“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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Taking a Closer Look at the Rapture

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The bumper sticker read, “Get Right or Get Left.” In the upper left-hand corner of the sticker was a Bible reference: 1 Thessalonians 4:17. This passage says, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

A popular teaching

According to the premillennial doctrine of the Rapture, Christ will first come only for His own. The righteous dead will be raised and they, along with the righteous living, will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. The Latin translation of “caught up” in this passage is rapiemur, and it is from this word that the term Rapture comes.

Many believe that when Christ comes, those who are unprepared will be left wondering what happened to all those who suddenly vanished into thin air! In other words, the bumper sticker means: Get right with God, or you will miss the Rapture and be left here on earth.

What the Bible says

“Get Right or Get Left” may be clever, but it is scriptural? Certainly Jesus is coming to claim His own, but on that same occasion He will deal with the unrighteous. All the dead will be raised on the same day (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15).

It’s been rightly observed that the same expression “in [or at] the last day” is used of both the resurrection of the righteous and the judgment of those who reject Christ (John 6:39-40; 12:48).

Some passages discuss the destiny of both the wicked and the righteous (e.g., Matthew 25:31-46), while other passages deal with only the one or the other. The text referred to on the bumper sticker focuses only on the blessedness of the righteous at Christ’s coming. Writing to the same church, Paul discusses the destiny of the wicked, as well as the righteous (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

The Rapture has captured the interest of millions, especially as it is portrayed in highly dramatic novels and movies.

Let’s make sure what we believe about His coming is really what His word actually says.

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

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The Whole Story

On the road to Emmaus

The two disciples didn’t recognize the stranger who joined them on their journey (Luke 24:13-16; Mark 16:12).

They sadly informed him about the crucifixion and the empty tomb.

They told him about the women who said angels had announced His resurrection.

And yet the two disciples couldn’t bring themselves to believe it.

They spoke of Jesus as one “who was a prophet mighty in deed and word . . . . But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (vv. 19, 21—emphasis added).

In their minds Jesus was dead.

Their “Aha!” moment

When they finally recognized the stranger as Jesus, their sadness was dispelled by joy, their despair by hope.

Now they had good news to share!

His resurrection gives meaning to everything.

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

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What Does Jesus’ Resurrection Prove?

1) It proves His identity.

Jesus was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…” (Romans 1:4).

2) It proves His integrity.

Jesus repeatedly predicted His resurrection (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32). If He had not been risen, could He be trusted?

3) It proves the validity of Old Testament prophecy.

Centuries beforehand, God predicted through the prophets He would raise Jesus (Psalm 16:10; Luke 24:44-46).

4) It proves the certainty of the coming Judgment.

God “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31, emphasis added).

God said He would raise Jesus, then He did.

So when God says Jesus will judge the world, shouldn’t we believe it—and prepare?

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

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