Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What if Jesus did not rise from the dead......

How would you respond to the person who says that it really doesn’t matter whether or not Jesus rose from the dead?

I would disagree with this person. I would first ask him: what is the one major difference between Christianity and all other religions? It would be the fact that the founder of Christianity is a living person whereas the founders of all other religions are already dead in the graves. In John 14:6, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. In other words, in Christianity, we are not just following a set of rules or laws or a prescribed path, but we are following a Living Person.

1 Corinthians 15:13-14 says that 
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (1Co 15:13-14 NKJV)

Hence, the question of whether Jesus really rose from the dead, not only matters tremendously but it is actually a pivotal point upon which whether Christianity would stand or collapse. As the 17th century philosopher John Locke said, "Our Savior’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it."

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, He Himself would be a liar

Furthermore, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Jesus, His apostles including Paul would be liars. And if these people were liars, what worth would there be to follow their teachings?  As Jesus says in John 2:19-21,
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. (Joh 2:19-21 NKJV)

Jesus similarly said that He would rise from the dead in Matthew 16:21, 17:9 and Luke 18:31-33. Therefore, Jesus Himself would be a liar if He actually did not rise from the dead. He would not be worth following.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, His apostles would be liars

His apostles would also be liars for the Bible says in Acts 4:33 that “with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”

Furthermore, Peter preached in Acts 2:23-24,
“Him (Jesus), being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” (Act 2:23-24 NKJV)

And he similarly said in Acts 4:10
let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
(Act 4:10 NKJV)

And in 1 Peter 1:3, Peter says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1Pe 1:3 NKJV)

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Paul would be a liar

Paul would also be a liar. Paul says:
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Act 17:30-31 NKJV)

And in Romans 8:11,
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom 8:11 NKJV)

And in 1 Corinthians, he says

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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. (1Co 15:3-4 NKJV)

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1Co 15:20 NKJV)

More importantly, theologically, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, there are three things He would not be able to conquer:
1.    Jesus would not be able to conquer sin
2.    Jesus would not be able to conquer death
3.    Jesus would not be able to conquer hell

Jesus would not be able to conquer sin
Paul says
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! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (1Co 15:16-18 NKJV)

The evidence that Jesus conquered sins is that He rose from the dead. If He did not, then the above claim would not be fulfilled.

Jesus would not be able to conquer death

In the same chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul also says that
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY." "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” (1Co 15:54-56 NKJV)

If Jesus Himself did not rise from the dead, what hope do we have to overcome death as claimed in these verses?

Jesus would not be able to conquer hell

Revelation 20:6 says
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6 NKJV)

The second death referred to in this verse is the spiritual death – the eternal separation from God into the lake of fire, the final everlasting hell. This second death is mentioned in Rev  20:14 and Rev 21:8

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (Rev 20:14 NKJV)

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev 21:8 NKJV)

This second death can only be overcome by those who are in Him, those who have a part in the first resurrection. Therefore, if the resurrection of Jesus is not true, we would not be able to overcome this second death.

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