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Did Christ Rise From the Dead or is Faith Folly?

Paul, in answer to the question proposed, would say faith is but folly if Christ
did not rise from the dead. “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not
risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”
(1 Cor. 15:16-17 NKJV) If Christ did not rise from the dead what hope do we
have as we grow old and face the inevitable? Are we but animals?

The evolutionist would say yes but I have never really believed that down
deep in the soul that there is such a thing as an atheist. I think there are
millions of people who due to the kind of life they have lived in the rejection
of God and morality deeply desire that God not exist and fear his existence
too much to think about it.

However, while they speak of absurdity that there be a God in heaven the
reality is they know it is absurd to believe that life came from non-life, just
kind of popped out on its own from dead matter, dead matter evolving, now
there is a scholarly concept for you but that is the position of the professors
of science in our schools today. They proclaim that position as being the
scientific, the reasonable, and the intellectual one. Save us from the scholars
if that is the way one defines reason.

The atheist, the evolutionist, all non-believers have staked their eternal well
being on their thesis that Christ did not rise from the dead. Thus the faith of
the non-believers and the faith of those who do believe both revolve around
the matter of the resurrection (did it or did it not occur). If it occurred there
is a God in heaven and Jesus is his Son, the Son of God, and the Savior of the
world.

The Bible itself teaches this very thing. Speaking of Jesus the Bible says that
he was, “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of
holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4 NKJV)

One does not need scientific proof to resolve this question. In fact, it is one
of the easiest questions to resolve of any that has ever come before man.
There is too much historical evidence apart from the Bible for any who have
looked into the matter to deny that Jesus lived on earth approximately 2,000
years ago. None deny he was crucified. All we have to resolve then is this
one question of the resurrection. How do we do it?

The first issue we need to look at is whether or not the body of Jesus was
stolen for that was the claim made by the chief priests and Pharisees. They
feared this very thing so went to Pilate and requested a guard be placed at
the tomb.

Speaking to Pilate they said, “’Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how
that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the
tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and
steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the
last deception will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a
guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and
made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.’”
(Matt. 27:63-66 NKJV)

I am sure you remember the story of the cover up how some of the guard
went into the city and reported to the chief priests those things that had
happened and then were given a sum of money to tell the lie that the body of
Jesus was stolen while they slept. A promise was made them that the chief
priests would appease the governor if worse came to worse. (Matt. 28:11-14)

What is wrong with that story? You name it, you got it. First, it was not only
a violation of duty to fall asleep on guard duty, as it also is today, but the
punishment in the Roman army was death if the matter was pursued. You do
not fall asleep on guard duty.

Secondly, it was not a matter of one man alone on the job for then we could
imagine one man might fall asleep. We cannot know how many men had
guard duty that night but we know there were at least a few for only “some of
the guard” (Matt. 28:11) go to report the happenings to the priests. Some is
plural and also the some who did not go was likely more than just one
individual as well. Did they all sleep at the same time that night without fear
of death if caught?

Thirdly, the stone by which the tomb was sealed was very large (Mark 16:4)
and the women who went to the tomb that morning of the resurrection were
very concerned about how they were going to move it before arriving on
scene. This meant it would not be moved easily and would take the efforts of
more than one man to move. Were the guards not only asleep but in a
drunken sleep so sound that all the noise would not awaken them – not
awaken even one of them?

In the fourth place if the body was stolen about everyone knew who would
have been in on it. Why not track down the apostles and arrest them, beat
the truth out of them? Why was it not done? Were the Romans, the chief
priests, the Pharisees above doing that sort of thing? What did they do to
Christ?

In the fifth place why did the soldiers lie about it? Was it just the money? It
could have been but it’s very doubtful. Without help from the chief priests
their lives are in danger for they have done the unthinkable and allowed the
body to be stolen on their watch. Without some one in their corner helping
them out they are in danger of losing their own lives.

And, then, if they tell the truth about it where is their proof? Who will believe
them and if they are not believed what will become of them? From their
vantage point things look pretty hopeless no matter what they do. Taking
the money and lying seems the better way out for who will believe them if
they tell the truth and if the governor does not believe them what will
become of them?
So, was the body stolen? You do not believe that if you are a rational person.
The next argument is in my opinion so strong as to completely close the case
on the side of the resurrection without another word being spoken about the
matter.

After Jesus was resurrected even his closest disciples did not believe it when
it was reported to them. “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the
table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did
not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Mark 16:14 NKJV)
You remember Thomas would not believe unless he could thrust his hand into
Jesus’ side. (John 20:25 NKJV)

And, yet, shortly thereafter they are ready and willing to die for him. How
does one explain that? Do you sacrifice all for one you know to be dead?
What was there to be gained by such a thing?

Stephen was martyred, then James. We know Peter was later for Jesus said
to him, “’Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded
yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch
out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not
wish.’" This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And
when He had spoken this, He said to him, "’Follow Me.’" (John 21:18-19 NKJV)
No one doubts that Paul also died simply because he was a Christian, died for
Christ.

How does one explain this? What gets men to go to the extremes they were
willing to go to? There was no money in it (being a Christian), there was no
power to be had in it, there was only hardship and sacrifice, danger and
death.

Paul said, “Are they ministers of Christ?--I speak as a fool--I am more: in


labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently,
in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was
shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in
perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils
of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness
often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (2 Cor.
11:23-27 NKJV)

Why would a man like Paul was before his conversion with all the advantages
he had in the religious system he was in (Judaism) become a Christian and
place upon himself all these things he endured if he had no certain proof that
Jesus had risen from the dead? What was his advantage in doing so?

All reason, all common sense, tells us Christ arose from the grave, was
resurrected, and that the only reason men do not believe it today is they are
willingly blind and desire to remain so for personal reasons that most are not
willing to admit.
Are men not afraid of God? Paul quotes the Psalmist and says, “’There is no
fear of God before their eyes.’” (Rom. 3:18 NKJV) But, the Bible also says,
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one
may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done,
whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV) All men and women will fear God in
due time but it will be too late to make a difference with most. If you are
reading this it is not too late to turn to God today but the time will come
when it will be.

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2
Cor. 6:2 NKJV)