The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Evidence and Its Impact


Dr. John Hoole – March 29, 2015




Imagine with me a moment:  It was Saturday evening, and a handful of men were hiding in an upstairs room.  They were utterly miserable.  They were puzzled and depressed.  In their fear they had bolted the door.  The bottom had fallen out of their world.  They had given their all in loyalty to their leader.  Everything had been centered in Him, and now – He was dead.  His grave was in a garden nearby.  One more idealist removed and with Him all His grand, but unfulfilled, promises.


Now picture these few men several weeks later.  Some of them are now on trial before those who were responsible for the death of their Leader.  The “crime” with which they were charged was that of preaching about Him.  Neither beating nor the threat of death was sufficient to keep them silent.  They said: “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).


Treated like criminals,…accused of madness,…charged with being drunk,…hounded from city to city.  These abuses are now counted experiences in which to rejoice.  What was it that caused such a dramatic change?


Something happened almost 2,000 years ago that changed the course of history.  All history is divided into the time before Christ (B.C.) and after Christ (A.D.).  That something was so dramatic it completely changed 11 men’s lives so that all but one died a martyr’s death.  This happened in such a way that it has changed both earth’s history and earth’s future.


An attitude that is all too prevalent today is that most people are happy to agree that God exists.  But in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself solely and decisively in Jesus Christ.  What justification can Christians offer, in contrast to Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, for thinking that the Christian God is real?  What is it that makes Christianity so different?


To begin with, everything about Him was unique:  That is true in the prophecies of His coming…His birth…His life…His teachings…His miracles…His death.  And especially His resurrection!


It is history’s most significant event.  The validity of Jesus’ claim about Himself rests on the Resurrection, that is, whether He rose from the dead or stayed in the grave.


Many skeptics say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth.  When confronted with the facts, however, those who are intellectually honest have been forced to admit that the Resurrection is an historical event based on irrefutable proofs.  Let’s look at only a small part of available evidence for the resurrection’s authenticity.


Among the religions of the world, Christianity is unique in many ways.  One area of uniqueness concerns the evidence supporting its basic claims.  As lawyer, theologian, and philosopher Dr. John Warwick Montgomery points out:

"The historic Christian claim differs qualitatively from the claims of all other world religions at the epistemological point: on the issue of testability.”1


In other words, only Christianity stakes its claim to truthfulness on historical events open to critical investigation.  And only this explains the number of conversions by skeptics throughout history.  Indeed, other religions in the world are believed in despite the lack of genuine evidence for their truth claims.  Only Christianity can claim credibility because of such evidence.


What is often overlooked in the field of comparative religion today is that no genuinely historical or objective evidence exists for the foundational religious claims of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or any religion other than Christianity.2


Dr. Henry Morris (1918-2006), whom I have met and talked to on several occasions, makes this observation:


“As a matter of fact, the entire subject of evidences is almost exclusively the domain of Christian evidences. Other religions depend on subjective experience and blind faith, tradition and opinion. Christianity stands or falls upon the objective reality of gigantic supernatural events in history and the evidences thereof. This fact in itself is an evidence of its truth.”3


When I met him, the late Dr. Morris was professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  He was one of the founders of Creation Research Society – later to be called, Institute for Creation Research.  I was an adjunct member of C.R.S.


“Evidence” is defined in the Oxford American Dictionary as:


1) anything that establishes a fact or gives reason for believing something,

2) statements made or objects produced in a law court as proof or to support a case.”


One of the most interesting evidences for the truth of Christianity and, in particular, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the testimony of former skeptics, many of whom attempted to disprove Christian faith.  In this lesson, we will supply several examples.  I hope this will not only be an encouragement for Christians to take their faith seriously, but that it will also spur non-Christians to earnestly examine the claims of Christ in their own lives.


Lord George Lyttelton (a mid-eighteenth century member of Parliament and Commissioner

of the Treasury), and Gilbert West, Esq., went to Oxford.  Together, they were determined to attack the very basis of Christianity.  Lyttelton set out to prove that Saul of Tarsus was never really converted to Christianity, and West intended to demonstrate that Jesus never really rose from the dead.  Each had planned to do a painstaking job, taking a year to establish his case.  But as they proceeded, they eventually concluded that Christianity was true.  Both became Christians.  West eventually wrote Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1747).  George Lyttelton wrote a lengthy text titled The Conversion of St. Paul (reprinted in 1929).  Their correspondence back and forth, showing their surprise at the quality of the evidence, can be found in any university microfilm library.  West became totally convinced of the truth of the Resurrection.  And Lyttelton was convinced of the genuine conversion of Saint Paul.


