Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 2000
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 5: Confrontation with the King
Chapter 5: The Resurrection of the King
Lesson 144 – Resurrection of the King
16 Mar 2000
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Last week we finished the cross of Christ, and the death of Christ and we reviewed the atonement. Each one of these events we have linked to some basic ideas, and the diagrams in the notes, remember at the birth there was the diagram of two people coming to the announcement of the virgin birth and one accepts and one rejects; the one who accepts has a worldview that’s biblical, God, man and nature, so there’s no problem, the virgin birth fits that worldview. But the person who comes with a sort of Continuity of Being evolutionary type worldview is going to have a problem with the virgin birth.
When we dealt with the life of Christ we said that people come to the gospel narratives with one of two worldviews, either prepared to see that God does reveal Himself, the biblical God reveals Himself and therefore it’s not strange that the things that are reported in the gospel narratives in fact happened. On the other hand we have the skeptics who argue that on the basis of their worldview the reported events in the gospel narratives could never have happened; therefore there must be spin doctors of the early church that manufactured these stories about Jesus.
The third thing we came to the death of Christ and we said fundamental to understanding the cross of Christ is that we have a biblical view of justice, of holiness, of what God is like. And if that isn’t there, then the cross of Christ doesn’t have substantial meaning. It’s the death of a martyr, He died for His cause, He did something else, but whatever it is, He didn’t die for my sins. I played a section of a debate that was held somewhere in the L.A. area with three leading spokesmen, one for Christianity, one for Islam, one for Judaism. The Islamic expert argued that the idea of a man becoming God, such as reported in the birth of Christ, hypostatic union, that was just common in the pagan world and that’s just part of the stories. Of course we pointed out that the gospel story is not a man becoming God, it’s God becoming man, a totally different operation.
But the thing to remember is this is how it’s perceived by non-Christians. The gospel is impossible to communicate apart from the Holy Spirit opening hearts. You can have all the arguments you want to, and that’s not to say we shouldn’t have an argument, because obviously if we’re sloppy in the presentation of the gospel, we’re projecting a false image of the gospel too, because by having a sloppy approach that casts dispersions on the truthfulness and the validity of the gospel. We don’t want to be idiots when we witness.
There are two sections on this tape. The first section is the Rabbi, and prior to this point in the discussion the person who represents the Christian position has argued that it’s the Christian position that Jesus Christ’s atonement is necessary in order to come to know God, that you can’t know a holy God apart from the cross of Christ. It gets back to “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.” The Rabbi and the Islamic professor are responding to this. I want you to hear their reply, just so you’ll understand why in this framework series I go to all this labor of showing both sides; showing you the Christian approach, showing you how it fits the system and showing you the non-Christian and where they’re coming from. This is not something for the classroom; here you’ve got representatives of two of the largest religions in the world and listen to their approach. This is the Rabbi and he’s trying to respond to what has happened previously in the debate, and he’s getting to the point in the discussion about the law.
Obviously prior to this the Christian has pointed out that no man can keep the law, that the lesson of the law is that we’re sinners, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Law has that, that’s what the whole idea of the Torah was about. Well, the Rabbi doesn’t like that so now he’s got to come up with a Judaistic view of their own Torah. So this is how they approach the law. What I want you to do as you listen is think through what we’ve done previously when we’ve linked the death of Christ with the justice and holiness of God. What have we said? We said that if you compromise the atonement, what in effect are you doing to the attribute of God? You’re having to modify the being of God Himself if you’re going to give up the cross. You can’t play games here, it’s like a puzzle. If you move a piece here you’re going to move pieces all across the board. If you play games with the atonement and think of it as an unnecessary event, you’ve already compromised the holiness of God. What do the people of Judaism and Islam say? Let’s see if we can get this:
[debate tape—difficult to understand] … truth as we may be categorized, it doesn’t mean that we believe others want to be inadequate which is perhaps the kindest term I heard, but let me say the following: one of the reasons why we don’t accept this, and I’ll say something about Christianity and maybe say something about Islam too. The first thing has to do with the law, five minutes, the first thing has to do with the law, there’s a law right in front of me. The first is the terms regarding a central part of the Christian message, as far as I understood it today, would have read that the law itself is inadequate. Of course the law is inadequate; of course there are moral acts that are inadequate. I deal every day with people that come to me with problems of inadequacy. I deal with my own inadequacy. My love and how I demonstrate my love for my children and for my family is inadequate. On the other hand, it’s not so bad, I accomplish something, I do something, I’d rather have them be my children and I shall be their father than anyone else, and it’s worthy of value. And I believe that God considers it of value, and I get up every day trying to figure out “How can I make it better than the day before?” And I’m not so frightened of the Lord that I have to say, ah, my world deeds are so inadequate and in fact my very feeling that I have a moral deed is itself expressing some sort of pride, some sort of over-reaching hubris that I shouldn’t defend it. No I am propelled over and over again, back into the fray, because the assumption of Judaism is that the law is important because this world is important, because God’s will can be enacted in this world even if not perfectly. And we must be there to achieve the areas which I referred to.]
