Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon "Christ Is Risen From the Dead" ]

                                    YOU CAN  BELIEVE CHRIST AROSE

"But now  is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept," 1 Corinthians 15:20.

The resurrection of Christ was the most important  event that ever took place in this lower world apart from the death of  Christ.   If it be proved  the Christian religion must stand in spite of its opposers. If it cannot our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins.  But we have such proofs of the glorious event, as cannot be overturned, and we can confidently assert in the language of the text, "Now Christ is risen from the dead." Secondly, he is become the firstfruits of them that  have fallen asleep.    


The death of Christ cannot be doubted, for in the presence of the multitudes he bowed his head and gave up the spirit. An impious soldier peirced his side with a spear from whence flowed blood and water.  This important circumstance fully proves the reality of his death, for the wound reaching his heart must have caused instant death, even  had  he received it in perfect health. Being dead, his body laid in a sepulcher, where it remained till the third day, but  his soul went into the invisible world. Some have imagined that he wient into the lost regions of condemned and lost people, but upon serious examination, this appears to be mere fiction. Tthe prophecy of David concerning this event, "You wil not leave my soul in  "Hell" means no more than this: You  will not leave my soul in the invisible world. The ivnisible  or unseen world  to which our Savior went was Paradise,  as appears from his own words to the penitent thief: "Today you shall be with me in Paradise"(Luke 23:43). Sheol is the Old Testament word for Hades. Jesus did not preach the g ospel to people in Hell between His death and resurrecition. On the thrid day, the soul of Christ  returned from the invisible world, and re-animated  the same body which died on the cross. Thus, when the soul departs  the body dies, and when it returns and is again united to the body, there is a proper resurrection. The proofs of Christ's resurrection may be reduced to three: the testimony of the disciples; the ;out-pouring of the  Holy Spirit on the day of Pentefcost, and the rapid progress of the  Christian religion afterwards.

 The resurrection of Christ is fully proved by the testimony of his disciples. Testimony may always be relied upon, when, those who testify are neither deceived themselves, nor designed to deceive others. And that this was the case with; our Lord's disciples will be evident upon a fair view of the subject. They could not be deceived themselves; for they all saw him, conversed with him, ate and drank with him, handled his body, and saw him ascend into heaven. He appeared teN times before his ascension: To " Mary," Mark xvi, 9 ; to "other women," Matt. 28: 9; to "two disciples going to Emmaus," Mark 16: 12, Luke 24:, 13; to "Peter," Luke 24:34; to "all the disciples," John 20:19; to "them again," John 2o:26; to "the disciples at the sea of Tiberias," John 21: 1; "to the disciples in Galilee," Mat.,28: 16, 17; to "James," 1 Cor. xv, 7; and to "the eleven," Mark 16: 14. He appeared three times after his ascension into heaven: To " Stephen,"" Acts 7: 56; to "Saul," Acts 9: 3—6; and to "John on the Isle of Patrnos," Rev. i: 12, 13. The disciples of Jesus had no design to deceive others. They could have ho temptation to such a fraud,  for the whole world was against them. They had nothing to gain by such a fraud; but much to lose. Did they aim at wealth ? This was the way to poverty. Did they aim at honor ? This was the way to disgrace. Did they aim at ease ? This was the way to hardships, toils, and death. What then, but truth could induce them to declare the resurrection of Christ from the dead? It is also very remarkable, that his resurrection inspired them with uncommon boldness. Before it happened, they were remarkably timid and fearful; but afterwards, they neither feared men nor devils. It is not less remarkable, that they were all united in their testimony. Some of them doubted at first, and they all appear to have been slow of belief but,  they had such evidence as removed every doubt. Nor could all their suffering afterward, even death in its most dreadful forms induceh none of them to doubt, much less to deny this wonderful event. 

