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Rejecting The Resurrection

Jesus Christ defeated death, and He made a way for you and me
to defeat it as well. There is no hope of heaven, of eternal blessing
and joy, without the resurrection of Christ. But in spite of that, most
people reject it. To do so, for whatever reason, is to commit spiritual
suicide. Such people forfeit all hope of a future in heaven. Their souls
are damned to an eternal hell without God. Not only do they lose future
blessing, but also the meaning and value of the present. If the future
holds no meaning, how can the present have any meaning?

To deny the hope of eternal life is to oppose humanity's innate desire
for immortality. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in the
heart of every man and woman. Something inside man reaches out for
immortality--he is not satisfied with life on a temporal level only. The
myriad religions and philosophies throughout history reflect that desire.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to that desire. Jesus said,
"Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). He also said, "I am the
resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were
dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall
never die" (John 11:25-26). The Bible tells us that if Christ did not rise,
no one has any hope. But He did, so we have hope for eternal life
(1 Cor. 15:17-20). Yet men continue to reject that hope.

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Lie The Proves the Resurrection

John MacArthur
All Rights Reserved

(A copy of this message on cassette tape may be obtained by calling 1-800-55-GRACE)
Matthew 28:11-15 Tape GC 2403


Matthew 28:11-15 says, "Behold, some of the watch [Roman guard] came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave much money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day." That narrative describes bribery and the perpetration of a lie about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

G. B. Hardy wrote a book about destiny (Countdown: A Time to Choose [Chicago: Moody, 1971]). In it he asked two important questions: "1. Has anyone cheated death and proved it? 2. Is it available to me?" (p. 32). He found the answers to his questions in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A. Rejecting the Resurrection

Jesus Christ defeated death, and He made a way for you and me to defeat it as well. There is no hope of heaven, of eternal blessing and joy, without the resurrection of Christ. But in spite of that, most people reject it. To do so, for whatever reason, is to commit spiritual suicide. Such people forfeit all hope of a future in heaven. Their souls are damned to an eternal hell without God. Not only do they lose future blessing, but also the meaning and value of the present. If the future holds no meaning, how can the present have any meaning?

To deny the hope of eternal life is to oppose humanity's innate desire for immortality. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in the heart of every man and woman. Something inside man reaches out for immortality--he is not satisfied with life on a temporal level only. The myriad religions and philosophies throughout history reflect that desire. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to that desire. Jesus said, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). He also said, "I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). The Bible tells us that if Christ did not rise, no one has any hope. But He did, so we have hope for eternal life (1 Cor. 15:17-20). Yet men continue to reject that hope.

B. Explaining the Resurrection

Throughout the years many theories have been proposed to explain away the truth of the resurrection. Let me relate some of them.

1. The swoon theory

a) Discussed

Those who hold to this theory believe that Christ never died. They claim He went into a coma because of shock from a great loss of blood, plus the trauma His body endured on the cross. When He was removed from the cross and laid in the tomb, the aroma of the spices and the coolness of the tomb supposedly revived Him. It is then asserted that He somehow came out of the grave, and the disciples assumed He had been resurrected.

b) Disproved

(1) The testimony of the witnesses

(a) The preparers

All the early records are emphatic that Jesus was dead. The women, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus must have known whether He was dead when they carefully wrapped His body in linen and anointed Him. They certainly would have noticed any sign of life considering the care with which they handled His body.

(b) The soldiers

The Romans were expert executioners--they knew when someone was dead. They didn't break Jesus' legs because it was obvious that He was already dead. When they rammed a spear into His side, and blood and water came out, they knew for sure He was dead.

(2) The severity of the injuries

If the swoon theory is to be believed, Jesus would have had to survive a severe beating and a loss of blood, a crucifixion with a further loss of blood, and a mortal spear wound in His side. He would have had to survive entombment with over seventy pounds of spices on His already weakened body. He would have had to survive three days with no food or water. Then He would have had to wake up in the dark tomb without any medical assistance, move the stone, and walk out of the tomb. Once He was outside, He would have had to overpower the entire Roman guard, and then walk seven miles to Emmaus on feet that had been pierced with nails!

2. The no-burial theory

a) Discussed

Those who believe this theory claim that Christ was never put in the tomb, so obviously He wasn't there on Sunday. His followers thought He would be in the tomb. When He wasn't there, they thought He had been raised. This theory suggests that Christ's body was thrown into a pit with the bodies of other criminals.

b) Disproved

There is no evidence to support that any of those events took place. Why would the Jewish leaders seal the tomb and post a Roman guard if Christ's body had been thrown in a pit? They could have disproved the resurrection simply by retrieving His body from the pit and producing it as evidence.

3. The hallucination theory

a) Discussed

Those who support this theory say Christ's followers only thought they saw Jesus, because they wanted to see Him so badly. They argue that the disciples were so excited in their anticipation of the resurrection, they experienced a hallucination.

b) Disproved

But how could 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6) have had the same hallucination at the same time? Since Christ's closest followers didn't expect a resurrection, where did they acquire the strong desire that caused them to hallucinate? And the question still remains: Even if they did hallucinate, what happened to Christ's body?

4. The telepathy theory

a) Discussed

Some have suggested that there was no physical resurrection, but that God sent mental images into the minds of Christ's followers.

b) Disproved

That theory makes God a deceiver and the apostles liars. If it were true, the two disciples going from Jerusalem to Emmaus walked seven miles, carrying on a conversation with an image. Later they ate with that same image. However, Christianity is not founded on deception.

5. The séance theory

a) Discussed

This theory states that some medium conjured up the spirit of the dead Jesus through occultic power.

b) Disproved

How could Christ's followers have touched Him and held His feet if He were just a spirit? In Luke 24:39 Jesus says, "Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." How could Jesus have eaten if he were just a spirit? (cf. Luke 24:40-43). And once again, where is the body? Why was the tomb empty if Jesus' appearances were nothing more than some projection by a medium?

6. The mistaken-identity theory

a) Discussed

Some claim that someone impersonated Jesus to fake the resurrection.

b) Disproved

If we assume that, the impostor must have crucified himself to produce the wounds in his hands and feet, and stabbed himself to produce his punctured side. However, that's an unreasonably high price to pay for faking something. How can you explain the post-resurrection miracles if He were an impostor? How can you explain His walking through walls, routing the fish in the Sea of Galilee to the disciples' net, appearing and vanishing at will, and ascending into heaven in full view of the apostles? No impersonator can do that. Besides, the disciples knew Jesus too well to be fooled. And then again we ask, where was the body?

