Did Jesus Christ Rise From the Dead?

 

Table of Contents


Jesus Christ Resurrected

Did Jesus Christ Rise from The Dead?

Fact #1: Jesus Christ Lived

Fact #2: Jesus Christ Died on a Roman Cross by Crucifixion

Fact #3: Jesus Christ was Buried in a Tomb

Fact #4: Jesus’ disciples and followers believed that He rose from the dead and that He appeared to them

Fact #5: Paul, who was a persecutor of the early believers, had an experience that radically changed him from an antagonist into a devout follower of Jesus Christ

Fact #6: James, the brother of Jesus, a skeptic of Christ, had an experience that radically changed him from a non-believer into a devout follower of Christ

Fact #7: The Tomb of Jesus Christ was Empty

Fact #8: The Believers in Jesus (The church) grew in spite of persecution and martyrdom

Summary

Conclusion

Notes

Resources

 
 

Did Jesus Christ Rise From The Dead?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that everyone needs to hear. Simply stated, the Gospel claims that through faith in Jesus’ death for us on the cross we can have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The (3) primary facts of the Gospel are: 1. Jesus Christ is God – (The Lord) 2. Jesus Christ died for our sin – (in our place) 3.) Jesus Christ rose from the dead – never to die again.

The clearest example of these essentials are found in (2) passages in the New Testament. I Corinthians 15: 3-5. “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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 and that He was seen….” Romans 10:8,9,13 – “What does it (the Gospel) say? The word is near you in your mouth and in your heart, that is the word of faith which we preach: That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.

To believe the Gospel we must first acknowledge that we are sinners and need the Savior (Jesus Christ). Second, we must believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord of all, the Divine Son of God and Savior who died for our sins and in our place and then rose from the dead. Last, we must turn from our sin (independence from God, our self-directed life and actions) and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we do this, the Scriptures tell us our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life – John 5:24.

The importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead cannot be overstated. It is the cornerstone event of the Gospel, the confirmation that Jesus Christ has the right and authority to forgive our sins through His death for us on the cross and that He is Lord of all. Philip Schaff (1819-1893), the highly respected church historian stated – “The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records”. (1)

 

What do Americans believe regarding the Resurrection of Christ?

American Flag

A poll conducted by the Rasmussen polling organization in 2013 found that 64% of all Americans believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and a 2013 Harris poll found that 68% of all Americans believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. On the surface this looks to be a reasonably good response, however, when we look deeper into the belief systems associated with the American “Christians”, these reports indicate that there is a clear disconnect between the full implications of the Gospel and what people really believe.

A Pew Research poll in 2009 revealed that 24% of Americans, who identified themselves as “Christians”, believed in reincarnation, 29% believed in Astrology and 52% believed that there are numerous ways to know God and have eternal life, with faith in Jesus Christ as Savior being just one of those ways. The Americans who identified themselves as “Christians” were numbered very high in the percentages when polled about their belief in the resurrection and yet they held to philosophies that are opposed to the teaching of the Bible. The message of Jesus Christ speaks very clearly on all three of these issues. Reincarnation is the belief system that affirms that the soul/spirit of a person begins a new life cycle when the body dies leading to numerous successions of life cycles. According to the Bible, we each live one life here on this earth and after death we are accountable for that life before God – Hebrews 9:27,28. Astrology is the system of thought that believes distant cosmic objects like stars and planets have a direct influence on the course and direction of people’s lives. It finds no place or agreement with the Scriptures. God alone is the Sovereign King of the universe and He directs all things, allowing men the free choice to choose or reject Him – Psalm 103:19; Daniel 4:35. The “many ways to God” concept essentially affirms that there are numerous “spiritual paths” that people can take to find God. However, the Gospel demands the Lordship of Jesus Christ and states that He alone is the Savior, the way to God – John 14:6,7; Acts 4:12, I Timothy 2:5. There is only one way to know God and have eternal life with Him and that is through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On each of these issues, many people who affirm belief in the resurrection and the Gospel do not understand what the Gospel really is or what it calls for in our lives.

 

So where do we go to find out what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about?

