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Good News from the Graveyard

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
April 14, 2022 8:00 am

Good News from the Graveyard

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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April 14, 2022 8:00 am

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The virgin birth, the sinless life, the sacrificial death.

Each is critical to the Christian faith, but one event rises above them all. Coming your way next, Pastor Paul Shepherd shares his destined-for-victory message, Good News from the Graveyard. But first, he joins me now from his studio for a sneak peek at what today's message is all about. We don't usually associate the grave with bringing good news, but I think today's message will remind us that death is not the end for those that trust in Jesus because of that first Easter morning.

So tell us, what can we expect in this message coming up? Well, this message is my attempt to help people understand and rejoice in the reality of the resurrection. You know, the only good news I've ever heard from a graveyard is what those ladies who visited Jesus' tomb said. He's not here anymore. That's the only good news there is.

Every other time I've been to a graveyard, it was with mourning and sober thinking. But those ladies proclaimed he's not here. He is indeed risen. And in this message, I share four truths that I got first years ago when I read a book by Lee Strobel. Let me give him his credit so people don't think I'm stealing his thunder. But years ago, he wrote a book and he talked about the four E's that helped make the case of the resurrection.

I talk about those in this message. The first E is the early accounts. The second E is the empty tomb.

The third E is the eyewitness or the eyewitness testimony. And the fourth is the emergence of the church. And Lee makes the point that look at how many people died in the early days for their faith.

People don't want to lay down their lives for a lie. He said they did that because they knew Jesus was alive. So this message really gets me, Jews. I can't wait to share it with our audience and I pray they'll be blessed by it.

Well, thank you. Let's get right to this important message today as Pastor Paul Shepherd now shares some overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead just as he promised he would. Here's today's Destined for Victory message.

Good news from the graveyard. The reason why the Christian church takes the time worldwide every year and designates a Sunday to celebrate Christ's resurrection. In fact, some people ask, well, why does the date kind of jump around? Because it is not so much an exact day.

According to our current calendar, we wouldn't know what the exact day translates into in our calendar. But we do know it was a reality that three days after he was crucified, our Lord rose again. And that is what we are celebrating when we come together during the resurrection season.

That is why we celebrate this. In fact, if the truth be told, we don't wait until this day to celebrate the fact that Christ is risen, because when you become a real follower of Christ and a real worshiper of God every day that you wake up and you recognize that I'm alive by the grace of God and I'm saved by that grace. Every day is a day to celebrate his resurrection.

Whenever you open your mouth and pray and say, Lord, thank you for saving me, you're referring to the resurrection. So the resurrection that day that that occurred is the single most important day in human history. The resurrection, the day, the original day that Christ rose from the grave is the single most important day in human history. That's why we make such a big deal about it. Now, a lot of folk turn it into clothes and bunny rabbits and and all that stuff.

All that's just various trappings and traditions that people have gotten involved in. But this is really about the resurrection of our Lord. And that day that that occurred was the single most important day in human history. The second most important day would be the day Christ was born. But the single most important day was the day Christ rose, because let's be honest about it. If Christ did not rise, then even Jesus birth and Jesus death would be insignificant. Many a holy man, many a prophet gained such spiritual notoriety has come and gone, but all of them have grave sites where their body can be found. This is about the fact that God did not just send some prophet, the next prophet, the next voice to speak spiritual truths and then die like everybody else.

No, no. The resurrection is about the fact that God sent his own son, wrapped himself up in flesh, came and lived among us, died a death on our behalf. And three days later, he rose to be able to proclaim that all power is given to me in heaven and in the earth. And I've got the keys and the authority to set every captive free and to take every bound soul and to deliver them free in Christ if they will put their trust in me. The reason why we go through what we go through during the season to proclaim and drama and in every way possible the birth, the life, the death and the resurrection of Christ is because that is really what it's all about.

And so we are celebrating for very, very good reason. So I just want to make a few points and I'll let you go. I'm not going to keep you long, but give me about two and a half hours. Let me say a few things. I'll let you get out of here. No, actually, don't don't panic anybody. Just don't panic.

I'm I'm playing. But give me a few moments to talk to you about three things. First, I want to talk a little about the reality of the resurrection. Second, I want to talk a little about the reason for the resurrection. And third, I want to talk about the results of the resurrection, the reality of the resurrection. I want you to know that the reason why we pause and have such a big celebration during this season as followers of Christ is because Jesus really did rise from the grave. Let me look at one of several scriptural passages, Matthew Chapter twenty seven. I don't want to take for granted that everyone is familiar with what happened after Jesus death. So Matthew Chapter twenty seven, beginning at verse fifty seven, is where I want to focus your attention here for a few moments.

The Gospel of Matthew Chapter twenty seven, verse fifty seven. As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus body and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. 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 had risen 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 into chapter 28 of Matthew.

After the Sabbath at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning. His clothes were white as snow.

The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. He has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples he has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.

