Listen to this Class: 02062013WaterAndTheResurrectionOfChristDonRuhl

Download the Notes: 02062013WatergateAndTheResurrectionOfChristDonRuhl

Watergate and the Resurrection of Christ 

The Watergate conspirators can teach us something about the veracity of the resurrection of Christ

John 20.19–29

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • January 16, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. We can learn something 
    1. from the Watergate scandal
    2. about the resurrection of Christ.
      1. What happened in the scandal
      2. revealed the tendency of human nature.
        1. When we see this point,
        2. we can appreciate the preaching of the apostles
          1. on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and
          2. be further that Jesus did rise from the dead.


  1. The Watergate Scandal 
    1. President Nixon learned of the entire episode on March 21, 1972.
      1. President Nixon’s counsel, John Dean,
        1. marched into the president’s office and said:
        2. “Mr. President, there’s a cancer growing on your presidency.”
      2. John Dean revealed to the president everything that had happened.
        1. President Nixon could see that there was a cover-up,
        2. which was criminal.
          1. He could have exposed the whole thing, and
          2. fired everyone involved, but
            1. he did not and
            2. made the horrible mistake
            3. of participating in the cover-up.
    2. John Dean went to Camp David to write a report, and
      1. it was becoming clear to him
      2. that he was in deep trouble.
        1. On April 4th he went to the prosecutors to make a deal to save his own skin.
        2. Others followed.
    3. Listen to the comment of Chuck Colson, one of the conspirators, and his insight:
      1. “Here we were, the twelve most powerful men in the world.
      2. “We were surrounding the president of the United States.
      3. “And we wouldn’t keep a lie for three weeks!”
    4. Why were twelve men unwilling to keep a lie?
      1. First, they knew it was a lie.
      2. Second, they were unwilling to suffer for a lie.
        1. They were unwilling to suffer jail time for a lie.
        2. They suffered, but none of them were
          1. beheaded,
          2. thrust through with a sword,
          3. stoned,
          4. whipped,
            1. or other brutal forms of persecution
            2. for the Watergate lie.
      3. They went to the prosecutor quickly
        1. before more lies,
        2. hence more punishment,
        3. would be necessary.
    5. What would they gain by keeping a lie?
      1. They could only remain in their respective positions
        1. for 8 years at the most,
        2. unless the new president wanted them.
      2. The suffering would be immense, and
        1. they would gain nothing
        2. for all the suffering.
  2. The Resurrection of Christ: Foundational to Christianity 
    1. If His resurrection is a lie,
      1. the whole system of Christianity crumbles and collapses.
      2. In First Corinthians 15 Paul,
        1. an apostle of Christ
          1. who was willing to suffer
          2. for the sake of the resurrection,
        2. made this very argument:

          12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1Co 15.12–19).

        3. A preacher friend of mine told me
          1. that even if Christianity is not true,
          2. it is still the best life to live.
            1. I shocked him when I disagreed with him.
              1. Others have been surprised also,
              2. believing erroneously that I think Christianity is inferior.
            2. If Christianity is not true:
              1. I would quit preaching immediately; and
              2. I would probably tend toward the person I was before my conversion.
              3. All people in the church would do this.
            3. Look at the difficult time
              1. we have trying to live righteously
              2. when we know the resurrection to be true!
        4. Hear Paul’s argument in verse 32,

          32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” {Isa 22.13} (1Co 15.32).

    2. The resurrection of Christ gives us the hope
      1. of being able to be raised also.
      2. He was resurrected,
        1. so I know it is possible
        2. for me to be resurrected.
          1. If I can be resurrected,
          2. I can live forever.
            1. If I can live forever,
            2. I can go to heaven.
    3. If Christ was not raised,
      1. but the apostles preached a lie,
      2. neither can I be resurrected.
        1. If I cannot be resurrected,
        2. I have no hope of eternal life.
          1. If eternal life is not possible,
          2. the hope of heaven is the cruelest hoax ever.
            1. If the apostles knowingly lied about the resurrection,
            2. is there anything else they lied about?
    4. Why have we sought salvation?
      1. We want to be saved from the wrath to come.
      2. We want to go to heaven.
        1. How much of Christianity
          1. is directed toward living forever
          2. with God in heaven, and
          3. and avoiding hell?
        2. Do you see how vital this truth is?
  3. The Apostles Suffered Immensely for Preaching the Resurrection 
    1. Do you know what they suffered for preaching the resurrection of Christ?
      1. [Much of this information comes from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.]
    2. James:
      1. Acts 12 shows what happened to James,
      2. and what was about to happen to Peter:

        1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And be-cause he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover (Acts 12.1–4).

