The Resurrection of Christ
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
God appointed a day in which He will judge the world, and has given evidence of that judgment day in that He has raised Christ from the dead.
I want to talk to you about the resurrection of Christ, and related to this subject is a future judgment. Christianity is the only religion in the world that dares to base its acceptance on the resurrection of its founder from the dead. No other founder of any religion has ever dared to say if he did not rise from the dead to not believe what he said. Confucius never said that. Muhammad never said that. Brigham Young never said that. Mrs. Eddy never said that. No person save Christ ever dared to make a claim like that, and Christianity rests for its very life upon that wonderful foundation truth, that its founder actually arose from the dead.
Paul, the friend of Christ, and of Christianity, tells us of the resurrection of its founder from the dead. “If Christ be not raised from the dead, then is our preaching vain, and ye are yet in your sins.” Renan, that witty French skeptic said, if it can be shown that Christ actually arose from the dead on the third day, then Christianity must be admitted to be what it claims to be, the divine and supreme religion. Thus the foe and the friend of Christianity alike make the Christian religion answer for itself.
We are living in a day when the very fundamental things of our faith are being assailed. There is a tendency to deny the miraculous and supernatural. They begin by denying the virgin birth of our Lord, and say Jesus was born as any other child was born. They deny the supernatural element in that Christmas story. Then they say Christ did not rise from the dead. They deny His miraculous going from the world. Thus denying the beginning and the end, it is not long before they deny all between those two points.
It is vital for those of us who believe in Christ to be assured of this great truth. It is found necessary that men should understand God’s criterion of judgment in that great day will be measured by the fact of the risen Christ. No man can pass that risen Christ, and stand before God with a clean record. For saint and sinner, the resurrection of Christ is the fundamental thing to understand.
Millenial Dawnism and Russelism deny the resurrection. They say the body of Jesus Christ either evaporated in gases, or we do not know where it is. Christianity teaches that life survives death. All you have to believe about the resurrection of Christ is that the spirit of Jesus lives; that life survives death.
Paul has some startling things to say. “If Christ be not risen from the dead, our preaching be vain.” You have taken the heart out of the nut; it is a concocted story; a painted story; something that is empty. Our preaching is vain. Why should I stand here and ask you to pledge your life to Christ. Who is Christ? If the cross is the end of it, why do we call upon people to yield themselves to Him, if He never came forth triumphant over death?
“If Christ is not risen your faith is vain.” The first word, vain, means that it is nothing; the second word, vain, means that it does nothing.
You have believed that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins. Who is Christ? He is the Saviour. Saviour from what? The Saviour from sin. Nothing of the kind, says the Apostle. If He could not deliver Himself from sin’s power, how could He deliver you? If Jesus Christ remained under the power of death, and that death was the wages of sin, and He could not deliver Himself, how can He deliver you? Your faith is vain. Ye are yet in your sins. If Christ be not risen, we are of all men most pitiable.
Think of these men who stood on this platform tonight glorying in a religion that they said satisfied their souls. Think of the multitudes of Christian people in this city, and other cities, giving the same testimonies. They have separated themselves from the world. These men and women have given up certain pleasures that the world indulges in. The Christian gives up pleasure for his Christ. He feels that some pleasures interfere with the future life and the hope of the resurrection. What is the use of doing that if there is no resurrection; if there is no future life? If in this life we have a hope only, if it is only a bubble, if it is only an imaginary thing; a hope only, something that has no substance, if when we die there is no future hope of entering into the joy of the Lord, then Christ is a disappointment.
The pleasures of the world are not empty things. If Christ be not risen from the dead, the Christian is foolish. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Another thing. The Apostle says, if Christ be not risen, we are false witnesses of God, because we testified that Christ was raised from the dead. For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised? I told you, said Paul, that I talked with Christ on the way to Damascus, and that my whole life was changed by the power of the risen Christ. Peter has told you that Christ appeared to him and talked with him. There were over five thousand people who saw Christ after His resurrection. Are they all liars? Are we perjurers? Paul’s veracity has been challenged. We are found false witnesses. You see Paul says if Christ be not risen, then we are prevaricators, having left the truth.
Christ Talked with Disciples
Paul talked with Christ after His resurrection. Moses, John, Peter, James—these writers of the Old and New Testaments said they saw Him and talked with Him; ate with Him for forty days. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then this New Testament is a forgery. If Christ be not risen, these writers lied. There are some people today who say it does not make any difference whether you believe in the Resurrection. You cannot be a Christian and not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Apostle says, we are found false witnesses of God. A man said to me, “I do not look upon the resurrection as you do, and I still have God left.” I replied, “My friend, you have not God left, in whom you can put confidence.”
Think of the wonderful life that Jesus Christ lived. His relationship to the Heavenly Father. Think of what He said about the Father, and how He lived for the Father. He goes a step further and He touches a very tender spot in our hearts, when he said, “If Christ be not risen, then those who have fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. That loved one of yours and mine pillowed their head on the arm of God. Remember what Dwight L. Moody said: “Earth is receding; Heaven is opening. God is calling me. This is my coronation day.”
You will never see those loved ones again if Christ be not risen. Those that have fallen asleep in Christ have perished; they have ceased to be. Like the horse and the cow, they have no soul, and that is the end. Yes, there are many people who say that Christianity remains the same, whether you believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead or not. Seeing that is true, then it becomes your duty to be assured of that great truth.
My friends outside of Christ, if this be true, then all that Jesus said about Himself, and about eternal life, and forgiveness of sins, and about the life in the world to come, would be for nothing. Oh, my friends, what Jesus said about that is true, and you will have to stand before the judgment bar of God with the evidence of a risen Christ confronting you. God hath given proof to all men of a coming judgment day, and the proof is in the risen Christ.
