The Resurrection is Factual (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

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We live in an age that pits faith against facts. Many think in order to believe the Bible, you must reject the findings of science and history. Christians are perceived to bury their heads in the sand at any new discovery that could jeopardize our faith.

Such a nonfactual faith is unappealing. Our culture is obsessed with facts. This is shown by our love for shows like NCIS and CSI, or characters like Sherlock Holmes. Forensics and detective work intrigue us. We would never believe something if it went directly against the facts.

Fortunately, biblical faith is built on facts. Luke writes his Gospel like an investigative journalist: “I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning.” His investigation surely included interviews with “those who from the first were eyewitnesses” (Luke 1:2-3).

Paul takes a similar approach to preaching the Gospel. He doesn’t regale us with fairy tales or bedtime stories. Nor does he ask us to rub a magic lamp or wish upon a shooting star. Rather, he lays a factual foundation for belief in Jesus’ resurrection.

In other words, he tells us to put our faith where the facts are.

Cold, Hard Facts

Paul begins his presentation of the gospel, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

The first fact is that Jesus died. This cannot be disputed, for nobody could survive His flogging and crucifixion! The second fact is that He was buried. This cannot be disputed either. There are no other burial stories besides the Bible’s – that He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea.

The third fact is that Jesus was raised from the dead. This is supported by the fact that His followers found His tomb empty. Even His Jewish opponents acknowledged it was empty in their cover-up attempt.

Paul continues, “And that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (15:5-8).

The fourth fact is that Jesus appeared to His followers. They saw Him alive again after His death and burial. Skeptics pass these appearances off as hallucinations or wishful thinking. But the Bible says He “gave [them] many convincing proofs that He was alive” (Acts 1:3).

Factual Faith

Jesus’ followers weren’t stupid. They knew dead people don’t come back to life. Jesus convinced them He was alive because they needed convincing! They weren’t willing to base their faith on anything less than cold, hard facts.

Thomas refused to believe until he saw and touched Jesus’ wounds. Peter assures us, “We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

John writes, “That…which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning [Jesus]…We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard” (1 John 1:1, 3).

Coping with the Facts

Skeptics often accuse Christians, “You just believe the resurrection because you need it to be true.” They mock faith as a psychological crutch, a mechanism we use to cope with life’s difficulties.

They’re partly right. We do need the resurrection to be true. We do need its hope and encouragement when life gets tough. But we don’t need it to be true because we want it to be; we need it to be true because it’s true.

I would only rely on a crutch if my leg were in fact broken. I wouldn’t rely on a crutch for the fun of it. Similarly, I wouldn’t rely on faith because it makes me feel better or makes life seem easier. I rely on faith because what I believe is in fact true.

Jesus tells Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Unlike Thomas, we have not yet seen our risen Lord. Thanks to the facts, we can be among the blessed who believe in Him anyway!

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