For example, Lyttelton wrote to West in 1761:


“Sir, in a late conversation we had together upon the subject of the Christian religion, I told you that besides all the proofs of it which may be drawn from the prophecies of the Old Testament, from the necessary connection it has with the whole system of the Jewish religion, from the miracles of Christ, and from the evidence given of his reflection by all the other apostles, I thought the conversion and apostleship of Saint Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity a divine revelation.”4


In the 1930s a rationalistic English journalist named Frank Morison attempted to discover the “real” Jesus Christ.  He was convinced that Christ’s “history rested upon very insecure foundations.”  He believed this “largely because of the influence of the rationalistic higher criticism so prevalent in his day.”Further, he was dogmatically opposed to the miraculous elements in the Gospels.  But he was nevertheless fascinated by the person of Jesus, who was to him “an almost legendary figure of purity and noble manhood.”6


Morison decided to take the crucial “last phase” in the life of Christ with the intention “to strip it of its overgrowth of primitive beliefs and dogmatic suppositions, and to see this supremely great Person as he really was.... It seemed to me that if I could come at the truth why this man died a cruel death at the hands of the Roman Power, how he himself regarded the matter, and especially how he behaved under the test, I should be very near to the true solution of the problem.”7


But the book that Morison ended up writing was not the one he intended.  He proceeded to write one of the most able defenses of the Resurrection of Christ in our time, Who Moved the Stone?


Giovanni Papini was one of the foremost Italian intellects of his period, an atheist and vocal enemy of the Church and self-appointed debunker of religion.  But he became converted to faith in Christ and in 1921 penned his Life of Christ, stunning most of his friends and admirers.8


The Cambridge scholar C. S. Lewis, a former atheist, was converted to Christianity on the basis

of the evidence, according to his text Surprised by Joy.  He recalls:


“I thought I had the Christians ‘placed’ and disposed of forever.”  But, “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — ‘Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,’ as Herbert says, ‘Fine nets and stratagems.’ God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”9


But C. S. Lewis became a Christian because the evidence was compelling and he could not escape it.  Even against his will he was: “brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting [my] eyes in every direction for a chance of escape.” The God “whom I so earnestly desired not to meet” became His Lord and Savior.10

His book on Christian evidences, Mere Christianity, is considered a classic and has been responsible for converting thousands to the faith, among them the keen legal mind of former skeptic and Watergate figure Charles Colson, author of Born Again.


As a pre-law student, Josh McDowell was also a skeptic of Christianity.  He believed that every Christian had two minds: one was lost while the other was out looking for it.  Eventually challenged to intellectually investigate the Christian truth claims, and thinking this a farce, he accepted the challenge.  He states: “as a result, I found historical facts and evidence about Jesus Christ that I never knew existed.”11  McDowell eventually wrote a number of important texts in defense of Christianity, among them Evidence That Demands a Verdict, More Evidence That Demands a Verdict, More Than a Carpenter and Daniel in the Lion’s Den.


Dr. Gary Habermas was raised a Christian.  But he soon questioned his faith.  He concluded that while the Resurrection might be believed, he personally doubted it and was skeptical that any evidence for it was really convincing.


There are so many more scholars that have come to the same conclusion about the resurrection of Christ.  And we have covered mainly historians, archaeologist and Atheists.  There are many similar accounts by attorneys, who looked at the evidence, wondering if it would stand the test of law in a courtroom.


I would now like to look a another piece of evidence.  One of the greatest evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fact that there were so many people who personally saw Him alive.


Professor Merrill C. Tenney of Wheaton College writes that:


“It is noteworthy that these appearances are not stereotyped.  No two of them are exactly alike.  The appearances to Mary Magdalene occurred in early morning; that to the travelers to Emmaus in the afternoon; and to the apostles in the evening, probably after dark.  He appeared to Mary in the open air.  Mary was alone when she saw Him; the disciples were together in a group, and Paul records that on one occasion He appeared to more that 500 at one time.