The primary historical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are found in the four Gospels – (the Gospel records of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and other New Testament documents such as the books of Galatians, I Corinthians, I Thessalonians, I and II Peter, I John along with references in almost every book of the New Testament. These narratives without question affirm the historical nature of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Questions and Answers

 

I. The Gospel affirms that Jesus predicted His death and resurrection

See the following passages – Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21-28; 17:7-17,22,23; 20:17-19; Mark 8:31-33; 9:9,10,31,32; 10:32-39; 14:27-31; Luke 9:22, 43-45; 11:29,30; 17:25; John 2:18-22; 3:14-16: 12:32,33;
 

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day.” – Matthew 16:21.

Jesus said-“ … we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles (Romans) to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” – Matthew 20:18,19.

“So the Jews answered and said to Him. What sign do you show us, since You do these things? Jesus answered and said to them; Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, It has taken forty six years to build this temple and You will raise it up in three days? But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore when He had risen from the dead His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said” – John 2:18-22.
After Jesus had made numerous references to His disciples that He would suffer, die and rise from the dead, the angel at the empty tomb after His resurrection event told the women who came to the tomb with burial spices-

“He is not here, but He is risen! Remember how He spoke to you in Galilee, saying; The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise again. And they remembered His words” – Luke 24:6-8.

When the women reported the words of the angel and the news of the resurrection of Christ to His disciples, their response was –

“And their words seemed to them like idle tales and they did not believe them” – Luke 24:11.

When the disciples finally saw the empty tomb for themselves, they still did not know what to make of it and Thomas refused to believe until he touched Jesus’ wounds. Their response confirms that Jesus predicted these events but they did not believe because they could not in their defeated and discouraged condition – John 20:9,24-25.

Gospel Clearinghouse Risen Cross

The response of the accusers at Jesus’ trial also indicates that they had heard the prediction that Jesus provided found in John 2:18-22 even though they had misinterpreted it.

At Jesus’ trial: “For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him saying; We heard Him say – I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another made without hands. But not even then did their testimony agree” – Mark 14:56-59. (See also Matthew 27:62-66)

These passages argue for the early prediction by Jesus Christ of both His suffering and death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
 

II.The Gospel affirms that Jesus Provided the Meaning of His Death and Resurrection

See the following passages – Mark 10:45; 14:22-24; Luke 22:19,20; 24:25-27; 44-48; John 6:30-33, 48-51; 10:11,15; 12:23,24,32-34; 13:31-33; 14:19.

Jesus clarified what His death on the cross would be for:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom(to secure the release)for many” – Mark 10:45.
“And He took bread and broke it and gave it to them saying – This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise He also took the cup after supper saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you” – Luke 22:19,20.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Therefore My Father loves Me because I lay down My life (death) that I may take it again (resurrection)” – John 10:11,17.

These passages confirm that Jesus defined His death on the cross as a sacrifice for us, as the payment to secure the release for us and as giving His life for us.
 

Jesus also stated what His resurrection would mean:

“I Am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believes in Me ( I AM the LORD), though he may die, yet shall He live and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die” – John 11:25,26.
Why is the resurrection is so central to the Gospel? Because it is through the resurrection that Jesus Christ has proven to have accomplished the saving merits of the cross. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the cross would be a failure and Jesus Christ could not have been Who He claimed to be – I AM – The Lord.
 

III. The Gospel affirms that Jesus claimed that He had the power to lay down His life

The Gospel affirms that Jesus claimed that He had the power to lay down His life ( His death on the cross) and that He had the power to take it back again ( His resurrection from the dead). See these passages – John 2:19; 10:17,18.

Jesus said:

“Destroy this temple (My body) and in three days I will raise it up” – John 2:19.
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life (death) that I may take it back again (resurrection). No one takes it (My life) from Me but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down (in death) and I have power to take it again (in resurrection life ). This command I have received from My Father” – John 10:17,18.

Jesus stated prior to His death that He would die but more than just dying, He would freely lay His life down in death and then take it back again in resurrection life. He affirmed that these events would be based on His own authority and power. This is an amazing claim and it opens the door to examination and to the possibility of falsification. To claim that if He resurrects from the dead ( a monumental feat) He will have done so by His own power is an event that if it indeed did occur, vindicates His claims.
 