What he said was that he’s not so afraid of the Lord that … in other words, it’s the hope for merit, it’s the hope for meritorious acceptance with God, not on the basis of a blood atonement, but on the basis of somehow God is going to just bloodlessly forgive. That’s fundamental to the gospel and that is why Paul and the apostles had a problem with Pharisaism. What was Pharisaism? The idea that I try to live my best. This obviously, as you know from your own experience this is not limited to a Judaistic frame of reference; lots of people believe that good works are acceptable with God and that God can forgive apart from an atonement. I’m going to pick this up toward the end of the tape; this is the Muslim fellow now.
[People have to work and to strive and have faith in God. The point that Islam has no Messiah, Islam has a Messiah and that is Jesus Christ. We do talk about Jesus as Mashiach, but that is a very different interpretation of Mashiach in Islam than it is in Christianity. Mashiach, according to Islam, is not the one who bore the sins of the people and died on the cross, because there’s nobody [who has] done that. People have to work and strive and have faith in God and then God will forgive them, God will bless them, God’s grace will come upon them. There is no need to go through total process of [can’t understand word] on the cross and going through all this mechanism.]
I don’t think you could hear it, that it’s not necessary to go through this long mechanism, God just forgives on the basis of repentance alone. So there you have it. There are two learned proponents, one of Judaism, one of Islam, and they can’t have it both ways. And we’re the stick-outs because we’re the ones that sort of protrude in the religious discussion because the Jews and the Muslims both kind of agree on this point. It’s interesting, if you study the cults, like Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. you’ll find that even though they talk about the cross of Christ and they kind of use some of that atonement language, when you get more deeply into their theology you realize that it’s religion of works.
Let’s think about what we just heard. What is going on here is a compromise of the nature of God. Who is it that requires blood atonement? It’s not man. Lest somebody be tempted to say that this is just a New Testament thing, that these Christians came along and made all this blood atonement thing up to try to embellish the disaster that befell the founder of Christianity, that He got executed and so we’ve got to come up with a spin on the execution story, so we’ll invent all this blood atonement thing, it sounds good.
Where do you first encounter blood atonement in Scripture? In the Gospel of Matthew? No, back in Genesis. Right there in the garden. Later on in the discussion somebody in the audience when they have question and answers of the panel, one man astutely asked the rabbi, the Christian has mentioned that Jesus Christ died on the cross and that blood atonement is necessary and I read in my Old Testament, correct me if I’m wrong, but there were requirements for blood atonement in Israel, that there were sacrifices given in Israel, that the high priest couldn’t come into the Holy of Holies without a rope around him to pull him out in case he died in there because he didn’t offer a sacrifice correctly, is that true Rabbi. The rabbi had to admit that that was true of the old Israel, but when the Jews lost their temple then they had a new spiritual interpretation of all that Old Testament stuff, and that was that it’s a spiritual sacrifice, almost like Romans 12:1, that your dedication to God is a sacrifice of yourself and that’s what replaces the atonement in the Old Testament. But where’s the blood, where’s the death. Well, it’s a spiritual death.
My point is we’ve spent a lot of years going back over the framework, over and over again the events of Scripture, creation, the fall, the flood, the covenant, the call of Abraham, the Exodus, the giving of the Law at Sinai. Why? Because all those fit together in a grand scheme and if you see the scheme of the Scriptures as a coherent pedagogical series of lessons century upon century that God the teacher is teaching us about Himself, if you see that, then when someone like this comes along with the idea that God can forgive apart from blood atonement, it doesn’t ring true to all the earlier pedagogical lessons. The whole point in the Old Testament was atonement, that sets you up so what happens when you see the cross of Christ, when the Messiah shockingly doesn’t bring in the kingdom, shockingly is killed by Caesar and the whole movement looks like it’s going down the tube, and then suddenly people’s hearts are illuminated to the fact that wait a minute, He’s the Lamb of God, He’s the Lamb, the Lamb of God!
