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An Extraordinary Resurrection Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2021 1:00 am

An Extraordinary Resurrection Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 13, 2021 1:00 am

Ancient Rome had executions down to a science, and death was final—until the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When God raised Him from the dead, His resurrection guaranteed that those who believe in Him will one day rise as well.

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

If there's one thing ancient Rome was good at, it was executions. No one they killed ever lived again until Jesus made the comeback of all time. When God raised him from the dead, his resurrection guaranteed that those who believe in him will one day rise as well.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, critics say Jesus swooned on the cross and never really died. Do we know for certain that his death was genuine? Well, Dave, absolutely we know that he was dead.

As you already mentioned, the Romans knew how to kill people, and nobody would have been taken down from the cross unless it was known that he was dead. I also have to tell you, Dave, that many years ago I read a book about the swoon theory that you referenced. I remember how speculative it was, and not only that, it was really beyond speculation to the point of utter foolishness. The idea that Jesus was actually not dead, he swooned, and then the coolness of the tomb woke him up. Now, if that were true, imagine what he would look like. Would he look like the glorious Son of God who triumphed over death that the disciples saw and touched?

Of course not. We're glad that Jesus Christ arose, and even more glad, of course, that he rose from the dead. If you want more evidence, my friend, for the resurrection of Jesus, it's in my book entitled Christ Among Other Gods, a Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance. This is one of the last times we are making this resource available to our people. Here's what you do for a gift of any amount. Go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen carefully as we see more evidence that Christ is not one among many others, but uniquely the resurrected Son of God. An atheist by the name of Antony Flew who tells this parable to illustrate the difficulty of defending the Christian faith. He says that once upon a time there were two explorers that were walking through a forest when they came to a clearing in the woods. And they noticed that there were some flowers as well as some weeds in the woods in the clearing, and one of them said, I believe that there's a gardener that tends this plot.

The skeptics said, I don't agree. There is no gardener. So they decided to do an experiment, and they patrolled the area. In fact, they put up an electric fence, and then they used bloodhounds to try to find out whether or not a gardener ever showed.

As time went by, the electric fence was never tripped, and the bloodhounds never cried out. But the believer kept insisting, I believe that there is a gardener. It's just that he is an elusive, invisible, intangible gardener. But, said the skeptic, how do you distinguish an elusive, intangible, invisible gardener from no gardener at all?

Now, says Antony Flew, that is the dilemma of the Christian faith. We say that there is a gardener that attends this plot with its weeds and with its flowers, with its mixed results, with its good and its evil, but nobody ever sees him. He is invisible, elusive, and intangible. Well, in this morning's message, I want to tell you that I believe that God has entered the garden.

There is evidence that there is a gardener, and he has come to the garden. Those of you who attend here regularly know that this is number six in a series entitled Christ Among Other Gods, and in previous messages, I talked about Jesus Christ in contrast to some other religions. Today, we will not be talking about those other religions.

We will not have time to do that. I shall speak only about Christ, but when the message is over, I will give you an opportunity to reflect, to ask this question, is there another religion in all the world that believes in a God like Christ? Take your Bibles and turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, where the Apostle Paul lays out some evidence for the resurrection and shows its incredible importance. 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, he says in verse 3, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, that's to Peter, and to the Twelve. And after he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. And then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles.

And last of all, as it were to one untimely born, he appeared to me also. Verse 16, For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless. You are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If only we have hope in Christ in this life, we are of all men most to be pitied. Well, let me ask you the question, what evidence is there that God has come to the Garden? What I'd like to do in the next few moments is to give you some evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Three reasons why we believe in the resurrection of Christ. Reason number one is because the documents of the New Testament, the documents of the New Testament are reliable.

They are reliable. Let's suppose that we were to look at the documents of the New Testament as any other ancient historical writings, giving them no preferential treatment and not considering them any different than secular writings. How would the New Testament stack up with an evaluation like that?

Well, obviously, if compared to secular writings, the New Testament's evidence is overwhelming. There are three tests that scholars use to show the validity or the non-validity of ancient documents. The first you'll notice is bibliographical. Bibliographical, that's a pretty big word.

I had to pronounce that and practice it a little bit, but it's meaning simply, do we have a good reliable text that is trustworthy? You see, the ancient documents do not exist. The original manuscripts upon which the Apostle Paul and Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote, we don't know where they are because manuscripts don't last forever.

They disintegrate and there are no ancient original manuscripts that come from that era in any kind of writing. To give you an idea about the gap that exists between the originals and the ones that we do have, if you were to study the writings of Plato, there is 1500 years before the time of Plato or I should say between the time of Plato and the actual documents that we have. Those of you who have studied philosophy, when you read about Plato and Aristotle and all of their teachings, the manuscripts upon which those texts are based only date back to about the year 1000 AD. The gap is about 1500 years and yet everybody knows that we have a rather reliable text as to what Plato or Aristotle or Euripides wrote. In the case of the New Testament, the gap is about 250 years and even that gap has been narrowed because of the discovery of some recent manuscripts, papyri manuscripts in Egypt. We have the quotations of the early church fathers and this has led a man by the name of Sir Frederick Kenyon who for many years was the principal librarian in London, England at the museum there to say that the gap between the original writings and the manuscripts that we have today is for all practical purposes negligible.

