WAS THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS A HOAX?

THE RESURRECTION OF Jesus is the supreme F A C T of Christianity (Acts 2:24, 32).  Yes, I said, “fact.”  It is mentioned 300 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament (i.e., on average at least once in every chapter). 

Skeptics want you to believe that the resurrection was a deception.1  They claim it was an elaborate ruse designed to fool the masses.2  But do the charges of unbelievers hold up to real scrutiny and investigation?  Read from the pen of the apostle Peter and then decide on your own:

Peter on Pentecost quoted David who wrote, “For You will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27; cf. Psm. 16:8-10).  Consider two questions pertaining to this verse: 

1.  WHOSE soul would not be left in the unseen spirit realm of HadesPeter, a humble, uneducated fisherman (Acts 4:13; Luke 5:4-5, 10), showed that David’s thousand-year-old prophecy obviously couldn’t have applied to the patriarch himself because, “He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (v. 29).  David’s burial place still held David’s decayed remains and everybody in Acts 2 accepted that as fact. 

2.  WHO was the “Holy One” to whom David referred?  After explaining that the remains of King David’s corpse were still in the tomb, Peter went on to identify the Holy One and why David was pointing to, and prophesying about, the Lord. Watch—“Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his (i.e., David’s—mb) body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he (David) foreseeing this, SPOKE CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION OF THE CHRIST…, nor did His flesh (Christ’s) see corruption.  THIS JESUS GOD HAS RAISED UP, OF WHICH WE ARE ALL WITNESSES” (VV. 30-32). 

Now ponder the implications of Peter’s arguments: 

  • “It was well known to the Jews, as it now is to all interpreters of the prophetic Psalms, that David habitually speaks in the first person WHEN PROPHECYING ABOUT THE CHRIST (emphasis mine—mb); and in any given case, if it is made clear that he does not speak of himself, the conclusion is that he speaks of the Christ.  This is the force of Peter’s argument, and it proved to his Jewish hearers that which he set out to prove, that the Christ, according to a predetermined and expressed purpose of God, was to suffer death, and to arise again speedily from the death.”3
  • If the miracle of Christ’s resurrection didn’t occur, why should we, in fact, HOW CAN WE, ACCEPT ANY OF THE OTHER MIRACLES recorded in Scripture—including those recorded on this very occasion (cf. v. 2-4, 6-8, 12-16)?  See b. below.
  • When Peter appealed to David’s words in Psalms 16, he still had to PROVE that Jesus was the Holy One whom David predicted and he did so by drawing attention to two overwhelming pieces of evidence:
  1. Eye witness testimony: “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (v. 32b).  “The apostles are good witnesses in every way in which witnesses can and should be tested.  Two fundamental questions must be asked concerning those who claim to be witnesses.  (1) Were they in a position to know whether or not that which they testify took place?  One cannot be a witness of that which is outside the range of his experience.  The apostles, however, had been with Jesus both before and after His death and resurrection, so they were in a position to know whether or not what they had said was true.  They heard, saw, and touched him (cf. 1 John 1:1—mb).  (2) Are they honest enough to tell the truth about what they have seen?  In every way that one can test honesty they are found to be honest.  They gave up friends, their national standing, and even life itself.  They accepted persecution, ridicule, and the loss of property, prestige and life” (cf. Acts 3:26-4:3, 5-21; 5:17-18, 22-41; 11:2-3; 12:1-4—mb).4  See also 1 Pet. 5:1, cf. 1 Cor. 15:6.   
  • Existant miracles:  “The apostles not only bore testimony, but so did the miracles.  The miracles of Christ were an accreditation from God to show that He approved Christ (Acts 2:22).  The miracles which were being wrought on Pentecost were a confirmation by God of the message of the apostles (cf. Mk. 16:17-20—mb).  They showed that God was with them.  Therefore, their explanation of the meaning of these miracles was the correct explanation.  The people on Pentecost could not deny these miracles.  As Peter said: “which ye see and hear” (Acts 2:32).  They had heard the sound as of the rushing mighty wind, they had seen tongues like as of fire which parted asunder and sat upon each of the apostles, and they had heard these men speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:2, 3, 4, 8).  These miracles, therefore, helped establish the reliability of the testimony of the apostles that Christ had been raised from the dead.”5