7. The deluded-woman theory

The nineteenth century French scholar Ernest Renan attempted to debunk the resurrection of Jesus Christ by claiming it was based on the testimony of an eccentric, delirious, frightened woman named Mary Magdalene. He implied said that since she had been possessed by seven demons (Luke 8:2), she merely imagined that she saw the resurrected Christ (The Life of Jesus [N.Y.: Carleton, 1886], p. 357).

But he must have forgotten there were over 500 witnesses. He forgot the ten separate appearances of Christ recorded in the gospels. And he doesn't explain what happened to the body of Christ. If the Jewish leaders had produced His body, they would have stopped all apostolic preaching of the resurrection. Any theory that denies the resurrection must explain what happened to the body.

8. The theft theory

The theory that the disciples stole Christ's body was adopted by the Jewish leaders (Matt. 28:11-15). This is the only theory that makes any sense because it's the only one that attempts to deal with the absence of Christ's body. The Jewish leaders wouldn't have taken Christ's body because they had no reason to fake a resurrection. The Romans wouldn't have taken it because they weren't interested. Only the friends of Jesus had a reason for stealing Christ's body.

Matthew concluded his narrative on the resurrection of Christ with the lie perpetrated by the Jewish leaders. But why did Matthew decide to end on a negative note? Why didn't he conclude his account like John did, giving us testimony of the witnesses affirming the resurrection? I see two things: First, he wanted to demonstrate that the apostasy of the Jewish leaders was final. They denied the resurrection just as they did everything about Jesus Christ. Second, the testimony of Christ's enemies is the best testimony to the reality of His resurrection. We would expect His followers to attest to His resurrection, but not His enemies. And this unexpected incident involving His enemies is a marked and significant proof of the resurrection. The narrative itself is a compelling apologetic.

I. THE PLOT (vv. 11-15a)

As we approach the text, we need to remember the context (see pp. xx- xx; xx-xx). It was now Sunday morning--the third day since Jesus was placed in the tomb. As a group of women approached the tomb, an earthquake occurred. When they arrived, they discovered that the stone covering the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. Sitting on the stone was an angel in white garments sent from God. His descent from heaven was the cause of the earthquake. The angel announced to the women that Christ was no longer in the grave--that He was alive. They looked in the tomb and discovered he was right. Then they left to inform the disciples. While they were walking along the road, the risen Christ met them and spoke to them.

Matthew 28:4 tells us what happened to the Roman soldiers when they saw the angel: "For fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men." They felt the earthquake and saw the stone moved away. Then they saw the angel, and their fear of him caused them to faint.

A. The Report of the Soldiers (v. 11)

"Now when they [the women] were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done."

1. Their decision

In verse 10 the risen Christ says to the women, "Be not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." As the women were going to find the disciples, some of the guard came into the city. We don't know precisely when the guard came out of their coma and went into the city, but it was around the time the women went to fulfill Christ's command.

Matthew said that some--not all--of the guard went into the city to report what happened to the chief priests. Perhaps as many as a dozen went, while some remained by the grave. It might be that some of them were too frightened to admit they had lost the body they were supposed to be guarding. They were aware of the Roman law stating that if a soldier fails in his duty, he pays with his life.

2. Their duty

The soldiers had a duty to report back to the chief priests. They didn't report to Pilate because he had given the chief priests authority over them. Matthew 27:62-66 reminds us that "the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." At that time the Jewish leaders took charge of the soldiers and set the guard. They would have warned the guard that the disciples might try to steal the body because Christ claimed He would rise on the third day. So the guard would have been alert, anticipating an appearance by the disciples.

3. Their description

Matthew 28:11 says that the guard "showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done." That means they told them about the earthquake, about the stone being rolled away, and the arrival of the angel.

I believe the Jewish leaders were the first to hear second-hand about the resurrection--even before the disciples. But they didn't believe. Two days previous they mockingly said, "Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him" (Matt. 27:42). And here was something greater--He came out of the grave. But they didn't believe; they didn't even investigate the soldiers' story. They were so resistant, so blind, so sinful, and so locked into their own religious system that they would not investigate the report. They refused to believe. Second Corinthians 4:4 tells us why: "The god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them who believe not." The news brought shock and fear, but it did not bring repentance and faith. The religious leaders were without excuse. They were informed about the resurrection, yet they didn't bother to investigate its validity. They did do one thing--determine a way to prevent others from hearing about it.

B. The Reaction of the Leaders (vv. 12-14)

1. Convening the Sanhedrin (v. 12a)

"When they were assembled with the elders."

That phrase is used frequently in Matthew to refer to an official meeting of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of elders in Israel. They convened immediately to deal with the supernatural events that occurred at the grave of Christ. If the leaders allowed the people to believe Jesus was alive, they would have had a worse situation on their hands than ever before (Matt. 27:64). They feared the whole nation would follow Christ. So they decided to lie about the resurrection.

2. Passing a resolution (vv. 12b-14)

a) Its purpose (v. 12b)

"Had taken counsel."

That phrase (used in Matt. 12:14; 22:15; 27:1, 7) refers to making a formal resolution. At this official convening of the Sanhedrin, the elders passed a formal resolution regarding how they would handle the disappearance of Jesus' body from the tomb.

b) Its essence (vv. 12c-14)

(1) Bribery (v. 12c)

"They gave much money [Gk., arguria, "silver money"] unto the soldiers."

The rulers bought off Judas Iscariot for thirty pieces of silver, but they had to pay much more to the soldiers. After all, there may have been a dozen of them. And they might have given more than just thirty pieces per soldier. But it didn't matter--the leaders were willing to pay any price to perpetrate their lie about the resurrection. What they could not afford was letting the people think Jesus had risen from the dead.

(2) Deception (v. 13)

"Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept."

The soldiers knew that wasn't the truth--that's not what they reported. But the Jewish leaders bribed them to lie about the resurrection. Since the grave was empty, the only theory that made sense was the disciples stole the body.

