BY RON SCHOOLCRAFT
Just as Jesus Christ commanded His apostles to remember His death: “This do in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:24-25), in reference to the communion of His shed blood and broken body, so the
apostle Paul instructed Timothy (and us) to remember His resurrection. “Remember that Jesus Christ . . . was raised from the dead” (II Timothy 2:8).
The Bible clearly identifies the resurrection of Jesus Christ as crucial to the Christian message, as essential as the atoning death of Christ: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17). Though His death atoned for our sins, without His resurrection our faith would be futile and we would still be lost in our sins.
But, praise God, He is risen! “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (I Corinthians 15:20). Eugene Peterson wrote in his contemporary language version, The
Message, “But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.”
Many Infallible Proofs
The preaching of the apostles centered on the Resurrection: “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). Luke opened the Book of Acts with a reference to
the Resurrection: “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days” (Acts 1:3).
Henry Morris has written, “The term ‘infallible proofs’ is one word in the Greek (tekmerion) and occurs only this one time.” It means literally “many criteria of certainty.” It is significant that the inspired Word of God applies it only to the resurrection of Christ. Morris has further noted that this term “emphasizes that the evidences for Christ’s resurrection were not philosophical speculations but certain facts. No other event of biblical history has been confirmed more certainly than His bodily resurrection.”
What are some of these “infallible proofs”? In addition to the many infallible scriptures, only a few of which are quoted herein, some of the evidences follow:
The Sealed Tomb. The tomb was sealed with a large stone and guarded by Roman soldiers, an act no doubt inspired by Satan in a feeble attempt to prevent the Resurrection. It served, rather, to substantiate it. For it is certain that the timid, fearful disciples would not have ventured out of hiding and overcome these obstacles to steal the body and perpetrate a fraud. What then, happened to the body?
The Empty Tomb. The empty tomb has never been explained except by the bodily resurrection. If the body were still there or any other place accessible to Jews or Romans, they would certainly have produced it as a sure means of immediately quenching the spreading flame of Christianity.
Eyewitnesses. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins . . . and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present” (I Corinthians 15:3-6). This remarkable parade of eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ is part of the overwhelming body of evidence making this a most certain fact of biblical history.
The Change in the Disciples. The apostles and disciples became bold almost overnight. From a little band of depressed, defeated disciples hiding in an upper room, they transformed into a company of firebrands that no persecution could silence. The only reasonable explanation for this miraculous transformation is the certainty of their knowledge of the Resurrection coupled with their “endue[ment] with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Witness the apostle Peter, who had cowardly denied the Lord three times, preaching a powerful message at Pentecost, boldly proclaiming the Resurrection and demanding repentance of all (Acts 2:1440). Moreover, “When [the
scribes, elders, and high priest] 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” (Acts 4:13). The imagery here was that Peter and John had recently been in the presence of a living Jesus, not a dead one.
The Disciples’ Willingness to Die. No man would willingly sacrifice his life for something he knew to be a lie. Only the certain knowledge of the truth of Christ’s resurrection could have caused the disciples
fearlessly to face death. This fact substantiates the veracity of their message beyond all doubt. Of the twelve apostles listed in Acts 1:13, 26, only John died a natural death; history tells us the rest were
martyred. The despondent disciples would not have suffered and died for a dead Messiah.
The Believers’ Personal Experience. We who have enjoyed the reality of the Spirit-filled experience are never at the mercy of the skeptics’ arguments. We have “tasted of the heavenly gift” and been “made
partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Hebrews 6:4-5). Just as surely as Jesus was raised from the dead, we are also raised: “We are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:4-5). The reality of the awesome change Jesus Christ has made in our lives proves conclusively to us the truth of His resurrection. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).
Such “infallible proofs” as these prove that Jesus Christ has, indeed, conquered death itself, thereby demonstrating that He is the Creator of life and the only possible Savior to redeem us from sin and
death! No wonder Peter could say: “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Peter 1:16).