Now I have told you. This is one of several accounts that proclaims the reality of the resurrection. Now, over the centuries, skeptics have said, well, the problem is the scriptures were written by people who themselves were followers of Christ. So they had a vested interest in propagating this story of the resurrection of Christ. Well, the fact of the matter is, if you're a true seeker of truth, then you're going to want to not just throw up a smokescreen comment and think that it holds water.

You really need to test it in the light of facts and judge for yourself. And the fact of the matter is, everyone I am aware of who truly looked at the facts objectively and with an open heart, reached the conclusion that, no, there is clear evidence for the reality of the resurrection. Lee Strobel, who was an atheist journalist and really enjoyed the fact that he was the kind of, unless you can prove it, it's not true guy. His wife came to faith in Christ some years ago, and in an attempt to get his wife straight, he began to investigate the claims of Christ. He was a journalist and began to use his investigation skills and investigated the claims of Christ so that he could prove to his wife.

This is a bunch of nonsense that you've gotten yourself involved in. And the deeper he went into the evidence for the case for Christ, the case for creator, and the case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the more he realized that these things are indeed true. And he gave his life to Christ, and he has become, across the past couple of decades, one of the leading Christian apologists, and he shares wonderful information.

If you know some seekers who really want to explore this, I would encourage you to point them toward Lee Strobel's website, where they'll find a number of his resources that he offers for people who, with an open and honest heart, want to look at the evidence for what it will yield. We'll be right back with more of today's Destined for Victory message from Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. Listen to the broadcasts on demand at pastorpaul.net.

That's pastorpaul.net, where you'll find a host of great resources at our online store. Now, here's Pastor Paul with the rest of today's message, Good News from the Graveyard. When he talks about the resurrection, there was one time he was sharing about it, and he shared four Es that established the resurrection. I want to share those briefly in the interest of time. There's so much deeper stuff we could get into, but in the interest of time, let me just briefly share the four Es that I first heard from Lee Strobel.

The first is early accounts. We can believe in the credibility of the accounts because of how early they were written. They were written in the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries. They were not written hundreds of years later when everybody's dead, who couldn't disprove the resurrection if it were just a story.

One of the best ways to sort of spread a lie is to make sure there's nobody around who can say that's a lie. But we have in the Scriptures early accounts, first century AD accounts, written at that time, authenticated by scholars of that time who knew these stories were shared. The gospel was preached in the first century, and the message was clear among people who lived at the time of Christ, who saw Him not only before but after His death on that cross. And they are the ones who wrote these accounts, letting us know in no uncertain terms that Jesus is alive.

And so you have early accounts. The second thing that Lee talks about is empty tomb, the empty tomb. The fact of the matter is no one has ever been able to make the claim with any archaeological credibility that there is a tomb where Jesus' body was entombed and remains to this day.

You can say that about every other significant person in history. You can go visit the place where they lay. But from the first century AD on, no one has been able to say, here is where the body is because, as we just read, He is not here. You can't find the body if it's not around, and He is not here. Caiaphas, who was paranoid about making sure that that tomb was sealed so that people could not later on steal the body and claim that He was resurrected, Caiaphas was downright the high priest, was downright paranoid about that.

Guess what? In the 1980s, they found Caiaphas' tomb. The archaeologists were doing a dig in the Middle East, and they found Caiaphas' tomb.

We know where he is, but the guy he was worried about is not here, for he is risen, as he said. So you have the evidence of early accounts. You have the evidence of the empty tomb. Number three, you have the evidence of eyewitnesses' testimony. Eyewitnesses' testimony. If you're going to prove a case, even in a court of law, you're going to have to have firsthand accounts. You can't just talk to folks who know somebody who heard something.

That's how your cousins and them do. But that's not going to work when it comes to authenticating something as important as the resurrection of Christ. But what we have are eyewitness accounts. In fact, we were told, the apostle Paul, when he mentioned that in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, beginning at verse 5, here's what Paul had to say. 1 Corinthians 15, beginning with verse 5, he said, And he, that is Jesus, appeared to Peter, talking about after the resurrection, and then to the Twelve, the original apostles. After that, he appeared to, watch this, more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, at the time Paul wrote the first letter to the Corinthians, the first one, he says, They're still living today, most of those 500 who saw him, although some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Paul's referring there, of course, to the fact that he wasn't, at first, a follower of Christ.

In fact, he was the greatest persecutor of the early church. But one day he met the risen Christ. He didn't meet him like the others met him a couple of days after his resurrection. He met him some years after the resurrection, but he met him so powerfully on the Damascus road that he said, I am an eyewitness, I saw him myself. He had a supernatural experience as he was going to persecute more Christians in Damascus, and it turned his life around, and he, instead of remaining the worst persecutor the church had ever run into, he became the most prolific author of the New Testament letters, because the Lord changed his life. But look at what Paul said. He said, Alive today, for anybody to talk to, are over 500 individuals who saw the Lord, who spoke to the Lord, who handled the Lord, who went out on the ship, in one case with the Lord, after his resurrection.

