TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Regarding First Corinthians 15:1-8, David S. Dockery said, “Paul knew that at Corinth there were doubts about the resurrection. He affirmed that the resurrection of Jesus is essential for the gospel message. The consistent testimony of the church was that Jesus died for our sins, rose again, and appeared to numerous witnesses. Paul pointed out that if the Corinthians consistently maintained their anti-resurrection argument, Christ could not have been raised. If Christ has not been raised, there is no hope, and all gospel proclamation is in vain.”
Today, we are continuing our series drawn from the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and a historical text based on the Word of God, the Holy Bible, that was passed down from the early church all the way to us today — the Nicene Creed. Easter does not end with the high and holy day of Resurrection Sunday. Those who saw the risen Lord began to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. And, in this series, we are talking about the importance of the historical Christian faith that was passed down to us from the early church, how that we as Christians who are falling away from it ought to return to it, and how that the world ought to hear it so they can believe on Christ.
Regarding New Testament passages identified as the origin of the creeds of the church, Anthony C. Thiselton said, “The juxtaposition of confession in the saving efficacy of the cross and the divine vindication or glorification of Christ in the resurrection feature in virtually all of these passages as an emergent core pattern of the earliest Christian confessions or creeds within the pages of the New Testament. First Corinthians 15:3-5 clearly demonstrates its early ‘primitiveness’ but embodies qualifying descriptive phrases which place Christ’s death and resurrection within a scriptural, salvific, and self-involving frame of reference.”
In this series, we have looked at the following factual statements from the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
Today, we will continue looking at the next section of the Nicene Creed, which I added to because the first church creed, which we just read from the Word of God, includes evidence for the Resurrection that should be included in the Nicene Creed because it is a vital part of the Gospel:
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He was seen alive by Mary Magdalene and the other women,
the disciples, and over five hundred other brethren;
I added the last two lines about Mary Magdalene, the other women, the disciples and over five hundred brethren to the Nicene Creed, and you will see why in this message.
From the words of the Nicene Creed, we see three important facts about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On yesterday, we looked at the necessity of Jesus’ resurrection; if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then all that led up to His death would have been in vain.
Today, we are looking at THE UNLIKELY EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ RESURRECTION. “He was seen alive by Mary Magdalene and the other women.” Since the four gospels were written by four men with different perspectives for four different audiences, there are variations in the accounts of the Resurrection. But there is one detail that is consistent in all four accounts — that women were the first to discover that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb and that they were the first to bear the message that Jesus had risen to others. The angels at the tomb and Christ himself gave women the task of delivering the great news of His resurrection to His disciples during a time when the testimony of women would not be believed in court unless men could corroborate it.
In his book, Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion, physicist John Polkinghorne said: “Perhaps the strongest reason of taking the stories of the empty tomb absolutely seriously lies in the fact that it is women who play the leading role. It would have been very unlikely for anyone in the ancient world who was concocting a story to assign the principal part to women since, in those times, they were not considered capable of being reliable witnesses in a court of law. It is surely much more probable that they appear in the gospel accounts precisely because they actually fulfilled the role that the stories assign to them, and in so doing, they make a startling discovery.”
If they were making up the resurrection, the most unlikely thing any of Jesus’ disciples would have done, would have been to make women the discoverers and deliverers of this news. In a recent interview on Focus On the Family’s radio broadcast, host Jim Daly asked investigative journalist Lee Strobel, “The description of the resurrected Christ is observed first by women. And if people understood the culture of the time, if you’re wanting to put out a false story, women were not respected in the same way men’s testimony would be?”