Atheists, skeptics, and unbelievers insist that the resurrection of Jesus was a fraud and an imposture.  The Holy Spirit through Peter said otherwise.  Whom will we believe, good reader…?  “A faithful witness will not lie; but a false witness will utter lies” (Prov. 14:5).  “Let God be true but every man a liar…” (Rom. 3:4). 

1  Abdullah Kareem, “The Resurrection Hoax”: www.answeringchristianity.com/abdullah_smith/the_resurrection_hoax.htm

2  Ben Radfor, “Scholar Claims Jesus Was a Roman Hoax”: www.seeker.com/scholar-claims-jesus-was-a-roman-hoax-1767943845.html

3  J. W. McGarvey, “The Resurrection Christ Predicted by David,” vv. 25-31, New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 1, 33.

4  James D. Bales, “Death Could Not Hold Him,” The Hub of the Bible, 130.

5  Ibid, 131-132.

“HOW DID ONE PREACHER PREACH ABOUT MORALS?”

Some reflections on preaching about morals.

YOU HAVE TO hand it to old Noah.  He was in a very special and elite class of individuals (Heb. 11:4ff).  The aged patriarch possessed more than mental assent for deity (Jas. 2:19; cf. Jn. 12:42); he held a living faith that was active in spirit (Rom. 12:11; cf. Gen. 6:22; 7:5; Jas. 2:24).  He was one of those rare breads of bi-vocational ministers who not only held down a full-time construction job (Gen. 6), but he simultaneously served as a (the!) full-time evangelist for the antediluvian assembly of God.1

And yet what really distinguished Noah from his peers (then as well as now), wasn’t just his firm conviction for what was yet unseen (Heb. 11:1, 7), but it was his undaunted courage to declare God’s Word.  Note how the Bible describes him:

               “And (God—v. 2) did not spare the ancient world, but saved NOAH, one of eight people, A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:5).”

“Noah…a preacher…of righteousness…”  Think about the implications of those words for a few moments and then consider: 

  • Noah was THE ONLY GOSPEL PREACHER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
  • Noah’s long-term sermon series focused on a) RIGHTEOUSNESS (i.e., right actions motivated out of right attitudes—cf. Mat. 7:17-20; Mk. 7:18-23), and b) The Judgment to come (Gen. 6:13; cf. Acts 24:25). 
  • Peter described Noah’s audience as “the WORLD of the UNGODLY” (emphasis mine—mb).  The “ungodly” in Scripture refer to those who are “wicked” (Psm. 1:1), or “worthless” (Rom. 5:6), and so we learn that the people of Noah’s day were both irreverent and well as impious.  “Just how bad were they?” you ask.  The record says, “The wickedness of man was great on the earth, and…every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5b).  “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.2  So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (vv. 11-12).  Highlight those words in your Bible—wicked, evil, corrupt, and violent—and then think of modern cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and Portland on a global scale where serious crime has skyrocketed NOT simply because police-departments have been defunded, but because hearts are bent on unrighteousness.3
  • And yet, there was Brother Noah—holding his daily revival meetings, preaching on righteousness and morality and the Day of the Lord.
  • Noah preached for over a hundred years and only seven other people responded to the shadow gospel.

