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                            "WHY I BELIEVE"

                      In The Resurrection Of Jesus

INTRODUCTION

1. I previously discussed why I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus...
   a. How Jesus was born of the virgin Mary
   b. Without a human father

2. Another essential element of the Christian's faith is the
   resurrection of Jesus...
   a. That Jesus bodily arose from the dead
   b. Three days after His crucifixion

3. Why is faith in Jesus' resurrection essential?  If Jesus did not rise
   from the dead...
   a. Our faith is empty, futile - 1Co 15:14,17
   b. We are still in our sins - 1Co 15:17
   c. Those who died in Christ have perished - 1Co 15:18
   d. We are of all men the most pitiable - 1Co 15:19

[Why do I believe in the resurrection of Jesus?  Because of eyewitness
testimony that I believe is more rational to accept than to reject!
First, there is...]

I. THE NUMBER OF THE WITNESSES

   A. WHY NUMBER IS IMPORTANT...
      1. The strength or weakness of any testimony is affected by the
         number of witnesses
      2. E.g., the Law of Moses required at least two or three witnesses
         - Deut 17:6
      3. Today, the number of witnesses also plays a crucial role in our
         justice system
      -- The more witnesses you have, the stronger your evidence!

   B. THERE WERE MANY WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION...
      1. Paul lists many of these witness in 1Co 15:3-8
         a. Jesus was seen by Cephas (Simon Peter) - cf. Lk 24:34
         b. Jesus was seen by the twelve (apostles) - cf. Lk 24:36-43;
            Ac 1:2-3
         c. He was seen by five hundred people at one time (probably in
            Galilee) - cf. Mt 28:10,16-17
         d. He was seen by James, the Lord's brother
         e. He was seen by Paul, on the road to Damascus - Ac 22:6-10
      2. Other appearances are recorded in the Scriptures
         a. To Mary Magdalene - Mk 16:9; Jn 20:14
         b. To other women returning from the tomb - Mt 28:9,10
         c. To two disciples on the road to Emmaus - Lk 24:13-33
         d. To the apostles, Thomas absent - Jn 20:19-24
         e. To the apostles, Thomas present - Jn 20:26-29
         f. To seven disciples by the Lake of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee)
            - Jn 21:1-23
         g. To the apostles at the ascension - Ac 1:3-12
      -- Over a period of forty days, over 500 people saw Jesus after
         His death!

[Such witnesses had ample opportunity to determine for themselves if He
was really raised from the dead.  How do we know they were not simply
gullible, believing what they wanted to believe?  This leads us to
consider another factor important to accepting the testimony of
witnesses...]

II. THE CHARACTER OF THE WITNESSES

   A. SOME HAD NOT BELIEVED IN JESUS...
      1. Like His brothers in the flesh - Jn 7:3-5
      2. They even thought Him crazy - Mk 3:21
      -- But seeing Him after His resurrection, they became His
         disciples! - Ac 1:14

   B. SOME WERE SKEPTICAL AFTER JESUS' DEATH...
      1. Thomas would not accept the words of others - Jn 20:24-25
      2. Not until he had empirical evidence would he believe - Jn
         20:26-28
      -- This demonstrates witnesses who were not gullible or easily
         deceived

   C. ONE WAS EVEN A FORMER ENEMY...
      1. Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as Paul the apostle - Ac
         9:1-2
      2. Until he saw Jesus raised from the dead, he believed it to be
         God's will to oppose Jesus and His followers - cf. Ac 26:9-11
      -- The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is powerful evidence of the
         resurrection!

[These witnesses required overwhelming evidence to convince them that
Jesus truly rose from the dead.  This leads us now to consider...]

III. THE STRENGTH OF THEIR WITNESS

   A. DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR EMPIRICAL TESTIMONY...
      1. Their testimony appealed to empirical evidence
         a. I.e., evidence derived from experiment and observation
            rather than theory
         b. For forty days they were given infallible proofs - Ac 1:3
         c. They ate and drank with Jesus - Ac 10:41
         d. They saw, heard, and touched Him - Jn 20:24-28; 1Jn 1:1-2
      2. They could not have been deceived or deluded
         a. If all they had were individual dreams, visions, or
            hallucinations...perhaps
         b. But they testified that Jesus appeared to them in groups as
            well as to individuals
      -- The nature of their testimony strengthens their witness

   B. DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR TRANSFORMATION...
      1. Prior to the resurrection, Jesus' disciples were afraid and
         without hope
         a. They fled at his arrest - Mk 14:50
         b. Peter cowardly denied Him three times - Mk 14:66-72
         c. The women mourned His crucifixion - Lk 23:27
         d. After His death, the disciples were sad - Lk 24:13-17
         e. After His death, the disciples hid behind closed doors, for
            fear of the Jews - Jn 20:19
      2. But after the resurrection, they fearlessly praised God and
         proclaimed Jesus!
         a. Praising God in the temple - Lk 24:52-53
         b. Proclaiming Christ, despite persecution - Ac 5:28-32,41-42
      3. This transformation in their lives is strong evidence for the
         resurrection, as admitted by one Orthodox Jewish scholar:
         a. "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the verge
            of desperate flight because of the very real reason of the
            crucifixion, it took another very real reason in order to
            transform them from a band of disheartened and dejected Jews
            into the most self-confident missionary society in world
            history."  - Pinchas Lapide, former Chairman of the Applied
            Linguistics Department at Israel's Bar-Iland University
            (TIME, May 7, 1979)
         b. He concluded that a bodily resurrection could possibly have
            been that reason!
      -- Their remarkable transformation strengthens their witness

   C. DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR MORAL STANDARDS...
      1. They taught others to live holy lives - 1Th 4:1-7; Ep 4:25
      2. They lived their own lives in an unimpeachable way - 1 Th
         2:3-12
      -- Does this sound like people who propagate lies when they know
         better?

   D. DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR SACRIFICES...
      1. The apostles endured much suffering because of their testimony
         - 1Co 4:9-13
      2. All but one died a martyr's death because of their testimony
      3. Even Jesus' brother, James, was thrown off the temple and then
         clubbed to death for his testimony
      -- There was no motive for them to persistently lie about Jesus'
         resurrection!

CONCLUSION

1. The nature of their witness does not allow for the option of being
   deceived or deluded...
   a. Again, they professed empirical evidence
   b. They claimed to eat and drink with Him, touch Him, see Him

2. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, there is only one
   alternative...
   a. These witnesses were liars, deceivers
   b. Even Paul freely admits this is the only alternative - 1Co 15:
      14-15

3. Is it reasonable to believe they purposefully propagated a lie...?
   a. Too many people attested to the same fact
   b. They were not the kind of people to fabricate such a falsehood
   c. They lived noble lives, and were all willing to suffer and die for
      their testimony!

When we carefully examine the lives and testimony of such witnesses, the
only reasonable conclusion to draw is that they really saw what they
claimed:  Jesus is risen...!
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