One of the most hotly contested issues in all of Christianity is also the most important issue in Christianity and that is the resurrection. The world agrees the Jesus was a man, they agree that He did a lot of good things, and they even agree that Jesus died. However, two points of contention about Christ is that He is God (I will deal with that in another post) and the other point of contention in on His resurrection. This will come as no surprise, but I am convinced of the resurrection on three grounds. First, there is the empty tomb. If you lay a body in a tomb, it stands to reason that if you went back to it that the body would still be there. However, that is not the case. Secondly, I believe in the resurrection because of the eye witness testimony of over 500 people. Over the course of His final 40 days on earth after the resurrection, Jesus was seen by many people. Finally, I believe in the resurrection because of the change in the apostles as well as the change in my life. I realize that many people are going to want to dispute the first two proofs, and I welcome a good discussion on them. However, the one that no one can dispute is the change that occurs in a true disciple’s life. From coward to courageous, from puny to powerful, from a denier to a declarer of who Jesus is. People for centuries have set out to disprove who Jesus is, and in many cases they end up proving the exact opposite and giving their life over to Christ. In the rest of this post, I want us to consider the ramifications for all of humanity if the resurrection didn’t happen.
**Disclaimer-the following is a transcript of an Easter sermon I preached at Westlake in 2009**
Three Truths If The Resurrection Never Happened:
–If the resurrection didn’t happen faith would be vain (v. 16). If Jesus Christ isn’t who He says He is and didn’t do what He said He did then our faith is completely meaningless. There are those who try to deny the resurrection. However you can look at the biblical account given in the gospels as well as here in 1 Corinthians 15 to see that many people saw Jesus after His crucifixion. Even science can not come up with an explanation that makes sense to explain the empty tomb. Therefore there is no doubt of the resurrection. That is why it says in Psalm 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Many people say, “I can’t understand or don’t understand faith.” I don’t understand electricity but I don’t sit in the dark. Hebrews 11:1, 2 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.” Simply stated, faith is believing in what you can’t see. You can’t and most of us don’t understand everything that happens in a car’s engine when you turn the key, yet everyday we get in, put the key in the ignition turn it and expect it to start. Therefore it is not that you can’t have faith it is you choose not to have faith in Jesus Christ. Many people ask, “how can a loving God send someone to hell?” It is not God’s desire for people to go to hell. Jesus said in Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” Peter writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Paul even writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The Bible couldn’t be any clearer as to what God wants for every person, He wants them to place their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord and have all of eternity in heaven. If that is what God’s desire is then why doesn’t it happen? The reason not everyone is going to heaven is because they do not choose Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. And please hear this, there is only one way to heaven and that is by faith in Jesus Christ as it says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Those people who are telling you that everyone is going to heaven or there are other ways into heaven are lying to you! Jesus who is God said the only way to God and heaven is through Him!
–If there was no resurrection our sin would remain (v. 17). Many people ask the question, “If Jesus is God then why did He come to earth just to be hung on a cross?” Let me answer the first part of the question, Jesus is absolutely God because the Bible says He is. One of the apostle John’s favorite titles for Jesus was “the Word.” And now look with me at John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” You’ve heard people say, “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” That statement is a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke. The truth is “the Bible says it, that settles it,” it doesn’t matter if you choose to believe it or not! Now the second part of the question about why did He come to the earth? We must first understand that God is holy as He says in 1 Peter 1:16, “because it is written, be ye holy, for I am holy.” And as a holy God He can not look upon sin without judging it and He can not and will not allow sin into heaven. As we have talked about earlier, God’s desire is that all men come to repentance which means they will be in heaven with Him when they die. However there is a problem, man ever since Adam in the Garden of Eden is sinful as it says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Since God doesn’t allow sin into heaven and man is sinful, God had to make a way that the price would be paid for all the sin of all mankind so that those who place their faith in Jesus can go to heaven. And the only way that price could be paid is by a perfect sacrifice. Therefore God sent His Son to be born of a virgin. Mary had to be a virgin because if she wasn’t then Jesus would have the same sin nature that you and I have and He wouldn’t be perfect. Since Jesus was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life, He was the perfect sacrifice for all man’s sins. The Bible tells us in Luke 23 that there was a darkness that came upon the earth three hours into Jesus’ crucifixion. This is the time in which God the Father poured out the sins of the world upon His Son, Jesus became sin for us and shed His blood for what we have done, are doing, and will do. When Jesus shed His blood, the sacrifice was made and the price was paid. Because of that sacrifice all who place their faith in Jesus are not seen as the sinners they are by God, but rather God sees them as justified or just-as-if-I-never-sinned, making it possible for us to go to heaven. And if that didn’t happen then we can never be forgiven for all the wrong things we do and therefore we would have no chance of going to heaven because we are never good enough to get into heaven.
– If there was no resurrection this life would be all there is (v. 18). One thing that most people in the world want is a better life. This life is full of sadness, pain, and suffering. We all long for something better than this. Because of Jesus’ death that is made possible. Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for those who place their faith in Him in John 14. The place being prepared for us is in heaven where God lives. There is a small description of heaven given in Revelation 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Everything that sums up life on earth will not be present in heaven. But if the resurrection didn’t happen then this is all we have. If the resurrection didn’t happen we should as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “…if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” But we know that Jesus did rise from the dead because the Bible tells us, there is the evidence of the empty tomb, but most of all there has been a change in the heart of every person who has ever placed their faith in Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. **End of the Sermon
We praise God that He loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, into this world to take our place and to take our punishment. Where there was no way, Jesus has provided a way! If you have never accepted Christ as your Savior, I want you to know two things. First, you are on a path to destruction and eternal torment. Secondly, you don’t have to go there, you can have heaven as your home. The Bible says we must believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, that He was buried, and on the third day rose again (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Acknowledge to God that you are a sinner and believe this and the Bible promises you will be saved. I encourage you if you need to accept Jesus to stop reading right now, and make this decision.
If you have made a decision to accept Christ, would you do me the favor of letting me know. I want to help you take the next steps in your new found faith. If you have more questions about what it means to accept and follow Christ, I want to encourage you to contact me either by phone at 540-721-8784 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him