How Do We Know Jesus Christ Rose From the Dead?
It is no secret the entire Christian faith is built upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The claims of Jesus Christ to be the Son of God depend upon his bodily resurrection from the dead. The truthfulness of all Jesus taught also hinges upon his bodily resurrection from the dead. If he did not rise again as he promised, then he is a fraud. And worse than that, we are still in our sins.
But this question has far reaching ramifications for the rest of the world as well. If Christ did rise again, then the question of world religions is over. After all, if Jesus conquered death and as a result validated his unique standing as the God-man, then he is in truth Lord of all. If Christ rose again, then all are accountable to him. If Christ rose again, then all are compelled to worship him and confess him as Lord and Savior. Failure to do so will result in eternal loss.
We come then for a brief examination of this most important question: How do we know Jesus Christ rose from the dead?
The Testimony of the Empty Tomb
In the attempt to explain away the resurrection, some people claim Jesus never really died. However, the gospels make it very clear Pilate would not release the body of Jesus for burial until he confirmed his death. In fact, Pilate called the centurion in charge to confirm Jesus was dead. Only then did Pilate grant permission for Joseph of Arimathea to take the body for burial.
Furthermore, the day following the burial of Jesus, Matthew’s gospel states that “the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch (guard): go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
Briefly, I should point out it is a fact of history Jesus died at the hands of Pontius Pilate. It is utter foolishness for anyone (including the Muslim world) to deny Pilate crucified Jesus.
One source outside the Bible which confirms Jesus died at the hands of Pontius Pilate is the Roman historian named Tacitus, who wrote about the burning of Rome. He said rumors began spreading that the Emperor Nero did it, so he blamed the Christians. Taticus explained that the name (of the Christians) came from Christ, who was executed by Pontius Pilate. Note that this recognized Roman historian confirms Pilate crucified Jesus.
So, Jesus died at the hands of Pontius Pilate, was taken down from the cross with Pilate’s permission, and then buried in a tomb by two prominent Jews named Joseph and Nicodemus. Furthermore, this grave site was secured by Pilate lest anyone tamper with the tomb.
Now the Scripture tells us in Matthew’s gospel, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week . . . there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it . . . and for fear of him the guards did shake, and became as dead men.”
Those guards wasted no time getting away from the tomb. By the time the women arrived at the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus the guards were gone. And to the surprise of the women arriving first at the tomb that early morning, the great stone covering the entrance to the tomb was rolled away.
The Scripture says, “And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” Again in Luke’s gospel it says of those who entered the sepulcher that they “found not the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:3).
Right here is the greatest evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His tomb is empty! Later when the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of Jesus, all the enemies of Christianity need do to stop them was produce the dead body—but they could not!
In fact, the empty tomb existed for all of Jerusalem to see. So, how could they explain the empty tomb? The only explanation for the empty tomb the enemies of Jesus could come up with was the pathetic idea the disciples stole the body. They actually spread that lie. And believe or not, some still believe the disciples stole the dead body of Jesus. However, a simple examination of the circumstances should dispel this idea completely.
In order to steal the body of Jesus from the tomb the disciples needed to first over-power a band of rugged Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. Then they needed to move the huge stone from the entrance of the tomb. Then they could take the dead body and carry the corpse to some other location with the full knowledge as soon as the Roman authorities caught them, they faced death—capital punishment.
All of that for a dead man. Not hardly. No, no my friend! The disciples did not steal the body of Jesus.
It is important to make another point right here. The disciples were not in any state of mind to even attempt to steal the body of Jesus. Please remember the death of Christ in public humiliation crushed the spirit of the disciples. His death left them confused and disillusioned.
They thought Jesus to be the promised messiah and now he was dead. His death dashed their hope to pieces. Afraid and uncertain as to what the future held; the disciples hid from the authorities. They possessed neither the motivation nor the means to steal the body of Jesus. Simply stated the disciples did not steal the dead body of Jesus from that tomb.
Rather, the real explanation for the empty tomb is this: on the third and appointed morning the Spirit of God visited the tomb and raised Jesus from the dead!
When news of the resurrection came to Peter and John they both ran to the tomb. And when John arrived he looked into the tomb and saw the empty grave clothes! But when Peter got there, he went all the way into the sepulcher and not only saw the empty grave clothes, but he saw the napkin that had been around the head of Jesus not lying with the linen clothes but wrapped together in a place by itself.
