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The Case For the Resurrection

 


"Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, "You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day."
 
Good Morning my beloved,
 
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are so grateful that the Lord lead you join us today.  
 
For more than 2000 years, there have been a lot of people who have tried to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and they’ve come up with quite a few theories to try and disprove it. After all, if there is no resurrection, then there is no salvation, no Christianity. If there is no Christianity, then there is no God of the Bible. And, if there is no God of the Bible, then there is no judgment for sin, and that’s what people really want to get rid of. Sin and judgement have become so unpopular in our culture, that even in many churches there is an ongoing effort to avoid preaching on the subject of sin, as if God would never even contemplate condemning anyone that professes to be a Christian for anything. The idea of teaching people that all you have to do to is pray this little prayer to be a Christian gives them a false sense of salvation. Tragically, the result is that you have people in the church today who think they’re free behave themselves anyway they want. 
 
However, in Matthew 5, Jesus Himself taught that not only will someone be condemned for their sinful behavior, but also their sinful thoughts, whether they act on them or not. "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Since most of Jesus’ ministry occurred among the Jews, who shared much of the same Old Testament beliefs about sexually immoral behavior, there was little reason for Him to speak about homosexuality or transgenderism and other condemned sexually immoral conduct. He did however harshly condemn their liberal sexually immoral views on lust, adultery, fornication and divorce.
 
The clear evidence that someone is a Christian is a transformed life, that is motivated to obey what the Lord has commanded them. In Matthew 7:24, Jesus said "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock." And, in verse 26, He said " Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." 

Two examples of a transformed life that immediately come to my mind is the Apostle Matthew's encounter with Jesus in Matthew 9, and the Apostle Paul's encounter with the risen Christ in Acts 9, both completely turned away from their former sinful lives to follow Jesus.
 
In James 1:22, James said "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." They go to church thinking they are worshiping God and, they're not, they're worshiping Satan. In Matthew 24, Jesus warned "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many."
 
Therefore, it is entirely possible to be convinced you're saved yet be self-deceived about your relationship with Christ. Scripture is clear, many who thought they knew Christ will one day stand before Him and hear Him say "‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’" They are self-deceived, because they do not act upon the Word of God. You're not a Christian because you profess to be; you're a Christian when you love Christ more than your sin! 
 
I believe that the modern church desperately needs to learn the truth about what God's Word says about sin. I thank God for opening my eyes and the eyes of countless others to the Truth of His Word, after living my life my own way, while superficially following Christ. God will never force you to do anything, He will invite you come to Him..
 
Let us pray
 
Heavenly Father,

Father, as always we thank You for Your Word, thank You the irrefutable evidence authenticating Christ's resurrection. How we thank You for Your Son the Savior, the cornerstone of our faith. Lord, I pray that You will touch the hearts of every person receiving this message, that they will come know Christ as their Lord and Savior, and give life to those who are spiritually dead, that they would live forever in the glory of Your presence. May You do a saving work in many hearts even now, all for Your glory and for Christ's sake. 
In His Name we ask and pray
Amen 

Today's Message: The Case of the Resurrection

There are a number of religions out there that reject the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For example, Muslims reject the resurrection. Now if you reject resurrection, then obviously, you’ve got to come up with another theory, and believe me, there are many of them. One of them is called the swoon theory, which was introduced sixteen hundred years after the resurrection. It says that Christ never really died on the cross; He only appeared visibly to be dead. He just passed out from shock and was put in the tomb, but then the aroma of the spices and the coolness of the tomb revived Him, and He came to. He then walked out and met the disciples, they assumed that He rose from the dead. It certainly took somebody a long time to think that up. however, it’s not a very well thought out theory, because the Roman soldiers who participated in thousands of crucifixions, were proficient when it came to crucifixion, so I'm sure they knew when someone was dead. In fact, that's why they thrust a spear into His side, to make sure He was dead.
 