Jesus spent 40 days on the earth after his resurrection showing himself to be alive. He wasn't sneaking around. He didn't have any reason to sneak around. He wasn't looking around the corner. Hey, y'all see anybody?

No sneaking around. Over 500 people that Paul was aware of saw him. We don't know how many others there were. Imagine if you're trying to make a case for somebody being alive in a court of law and the judge says, can you produce witnesses?

And you whip out a list of over 500 names. I'd say you're going to make your case if those people themselves are credible. And the fact of the matter is, you have the early accounts, you have the empty tomb, you have the eyewitness testimony, and fourth, you have the emergence of the church.

Think about this for a moment. The church was born less than two months after the resurrection of Christ. The day we call the birthday of the church, the day of Pentecost, it's recorded in Acts chapter two in your Bible. That day didn't occur decades after Jesus was alive. It occurred within two months, according to our calendar, 50 days after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit fell on Jerusalem and the church was born.

What's the significance of that? The people who established the church were the original apostles and the original followers of Christ, all eyewitnesses of the resurrection. The reason they were able to preach with power and began to spread the good news in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth, the reason they were able to do that is because they had seen the Lord and they're now filled with His Spirit and they want to proclaim His resurrection everywhere they go. This happened within two months of His resurrection. You say, what's my point?

My point is simply this. Nobody knowingly and willingly dies for a lie. And of those original apostles, of the 11 that remained at the resurrection of Christ, of course Judas had already killed himself, but of the 11 that remained, 10 of those men ended up dying as martyrs. They all laid down their lives for their belief in what they proclaimed.

They all said, He's alive. We know Him, we walked with Him and we now serve Him and we will lay down our lives for Him. Peter, when you see Him before the cross, what do you see Him doing? The night that Christ was betrayed, Jesus said to the dragon, Lord, I'll always be with you. And Jesus said, no, before tomorrow morning you're going to deny me three times.

And of course it happened. This is before, this is BC, this is before the cross. But after the resurrection, when Peter had denied Him and he thought he was disqualified, when Jesus appeared, one of the Easter accounts tells us, I want my disciples and Peter to meet me in Galilee. Jesus wanted to make sure Peter knew, you're not disqualified because you let me down.

I'm the one who told you, you were going to not be able to have the power to proclaim and to stand for me. But now, now that he has seen Jesus and now that the Holy Spirit has come into his life with power on the day of Pentecost, guess who preached the message? The Holy Spirit anointed Peter, scared Peter.

I mean a little girl. The Gospels say a little girl said, that man is one of the followers of Jesus and Peter said, no, I'm not. In fact, he swore that he never saw Christ. But that same man, less than two months later, is standing up in Jerusalem, preaching a message declaring the resurrection of the Lord to anybody who will hear. The church would not have emerged if these people had not truly seen the Lord after his death. Peter preached so long that day that in Acts chapter two, he gives us the gist of the message and finally Luke says, with many other words did he speak. You know, Peter was like me, he preached a little bit long, you know.

After a while, Luke said, I'm not writing all this down. With many other words, when you all see him in heaven, he said, because I'm through. The church would not have emerged unless these people had seen Christ. In fact, when Caiaphas and them were so paranoid about somebody sneaking and stealing the body, they should have known better. These scared disciples weren't going to do anything. They all scattered after the arrest of Jesus.

They certainly were going to have the boldness to sneak back into town the next day and say, all right, we got to go in there and take his body. No, no, this was a supernatural thing that Christ rose by the power of the heavenly father, that he was seen by eyewitnesses who laid down their lives because they knew Christ was alive. I want to let you know the resurrection is a reality. It's not a myth, it's not a fairy tale, it's not some old wise tale spun over the centuries until crazy people believe it.

You don't have to check your mind at the door of a church. Our faith is credible. Our faith is historical.

Our faith is rooted in facts that cannot be refuted with any credibility. Lee Strobel and many others have given us that information in compelling ways, and I want to let you know I serve a risen savior. I know that he's in the world today.

I know that he's living whatever men may say. Christ is alive, and he's alive right now. The resurrection is a reality.

That's why we celebrate. Thanks so much for being here for Pastor Paul Shepherd's message, Good News from the Graveyard. Remember, for your generous gift to Destin for Victory, we'll be happy to send you, by request, a booklet by Pastor Paul that dives into some of the key points of this message. The booklet is called He's Alive, and it's our gift to you by request when you make a generous gift to Destin for Victory. So please call us at 855-339-5500, or visit pastorpaul.net to make a safe and secure donation online. And of course, you can also mail your gift.

The address, Destin for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, California, 94538. Just when we had no hope of salvation, no hope of having a relationship with a holy God, no hope of having eternal life, no hope of having right standing before God, no ability to rid ourselves of sin, that's when Christ died for the ungodly. That's next time when Pastor Paul Shepherd continues to share his message, Good News from the Graveyard. Until then, remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are Destined for Victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-01 18:06:14 / 2023-05-01 18:15:29 / 9

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