Think about the implication of what they saw. The body of Jesus was gone and mysteriously the cloth used to wrap his head was neatly folded and laid aside from the other grave clothes. Can’t you see the picture Scripture is painting for us?
Here is what happened. The power of God visited that tomb quickening the dead body of Jesus and raising from the dead. Now risen, Jesus folded the napkin once wrapped about his head and laid it to the side. Then with a mighty earthquake the angel of the Lord rolled away the stone and the glorified Christ walked out of the tomb!
Thus, Jesus said to John the Revelator, “I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (or hades, the realm of the dead) and of death.”
His Enemies Could Not Produce His Dead Body
Next, it should be pointed out the enemies of Christ confirm the resurrection. As mentioned above, to dispel the resurrection all the enemies of Christ need do was produce his dead body. If there was no resurrection, surely those who painstakingly secured the tomb to prevent such a rumor from ever occurring in the first place would follow-up on the misguided claims of a resurrection in order to fully embarrass those claiming Jesus rose from the dead. In so doing, the discovery of the remains of Jesus would squelch the preposterous claims of the Nazarene who declared himself to be “the resurrection and the life.”
However, those who participated in the crucifixion of Christ and had the most invested in destroying his memory could not disprove the resurrection. They could not produce his dead body. Remember, all of Jerusalem knew of the death of Jesus. As well, those interested in the facts knew Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent Jew, buried him in his own new sepulcher.
No doubt many in the city visited Joseph’s tomb for themselves and discovered it was empty. They soon heard the false report instigated by the Pharisees that the disciples came and stole the body, but they knew the tomb was guarded by the Roman authorities. How then were the disciples able to steal the body? And if they did steal the body, why is no one tracking them down and recovering the dead remains to disprove the whole idea of a resurrection?
The point is, the enemies of Christ could not overcome the reality of the empty tomb. Nothing they put forth could provide a satisfactory explanation. Soon they would be engaged by the bold preaching of eyewitnesses testifying to them and the world they saw the resurrected Christ. These passionate men were the same ones who watched Jesus die and who just a few weeks earlier hid in fear of their lives at the hands of these same men.
Mark this down: the enemies of Christ could not produce his dead body and Jerusalem’s well informed knew this to be the case. Their inability to produce the dead body of Jesus serves as a confirmation of his resurrection!
By the Testimony of the Roman Soldiers Guarding the Tomb
Matthew’s gospel states “there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it . . . And for fear of him the keepers (guards) did shake, and became as dead men . . . behold, some of the watch (guard) came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done” (Matt. 28:2, 4, 11).
Please note there was no doubt among the soldiers as to what happened at the grave site. They felt the earthquake. They saw the stone rolled away. These seasoned Roman soldiers became as dead men in the face of all they experienced. And at least part of them went immediately to the chief priests and elders to report the empty tomb.
In light of this report the only option available to the enemies of Christ was an attempt to hide the truth from the general population. How wicked! How devious! How akin to their father the devil to instigate a lie to cover the truth. However, don’t miss this point. The testimony of the Roman soldiers confirms the resurrection.
By the Testimony of the Jewish Rulers Who Sought to Oppress the Truth
As previously noted the Jewish rulers could not produce the dead body of Jesus. In fact, in light of the testimony of the Roman soldiers these men knew they could never produce the dead body of Jesus.
Their actions to facilitate a cover-up actually bear testimony to the reality of the resurrection. Sadly, Matthew reports this fabricated lie was “reported among the Jews until this day.” At the time Matthew wrote his gospel this lie still circulated among the Jewish people. Perhaps this lie remains a stumbling block for some until this very day but know this: this lie was only needed because there was no other way for them to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
By the Eyewitness Accounts of Those Who Saw and Talked with the Risen Christ
How do we know Jesus Christ rose from the dead? We know because of the overwhelming testimony of eyewitnesses. Hundreds of people saw Jesus alive from the dead (1 Cor. 15:6). The bodily resurrection of Jesus is confirmed by those who saw him, touched him, and talked with him after the resurrection.
In particular, the apostles bear witness to the world of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Hear the testimony of these men. The apostle John said, “. . . we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father . . . that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled . . . for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…”
The apostle Peter said, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . .” As well, the book of Acts declares: “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.”
All these men possessed the same conviction. The Jesus they walked with for three and one-half years, the Jesus they communed with at the last supper, the Jesus they forsook at trial, the Jesus they saw beaten and humiliated, the Jesus they saw die in shame, the Jesus they knew to be buried in a rich man’s tomb was now alive!