(3) Protection (v. 14)

"If this [the story that the soldiers were sleeping when the disciples stole the body] come to the governor's [Pilate's] ears, we will persuade him, and secure you."

The Greek phrase translated "persuade him, and secure you" literally means, "satisfy him and make you without anxiety." The soldiers were afraid that if Pilate heard that the body was stolen while they slept, they would be court-martialed and executed. So the Sanhedrin assured that they would take care of things if Pilate found out. By now they were experts at coercing the cowardly governor.

So that was the resolution voted on and passed in the Sanhedrin. Therein lies Matthew's final testimony to the apostasy of Israel's leaders. The greatest miracle Jesus ever performed was His own resurrection from the dead, yet the rulers were interested only in denying it.

C. The Response of the Soldiers (v. 15a)

"So they took the money, and did as they were taught."

The soldiers did as they had been instructed: they proclaimed the lie. Even to this day the prevalent theory against the resurrection is this "theft theory."


"This saying [Gk., logos] is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."

Matthew wrote his gospel probably around A.D. 63. So thirty years later the theory that the disciples stole Christ's body was continuing to circulate among the Jewish people. The soldiers knew the truth. They had been at the tomb and experienced the phenomena of the resurrection to some degree, yet they were not believers. To the contrary they become preachers of an anti-gospel. And their lie still exists today.

The narrative regarding the lie concludes in Matthew 28:15. But if we stop there we will miss Matthew's reason for including it. The lie perpetrated by the Jewish leaders supplies convincing proof of the reality of the resurrection. It accomplishes the opposite of what it was intended to accomplish. Most importantly, it is evidence given not by Jesus' friends, but by His enemies.

A. Proof of the Resurrection from Christ's Friends

1. Their unanimity

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell us about the physical resurrection of Christ. Their testimony includes the following facts: the stone was moved, Christ's grave clothes remained in perfect order, there was an earthquake, holy angels gave testimony about the reality of the resurrection, and there were ten separate appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. He appeared (1) to Mary Magdalene (John 20:14); (2) to the other women (Matt. 28:9); (3) to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5); (4) to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32); (5) to ten of the disciples in the upper room (John 20:19-24); (6) to the eleven disciples, including Thomas, eight days later (John 20:26-29); (7) to seven disciples in Galilee (John 21); (8) to the five hundred (1 Cor. 15:6); (9) to James (1 Cor. 15:7); and (10) to the eleven on the Mount of Olives as He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-9). Now that's convincing testimony--so much so that Acts 1:3 says, "He showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible truths." It is even more convincing when we realize that at one time, the disciples didn't expect there would be a resurrection. However, they were soon convinced, and were unanimous and unwavering in their testimony.

2. Their transformation

Luke 24:11 says that when the women reported to the disciples that Jesus was alive, "their words seemed to them as idle tales." John 20:9 says, "As yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead." They weren't anticipating a resurrection. What transformed the disciples, who didn't expect a resurrection, from being the cowardly, spiritually dull pessimists that they were into heroes who fully believed in it? How could this group of men, who ran in fear from the Jewish leaders when Jesus was taken captive, run in courage to the same leaders and proclaim the resurrection? When the religious leaders told them to stop, Peter said, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). On another occasion he said, "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29, NIV). So what changed them? Prior to the resurrection Peter ran in fear denying his association with Jesus. Then on the Day of Pentecost he preached the gospel before thousands of people, indicting them for crucifying and killing their Lord (Acts 2:23; 3:14-15).

By what power were they transformed? It wasn't the power of their speech. They were not trained orators and masters of eloquence and logic. What made the difference in their lives? The reality of the resurrection (Acts 4:13). They believed it because of the evidence. They had a compelling, powerful faith that caused them to die for the truth of the resurrection.

B. Proof of the Resurrection from Christ's Enemies

1. The importance of their explanation

It was impossible for the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers to deny that Christ left the grave by supernatural means. They saw the evidence. If His body were still in the grave, they would have produced it and proven that the resurrection was a hoax. But the tomb was empty. The earthquake and the angel proved something supernatural had occurred. To deny the resurrection, they had no other choice but to claim that someone took Christ's body.

2. The impossibility of their explanation

a) The cowardice of the disciples

Before the resurrection, the disciples acted like cowards. Shortly before Christ was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He predicted that all the disciples would forsake Him and flee (Matt. 26:31). The Old Testament prophets predicted it as well (Zech. 13:7). When the entourage of chief priests, religious dignitaries, and Roman soldiers went into the garden, they found Christ with His disciples with Christ (John 18:2-4). As the Lord spoke His name, everyone in the mob was knocked flat on his back (v. 6). At that point the disciples felt invincible. Peter took out his sword--he was prepared to fight (v. 10). He felt secure after what the Lord had just done to the mob. After Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's slave, Christ commanded him to put his sword away (v. 11). He then healed the slave's ear (Luke 22:51), and allowed Himself to be taken captive (John 18:12). As soon as Christ was taken, the disciples panicked and ran (Matt. 26:56). They were afraid. They didn't want to confront the mob--they knew they could lose their lives. Later, while in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter was confronted about his association with Christ. He denied following Him and even knowing Him (Matt. 26:69-75).

If the disciples stole the body, how did they acquire the courage to pursue their plan once they saw the Roman guard at the tomb? These same men did not remain alongside the living Christ when He was taken captive, even after seeing His power on display. How can we believe they would take a stand apart from the comforting presence of Christ against the same people they ran from earlier? We can't! They were hiding out in fear. Peter, the boldest, strongest, and most courageous of the disciples, denied Jesus Christ verbally before even a slave girl! (Matt. 26:69).

(1) They didn't have the means to bribe the soldiers

The disciples couldn't have bribed the soldiers--they didn't have enough money. Matthew 28:12 says the Jewish leaders had to give them much money.

(2) They couldn't sneak past the soldiers

Some believe that a few of the disciples distracted the soldiers while the others went in the tomb and took the body. That means they would have had to be extremely fast. If that were true, then why would they take the time to unwrap all the grave clothes and lay them out carefully in the grave? If speed were an issue, they would have picked up Christ's body and ran out of the tomb as fast as they could. And how could they have rolled the stone from the entrance without the soldiers noticing?

