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Download the Notes: 09292013DidJesusTrulyRiseFromTheDeadDonRuhl

Did Jesus Truly Rise from the Dead? 

Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth

First Corinthians 15.20–28

Ideas from: Cold Case Christianity: A Brief Review of Explanations Offered for the Resurrection by J. Warner Wallace

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • September 29, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. Someone objects to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, saying 
    1. perhaps He did not truly die, or
    2. His disciples lied about His resurrection, or
    3. they hallucinated about His resurrection, or
    4. an impostor fooled them, or
    5. they merely saw Him in the spirit, or
    6. the church later distorted the reports of the apostles.
  2. I propose a seventh possibility, 
    1. that the apostles reported the truth
    2. Jesus did rise from the dead in His body in which He had lived and died.


  1. Did Jesus Truly Die on the Cross? 
    1. Critics of the church acknowledged Jesus
      1. You can read of Jesus and the church in history.
      2. The Bible is not the only source.
    2. Roman guards faced death penalty for losing someone under their control
      1. Acts 16 shows something that might have puzzled you.
        1. The Romans had put Paul and Silas in prison.
        2. At midnight an earthquake
          1. open all the doors of the jail cells, and
          2. everyone’s chains came open.
            1. Then when the guard noticed what happened,
            2. watch he set out to do,

              27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself (Acts 16.27).

              1. Paul stopped the man and he becomes a Christian.
              2. However, the Roman guard set out to kill himself
                1. to keep from suffering the humiliation
                2. of facing his commander and being executed.
    3. How could Jesus have prevented blood loss and survived?
      1. Remember what happened to Him:
        1. The Jews beat Him.
        2. The Romans beat Him.
        3. The Romans scourged Him.
        4. The Romans placed a crown of thorns on His head and beat it down.
        5. The Romans crucified Him.
        6. The Romans thrust a spear into His side.
      2. Somehow He survived that, and
        1. came to Himself while in the tomb,
        2. rolled away the stone, and
        3. dispatched the Roman guards?
    4. He showed His disciples His fatal wounds

      27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20.27–28).

  2. Did the Disciples Lie about the Resurrection? 
    1. Matthew 27 shows that His enemies
      1. took the necessary precautions
      2. to prevent His disciples from stealing the body, and lying later,

        62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard (Matt 27.62–66).

        1. Preventing theft and
        2. then producing the body would have shown the disciples lied.
    2. The people of Jerusalem could have exposed the whole thing as a lie, but
      1. they did not do so, and
      2. First Corinthians 15 shows that many witnesses survived years later, who could contradict the deniers,

        3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 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. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time (1Co 15.3–8).

    3. Consider the transformed lives of the apostles.
      1. Would you change your whole life and die
      2. for what you know to be a lie?
        1. Well, neither did the apostles.

          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 (1Co 4.9–13).

        2. Now that sounds like a lovely life for preaching what you know to be a lie!
  3. Did the Disciples Hallucinate the Resurrection? 
    1. How could a group experience the same hallucination?
    2. This was not a momentary experience, but it lasted a lifetime.
    3. He did not merely appear once to one group of people at the same location.
    4. The disciples were skeptical. Not expecting, not hoping, not conspiring,

      9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. 14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen (Mark 16.9–14).

      36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet (Luke 24.36–40).

    5. Any of His enemies could have shown the dead body of Jesus, but did not.
  4. Were the Disciples Fooled by an Impostor? 
    1. Could an impostor fool you about your best friend or family member?
    2. First John 1 shows how well the apostles knew Jesus of Nazareth,

      1 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, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1Jo 1.1–3).

    3. An impostor would have to perform miracles to men who knew true miracles.
    4. If anything,
      1. it would seem that one of the disciples would have been an impostor, but
      2. none of them did such a thing, and
        1. so it would have to be someone outside the group, and
        2. no one outside the group could possibly fool these men.
  5. Were the Disciples Influenced by Limited Spiritual Sightings? 
    1. Remember the variety of sightings and different locations.
    2. Did five hundred people dream up something?
    3. How do we account for the missing body?
    4. He showed them His body.
  6. Were the Disciples’ Observations Distorted Later? 
    1. The disciples made resurrection claims from the beginning as in Acts 2.
      1. From verse 24 to verse 32, Peter addressed the resurrection.

        24 “…whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him…

        29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ…

        32 “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2.24–32).

      2. Verses 33–35 imply the resurrection, because of the ascension.
    2. Producing the body of Jesus would have squelched this theory.
  7. Were the Disciples Simply Telling the Truth? 
    1. For me, this is the only conclusion.
    2. It explains everything, including
      1. Old Testament history,
      2. the explosive growth of the church,
      3. Old Testament prophecies and New Testament fulfillment…


  1. Join with me and millions of others from centuries past, 
    1. who have laid our lives and our hopes
    2. on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
      1. How do you join in the resurrection of Jesus?
      2. Romans 6 shows you how,

        3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6.3–4).

        1. It is not that you just get baptized, but
        2. even as Jesus rose from the dead to live forever
          1. for the glory of the Father,
          2. so you also come up out of the water
            1. to live your whole life
            2. for the glory of the Father.