Thomas expressed their conviction best. When he saw the risen Lord he bowed at the feet of Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God.” Remember, Thomas is famous for his skepticism. He did not immediately embrace the truth of the resurrection. Even though the others testified to seeing Christ, he refused to believe until he could see the Lord for himself.
A week later Thomas was confronted by Christ and invited to touch the scars in his body, and not to doubt but to believe. Upon seeing the Lord he bowed at his feet and proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” His doubts were over. He went on to serve as an apostle and an eyewitness to the resurrection.
The eyewitness testimony of the apostles and hundreds of others who saw the risen Christ should be enough to convince anyone he arose from the dead.
Additional evidence of the resurrection lies in the mighty works of the apostles. These works serve to confirm the resurrection of Jesus. Their mighty works in the name of Jesus testify to a living Christ able to intervene in the lives of men and women. Their testimony and their works in his name bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the apostles gave their lives as martyrs in testimony to the overwhelming conviction Jesus rose from the dead. They could not deny what they knew to be true. They could not deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It should also be noted the church built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles and Jesus Christ himself the chief cornerstone, cannot be explained apart from the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead. The existence of the church for the past nineteen centuries bears testimony to the risen Christ who prophesied he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. A dead man could not build such a church, but the risen Son of God now seated at the right hand of the Father can and still is building that church.
And finally, we have the testimony of the written Word of God. The record God gives of His Son in Holy Scripture is emphatic. Jesus arose from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is central to the whole New Testament which ends with the message of the future Revelation of the risen Christ at his second coming.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is beyond doubt. Only those bent on persisting in willful unbelief deny the resurrection of Christ. However, it is possible for all to come to a place of repentance instead of travelling the road of unbelief. We simply must turn as the Spirit of the Lord convicts our heart with the truth of the gospel.
Here is God’s promise to all who will believe upon the resurrected Christ:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, THOU SHALT BE SAVED.” Amen!
Bow your heart and surrender your life to the risen Christ today. Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the way, the truth, and the life. He will save you and impart to you eternal life (John 3:15, 16; 5:24; 6:47; 10:27, 28).
The Day of the Lord Will Come
Our text for this message is found in 2 Peter chapter three:
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
This sermon is built around the following words: warning; repentance; wrath; punishment; and lion.
I believe ministers of the gospel have a great responsibility to warn men of the coming day of the Lord. Furthermore, I believe we have a great responsibility to preach repentance. Repentance occurs when a man changes his mind about disobedience toward God. Those who refuse to repent need to understand they are storing up wrath against the day of wrath when the Lord punishes the world for its wickedness.
Indeed, the day of the Lord is coming when the Lion of the tribe of Judah roars out of Zion.
I am sure you noticed Peter’s reference to the longsuffering of God in our text. This attribute of God explains why the Lord is yet to judge the earth in our day. However, I must warn all who will listen that the day of the Lord follows the day of his patience.
Today the Lord patiently withholds the hour of his judgment while waiting for men to repent. However, the day of his longsuffering will come to an end. Isaiah declares men “shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake terribly the earth.”
The Apostle Paul in his last fellowship with elders in the church at Ephesus said, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.” We must do the same.
We must warn our world of judgment to come and we must do so with compassion of heart, even with tears.
Listen closely. The Bible says in Acts 17:30 God “commands all men every where to repent.” In fact, Jesus states the great commission this way in the book of Luke:
"Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”
Do you understand God is waiting for you to repent? Those of you worshipping false gods or who embrace a false spirituality that denies the Lord Jesus Christ stand in need of repentance. You must turn in your heart from such deception, repent and believe the gospel.
As well, those who persist in open defiance of God justifying the practice of sin are commanded to repent. This command comes through the voices of humble servants of the Lord who carry his word to the world. But know this: it is your Creator and Redeemer who makes this demand on your heart lest you perish!
Now we come to a troubling prospect. Do you know what an unrepentant world is doing as they persist in disobedience to God?
The Bible says, “despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasures up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:4-6).
The New American Standard Bible renders part of this passage in these words: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
Think about this: every day men and women who refuse to repent are making a deposit in an account that represents the wrath of God. Then everything they have stored up will be theirs to endure in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God!
No one should make light of the holy, righteous judgement of God Almighty against sin and rebellion. I warn you today to flee the wrath to come. The Lord says through his prophet:
“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.”
Again, the Lord says:
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible . . . Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.”