Where are they getting this talk about the Lamb of God business? From the Old Testament. That’s why you hear me sometimes so passionate about the fact that you can’t go reading the New Testament and be a New Testament Christian without knowing the Old Testament, because otherwise what would you do with something like this, if you were talking to somebody like this? What would you do with that if you didn’t have the Old Testament? Here’s this Jewish guy, he knows his Hebrew cold, speaks it, he’s an expert in the Old Testament, and he comes along and tells you no, it’s not a blood atonement. If you didn’t know the Old Testament what would you do now? So these are why these events are important to lock this whole thing together. There are only so many answers possible out there and as you mature in your understanding of Scripture you’ll see that there are very few answers. At first, when you’re new at this, it sounds like there are a thousand different views out there. The more you study and the more the Lord gives you insight, you really realize there are only two, salvation by works and salvation by grace. There aren’t three, four, five, different ways, there are only two, and we’re back to this again.
You’ve heard me say if you want to learn atheism go to a good one, don’t go to some half-baked baptized heathen that you run into on a Christian college campus somewhere, and I don’t mean to insult all Christian college campuses, because there’s some good ones but there are also some pretty crummy ones, some pretty compromising ones that suck money away from Christian parents that think they’re sending their sons and daughters to a great school and it turns out that they’re learning higher criticism that’s so old that the universities don’t teach it any more. When you want to learn atheism go to a secular guy and learn it; go read Niche, then you get it all out on the table. And that’s what’s so good. If you notice, the rabbi was kind of a positive thing, but the Muslim, because he wasn’t so close to Christians he just let it all hang out, you know, I don’t go through all that mechanism of dying, good night, we don’t need that, Allah forgives you if you’re repentant enough, you hope.
Now what did I add that for? What have we studied in the death of Christ about faith? Faith is assurance. Without blood atonement if we have a grasp of our sin and God’s holiness where on earth do we get the nerve to say that we’re going to stand in the presence of God? Where do we get the nerve to say that we’ll go to heaven after we die, if we really understand His holiness and our sin? Where do we get that nerve to say that? We get it from Him, that’s where. Why? Because He’s revealed to us that through the atonement of Jesus Christ He has taken care of the problem. This reaches the heart of men, because at the heart of men is guilt and shame, all of our hearts. So instead of psychologizing the gospel and making it some little Jesus-feel-good-thing, we don’t have to do that. We have to just pierce to the basic simple idea behind the gospel that Jesus Christ died for sin, He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of …” Not just some people, “takes away the sin of the world.”
That’s the core of the gospel message, so that’s why this death of Christ is important to understand and why you as a Christian must understand that you stand out as an oddball. You are a part of a lonely group of people on this planet. We are surrounded by millions who reject completely the idea of someone dying for their sins vicariously. We are surrounded by millions of people, some ignorant, some brilliant, some educated, some not, but from the man in the street to the man in the college classroom, who insist that if there is a God, He will accept me because I’ve been a good little boy or a good little girl. He’s just got to do that because that’s the fair thing to do. Now what is going on here, talk about manufactured theology, that’s manufactured theology. Where do you get that from? Did you talk to God and find out? Call Him up on His cell phone and ask Him? Have we had any revelation recently that’s change? Not at all, we go back to the revelation of the Bible, and it’s the Jewish revelation here, going back to Abraham who was supposed to be the father of Islam, and what did Abraham have to do? He almost killed his son offering a sacrifice; this is the father of Islam.
So the gospel is controversial and no matter how we … we can’t ever sugarcoat it enough to make it palatable to unbelief. That’s a lesson I’ve had to learn time and time again. No matter how positive you come across, there’s always going to be the offense of the gospel, there’s no way around it because as long as unbelief says that God is like that and He can forgive me on my great repentance, the merit of my repentance, then I don’t need the cross of Christ. And “there’s none other name given among men whereby we must be saved,” it’s Christ. So that’s the center of the death of Christ.
