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The Resurrection really did happen

1 Corinthians 15v1-11

I wanna start this morning by giving you a question to discuss in pairs. Turn to

the person sitting next to you and I want you to answer this question: If you

had to summarize the gospel message in one sms, what would you say? I know

we’ve moved on from sms’s nowadays. We use whatsapp. But remember

sms’s. Long in the distant past. Remember how you really had to summarize

what you wanted to say to get it all into what message. Imagine you had to do

that with the gospel. Discuss with person next to you. Uv only got one sms.

What is the gospel?

Okay you can bring your discussions to a close and what I want you to see this

morning is that Paul gives us a summary of the gospel. Look at 1 Corinthians

chapter 15 verse 1. “Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I

preached to you.” Paul wants to remind them of the gospel. And he’s only

gona include the most important stuff. Look at verse 3. “For what I received I

passed on to you as of first importance”. So this is the gospel message. And its

only the most important parts.

And so what is it? Verse 3. Compare this with what you had as your gospel

summary. Verse 3 – “For what I received I passed on to you as of first

importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He

was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve.”

That’s Paul’s gospel message. And you mustn’t think its only Paul’s summary of

the gospel. As if different apostles had different gospels. No Look down at

verse 11. This is the same gospel message that all the apostles were preaching.

Verse 11.

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Whether, then, it was I or they (meaning the other apostles), this is what we

preach, and this is what you believed.”

And so this is the heart of the gospel message.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried. He was

raised on the third day. He appeared.

And I hope you realize how important this message is.

Maybe you sitting here thinking: who cares! Who cares what the message of

the gospel is? Well I wanna tell you. There’s no message as important as this.

This is far more important than the latest sports news.

Or the latest celebrity gossip

Or what’s happening in parliament.

And you can see why its so important if you look at verse 2. In your passage.

Verse 2.

“By this gospel you are saved.”

You see, this is a message that can save you. And in case you haven’t realized

it. We all need to be saved. Because of our sin, we deserve God’s judgment.

In our Bible studies this last week we read these words:

“God will punish those who do not know Him and do not obey the gospel of

our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out

from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power.”

That’s what we all deserve. Shut out from God’s presence. Everlasting

destruction. But here’s a message that can save us.

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It can take us out of our sin. It can take us out of God’s judgment. And it can

make us His friends. So this is the most important message.

But maybe you thinking: I’ve already been saved. Iv heard the gospel. Iv

received it. Why do I need to keep hearing it again and again?

Can’t I move on?

Well I wanna say to you: even for you. This is the most important message. You

do need to keep hearing it again and again. And you can see why in verse 2. Its

not just so you can share the gospel with other people.

Look at verse 2. Why do you need to keep hearing the gospel?

Verse 2 - “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I

preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

You see, there’s a great danger that you might have believed the gospel and

received it in the past. Once upon a time. But slowly uv drifted away from it.

Uv stopped holding on firmly. You’ve loosened your grip on it. It’s become

fuzzy in your mind. And then Paul says. If you move away from the gospel.

Then you have believed in vain. All your years of apparent faith. And apparent

service to God. Its all been for nothing. If you move away from this gospel.

This gospel is crucial. For those who are not yet saved. And also for those who

are already saved

And so I want us to look at verse 3 again. This summary of the gospel. I want

you to notice four key historical events.

Verse 3. Christ died.

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Verse 4. He was buried.

Verse 4 again He was raised.

Verse 5. He appeared.

Christ Died. He was Buried. He was Raised. He Appeared.

Those are the four key historical events.

And so I wonder how does that compare with your summary of the gospel? the

one you shared just now.

I guess many of you did refer to the death of Jesus. Christ died for our sins.

There’s no gospel message without Jesus’ death on the cross.

And I guess, since this is resurrection Sunday many of you also mightv referred

to the resurrection.

That’s crucial!

You see If Jesus stayed dead, then there’s no hope. Then death is still ruling. It

hasn’t been defeated. The resurrection of Jesus is the great sign. God has

accepted His sacrifice. The punishment for sin’s been paid. Death has been

defeated. It’s a crucial part of the gospel.