(3) They didn't anticipate a resurrection

The disciples didn't anticipate the need for a resurrection, so why would they fake one? Why would they be willing to die for what they knew to be a hoax?

b) The commitment of the soldiers

It is hard to believe that all the Roman soldiers would have been asleep--they knew better. When Roman soldiers stood guard at night, they divided their time into four watches. A watch would last no more than three hours and no less than two. That's not a long period of time for anyone to stay awake, let alone a trained Roman soldier. After he stood his watch, another soldier would take his place while the others slept. Since they rotated the watch, it's highly unlikely that they all fell asleep at the same time. Furthermore, if a Roman soldier fell asleep while on guard and not fulfill his duty, he would pay with his life. The price was too high for them to risk falling asleep.

c) The bribery from the leaders

Another factor that makes the explanation of the Jewish leaders impossible to believe is that they would not have bribed the soldiers to tell the truth. They gave them a lot of money to lie. People don't bribe people to tell the truth; they bribe them to lie.

d) The lie of the soldiers

In Matthew 28:13 we read that the Sanhedrin told the soldiers to say, "His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept." But how could they know what happened while they were asleep? Could they see the disciples steal the body while they were sleeping? Of course not. If they were asleep, they wouldn't know what happened.

Such explanations are an offense to logic and reason.

By recording the lie perpetrated by the Jewish leaders, Matthew showed us that any explanation other than the resurrection is absurd. The testimony of Scripture is that Jesus rose from the dead. Both the testimony of Christ's friends and enemies support that conclusion.


Simon Greenleaf, the famous Harvard professor of law, 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.... The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth" (Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administrated in Courts of Justice [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965 reprint], p. 46). The assessment of those who have extensively studied the resurrection is that no other historical event is as thoroughly attested to as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The folly of alternate explanations is merely another demonstration of its reality.

Because He lives, He gives life to all who believe in Him. Romans 10:9- 10 says, "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 with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." And salvation is equal to eternal life, deliverance from sin, and hope. Our salvation secures our eternal destiny in the presence of God in the glories of heaven. But it belongs only to those who believe in the resurrection and confess Jesus as Lord, thereby identifying themselves with Him.

How do you respond to the resurrection? There are many who try to explain it away, and in so doing commit spiritual suicide. They kill their hope for the future and the meaning of life in the present. But there are many who believe because the facts are so clear and the evidence is so strong. May you stand in that company.

Focusing on the Facts

1. In a sense, what are people doing when they reject the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Explain (see p. 1).

2. What is the only thing that will fulfill man's innate desire for immortality (see p. 1)?

3. Name the different theories that have been proposed to explain away the resurrection. Explain each one (see pp. 2-5).

4. What must any theory that denies the resurrection explain (see p. 4)?

5. Why did Matthew conclude his treatment of the resurrection with the lie perpetrated by the Jewish leaders (see p. 5)?

6. How many soldiers left Christ's tomb and went into the city (see p. 6)?

7. To whom did the guard report? Why (Matt. 27:62-66; see p. 6)?

8. How did the Jewish leaders respond when confronted with the report of the soldiers (see pp. 6-7)?

9. What did the Sanhedrin decide to do about the soldiers' report? Explain (Matt. 28:12-14; see pp. 7-8).

10. How did the soldiers respond to the decision of the Sanhedrin (Matt. 28:15; see p. 8)?

11. Cite the ten separate appearances of the resurrected Christ as recorded in scripture (see p. 9).

12. Describe the changes in Peter following the resurrection and ascension of Christ (see p. 9).

13. Describe the behavior of the disciples at the time Jesus was taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane (see p. 10)?

14. Why couldn't the disciples have stolen Christ's body (see pp. 10-11)?

15. How can we be confident that not all of the Roman soldiers would have fallen asleep (see p. 11)?

16. How do we know that what the leaders told the soldiers to say was an obvious lie (see p. 11)?

Pondering the Principles

1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-57. List all the basic truths of the resurrection that the apostle Paul discusses. Which ones have you been familiar with, and which ones had you forgotten? Meditate on the passages that are most meaningful to you. Then thank the Lord for His plan of salvation, which includes your own bodily resurrection.

2. Use this study to formulate your own apologetic on the resurrection. Record the pertinent details from this chapter to answer the question, How do we know that Jesus rose from the dead? Share your work with your pastor and fellow believers. You'll find their comments and suggestions helpful in fine-tuning your apologetic. When you feel prepared, ask God to bring people into your path who need to know the evidence of the resurrection.

Added to the John MacArthur "Study Guide" Collection by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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What Actually Happened in 30 AD?

(Integrity of the Resurrection of Christ)

Part One of this article first looked at background information to the resurrection of Christ. It then began investigating alternate theories to the resurrection. This second half of this article will continue the discussion of alternate theories.

The Koran:
The Koran (or Quran) is the holy book of the Muslims. It was written after the death of Mohammed in 632 AD by his disciples who had memorized his teachings.

Sura 4:154-158 contains the following statement:
They denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared, "We have put to death the Messiah Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah. They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did.

Those who disagreed about him were in doubt concerning his death, for what they knew about it was sheer conjecture; they were not sure they had slain him. Allah lifted him up to his presence (The Koran, p.382).

Muslim commentators are divided as to what these verses mean. However, one thing is clear, the Koran denies Jesus died on the cross. "Therefore, the Bible and the Koran clearly contradict each other on this issue"(McDowell, Islam, p.105).

Muslim commentators have put forth two possibilities as to how Jesus escaped death on the cross. Both of these ideas have been suggested by others besides Muslims. They are the swoon and the substitution theories.

This theory states that Jesus never really died. Instead, it is claimed, He just swooned on the cross and in the coolness of the tomb revived.

First, "This is a theory of modern construction .... All of the earliest records are emphatic about Jesus death" (Little, pp.26f). Keep in mind, the Koran was not written until 600 years after the time of Christ; whereas, the Gospels were all written in the first century.

Second, remember the story of Josephus' three friends? After hanging on crosses for only a short time, they were taken down. Yet, even with medical attention, two of the three still died.

Compare this situation with that of Jesus. Jesus was scourged before He was crucified (Matt 27:26). Before being taken down, He had been on the cross for six hours and had a sword shoved in His side (Mark 15:25,33; John 19:34). Jesus was then laid alone in a tomb and a guard placed outside (Matt 27:57-65).

