“Many Convincing Proofs”

Is it just wishful thinking—the belief that Jesus did indeed rise bodily from the dead?

Or is there good, solid evidence for it?

Luke says of the apostles, “To these He presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days . . .” (Acts 1:3).

Among the proofs were these:

  1. He suddenly appeared to them behind closed doors (John 20:19).
  2. His showed them the scars of His crucifixion (Luke 24:36-40; John 20:20).
  3. He invited them to touch Him (Luke 24:39; John 20:24-29).
  4. He ate in their presence to prove He was no apparition (Luke 24:36-38, 41-43).
  5. He enabled Peter and his companions to net a huge catch of fish, which no doubt reminded them of a similar miracle during His ministry (John 21:1-11; Luke 5:4-11).
  6. He predicted they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days, which happened just as He said (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).
  7. Finally, they watched in awe as He ascended out of their sight into heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11).

What changed their minds

Jesus made these appearances not only in Jerusalem but also in Galilee where He had told them to meet Him (Matthew 28:10, 16-17).

One more thing: The apostles were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. When others told them they had seen the risen Lord, they didn’t believe it (Mark 16:9-14; John 20:24-25).

It was the “many convincing proofs” that made true believers of them.

Seeing Him changed everything.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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How Would You Answer?

Yesterday a friend asked how I would respond if someone said he did not believe that the Bible is inspired.

This is what I told him:

If the person is open to the truth, I would first prove that Jesus rose from the dead.

“Nothing is more crucial in the field of Christian evidences than the question of the divinity of Christ. Nothing is more crucial in establishing the divinity of Christ than His resurrection from the dead” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, I Believe Because . . ., p. 223).

“If our Lord said frequently . . . that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then . . . everything else our Lord ever said must also be true” (Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore, Stand, p. 419).

His resurrection validates all He claimed to be. It also validates all He said.

Jesus taught that the Scriptures are indeed God’s word and therefore authoritative, including the message of the apostles (Matthew 4:1-11; 10:1-4, 18-20; 15:3-9; John 10:35; 14-25-26; 16:12-23; 17:17).

H. C. G. Moule said it well: “Jesus Christ absolutely trusted the Bible, and though there are in it things inexplicable and intricate that have puzzled me much, I am going to trust the Book, not in a blind sense, but reverently, because of him” (quoted in Handley Carr Glynn Moule, Bishop of Durham: A Biography by J. B. Harford and F. C. MacDonald, p. 138).

It’s only logical.

Everything hinges on His resurrection.

If He did not rise, then we can dismiss Him as a deluded religious fanatic at best, or at worst a deliberate fraud.

In either case, we could not say, as so many do, that He was a good man or a great teacher, but not the Son of God.

But if He did rise, then our only logical recourse is to admit He truly is God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

And then take the next step: submitting to Him as our Savior and Lord.

It only makes sense.

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What if Jesus Were Not Raised?

The big claim of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion.

That’s a pretty tall claim! Can it be supported? Disproved?

First Corinthians 15 is called the Resurrection Chapter. Paul wrote it to counter the teaching of some who asserted there is no such thing as resurrection (v. 12).

How does Paul prove his case?

He cites a half dozen instances of Jesus’ appearances following His resurrection, including one to more than 500 eyewitnesses at one time!

Paul’s list can be supplemented with additional resurrection appearances recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John at the end of their respective Gospel accounts.

Then Paul does something very interesting. He says, “What if . . .?”

If Jesus had not been raised . . . .

  • The apostles’ preaching would be in vain (v. 14).
  • That would make the apostles false witnesses (v. 15).
  • The faith of Christians would be of no benefit to them (vv. 14, 17).
  • Christians are not forgiven of their sins as they thought they were (v. 17).
  • Christians who have died are lost (v. 18).
  • Christians would be objects of pity, since their hope is groundless (v. 19).

And so . . . .

If Jesus’ resurrection is removed from the Christian faith, the whole thing collapses in a heap!

But if Jesus did indeed emerge alive from the tomb, His resurrection supports and validates the entire Christian faith.

Believe it!

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In Spite of Their Best Efforts

“The best-laid schemes . . . .”

Soon after Jesus died, the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to secure the tomb so His disciples could not steal His body and then proclaim He had risen from the dead.

“You have a guard;” Pilate said, “make it as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:65).

So they did.

Even so, on Sunday morning the stone covering the entrance was rolled back, and the tomb was empty.

The authorities then bribed the soldiers to say the disciples had stolen the body while they slept. Really?!

What really happened

Early Sunday morning there was a major earthquake. An angel whose “appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow” rolled back the stone.

“The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4).

So what are we to make of all this?

Human efforts are no match for God. That Jesus would rise had been prophesied a thousand years before (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-31; 13:35-37).

Jesus Himself had repeatedly said He would rise (Matthew 16:21; 17:9; 20:18-19; 26:32; John 2:19).

Nothing could prevent it. Nothing!

Aren’t you glad?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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What Jesus Saw and What He Did About It

Jesus came inspecting

The place that was supposed to be dedicated to God was being badly abused.

So Jesus took decisive action. “And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things  away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business’” (John 2:14-18).

Obviously, this was not well received by those most affected, and yet as God’s official Representative on earth He had every right to do what He did.

They were wrong; He was right. He always is.

Jesus still comes inspecting!

The physical temple in Jerusalem no longer stands. It served its purpose. But another temple, much more glorious, is His church (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Jesus is its cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22). He is its Founder (Matthew 16:18). He is its Head (Colossians 1:18). He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28).

Does He then not have every right to say what His church should be?

If the Jerusalem temple did not pass inspection, what of the church today?

In the last book of the New Testament Jesus has words for seven congregations in the Roman province of Asia. He was very pleased with a couple of them but highly displeased with others. He commands several of them to repent (Revelation 2-3).

This is what Restoration means—making the needed changes Christ requires. He tells several of these churches specific things they must do to get their spiritual house in order. He even threatens two of them with total removal.

Sobering!

After Jesus cleansed the temple, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me’” (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9).

Does zeal for God’s house consume us?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Jesus Knows How It Feels

He came into the world to suffer. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, temptation, poverty, the agonies of death at its worst.

Slandered by His enemies, rejected by those He came to bless, and mocked even as He was paying the ultimate price for their redemption and ours: His blood.

“. . . He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest . . . . For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).

“Once He came,” wrote Fulton Sheen, “then never again could they say, ‘He does not know what it is like to suffer’” (Life is Worth Living, 209).

For the Christian, here’s one of the most comforting promises in Scripture: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Shouldn’t that be sufficient to lift our spirits on a dark day?

He suffered. He understands. He cares!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Point of Reference

Aim

My dad loved sailing—never a big expenditure, but definitely a great stress-reliever for him.

On at least one occasion he handed me the tiller and told me to steer toward a certain landmark on the shore.

That worked well as long as I kept my eye on the reference point. Otherwise, drift was inevitable.

Objective

In life, everyone has an ultimate aim. What’s ours? Why have we chosen it? Does it correspond with our purpose for existence? Is our life’s goal what God would choose for us?

The apostle Paul was one of the most focused people who ever lived. What was his reference point?

In his own words, it was “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . . that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead . . . . reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-14).

A friend and I were studying this passage together, and I asked him to sum up in just one word what Paul says here. He looked at it again, then answered, “Christ.”

Goal

In the verses that follow Paul commends his goal to others, but then adds, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . (vv. 18-20).

For over 30 years, from Paul’s conversion to his execution, Christ was his everything!

Is He ours?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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