But I doubt many of us referred to the other two historical events in these

verses. Not only did Jesus die. He also was buried. Not only did Jesus rise. He

also appeared to many people.

And so here’s the question: why does Paul include those events? In this short

summary of what’s at the heart of the gospel? Why does he feel its necessary

to include the burial and the appearances of Jesus?

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I mean how many of us speak about those events when we share the gospel

with people?

Why does Paul include them?

(Slow)

And the simple answer is because they support the historical reliability of this

message.

You see, the Christian gospel is an historical message.

And by the way, this is what that makes Christianity different from many other

religions. Many other religions are just philosophical ideas or bodies of

teaching. You think of Buddhism and Hinduism and even Islam. They not tied

to specific events in history. They can still stand even if you remove historical

events. They based on philosophical ideas and laws and teachings

But Christianity is different. At the heart of the Christian message are historical

events. And if they didn’t really happen, then there is no Christian gospel. It all

falls apart.

And so that’s why Paul includes the burial and the appearances of Jesus.

Its because of what they prove.

What does the burial prove? that Jesus really did die. What do the

appearances prove? that Jesus really did rise.

And so maybe this challenges your understanding of Christianity. Maybe you

thought of Christianity just as a body of teaching. Or as a way of life. Or as an

emotional experience. Have you understood the historical nature of the

Christian faith?

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And to help you test yourself. Let me ask you the following question:

Imagine you watching National Geographic on TV. And they doing a

documentary on the resurrection of Jesus. And in this documentary it comes

out that geologists have managed to find Jesus’ tomb. And in this tomb they’v

found a skeleton. And theyv been able to prove that this tomb really is Jesus’

tomb. And this skeleton really is Jesus’ skeleton. And so clearly Jesus’ body is

still in the tomb. He hasn’t rise from the dead. The resurrection story is a lie.

Now obviously we don’t believe everything we see on National Geographic.

But just imagine. Imagine somehow they were able to prove this. Jesus body is

still in the tomb. what would that do to your Christian faith?

Well apparently this question was asked to an Anglican Bishop. A leader in the

Anglican church. They asked him: Imagine we could prove that Jesus didn’t

really rise from the dead. What would that do to your faith? Would it shake

your faith?

And this is what he said: “No, it wouldn’t shake my faith at all.” I’d continue to

have faith. Because Jesus has risen in my heart.”

It wouldn’t shake my faith because Jesus has risen in my heart.

Now I wanna tell you that that answer might sound very spiritual.

But actually it’s a very bad answer. It’s a wrong understanding of faith. Its very

different from how Paul speaks about faith in the Bible.

Just jump ahead in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 14. This is

what Paul says will happen to our faith if Jesus didn’t really rise. Verse 14 if

Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith.” Look

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down at verse 17. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still

in your sins.”

If something’s futile, it means that its empty. Its useless.

And so dyou see, if the resurrection of Jesus didn’t really take place, then its

crazy to be a Christian. Faith has no value if what ur having faith in, isn’t really

true.

And this is important for us to remember, because some people speak as if its

their great faith that saves them. As if Christianity is all about closing your eyes

and taking a blind leap of faith. Crazy faith. But we need to remember that

faith is only valuable, if what ur putting ur faith in is trustworthy.

And so there’s a song we sometimes sing called Alive, Alive, Alive forevermore.

And in that song there’s a line that goes like this:

You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

And I love this song. Its one of the first songs my parents taught me as a child.

But I think that’s a very weak line. Our basis for believing that Jesus is risen is

much more than just a subjective feeling. Its more than just a warm fuzzy

feeling in our hearts. Our faith is based on historical events.

And so for the rest of our time this morning, I want us to examine the

evidence. I want us to look at three common objections that are sometimes

raised against the resurrection. And I want us to see three pieces of evidence

that answer those objections.

And I don’t want you to fall asleep. Like you used to fall asleep during your

history classes at school. We might be looking at history. But remember this is

more than just history. This is part of the gospel by which we get saved.

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And so maybe ur sitting here this morning and uv never thought about the

evidence for the resurrection. Maybe u believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

But uv never examined the evidence why its true.

Well that’s a dangerous position to be in. Maybe oneday someone’s gona

challenge you about the resurrection and give you reasons why it didnt

happen. And if ur not prepared, then that’s gona raise doubts in your mind.