Given the cruelty of Roman crucifixion and these added difficulties:
Is it possible to believe that he would have survived three days in a damp tomb without food or water or attention of any kind? Would he have survived being wound in spice-laden grave clothes? Would he have had the strength to extricate himself from the grave clothes, push the heavy stone away from the mouth of the grave, overcome the Roman guards, and walk miles on feet that had been pierced with spikes? (Little, p.27).

After all this, are we to believe, "He could appear to the disciples in such a way as to give them the impression that he vanquished death?" (McDowell, Evidence, p.234).

"Finally, if Christ did not die at this time, then when did He die and under what circumstances?" (McDowell, Islam, p.124). All records of the life of Jesus from the time end with the ascension.

Some orthodox Muslims have proposed, "...God made someone else look like Jesus and that this person was crucified instead" (McDowell, Islam, p.107). Others have also made similar proposals (Baigent, p.379).

First, this idea has God involved in fraud and Jesus agreeing to the deception. This contradicts their known characters.

Second, Jesus was seen by thousands during his ministry. Surely someone would have noticed that the wrong man was being crucified. Also, Jesus' mother stood at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). Surely a woman can recognize her own son!

Third, if the wrong man was crucified, he "... would have raged from the cross that he was not Jesus ..." (McDowell, Islam, p.107). Yet, no such cries are recorded by the eye-witnesses.

Fourth, this theory also ignores the question of the empty tomb and the nature of the resurrection appearances. Jesus said to have appeared to the disciples behind closed doors and disappear at will (John 20:19; Luke 24:31).

Fifth, as with the swoon theory, it also ignores the question of what happened to Jesus after 30 AD.

Sixth, this proposal has God killing an innocent bystander. Some Muslims have attempted to evade this problem by saying Judas was the victim (McDowell, Islam, p.107). But this idea contradicts Matthew's statement that Judas committed suicide (Matt 27:3-10). And the question must be asked, "Who is the more reliable historian -- Matthew, an eye-witness, or Mohammed, who lived centuries later?"

Lastly, this theory was not invented until the seventh century. It is merely an attempt to explain an ambiguous statement in the Koran.

Passover Plot:
The next theory to study was promoted by Hugh J. Schonfield in his best-selling book, The Passover Plot.

Basically, the story line is:
Jesus of Nazareth was just another nice guy whose luck ran out. Convinced that he was the Jewish Messiah, he connived to have himself arrested, drugged, crucified, and revived to fulfill the Jewish scriptures as he understood them.

Unfortunately for the comatose Jesus, a soldier jabbed a spear into his side before his henchmen could remove him from the cross. Later, all attempts to revive him were fruitless; his secret Jerusalem followers quietly buried him in a spot unknown to his Galilean disciples, who soon repeatedly mistook the beloved disciple, a young priest from Jerusalem, for Jesus himself.

Subsequently, the eleven prominent Galilean disciples and others began propagating the incredible message that Jesus had risen from the dead. Christianity was born (Babcock, p.245).

This theory suffers from several of the same problems as previous ones. What about the empty tomb that was being watched by a Roman guard?

How could the disciples have spent 3 1/2 years, day and night, with Jesus and then mistake someone else for him? How could the unknown man appear through locked doors and disappear at will? How could Jesus, who taught honesty and integrity His entire ministry, have involved Himself in such a deliberate, attempted deception?

As with the other theories, Schonfield rejects a large part of the known facts and only accepts the few points that fit his theory. It seems his own preconceived ideas and vivid imagination are utilized in developing this theory rather than historical fact.

Mystery Religions/ Gnosticism:
This suggestion is the apostle Paul merely utilized the prevailing beliefs of the mystery religions and gnosticism of his time and adapted their concepts of a dying and risen savior into his preaching.

First, this idea simply ignores all the known historical facts discussed previously in this paper.

Second, "In the case of the alleged mythical parallels ... the evidence suggests that the Gnostic redeemer myth does not predate the writing of the Gospels" (Blomberg, p.101).

Further, "... all extant manuscripts with Redeemer Hymns are from AD 140 or later -- while Hymns of Philippians and 1 Timothy can be dated no later than the first century AD" (see Phil 2:5-11; 1Tim 3:16; Nash, p.228).

Third, "Aside from this weighty chronological consideration ... there are major differences in content between the Christian and Gnostic hymns" (Nash, p.228). The redeemer hymns have the god dying and rising annually (Nash, p.140). This cycle was usually in conjunction with the rebirth of spring (Blomberg, p.101). However, the Bible presents Jesus as dying only once and rising only once (Heb 9:24-28).

Lastly, it is doubtful that the redeemer myths actually record a bodily resurrection. "One can speak of a 'resurrection' in the stories of Osiris, Attis and Adonis only in the most extended of senses" (Nash, p.173).

Paul's Creation:
The last proposal to study is the most radical of the theories. It simply claims that Paul made up the whole idea of a crucified and risen Jesus because he thought it was a good idea.

This theory was suggested in the controversial movie of the late 1980's, "The Last Temptation of Christ". During the dream episode (while Jesus is on the cross), the following dialogue occurs between Jesus and Paul:

Jesus: I was never crucified, I never came back from the dead. I'm a man like everyone else. Why are you telling these lies...?

Paul: I don't care whether you're Jesus or not, the resurrected Jesus will save the world and that's what matters .... I created the truth out of what people needed and what they believed. If I have to crucify you to save the world, then I'll crucify you. And if I have to resurrect you, then I'll do that too, whether you like it or not (quoted in Ankerberg, p.34f).

This scene obviously ignores ALL the known facts. As with The Passover Plot and Schonfield, the producers of "The Last Temptation" are suggesting a rewriting of history in accordance with their preconceived ideas. There is no historical evidence supporting their proposal. And remember, Paul was beheaded for preaching this story he supposedly just "made up."

Eight alternate theories have been investigated. All have been found wanting. None of them comes even close to explaining ALL of the known facts. All have logical and historical problems.

There are probably others that have been proposed over the centuries that have not been covered here. And most likely, even more will be put forth as time goes by.

But all of these theories seem to have several things in common:
1) They start with the assumption that a miracle did not occur.
2) They always have to ignore at least some historical facts.
3) History is rewritten in accordance with the inventor's preconceptions.
4) The authors all seem to have very vivid imaginations.