If Jesus did successfully survive the scourging, and survive the crucifixion, and a spear thrust into His side, and the entombment with eighty pounds of spices wrapped in cloth around His body. Then, He would’ve then had to have survived having lost most of His blood for 3 days without food or water,  without any medical assistance, unwrapped Himself, rolled the stone away, overpowered the Roman guards placed outside the tomb, and then walked 7 miles to Emmaus on feet that had been pierced with nails. Since that theory won't work, then you have to come up with another one. Which the theft theory, in which the disciples, who never really understood or believed He’d rise from the dead anyway, overcame the Roman guards, rolled away the stone, and stole His body. Then, the disciples and all five hundred people who wanted Him to be resurrected so badly must've hallucinated that He was alive. 

Others say that the body of Jesus wasn’t actually buried in the tomb, that the Jews took it and threw it into a pit along with the criminals, and that when everybody came to the tomb on the third day, it was empty because He never was put there in the first place. But if that’s the case then I wonder why they even bothered to seal the tomb, and posting the Roman guards at it? And,  if that’s true, then the Jews could’ve easily went to the pit where they threw the body and pulled Jesus' body out, when the disciples began speaking of the resurrection, the Jewish leaders could’ve said, "Oh look, here's His body! See, He's not alive is He?" But they didn’t. 
 
The Passover plot theory claims that it was a case of mistaken identity, that somebody was impersonating the resurrected Jesus. Well, that’s even more astonishing, that someone would have crucified Himself, rammed a spear into His side and thorns into His brow, and that’s a rather high price to pay for impersonation, because when He appeared to Thomas, He said, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."
There are many other conjured up theories out there, and they're all just as ridiculous but we need to move on. Someone needs to say this plainly; There's only one obvious truth, the proven resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why do people concoct such bizarre theories? All throughout history there are those who will not accept the resurrection, because their finite human minds can’t handle it, so they attempt to deconstruct Christianity.
 
Open your Bibles with me to the Gospel of Matthew chapter twenty-eight, verses eleven through fifteen. Matthew 28:11-15. I invite you to follow along with me as I read them to set the text in our minds. Let's open our hearts and our minds to see what the Spirit of God has to say us today.  
 
"Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, "You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day."
 
Let's look at verse 11, "Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened." So, while the women were still trying to find the disciples to tell them, some of the Roman guards were also going to tell the chief priests what had happened. Which means that the first people to hear the truth about the resurrection were the Jewish religious leaders. And, of course you expect them to say, "Whoa! The resurrection is real. Jesus really is who He said He was," right? No, the very thing that they tried to prevent from happening had happened. Remember, the Pharisees and chief priests had gathered together with Pilate and told him that they were afraid that the disciples would do just that, and that’s why he ordered the Roman soldiers to prevent this from happening. They have to do something to make sure that this doesn't get out, it has to be denied. The problem is, it really can’t be denied, that's why they didn't question it.

In Luke 16, Jesus said to the rich man, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’" It's interesting that one Friday, they said "Come down from the cross, and we will believe. Show us a sufficient miracle, and we will follow you." And when He did, all they did was refuse to believe their Messiah has risen from the dead, without even investigating it. They didn't want a sign, they didn't care whether it was true or not, they just wanted rid of Him.

 
None of His enemies would have stolen the body, to give illusion that He actually had risen from the dead. The Romans wouldn’t have stolen the body, they weren't even interested in Jesus claims. They thought the whole idea of Jesus being a king was a joke. Maybe the Roman soldiers did it as a joke, to irritate the Jewish leaders? That's why they didn't go to Pilate, their commander who was in charge. No, because the Roman soldiers were afraid for their life, they knew the penalty was death if the body was gone under their watch. It had to be the disciples, that's the only possibility left. The begs the question, why would they steal the body, and go out and preach about the resurrection, only to die as martyrs for a lie?
 
