East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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September 15, 2013
"God Raised This Jesus to Life"
Acts 2:22-36

Intro : Many doubts voiced about truth, relevance of Christianity. Series addressing some of those questions. Dealing w/actual objections made by Christianity's skeptics. So far, discovered there were actual OT prophecies about Messiah which were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth , which speaks to a deep heart need: We desire wonder, awe, to provide meaning beyond everyday life! Discovered there were actual eyewitnesses who recorded the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth , which speaks to another deep heart need: We desire truth instead of treachery! Last week, we discovered that The Holy Spirit is active within the church, and His activity is something that can be observed with human eyes and ears! Again, this truth speaks to our deep heart need: We desire genuine goodness instead of self-serving hypocrisy!

Peter's Claim! Again, we're returning to very first Christian sermon in history. Want to examine the ultimate claim Peter makes in this sermon: The resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for His empty tomb! Peter makes clear his conviction that Jesus rose from the dead. (Read Acts 2:24, 31-32.) Repeat claim. Central importance of this claim to the Christian faith! (Read I Corinthians 15:14-15.) Listen to me now: Here's what we don't need to debate: whether Jesus' tomb was empty or not! According to Gary Habermas: "a strong majority" (75%) of the critical NT scholars agree that Jesus' tomb was discovered empty. Issue is not whether tomb was empty! Issue is how to explain His empty tomb!

If Jesus' Didn't Rise from the Dead, Why Was His Tomb Empty? (Thanks, J. Geib!)

Simple! (More popular in earlier centuries; not today!) Women (you know how easily confused they are!) confused Jesus' tomb w/someone else's! Simple mistake that no one corrected! Let's say it happened. What would Jesus' enemies have done?

Stolen! Someone stole the body! Possible suspects: Jesus' followers, (Jeffery Jay Lowder proposes Joseph of Arimathea on www.infidels.org .) Jesus' family, Jesus' enemies (Jewish and Roman). Let's say it happened. Who had the motive? Not Jesus' enemies! Jesus' followers, family? Followers scared for lives, family didn't believe in Him! Even if they wanted to, big problem: Roman guards outside the tomb! Motives for doing their job: occupying military force, politically hostile environment, grave of a controversial figure, and Roman military practice was to kill any soldier asleep on duty!

Swooned! Jesus didn't actually die; He passed out! His body was taken down and buried, but that He revived in the tomb. (Hugh J. Schonfield popularized this idea in 1965 in The Passover Plot. The 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, speculated that Pontius Pilate was bribed to allow Jesus to be taken down from the cross before he was dead.) Let's say it happened. Problems? Jesus too weak to roll stone away. Roman guards still outside tomb. Even if it gets out and evades the guards, His body looks far from "glorious!"

Stoned/Symbolic ! Appearances of Jesus after His death were "visionary experiences" due to psychological imbalance of grieving individuals or to actual spiritual experience/ "vision"; however, no bodily resurrection! (Advocated by some members of the Jesus Seminar such as Gerd Lüdemann.) Let's say some type of visionary experience happened. Stoned : Mass visionary hullucinations are highly improbable, at best! (Consensus would be hard to maintain!) Symbolic : No expectation in Jewish belief/culture of a non-bodily resurrection! If that is what happened, why the Gospel accounts of Jesus' eating, or letting Thomas touch His wounded hands and side?

Spurious! The disciples were a bunch of liars. All the resurrection accounts are made up! Let's say it happened. Why didn't the religious authorities produce Jesus' body? Why were the disciples willing to suffer and die for something they knew to be a lie?

Review of the Alternate Explanations! Best that critics of Christianity have been able to come up with for past 2,000 years: Simple, Stolen, Swoon, Stoned/Symbolic, Spurious! Common sense: these are weak, unlikely at best. Is there a better explanation?

Peter's Claim Revisited! The best explanation for Jesus' empty tomb is that He actually, literally, physically, miraculously raised from the dead! But, even if I've convinced your brain that it was an historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead, it would be wrong to stop there. Why? Because, as sinners and rebels against God, we don't just need our thinking changed; we need our hearts changed.

Great news! Jesus' resurrection is not only an historical fact, it is also a heart- transforming truth that can meet your deepest needs. One of those deep heart needs is that we desire life instead of death! You've felt the hollow ache. Death's senseless, cruel interruption of life. Loved one, friend. Things left unsaid. Things left undone. When we face the reality of our own mortality. Can't believe it's the end of the story.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God's declaration that physical death is not the end of the story! Great news, but it has some important qualifications!

1) Jesus' Resurrection is evidence that Judgment Day is certain! (Read Acts 17:30-31.) What will Judgment Day look like? (Read Revelation 20:11-15.)

2) Jesus' Resurrection is evidence that our future resurrection entirely depends on whether we trust Him or not! (Read John 11:25-26; John 3:16-18; John 5:24-29.)

Do you deeply desire life instead of death? The resurrection of Jesus is God's guarantee that He can deliver you from death and hell if you trust yourself to Him.

I'm New Here
© East Side Church, 2013