Hear me, the day is coming when the Lion of the tribe of Judah shall roar out of Zion. The prophet says:
“The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.”
Again, hear the Word of the Lord:
“The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.”
Indeed, he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. Thus John speaks of this great day to come in Revelation chapter 19:
11 And I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Get ready my friends, soon the Lord shall roar out of Zion!
There are two elements of the day of the Lord we should be aware of when he arises to shake terribly the earth. The first is found in 2 Thessalonians chapter one where the Holy Spirit comforts the church by reminding believers the tables will turn at his coming:
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe . . . in that day.
In that day, the day of the Lord, the faith of the church shall be fully vindicated, and Jesus will be glorified in his saints.
And next we must not forget, at his coming the Lord Jesus will deliver Israel.
Listen to these words from the prophet Joel:
“The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”
Today our world is filled with wickedness such as abortion, immorality, drunkenness, idolatry, and false spirituality. It is not just America, but the nations of the world are storing up wrath against the day of wrath.
How can our world justify the murder of millions of unborn children? In America alone since 1973 the innocent blood of some 60 million unborn children cries out to the Lord. Millions more have died across the globe as mankind marches on in rebellion against the rule of God in their hearts.
It is no wonder Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The reference to little children in this verse is a reference to new born infants, or very young children. Today little ones like this just a few months earlier die in their mother’s womb at the hands of those with no conscience and no fear of God. These little ones immediately go to heaven, thus the kingdom of heaven is largely comprised of such.
I warn you today. Don’t mistake the Lord’s longsuffering as neglect to keep his word. The Lord is not slack concerning his promises. The day of the Lord is coming, and the world will be punished for its wickedness.
Sadly, our world is quickly sinking into unbridled immorality. While no generation ever existed without the sin of immorality, today this sin is taking on a deeper character of open defiance of God. Many in the wrong are open enemies to God and anyone who lifts a standard of righteousness. Today sensuality, indecency, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, and moral confusion is hastening the day of the Lord.
My warning to you is to come out from among them, humble yourself before God in repentance, turn from a heart of disobedience and obey the gospel. The gospel of Christ calls you to the cross where you are crucified to the world. The old life is nailed to the cross and a new life in Christ begins.
The new life in Christ begins when one honestly turns to the Lord Jesus and confesses him as Lord and Savior. Such repentance brings one to trust in Christ alone for salvation and results in the mighty work of the new birth wrought by the Spirit of God in the heart.
My friends, time is short. If you persist in unbelief the day of the Lord will overtake you as a thief. You will not be ready. I urge you to take heed to the warning of God’s word and flee the wrath to come!
The Coming Kingdom of Christ
Main passages of Scripture on the theme of His coming Kingdom
God’s Covenant with Abraham: His Seed to Possess Canaan Forever
Genesis 13:14, 15; 17:8 (everlasting possession); Hebrews 11:8-13; Galatians 3:16; Jeremiah 7:7; 25:5.
Israel to be Restored as a Nation
Here is one of the great themes of the Bible, namely that Israel will be restored as a nation, return to Palestine, and re-establish her kingdom.
Deuteronomy 30:1-6; Daniel 9:20-27; Ezekiel 34:11-13; 36:22-28; 37:11-14.
Israel will be Regathered and Converted at Christ’s Coming
When our Lord comes to establish his Kingdom, Israel will be the center of his focus.
Deuteronomy 30:5-6; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Isaiah 11:10-12; Jeremiah 23:3-6; 33:14-17; Ezekiel 34:12-14, 22-24; 36:24-27; 37:21-28; Zechariah 12:10-14; 13:1-6; Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 1:33; Romans 11:25-27.
David’s Kingdom Over Israel to be Restored Forever
There are three prominent elements found in Bible prophecies about the future: a land, a people, and a throne (or kingdom). The land is Palestine; the people is Israel; and the throne is the throne of David.
2 Samuel 7:8-16; Psalm 89:3-4, 27-37; Isaiah 11:1-12; Jeremiah 23:3-6; 33:14-17.
Jesus Destined to be King of the Jews on David’s Throne
Revelation 5:5; 22:16; Luke 1:30-33; 19:11-27; 22:28-30; 23:1-3; Matthew 25:14-31; Matthew 6:9-10; Acts 1:6-8; Revelation 2:25-27; 2 Timothy 4:1.
Eternal Promises to the City of the King—Jerusalem
Note: Mount Zion is the “southwest hill of Jerusalem, the older and higher part of the city; it is often called the city of David” (Young’s Analytical Concordance). The term “Mount Zion” is often used for the whole city of Jerusalem.
