Monthly Archives: October 2014

Hallelujah, Christ Rose From The Grave

Perhaps the seven greatest events of this world are the creation, the flood, the birth of Christ, the crucifixion of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ, and finally the end of this world when Christ comes again. The first six of these events have already transpired. The seventh is in the future. These seven acts of God are of primary impact concerning our being and the eternal destiny of our souls. The remaining factor in our salvation is our submission to God, through faith and obedience. We dare not minimize any of the other events listed, but in this lesson let us focus on the resurrection of Christ.

Roman soldiers were known for their hardness, but the morning of the Lord’s resurrection they were perhaps as scared as any mortal man can be. The record does not tell us who these soldiers were or how many there were. Could it be that the soldiers who were placed at the tomb were the same men that were at the crucifixion, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54)? We do not know.

Nor do we know how large an area was affected by the earthquake when Christ died (Matthew 27:51, 54) or by the one when He rose from the dead (Matthew 28:2), but these certainly were evidence of who He was.

Neither does the record tell us how much the guards actually saw. We know that they had been assigned to guard the tomb because the chief priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus had said He would rise after three days. Whether they feared it would happen, or actually feared (as they said) that His disciples might come and steal the body and then claim He had risen, they requested of Pilate that the tomb be guarded, and their request was granted. It must have been the providence of God that they went to such lengths to make the tomb secure. All of their efforts came to naught, and made the resurrection even more sensational.

There was a “large stone” rolled against the door of the tomb and the stone was sealed. We cannot now say exactly the details of that seal. It may have included clay or some other substance smeared around the outer edges of the stone sealing it to the wall behind it. It may have been a cord stretched across the stone with a mass of clay or wax at each end adhering to the wall, or maybe one glob of clay or wax at one edge of the stone with a certain Roman mark on it designating that it was against the Roman law to break that seal. Pilate had told the Jews, “Make it as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:65). But no efforts of mortal men could prevent the resurrection of the Son of God.

We are not told the thinking of the soldiers as they were assigned to guard the tomb or during the long night hours. Did they think this was all a bunch of nonsense? Were they bored during the night? Regardless of what had been on their minds, their attention was suddenly on the earthquake and the appearance of the angel. Yes, they were assigned to guard the tomb, but the bright light of this heavenly being kept them at their distance and they shook with fear and were helpless to intervene. Men have questioned whether the guards actually saw the Lord come forth from the tomb. The record does tell us that“some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened” (Matthew 28:11). So they must have been fully aware of His resurrection. We are not told why only some of the guards came. Where were the others?

The point I make is that there are many details regarding the resurrection of our Lord that we do not know, but we know He rose just as He said He would, and that He fulfilled all the prophecies regarding His resurrection. There are so many of these prophetic statements, but let us consider a few of the more obvious ones.

Psalm 16:10, quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:27), gave assurance that Christ would not be left in Hades, nor would His body see corruption. In Matthew 12:40 and 16:4 Jesus used the sign of Jonah being in the belly of the great fish as being the likeness of His being in the heart of the earth.

Many times He told His disciples of His death and resurrection, but they did not comprehend those things that would actually transpire. “And while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up’” (Matthew 17:22-23).

“Behold we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock Him and scourge Him and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19).

Even the night before the crucifixion He told them, “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee” (Matthew 26:32). (Other references are in Mark, Luke and John, but some are repetitious with these in Matthew). It is obvious that Jesus knew exactly what He must endure, but that He would rise victoriously over death.

Under the Old Law two or three witnesses were required to substantiate a claim. Consider the number of witnesses we have regarding the resurrection of our Lord. From the writings of the apostle Paul:

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles, then last of all He was seen by me, as one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:3-8).

And Paul does not mention that He was seen first by Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), or by the women as they were returning from the empty tomb (Matthew 28:9-10), or by the two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31). Paul does not mention Thomas’ doubt until he saw the nail prints in the hands of the Lord (John 20:24-28). Nor does he mention the sea side breakfast of Jesus with the seven disciples (John 21:1-12).

Acts 1:3 says “He presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” And then after that forty day period, “while they watched He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9) Jesus ascended on high and is now set down at the Father’s right hand. He had fulfilled His Father’s will and the mission for which He came to earth.