Now we’re going to look at the resurrection. On page 100 of the notes we’re going to start looking at some of the texts, but before we get to the text I want to go through some of these quotes. This is the fourth event in the life of Christ. There’s actually five. Next year we’ll deal with the fifth one which is His ascension and Pentecost. But tonight we’re opening up with the resurrection. If you look at the first subtitle, “The Historical Incident of the Resurrection,” you’ll see that: “No other religious leader or founder,” think about this, we just got through saying Christianity and the gospel is an odd thing in that we believe that God is so holy that we can’t self-atone, that we do not possess the meritorious assets to commend ourselves to a holy God, that we have to borrow those assets from the Lord Jesus Christ. We are alone here, Judaism, Islam and the pagans all reject that tenet of our faith, so be prepared. Now we come to another one.
“No other religious or leader or founder ever claimed to rise from the dead in an utterly new body. Moses’ body was buried and did not rise (Deuteronomy 34:5-6; cf. Jude 1:16). Buddha died as any other man, and so did Mohammed. Indeed, as Dr. Wilbur Smith says, ‘All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhists, and Mohammedans agree that their founders have never come up out of the dust of the earth in resurrection.’ ” Here again we are at another unique thing. You want to master the things that set you apart in your faith from the world around you, and understand that these are non-negotiable, these cannot be compromised away, they cannot be explained away. This is where the gospel must confront unbelief.
There are two subtitles in this section. One is the affirmation of the fact of the resurrection and on page 102 you’ll see “Affirmation of the Significance of the Resurrection.” What I’m trying to do here is try to lead us in our thinking about what is going on over this resurrection claim, so that if you do get involved in a discussion over the resurrection, you will protect your flanks over a little maneuver that’s possible. So I’m going to cover that flanking protection as we get into the second one. The first one that we’re talking about on page 100 is just the fact of the resurrection, the claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, what that claim is.
It has always been present from the earliest days of the Christian church. On page 101 I’m going to give you a quote from a liberal theologian so you understand how educated apparent Christians, because this man was a professor and (quote) “Christian thinker” (end quote), get sharp here, just because someone is a Christian clergyman doesn’t mean anything, they can use the buzz words just like you can, just like I can, and mean something totally different. There are churches right around this county that I can take you in and I guarantee, you can listen to the person preaching and you will think you’re hearing the gospel, and I can show you, if you listen to enough of the tapes they don’t believe it at all; not at all. It’s very deceitful. So I want to show you how the deceitfulness works.
Here is Richard Niebuhr, Reinhold was his brother; both these guys wrote in the 40s and 50s, your parents might have some of these guys books. If they went to college in the 30s and 40s they might have taken a course on comparative religions and read either Reinhold or Richard.
“The intense analysis of the New Testament produced by the great age of historical investigation has emphasized, among other things, this fact that belief in Jesus as the risen Lord informs every part of the early church’s thought.” Circle the word “early,” the “early” church’s thought. So here is a scholar, who is a liberal, who admits that all the records in the New Testament and early church fathers bear witness to the fact that they believed in the resurrection, physical resurrection. “But …” “But the rise of historical criticism has also made it increasingly difficult for theologians and biblical scholars to accept the New Testament order of thought.” What does he mean by that? Let’s unpack that sentence. This is a very common assertion so let’s talk about it.
You’ll get this in Time Magazine, in the newspapers, on talk shows, in interviews, it’s a common sentence; “the rise of historical criticism has made it increasingly difficult for theologians and biblical scholars to accept the New Testament order of thought.” Let’s start with “the New Testament order of thought.” What do we mean by “the New Testament order of thought?” What we mean is a biblical framework. Did the Apostle Paul and Jesus believe in sin as defined by a Mosaic Law Code? Did they believe in the necessity of blood atonement? Did they believe that there was a sovereign God who controls history? Did they believe that God’s Word formed history? Yes, that’s what he means, “the New Testament order of thought.” The whole biblical framework. These guys know this. What I’m teaching is not something I invented. All I’m saying is that this is well-known, “The New Testament order of thought.”
“But” he said “the rise of historical criticism has also made it increasingly difficult … to accept.” So let’s go to the verb, “accept” the New Testament order of thought. What does that mean? Accept it as true, believe it. Why is it difficult to believe the New Testament order of thought? Because of “the rise of historical criticism.” So let’s take this one step back, “the rise of historical criticism,” what’s historical criticism? Historical criticism shows up in the Christian discussions here as the belief that we can’t prima fascia accept the text, that we have to on an empirical, historical basis … in other words, instead of standing on the authority of Scripture and interpreting archeology, manuscript evidence, geology, biology, and all the rest of it on the authority of Scripture, instead of doing it this way I go over and I step on another platform and I say on the basis of empiricism and rationalism I construct my platform, and then after this grand construction job is finished, then I bring over the Bible.