1 Kings 9:1-3; 2 Chronicles 33:4; 2 Kings 21:7; Psalm 48:1-2; Micah 4:1-2; Isaiah 4:2-6; Daniel 9:16-19; Zechariah 13:1; 14:4-9; Matt. 23:37-39.
Righteousness, Peace and Prosperity Promised in Christ’s Kingdom
Isaiah 11:6-10; 35:1-10; Micah 4:1-2; Zechariah 14:16-17; Ezekiel 36:29-30, 35; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 20:1-3.
Consider the following thoughts based upon 2 Peter 3:1-7:
1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
I must say believers need to be stirred up on a regular basis that we might be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets. As well, we need to be stirred in our remembrance of the commandment of the apostles of the Lord and Savior.
In fact, we might use the word revival to encapsulate Peter’s desire for believers in these verses. All genuine believers in Christ stand in need of periodic revival. Revival for a believer is nothing more than a new day of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. As we enter a new year, I challenge you to seek the Lord for personal revival.
And yes, we all need revival! We need our minds stirred by way of remembrance. We need to remember the Word of God in the sense that we enter a new day of obedience to Christ. Many believers are not living lives of obedience to Christ. Too many professed believers live as though they must never give account to Christ. After all, we are saved by God’s grace and we are kept by the power of Christ--who loves us and gave himself for us.
While that is true, every believer must come to grips with a life of obedience to the Savior who has delivered us from the wrath of God to come. Jesus tests the authenticity of our relationship with him in the following terms. He said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things that I say?” (Luke 6:46).
That is a penetrating question. If you are not obeying Christ, then perhaps you are not a Christian at all.
Certainly, if we are true believers, we need seasons of revival where the passion of obeying Christ is rekindled in our hearts. My advice to every professed believer in Christ is simple: stir up your mind and give careful attention to obeying the Word of God!
Now, notice Peter warns us of scoffers who shall come in the last days, walking after their owns lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?”
I do not believe the average person on the street thinks Jesus Christ is coming again. I certainly hope those who call themselves Christians believe he is coming again but know this: both outside and inside the visible church we have many scoffers today who do not believe he is coming.
Of course, they live like it too! Many people are living with little or no fear of God in our day. Sin is abounding, and open defiance of God is on the increase. Our world seems to have less and less respect for the true God and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not believe he is the Creator; they do not believe God once judged the world with a global flood; they do not believe God sent the Savior through Israel and they refuse to repent at the preaching of the gospel.
Many people, willfully from the heart and on an intellectual basis, are pushing God out of their life. They are embracing a godless worldview that denies the truth in a Bible they do not know. This is tragic, but at the same time inexcusable.
Be careful my friend.
Do not go the way of this world. Do not rebel against the living God. Do not join the scoffers who in their ignorance and willfulness mock the promise of his coming. Know this: his kingdom is coming. You will either be a part of that kingdom by virtue of the new birth, or you will be thrust out of that kingdom into a place where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
One thing is for sure. As 2018 closes, this old world of ours just took another big step toward the appearance of Christ in his glory. Be of serious mind. Determine to serve Him with a fervent heart in 2019.
God Has Spoken by His Son
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Now let’s take a few minutes and work our way through this passage. First, I call attention to perhaps the main point we should take home from this passage as stated in verses one and two.
Progressively from righteous Abel, to Enoch the seventh from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Samuel, and then to men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah, and others, God spoke revealing his word to mankind and the Jewish fathers, until in fullness of time he sent to us His Son.
The important point to understand is just as God spoke through the prophets in the past, now he has spoken in a final way through the ministry of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about the import of this statement: God has in these last days spoken to us by his Son.
Some of you are old enough to remember the old E.F. Hutton TV commercials. E.F. Hutton was a well-known brokerage firm in the 70s and 80s. Their commercials were famous for a catch phrase that said, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.” In one way or the other, the scene in one of their commercials would have people busy talking and moving about, but then the conversation between the two main individuals in the commercial ended up on money and inevitably one of the people would say, “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton and E.F. Hutton says.” And at that point all the busy chatter of the people all around them suddenly stopped as everyone in the room leaned toward the person who was about to tell what E. F. Hutton says.
You know where I am going with this illustration. My friends, God has spoken through his Son and Jesus says. . .