Let me say a word by way of confirmation of this great doctrine of the resurrection. We are living in a day when every Christian ought to be able to give a reason for the hope within him. The resurrection of Christ rests on evidences. It is the best corroborated fact in all history. There is evidence sufficient, and God has given proof to all men, so that no man can remain ignorant of the risen Christ.
What is the proof? Let me suggest to you two or three very simple methods of proof, which will confirm your faith and will also convict you of unbelief. I want to follow just one line of argument to confirm your faith. Everything in this world that we see has a cause. I hold in my hand a Bible. That Bible is an effect. What is its cause? How did this Bible come to be? Could it be in my hand if nobody had made the paper, printed the pages, bound the book? To hold that Bible in my hand means that there were men who cared for the paper, printed it, set the type, bound it, and sold it, and I cannot handle that Bible without acknowledging that fact. How did this pulpit come to be? Could it come into existence without somebody making it? That is an effect. That effect had a cause. How did this church building come to be? Did it come of itself? Of course it took carpenters, and masons, and workmen to erect it.
There are certain things in this world that never could have been if Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead. They never could have been. They cannot be traced to any other cause but the resurrection of Christ.
The Empty Tomb
Some eight years ago I was in the city of Jerusalem, in the tomb of Christ, or what they say is the tomb of Christ. The tomb was empty. I sat at the head, where they say the body of Christ had lain. I am not discussing the historicity of that at all. I want to say that standing there I read the story of the Resurrection and I read that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was empty on that Easter morn twenty centuries ago, just as empty as it was when I stood there eight years ago. The friends of Christ found it empty, and the enemies of Christ also found it empty. The soldiers said it was empty. The disciples said the tomb was empty, and Christ had come out of the tomb. How did it become empty?
We are familiar with the story as it is told in the New Testament. You know the enemies of Christ were very wide awake as to what Jesus had said, and so after Christ was taken down from the cross, and put in the tomb, the Pharisees said to Pilate, “He said in three days He would arise from the dead.” We must see to it that He does not get out of that tomb on the third day. Give us a Roman guard, and send one of your officers to seal the tomb with a Roman seal. And forty Roman soldiers watched that tomb for thee days and three nights, and yet on the third day that tomb was empty. An angel of God from within the tomb opened it. The first time in the history of the world that the tomb had been opened from the inside. It had been opened before from the outside, but never from the inside.
The soldiers sent word to the Pharisees, and said, “Christ is risen from the dead.” And the rumor went abroad that the disciples stole the body of Christ while the Roman guard slept. Yet we know that not even the disciples believed that Christ would be raised from the dead. All the disciples forsook Him and fled. A woman or two followed Him to the last. None of His disciples or followers believed that He would come forth from the grave on the third day.
When Christ met His disciples after the resurrection, they were in an upper room, trembling, scared men and women. What could they do in the presence of the Roman guard? There was not a single disciple that believed that Jesus would come out of the tomb until the resurrection day. When the tomb was opened, and Christ was gone, the women fled, and Mary said, “They have taken away my Lord.” Not one soul on Earth believed that He would come out of the tomb until the resurrection morn. Do you think forty soldiers would be sleeping at one time? To sleep on duty was to be shot [sic].
Some people overlook the artless details of the resurrection story, and yet I had a judge tell me some time ago that in weighing evidence, he paid much more attention to the testimony of the witnesses that did not agree. He said it was the little artless unthought-of things in the story that gives weight of evidence.
The Empty Grave Clothes
When the disciples, Peter and John, entered the tomb, Peter sees the linen clothes. The napkin was not with the linen clothes, but found laying in a place by itself. John, who did outrun Peter to the tomb, came into the tomb now and saw the linen clothes, and he believed. There was something in the order of those clothes that had been around the body of Christ that convinced John that the Lord had risen. When thieves break into a house they do not leave things in “apple-pie” order like that. If the body of Jesus had been stolen, then the disciples would have stolen the grave clothes too. There is only one way to account for that story, and that is, on the third day, according to the Scriptures, “Destroy this body, and in three days I will raise it again.” That empty tomb is proof that on the third day, according to the words of Jesus, God raised him from the dead. Thank God, I pin my faith on an empty tomb; that on the third day Jesus rose triumphant over death.
The Lord’s Day
Jews by the thousands have given up the time-honored Sabbath on the seventh day, and put in its place the first day—the Lord’s Day. Why do they do this? What is its cause? I know what our Seventh Day Adventists friends say, but I do not agree with them. The Seventh Day Adventist says the keeping of the Lord’s day is the “mark of the beast” and that you cannot be saved unless you keep the Sabbath. They say that we got the Lord’s Day from Constantine, 325 A.D. They say that the Pope of Rome is the one who ordained and established the Lord’s Day, and changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week, and that is how we got our Lord’s Day.
It is a false statement. That is not true, and I have abundant evidence to show it to be absolutely unfounded upon facts. The change from the seventh to the first day was caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and this is a proof of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Renan, the skeptic, says that the New Testament was written to give a thrilling climax to a most heroic life. If there had been no resurrection there would have been no wonderful life to give a thrilling climax to.
The disciples did not believe they would ever see Jesus again, and if Jesus had not appeared on the seashore to the disciples while they were fishing, they would not have believed Him. He talked to Peter, James, and John, and showed them the prints in the hands, and the wound in the side. They saw their risen Lord, and they believed. On the day of Pentecost three thousand were converted. Again, five thousand more were converted and the Church was born, and they went to the uttermost parts of the earth. And the Church grew until they could not visit them any more, and then they had to write these Epistles.
The New Testament
If Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead, you would never have a New Testament. Every time you take the New Testament in your hand you have a proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.