I bring the Bible over here and I begin to dissect it, this fits, this doesn’t, this fits, this doesn’t. We go through the cafeteria and pick the things that are fitting to our appetite and reject the ones that don’t. That’s what we’re talking about here. What he means by “the rise of historical criticism” is the complete grounding of scholarship on the unbelieving basis. That’s what he means, and after that grand act, then we find, lo and behold, it’s difficult to accept the Bible. No kidding! This is why, you’ve heard me again, and I know because I’ve heard the criticism, people say why do you get into this and why do you get into that, why do you deal with this? This is why, because as long as we permit biology, archeology, history, science, physics, whatever, all the other things, psychology, as long as all these things are grounded first on the position of unbelief, and we let that happen, never can we ever after that reconcile Scripture. You set in motion something that comes and blows up in your face. Can we convince the world of these things? No, but at least when we think of these things we always must say what saith the Scripture, because if we don’t ask what saith the Scripture, then we’ve imported a Trojan horse. And the soldiers are going to come out of the Trojan horse at night and take the city. That’s what’s going on here. That’s what historically happened.
This man is speaking as one of the leading scholarly authorities of the Christian faith in the 20th century. There’s only about five or six guys of this stature. Guess who they’ve influenced and educated? The guys that have gotten their PhDs in theology, the men who populate the seminaries, the men who teach the preachers. This is what’s happened; we’ve lost it because of this.
“The rise of historical criticism has also made it increasingly difficult for theologians and biblical scholars to accept the New Testament order of thought,” and before we leave that sentence I want to make one concluding remark; that’s why when we attack and run our counterattack, run our counter-play we don’t snip at symptoms. We go for the foundation and get back to that … remember the illustration, somebody wants a redecorating job and the redecorator shows up with a bulldozer, going to take the whole house down; we rebuild a house, that’s how we deal with it. And that’s what has to happen because if you don’t, you’re not going to fight this.
“They have felt obligated to remove the resurrection of Jesus from its central position and to place it on the periphery of Christian teaching and proclamation, because the primitive resurrection faith conflicts disastrously with modern canons of historicity.” What does he mean by a “canon of historicity?” Let’s take that term, what is a “canon of historicity?” A canon is used here in the sense of a law, or a principle. What is historicity? That it was historically real. So what he’s saying is that the principles of interpreting history militate against accepting any kind of a resurrection. Why? Because on an empirical basis how many resurrections have you observed? How many resurrections has anybody observed in Western society? When did anybody ever take a camera, when did anybody ever record anything like this before? This is a unique claim, it never happened before. Yeah, no kidding, that’s the point!
But once you say you want to go over to that platform and you’ve got to build it on empiricism, what then must be the means, must be the averages, must be the bulk data, and if you’ve accepted that as your methodology, well then of course the canon of historicity that you’re using militates against accepting the resurrection from the get go. You’ve excluded it from the get go. So don’t be intimidated when somebody says well, the canon of historicity doesn’t accept that, I mean, no thinking person accepts that. You have to correct them at that point; no thinking person that operates on a pagan basis accepts that. Ooh, humph, why what do you mean by that, now you’re going to call me names now? No, I’m just labeling things for what they are, you start out with a naturalistic presupposition and that’s paganism, and you’re saying that you’re a smart person; I believe that, you’re rationally consistent, but you’re rationally consistent with a pagan premise.
Since I don’t accept the pagan premise I don’t have a problem with the resurrection; you have the problem with the resurrection, but it’s not because it’s irrational, it’s because it’s inconsistent with your starting point. That’s why you’ve got the problem. So don’t get pushed into a corner here, use it to come back to the other person. They’ve got to build a position, go for it. You don’t have to be nasty about it, you can be very gracious, just keep asking questions. What do you believe about this then? That’s the important thing.