Lean in! Stop all the chatter. Stop listening to what everybody else is saying about God and the will of God and how to relate to God. Why? Because Jesus is talking, and he is God’s last word to mankind. He is God’s authoritative word to mankind. If God has spoken through his Son, then everyone needs to be listening!
If God has spoken through his Son, then every student should master the words of Christ. Every teacher should teach the words of Christ. If the living God has spoken through his Son, what could be more important than sitting at the feet of Jesus with an open Bible?!
Let me tell you how important this is, even if the average Christian parent and Christian family, and even many churches, sorely neglect the words of Christ. Listen to Jesus in John chapter 12:
Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
In essence, Jesus is saying exactly what the first two verses of our text teach. Jesus spoke only the word given to him by his Father. But hear me carefully: failure to listen to that word and believe upon Christ results in judgment. Jesus says if you reject the word spoken by God through the Son, then that very word will judge you in the last day.
There is nothing more serious than failure to respect, listen to, and obey the word of God spoken by the Son of God. Are you listening? Are you obeying Christ? Do you respect his word? If his word has not changed your heart, then you are not listening, and you are lost.
Now look again at verse three where we discover five distinct truths about the Son through whom the Father has spoken in these last days. The first three truths concern his unique person as the Word incarnate, the last two concern his work on our behalf that secured our salvation.
First in verse three we read concerning the Son: “who being the brightness of his glory” that is, in his coming to earth he always was like the Father in divine essence. In fact, it pleased the Father that in Jesus should dwell all the fullness of the Divine nature in bodily form (Colossians chapters 1 & 2). The eternal Word manifested all the attributes of the Divine Nature in the man Christ Jesus.
Thus, the Lord Jesus as the God-man radiated the glory of God’s essential character in his moral perfection, in his unconditional love for mankind, in his veiled omniscience, in his mighty power over nature, and in his perfect Spirit-filled ministry of such magnitude the world could not contain the books that could be written concerning the works he performed.
Then take note of the next statement in verse three that states the Son is the “express image of his person” that is, while distinct from the Father in personality he possesses the exact nature of the Father. He is one with the Father in nature and thus in the person of Christ the Son presents the fullness of God's self-revelation to mankind.
When you study the person of Christ in Holy Scripture he is, as one commentary states it, the express image or “imprint” as of a die perfectly representing the original design. Said another way, one need look no further than the Lord Jesus Christ to understand the character and nature of the one true God.
And then concerning his unique person as the Son of God verse threes adds he “upholds all things by the word of his power.” This statement parallels the teaching of Colossians chapter one that says the Lord Jesus created all things and by him all things are sustained and held together. Indeed, the incarnate Son is our mighty Creator and Redeemer.
And now verse three sets forth two aspects of the work of our Lord. The next part of the verse says “when he by himself purged our sins.” This was the great purpose of the eternal Word taking to himself human nature. The book of Hebrews goes on to expound upon this point in detail in chapter ten saying of the Son: “Wherefore when he comes into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering you did not want, but a body hast thou prepared me.”
My friends look again into the Bethlehem manger and gaze adoringly upon the sweetest baby ever born in this sin cursed world. Look at Mary as she gently kisses the forehead of her son and know that one day a crown of thorns will grace his lovely head. Look at him as his guardian Father Joseph slips his finger into his infant hand and feels Mary’s firstborn son squeeze it gently. Those hands will one day be nailed scared as he is lifted up for you and for me.
This is the promised Messiah of whom the prophet says was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. This is the Lamb of God destined to bear the sin of the world. The Father would see of the travail of his soul, and his great sacrificed offered by the eternal Spirit would once for all satisfy the Divine wrath against your sin and mine. The prophet goes on to say by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Praise be to the Lamb of God born in Bethlehem who takes away the sin of the world!
Next, the Hebrew writer now sees Jesus on the other side of the cross. Indeed, he has by himself purged our sins and is now sat down on the right hand of Majesty on high. It is there he ever lives to make intercession for all who come unto God by him. Oh yes, the man child now caught up to God into heaven is the only mediator between God and man, the only Savior of the world.
Look again into the manger and see his infant body wrapped in swaddling clothes. His lowly condition does not portend a kingly future. But lying there in mean estate is the King of glory. The familiar Christmas hymn says it so well:
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud, The Babe, the son of Mary.
Indeed, this is Christ the King and the day is coming when he trades his swaddling clothes for a garment down to the foot and he girt about with a golden girdle shall mount a white stallion and with his eyes as a flame of fire and with many crowns upon his head shall he come the second time in great power and glory. And on his vesture and on his thigh a name is written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS!
