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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter: The Culmination of the Gospel

First, let’s look at the Bible definition of gospel. Paul is speaking. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The gospel of Jesus Christ contains three elements: 
  1. Jesus died for our sins.
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus rose again on the third day.

Sometimes one part is emphasized over the others. For instance, there are many, many artworks that depict Christ on the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion is true and very important. Without Jesus’ death on the cross, shedding His blood for our sin, there would be no satisfaction of the high price of redemption. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).

Sometimes, there’s debate over whether Jesus only swooned and didn’t die, that He looked dead but wasn’t, etc. The Bible clearly says He died and was buried. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost (Mark 15:37). Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already (John 19:32-33).

Quite a few religions acknowledge Jesus’ death and burial, but only true Christianity tells the very good news (gospel) that Jesus rose from the grave, that He lives!

Did you know that, for a historical fact to be established, it only takes two eyewitnesses? We know that many people saw Jesus after He rose. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 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. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles (1 Corinthians 15: 5-7). If this count had been all—which it isn’t—there would be 514 witnesses. We know we can add Mary Magdalene, the Apostle Paul, the men on the way to Emmaus, and quite possibly more.

By my calculations, at the very most conservative estimates, that is two hundred fifty nine times the eyewitnesses needed to make Jesus’ resurrection a fact of history. Very few other historical facts have been so well established.

The resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of the gospel. Jesus paid for our redemption by His death. He was buried.  On the third day, Jesus rose from the tomb.

One of the most interesting passages about what happened after the resurrection is this: Now when they (the disciples, after seeing Jesus) were going, behold, some of the watch (those guarding the tomb) 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 large 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 (Matthew 28:11-15).

The guards were actually paid off to say that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body—while they slept! They admitted falsely that they were all sleeping (a capital offense), but it was “worth it” to them because of the money. The Bible indicates it was a large amount. So, they all lied!

Jesus was indeed alive. The guards knew it, and the disciples had seen Him. Later, many more people saw Him.

The good news (gospel) has to include the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no eternal life. Jesus said, Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again (John 10:17). And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).

The gospel: Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Share it!

Jesus says, I am he that liveth, and was dead;
and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen;
and have the keys of hell and of death.
(Revelation 1:18)

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