Reasons to Believe
Easter, April 11, 2004
10 Reasons to Believe Christ Rose from the Dead
by Mart De Haan and Jimmy DeYoung
There are many ways to die: accident, war, crime, disease, self-inflicted, old age degeneration ---
But there is only one way to live, and by that I mean beyond the normal course of a life that ends in death by one of these causes from which no one escapes (Heb. 9:27).
That way is by faith in the One who rose from the dead in his own power of sinless righteousness.
This was something the world had never seen before and did not expect, even though Christ told this to his disciples many times – it was not in their range of experience and so it was like it didn’t register.
It would be like if I told my wife I was going to do the dishes.
Making The Bed With His Wife
When looking at Mary, I think of a letter Bob Dole received on the campaign trail when he was running for President. An article about Bob and Elizabeth Dole appeared in a magazine, along with a picture of Bob and Elizabeth making the bed together. Well, a male reader of the magazine wrote to Bob Dole and expressed his disappointment that Dole would allow himself to be photographed in such a "compromising" position, making the bed with his wife. Senator Dole wrote back to the man, saying, "You don't know the half of it; the only reason Elizabeth was helping at all was because the photographer was in the room."
Dr. Richard Meyer, "Break a Vase"
But now the world has experienced the greatest miracle of all time and eternity, and we have and will continue to celebrate it today, this morning.
The emerging church wanted to celebrate the resurrection of Christ for all generations until his return. But this was a growing concern.
Realize that Jesus had told his disciples that he was returning soon ---
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3 NIVUS)
“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:33 NIVUS)
“"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42 NIVUS)
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44 NIVUS)
Those words were for his disciples of all generations until his return.
The disciples of that time were so expectant of his return (just like we in this generation should be) that once they believed his resurrection they failed to record its exact date.
This has led to some controversy in the church over the years. The Eastern Orthodox Church observes Easter 13 days after the rest of Christendom.
The short answer of how the Western Church decided the time to celebrate Easter, with some adjustments in calendars over time, is that it should never be on the beginning of the Jewish Passover to show separation from Judaism, and that it should then fall on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the spring equinox.
The spring equinox is one of the two times in the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the length of day and night are approximately equal.
This explains the 35-day span where Easter can occur between March 22 and April 25.
But what I want us to see in this is that the wisdom of the early church chose a date for Easter that was all things new in every combination: the first day of the week (Sunday), following the first full moon, following the beginning of the time of year when all things new come bursting forth (spring).
With the resurrection of Christ we have something new that the world had never before seen, and through which we also can become new by faith – and experience. For we too in him shall be raised from the dead.
Even the date we celebrate it symbolizes everything new. May today mark newness of life for you in Christ.
There are at least ten reasons given by Mart De Haan and Jimmy DeYoung why you can believe Jesus rose from the dead.
1. A Public Execution Assured his Death
2. A High Official Secured the Grave Site
“The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” (Matthew 27:62-66 NIVUS)
3. In Spite of Guards, the Grave Was Found Empty
4. His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed
5. Many People Claimed to Have Seen Him Alive
6. Jewish Believers Changed Their Day of Worship
7. Witnesses Were Willing to Die for Their Claims
Something To Die For
"Even if they try to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for. And if a person has not found something to die for, that person isn't fit to live!"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. Although his Resurrection Was Unexpected, It Was Clearly Predicted
“When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life." And the disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:22-23 NIVUS)
9. The Resurrection Was a Fitting Climax to a Miraculous Life
10. The Resurrection Fits the Experience of Those Who Trust Him
Now if you can believe that Jesus rose from the dead you can be saved.
“That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 NIVUS)
And if you are saved you have reason to worship the Christ.
Daniel L. Akin in Discovering the Biblical Jesus gives at least ten reasons for our worship of the risen Christ.
Reasons to Worship
Easter, April 11, 2004
Christ’s Ascension – Ten Points of Significance
Excerpt from Discovering the Biblical Jesus by Daniel L. Akin
What can we say about the significance of our Lord’s ascension?
1. It ended the earthly ministry of Christ. It marked the end of the period of self-limitation during the days of His sojourn on earth.
2. It ended the period of Christ’s humiliation. His glory was no longer veiled following the ascension (see John 17:5; Acts 9:3, 5). Christ is now exalted and enthroned in heaven (see Phil. 2:9-11).
“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:5 NIVUS)
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” (Acts 9:3 NIVUS)
“"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.” (Acts 9:5 NIVUS)
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIVUS)
3. It marks the first entrance of resurrected humanity into heaven and the beginning of a new work in heaven (see Heb. 4:14-16; 6:20). A representative of the human race in a resurrected, glorified body is the Christian’s intercessor (see 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25).
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIVUS)
“where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:20 NIVUS)
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIVUS)
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 NIVUS)
4. It made the descent of the Holy Spirit possible (see John 16:7). It was necessary for Christ to ascend to heaven in order to send the Holy Spirit.
“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7 NIVUS)
5. It is the necessary corollary of the resurrection—the abiding proof that Jesus’ resurrection was more than a temporary resuscitation. To accept the bodily resurrection but deny the ascension, someone must affirm either that Christ is still an inhabitant of earth or that He later died again.
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18 NIVUS)
6. It conveyed to the disciples the realization that the appearances, which had occurred at intervals over a period of 40 days, were at an end. Thus, it relieved their tension and put their minds at ease, so that, with the arrival of each new day, they did not wonder whether their Lord would reveal Himself.
“After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3 NIVUS)
7. It suggested that Jesus was no longer to be perceived by physical sensation but by spiritual insight.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NIVUS)
8. It provided the occasion for the commissioning for witness and the promise of the Spirit (see Acts 1:1-8).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."” (Acts 1:8 NIVUS)
9. It provided the opportunity for our Lord to give gifted people to His church (see Eph. 4:11).
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” (Ephesians 4:11 NIVUS)
10. It provided the occasion for the promise that Jesus would come again
(see Acts 1:9-11).
“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."” (Acts 1:9-11 NIVUS)
A Happy Ending
Our time of tears throughout Lent has come to a happy ending with tears of joy over the Resurrection. A father took his little boy to a pet shop to pick out a puppy for his birthday present. For half an hour he looked at the assortment in the window. "Decided which one you want?" asked his Daddy. "Yes," the little fellow replied, pointing to one which was enthusiastically wagging his tail. "I want the one with the happy ending." For all the tears of sorrow, disappointment, and tragedy of Lent Easter is a Happy Ending to this season. Christ's glorious resurrection has turned them into tears of joy. Tears on Easter? Yes, tears of a happy ending to sorrow, death, and tragedy. Now we can say "HAPPY EASTER" and really mean it!