"RESURRECTIONíS PROOFS"

First Corinthians 15.5-19

INTRODUCTION:

1. If you were in attendance last week you will remember that I preached about the prominence of the doctrine of the resurrection among Christianityís doctrines. My text was from the 15th chapter of Paulís first letter to the Corinthian Church. Please turn there again.

2. Repeating what I said last week, this entire 15th chapter is given over to a discussion, to an examination, and to an explanation of the subject of the resurrection.

3. In verses 1-4 last week, as Paul established the prominence of the resurrection in Biblical Christianity, he did so by showing how the resurrection is related to the Gospel, itself a prominent feature of the faith.

4. The Gospel, a word translated from a Greek word meaning "good news," can actually refer to anything indicated by the context in which the word is used.

5. For example, in Boston, when the news came long ago that the Celtics became NBA champions it was a gospel. It was good news to the people of Boston. Such is not, however, the gospel in Los Angeles. Amen? The gospel in Los Angeles, with reference to basketball championships, is another championship for the Lakers.

6. So you see, the context is what determines just exactly what you use the word "gospel" to refer to. It just so happens that in the New Testament the word "Gospel" is narrowed in the scope of its application by using it in connection with such qualifying phrases as "the Gospel of Jesus Christ," or, as Paul often wrote, "my Gospel."

7. When that specific "good news" is referred to, according to First Corinthians 15.3-4, what is meant is the death, burial and resurrection from the dead on the third day, of Jesus of Nazareth.

8. Now, we believers refer to those three historical events and the benefit that we derive from them as "good news." But the skeptic, or even the average unbeliever, might wonder, "What is such good news about the death of your spiritual leader?"

9. Such news is good in this respect:

#1 In dying according to the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ died a substitutionary death for me. And when He died for me and shed His precious blood for me, He satisfied a just and holy Godís demand for the punishment of the offender and lawbreaker . . . me.

#2 In burial, He not only proved He really was dead at the time they removed His body from the cross of Calvary, but He removed my sins as far as the east is from the west.

#3 In resurrection, He demonstrated that He not only was man Who could die, but that He was very God clothed in flesh Who could not be held by death. And being victorious over death, He had the power to give me life.

10. Now, the resurrection is so obviously prominent in the Gospel, not because it is more important than our Lordís death or burial, but because it is His resurrection which cannot be duplicated by impostors.

11. Yes, let all the world know that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the crux of Christianity. It is the bastion of our belief, and a major focus of our faith.

12. It is proper response to the Gospel, of which the resurrection is a prominent feature, which God uses to bring to men new life in Christ.

13. But what happens after you are a Christian, once you have responded to the Gospel message to the saving of your soul and then taken that first step of obedience as a Christian, which is believerís baptism?

14. How do you now defend the claims of Christ against the attacks of the skeptics? How can you show them that you didnít check your brain with the hat-check girl in order to become a Christian?

15. In First Corinthians 15.5-19 the apostle armed the Corinthians with facts and information that they could use to defend their faith at the point of most frequent attack, opposition and skepticism.

16. Think about it. Who would deny Christís death or burial? And what He accomplished by His death and burial is debatable . . . unless you consider His resurrection from the dead three days later.

17. And what should skeptics consider? They should consider that if His resurrection be fact, then Christ- rejecters are self-deluded and in danger of Hellfire.

18. Christian, if you want proof of the resurrection of your Savior and of believers that will occur in the future, Iíll give it to you. Stand, as we read First Corinthians 15.5-19:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

19. The resurrection is a provable fact. And we are given two kinds of proof to show that this is true.

1A. IN FIRST CORINTHIANS 15.5-11 PAUL CITES OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

Look at this list of people the Lord Jesus Christ was seen by . . . after He rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures.

1B. First, There Was Cephas (5)

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

1C. "Cephas" is just the Greek word for "Simon," which is a name of Hebrew origin. So, Paul is referring to Simon Peter by the name the Greek speaking Corinthians would recognize.

2C. Simon Peter, who certainly spent enough time with the Lord Jesus Christ to know who He was, saw the Lord Jesus Christ risen from the dead.

2B. "Then Of The Twelve"

1C. This refers to the apostles of Jesus Christ. It would include both Simon Peter and Matthias, chosen to replace the deceased Judas Iscariot.

2C. Again, we have twelve men, all of whom had been with Christ from the very beginning of His ministry, who saw Him after He had risen from the dead.

