Here are my notes from this past Sunday in their full form for those who would like to do a deeper study of the text and the message entitled: "Is the Cross Necessary."
In Luke 24:1-7 NKJV when the women come to the place where they had buried the Lord Jesus, bringing with them spices they had prepared they find something they do not expect. Upon arrival they find that not only has the stone been rolled away but the body is no longer there. Then must to their surprise and amazement two angels are there and remind them of Jesus' words about how He must be given up to be crucified, buried, and then would rise from the dead on the third day.
This news should not have perplexed them, it should not have been a surprise because it all happened just like Jesus said it would!
Then in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul outlines for us in the first 8 verses some of if not the greatest evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It wasn't just that the body wasn't found where it had been buried. No, but it was that the risen Jesus was seen by many and with many convincing proofs!
In these 8 verses we learn that the risen Christ was seen by:
1. Seen by Peter (v.5)
2. By the 12 Disciples (v.5)
3. Over 500 brethren at once (v.6)
4. James (v.7)
5. All the apostles (v.7)
6. Paul (Damascus Road) (v. 8)
There can be no question that Christ rose from the dead. We don't have to rely on just one person for proof or evidence. If it had been just one person then that person could have fabricated a story and we wouldn't know what to believe. However, since Jesus was seen by well over 500 people we can rely with certainty on the biblical witness.
The question today is not, "Did Jesus Rise?" We already know the answer to that question. No, the question to be answered is, "Is the Resurrection Necessary?"
Why does it matter? What is the point?
After all we as Christians who believe in the Bible celebrate Easter. So, why is it necessary?
IT IS NECESSARY BECAUSE...
1. Without the Resurrection all preaching and all faith would be empty! (v. 12-15)
The greek word translated empty is the word Ken-os' meaning vain, hollow, empty, ineffective, foolish, worthless, false, pretentious, amounting to zero.
There were many in that day that did not believe in a resurrection of the dead (v. 12). They had varying views of just what happened in life or the lack thereof after death.
- Some religions taught soul sleep in which the body dies and disintegrates, while the soul or spirit rests.
- Materialists believe in utter extinction, total annihilation. Nothing human, physical or otherwise, survives after death. Death ends it all.
- Some religions teach reincarnation, wherein the soul or spirit is continually recycled from one form to another, even from human to animal or animal to human [emphasis mine] (MacArthur, 1984).
Christianity however, teaches something far different. Christianity teaches that there is life after death and that there is a future resurrection of the dead either until eternal life or eternal separation from God.
So, as Paul states in verses 13-15 - if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. So then any preaching of Christ resurrected, any preaching of a future resurrection of the dead would be utterly empty, void and worthless.
Even more, if there is no resurrection of the dead we are found to be false witnesses of God because we have said that God raised up Christ when in fact He didn't, if there is no resurrection of the dead.
So, if Christ is not risen then all preaching of the gospel would essentially be worthless and meaningless as well. Apart from the resurrection of Christ, the gospel is an empty, hopeless message of complete and utter nonsense in capable of bringing life to anyone.
A dead Savior cannot give life. If the dead do not rise, Christ did not rise and we will not rise. All the faithful would have been mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, afflicted, ill-treated and put to death completely in vain! (1984. p. 411)
2. Without the Resurrection we have no proof that our sins have been forgiven. (v. 16-18)
v.16-17 - If Christ is not risen, then your faith is futile. Why? Because you are still in your sins. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God's proof to the world that He accepted Christ's payment for sin on the cross. It is also God's public pronouncement that justice for sin will be served, and for those that will believe, has been served.
Jesus Christ's payment for sin perfectly satisfied God's justice for all those who believe so that we have a perfect Savior who can offer and guarantee eternal life!
If Jesus did not rise from the dead then sin won the victory over Christ and therefore sin continues to be victorious over all men. If Christ is not raised then He cannot bring forgiveness or salvation or eternal life to anyone (1984. p. 412).
If Christ did not live past the grave, then we will not either. - John MacArthur (Grace to You)
3. Without the Resurrection we have no hope.
v. 19 - Christians would be the most pitiable and miserable people on the planet because we are the ones who claim that hope and faith placed in Christ is of eternal benefit. To have hoped in Christ in this life only would be to teach, preach, suffer, sacrifice, and work entirely for nothing (1984. p. 413).
A Christian has no Savior but Christ, no Redeemer but Christ, and most certainly there is no Lord but the Lord Jesus Christ and if He is not raised from the dead, if His body is still in the grave, then He is not alive, and there is no eternal life to look forward to, there are no eternal benefits to Christianity.
WE HAVE NO HOPE IF CHRIST IS NOT RISEN!
HOWEVER, CHRIST IS RISEN! AND THE RISEN CHRIST IS OUR HOPE!
The cross is not symbol of death even though a death occurred on it. It is a symbol of hope because the perfect Savior that hung on it, and died on it, did not remain dead but was resurrected unto life!
The good news of the gospel is that eternal life is real and it can be found in a risen Savior Jesus Christ! Are you saved? Have you placed your faith in Christ? He is our risen Savior and Lord and He can be yours as well! Repent and believe on His name and you shall be saved!
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians. Chicago, Illinois. Moody Publishers. 1984.
Click here to purchase: John MacArthur's Commentary on 1 Corinthians.