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Unless Jesus rose from the dead, faith in Him is futile
#1
It is fine to study prophecies, genealogies and miracles, but unless Jesus physically rose from the dead — not in a vegetation myth during some Before Time, but on a specific day in a specific city during recorded history – then faith in Him is futile.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain, and you are still in your sins.” — I Corinthians 15:17

Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries (http://www.lamblion.com) has pointed out:

The greatest evidence of the resurrection is seen in the transformed lives of Jesus’ disciples. Within 50 days after His crucifixion, they had changed from a defeated, frustrated, hopeless group of individuals into a confident band of Jewish believers in Jesus determined to win the world for their Lord. [And they did so knowing that they might be executed for their evangelism, as Stephen had been, and as almost all of the first disciples and apostles eventually were.]

Jesus’ own brother, James, who didn’t believe His claims while He was alive, became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

Peter, who had denied Him three times in a fit of cowardice, began to proclaim Him boldly, even before the very Sanhedrin Council that had condemned Jesus (Acts 4:1-12).

Paul, the most ruthless persecutor of the church, became the greatest missionary of all because he encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).

All Jesus’ opponents had to do in order to silence the Gospel was display His body — but they couldn’t. It wasn’t in the tomb. Here are theories about its disappearance:

Confusion — the disciples went to the wrong tomb. Did Joseph of Arimathea forget where his own tomb was? Did the Roman soldiers forget which tomb they had guarded? Why didn’t Jesus’ enemies simply go to the correct tomb and produce His body?

Theft — the disciples stole His body. Why? Mark 9:30-32 says that they didn’t understand that Jesus was to rise from the dead. Their despair confirms that. Would the frightened disciples have become fearless body snatchers who committed themselves to a lie?

Hallucination or hypnosis — the disciples saw what they wanted to see, an empty tomb. If it really wasn’t empty, why didn’t Jesus’ opponents display His body for everyone to see?

Fainting — Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. Who could believe that after being stabbed, scourged, crucified, and without food or water for three days, He climbed out of His burial wrappings and ran around the countryside for 40 days? And a half-dead Jesus wouldn’t have been an inspiration to His disciples.

Dr. Reagan and others have made the following points:

If Jesus’ disciples were making up this religion centered on the risen Jesus, they could have taken the easy way: They could have proclaimed His resurrection in Rome or Athens, where stories of gods interacting with humans were common and accepted; and they could have said that it was men who discovered that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb.

However, they proclaimed the risen Messiah in the heart of the Jewish world, where their message was astonishing, and where anyone who wanted to crush faith in Jesus needed only to retrieve His corpse from the tomb. And it was testimony of women that first proclaimed His resurrection, in a culture in which only men were considered credible witnesses. The disciples could have launched this “new” religion in a far easier way – but they simply told the truth, no matter the cost.

The miracle of Jesus’ resurrection is crucial to salvation. As 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.”
#2
I agree, great thread. Romans 10:9 is my favorite verse within the entire book of Romans and the entire New Testament.
#3
(03-28-2013, 02:45 PM)MAlan Wrote: All Jesus’ opponents had to do in order to silence the Gospel was display His body — but they couldn’t.

Who says they didn't? The only record of the resurrection is the early Christian writings, and they would certainly not have been happy with anybody bringing out the corpse of their master. It is possible the Pharisees did produce the body, but the authors of the gospels simply didn't mention that bother of a detail.

Now, I am not insinuating that the Pharisees would need to do such a thing, but it is not so far-fetched to suggest the body was taken in any event. Consider the first gospel, chapter 27:

62. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
63. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'
64. 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."
65. "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how."
66. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The body was buried by night following his death, and clearly wasn't guarded until sometime the next day, giving anybody--conspiring disciples, over-eager Pharisees, or any weirdo--plenty of time to swipe the body under cover of darkness before the guards arrived. Thus, the guards do nothing, and the "body-snatching theory" is still a very real possibility.
#4
(07-25-2013, 11:14 PM)benyosef Wrote:
(03-28-2013, 02:45 PM)MAlan Wrote: All Jesus’ opponents had to do in order to silence the Gospel was display His body — but they couldn’t.

Who says they didn't? The only record of the resurrection is the early Christian writings, and they would certainly not have been happy with anybody bringing out the corpse of their master. It is possible the Pharisees did produce the body, but the authors of the gospels simply didn't mention that bother of a detail.

Now, I am not insinuating that the Pharisees would need to do such a thing, but it is not so far-fetched to suggest the body was taken in any event. Consider the first gospel, chapter 27:

62. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
63. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'
64. 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."
65. "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how."
66. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The body was buried by night following his death, and clearly wasn't guarded until sometime the next day, giving anybody--conspiring disciples, over-eager Pharisees, or any weirdo--plenty of time to swipe the body under cover of darkness before the guards arrived. Thus, the guards do nothing, and the "body-snatching theory" is still a very real possibility.
There's also the point that the actual instance of the resurrection, nobody was a witness to it. Sure, there are accounts of people seeing Yeshua after the resurrection walking around, but these can be made up.

Why not record the actual resurrection event itself like the revelation at Mount Sinai where millions of people partook of that encounter? I believe this is why the resurrection of Yeshua never occurred. A revelation of this kind would have been recorded in other annals of history by the Romans, Jews, other peoples. It's hard to fake an encounter with millions of people.
#5
(07-28-2013, 12:14 PM)Nachshon Wrote: [quote='benyosef' pid='88064' dateline='1374819247']
[quote='MAlan' pid='85380' dateline='1364507138']
All Jesus’ opponents had to do in order to silence the Gospel was display His body — but they couldn’t.