And your firm grip on the gospel might be loosened. And you might drift away

from salvation. So please listen carefully. Three objections. And three answers

from this passage.

The first objection is often referred to as the swoon theory.

Its one of the weaker arguments that people use. they say that Jesus didn’t

actually die. He was only unconscious on the cross. And so three days later,

Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead. He was simply resuscitated.

That’s the first objection. The swoon theory. And we’ve already noticed the

evidence against that objection. It’s the fact that Jesus was buried.

When I was still working at Word of Life, we had a student in our church who

was studying medicine and during the holidays, she got a job at the hospital.

And it wasn’t a very nice job. Her job was basically to check all the bodies of

people who had died in the hospital to make sure they really were dead. Only

then could they be sent away to be buried. And so it’s a bit of a creepy job.

Imagine checking all the bodies. And there’s a slight chance that one of them

might suddenly open their eyes. Its creepy. But its important. We need people

who do that. You don’t wanna bury someone who’s still alive.

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And it was the same in the time of Jesus. There was a strict process that

needed to be followed before someone could be buried. And so the bible tells

us that before they could take Jesus off the cross to bury him, people had to go

and make sure that He’d really had died. And they even stuck a spear into His

side to make sure. And when they did that water came out. His blood and his

water had separated. It showed that His heart had stopped beating. It wasn’t

being pumped to every part of his body. And so it proved that he really was

dead. And only then could they take Him off the cross and bury Him.

And so you mustn’t think this was a simple thing to be buried. There was a process that had to be followed. And in fact there's not one example in the history of crucifixion of a single survivor. Crucifixion had a 100 percent success rate.

And so we can be sure: Jesus really did die!

The evidence is that He was buried.

The second objection that people sometimes use is that the disciples were

hallucinating.

Yes they claim to see Jesus alive. But that was just a product of their own

imagination. He wasn’t really there.

And its true. hallucinations are more common if there’s something that you

really want to see. And so these disciples really were upset that Jesus had died.

And they badly wanted to see him alive again. And so maybe that affected

their minds. They began to hallucinate. They really believed that they saw

Jesus. But it was just their own desires and their own imaginations.

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They were hallucinating.

But once again, Paul gives us evidence that this argument cannot stand. Look

at verse 6. When Jesus appeared, He didn’t just appear to isolated individuals.

He also appeared to large groups of people at the same time. Verse 6. “After

that He appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time. Some of

whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

You need to understand: when someone hallucinates it doesn’t come from

outside of that person. It comes from the inside: their own feelings, their own

heart, their own mind. That’s what produces the hallucination that they see.

And so its almost impossible for two different people,

with different feelings,

different emotions,

different thoughts

to have exactly the same hallucination at the same time. Because whats inside

each of them will always be slightly different. Whats going on inside two

different people will never be exactly the same.

And so can you imagine how impossible it is for 500 normal people… to all of a

sudden become affected in their minds… and then at the same time for all of

them to have exactly the same hallucination?

Its impossible.

And Paul wants people to be able to go and check it out for themselves. And so

he tells his readers. Most of these people are still living. Some of them have

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died. But most of them are still alive. You can go and speak to these people.

They all saw the same thing at the same time.

And then the final objection is that Jesus’ disciples stole his body. And this is

the oldest and most common objection. It goes all the way back to the time of

Jesus. Matthew chapter 28 verse 12. It should be up on the screen. The soldiers

have just discovered that Jesus’ tomb is empty. And so they go off to tell the

chief priests. And this is how the chief priests respond. Verse 12

“When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave

a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, “His disciples came at

night and stole Him away while we slept.” And if this comes to the governors

ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and

did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the

Jews until this day.”

You see this is the oldest objection: The disciples came and stole Jesus’ body.

But once again Paul gives us evidence against this. The answer to this objection

is the transformation of the disciples.

Did you notice, Paul mentions three individuals to whom Jesus appeared. If

you can look down.

In verse 5 He appeared to Peter

In verse 7 He appeared to James

And In verse 8 last of all He appeared to me. That’s Paul.

