“I’m not a Christian because it serves my own selfish purposes. I’m not a Christian because it “works” for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy. I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative.” J. Warner Wallace
Understanding the evidence for the resurrection and the reliability of Scripture as well as examining its claims are important to our faith. We can be assured of salvation as we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).”
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 1 Corinthians 15:14-17
If Christ has not been raised from the dead, Christianity is not true, we won’t be resurrected either, and we’re out of hope. But what if Jesus is who He said He is and what if he really did rise from the dead, overcoming the grave?
Faith is being certain of what we hope for, and ours is not a blind faith. There is plenty of evidence, facts, and history to consider.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner entered for us, even Jesus; Hebrews 6:19
The anchor symbolizes keeping believers secure during times of trouble.
- According to Thallus, one of several non-biblical, pagan historians writing about that time, there was a darkness during the day followed by an earthquake that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion.
- Roman historian, Suetonius wrote about the new levels of punishment Nero inflicted on Christians, and described the fact Jesus had an immediate impact on His followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they believed.
- Jewish historian, Josephus lived in the first century and writes more about Jesus than any other non-biblical source.
- The second-century Roman historian Tacitus confirms that Christianity was founded by a man named Christus, whom he said was “put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius.”
- Jesus was on trial before the high priest Caiaphas, and then was taken to Pilate. The tomb of the Caiaphas family was discovered in 1990 in Jerusalem. Inside were the very bones of the infamous high priest mentioned in the Gospels!
- As for Pontius Pilate, a first-century inscription discovered at Caesarea in 1961, confirming that he was indeed procurator of Judea from 26-36 A.D.
THE GOSPEL – written less than twenty years after Jesus’ resurrection
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN CHRIST
- To Mary Magdalene; To the “other women”
- To Peter, to at least ten disciples
- To the 11 including Thomas
- At his ascension (unknown number of followers)
- On the Emmaus Road
- In Galilee: To 500 people, To James & the apostles,
- To Paul on Damascus Road
The Early Dating of the Gospels
- Mark writes his gospel, 45-50 AD
- Luke writes his gospel 50-53
- Paul quotes Luke (53-57 AD)
- Luke writes ACTS 57-60 AD
- Deaths of James, Peter, and Paul (61-65 AD)
- Siege of Jerusalem 67-70 AD
- Temple Destroyed 70 AD.
THERE IS GOOD REASON TO BELIEVE THE FOLLOWING:
Jesus Truly Died on the Cross
(a) The Roman Soldiers Would Not Have Allowed Jesus to Survive
(b) The Soldiers Didn’t Break Jesus’ Legs
(c) John Saw Water Come from Jesus’ Side
(d) The Living Jesus Does Not Show Up Anywhere Else in History
(e) The Bible Offered an Eyewitness to Verify the Death
The Apostles Didn’t Imagine the Resurrection
(a) There is no Such Thing as a Group Hallucination
(b) The Corpse Was Never Produced
(c) The Apostles Claimed to be Eyewitnesses
The Resurrection is Not Merely a Legend
(a) There’s Not Enough Time for the Legend to Develop
(b) The First Witnesses Were Women and This Would Have Been Seen As Unreliable
The Apostles Were Not Lying About the Resurrection
(a) They Could Not Have Removed the Body
(b) The Locals Would Have Known It
(c) They Had No Motive, and Only Suffered for the Claim
THE INSPIRATION AND RELIABILITY OF SCRIPTURE
For those who have an open mind, evidence produced by an honest investigation of the life and death of Christ should astound even the most intellectual skeptics. Jesus Himself fulfilled more than 300 prophecies from birth to resurrection.
The central purpose of prophecy is to reveal the one true God and prove there is no other like Him. Who can predict future events in detail other than through divine revelation? There are no contradictions or inconsistencies in the Word of God, and over 25,000 archaeological finds support the fact that people, places, and events mentioned in the Bible are real and accurate.
What human being could have ever manufactured such an intricate story – a masterpiece combining thousands of years of historical events, (written on three continents by at least 40 different authors) including prophecies, in perfect and specific detail? More importantly, what man could have created and insured the carrying out of such an elaborate plan in advance, well before many of those written about were born, before nations were formed, and hundreds of years before events had even taken place?
It had to be God.
In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul writes:
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
This is the truth. This is our hope! The resurrection guarantees that as believers, we will live, appear before Christ, be like Him, and be filled with joy in His presence forever.
OTHER SCRIPTURES REFERENCED
Matthew 27:50-51, Mark 15:47, 16:1, Luke 1:1-4, Luke 24, Acts 3:18-19, Acts 1:1-8, John 12:14, Daniel 9:25, Ezekiel 44:1-3; Nehemiah 3:29, Zechariah 14:4, Ezekiel 43:1-4
VIDEO: 2019 sermon “The Reality of the Resurrection“