Christ Has in Fact Risen!

So what actually happened in 30 AD? There is only one theory which avoids all of the pitfalls mentioned above. It is the theory that has been around since the beginning of Christianity. In fact, it is what founded the Christian faith.

Former skeptic Josh McDowell explains:
After investigating the major alternative theories proposed, only one conclusion takes into account all the facts and does not adjust them to preconceived notions. It is the conclusion that CHRIST HAS IN FACT RISEN – a supernatural act of God in history (McDowell, Resurrection, p.102).

This conclusion has profound ramifications. The resurrection is a Divine vindication of the words and actions of Jesus. Jesus said that the purpose of His crucifixion would be "... to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt 20:28).

At the Last Supper, Jesus "... took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins'" (Matt 26:27f).

Just before He died on the cross, Jesus cried out, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). What had been finished was all that is needed for the forgiveness of sin and attainment of eternal salvation. Jesus' resurrection three days later demonstrated that God had in fact accepted Jesus' death as the all-sufficient sacrifice (Rom 4:25; Heb 2:17; 9:24-28; 10:14).

God promises:
"... if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus
and believe in your heart
that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved
(Romans 10:9).
The links below are direct links to where the book can be purchased from Books-A-Million.

Bibliography (for Parts One and Two):
All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
Ankerberg, John and John Weldon. "Facts on The Last Temptation of Christ." Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1988.
Babcock, James F. "The Resurrection -- a Credibility Gap?", in Christianity for the Tough Minded, Ed. John Warwick Montgomery, pp. 245-251. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1973.
Baigent, Michael, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. Holy Blood; Holy Grail. New York, NY: Dell Publ., 1983.
Blomberg, Craig L. Historical Reliability of the Gospels . Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1987.
Criswell. W.A. The Believers Study Bible: NKJV. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1991.
Erickson, Millard J. Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986.
Habermas, Gary R. Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ . Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984.
Josephus, Flavius. "Antiquities of the Jews", in Complete Works . Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1981.
Knechtle, Cliff. Give Me An Answer . Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986.
The Koran . New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1974.
Lightfoot, J.B. and J.R. Harmer eds. Apostolic Fathers . Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988.
Little, Paul E. Know Why You Believe . Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979.
McDowell, Josh. New Evidence That Demands a Verdict . San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1979.
The Islam Debate. San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1983.
The Resurrection Factor. San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1981.
Miethe, Terry ed. The Resurrection Debate. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987.
Montgomery, John Warwick. History and Christianity. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1965.
Nash, Ronald H. Christianity and the Hellenistic World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
Robinson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament . Vol. I. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1930.

What Actually Happened in 30 AD? Copyright © 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (
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The Resurrection A Vicious Hoax, Or Fantastic Fact?

by Pastor Robert C. Stone

How important is the resurrection to us? Josh McDowell has said, "The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men and women, or it is the most fantastic fact of history."

Three credentials set Jesus apart from all men:

* the impact of His life upon history and individuals
* the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning His life
* His resurrection

What did Jesus say about His resurrection?

On one occasion He said, "'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple He had spoken of was His body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken"—John 2:19-25.

Jesus placed a lot of emphasis on the resurrection. He told His disciples often that it would happen—Matt. 16:21-23; 17:8-9,22-23; 20:17-19; 26:32. In fact, everything He taught, lived and died for depended upon only one thing—His resurrection. Paul said: "...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins...we are to be pitied more than all men"—1 Cor. 15:14,16-18.

Truly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together. If you want to refute Christianity, all you have to do is refute the resurrection and it totally crumbles. Christianity is diametrically opposed to other religions which are based upon philosophical propositions or theological ideologies. It is based upon an event in history—an empty tomb and the person of Jesus Christ, who is alive.

There are many ways to approach the resurrection, but ours here will be to concentrate on some (not all) of the evidence of that first Easter morning. A study of the evidence has absolutely changed many people's lives.

The Skeptics' Evidence
Dr. Simon Greenleaf was a skeptic from Harvard law school who wrote three volumes on the laws of legal evidence, and mocked Christians in his law classes. But he was challenged by Christian students to apply his own book to the resurrection of Jesus. Taking the challenge, he concluded that the evidence was so convincing, he became a believer. He later wrote, "The resurrection of Jesus is one of the best established facts of history."

Dr. Benjamin Gilbert-West and Lord Littleton were from Cambridge. So fed up with Christianity they wanted to destroy it, they took a leave of absence to study and write a book to refute both the resurrection and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. As a result of their study, they too became ardent believers and wrote: "Reject not, until you have examined the evidence."

Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer and engineer, was brought up in a rationalistic background. He liked Jesus, but thought the resurrection was a myth that was tacked on. He, too, wanted to write a book to refute it, but in the process of writing, he like the others committed his life to Christ. His findings are in the book "Who Moved the Stone"?

What did these men and others who have taken a similar course find? What changed their thinking and their lifestyles?

A Study of the Evidence
A look at some of the evidence, especially the security precautions taken at the death of Jesus, is very convincing. (Information obtained from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and extra-biblical sources.)

The First Precaution
The body was placed in a new, solid rock tomb—John 19:41-42; Mk.15:46b—with an entrance of four-and-a-half to five feet tall. That's why Peter leaned over to look in (John 20:5). The only way to get the body in or out was through the entrance, sealed with a stone.

The Second Precaution
The body was prepared according to the burial practices of the day-John 19:39b-40. They wrapped the entire body and head with 11-inch strips, and between they put aromatic spices-which were mixed with a gummy substance known as myrrh. The linen and spices made a 75 to 100 pound encasement.

The Third Precaution
A large stone was rolled in front of the tomb—Mk. 15:46; 16:4. The Greek language reveals that this was an extremely large stone. One manuscript of Mark has this in parenthesis: "a stone which cannot be moved by 20 men." Frank Morrison calculated the size of stone needed to roll in front of a four-and-a-half to five-foot doorway would be approximately one-and-a-half to two tons. Professors at Georgia Tech estimated two tons. Joseph moved the stone into place by holding it in place by a wedge, and set in a groove that sloped down. Once the wedge was removed, the circular rock rolled into place.

