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Reasons For Believing in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Review Questions:
  • What happens to the authority of scripture if we deny either the infallibility of the list of books in the canon or deny the infallibility of the books themselves?
  • On what basis do we accept the Word of God as true?
  • Is there a criteria or set of rules that we can use to determine what books belong to the canon of scripture?  Why or why not?
  • How do we know that we have all of the books?  What Biblical promise do we appeal to? (read Matt. 5:18; 24:35 or Luke 16:17; 21:33)

Why is the Doctrine of the Bodily Resurrection Important?

Case Study: Auburn Affirmation of 1924
  • 1924 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA)
  • Adopted The Auburn Affirmation, signed by 1274 of its ordained ministers
  • The Auburn Affirmation
    • affirmed 5-point doctrinal deliverances of 1910, 1916, 1923 (inerrancy of Bible, Christ's virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily ressurection, mighty miracles) stating they held "most earnestly to these great facts and doctrines"
    • Also declared "Some of us regard the particular theories contained in the deliverance of the General Assembly of 1923 as satisfactory explanations of these facts and doctrines.  But we are united in believing that these are not the only theories allowed by the Scriptures and our standards as explanations of these facts and doctrines of our religion, and that all who hold to these doctrines, whatever theories they may employ to explain them, are worthy of all confidence and fellowship." (emphasis added)
    • asserted that the Bible no where asserts that its writers were kept from error
    • asserted that the Westminster Confession of Faith does not make this assertion
    • asserted that the doctrine of inerrancy in fact impairs the Bible's supreme authority and weakens the testimony of the church to the power of God unto salvation.
"The Affirmation offers no plausible explanation why the doctrine of inerrancy impairs the Bible's authority or weakens the church's testimony to the gospel.  I suppose the Affirmation means that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy shifts attention away from the 'living Word' (Christ) to the 'written Word' (the Bible).  In fact, just the opposite is true: If we take a lesser view of the Bible, we are not making Christ more important; we are making him less important because we are discounting his testimony.  Moreover an errant, fallible Bible would impair the Bible's authority and weaken its testimony to Christ the living Word.  I can only conclude that the liberal mind is a confused mind." (emphasis added, Robert Reymond, Faith's Reasons For Believing, footnote p. 133-134)

Did many of the signers of The Auburn Affirmation believe in the bodily resurrection?  What did the signers value over the truth of God?  Why?
How did existentialism play a role in this affirmation?  What is existentialism?
Read 1 Cor. 15:14-19  What reasons does Paul list for the importance of the resurrection?
How does the bodily resurrection make Christianity different from all other religions?

The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ

  • Jesus was crucified by Roman authorities at the request of the Jewish religious leaders
  • "and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" - 1 Cor. 15:4
  • This resurrection was in conflict with what the Jews (both followers of Christ and His enemies) were expecting
  • The claim of Jesus' resurrection was exceedingly offensive to the Jewish leadership, since Jesus had been condemned as a "blasphemer" and had died on a cross under the curse of God.
  • The disciples of Jesus believed and proclaimed the resurrection, in spite of the threat of persecution and death.

Evidence #1 - The Empty Tomb

  • All four gospels bear witness that on the third day, his disciples discovered that Jesus' body had disappeared from the tomb (Matt. 28:6; Mark 16:5-6; Luke 24:3,6,22-24; John 20:5-8).
  • Immediately after the disciples began to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • Paul goes as far as to say that the resurrection is God's declaration that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Romans 1:4)
  • Angels bore witness to the women in the tomb (Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:3-7) saying "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen!  He is not here."
  • The empty grave clothes showed to John and Peter that His body had simply disappeared (John 20:3-9)
  • So called scholars throughout history have conceded that the tomb was empty, but have given theories to explain why it was empty.
  • Stolen Body Theory - idea that Jesus' body was stolen by disciples, enemies, or robbers
    • disciples - Roman guards (falling asleep would have meant certain and severe punishment), Disciples were fearful for their own lives and would not have attempted such an endeavor, even if they did they would not be willing to die for a lie and therefore lack any motive.
    • enemies - Matt. 27:62-66 shows that Jesus' enemies considered the disappearance of his body as worse than Him never being killed "so the last deception will be worse than the first."
    • robbers - no evidence, problem with the guards, nothing but a dead body to steel.
  • Swoon Theory - Jesus did no really die on the cross but had slipped into a coma-like state
    • discounts the credibility of Roman executioners and those who buried him
    • does not take into effect the wounds that Jesus suffered, loss of blood, physical weakness and shock to believe that He came back to life without human aid to push the huge stone away and then went to convince the disciples that He was the resurrected Lord.

Evidence #2 - Numerous Post-Crucifixion Appearances

  • The New Testament records 11 appearances by the risen savior, Jesus Christ.
    • Matt. 28:8-10 - Jesus appears to the women
    • John 20:10-18 - Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, after John and Peter go away having seen the tomb empty
    • Luke 24:13-35 - Jesus appears to Cleopas and the other unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus
    • Luke 24:34; 1 cor. 15:5 - Jesus appears to Peter (probably the same afternoon)
    • Luke 24:36-43; John 20:20-28; 1 Cor. 15:5 - Jesus appears to the "Twelve" (minus Judas and Thomas) in the upper room "as they said these things"
      • invited them to touch him and he ate some fish to show that His body was materially real and not merely a phantasm.
    • John 20:26-29 - Jesus appears to the "Twelve" a week later when Thomas is present
      • Thomas, one not easily swayed to believe in the supernatural declares "My Lord and my God!"
    • John 21:1-22 - Jesus prepared and ate breakfast with His disciples
    • Matt. 28:16-20 - appeared to the Eleven on the mountain of Galilee.  This could be the same place mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:16 where He appeared to more than 500 disciples at one time.
    • 1 Cor. 15:7 - appeared to His unbelieving (John 7:5) half-brother James
    • Luke 24:44-52; Acts 1:4-9; 1 Cor. 15:7 - Jesus' ascension
    • Acts 9:1-5 - appears to the church's arch-foe Saul of Tarsus on the road