I can hear what somebody is thinking.  “Mike, how was Noah able to do that?”  “How was one man able to preach to an entire world caught up in a spiritual pandemic of sin and unrighteousness?”  Genesis tells us:

1.  Noah preached with his WORDS.  He was a (remember?) PREACHER (Rom. 10:14-18; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 2:1-7; 4:1-5) of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5). He was one who heralded and verbally proclaimed the Word of God with conviction.4

2.   Noah preached with his WORK.  He “PREPARED an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world…” (Heb. 11:7b).  The acts and sounds associated with building such a monumental boat shouted to the world that Noah was listening to God, that Noah was living for God, that Noah and his loved ones would be eventually saved by God (Gen. 6:22; 7:1, 5; cf. Mat. 5:16; 1 Thes. 4:11-12), and that those outside the ark would be condemned by God (Heb. 11:7; cf. 1 Cor. 11:32). 

3.  Noah preached with his WALK.  As I said earlier, Noah’s faith wasn’t merely cognitive in nature, it was exertive.  He was “PERFECT in his generations.  [And he] walked with God” (Gen. 6:9).5  You could correctly say Noah was the only Bible that ancient unbelievers were ever able to read. 

1  The “saved” were only those in the ark (cf. Acts 2:47).

2  “That word, ‘violence,”’ is especially telling—God had intended for man and animals to fill the earth, i.e. to reproduce.  Instead, the created world has become filled with ‘violence.’  The Hebrew hamas means ‘cold-blooded and unscrupulous infringement of the personal rights of others, motivated by greed and hate and often making use of physical violence and brutality.’  We are dealing here with the darkest shades of human sinfulness—dark because violence is always a personal insult to God since each one of us bears His image.”  Michael Whitworth, The Epic of God, 66.

https://www.secureamericanow.org/cities_defunding_police

https://biblehub.com/greek/2784.htm

5  Perfect or “blameless” does not suggest that he was sinless.  The Hebrew term, thamim, does not mean living without sin or being morally perfect; it means being ‘complete’ or ‘wholehearted’ in regard one’s ‘commitment to the person and requirements of God.’  This idea of inner resolve to be wholly committed to God is reinforced by the statement that Noah was a man who ‘walked with God.’  Taken together, these descriptive phrases indicate that Noah was a man of high moral uprightness and integrity.  He was faithful to God and upright in his dealings with his fellowman.  He walked with God by reflecting the kind of attitude and lifestyle that would bring glory to his Creator, in contrast to the wickedness that had spread across the earth.”  William W. Grasham, Genesis 1-22, Truth for Today Commentary, 219

“WHEN DID GOD PREACH TO A PREACHER?”

Some thoughts about Peter from Acts 10:9-16 – by Mike Benson

SCRIPTURE IS CHOCK full of sermons in both Testaments.  God told prophets, priests, and evangelists to WHOM to preach, WHEN to preach, exactly WHAT to preach, and sometimes even WHERE to preach.  But in Acts 10, it was God who was doing the preaching Himself.  Consider:

1.  God preached a pictorial SHEET1 SERMON.  “Heaven opened and an object like a great sheet (emphasis mine, mb) bound at the four corner, descending to him and let down to the earth.  In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air…” (Acts 10:11, 16).

2.  God preached that SAME sheet sermon OVER AND OVER.  “This was done three times…” (Acts 11:10).

3.  God preached that same sheet sermon three times to ONLY ONE INDIVIDUAL (Acts 10:9, 13: 11:5).  Ironically, the one-man assembly was a preacher himself (cf. 2:14ff; 3:11ff; 4:2, 8ff, 20, et. al)!

4.  God preached a meaty, Scripturally solid (cf. Heb. 5:12-13) homily three times to the same preacher WHO INITIALLY REJECTED THE SERMON because he was only able to consume spiritual milk at the time.2  Peter said, “Not so Lord!  For I have never eaten anything common or unclean…” (Acts 10:14; cf. 11:8).  Read and study Hebrews 5:12-13 for further consideration. 

