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Easter

1 Cor. 15:13-22 


After the cross, the disciples were downcast, rejected, despondent and without hope. They were defeated and disillusioned. On Easter morning, a few women went to the tomb carrying spices to anoint Jesus' body for burial. Mark 16:3-7 describes what happened next: "And they were saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?' [4] And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. [5] And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. [6] And he said to them, 'Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. [7] But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.'"

In that instant, everything changed. The bonds of sin were broken. The finality of death was decimated. Now, because Jesus rose from the dead, there was hope where there was despair, there is peace where there was conflict and there life where there was death.

Are you experiencing the hope of Easter? Has there been a time when you've placed your trust in Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead? Romans 10:9 says, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;"

Today I want to give you the opportunity to do just that. Do you believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead? If so, then will you confess Him as your Lord today?
 

PM

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; [14] and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. [15] Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. [16] For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; [17] and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. [19] If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 

[20] But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. [21] For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 

What would life be like if there was no resurrection? Paul wrote, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; [14] and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 

This is the pivotal issue of the Christian faith. If Jesus did not raise from the dead, there is no reason to proclaim from the teachings of scripture, because this is the truth that all other Christian truths are built upon. And the same is true of your faith. Without the resurrection, your faith is foolish. The faith that brought you through your trials-the faith that sustains you when you are tempted-the faith that is the conduit for God's grace in your life when you need forgiveness-without the resurrection, your faith is worthless.

Paul continues in verse 15, "Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised." If Christ did not raise from the dead, then all the Apostles of old and teachers of today are liars. It would be a grand conspiracy involving all the Christian teachers for the past two millenniums to deceive. 

Jesus rose from the grave, we know it to be a fact. We know it because,

We have the testimony of the apostles who saw Him and were willing to die for their convictions.

1 Corinthians 15:5 "and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

Ten of the 12 disciples died a martyr's death. The only two that did not was Judas, who killed himself after betraying our Lord, and John, who died in exile on the Island of Patmos. 

How many of you would be willing to die for something you knew was true? 

How many of you are willing to die for a lie? Not me. I'd never die for a lie, and neither would all 10 of the disciples. At the last minute, they would renounce their faith to save their skin. But they didn't. 

How can you explain that? Because they knew Jesus rose from the grave.

We have the testimony of the 500. 

1 Corinthians 15:6 "After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;"

And we have the testimony of Josephus, a Jewish historian who wrote, 

"Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him: and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." (c. 93 A.D. Antiquites of the Jews, chapter III, section 3)

We also have the testimony of modern day skeptics who came to Christ. 

Lee Strobel is a Teaching Pastor at Saddleback Community Church. In his book, God's Outrageous Claims, he shares his own pilgrimage to Christ. He wrote, "I used to consider the Resurrection to be a laughable fairy tale. After all, Yale Law School had trained me to be coldly rational, and my years of sniffing for news at the Chicago Tribune had only toughened my naturally cynical personality. But intrigued by changes in my wife after she became a Christian, I spent nearly two years systematically using my journalistic and legal experience to study the evidence for the Resurrection and the credibility of Jesus' claims to being God. I emerged totally convinced and gave my life to Christ . . ." (Lee Strobel God's Outrageous Claims, p. 170)

And you know the state of well-being you have because of forgiveness you've received from God and from one another? Well, throw that out too. Without the resurrection, there is no afterlife and you are still in your sins. And all the Christians that you've admired over the years? Stop admiring them and start pitying them. That's what Paul says in the next few verses: [16] For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; [17] and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. [19] If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Are you experiencing the hope of Easter? Has there been a time when you've placed your trust in Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead? Romans 10:9 says, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;"

Today I want to give you the opportunity to do just that. Do you believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead? If so, then will you confess Him as your Lord? 

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