Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 14, 1966
NUMBER 10, PAGE 3b,5b-6a

The Resurrection Of Christ

Billy W. Moore

A study of the preaching of the apostles gives evidence to the fact that the resurrection of Christ was a vital part of the gospel which they preached. Paul declared that the gospel which he preached, by which men were saved, included three fundamental facts: first, that Christ died for our sins; second, that he was buried; and third, that he rose again the third day according to the scripture. (1 Cor. 15:1-3) The gospel Paul preached was given him by revelation of Jesus Christ, and any man or angel that preaches any other gospel will be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-12) Paul continues in this writing (1 Con 15) to point out inevitable conclusions which must be drawn if Christ be not risen:

1. The preaching of the apostles is vain. (v. 14) They preached that Christ was raised, but if he had not raised then such preaching would accomplish nothing. Yet, Jesus had commissioned them to preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15), and such preaching had pleased God. (1 Cor. 1:20,21)

2. Your faith is in vain. (v. 14) This means that your faith in God and Jesus as the Son of God would accomplish nothing, it would be empty.

3. Ye are yet in your sins. (v.17) Men who believed that Jesus died, was buried and rose the third day, had been obedient unto the gospel of Christ in order to gain remission of sins (Acts 2:38), but if Christ be not raised their sins were not forgiven, thus they were yet in sin, and must answer to God for such sins.

4. They which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (v.18) As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27) Many of those who were baptized into Christ had fallen asleep in Jesus. They are dead. If Christ was not raised they are perished. Their salvation hinged upon his resurrection.

5. Hope is limited to this life. (v. 19) Peter said God hath "begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead." (1 Pet. 1:3) The Christian's hope is eternal life (Tit. 1:3), but if Christ were not raised hope is restricted to this life only, and such makes us of all men most miserable.

Witnesses Of The Resurrection

Jesus was seen by many different persons on numerous occasions after his resurrection. Brother H. Leo Boles gives a tabulated list of the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, as follows:

1. Mary Magdalene. (Mk. 16:9; John 21:11-18)

2. Women returning from the tomb. (Matt. 28:9, 10)

3. Simon Peter alone. (Luke 23:34)

4. Two disciples going to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13- 31)

5. Apostles, except Thomas. (John 20:19-25)

6. Apostles, Thomas being present. (John 20:2629)

7. Seven disciples. (John 21:1-13)

8. Eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee. (Matt. 28:16-20)

9. Above 500 brethren at once. (1 Cor. 15:6)

10. James only (1 Cor. 15:7)

11. All the apostles at ascension. (Luke 24:50,51: Acts 1:6-12)

(Commentary on Matthew, page 558.)

Such a host of witnesses on so numerous occasions would certainly establish the resurrection of Christ as fact.

Resurrection Was Preached

In the first preaching of the gospel the apostles preached that the Jews by wicked hands had crucified and slain the Son of God, "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." (Acts 2:23, 24) There were certain facts that were known by all who listened to Peter's preaching that day. They knew of the life of Jesus (v.22); they knew of his trial and death (v.23; 3:17); they knew of his burial (Jn. 19:38-42); they knew the tomb was empty (Matt. 28: 11); and they knew of the report of his resurrection.

This was the opportunity to refute such preaching if it were not so. This was the first time men had declared the resurrection of Christ, thus it was the time to refute such a doctrine. If it were false doctrine it should not be spread. Furthermore, to spread it would hurt the Sadducees who denied the resurrection. This was also the right place to refute this preaching. Peter was preaching in Jerusalem. This is where Jesus died. This is where the empty tomb was. This is the place to correct it if it be false. Not only is this the right time, and right place to correct such teaching, but the right people were present to correct it. Some of those present denied the resurrection, and surely would do all within their power to prevent a doctrine including the resurrection of Christ to be herald abroad. If the resurrection of Christ could not be proved false fifty-three days after the burial, in the very city where it occurred, by the people most concerned, then how can it possibly be proved false today.

Even the guilty testified to the resurrection. The Jews were guilty of crucifying him. They had asked for his life. (Matt. 27:22, 23) They did not deny it. In fact there were three thousand who believed the gospel that day and were baptized in the name of Christ. They believed that God had raised him from the dead. They were baptized in his name, and by this very act testified to his resurrection, for "we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by 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 be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Rom. 6:4-6)

Attempts To Disprove The Resurrection

The empty tomb cried for an explanation. If God had not raised Jesus from the dead then how can the empty tomb be explained? There are several possibilities:

1. His disciples stole the body. This was the report given by those who guarded the tomb. "Some of the watch came into the city and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, "Say ye, his disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day." (Matt. 28:11-15)

Why would the disciples steal the body away? They had buried it. (Jn. 19:38) The women went to the tomb to anoint the body. (Matt. 28:1) The disciples accused the Jews of taking the body away. (Jn.20:2) When they first heard that the body was missing they did not believe it. (John 20:2-10)

2. The Jews stole the body away. This is what the disciples first thought. (Jn. 20:2) But why would the Jews steal the body? They did not want it. (Cf. Jn. 19:38) To remove the body would have been to their disadvantage. They had nothing to gain by it. In fact they were "to make it as sure as you can". (Matt. 27: 62-66) Guards were placed at the tomb to prevent anyone from taking the body away.

3. The guards removed the body. This is a possibility, but not probable. They were being paid to guard it -- why steal it? They were also paid to say, "His disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept." Of course this is absurd, for if asleep how did they know the disciples stole it? Further -more, the penalty for guards sleeping on the job was most severe, the death penalty, so they would not have slept. Since the chief priests paid the guard to say this, and promised them protection if this matter should come to the governor's ear, it should be evident that what they said was not true.

4. The hallucination theory. It has been argued by some that Jesus did not rise at all, that his body remained in the grace, that he did not communicate with the disciples. It is said that the disciples were in a highly excited and excitable nervous state. Mary Magdalene, at the tomb, much overwrought, imagined she saw Jesus and told her story to the other overwrought disciples. They heard a window rattle or the wind whistle and imagined Christ spoke to them. In other words, according to this theory, the resurrection of Jesus was just an hallucination.

A little examination of this theory will show it to be false. Jesus was seen of his disciples many different times, not just once. On at least eleven different occasions he was seen. This would mean eleven hallucinations. He was seen by several women at the same time, by seven men, by ten men, by eleven men, and on one occasion he was seen by above five hundred brethren, which would mean that five hundred brethren had the same hallucination at the same time. Preposterous! If the hallucination theory were true how does one explain the empty tomb?

Since these possibilities are all excluded the only other possible way to explain the empty tomb is that God raised Jesus from the dead. This, of course, is precisely what happened. Jesus was raised by the power of God, just as the prophet had prophesied about a thousand years before (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:32). The apostles guided by the Holy Spirit preached the resurrection. If he were not raised then he is not a savior, and we are still in sin and have no hope of future life. But, he was raised for our justification. (Rom. 4:25) However, not everyone shall be justified just because Jesus was raised, Merely believing this truth is not sufficient to save one from his sins. No doubt there are many who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead who have never humbled themselves in obedience to the will of the risen Lord. If one truly believes that Jesus is the Son of the living God, crucified and raised from the dead, he should be willing to obey his will. Jesus demands that we believe in him, and that as a believer "repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) If you have not obeyed the Lord you must, if you would have hope of eternal life.

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