5.  Peter didn’t grasp the spiritual depth and significance of God’s sermon until he MULLED IT OVER IN HIS MIND AND THOUGHT ABOUT IT the following day.  When Peter wondered within himself what [the] vision which he had seen meant (v. 17), he finally realized that God had shown him that he should not call any man common or unclean (v. 28; cf. vv. 34-35, 43, 11:9).  Like the sermon-parables delivered by His Son (cf. Psm. 78:2; 49:4), God the Father wasn’t talking so much about food or fleshly matters, but about spiritual matters (cf. Mat. 13:16-17) and the fact that the gospel wasn’t just for the Jews, but it was also for the Gentiles (cf. Acts 11:4ff; 6, 15-18; cf. Eph. 2:11-15; Rom. 9:6, 8; 11:11; Acts 15:7-11; Gal. 3:28-29).

6.  Oddly enough, Peter had actually PREACHED PART OF THIS VERY SAME SERMON some nine years earlier back at Pentecost.  He’d taught, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off (emphasis mine—mb), as many as the Lord our God will call” (2:39).

7.  Luke’s inspired record of the delivery of God’s sermon was LONGER THAT THE SERMON ITSELF.  In the English, the message comprised only four words:  “Rise, kill and eat” (v. 13b), while the explanation of the sermon was nine words in length (v. 15). 

8.  God had actually been talking about this truth (e.g., the gospel was for Jews and Gentiles) FOR CENTURIES in the OLD TESTAMENT (Gen. 17:4; 22:18; Psm. 2:8; Isa. 43:1, 6; 49:6. cf. Acts 10: 43; 15:7b-9; Rom. 11:1ff; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11ff).

9.  There was a strong relationship between what Peter BELIEVED and what he HAD AND HAD NOT PRACTICED—at least prior to Acts 10.  He told God that he never had eaten unclean food, nor could he ever do so in the future (cf. Acts 10:14; 11:8).

10.  When Peter later preached in Acts 11 the same sermon that God had preached to Him back in Acts 10, those who heard his message ENDORSED AND ACCEPTED IT.  “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (11:18). I find this almost humorous. When the preacher first heard God’s sheet sermon in Acts 10, he rejected it, but then when he turned around and preached the sermon that was preached to him, those in the “assembly” received and approved of it.

OBSERVATIONS FOR REFLECTION: 

  • God preached the same sermon three times to just one preacher (i.e., Peter), and yet the preacher didn’t “get it” at first (cf. Acts 10:28, 34, 43). 
  • The weakness wasn’t in Jehovah’s preaching, but in the mind, heart, and prejudices of the “man in the pew” up on the roof of the house. 
  • God combined words and visual aids to communicate truth to Peter. 
  • It’s not possible to believe error, but then simultaneously practice truth (cf. Acts 10:14).
  • Even though Peter was an inspired penman and apostle, he still hadn’t put the ideas of Jews and Gentiles united in Christ until Acts 10. 
  • If Peter had to think about and ponder God’s message in Acts 10, I shouldn’t be surprised when good brethren today need some time to chew on the Word of God (cf. Josh. 1:8; Ezra 7:10; Psm. 119:15-16, 47-48, 96-98) just as he did.    
  • If God had to preach the same sermon three times to Peter, I shouldn’t be discouraged when I preach the same ideas over and over and folks don’t immediately “catch on.” 
  • Peter preached that the gospel was for the Gentiles in Acts 2, had to be re-taught it again in Acts 10 (some nine years later), and then evidently forgot it several years later in Galatians 2 (cf. 2:11ff).
  • Peter needed time (another 8-10 years) to grow in his knowledge, understanding and practice (2 Pet. 3:18). 

1 Gospel preachers in the early-mid twentieth century often delivered large visual-aid “sheet sermons” which they had created on bed covers with paint and/or markers, etc.  The sheets would be hung on the wall, usually behind the preacher, and he would use it to guide the assembly to the Truth via the passages, notes and diagrams thereon. 

2 Even though Peter had been preaching for nine-plus years, he was still consuming spiritual milk in the context of the Gentiles.