We have a good textual tradition upon which we can base our faith. Secondly, there is what is known as internal evidence. That has to do with the reading of the text itself. Do the writers disqualify themselves because of contradiction?

Does it appear as if they are making up the story? If you read the New Testament documents, it's clear that the writers claim to be eyewitness accounts. For example, John says regarding the crucifixion, it says, he who saw this bear witness of it and he is the author of what he actually saw. We won't take out time to read the text but in Luke chapter 1 verse 4, Luke says that he has decided to set forth the things that happened in the life of Christ and he says I have laid it out in order that we might know exactly what has taken place. You read the gospel writers and they have a sense of authenticity and integrity.

You don't get the impression at all that they are unreliable news reporters. Then there is also external evidence. External evidence asks the question, is there anything in ancient history or archaeology that confirms the New Testament witness to Christ? Well, you know in various writings, there are 13 references to Christ in secular literature. In fact, Josephus even has a reference to Christ's resurrection. In addition to that, you have archaeology which always points in the direction of the authenticity of the gospels.

A man by the name of Sir William Ramsay spent all of his life studying the gospel of Luke and then the other book that Luke wrote which is the book of Acts and he concluded that Luke he says is unsurpassed. He says in his trustworthiness as an historian. Everywhere we look, there seems to be the earmarks of reliability. So one of the reasons that we can believe as Christians in the authenticity of the manuscripts, the reliability of the manuscripts is that even if they are tested by secular means and secular tests, they come out very well as being reliable documents. Then secondly, you'll notice first of all, the New Testament documents are reliable. Secondly, the witnesses are credible. They're credible witnesses.

Now let me speak with you very frankly because if you do any witnessing at all and you're talking to people about your faith, you know that often they will say well aren't you sure? How do you know that the gospel stories weren't made up by those who were devoted to Christ? I remember many years ago reading a Sunday school manual from a very liberal denomination. I won't tell you what denomination it was but it was very liberal.

Here's what it says. It says when it came to the miracles of Jesus like taking five loaves and two fish and feeding a multitude, what really happened was there was a little boy with his lunch and he took his lunch and he gave it to Jesus and when the multitude saw the devotion of this little boy and saw his commitment, they all felt so guilty that all of them began to take out their lunches and they began to share with those who didn't have a lunch and that's how everybody was fed. It was known as the paper bag theory. Everybody had a little paper bag and when the little boy gave his paper bag to Jesus, thousands of little paper bags appeared.

Now you know if you have a little paper bag God, you need a theory like that but here's the question. How do we know that these disciples didn't take a man and make him into God? How do we know that they did not put words in his mouth and took an ordinary person, Jesus, and make him into the Christ?

There are several reasons why the disciples were incapable of doing it. First of all, because Jesus would have been a very bad candidate to choose to make into the Christ. If there is anything unlike his times, it was Christ. There were all kinds of messiahs that would have fit in better with what the people were expecting in that day. Those who have done extensive work to look into what the general thought was regarding the messiah in Christ's time tell us that the nation was expecting a messiah that would unify the ten tribes. They were expecting a messiah who was going to take on Rome and fight the Roman Empire and throw off that heavy yoke of Roman occupation. They were certainly not expecting a messiah who said my kingdom is not of this world. They were not expecting a messiah who was going to take everything that was going on in the temple, all of the forgiveness and the worship that was taking place there and offering it out on the street corner and saying all that you need to do is come to me to be forgiven.

You don't have to go into the temple. That's not the kind of a messiah that they were expecting. Jesus would have been the last person that people would have made into the messiah.

There's another reason. Do you realize that the disciples would never have been psychologically capable of taking a man and calling him God? They would not have been able to do that. They were schooled and steeped in Judaism which says thou shalt have no other gods before me.

The Lord our God is one Lord. And now you mean to tell me that these disciples would have taken an ordinary man and ascribed to him deity? That would have been the highest blasphemy. They could not have done it. The reason that the disciples finally concluded that Jesus Christ was God is not because of messianic fever which some of the liberals want to say existed in those days and they were anxious to make a man into a god.

Not because of that. They were hard-headed fishermen who refused to believe until the evidence was so overwhelming that the facts compelled them to believe. That's why they believed that Christ was the messiah, that Christ was God. And then of course it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that actually transformed them.

I mean, they were a very frightened group of men on the day of the crucifixion but it was because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead that it is that explanation that can explain the strength of those early disciples and the formation of what we know as the Christian church. The documents are reliable. The eyewitnesses are credible. Thirdly, the alternatives are unbelievable.