"Who says they didn't?" you ask?

Who says they did?

If you are claiming that anyone did, please provide your sources.

Which Jewish or pagan historians from that period wrote that they saw His body on public display, or even still entombed?

Where are the ancient records, Jewish or gentile, which say that Peter and the other disciples were laughed out of Jerusalem for proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, after His corpse had been displayed for anyone to see?

As one scholar (Fairbairn) put it, "The silence of the Jews is as significant as the speech of the Christians."

How could the first disciples have won so many followers if the essential heart of their message -- the resurrection of Jesus -- had been proven to be false?

They did not call people to follow a nice man who had taught many ethical concepts, but to follow a Risen Savior. Unless Jesus actually, literally, physically rose from the dead, faith in Him was, and is, pointless.

"If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." -- I Corinthians 15:14

When the resurrection was preached in Athens, some locals mocked Paul (Acts 17:32). But in Jerusalem, people could examine the empty tomb for themselves, and the result was many believers in Jesus, in the heart of the Jewish world. The disciples, in fact, encouraged people to verify their claims.

In Acts 25, we read that Festus explained to King Agrippa that the central issue of this faith was "a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive" (Acts 25:19). Who presented any evidence that the resurrection had been false?

Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian writing at the end of the first century A.D., mentioned Jesus' resurrection in his Antiquities, but did not record that the miracle had been proven to be a hoax, or that His body had been displayed.

In Acts chapter 4, Peter addresses rulers of Israel in the Sanhedrin, proclaiming that "God raised Him from the dead." If Jesus' corpse had been displayed for all to see, Peter would have been laughed out of the building -- and faith in Jesus would have fizzled out.

Again, the disciples could have been content to seek followers solely on the basis that Jesus was a good man who taught many ethical principles. However, their faith was anchored on the resurrection of Jesus, which they had not expected to happen.

Harvard law professor Simon Greenleaf wrote,

"All that Christianity asks of men...is that they would be consistent with themselves; that they would treat its evidences as they treat the evidence of other things; and that they would try and judge its actors and witnesses, as they deal with their fellow men, when testifying to human affairs and actions, in human tribunals. Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances, and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court of justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth."

The disciples explained to Jews (and gentiles) how Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Tenach. About those who rejected Him, Jesus said, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead." -- Luke 16:31
#6
(07-28-2013, 03:45 PM)MAlan Wrote: Which Jewish or pagan historians from that period wrote that they saw His body on public display, or even still entombed?

Where are the ancient records, Jewish or gentile, which say that Peter and the other disciples were laughed out of Jerusalem for proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, after His corpse had been displayed for anyone to see?
Jews during the 2nd temple period did not display dead bodies, or leave them out to decompose. You know that.

Where are the ancient records that say millions of people actually saw the resurrection event of Yeshua? Zip!

(07-28-2013, 03:45 PM)MAlan Wrote: How could the first disciples have won so many followers if the essential heart of their message -- the resurrection of Jesus -- had been proven to be false?
This is like asking why suicide bombers can be recruited given the falsety of their religion.

(07-28-2013, 03:45 PM)MAlan Wrote: Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian writing at the end of the first century A.D., mentioned Jesus' resurrection in his Antiquities, but did not record that the miracle had been proven to be a hoax, or that His body had been displayed.
Can you quote where this is found, and what edition? I happen to have a copy.

Just because something is written in a book, that doesn't make it true. The world is full of false stories. Just look at the Koran.
#7
MAlan, I did not say with certainty that the body was displayed; I simply said that the NT was written by those faithful to the new religion, so if the body had been displayed, the writers would not have been encouraged to record that fact. They simply would have skipped it.

An empty tomb does not necessitate a resurrection. As I demonstrated from Mt 27, there was enough time between the burial and the placing of the guards that the body could have been stolen, and not necessarily by opponents of the Jerusalem church. For example, the disciples could have swiped the body and no one would have been able to present the corpse to challenge the claims of resurrection, so Fairbairn’s quip (“silence of the Jews…”) would not reflect the reality of the situation.

In Mt 12:38-40, the Pharisees asked him for a sign and were told no sign would be given except the sign of Jonah, namely, "the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” What is puzzling is that although this was to be the only sign to the generation, no one saw the resurrection, nor did he appear to the very people to whom he made the promise of the sign! Especially considering J preached going to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, why didn’t he appear to the Jews who questioned him?

You could argue, “maybe he did, but the gospel didn’t record it.”

I answer that this would have been included in the gospel canon, for it would have accomplished two crucial tasks in J’s ministry: A. it would have been the decent thing to show the people, who were told this would be the sign, that, indeed, the sign had occurred, especially if the prophets had predicted exactly this, and B. it would have been far more convincing to potential recruits than merely an empty tomb, which could have several alternate explanations.

You could argue, as you did, that "if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."

I answer, why would J then have given this as a sign to the generation? Or, if this was truly a messianic prophecy, why did he think no one would believe it? Surely the leading Pharisees would have accepted such a sign, especially if it clearly reflected Scripture.

Josephus really doesn’t talk about Jesus. Unless I’m missing a source, the only time Jesus of Nazareth comes up in his writings is Antiquities, Book XVIII, Ch. 3, par. 3, which is universally agreed to be a later interpolation into his writings. The only argument is how much of these two sentences is fabrication. Even this questionable mini paragraph says he appeared only to those he loved, and no one else. Hardly solid support for the NT's account of "over 500 people." The question has been asked on this paragraph: If Josephus really believed what he (allegedly) wrote about Jesus, why does he cover his whole ministry in two sentences, but devotes forty chapters to Herod?


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