Proof of The Resurrection
Acts 9:22-23 (NAS)

22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this {Jesus} is the Christ. 23 And when many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him,

Is circumstantial evidence enough to convict some one? Did you know no witnesses watched Timothy McVeigh load two tons of explosives into a Ryder rental truck. Nobody saw him drive the vehicle to the front of the federal building in Oklahoma City and detonate the bomb, killing 168 people. Yet he was convicted of that crime.

While none of the 137 people called to the witness stand had seen McVeigh commit the crime. A businessman said McVeigh rented a Ryder truck, a friend said McVeigh talked about bombing the building out of anger against the government, and a scientist said McVeigh's clothes contained a residue of explosives when he was arrested.

More than seven hundred exhibits, ranging from motel and taxi receipts to telephone records to a truck key to a bill from a Chinese restaurant. A convincing web of evidence from which McVeigh was unable to release himself.

The text says Paul says about Paul ". . . proving that this {Jesus} is the Christ. . . ." How did Paul do that? He did not have Jesus appear as a live witness. He could reason from scripture and he could give an eye witness account. The he had to rely on circumstantial evidence.

I want to look at some ways to prove to the reasonable mind that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God.

Proof One: Paul Sited His Changed Life.    Acts 26:9-11   (NAS)

". . . I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities."

A.    Paul was . . Hostile toward Christians. v 9 -10

9 "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 "And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.

B.    Paul was . . Harmful toward Christians. v 11 a

11 "And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them,

C.    Paul was . . Haunting toward Christians. v 11 b
        ". . . I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities."

This is his life before Christ? How do you explain the difference? He said he saw the resurrected Lord.

Proof Two:  Paul Cited His Eye Witness Account.  Acts 26:12-15 (NAS) 

A.    His Eyewitness Account was . . Unexpected. v 12-13

12 "While thus engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.

B His Eyewitness Account was . . Uninvited. v 14-15

14 "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'    15 "And I said, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

Have you ever heard this thought? Some say Paul probably has seen the Lord Jesus while He was on this earth. The first time I red that I rejected the thought. The more I thought about it the more I thought it has the possibility of being true.

Whether it is true or not Paul was convinced he saw and heard the Lord Jesus. This encounter changed his life.

Proof Three:   Paul Cited the Scriptures.  Acts 28:23-24 (NAS) 

23 And when they had set a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 24 And some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. (NAS)

A.    Paul Cited Scripture about the Kingdom of God. v 23 a

B.    Paul Cited Scripture about the Law. v 23 b

C.    Paul Cited Scripture about the Prophets. v 23 b

D.    Paul Cited Success from the Scripture. v 24

Proof Four:  Paul and the Disciples Died for their Belief.   Acts 12:1-2 (NAS) 

1 Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them. 2 And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. (NAS)

A.    The Disciples were at First Depressed and Discouraged.
            1.    This is evident from the early chapters of Acts.

B.    Why did James and the rest became bold?
            1.    They were convinced Jesus was alive.

*Lee Strobel in his book The Casae for Christ says"

"When Jesus was crucified, his followers were discouraged and depressed. They believed anyone crucified was accursed to God. They also had been taught that God would not let his Messiah suffer death. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks.

"Then, after a short period of time, we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering, and committing themselves to spreading a very specific message--that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on the cross, returned to life, and was seen alive by them.

"And they were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this, without any payoff from a human point of view. Most of them were executed in torturous ways,

A liberal minister was lecturing to a gathering of preachers and his lecture included intellectual thoughts about the resurrection.  And he made statements such as the Lord Jesus really did not resurrect physically from the grave.  He had many other things to say about the miracles and activities of the Lord as recorded in the scripture.  When he was finished, after about an hour, he asked if there were any questions.

One deeply committed black preacher stood up and pulled out an apple and he said, "Doctor, I don't have the degrees that you have."  And then he munched on his apple.  "And I haven't had the education that you have."  And he munched on his apple.  "And I haven't read all the books that you have."  And he munched on his apple.   "And I certainly have not had the experiences in interrogation and discussions of other theologians that you've had."  And he ate his apple.

When he was finished with the whole apple, he said, "But I have one question for you, how did that apple taste?"   And the liberal theologian said, kind of aggravatedly,   "Sir,  that is something that there is no possibility that I could know.  I did not taste the apple."  And the committed black preacher said, "And sir, I say you never tasted my Jesus either."

Some say "so have Muslims and Mormons and followers of Jim Jones and David Koresh died for their cause." You really would not compare a band isolated in a foreign country or a group willing to die in a remote house in Waco Texas with these courageous Christian would you? If so I would say you can not make good comparisons.


Take a look at Muhammad's conversion, " he said with confidence in his voice. "No one knows anything about it. Muhammad claims he went into a cave and had a religious experience in which Allah revealed the Koran to him. There's no other eyewitness to verify this. Muhammad offered no publicly miraculous signs to certify anything. Contrast that with the claims of the early followers of Jesus, including Paul. They claimed to have seen public events that other people saw as well. These were things that happened outside their minds, not just in their minds.

Proof Five:  The Conversion of Paul and Other Skeptics. 1 Cor 15:4-9   (NAS)

4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

To some degree this is a repeating as I use Paul in this setting. But I want to further emphasize that Paul was a non believer a skeptic.    Strobel states in his book the following information about James the half brother of Jesus.