I say thanks be unto God for his unspeakable, indescribable gift—the Lord Jesus Christ!
Search the Scriptures—They Lead to the
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of me.”
In John 5:39 Jesus says the Old Testament canon (Genesis through Malachi) testifies of him. I would like to demonstrate that point in this message as I take you by the hand and lead you through several Old Testament passages which are connected to his birth.
If you will be patient with me, I must take you back to the very beginning. It is my hope you are becoming quite familiar with this foundational history. The history of Christmas begins in Genesis chapter three with a promise God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This ancient promise encompassed God’s plan to free mankind from the consequences of Adam’s disobedience.
I trust you understand Adam’s disobedience gave Satan the authority to hold mankind in bondage to death through the power of sin. Sadly, apart from God’s intervention Adam’s sin left the entire race in a hopeless condition.
In Genesis 3:15 God did intervene.
He did so with a promise. God promised to send a deliverer who would crush the head of the serpent, thus freeing mankind from bondage to death. It should be pointed out mankind has lived with hope of a deliverer from the very beginning. In fact, all Old Testament saints looked forward to the coming of the Savior, while today we look back upon his actual coming.
From the promise of Genesis 3:15 his actual coming was four thousand years in the making. Think about that. Four thousand years of human history transpired from the Garden of Eden until the night Joseph and Mary wrapped the promised Seed of the Woman in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.
During those years the Holy Spirit gave the Scriptures which Jesus references in our text. In those Scriptures God progressively revealed the coming Savior to the world. Do you realize God has detailed the coming of the Savior in such a meticulous way that only willful unbelief has the power to blind one to his true identity?
Consider the following details with me.
Following the global flood of Noah’s day and the dispersion of the race at the Tower of Babel, the Lord turns the historical record of Scripture to his dealings with a man named Abraham.
God called Abraham and made a special covenant with him. In this covenant he promised to make of him a great nation through which he would bless all the families of the earth.
The central theme of the Abrahamic Covenant was God’s intention to send the promised Seed of the Woman through Abraham. One of Abraham’s descendants would be unique and bless all the families of the earth.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham. Jesus is the special promised seed of Abraham through his mother Mary. The true Messiah must be a physical descendent of Abraham. All others are pretenders at best and deceivers at worst.
Scripture carefully documents the family tree of Jesus confirming Mary as a physical descendent of Abraham. This is one of the essential elements of Scripture which serves to confirm to the world the identity of Jesus as the true Messiah and Savior of the world.
My friend, through the seed of Abraham God has blessed the whole world with a Savior who is Christ the Lord!
Now let’s continue.
God established his covenant with Abraham and his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Jacob gave birth to 12 sons through whom God formed the nation of Israel. Thus, the promised seed of Abraham—through whom all the families of the earth are blessed—came through the nation of Israel.
This is exactly why Satan hates Israel and desires to destroy her. Satan drives hatred toward Israel in the hearts of the children of disobedience. As a consequence, Israel is sorely persecuted by the other nations of the world even to this present hour.
Now let me interject this question. Are you interested in knowing the true Savior of the world? Then you must receive the written record of God’s Son recorded in His inspired word. These details of Scripture identifying Jesus as the true Messiah are not trivial or boring or cumbersome. On the contrary, as pointed out in our text, Jesus says these details testify of him and have the power to convince you he is the Savior of the world!
Next, let’s consider our next passage from the Scriptures. Not only did God send his Son through the nation of Israel, but the true Messiah had to descend from a specific tribe within the nation.
Interestingly, just before Jacob died he pronounced various prophetic blessings upon his sons. Those prophecies are truly amazing, but one especially stands out.
Jacob prophesied a ruler would come through his son Judah. He refers to him as Shiloh, which means “rest and tranquility.” This title carries the thought of one who brings peace and is a special reference to the Messiah. Thus, per this prophecy the promised Savior could only come through the tribe of Judah.
Next, not only must the promised Messiah come through Judah, but he must come through a specific family within the tribe. We come now to the next significant covenant God establishes in his word.
In Samuel chapter seven the Lord sent his prophet to King David with a special message. In that message the Lord established an eternal covenant with the house of David promising his seed an everlasting kingdom.
Specifically, this covenant speaks of a special descendent from the house of David who will rule on his throne forever. The prophets who later ministered in Israel identify the Messiah as that promised seed.