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And I think the reason why he mentions these three people is because of the

massive transformation that took place in their lives. Each of these individuals

were completely transformed.

Remember Peter.

Remember what he was like before Jesus rose. a coward. denying Jesus three

times.

Then suddenly he becomes so courageous. He preaches publicly that Jesus is

risen. Hes willing to be rejected. And beaten. And killed.

Its not in the Bible, but there’s historical evidence that Peter eventually gets

crucified for following Jesus. But as they lead him out to crucify him, he doesn’t

feel worthy to be killed in the same way as Jesus. And so he asks them to

crucify him upside down.

What a transformation! From the coward who denies Jesus into someone

willing to be crucified upside down.

Then in verse 7 we get James. And this James was one of Jesus’ brothers. More

importantly, he was an unbeliever. John chapter 7 verse 5 tells us that Jesus’

brothers didn’t believe in him. They were critical of him. But then after the

resurrection, suddenly James comes to believe. And he becomes a leader in

the church. eventually he even writes one of the books of the Bible. The book

of James. And at the beginning of that book, he refers to himself as a slave of

Jesus. And if you know anything about brothers, it’s not easy to call yourself ur

brother’s slave. We normally too competitive. But that’s what James does.

Transformed from an unbeliever brother into Jesus’ slave.

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And then thirdly in verse 8, Paul describes himself. And this is probably the

greatest transformation.

Look at verse 9. “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to

be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace

of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I

worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with

me.”

You see, the whole direction of Paul’s life gets changed. From persecuting the

church. He suddenly he becomes one of the apostles in the church. And in fact,

he even works harder than all the other apostles for the sake of the gospel.

And again, we don’t see it in the Bible, but there’s strong historical evidence

that Paul is eventually beheaded for preaching about Jesus.

And so these are 3 individuals that Paul mentions.

Before the resurrection they full of doubts and unbelief. After the resurrection

they full of confidence. Even willing to die for their message.

And so how can we explain this transformation? What’s the most reasonable

explanation?

Surely its like Paul says: Jesus really did appear to them.

And so coming back to our objection: did Jesus’ disciples steal His body? Well

let me ask you: If you knew deep in your heart that you’d stolen His body. If

you knew that he wasn’t really alive. Would you really be willing to die for

something you knew was a lie?

You see, this is very different from the muslim terrorists who blow themselves

up. They really believe their message is true. But if these disciples stole Jesus

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body then they knew deep down it was a lie. Surely they wouldn’t have been

willing to die.

(Pause)

And so Jesus really did appear to people. And these people weren’t

hallucinating. He appeared to large groups of people at the same time. And

their lives were completely transformed. Paul doesn’t want you to believe this

just because He says it. He wants you to believe on the basis of evidence.

(Pause)

And so I hope uv all been convinced. We can keep talking about it afterwards.

But I also hope you can see this is more than just a history lesson. If we really

believe this message then it should change our lives. Right now. Just like it did

for these disciples.

I wanna close with a quote from Tim Keller. Iv used it before. But its worth

repeating.

"Why is it so hard to face suffering? Why is it so hard to face disability and disease? Why is it so hard to do the right thing if you know it's gona cost you money, reputation, maybe even your life? Why is it so hard to face your own death or the death of loved ones? Its so hard because we think this broken world is the only world we're ever going to have. It's easy to feel as if this money is the only wealth we'll ever have, as if this body is the only body we'll ever have. But if Jesus is risen, then your future is so much more beautiful and certain than that.

If you can't dance now and you long to dance, in the resurrection you'll dance perfectly. If you're lonely now, in the resurrection you'll have perfect love. If ur empty now, in the resurrection you'll be fully satisfied. Ordinary life is what's

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going to be redeemed. There's nothing better than ordinary life, except that its always going away and always falling apart. Ordinary life is food and work and chairs by the fire and hugs and dancing and mountains - its this world.

And if you know that this is not the only world, the only body, the only life you are ever going to have - that you will someday have a perfect life, a real, concrete life - who cares what people do to you? You're free from ultimate anxieties in this life, so you can be brave and take risks. You can face the worst things with joy and hope. The resurrection means we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be gone. "

Jesus is risen! Its an historical fact. And that should transform your life right

now.

Lets pray