Strobel responds, “Exactly. It’s called the ‘criterion of embarrassment.’ When historians try to determine if an ancient writing is telling the truth, if that ancient writing says something that’s embarrassing to themselves or hurts their own case, they’re probably telling the truth. Because if you’re going to make it up, you’re not going to make up something that’s going to hurt your case. It’s weakening your case. Women were generally not considered to be reliable purveyors of information in those days. They weren’t considered credible. They were generally not allowed to testify in a court of law. And that’s both in Jewish culture at the time, as well as Roman culture… In the second century, critics of Christianity attacked Christianity by saying, ‘Well, you can’t trust that women discovered the tomb empty.’ And yet, for Christians, that’s what happened. And you’re right. Isn’t it in God’s sovereignty that He chose it would be women who would discover that tomb empty, to honor them in that way… The case, I think, is not just strong. I think it’s persuasive. I think it’s powerful. It changed my life when I realized this is not make-believe. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s not legend. It’s not mythology. It is based on a solid foundation of historical truth. And I couldn’t — as someone committed to truth, I could not turn my back. I had to respond by receiving Jesus as my Forgiver and Leader.”
THIRD, WE SEE FURTHER EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY OF THE RESURRECTION. Jesus was also “seen alive” by “the disciples, and over five hundred other brethren.” These are men and women who met with, talked with, and ate with Jesus after His crucifixion. It is impossible that all of them were hallucinating, experiencing flashbacks, or fabricating a story. Paul even adds in his letter, “the greater part [of these eyewitnesses] remain [alive] unto this present [day], but some are fallen asleep [or have died].” He says, “Most of these guys are still alive. You don’t have to take my word for it. Go ask them.”
The disciples and brethren who saw Jesus alive went on to establish the church in Jerusalem. Jesus’ crucifixion was a major event in the life of the city. Historians tell us that the population of Jerusalem was normally about 100,000. But, during Passover, the city’s population swelled to around 3 million as Jews from all over the diaspora traveled to the city for the commemoration. Everybody knew what had happened to Jesus, not only in Jerusalem, but in the surrounding areas as people left the city and traveled back home. It would have been ridiculos for Jesus’ followers to begin preaching that Jesus was alive when everybody knew He was dead — unless He actually was alive.
The disciples’ preaching about a risen Jesus only got them persecuted and killed. And that is yet another evidence that the resurrection really happened. Dr. Jonathan Morrow said, “The earliest disciples would have known — not just believed, but would have known — that either Jesus was who He claimed to be and was actually raised from the dead or they were making this thing up. And yet history tells us that we have good reason to think they all went to their death with the exception of one for that core belief: that Jesus was raised from the dead. They didn’t recant that. Conspiracies break down under pressure. And this conspiracy would have cost them their lives.”
The disciples were willing to die for Jesus because Jesus had died for them — and because they knew that since He had risen from the dead, He would raise them from the dead as well. This Easter, we remember a risen Savior who was seen alive by Mary Magdalene and the other women, the disciples, and over five hundred other brethren. And on top of that millions of believers in Jesus Christ living and dead have testified to the resurrection of Jesus Christ because He lives in them. Do you know Him?
In the Focus On the Family interview that I quoted from earlier, after Lee Strobel presents the evidence for the resurrection, host Jim Daly said, “That takes us right into the final real question, that key verse in John 1:12 that helped you finally accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Describe the unique way God confirmed His presence in your heart.” Lee Strobel responds, “I read John 1:12. And it says, ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believed in His name.’ That verse forms an equation of what it means to become a child of God — believe plus receive equals become. So believing is a great first step. Believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be. He claimed to be the son of God. He backed up that claim by returning from the dead. I believe that based on the historical data. But that wasn’t enough. I had to receive this free gift of God’s grace, forgiveness, and eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross when He died for our sins as our substitute and paid for all of the sins that we’ve committed so that we could be given this free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. And then when we receive that gift in a prayer of repentance and faith, then we become a child of God… I think there’s a lot of people who would agree with the resurrection evidence, but their life hasn’t changed. Their values haven’t changed. Their character hasn’t changed. Their morality hasn’t changed. Because they haven’t taken that next step — to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior in a prayer of repentance and faith.”
If you are ready to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.