The Pharisees “Remembered” the Resurrection
Jesus repeatedly forewarned the disciples that He would be killed and then resurrected. “The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day” (Mark 9:31). (See also Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 8:31 and 10:34.) While the disciples languished in their grief, an amazing event was occurring at Pilate’s palace: “The chief priests and
Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the
third day” (Matthew 27:62-64). How remarkably ironic that the enemies of Christ remembered the promise of His resurrection while His disciples cowered behind locked doors, the resurrection promise long since forgotten. Nor did they remember it until after His resurrection John 2:22). Had the disciples remembered Jesus’ words, it would have spared them much heartrending grief.
The “Resurrection” at Pentecost
On the Day of Pentecost Peter used a passage from a Psalm of David (Psalm 16:10) to preach the Resurrection: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer shine Holy One to see
corruption” (Acts 2:27). Peter then declared that David did not fulfill this verse, for: ” [David] is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day” (Acts 2:29). Peter then revealed whom David was prophesying about: “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32).
At the conclusion of his message, Peter exhorted, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). Peter’s “Godbreathed” conclusion is still imperative today, whenever and wherever the resurrection of Christ is preached!
It is noteworthy that prior to the Resurrection and Pentecost Peter and the other disciples could not even remember or understand Jesus’ straightforward promises of His coming death and resurrection,
let alone the Messianic Old Testament prophecies. But after their Holy Ghost baptism they were transformed into powerful preachers of the Scriptures, especially of the Messianic prophecies.
The ultimate reason to keep the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ indelibly etched in our memory? It portends our own resurrection! “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the
dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).
A final Word from the Author and Finisher of our faith:
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18).
SIGN OF THE EMPTY TOMB
BY JIM YOHE
The observation was once made that the victory was not in the cross of Christ as much as in His empty tomb. Another memorable quote is, “We cannot make too much of the death of Christ, but we can make
too little of the resurrection of Christ!” The scriptural quote that begins the resurrection story is Mark 16:4: “And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away.”
Why did they wait until the first day of the week to anoint Him? Some scholarship exists that places Jesus’ actual crucifixion on Wednesday at 9:00 A.M. The sacrificial lambs of the Passover were being
slain when He died at 3:00 P.M. The next day, Thursday, was the Passover, Friday was a Passover Sabbath, Saturday the Sabbath, leaving Sunday, the first day of the week. Due to the restrictive law of the Sabbath Day’s journey (3100 feet), Sunday was actually the first chance they had to visit the tomb! Like He stated, Jesus was in the heart of the earth three full days and nights (Matthew 12:40).
What was rolled away when the stone was rolled away? Classic sermons declare that human death itself was rolled away! “Death is no longer a bottomless cavern, but a tunnel with a golden light at the end
of it! Death is no longer a blind alley, but a superhighway!” (Ironside). After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death itself is now dead!
Why was the stone rolled away? It was not rolled away so that Jesus could get out; it was rolled away so that the disciples could go in! It was not His means of exit; it was their means of entrance! Like a parent flips on a light to reveal to his scared child that no monsters are hiding behind his bedroom drapes, Jesus conquered death to show us there is nothing to fear!
What did that rolled-away stone reveal? NOTHING! Hallelujah! You may find a pile of dust and bones in the tombs of Mohammed, Confucius, or Buddha, but in the tomb of Jesus Christ you’ll find absolutely
NOTHING! Because He is not there! He arose and now His Spirit lives in the living temples of His children! The tomb is empty!
Jesus is our example! He overcame death and never died again! We can too! The apostle Paul explains, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51). His death, burial, and resurrection typified the forthcoming plan of salvation preached by Peter on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent (death), and be baptized (burial) every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, (resurrection)” (Acts 2:38). Despite the popularity of certain Christian icons, the true sign of Christianity is not a tongue
of fire or a bloody cross: it is the empty tomb!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE PENTECOSTAL HERALD, MAY 2001, PAGES 16, 17, AND 14. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.