The next paragraph, we’ll get into some Scripture in a minute but I want to show you what unbelief is doing here so when we get to the text of Scripture we’re looking for things in the text that are going to help us. This is a little exercise and a hint that’s helped me a lot over the years so that I’ve never been afraid to go to the Scriptures to find answers. I’ve learned and I’ve had enough confidence, God has encouraged me enough in the Scriptures that no matter who I run into, no matter what the argument is, I have the courage to sit there and listen to it and try to understand it, because if I understand what they’re saying, and it raises questions in my mind I know where the answers are. So I come back to the Scriptures and often times it’s a blessing because it causes me to go to the text more seriously than I ever did before to find the answer to this point. And ask God to illuminate that portion of Scripture, and you grow. Most of us grow by kicking the ass, that’s how God the Holy Spirit works. That’s how He’s worked in the church. He doesn’t work in the church by blessing the sheep because we go baa; we fight Him all the time. So He brings in the wolves, and they bite us you know where. And then finally we come to the Savior and we say gee, maybe He knows right. Facing these assaults actually inspire deeper appreciation of Scripture.
“… all such attempts ‘to remove the resurrection of Jesus from its central position’” I re-quoted Niebuhr in this statement; this is a cute one, “reverse the true cause-effect of the church’s origin. These unbelieving attempts try to make the church the originator of the ‘primitive resurrection faith’ instead of making the resurrection the originating cause of the church.” Let me diagram this for you. Every college campus I know today outside of a few orthodox Christian ones are teaching this. Every newspaper writer who has ever studied in these classes thinks this way. The deal is that you have the church as a group of human beings and they put a spin on history, and the spin is the New Testament, so that the New Testament text reflects not what happened, but it reflects the spin the Christians put on it. So the reports of the resurrection are things that the Christians thought about what happened in their lives, and it was such a momentous thing to meet this Jewish carpenter who was executed, that it was like living all over again, like having a new life, sort of like Shirley MacLaine, except they offered it free and she charges money. The New Testament is a result of a church experience of some sort.
Whereas what we believe is that you have the factual revelation of God, this is His story, history, and out of that because of the resurrection you have the church empowered to write the New Testament. That’s the sequence of events, and they’re exactly opposite. So remember which came first, the revelation of God or the religious experience. These guys are saying the religious experience came first, then came the text, and there never was a factual experience. We believe there was a factual experience, that inspired the church and they wrote about it in the New Testament. Let’s go to some of the key texts of Scripture. Let’s go to the classic one, 1 Corinthians 15. First we’ll do this and then we’ll touch on a number of other passages.
1 Corinthians 15:3, this is Paul, who got this message after Christ rose from the dead. He wasn’t around the tomb when Jesus rode from the dead, so either Paul got the doctrine of resurrection indirectly through the apostles or on the Damascus Road when he saw the Lord. But let’s think about this in the light of modern man who argues that this is a spin, this is a spin story. Now if it’s a spin story watch what happens here in the 1 Corinthians 15 text. Look at verse 3, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” What Scriptures? What are the Scriptures here, New Testament or Old Testament? The Old Testament. Aha! So in what model, what categories of thinking is Paul approaching the whole thing in? Old Testament. He says “according to the Scriptures,” we’re not making this up, check the Scriptures. We will later, it’s quite a challenge to see the resurrection in the Old Testament, by the way, and it’s going to lead us to a very interesting view of Scripture that the Lord Jesus had.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” of course here he’s talking about the death of Christ, and that’s clear in the Old Testament Scripture, but the resurrection is also there,  “and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” You know, it’s interesting in the Old Testament, why do you suppose it says there’s going to be a resurrection the third day. If you’ve got a study Bible you can look at the key, but it’s an interesting passage and it’s in Hosea; it involves quite a thoughtful reflection on the prophets and what they say.
Verse 5, “and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.” Now if Paul said that, what challenge do you think is imbedded in verse 6 to his audience? If they doubted Paul, and he said something like that, what is he daring them to do? Go talk to them, they’re still around, check it out, did I make up the story. So it’s an interesting appeal using evidence, go check it out for yourself, he’s saying they’re not dead, go talk to them. There are over five hundred of these people walking around still that saw this happen.