    3. Philip:
      1. He labored diligently in Upper Asia,
      2. and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia.
        1. He was scourged,
        2. thrown into prison, and
        3. afterwards crucified, AD 54.
    4. Matthew:
      1. He labored in Parthia,
      2. and Ethiopia,
        1. in the latter he was killed
        2. with a halberd
          1. (a shafted weapon with
            1. an ax-like cutting blade,
            2. beak
            3. and apical spike)
          2. in the city of Nadabah, AD 60.
    5. James the less:
      1. At the age of 94
        1. he was beaten
        2. and stoned by the Jews;
      2. and had his brains dashed out
        1. with a fuller’s club
        2. (a half-round hammer used for grooving and spreading iron).
    6. Matthias, who replaced Judas:
      1. He was stoned at Jerusalem
      2. and then beheaded.
    7. Andrew:
      1. on his arrival at Edessa (an ancient city in modern Iraq)
        1. was taken
        2. and crucified on a cross,
      2. the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground
        1. so that it looked like an
        2. X rather than a t.
    8. Peter:
      1. Jesus prophesied of the suffering of all the apostles.
      2. However, from John 21 we learn that Jesus prophesied
        1. of the manner
        2. in which Peter would die:

          18 “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God… (John 21.18, 19).

      3. Jerome (lived AD c340–420)
        1. said that Peter was crucified with his head down and
        2. his feet upward.
          1. Peter made this request,
          2. because he believed he was unworthy
            1. to be crucified
            2. as the Lord was.
    9. Paul:
      1. Nero sent two of his esquires,
        1. Ferega and Parthemius,
        2. to bring him word of [Paul’s] death.
      2. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them,
        1. that they might believe;
        2. who told them that shortly after they should believe and
        3. be baptized.
      3. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution,
        1. where he,
        2. after his prayers made,
        3. gave his neck to the sword.
    10. Jude:
      1. was commonly called Thaddeus.
      2. He was crucified at Edessa, AD 72.
    11. Bartholomew:
      1. He was cruelly beaten for a long time
      2. and then crucified by impatient idolaters in India.
    12. Thomas:
      1. His preaching exciting the rage of the pagan priests,
      2. he was killed by being thrust through with a spear in India.
    13. Simon:
      1. preached the Gospel in Mauritania Africa, and
      2. even in Britain
      3. where he was crucified, AD 74.
    14. John:
      1. He was sent to Rome where he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil.
        1. He escaped by miracle,
        2. without injury.
      2. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos,
        1. where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
        2. The successor of Domitian called John back.
      3. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.
    15. In First Corinthians 4 Paul speaks for all the apostles
      1. when he makes the brethren aware
      2. of how the apostles were suffering for their preaching.
        1. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ
        2. comprised the heart of their preaching.

          9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now (1 Cor. 4:9–13).

    16. Why did all the apostles suffer as they did,
      1. if the resurrection of Jesus did not happen?
      2. We are not talking about one or two wild-eyed preachers.


  1. Would you preach a lie and suffer as we just saw? 
    1. The suffering of the apostles
      1. does not prove the resurrection is true.
      2. Many people suffer for a lie, but
        1. they believe it to be the truth.
        2. How many suffer everything,
          1. lose everything,
          2. gain nothing,
            1. all for what they know
            2. to be a lie?
    2. The suffering of the apostles
      1. gives us further reason for examining
      2. the resurrection.
    3. For what possible reason
      1. could all the apostles conspire
      2. to promote a lie?
        1. Remember what they suffered.
        2. Any motivation for conspiring to lie
          1. makes no sense
          2. when you think about what they suffered.
    4. If the resurrection is true,
      1. remembering all that it means,
      2. would you not be willing to suffer for it?
  2. Compare the Watergate Conspirators and the Apostles. 
    1. When you compare these two groups of twelve men
      1. you see human nature responding
      2. to a lie and to the truth.
    2. What is your belief about the resurrection?