Now let me come back to our text for a moment. Everything shared in this message is contained in the Scriptures of which Jesus says testify of him. Indeed, they do testify of him in clear, unmistakable terms. Don’t miss it my friend. If you follow a false messiah, a false prophet, or some false spirituality you will be lost.
The message of Christmas is indeed good tidings of great joy because the Savior was born just as God promised and all who believe upon him receive eternal life. But if you close your eyes to the witness of Scripture—as did the crowd Jesus spoke to in our text—then you will die in your sins and perish everlastingly.
Now be patient with me as I call attention to several more passages of Scripture before we are done.
We come now to the famous prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14. This prophecy binds the whole of Scripture to the ancient promise given in the Garden of Eden. Isaiah declares, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
With these words Isaiah reiterates God’s promise to send a unique person into the world without the agency of a human father. Of necessity the promise of Genesis 3:15 requires a miracle. The special seed of the woman must come through a virgin’s womb. This begs the question of how a woman who has never known a man can be found with child.
Such a circumstance can only be explained by the power of God. The virgin conception of Christ in the womb of Mary is a miracle. That miracle clothed the eternal Word, the eternally begotten Son of God, with a human nature in the person of Jesus the promised Messiah.
In light of Isaiah 7:14 our world needs to set up and take note of the mighty miracle that resulted in the birth of God’s Son. This miracle remains a sign to all men of all nations.
You say, I don’t believe it! But my friend, God says it is so. Do you wrestle with God? Do you resist the Holy Spirit who even now is confronting you with the truth as it is in Jesus? Be careful my friend. A decision lies before you and the path you take leads either to eternal life or eternal damnation.
Don’t go with the Herods of this world who seek to destroy Christ and refuse to allow him to ascend to the throne of their hearts. Rather, go with the wise men and come and bow before him and worship him!
This Christmas season the virgin conception and subsequent virgin birth of Christ remains a sign to the whole world. But the words spoken by Simeon to Mary in Luke chapter two are still true of Jesus today. He said, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.”
Don’t be surprised when the world speaks against Christ. While we love him, tragically many despise him and reject him.
Next, I bring before you another famous prophecy from the prophet Micah. A contemporary of Isaiah, Micah actually predicted the very place of the Messiah’s birth.
In Micah 5:2 we read, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
You will recall when the wise men from the east came to Jerusalem to worship the new born king, Herod gathered the chief priests and scribes demanding of them where Christ should be born.
They quoted to him this verse of Scripture confirming that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem. A short time later the wise men found the young child in Bethlehem the place of his birth. This is essential. The true savior identified by the Scriptures of which Jesus speaks in our text must be born in Bethlehem.
The Jews to whom Jesus spoke in John chapter 5 had to know where Jesus was born. Furthermore, they had to know of the slaughter of the innocent little babies by Herod less than 30 years earlier. The heart break of that situation was etched upon the nation’s memory.
Now I close with our Lord’s statement in verse 40: “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
With all the witness of Scripture these men still would not come—but what about you? You have the same witness of the Scriptures—even more so. Today we not only have the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures as did Jesus and those in his day, but we also have the complete canon of New Testament Scripture documenting the actual birth, life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God.
Why will you not come?
The most familiar part of the Christmas history is the picture of Mary wrapping her firstborn son in swaddling clothes and laying him in a manger—but why in a manger?
You will recall that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem as the little town swelled with like-minded travelers complying with the government. They soon discovered there was “no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
Although the lack of room seems innocent enough, there is something to be gleaned from this picture. Sadly, little has changed since that night long ago. The Son of God is still crowded out of a world which has little or no room for him.
The Gospel of John speaks to this reality with the following words: “He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew (recognized) him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10-11).
The Creator came into his own world only to find there was no room for him. Even his own people (the Jews) refused to accept him on a national level as their promised Messiah.
In similar fashion the nations remain guilty of the same today. Have you noticed any recent resolutions at the United Nations acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world? On the contrary, he is not so much as granted the dignity of a barn by today’s world.
And what can be said about you? Are you among those who turn away in unbelief? Do you have any room for him in your heart?
The passage in John chapter one continues in verse twelve with a glorious promise. This promise belongs to all who make room in their heart for the Lord Jesus.
The Scripture says, “But to as many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power (the right, the privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
Have you received the most wonderful gift of all? The heart of the Christmas message concerns the gift of eternal life which God freely offers to the world through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But this gift must be received.
Please bow your head in humble repentance and confess the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. Give your heart to Christ and receive the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!