The Fourth Precaution
A guard contingency was placed around the tomb—Matt. 27:62-66; 28:11-15. Some have wondered whether this was the Jewish Temple Guard or the Roman Guard. Let's look at both.

Jewish Temple Guard. They were placed in 10-man units. The discipline of the guard was quite good. For instance, if a man was caught asleep, he was beaten and burned right on the spot with his own clothes. If they had been guarding the tomb, they certainly wouldn't have fallen asleep.

Roman Guard. The Greek terms used in Matt. 27:65 can refer only to the Roman Guard. What were they like? T.L. Tucker says they carried five different weapons; certainly not the traditional picture of men with spears in mini skirts. They were a four-to-16-man, highly-trained and disciplined unit. Each man was able to protect six feet of ground against an entire invading army. Any disappearance of the body would have meant death to the guard. Do you think the disciples could have stolen the body against these men? Never!

The Fifth Precaution
A Roman seal was put on the grave—Matthew 27:66. The seal stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire, as well as authentication that the body was there. A Roman guard examined the premise and sealed it. Therefore, anyone who attempted to move the stone from the entrance would have broken the seal and incurred the wrath of the Roman law and of the guard.

The Explanations For What Happened
Whatever happened that night 2,000 years ago certainly turned 11 Jews upside down. All but one died a martyr's death, and some were the most heinous deaths imaginable. Why? All for one thing—the empty tomb of the man called Jesus of Nazareth. He's alive! But not all believed it. Let's look at their theories.

Theory #1: The disciples stole the body.
Matthew 28:11-15.

This explanation leaves us with a lot of questions.

* Who broke the seal? If a person broke the seal, the full force of the Roman law and soldiers went to find the culprit. Did the disciples appear to be brave enough to do this? (See Matt. 26:56b,69-75.) If they did it, why weren't they arrested?

* Who moved the stone? This was a two-ton stone that had to be moved up an incline. In addition, the Greek language reveals something else; the stone was not only removed from the entrance, but away from the whole sepulchre by some distance.

* Where was the guard? The soldiers would have had to be deaf not to have heard the more than 20 men needed to break the seal and remove the stone some distance from the entrance to the tomb. On the other hand, if they were asleep, how did they know who stole the body? Or if they were awake, could the disciples have overcome them? Is there any record of injury/battle? And besides, why would the guards make up a story like this? It made them look bad, and made them subject to death.

* Who took the body? Was it His friends or His enemies?

His enemies set a guard to keep Him from disappearing. They could also have produced the body at any time to squelch the reports of the risen Christ ("Here's the body; He is not risen"). But they didn't!

His friends had neither the inclination, courage, or the power to do this. They were in no mood to do it! Furthermore, would they want to perpetuate the lies of an imposter? Would they die for a lie? A known lie would not have caused the transformation of these men.

* Where was His family after the resurrection? If they had known the body was stolen, would they have followed Jesus? Check out how they felt about Jesus before the resurrection—Mk. 3:21,31-34. Did they change their minds? Notice what happened after He was risen—1 Cor. 15:7; Acts 1:14; James 1:1.

Theory #2: The women went to the wrong tomb. They were frustrated and emotional. It was dark and they couldn't find it.
Could this be true? If so, everyone went to the wrong tomb—the soldiers, the disciples, other Jews, the angel. Even today, people are going to the wrong tomb. Do you think Joseph, the tomb's owner, also forgot and went to the wrong tomb? Wouldn't he verify his empty tomb? The evidence is that the disciples and the women knew where the tomb was located (Matt. 27:61).

Theory #3: He Swoooooned.
This theory proposes that Jesus didn't really die; He swooned. He lost a lot of blood and then fainted. After going through the torment of His trial and the cross, He didn't die. The damp tomb healed Him. Is there a rebuttal to this theory?

* This means the three professional executioners who signed the death warrant (Mk. 15: 44) were all mistaken.
* This means Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, as they wrapped the body of Jesus in a 75 to 100-pound encasement of cloth and burial spices, were mistaken.
* This means He breathed through the burial clothes.
* This means He knocked down the two-ton solid rock stone, overpowered the guards, then appeared to His disciples without any physical impairments remaining, except the nail prints in His hands and feet.
* This means He was a magician who could walk through walls, disappear, and be raised in the clouds.

Theory #4: The Passover Plot
This is proposed by Hugh Schoenfield in his book, The Passover Plot. The theory states that Jesus plotted a very timely and detailed plan to arrange what appeared to be His resurrection. Here's how Schoenfield outlines the plot.

Jesus took into His confidence a young Joseph of Arimathea. Knowing the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, Jesus ordered His life in such a way as to fulfill them. For example, Jesus arranged a feigned death on the cross by being administered a drug when the vinegar was offered. Then after He passed out from the drug, Joseph took His body to one of his tombs. When the effects of the drug wore off, Jesus appeared alive and revealed himself as the Messiah.

The problem with Schoenfield's theory is the selective distortion of the facts. Why did he select some segments of the biblical account as true, but not all? For example, he accepts the story of the spear, but notice what he rejects, ignores and is ignorant of:

1. He rejects the guard at the tomb, the Roman seal, and the testimony of the disciples after the cross.
2. He ignores the testimony of 500 witnesses, most of whom were alive and could confirm or deny the reports.
3. He is ignorant of the 300+ prophecies that were made about the Christ, some of which Jesus had no control over: the geological location of His birth (Micah 5:2); the prophecies concerning 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matt. 26:14-15); and the prophecies concerning His crucifixion (Psalm 22).

How probable is it that one person could fulfill within his lifetime, 300+ specific events, all of which were written before he was born? Fulfilling the prophecies Jesus did was statistically improbable—one chance in "2 with 110 zeros after it".

A doctoral student from Ohio University, doing his dissertation in mathematics, calculated the probability that all the monkeys in Africa could run over a single typewriter and, without error, retype all the books in the English language. The probability this could happen is one chance in "2 with 110 zeros after it" In other words, it is more probable that all the monkeys in Africa could perform the above feat, than it is that Christ within His lifetime could fulfill 333 specific events prophesied before He was born.

A Study of the Circumstantial Evidence of the Resurrection
In addition to the direct evidence of the resurrection, it's important to consider a few pieces of "circumstantial evidence".