Each Lord’s Day, believers assemble together and partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of the Christ. We eat of the bread which symbolizes His body broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:24), and drink of the fruit of the vine symbolic of His blood shed for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:28), and in so doing we proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). Let us never let other things overshadow the fact that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3), but it was His resurrection that was the absolutely conclusive proof for all time that He really is who He said He was, and therefore we know that His Word is true and that we who have believed and obeyed Him will also rise from the dead (John 5:28-29) and be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air when He comes again. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17) in the heavenly home that He has gone to prepare for us (John 14:3). Had He not risen from the dead, after the many times that He said He would, there would have forever been question as to whether He was truly the promised Messiah and Son of God, but Hallelujah, Christ rose, and we know the record given us in the Scriptures is true.

~ Thomas D. Dennis

More Time

In 2 Kings 20:1-6, God tells us about a king by the name of Hezekiah. He had become so sick that he knew his death was approaching. God sends the prophet Isaiah to tell him to put his house in order and make preparations for the country to go on without him. Hezekiah begins to fervently pray to God. He lists all the good he has done and how he led the people to God. Without saying the words, it is obvious that he is asking God for more time. As he is praying and Isaiah is leaving the palace, God tells Isaiah to return to the king and tell him he has been given 15 extra years to live.

What a gift! How many people over the years have found themselves on the brink of death and wished they had more time. Many have probably asked God for this gift. Perhaps they have listed all the good they have accomplished and the added things they could do. Maybe, because of the way they chose to live their life, they did not have a list of good things, but made promises to do better. Hezekiah is given a gift that many have desired.

However, he does not repay the Lord with kindness. 2 Chronicles 32:24-25 tell us that he was filled with pride. Isaiah records the actions this proud man takes following his recovery. In Isaiah 39, we learn that the king of Babylon sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery. Hezekiah brings the messengers into his house and shows them the riches he possesses. He shows them his armory of weapons. He brags about all that he owns and controls.

God is not happy and sends Isaiah back. Isaiah tells him that everything Hezekiah has accumulated will be captured and taken to Babylon. His sons will become servants to the king of Babylon. God will honor his promise of 15 more years, but Hezekiah’s kingdom will come to an end with his death. Most would take this as bad news. There is nothing good, positive or happy about what Isaiah is saying God will do. However we see Hezekiah’s attitude in his response: “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” (verse 8). All Hezekiah heard or cares about is that there will be peace while he is alive. He cares nothing for what will happen after his death. His is an attitude of selfishness and greed.

Compare that with the words of Asaph from Psalm 78:1-8. He speaks of communicating the laws and wonders of God to the next generation: “telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord” (verse 4). His wish is that the next generation will know God’s commands and tell them to their children. He wants them to set their hope in the Lord. He is not concerned just with his lifetime or even just the next generation. He is encouraging his readers to think multiple generations down the line. To prepare, not just for their future or their children’s future, but for their grandchildren’s future.

Hezekiah was only concerned with how things were going for him. We, too, can become equally caught up with our current lives. We, too, can become so focused on what is happening right now to us that we lose sight of how it impacts future generations. We should not only be preparing ourselves to meet God, but also preparing our children to meet him. And don’t forget, we should also be preparing them to prepare their children.

Asaph put this an interesting way. He said that children “may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God” (verse 8). Hezekiah wanted to build himself up to be something great. He told of all the great things he had done for the Lord and His people. We must be careful that we do not follow that same path. We can begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3). Ultimately, we should desire that our children are more faithful to God than we are. We should train them so they know the commands of the Lord better than we do. We should help their hearts and spirits be more aligned to God than we are. This requires us to recognize our own failures and sins.

Preparing future generations is not the only good thing we can do with our time. There are souls that need saving. There are people that need help. We still have the poor, the sick, the hungry, the naked and the imprisoned with us. Peter talked about changing our focus in 1 Peter 4:1-3. He said, “We have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles” and encouraged us to “no longer live the rest of our time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” So many times and in so many ways God tells us, warns us and encourages us to put our old deeds and ways to death and live in newness of life. In 2 Peter 1:5-11, he gives us the process for making this change. Little by little we add God’s virtues to our lives and our old ways and attitudes leave us.

Even though many make that request to God for more time, not many get an answer like Hezekiah. Some do receive more time from the Lord, but they don’t know how much. We can never know how long we have. Because of that, we should keep in mind that every moment we have is a gift from God. Every day is a blessing he has granted us. We should make sure we are using it properly. If we use our remaining time to boast in our accomplishments and bask in the glory of men, we are being selfish and greedy. We are not thinking of the generation to come, the generation after that or succeeding generations. We are only thinking of ourselves. It is time that we lived for the future, not the past or present. What are we going to do with more time?

~ Doug Twaddell