Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Proofs of Easter

Easter is our greatest celebration as Christians, because it focuses our minds on the highlight of the Christian faith—the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, His rising physically, visibly, bodily from the tomb, His remarkable return to life following His torturous death. This isn’t just another wonderful gospel story or another in a series of amazing miracles. This is the story and the miracle of Christianity. It ties together all the other strands of our faith. As scientist Henry Morris put it, “The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.” According to Acts 1:3, Jesus presented Himself alive by “many infallible proofs.” Notice those three words: Many—not just one or two indications.Infallible—this means irrefutable, certain, convincing. Proofs—these are solid evidence, admissible in a court of law. In the first part of 1 Corinthians 15 (the Bible’s Resurrection chapter), Paul lists some of these proofs:
1.   Fulfilled Prophecy (v. 4). The Resurrection of Christ was predicted in advance. Verse 4 says, “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
A.  Old Testament Predictions: See Isaiah 53:9–11 (niv), Psalm 16:9–11, and Zechariah 12:10. See also Psalm 2:7–9; Psalm 30; Psalm 40:1–3; Psalm 110:1; Psalm 118:21–24; Hosea 5:15–6:3. There’s also the example of Jonah, whose departure from his “grave” in the fish foreshadowed our Lord’s emergence from the tomb.
B.  Jesus’ Own Predictions: His enemies did us the favor of pulling out His resurrection predictions and reinforcing them for all history. How? They used them in His trial and afterward (Matt. 26:61, 27:63). See also John 2:19, Matt. 12:40, and Matt. 17:22, 23.
2.   The Eyewitnesses (vv. 5–8). Following his Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth for forty days, appearing at least ten times to various individuals and groups. The genuineness and historical reliability of these accounts are well attested. Some people assume that Christ only appeared to His hardcore believers. That isn’t true. First, all the disciples were skeptics; none imagined that He would rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21, 22). Second, Thomas was a vocal and determined doubter (John 20:24–29). Third, James, the Lord’s half-brother, had ridiculed and rejected Christ (John 7:1–5). And fourth, Saul of Tarsus was the greatest enemy to His movement (Acts 8:1; 9:3–5).
3.   The Power of the Resurrection to Change Lives (vv. 9–11). How else can the transformation of Saul of Tarsus be explained? What about the change among the disciples? John Stott wrote: “Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection. It was the resurrection that transformed Peter’s fear into courage and James’ doubt into faith. It was the resurrection that changed the Sabbath into Sunday and the Jewish remnant into the Christian Church. It was the resurrection that changed Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle and turned his persecuting into preaching.”

Praise God for the resurrection of His Son, and may we share the Good News to all this Easter season!
-          Bro. Dave

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