They're unbelievable. Now, of course, because unbelief reigns in the human heart, there have been people who have looked at the Bible and said, well, the tomb must have been empty. There are many who grant that but they say the explanation for the empty tomb must be found somewhere else other than in a miracle. And so some people have said, well, the disciples stole the body. Remember, that's what Pilate was worried about when he said, you know, so that the disciples don't come and steal his body set a watch and they guarded the tomb.

But I need to ask you something. If the disciples stole the body, they would not have laid down their lives for something they knew to be a hoax. People have laid down their lives for foolish causes but not for things that they believed were foolish causes. Others have said, well, the enemies must have stolen the body but if the enemies did it, they would have produced the body when on the day of Pentecost Peter stood up and preached with such conviction about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You see, it just doesn't work to say that the enemies stole it. And then, of course, a book came out many years ago which I remember reading. If you're into fiction, it's a good book to read. And it illuminates the swoon theory. The idea is that Jesus really didn't die on the cross. He just swooned and then he was put into that dark cool tomb and he was revived. And then he came staggering out on the third day with blood stains all over his body and in a weakened condition, he inspired the disciples to begin the Christian church and he convinced them of his resurrection. Well, that is also unlikely. All theories regarding the empty tomb collapse under the weight of other evidence. Now throughout history, not everybody has been happy with the resurrection and the deity of Jesus Christ.

I can assure you of that. Not everybody has been glad because of it right from the early centuries. Pilate said, let's put an end to this.

And the Pharisees wanted to put an end to it. And when you think of Western civilization, some of our greatest thinkers who have impacted us the most are people who in effect have said to themselves, we want to keep Christ in that tomb. And in most instances, they've tried to keep him there by simply ignoring him, pretending that he had no relevance to their particular disciplines or their expertise. For example, David Hume took the stone cold philosophy and said to himself, we can use philosophy to keep that tomb closed. So Hume taught that miracles were impossible. He said the reason that miracles are impossible is because there is uniform evidence against them. Now if you've taken an introductory course in logic, you know that that is circular reasoning. He's beginning with the supposition that he wishes to prove. How can he know that there is uniform evidence against miracles?

All that we can do is check them out and see whether they have happened. Now what is a philosopher? Word philosophy means a lover of wisdom. How could David Hume, who supposedly loved wisdom, have bypassed Jesus Christ about whom the Bible says that in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge? How could Hume have done that? Well, he tried to keep the tomb closed. My friend, this is Pastor Lutzer, and you absolutely have to listen to Running to Win next time.

Because it's not just David Hume. I list others who have tried to keep Christ in the tomb, so to speak, and I detail why it is that they failed. You know, in my book entitled Christ Among Other Gods, A Defense of Christ in an Age of Tolerance, I quote the words of Savannah Rolle, who was put to death in Florence, a very interesting story by the way, because of what he believed and taught.

But before he died, he said these words, he who believes that Christ rules above need not fear what happens below. I think that this book will be such a great encouragement as it goes through the reasons why Christ is unique. For a gift of any amount, we want you to have this resource. We want you to read it, pass it along to your friends.

Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com. And by the way, this is one of the last times we are making this resource available.

RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or about the Christian life. Many Christians are alarmed at the way the public school system has veered off track from just teaching the fundamentals and increasingly is promoting an agenda that no believer can endorse.

Bob is one of our listeners. He wants to know this, Pastor Lutzer. Do you recommend homeschooling over public education? Well, I'm asked that frequently, and I need to say that if parents have a choice, of course homeschooling would be best, because it is true that the curriculum in many schools is one that Christian parents cannot possibly accept. We have the teaching of homelessness and we have the teaching of homosexuality. We have sex education that oftentimes inflames the desires of young people. How can our children withstand this?

They're not in a position to be able to stand by themselves. They are, after all, just children. You know, when you plant new grass and it's very young, you don't walk on it. You take good care of it.

Now, once it's stronger, then you can walk across the lawn. In the very same way, hopefully children grow up and they are convinced that they can then defend the faith in college and university, but in the earlier grades, it's quite different. At the same time, however, I am not saying that all parents should pull their children out of the public school system. I believe that there are still some public school systems in America that are accommodating to Christian values. They may not be distinctively Christian, but there are many teachers out there who are not going to work against you as parents.

So, bottom line, Bob, what you need to do is to make up your own mind. What is the possibility of having your children homeschooled? Is that even feasible over against the kind of school that they would attend if they were in public education? I do not think it is a one-size-fits-all, but let every Christian pray it through on their own, seeking all the possibilities and making as wise a decision as possible for their children.

Some wise counsel on a matter of deep concern for more and more parents these days. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click there on Ask Pastor Lutzer.

Or, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. There's massive evidence that says Jesus was raised from the dead. Though naysayers come and go, Christ's resurrection is as certain as any event in history. Next time on Running to Win, Dr. Lutzer talks further about Christ's extraordinary resurrection and how far some will go to explain away His miracles. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 01:57:23 / 2023-11-19 02:06:01 / 9

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