Verse 7, “then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” Now in verses 5, 6, and 7 he’s carefully witnessed to a sequence of appearances, so not only… is it not saying He appeared to James and the apostles and Cephas and the twelve, he says He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, then to this person, then to that person. So not only is he claiming that these people saw Jesus, but he says I know the sequence, boom, boom, boom. Does this sound credible? Does this sound like a spin story? Verse 8, “and last of all, as it were, to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
So now we have this resurrection, and he goes on and gives this whole thing, and we’ll come back to this passage [blank spot] …that’s something you want to watch carefully as we go to this text. You’ll hear it said by sloppy people, oh well, that’s you know, in the ancient world lots of people believed in resurrections. Excuse me! You won’t find a true idea of the idea of the resurrection outside of the Bible. Resuscitation is not resurrection. Resuscitation you come back in your present body to die again; resurrection your whole body disappears and is transformed never to die again. Two different things! And this, the resurrection, is not common in the pagan world.
Verse 12, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you” by the way, that means the church, that’s not the people outside the church, the people inside the church, how come among you in the church you “say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”  “But if there is no resurrection of the dead,” and watch the logic, he says okay, let’s start with your premise, there’s no resurrection of the dead, let’s see where that one leads, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised,” right. You can’t have a resurrection, and that’s a general principle, then you can’t have a specific instance. So if there’s no resurrection, then Jesus couldn’t have risen,  “and if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is vain, and your faith also is vain.”
And now look what he says in verse 15, we covered this when we were dealing with inerrancy, “Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.” This should sound a death null to this story. Let’s think about this, the church spinning up a story. What is one of the Ten Commandments? “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Do you know the context of that commandment? By the way, why it was used, why does a society need that? What happens in the courtroom? When somebody is being convicted and accused of a crime, and the jury has to sit and figure it out, you’ve got to have truthfulness in the courtroom, or you get false convictions. Or said another way, you can’t apply ethics if you do not have an atmosphere of truth because you can’t correctly identify the situation to apply the ethic too. That’s why there’s a false witness claim in the Ten Commandments. People always think of “thou shalt not murder,” etc., but the whole court system of the Old Testament was grounded on this “thou shalt not bear false witness.” You don’t substantiate a false accusation against your neighbor, that’s what it’s saying. Or conversely, you don’t cover up the crime of a neighbor. That’s the original side of it.
So what is happening here, Paul goes back to the Ten Commandments and he says look, if this is a spin story, I am violating the ethical commandments of Judaism. And I believe this is why God had the Jews be the custodians of the Bible, because the Jews had centuries of experience. Jews came through history with Torah; they came through history with a sense of right and wrong, not like the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Assyrians and the hotten-tots and everybody else. The Jews had a [not sure of word] ground for century after century, they knew what it meant to have integrity. It’s not that they all had integrity, but at least they knew the standard of integrity. So for them to create a spin about something that God supposedly did and He didn’t do it, that’s bearing false witness against whom? Against God.
So any liberal today who’s saying the church is spinning up the story is accusing these people against their Judaic background of violating one of the Ten Commandments. Try that on your friends that say I believe the Bible errors and all. It has to be all or nothing; these guys are putting their lives on the line and here it is; this is a classic reference. 1 Corinthians 15:15 is a classic verse to come to because it shows you the mentality of the Apostles in the middle of the warfare of the claims of the gospel. They were willing to say that if this is not true, I am an imposter, I’ve violated the Ten Commandments, I bear false witness against my God.
Verse 16, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have only hoped in Christ in this life [only] we are of all men most to be pitied.” Why do you suppose he said that? Think about that one. Here’s the resurrection, in eternity, and here’s time and here’s death. Why does he say that we, of all people, are to be pitied if that part of the message is false? Why are we to be pitied? Because what’s happening over here? We are not participating in all the goody things that the world offers. Frankly many times we’re not really enjoying ourselves because of the priorities of our faith. We’re denying ourselves temporal fulfillments, and how foolish if the whole message is wrong. And more seriously, what he’s also saying by implication is that this life in eternity is being shaped by what we’re doing now. We’re setting up what our lives are going to look like in eternity, a very sobering thought, by what we’re obeying and disobeying now.
Then he says later on, verse 32, he goes through this argument several times, then he comes down, and put this one down along with verse 15, this is another classic. “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus,” in other words, if I’m just spinning up a story, “I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus” could be the crowds, it could be literal animals, whatever it is it’s the offense of the gospel, etc. “what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” The apostles weren’t stupid. So many people have this idea that these guys were little kooky old men or something, wandering around in the ancient world. They knew how to have fun; they knew what was going on all over town. Come on, these guys weren’t born yesterday. And they said look, if this isn’t true, then hey, I join the crowd.
