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Introduction and Scriptural Account
The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:14, that "…if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." He continues this thought in verse 19 stating, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable." (1599 Geneva Bible)
The person and deity of Christ have been under intense scrutiny in the last few years. There was Brian Fleming’s DVD documentary, The God Who Wasn’t There, which denied that Christ ever existed. Then there was Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, presenting Christ to be a mere man who married Mary of Magdalene and had children. Most recently there was James Cameron’s book and documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which claimed the discovery of the tomb that held the remains of Jesus.
Ironically, most "enlightened" and skeptical scholars disagree with the conclusions of Brian Fleming, Dan Brown, and James Cameron. That’s because they are convinced that Christ never rose from the dead—and in their minds that’s enough to bury Christianity. If the skeptic can prove that Jesus’ life ended in the cold dark tomb, then Christianity is truly dead. The Gospel has no real power and there is no hope of eternal life. Have the skeptics been successful in proving that the resurrection is a hoax? Or, is Jesus’ triumph over the grave a confirmed fact of history?
In his book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell states:
Jesus has three basic credentials: (1) The impact of His life upon history; (2) Fulfilled prophecy in His life; and (3) His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together. A student at the University of Uruguay said to me: "Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?" I answered: "For a very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Each Friday, beginning today and ending on Good Friday, I will be presenting the Scriptural and historical support for the most important event in history—the resurrection of Christ. Together, we will analyze and refute the major arguments against the resurrection. We will also consider that, in light of all the evidence, the Resurrection is the most reasonable explanation of all of the facts.
Before I go much further, however, it is important to clarify that we believe in the Resurrection of Christ because the Bible says it happened. Facts do not interpret themselves. With the presuppositional truth of Scripture, we can look at the facts and draw rational and compelling conclusions. The inspiration and material for this 4-part series is drawn greatly from the work of Josh McDowell. Here’s the outline we will follow:
Part 1 (March 16): Introduction and Scriptural account
Part 2 (March 23): Refuting poorly constructed theories concocted to explain away the resurrection The Theft Theory (The Jews or Romans stole the body)
The Wrong Tomb Theory
The Legend Theory
Part 3 (March 30): Refuting poorly constructed theories concocted to explain away the resurrection continued… The Swoon Theory (Jesus never actually died and was simply resuscitated.)
The Hallucination Theory (The people who claimed to be witnesses of Christ’s resurrection simply had hallucinations.)
The "Contradictory Gospel Accounts" Theory
Part 4 (April 6): How the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Changed the World
As we conclude part 1, I encourage you to read the Scriptural account below from Matthew 28:1-11 (1599 Geneva Bible). See also Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21):
Now in the end of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him, the keepers were astonied, and became as dead men. But the Angel answered, and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified: He is not here, for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord was laid, And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there ye shall see him: lo, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, God save you. And they came, and took him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid. Go, and tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were gone, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the high Priests all the things that were done.