lives in the hearts of those who believe his teaching.
    • Jesus was an alien, or was acted upon by an alien.
    • The “Jesus of Faith” and the “Jesus of history” are two different people.
    • Jesus was never crucified, but Judas was crucified, mistakenly, in Jesus’ place (taught to Muslims based on an obscure verse in the Koran.)
  • Looking at all the historical information given to you tonight, how can you be sure of these other theories?
  • How much evidence do you need to believe?
  • Why do so many oppose, ignore, or discredit the evidence of the empty tomb?
  • Let’s finish the thoughts of the former hater and persecutor of Christians, the Apostle Paul back in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.

1 Corinthians 15:17-26

(17)  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

(18)  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

(19)  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

(20)  But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

(21)  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

(22)  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

(23)  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

(24)  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

(25)  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

(26)  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

  • I believe it is because everything hangs on it!
  • “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”-C.S. Lewis
  • What were Jesus’ claims?
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