Christ died for our sins...And...he was buried,
and...he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
The Importance of Christ's Resurrection
Dr. Jack Van Impe
Without our modem means of communication, the people in those days were limited to semaphore signals. The news of Wellington's decisive victory was passed along until finally, in the last relay from a ship out in the channel, the message was passed on to receivers stationed high in the towers of Westminster Abbey. The communication stated, "Wellington defeated."
When those two words were received, a heavy fog rolled across London and the message—just as received—was passed on to the waiting people. All of London was filled with grief and despair as strong men sobbed openly and women agonized in the streets. However, a few hours later another wind blew the fog away, and the message from the ship began again, this time adding a third word and reading, "Wellington defeated Napoleon."
What a difference! The first message said, "Wellington defeated," and the fog stopped the third word. But later the message said, "Wellington defeated Napoleon." Oh, the rejoicing that took place in England when they got the third word of that message.
A similar event took place at Calvary. On the day of the crucifixion, the fog of hell seemed to roll in with its message, "Christ defeated." That day ended with a broken, bloody, dead Messiah and scattered, weeping, defeated disciples. Then, three days and three nights later, the fog was dispelled by the brightness of glory. Special archangels from heaven descended to earth and rolled back the stone from the empty tomb so that a waiting world could read the entire message, "Christ defeated Satan." Hallelujah! Christ defeated Satan. Praise God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You must believe in the Resurrection
This is a minister speaking! Well, I choose to believe God (see Acts 27:25)! Matthew 1:23 says, Behold, a virgin shall be with child. Let's listen to God rather than men.
Dr. Littlefair continues, "The virgin birth is a story designed to say something. It wasn't meant to be understood physically. It was a picturesque way of telling something wonderful that couldn't be told any other way. The resurrection story is the same."
It should not be taken physically? Wait a minute! Let's see what God has to say. In Luke 24:39, Jesus appeared to His disciples after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and He was in a body. He said, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself [you do not believe it?]: handle me, and see [come on and touch me!]; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Dr. Littlefair says this should not be taken literally, as far as the physical is concerned! He further states, "Don't take it with your crude literal hands and destroy it. A rolled away stone and some clothes left there—how trivial and insignificant." Really? The literal, physical Resurrection is insignificant? Oh, Dr. Littlefair, how about Romans 10:9,10 which says that if you do not believe in this literal Resurrection you cannot be saved? That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Dr. Littlefair goes on to say, "Two men sitting there announced that the body was no longer there. One of the disciples putting his finger into the wound in the side, Jesus eating a fish to show that He was physical, passing through a wall to give a miracle, and, finally, rising up with His body. If you stop to think about it you realize the absurdity of it."
Sir, the only absurdity I see is in the article you have written in your book which does away with the precious story of what the Holy Bible, God's Word, has to say about the Resurrection.
In one paragraph, this accomplished apostate denies the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the ascension, the existence of heaven, and the integrity of the Holy Scriptures. Philippians 3:10 says, That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection. Let me tell you, when you really know Jesus—not about Jesus, but know Him with your heart—you also know the power of the Resurrection. You know it is not just myth. You know that it is real.
In 2 Peter 1:16, the apostle says, For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. In other words, Peter says, "This is not something that we hatched up in a dream—it is something that we saw with our own eyes."
The pages of the Holy Bible are literally saturated with Resurrection truth. Job 19:25: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
In Mark 16:6 the angel says, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen.
In John 11:25 Jesus Christ says, I am the resurrection, and the life.
Peter, preaching in Acts 5:30, says, The God of our fathers raised up Jesus.
Romans 4:25: Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 8:34: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God.
First Corinthians 15:3,4: Christ died for our sins...And...he was buried, and...he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
First Thessalonians 1:10: And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead.
Second Timothy 2:8: Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead.
Hebrews 13:20,21: Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep...Make you perfect.
Revelation 1:18: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.
There is one thing this Book teaches and that is the story of the Resurrection.
Our faith depends on the Resurrection
Then God, through Paul, goes to the trouble of giving us the witnesses who saw Christ in His new body, for He says in verses 5-8: He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he, was seen of above [or over] five hundred brethren at once...After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also.
Does it really matter whether or not one accepts the Resurrection story? I have already quoted Romans 10:9 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 shall be saved.