The Church
The success of the church can be traced back to the city of Jerusalem. It thrived in the very city where Jesus was crucified and buried. Thousands believed the first sermons which were preached a few minutes' walk from the tomb (Acts 2:41; 4:4).

Sunday Worship
The Christian Sunday is a phenomenon. The decision to change "the day of worship" is very significant! The early church was made up of devout Jews, fanatical about observing the Sabbath. They believed they would incur the wrath of God if they broke it, yet they changed all those years of training and began to worship on Sunday—to honor the anniversary of Jesus' resurrection 52 times a year. The only explanation for this is that they saw the risen Lord.

Baptism and Communion
These ordinances are all circumstantial evidences of the resurrection, because they too find their meaning in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Baptism pictures salvation (Rom. 6:1-10); particularly our identification, in a positive way, with Christ's death and resurrection.

Likewise, communion symbolizes Christ's death and resurrection. "How can a great joy accompany the acknowledgment of the horrifying death of his religion's founder, save the redeeming fact of a subsequent resurrection?" Josh McDowell, Ibid., page 108.

Changed Lives
Consider the phenomenon of transformed lives.

The early Christians had no visible (earthly) benefits from their wholehearted and total allegiance to Jesus.

Jesus' family members were the hardest to convince, but became followers—Acts 1:14b.

The disciples no longer denied or ran, but became fearless followers, leaders, and martyrs.

Saul of Tarsus, a fanatical persecutor of Christians, became an apostle and missionary.

Your life. Has He changed and transformed you?

* You can know your sins are forgiven—1 Cor. 15:3.
* You can be assured of eternal life and your own resurrection from the grave—1 Cor. 15:19-26.
* You can be transformed into a new creature—John 10:10.

Application Questions

1. As you look at the crucifixion and the resurrection, how does it affect you? Why?
2. Why do you believe the resurrection is important to a Christian's faith? How would you explain its importance to a person who doesn't understand?
3. Why is it important for Christians to be able to defend their faith and give an answer for the hope that lies within them (1 Pet. 3:15-16)? Why must good behavior and character accompany our testimony and the defense of our faith?
4. Was there any testimony or argument that the Holy Spirit is using, or has already used, to draw you to Jesus? Explain. If you are a Christian, what argument or testimony do you find to be the most effective in your witnessing?
* Is fulfilled prophecy an effective means to show who Jesus is? Think about pros and cons.
* How important/effective can a person's personal testimony be?
* Are you prepared to share yours?
* If you meet with a small group, have a few in your small group share a three-minute version of their testimony.

Evidence That Demands A Verdict, by Josh McDowell, Vol. 1, Here's Life Publishers, 1986.

The Resurrection Factor, by Josh McDowell, Here's Life Publishers, 1981. Note: Much of this material was taken from these books. They are an excellent source for a defense of our faith.
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My Heart Cries

Down Yonder

Silvana Mangano Anna

Does Your Chewing Gum?

Grand Night For Singing

Purple People Eater

Orange Blossom Special

I'll Get By

'Til Then

Katie At UNC

Love Letters

As Time Goes By

Cheek To Cheek

Mission Impossible

The Way You Look Tonight


Glad To Be An American

Battle Hymn Of The Republic

How Great Thou Art

Have Thine Own Way

Beyond The Sunset

Amazing Grace

He's Got The Whole World

Peace In The Valley

How Great Thou Art II

Stars & Stripes Forever

Tennessee Waltz

Beverly Hillbillies Theme

El Paso

Happy Trails

Big John

Sixteen Tons

Which Doctor?

Wonderful! Wonderful!




Daniel Boone

Davy Crockett

Dick VanDyke

Donna Reed

Father Knows Best


Gomer Pile


Have Gun

Hawaii Five-O

Hogans Heroes







Law & Order

Lone Ranger

Magnificent 7


Man From Uncle




Mission I

Mr. Ed

My 3 Sons

Raw Hide

Real McCoys

Rifle Man

Secret Agent

Simon & Simon




Super Man














Victory I


The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Mr. Sandman

Only The Lonely

Beyond The Sea


Magnificent 7

Magnificent 7 - II


I Walk The Line

God loves you so much that He died for you!!!


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Verse of the Day

* * * Four Important Things To KNOW: #1) For ALL (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) have sinned & fall short of the glory of God. #2) For the wages of above (see #1) are DEATH (Hell, eternal separation from God, & damnation) but the Gift (free & at no charge to you) of God (Creator, Jehovah, & Trinity) is Eternal Life (Heaven) through (in union with) Jesus Christ (God, Lord, 2nd Person of The Trinity, Messiah, Prince of Peace & Savior of the World). #3) For God so greatly loved & dearly prized the world (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime - while still living) believes (trust in, relies on, clings to, depends completely on) Him shall have eternal (everlasting) life (heaven). #4) Jesus said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, & THE LIFE. No one (male/female - American, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian, Presbyterian, European, Baptist, Brazilian, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc. ) comes (arrives) to the Father (with GOD in Heaven) EXCEPT BY (through) ME (no other name). *** This wonderful loving GOD gives you the choice - - - (Rev. 3:20) {Please note that church membership, baptism, doing good things, etc. are not requirements for becoming a Christian - however they are great afterwards!!!} *** Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (Hell, damnation, eternal punishment), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Heaven, eternal happiness, forever with God), and only a few find it.

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But these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God, and that by believing in
Him you will have life. Jn 20:31

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil
man his thoughts. Let him turn to the
Lord, and He will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for He will freely
pardon. "For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways," declares the Lord. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so
are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down
from heaven, and do not return to it
without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed
for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My
mouth: It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will
burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the
pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle
will grow. This will be for the Lord's
renown, for an everlasting sign, which
will not be destroyed." Is 55

O Lord, you have searched me and you
know me. You know when I sit and when
I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying
down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know
it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -
behind and before; you have laid your
hand upon me. Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence? If I go up
to the heavens, you are there; if I make
my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around
me," even the darkness will not be dark
to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you
created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise
you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know
that full well. My frame was not hidden
from you when I was made in the secret
place. When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth, your eyes saw my
unformed body. All the days ordained
for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would
outnumber the grains of sand. When
I awake, I am still with you. Search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ps 139

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,
that I may show My power in you, and that My
Name may be declared in all the earth. Ex 9:16

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
- - Isaac Watts

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