3B. Third, Above 500 Brethren (6)

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1C. Want to know why there arose no opposition from skeptics to Christianís claims that Christ rose from the dead in the first century? Too many eyewitnesses.

2C. Think about it. At the time Paul wrote this, the great majority of the 500 people who all saw Christ at one time after His resurrection were still alive.

3C. And because of the persecution which arose, which we are told of in Acts chapter 8, these many witnesses were scattered throughout the Roman empire.

4C. Thus, you could hardly go to a major city in Paulís day without encountering several people who had personally seen Jesus Christ after He rose from the dead.

4B. Fourth, James saw Him, And The Apostles Again Saw Him (7)

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1C. Of course, Paul is here referring to our Lordís half brother James. Remember, Matthew 13.55 informs us that the Lord Jesus had at least four half brothers and two half sisters. How could this be? Simple. Jesus had Mary for a mother and God is His Father. His half brothers and sisters had Mary for a mother, just like He did, but Joseph was their natural father. Then, after Christ was born, Joseph and Mary had children just like any other family.

2C. Note that John 7.5 informs us that Christís brethren, and I take that to refer to His half brothers, did not believe in Him. But this was before His crucifixion.

3C. After Christ had risen from the dead He appeared to this half brother James, who then believed in the Lord and eventually became the senior pastor of the Church at Jerusalem and the author of the first New Testament book written, the epistle of James.

5B. Then, In Verses 8-10, Paul Relates To Us His Privilege And His Pardon

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

1C. His privilege, of course, was to see the Lord in all His resurrection glory on the Damascus road. Acts chapter 9 contains Lukeís record of that eventful scene.

2C. Of course, seeing this resurrected One he had so bitterly denied led directly to the salvation of this man who had been Christianityís foremost human enemy.

3C. So unusual was the timing and the circumstances surrounding Paulís salvation that he refers to it, his new birth, as a miscarriage. Thatís what "born out of due time" means. Paulís was a very premature new birth. But all new births, no matter how premature they may be, make it.

4C. And so entirely a work of God did his life become that he was a continual marvel of Godís glorious grace until his martyrdom.

6B. Finally, In Verse 11, Paul Summarizes The Objective Evidence

11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

1C. Folks, that many people simply testified about what they saw with their own eyes. The result in the Corinthianís lives when they heard such testimonies was conversion.

2C. Now, since it is not physically possible for those of us living now to have been around that long ago, to have been personal eyewitnesses, what better way is there to attest to the historical fact of the resurrection than the testimony of so many eyewitnesses?

3C. I mean, when 500 different people see something you cannot write it off as just their personal opinion that it happened. It really did happen! Objective evidence!

2A. BUT THERE IS ALSO LOGICAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. THATíS FOUND IN FIRST CORINTHIANS 15.12-19.

Letís walk through this together very slowly. Remember, there were some in the Corinthian Church who were questioning if there was a resurrection, if it were really possible. Folks, every Christian thinks thoughts like that at times in his life. So Paul deals with the situation in this way:

Letís assume there is no resurrection . . . that itís impossible for someone, anyone, to rise from the dead.

1B. Verses 12-13

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

1C. If you deny the possibility of the resurrection, that it is not possible for anyone to rise from the dead, then it could not have been possible for Christ to be raised up on the third day.

2C. Think about it. If there is no resurrection then Christ could not have risen. Right? But thereís the empty tomb to deal with.

3C. And remember, our preaching emphasizes that He rose from the dead. Itís an indispensable part of the Gospel message. But if He didnít rise from the dead . . .

2B. Verse 14

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

1C. Hey folks, if Christ has not risen from the dead then my preaching is vain, is empty. Why? Because the resurrection is an integral part of the message which I preach. If what I say about the resurrection is wrong, then what I say about everything else is wrong, as well.

2C. And that translates to your faith, also. If my preaching is vain, then your faith in the Gospel message which I preached is also vain. Why? Because one of the three legs my message stood on was the resurrection. No resurrection, and the message falls down.

3C. Paul understood all this, but he also saw the risen Savior. Amen? He knew his message had three strong legs to stand on.

3B. Verse 15

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

1C. Do you realize that if there is no resurrection, then 500 of the most honorable and reputable men and women who have ever lived are nothing more than liars?

2C. But these were men and women of such integrity and personal nobility that they sacrificed any semblance of a normal life in favor of turning the world upside down by simply telling folks what they saw.