Summary

Truth

According to the Gospel, Jesus predicted His suffering and death on the cross and then He defined what His death would mean-Mark 10:45, John 10:11,17. Next , He predicted His resurrection and stated that He had the power and authority to not only” lay down” His life in the death on the cross but that He also had the power to “take it back again” by resurrecting from the grave. Jesus emphasized that His resurrection from the dead would be a “sign” that would authenticate His claim to be the Messiah and Lord – John 2:18-22; Matthew 12:38-40. Then He died, was buried in a tomb and on the third day He rose from the dead never to die again. Now that is an accomplishment! Who else but the Lord of Life could do this? Someone living today, 2,000 years removed from the resurrection event may come up with their own idea as to what the cross and resurrection means. But we should let the One who actually predicted His death and resurrection and then by His own power rise from the dead be the Person to provide the definition.

The Key Questions then are:

1

Did Jesus Christ actually rise again from the dead?

 

2

Are the Gospel narratives true?

 

What is the Evidence for the Resurrection?

The word resurrection means – “to come out from among the dead ones”. In the case of Jesus Christ, the Gospel record states that He died, was buried in a grave for three days and then came back to life again. His resurrection is unlike any other resurrection ever recorded in Bible history in that He rose from the dead by His own power and never died again. In all other cases of resurrections recorded in the Bible (three in the Old Testament and five in the New Testament), this was not the manner in which people came back to life. They were raised by God’s intervention (not by their own power or volition) and later in life died. It would be more correct to refer to these resurrections as “resuscitations” with the exception of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus – John 11 and the raising of the bodies recorded in Matthew 27:52,53.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of 3 Possibilities

True or Ralse

Fact

– It actually, literally occurred.

False

– It is a lie, a fabrication or a hoax.

Fiction

– It is the end result of a mythological, legendary process.

In this presentation we will look at these options and attempt to come to a decision on which of these three best represents reality.

 

The Facts that are universally accepted by Historians.

There are certain facts regarding Jesus Christ and the Gospel record that are universally accepted among historians and scholars. Gary Habermas (PH.D., Michigan State), a leading Christian scholar who has studied extensively the resurrection of Christ, has complied a great deal of information from various resources. He has completed what many believe to be the most comprehensive investigation on the subject of the resurrection of Christ. He collected more than 1,400 critical scholarly works written on the resurrection from 1975 – 2003. He concluded that virtually all historians and scholars from very liberal to conservative agree on (4) facts regarding Jesus Christ.

He states regarding these four facts – “They are backed by so much evidence that nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones accepts them. A fifth fact will be added that enjoys acceptance by an impressive majority of scholars, though not by nearly all.” 2

History Books

“Habermas surveyed almost thirty years of German, French and English critical scholarship relating to Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps no fact is more widely recognized than that the early Christian believers had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus. In particular, virtually all scholars recognize Paul’s testimony that he had an experience that he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus. Equally well recognized is that James, the brother of Jesus was an unbeliever before he thought that he too met the risen Jesus. Seldom is the historical authenticity of any of these testimonies or the genuine belief behind them challenged by respected critical scholars, no matter how skeptical. Lastly, although the empty tomb lacks the nearly universal acceptance by critical scholars that these other events enjoy, the majority of scholars still clearly seem to think that it is probably also a historical fact”. 3

In this presentation we will examine these five facts with three added obvious facts (listed first, third and eighth). These are the facts that Dr.Habermas is referring to.

They are as follows:

Fact #1 – Jesus Christ lived around A.D.30 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) in the province of Judea.

Fact #2 – Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross by crucifixion.

Fact #3 – Jesus Christ was buried in a tomb.

Fact #4 – Jesus’ disciples and followers believed that He rose from the dead and that He appeared to them.

Fact #5 – Paul, who was a persecutor of the early believers, had an experience that radically changed him from an antagonist into a devout follower of Jesus Christ.

Fact #6 – James, the brother of Jesus, a skeptic of Christ, had an experience that radically changed him from a non-believer into a devout follower of Christ.

Fact #7 – The tomb of Jesus Christ was empty.

Fact #8 – The believers in Jesus (the church) grew in spite of persecution and martyrdom.
 

As we look at the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, it is important to remember that these (8) facts have widespread acceptance among historians and scholars. This is a significant and important point that cannot be ignored.

 

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