We may just notice an objection: Did not the Jews account for his removal from the sepulcher in another way? They certainly did, but their  account confirms that of the disciples. They forged a bare-faced lie, and bribed the soldiers to publish it.  You ssay, "His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept"(Matt, 28: 13). Could they all be asleep at the same time? If they were, how could they tell so exactly what was done? Was. it .possible for the poor timid disciples who fled when Jesus was apprehended  to venture through a band of soldiers  to steal the dead body of their Master? If the soldiers slept upon guard, why were they not punished with death? But we need not push this inquiry any further: The thing speaks for itself. It is also worthy of notice, that the account of Christ's resurrection was written and published in the age when, and in the country where, he rose from the dead. And when the Gospels were first published, many of those Jews, who had killed the Prince of Life, were still alive. How easily might they have contradicted the apostles, had they published falsehoods! How readily would they have done so, with their deep-rooted malice, if they could have done it with credit, to themselves! But who did contradict them? Can we produce one writer in that age, either Jewish or Pagan, who dared to call in question the plain, simple, and faithful narrative of the holy apostles? I never heard that any one attempted to disprove the fact; and if it had been done, the vain attempt would have strengthened the cause of Christianity.

The out-pouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost is another strong proof of Jesus' resurrection. He had said to his apostles, in the days of his flesh, " If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: But if I depart, I will send him"(John 16:7).. And just before his ascension, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, to send the Spirit down in his miraculous influences. Accordingly, when the day of Pentecost was fully come, the promise was fulfilled; and the apostles were qualified by various gifts of the Holy Ghost for an extraordinary work(Acts 2).. They were enabled to speak a variety of languages, and to work astonishing miracles in the name of Jesus. The effects of that day were soon discovered, not only in Judea, but in every part of the Roman empire; and if there had been any doubts of Jesus' resurrection before that memorable day, those doubts must have been removed by the irresistible proof which was given in the descent of the Holy Spirit.

The rapid progress of Christianity, immediately after that day, forms another powerful argument in favor of Christ's resurrection. The world was soon turned upside down; the heathen oracles were silenced, their temples were shut, their altars were thrown down,  and Christianity, through the instrumentality of a few poor fishermen, triumphed every where. Surely the God of truth was with them. All the world was in arms against the apostles, and every means that could be devised was used to crush them , but all in vain.  God being with them, the word grew and multiplied. Can we suppose that, the God of truth would°have sanctioned a lie? We allow that Mohammed, though a great impostor, had many followers; but they were obtained by fire, sword, and blood. The apostles had no power but that of God; and they used no means but such as were worthy of God. They were men of strict integrity, of deep piety, and of unwearied diligence; and heaven crowned all their labors with success.

II. Christ is become the first fruits of them that slept. The resurrection is compared to a harvest. The bodies of men, like seed in the earth are laid in the grave, and as sure as the seed quickens and grows, so surely shall they be quickened and raised up. The growth of the seed is natural,  but the resurrection of the dead will be supernatural. Omnipotence is necessary in both cases; and it is certain that omnipotent power can raise the dead with as much ease as it can produce a grain of corn. Let those who doubt this recollect that, by a word God created he world out of nothig.  Christis  the Firstfruits of a general resurrection. . Many indeed were raised from the dead beofre He arose, but they died again. They were raised to mortality, be He was the first who rose to immortality. Death had no more power over Him, being vanquished and overcome by His resurrection. How pleasing is the thought that death is a conquered enemy. As the first-fruits were a pledge of the general harvest, so the resurrection of Christ is a pledge of ours. And as sure as He rose, so surely we shall arise. "But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming"(I Cor. 15:23).. For wise reasons he suffers his saints to pass through death, and to lie in he grave. This, however painful, is a necessary part of His wise and gracious plan, and it should be submitted to with pious resignation. But we are assured, by the resurrection of our Lord, that this bondage will have an end. Perhaps that event is nearer than we imagine. O, let our hearts rejoice and let Jesus have the glory!  Let us commemorate the death and  resurrection of Christ with songs of praise and breaking the bread together on every Lord's Day. The truths of Christianity are established, death and the grave are  conquered, and the resurrection of the dead is certain. Let us rise from a grave of sin; let us gain a vital union with Christ, and when He shall descend from heaven in the glory of the Father, may we rise from the dead and meet Him in the air.*

*This is a reproduction of a sermon preached by Jonathan Edmondson. a preacher in England in the 1800's.





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