The reactions also were varied.  Mary was overwhelmed with emotion; the disciples were frightened; Thomas was obstinately incredulous when told of the Lord’s resurrection, but worshipped Him when He manifested Himself.  Each occasion had its own peculiar atmosphere and characteristics, and revealed some different quality of the risen Lord.”  (McDowell; Page 72, ibid)


Another factor is that not all who saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion were friendly to His teachings.  They may have even been hostile towards Him.  Consider James, the brother of Jesus, who, until he personally saw the risen Christ, was not a follower of Christ.  Paul, who was certainly an opponent of Christianity, saw Christ alive on at least three occasions.


1 Corinthians 9:1 NKJV


1       Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?


And then we have Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 15:8,…….


                   …… “last of all he appeared to me also.”


Let’s read the verses preceding this one.  Do you remember what 1 Corinthians 15 is called?  It is called the resurrection chapter of the Bible.  And it speaks not only of Christ’s resurrection, but also ours.


1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NIV


1       Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

2       By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3       For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4       that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

5       and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

6       After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

7       Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

8       and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.


This is an incredible testimony of Jesus being alive.  We are presented with the names of some of those who saw Christ alive.  In many of these appearance, there were multiple people who could corroborate the fact of a risen Christ.  And Paul says in verse 6 that most of those who had seen Christ after his death were still alive, and could be questioned.


Notice that James is mentioned among this list of eye-witnesses.  This is James, the half-brother of Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph.  Prior to the resurrection, James had not been a believer of Christ being the Jewish Messiah.  You can read that in John 5:7.  What changed him to a believer?  He became an eye-witness of the risen Lord.  He would later write the book of James, and would become the leader of the church in Jerusalem.


Having mentioned just a few powerful evidences of the veracity of the Resurrection, someone might ask, “what difference does that make for me personally?”  What is the significance of this event for believers like you and me?  I want to give you nine thoughts that reveal the importance of believing in the Resurrection.


1.  In the Resurrection of Jesus Christ we see the clear demonstration of the power of the true God.


Ephesians 1:19-21 tells us that it is the power of our heavenly Father that raised Jesus Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.


2.  The resurrection proves that Jesus is God.


Romans 1:4  (NIV)


4       and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God [how?] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.


The fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross does not prove in itself He is God.  The Jews crucified Jesus Christ because, to them, he was blaspheming, when he said that he was the Son of God, equal to the Father.  The Resurrection demonstrates the truth that He is who He said He was.


3.  The resurrection proved Christ has power to forgive sin.


1 Corinthians 15:17 NKJV


17     And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!


By rising from the dead, Jesus proved His authority and power to break the bonds of sin, and to assure forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept His gift of salvation.


4.  Our salvation depends of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


And Romans 10:9 says that one cannot be a Christian without believing the resurrection of Christ.


9       That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.


5.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ secured our justification.


The resurrection proves God the Father has accepted Christ’s sacrifice in our place on the cross.  Jesus gave His life as a ransom for all of us.  As a sinless substitute, His death paid in full the debt of our sins.


Romans 4:25 NIV


25     He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


6.  Our own resurrection depends completely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 4:14 NKJV


14     For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.


John 14:19 tells us: “Because I live, you will live also.” There are so many more passages that teach the same, such as in 2 Corinthians 4.


John 6:40, 44 NKJV


40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."


44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.


7.  The power for our Christian life today is the power of His resurrection.


Romans 6:4 NKJV


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.


How can we live this Christian life?  We can live it by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.


8.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates that this Jesus Christ is going to be appointed judge of all the people in the world.


Acts 17:31 NKJV


31     because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."


All who have rejected the claims of Christ will one day be raised up from the dead by Christ Himself.  And He will be their Judge.


Thus far we have shown some of the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have also shown the importance of believing in the resurrection.


In the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job, this patriarch asked the question “If a man die, will he live again?”  (Job 14:14).  This is where the importance of Christ’s resurrection becomes so apparent.


The apostle Paul states, in 2 Corinthians 4:14:


14   …we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.


In Paul’s first letter to this same church we read, in 1 Corinthians 6:14,  “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”


All of this indicates that death is not the end of it all.  A person does not cease to exist when their body dies.  So many people think we are in the land of the living, on our way to the land of the dying.  But the reality is that we who belong to Christ are currently in the land of the dying on our way to the land of the living.