3C. Are you willing to maintain, in order that you might support your personal conviction that there is no resurrection, that 500 of the finest people who have ever lived, who lived and espoused a manner of life that was above reproach, were cold and calculating and scheming liars and frauds?

4C. Thatís what you must believe in order to believe that there is no resurrection. You must believe that the hoax of the ages has been perpetrated on the masses by a band of hypocritical and deceitful "Christians" of the first century.

4B. Verses 16-17

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

1C. Follow Paulís reasoning. "If the dead rise not," that is, if there is no resurrection, then Christ rose not. Paul has essentially covered this before.

2C. "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain." No resurrected Christ, no Biblical Christianity. He has essentially dealt with that before.

3C. But "ye are yet in your sins." He has not covered this before. If there is no resurrection, then the sin question has not been properly dealt with. Folks, that means all of the liberal and modernist aspirations are so much nonsense, since they donít believe in the resurrection.

4C. There is no present forgiveness of sins if Christ did not rise from the dead. Why? Because, if He could not conquer death by rising on the third day, then He could not have dealt with sin by shedding His blood a ransom for many. The two go together.

5C. And if He did not rise from the dead, Who was the high priest who took the propitiating blood of the sacrifice to satisfy Godís righteous demands? There simply must be a resurrection of the Savior for sin to be properly dealt with.

5B. Verse 18

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

1C. Now, if what Paul says is true about us who are living, that our sin has not been effectively dealt with . . . what about those of us who have died? What about dead people who believed in Christ?

2C. Simple. They went to Hell. You see, thatís where you go if your sin problem isnít taking care of. No resurrection, no hope of heaven.

6B. Verse 19

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

1C. Paul sums it up here. Folks, if the only thing the Christian can count on is the blessings of this lifetime, then we are the most miserable of people . . . if there is no resurrection.

2C. This sure runs contrary to what some fellows on television are preaching, making people feel really bad if they donít have it all here and now. Amen? And it sure runs contrary to those pretend Christians who insist on staying home while obedient Christians serve God. Amen?

3C. Christianity has never been a here and now proposition, beloved. It has always been the substance of things hoped for, with a willingness on the part of genuinely converted people to live for Christ today and to delay our ultimate gratification until we get to heaven.

4C. For that reason, if all that we will get is what we have now, if there is no confidence of an afterlife that is reached through the resurrection, then we have a very bad deal. We have been taken. We have been mislead. We have been defrauded. We will be miserable.

CONCLUSION:

1. But Paul was not miserable. Amidst great personal suffering he had great and overwhelming joy. He had conquering faith.

2. What about you? Amidst great personal suffering you, too, can have great joy, for, you see, He is risen. Will you, therefore, serve God at personal cost to you and sacrifice to your family? You see, thatís the deal.

3. So, itís not the Christian, but the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic, the sluggard, the disobedient, who faces misery and a life of quiet despair and a meaningless existence this side of eternity.

4. That we can point to the resurrection of our Savior as an historical fact, and that we can look forward to our own resurrection as an anticipated future, proves the Gospel to be genuine, to be life giving, to be real.

5. So, when the doubter questions you, when the skeptic ridicules you, when the curious inquires of you, when the sluggard watches you go serve God while he sits at home, point to the resurrection of Christ as that which vindicates you, as that which justifies you in the sight of men.

6. Make the resurrection such a part of your daily life that you will greet your brothers and sisters the way our forefathers of the first century did. "He is risen. He is risen!"

7. Donít be a Sadducee. Sadducees, you might remember, were members of one of the religious sects of the Jewish population who were opposed to the Lord. Others that you might remember were Pharisees and Herodians.

8. But what set the Sadducees apart was their denial of the resurrection. Though the resurrection was taught in the Old Testament they still did not believe it would occur, or that it could occur.

9. The Sadducees, you see, were essentially the liberals and modernists of Christís day. Want to know something interesting? There is no record in the New Testament of a Sadducee coming to Christ. No record of a Sadducee getting saved.

10. No one denying the doctrine of the resurrection gets saved and goes to heaven. Think about it. Those who believe the resurrection, and who believe in the Christ Who rose from the dead, are active, obedient, and eager to serve their risen Savior.

11. I hope you will serve the risen Savior next Saturday night. What should I do? Just show up wearing casual skirts, ladies, and casual dress, men, and it will be shown to you what to do. Itís not rocket science, itís Christianity in action.

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