You cannot be saved unless you believe the Resurrection story. Why? Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Now here is the victorious note—But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (verse 20).
There are a number of points here that we need to see. First of all, if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain (verse 14). Vain means "empty" or "meaningless." Why? We would be preaching about a deceiver.
Jesus made some startling predictions. He said in Matthew 12:39,40, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Hear Jesus again in Matthew 16:21, From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Jesus said in John 2:19, Destroy this temple [this body], and in three days I will raise it up. He said, in effect, "They are going to kill Me; I will be in a grave for three days, but I am coming out of that grave." If He had not done that, all our preaching would be in vain because we would be preaching about a deceiver who predicted many things and never fulfilled them.
We would also be preaching about one who had taught erroneously. If He could not back up the teaching of the Resurrection, then He would not be able to back up the teaching of the new birth when He said in John 3:7, Ye must be born again. He would not be able to back up the teaching of heaven when He said in John 14:2, In my Father's house are many mansions. He would not be able to back up the teaching of salvation when He said in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. But, praise God, He is risen and He is not a deceiver. We can believe every one of His teachings.
Second, our faith is also vain (verse 14). Why? Because one is trusting in a Saviour who could not produce what He had promised. He said, "I will come out of the grave the third day." If He did not do it, He would not have kept His promises. If He could not keep that promise, He could not keep the others He made.
For instance, John 8:12: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 10:9: I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.
John 11:25,26: 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 14:6: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If He could not fulfill the promise of His resurrection, He would not be able to fulfill these other promises. Therefore, our faith would be in vain because we would be trusting in one who could not fulfill what He had promised. Praise God, Christ is risen and we can accept every promise. Because He fulfilled the first promise concerning His resurrection, He will fulfill all the rest. He will be the Light of the world to you. He will be the Door to heaven. He will be the Way. He will be your Resurrection and Life if you will let Him into your heart today.
Third, we are found false witnesses (verse 15). Why? Because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. Matthew would have lied because he recorded the Resurrection story in chapter 28. He said in verse 6, He is risen. Mark would have lied, for he recorded the same story in chapter 16. He triumphantly cried out in verse 6, He is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Luke also would have been a prevaricator because he described the blessed Resurrection in a narrative found in Luke 24. He said in verse 3, And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Why? Because He was risen. John would have been untruthful because he unfolded the Resurrection scene in John 20. The Apostle Peter would have been a false witness because he said in Acts 3:15, [You] killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead.
All of these men would have been false witnesses or liars had they preached these truths, knowing that Christ's body had been stolen. However, they were filled with the blessed Holy Spirit and integrity. The greatest proof that they believed the message they declared is the fact that they went through horrible torture and death for the message they proclaimed.
Do you think a man would give his life if he did not really believe what he was preaching? Matthew's body was run through with a spear. Mark was dragged through the streets of Alexandria until the skin was torn off his body and his blood seeped into the sand. Then he died. Luke was hanged, and John was thrown into boiling oil. Peter was crucified, and Paul was beheaded.
These men would not have given their lives if they knew it had been a concocted message. No, praise God, let's say it again. He is risen! That is why these men were not false witnesses and why they even gave their lives for the message they preached.
Fourth, if there be no Resurrection, then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ [those who have died in Christ] are perished (verse 18). If Christ perished, then we which are in Christ shall perish. If Christ had not been able to overcome death, then we who are in Christ shall certainly not be able to overcome death, because our energy, strength, and life must come from Him. Our Saviour said in John 14:19, Because I live, ye shall live also. Let me tell you this: Because He is risen (praise God), all of our loved ones who died in Jesus are now in the presence of the Lord. Because He has eternal life in Him, He can give us this eternal life. Christ spoke the truth when He said in John 11:25 and 26, 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. You can have life—eternal life—if you will come to this Jesus.
Finally, if Christ be not risen, we are of all men most miserable (verse 19). Of course! Why? Because our preaching would be vain. Our faith would be vain. We would be false witnesses, and we would perish. Let me say it one more time. HE IS RISEN! Our preaching is not vain, and our faith is not vain. We are not found false witnesses, and we shall never perish. We shall be with Jesus for the ages of ages. Oh, let Him into your heart today!
Jack Van Impe Ministries
Troy MI 48007