"The historian Josephus tells us that James brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the Jerusalem church was stoned to death because of his belief in his brother. Why did James's life change? Paul tells us: the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. There's no other explanation." "Furthermore, when Paul wrote 2 Corinthians--which nobody disputes he did--he reminded the people in Corinth that he performed miracles when he was with them earlier. He'd certainly be foolish to make this statement if they knew he hadn't."
page 248

Proof Six: Changes to Key Social Structures.  Acts 26:1-8 

1 And Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and {proceeded} to make his defense: 2 "In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; 3 especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among {the} Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.    4 "So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my {own} nation and at Jerusalem; 5 since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived {as} a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. 6 "And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; 7 {the promise} to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve {God} night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. 8 "Why is it considered incredible among you {people} if God does raise the dead? (NAS)

A.    Paul's . . Reasoning about Keeping these Social Structures. V 3-4

B.    Paul's . . Reputation about Keeping these Social Structures. V 5-7

From Strobel page 250:
At the time of Jesus, the Jews had been persecuted for seven hundred years by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, and now by the Greeks and the Romans." Many Jews had been scattered and lived as captives in other nations.

"However, we still see Jews today, while we don't see Hittites, Perizztes, Ammonites, Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians, and other people who had been living in that time. Why? Because these people got captured by other nations, intermarried, and lost their national identity.

"Why didn't that happen to the Jews? Because the things that made the Jews, Jews--the social structures that gave them their national identify--were unbelievably important to them. The Jews would pass these structures down to their children, celebrate them in synagogue meeting every Sabbath, and reinforce them with their rituals, because they knew if they didn't, there soon would be no Jews left. They would be assimilated into the cultures that captured them.

What are These Structures?

"First, They had been taught ever since the time of Abraham and Moses that they needed to offer an animal sacrifice on a yearly basis to atone for their sins. But all of a sudden, after the death of this Nazarene carpenter, these Jewish people no longer offer sacrifices.

"Second, Jews emphasized obeying the laws that God had entrusted to them through Moses. In their view, this is what separated them from pagan nations. Yet within a short time after Jesus' death, Jews were beginning to say that you don't become an upstanding member of their community by merely keeping Moses' laws.

"Third, Jews scrupulously kept the Sabbath by not doing anything except religious devotion every Saturday. This is how they would earn right standing with God, guarantee the salvation of their family and be in right standing with the nation. These Christians worship on Sunday--why? Because that's when Jesus rose from the dead.

"Fourth, they believed in monotheism--only one God. While Christians teach a form of monotheism, they say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. Yet Jews begin to worship Jesus as God within the first decade of the Christian religion.

"And fifth, Jews had been trained to believe that the Messiah was going to be a political leader who would destroy the Roman armies." These Christians pictured the Messiah as someone who had suffered and died for the sins of the world.

Proof Seven: Communion And Baptism

From Strobel page 252-253

Consider Communion for a moment." What's odd is that these early followers of Jesus didn't get together to celebrate his teachings or how wonderful he was. They came to remember that Jesus had been publicly slaughtered in a grotesque and humiliating way.

"Think about this in modern times. If a group of people loved John F. Kennedy, they might meet regularly to remember his confrontation with Russia, his promotion of civil rights, and his charismatic personality. But they're not going to celebrate the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered him!

In the New Testament, people were baptize in the name of the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit--which meant they had elevated Jesus to the full status of God.

Some one may say "You're assuming that these ordinances weren't merely adopted from the so-called mystery religions." Yes and for good reasons," there's no hard evidence that any mystery religion believed in gods dying and rising, until after the New Testament period. So if there was any borrowing, they borrowed from Christianity.

Proof Eight: The Emergence of the Church

From Strobel page 254-255
When a major cultural shift takes place, historians always look for events that can explain it. There's no question that these culture shifts began shortly after the death of Jesus and spread so rapidly that within a period of maybe twenty years it had even reached Caesar's palace in Rome.

If you were a Martian looking down on the first century, would you think Christianity or the Roman Empire would survive? You probably wouldn't put money on a ragtag group of people whose primary message was that a crucified carpenter from an obscure village had triumphed over the grave. Yet it was so successful that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!

That was also the assessment of Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the brilliant and savvy attorney whose astounding 245 consecutive murder acquittal earned him a lace in The Guinness Book of World Records, as the world's most successful lawyer. Knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth. This former justice and diplomat subjected the historical facts about the Resurrection in his own vigorous analysis for several years before declaring, "I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt."

The Final Proof

A philosopher J. P. Moreland said "In 1968 I was a cynical chemistry major at the University of Missouri, when I was confronted with the fact that if I examined the claims of Jesus Christ critically but with an open mind, there was more than enough evidence for me to believe it.

"So I took a step of faith in the same direction the evidence was pointing, by receiving Jesus as my forgiver and leader, and I began to relate to him--to the resurrected Christ--in a very real and ongoing way.

"In three decades I've had hundreds of specific answers to prayers. I've had things happen that simply cannot be explained by natural explanations, and I have experienced a changed life beyond anything I could have imagined."

Adrian Rogers and his wife, Joyce were in Russia before Lenin's tomb was torn down.  It was an attraction for tourists to go through the mausoleum where Lenin's body was on display.  You probably remember that his body was in an enclosed casket that was open for viewing and they had kept it this way for many years.

Now you know that when Lenin was still in that encryptment, they would take him out every so often and they would wash him with a chemical.  Of course, they never did this in public because as you know, you're not supposed to wash your dirty Lenin in public.

People were given strict instructions that as they walked through this mausoleum they were not to speak a word.  Doctor Rogers said about his wife, "she normal follows all kinds of rules, but as they got to every guard, Joyce Rogers said, "My Jesus is alive."  Every guard she said, "My Jesus is alive.  My Jesus is alive."  And not one of the guards made any remark back to her.

*    Much of this sermon comes from a book by Lee Strobel The Case for Christ,  Published
by Zondervan Publishing House




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