Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 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. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).
Nothing is more crucial in the history of Christian evidences than the question of the divine nature of Christ. Nothing is more crucial in establishing the divinity of Christ than His resurrection from the dead. If indeed He was raised from the dead, there can be no question of His divine nature. The word resurrection in itself means, rising from the dead. Resurrection assumes that death had been experienced.
Over the years skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and enemies of the Christian faith have made several attempts to destroy the historic resurrection of Christ, but in vain do they try. The Christian faith stands on the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ.
Now, as before, the Christ of history lives in controversy. Yet, if the message of the Christian faith is to be believed, the resurrection message of Christ must fit squarely at the center! It is pivotal.
Did Jesus rise from the dead? This is the most important question regarding the claims of the historic Christian faith. Christians of the past, and Christians of today all make good on their claim that the resurrection of Christ is true! The resurrection of Christ is not analogical, because, it does not correspond to claims made by founders of the major world religions. A resurrection claim is noticeably absent from the writings of the founders of world religions—except Christianity.
Today, as it has been in the past, the enemies of Christianity are coming up with major objections to the resurrection of Christ. Some hold out the philosophical-naturalist objection. This objection holds that miracles are impossible. This objection, in denying the resurrection, also denies the existence of God. The resurrection by its very nature is a miracle by the infinite-personal God.
The naturalistic, humanistic, philosophical approach to the resurrection also ignores the strong historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ. However, in our apologetics for the resurrection, we must present the known historical facts. And what are the historical facts for the resurrection? Consider the following:
(1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion and
(2) was buried in a sealed tomb.
(3) At the death of Jesus, the disciples were in despair and they lost all hope.
(4) Jesus was buried in a tomb that was discovered to be empty a few days later.
(5) A visit by some of the disciples to the empty tomb led them to believe.
(6) The disciples were transformed from being cowards to making bold proclamations of His
death and resurrection.
(7) The resurrection message was the center of early church preaching.
(8) This message was proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus had died just days before.
(9) The Jewish leadership was enraged at this message and sought to put a stop to it by
flogging and jailing the disciples.
(10) Because of this message, the church was born, and it multiplied almost without number.
(11) Both James, the brother of Jesus, and Saul, who later became Paul, heard this message
and were converted. These known historical facts are crucial to a contemporary
investigation of the Resurrection of Christ!
The evidence for the resurrection has not been explained by naturalistic-humanistic theories, and yet, additional facts corroborate this eyewitness testimony:
(1) The eyewitness to the grave clothes.
(2) The eyewitness to the empty tomb.
(3) The eyewitness of the Jewish leadership watching and listening to the resurrection message
proclaimed by the disciples (they could not stop it, even though they had the power and the
motivation to do so).
(4) The transformation of the disciples and their bold proclamation of the resurrection message.
(5) The resurrection was the center of apostolic preaching.
(6) The existence of the Church for 2,000 years.
(7) The worship on Sunday demands historical consideration as well.
(8) His appearances to over five-hundred disciples, (followers), mentioned in
(1 Corinthians 15:1-10).
The resurrection of Christ is rooted in the flow of Biblical history, and there are facts to support its truthfulness. Paul said He received and delivered the message of the resurrection and appearances of Christ: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand: By which also ye are saved if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul received and delivered the resurrection message, both to the believing and unbelieving world. One would find it very hard to explain; why would the apostles, disciples-followers, and early Christians, give up home, family, wealth, prestige, and their very lives, in order to belong to a hated sect that wore the name of a despised martyr? They had everything to lose by being a Christian and nothing of worldly significance to gain. Why pay the high price? Because, Christ is the divine Son of God and His resurrection is in fact true-truth.
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