Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 13, 1949
NUMBER 23, PAGE 1,8a

"He Is Risen"

J. Early Arceneaux

No fact in all human history is more surely established than the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The man who tries to deny that fact has certain things to explain that simply cannot be explained; he has things to account for that no man has ever been able to account for on any basis except the truth of a resurrection. If there was no resurrection, then these events and these actions provide the greatest mystery the world has ever known.

Course Of Enemies

For one thing, what reason can be given and what explanation offered for the course pursued by the enemies of Christ? When they found the disciples preaching in the name of Christ and declaring to the people that he had arisen from the dead, they (1) charged them not to teach any more in the name of Christ; (2) threatened to kill them; (3) did kill them, Stephen being the first one martyred. They used all the weapons of the most dastardly cowards to silence the story of Jesus' resurrection. They were determined that the people should not hear the story.

But so far as anybody knows, from evidence both within the Bible and outside of it, not one effort was ever put forth during the lifetime of the apostles to expose the fraud of their claim or to impeach their testimony. If their testimony was fraudulent, why did not the Jews expose them? If Jesus did not arise from the grave, then his body was still there. And since they were guarding the tomb, it would have been the easiest thing on earth for them to have opened the grave and revealed the decaying corpse of Him over whom the controversy had flared. What better answer for the claims of the disciples? You say he is risen, behold! here is his rotting corpse.

In reply to that, the Modernist says, "Such an action never occurred to them at all, because the Jews did not believe in a bodily resurrection. It just didn't occur to them to go out there and see whether or not the grave was empty." The Jews had no conception of a bodily resurrection? Well, it seems that somebody would have gotten that idea from the resurrection of Lazarus. That was bodily resurrection, wasn't it? If it was true that no Jew believed in a bodily resurrection then why would the apostles commit such an error as to spread the idea of a resurrection of the body all over the pages of the New Testament? The apostles were Jews. Daniel, away back yonder 500 years before Christ had said, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (Dan. 12:2) When he was asked for a sign, Jesus had said, "Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days." The record says he spoke of the temple of his body. If they had no conception of a resurrection, why did they place guards at the tomb?

As a matter of fact, they placed guards at the tomb to see that his friends did not steal his body from the grave. And then, when his friends began to proclaim that he had risen, it never even occurred to them to go out and examine the tomb to see if he was still there? Such a reply is too silly and preposterous to need an answer!

Course Of Friends

It is simply impossible to account for the course his enemies followed if the story of the resurrection is false. It is equally difficult to account for the course of his friends. If the story is false, and if Jesus actually did not arise from the grave, then why on earth did his friends and followers choose Jerusalem as the place to begin their preaching? Why did they not go to Alexandria, or Corinth, or Ephesus, or Rome, or Athens, as far away as possible from the scene of the events they talked about?

But they began in Jerusalem, the very city where he was crucified. A few short weeks after his death, they stood before the men who had condemned him and said, "You did crucify and slay the Son of God... whom God raised from the dead." We do not know exactly how many believers there came to be, but from the very start they had to be counted by the thousands. It was from Jerusalem, the place where he had died and arisen again, that the gospel of Christ began to be preached; and from there it spread over all the earth.

Furthermore, the apostles were risking their lives in their preaching of this gospel. The rulers bitterly opposed their telling people that Christ had risen. The high priest charged, "You 'intend to bring this man's blood on us,' making us responsible for his murder; you make murderers out of us when you declare that God raised him from the dead." The high priest had it exactly right.

The apostles were not making them murderers, but were revealing them as murderers.

The bloody persecution that we read about in history gives entire credit to every word in the New Testament concerning the relation of the disciples to the people about them. History tells us that unnumbered thousands of these early Christians were imprisoned, burned at the stake, beheaded, thrown to the lions in the arena. That is precisely what the New Testament says happened, and would happen. Is that surprising? What possible motive could lead these men to court almost certain death in proclaiming a story that they knew never happened? There was certainly no earthly advantage to it. This is especially true in the case of Saul of Tarsus. From a violent persecutor he became an ardent advocate. He completely reversed the course of his life. How can any man believe he would have done that for something that he knew was false?

The Infidel's Experience

A brilliant infidel once undertook the task of destroying Christianity. He said that unbelievers like himself had fooled around at the job long enough; he was going to finish it. He was going to dig up the falsehood by the tap roots. He looked around for a likely beginning place, and finally settled on the story of Saul's conversion. He decided to write a book and expose the complete falsity of the Biblical account; he would show to the world that such could not have happened. So he began to study. He bought books, and did exhaustive research. Two years went by. And at last the infidel came out with his book. And the book he finally wrote contained one of the most powerful arguments ever made by an uninspired man for the truth of the Bible account. An earnest and honest study had completely convinced the unbeliever.

A few years ago some man challenged any infidel on earth to spend thirty days in a careful reading of the New Testament and remain an infidel. He declared that it could not be done. One of the greatest lawyers of the English speaking world has written a book "The Test of the Evangelists" in which he subjects the testimony of these writers to a searching, relentless cross examination from every conceivable point of view. And he concludes that their testimony would stand in any court of law on earth. It would be absolutely unimpeachable.

"He is risen," are words that stated the greatest and most glorious truth in the history of the race. That fact stands today as a bulwark against all error and falsehood. No atheist can ever destroy it.