Do you know who’s to be pitied? The stupid fools who think it’s false and like it. That’s why I’ve always said if I wasn’t a fundamentalist Christian I’d be an atheist, I certainly wouldn’t be a liberal, what an idiot. I like all the good things of the Christian religion but I know it’s phony. Would you accept that in any other area of your life? I like driving my crummy car, I like going to my house that’s falling apart, it gives me a good feeling. I believe in this old religion that doesn’t make sense, but I like it.
That’s the importance of the historicity claims of the gospel and central to that is the historicity of the resurrection.
Now we want to go to two passages. Luke 24:31, This is the Emmaus Road, and what you want to notice here with this Emmaus Road incident is that Luke seems fascinated about the resurrection, just like he seems fascinated about Mary’s pregnancy. Of all the four Gospel writers it’s Luke that interviewed those women, and got all the details of the pregnancy, both of Elizabeth and Mary. Why is that? Who was Luke? A medical doctor. So he uses his natural … God had called him to be a medical doctor so he thought,” Gee, I like to investigate these kinds of things.” So he reports these neat little things. The guys are going down the road talking to Jesus, walking, and He’s obviously conversing with them, and then all of a sudden, “And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.” This isn’t a spirit that they’re seeing, this isn’t something that was just an appearance, it was a physical person walking down the road with them, and they weren’t dreaming this.
It’s pretty awesome to think that whatever power the resurrection body has, think about this, it has the ability to appear and disappear. Boy, wouldn’t you have fun to appear and disappear, and evidently this is one of the characteristics of the resurrection body; it can go through doors without opening them. To be able to go through walls … resurrection body. It’s something physical but there’s something odd about the physics.
I want to go to John because John is supposed to be the spooky Gospel writer, and in spite of all that, look what he does in John 20, this is that famous section that you sometimes hear on Easter, about doubting Thomas. Verse 19, “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week,” notice the day of the week, Sunday, “and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst,” how’d He get through, it says the doors were shut. So He appears, “and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ ” Verse 20, “And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side,” to identify Himself, [The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’” Verse 24, “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”
Then verse 25, “The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails,” notice what Thomas wanted to do, I want to “put my finger into the place of the nails, and [I want to] put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Do you think His wounds were big enough? This shows you how big the wounds were; put your finger right in the nail hole. I want to do that. I want to put my hand, my whole hand in His side; these are big mortal wounds that the Lord had. But Thomas says I want to do that and if I can’t, I won’t believe. So here’s the empiricist. But Thomas has a good point here, and the Holy Spirit used Thomas to teach the rest of the church something about this resurrection body, that it was not a disembodied spirit that appeared. There’s something new about Jesus, He’s not a ghost. Verse 26, “And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ ” Again notice the state of the doors, notice they’re faithfully reported in verse 26. See these little details, the Gospel writers put them in here. The doors were shut, and all of a sudden He’s standing there in the middle of them.
Verse 27, “Then Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ ” Now if you had been Thomas and you were sitting there, besides getting over the shock of suddenly He was here and you didn’t believe that He did these kind of things, what would you have thought when He turned to you and quoted what you had said when He wasn’t around, apparently. I think that’d about spook me out as much as just seeing all of a sudden He appears in the room, now He’s telling me what I said the other day. Gee, I’d better watch what I say, He’s always listening. [28, “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ”] He says touch Me, and then He challenges the rest of the church Age in verse 29, “[Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed?] Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” They don’t have a chance to touch Me, but they believe, and we’re part of those that are blessed for believing.
Next week, look on page 102 of the notes, look at that argument in Luke 20:27, I skipped that because I want you to read that, it’s just a small passage and try to reason out on a piece of paper the logic that Jesus is using. It’s tough; this is not a simple passage. Jesus is using an argument here about proving the resurrection from Exodus 3, and I think it’s going to challenge you.
Turn to Acts 1:3, here’s Luke again, the historian, and he says “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” But you see in verse 3, “convincing proofs,” does this sound like these guys are putting a spin on it. They’re reporting their own errors, they’re reporting the fact, gee, we thought He was a spirit, a lot of us didn’t believe. They’re reporting to us that five hundred people finally saw the guy, and He did this for forty days. So it doesn’t quite sound like a spin story. I mean if this is a spin story it’s a ripper.
Next week we’ll go on with the argument of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.