Satan had tried to get rid of Jesus since He was first born, convincing Herod to commit the mass murder of all the male children under 2 years old in the Bethlehem area. The Jews had been trying to get rid of Jesus since He first arrived on the scene. They used bribery to to pay off Judas the betrayer, with thirty pieces of silver to put Him in a position to be captured. They bribed false witnesses to testify to lies about Him. They blackmailed Pilate to get Him executed. Now, they’re going to use bribery to silence the Roman soldiers.
 
Verse 12, "And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers." They assembled with the Sanhedrin, the official supreme court of Israel, and they consulted together, which a formal way of saying they discussed the idea of bribing the soldiers to lie. Then, they voted and passed the resolution, and "they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers." The word, "arguria," is the word for silver, Matthew tells us "they paid a large sum," so it cost more than thirty pieces of silver to pay these guy off, there must be a dozen or more of them. There’s no telling who else they paid off, they were quite good at buying people. Deception comes at a cost, and they were willing to pay the price.
 
Verse 13, "And said, "You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’" First they bride the Roman soldiers, then they instruct them to lie. In other words, they essentially paid these Romans a large sum of money for them to become Jewish evangelists to spread one of their ridiculous concocted lies about the resurrection of Jesus. These self-indulgent soldiers knew that this doesn’t make any sense, but they were afraid of the dire consequences if Pilate found out the tomb was empty and they'd lost the body, they'd be killed, so they were willing to take the money, and say whatever they wanted them to say. The problem with that logic is if they were asleep, how would they know who had stolen the body? Their lies were just like the tomb, empty!
 
Verse 14, "And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." So they said "Tell everyone that His disciples came and stole the body, and don’t worry about Pilate, we’ll tell him that you did a good job and we’ll cover for you so you don’t get into trouble." They were quite good at manipulating Pilate, persuading him to do what they wanted weren't they, after all they did it to have Jesus crucified, convincing Pilate violate his own conscience even though he knew Jesus was innocent. They did it by reporting every wrong he had ever to Rome and constantly threatened him they'd do it again. That's the way it it is with false religion, it finds a way to flourish in the world.
 
That brings us to verse 15, "And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day." Even the Roman soldiers who were there, who knew the truth, violated their own consciences in spite of the physical evidence and succumbed to the Jews’ for a price. Their devious plot of deception was now complete, Matthew tells us the lie was spread not only in the days of the New Testament church, but even well beyond. The same disciples, who fled from the garden and left Jesus alone, who did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead, were so convinced of it's reality, they had the faith to boldly proclaim the Truth of the resurrection even to the very people that made up the lie. And they continued to do so, filling Jerusalem with this teaching and thousands upon thousands of people came to believe! In fact, they were so convinced that He was alive, they were willing to die for the Truth.
 
Justin Martyr, the second century Christian apologist, in that debate with a Jewish apologist named Tryphon, said "You Jews selected men and sent them into all the world, proclaiming that a certain atheistic and lawless sect had arisen from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified. But His disciples stole Him by night from the tomb, and deceived men by saying that He has risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven." 
 
In Closing..
 
God, in His goodness, has provided you with overwhelming evidence of the reality of the resurrection. There are the eyewitnesses, the women, the 12 Roman soldiers, the eleven disciples and the more than 500 of His disciples, who saw Him at one time. They all knew first hand that something supernatural had happened.
 
 But, if you're looking for more proof of the resurrection, look no further than the lie that proves the reality of the resurrection. It's been said, the evidence from enemies is much more powerful than evidence from friends. If you still don't believe, it's not that you don't have enough evidence. Even a miracle won't persuade some people to believe. Your problem is not an intellectual issue, it's the same as the religious leaders in Jesus' day, a moral one, you're not willing to have Jesus Christ rule over you. Understand this, if you die as you are, you will go to hell and be separated from the God forever. 

I beg you to consider all the evidence with an open heart and an open mind and receive Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life and the Savior of your soul. He's the Only One Who can save you.
 
May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
Amen
 
 
 
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