I remember how our former pastor, the late John Tappero, relayed to us in his sermon the story I want to share with you.  News of victory is always an exciting experience, but news of a victory after news of what appears to be a loss is even better.  For instance, consider the way in which the news of the Battle of Waterloo came to England.  In a day when there were no radios or television sets, everyone in England knew that a great battle was pending and were anxious to hear what would happen when the British general,


Wellington, would face-off with the incomparable Napoleon.  A signalman was assigned to the top of Winchester Cathedral with instructions to keep his eye on the sea.  When he received a message he was to pass it along to a man on a hill.  And subsequently the message would be passed along to another and then another until the news of the battle was relayed to London and then across all of England.


Far in the distance a ship was sighted in a thick fog on the English Channel.  The signalman on board sent out his first word – “Wellington.” The next word was “defeated.”  Then the fog prevented the ship from being seen at all.  “Wellington defeated!”  That message was sent across the many hills and hamlets of Great Britain, and gloom descended on the masses.  After a few hours the fog lifted, and the signal came again: “Wellington defeated the enemy!”   Then jubilation spread throughout the whole nation.


In the same way, Christ’s death on the cross plunged his friends and followers into sadness.  It was apparently a great defeat.  But on the third day Jesus raised to life in victory.  The enemies of truth and righteousness had seemingly won.  Still, after three days the fog lifted and the full message came to the whole world: “Christ is risen, he defeated the enemy.”


Mary Magdalene returns to the garden and stands weeping outside the tomb.  Suddenly, Jesus appears and speaks to her (John 20:15).  In the darkness, she does not recognize Him.  Something happens next that Mary never could have expected!  He calls her by name … “Mary.”  She immediately knows it’s Him when she hears His voice.  She had witnessed His violent death on the cross.  She watched as His body, which had been beaten beyond recognition, was laid in the tomb.  Now, she sees the risen Lord in all His glory, and He has chosen to make His first resurrection appearance to her.  She had come looking for a body, but she has found a living, risen Savior.


Jesus knows the names for each of us.  And He has called everyone by name to Himself.  The call is to say, “Yes!” to Him and to put our faith in Him as Savior.  Listen carefully, and you will hear His voice calling you by name, even now.


If you have not accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, today is the day to do it.  When you accept Him as your Savior, that will be a moment that will immediately change the course of your life, as well as change your eternal destiny.


The Word of God makes it clear that in order to receive salvation, we must believe in Christ’s resurrection from the grave.


Romans 10:9 NKJV


9       That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.


If you sense God calling you by name, in the same way He called Mary by name at the tomb, you can respond to Him in a prayer something like this:


         “Dear God, I believe Christ’s death on the cross was for my sins.  I believe You raised Him from the dead to give me hope.  I confess my sins, and ask for your forgiveness.  Come into my life and be my Savior.  In Your Name, Amen.”


Let’s always remember the words of this old hymn:


         Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes;

                   He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign.

                            He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah!  Christ arose!





1. John Warwick Montgomery, “The Jury Returns: A Juridical Defense of Christianity” in John

Warwick Montgomery (ed.), Evidence For Faith: Deciding the God Question (Dallas: Probe/Word,

1991), p. 319.


2. e.g., cf., John Warwick Montgomery, “How Muslims Do Apologetics” in Faith Founded on Fact

(New York: Nelson, 1978); David Johnson, A Reasoned Look at Asian Religions (Minneapolis, MN:

Bethany, 1985); Stuart C. Hackett, Oriental Philosophy(Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press,

1979); John Weldon, Buddhism, (MA Thesis) on file at Simon Greenleaf University, Anaheim, CA,

and John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Facts On Hinduism in America and The Facts on



3. Henry Morris, Many Infallible Proofs (San Diego, CA: Master Books, 1982), p. 1.


4. American Antiquarian Society, Early American Imprints, No. 8909 (1639-1 800 A.D.), p. 3.


5. Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone? (Downer’s Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1969), pp., 9–10.


6. Ibid., p. 10.


7. Ibid., p. 11.


8. In Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers,

rev. ed. 1979), p. 359.


9. C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy(New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1955), pp. 175, 191.


10. Ibid., pp. 228–229.


11. McDowell, Evidence, p. 373.