That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
~ John 12:38
Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
~ Luke 20:27
But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
~ Acts 13:30-31
But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
~ Acts 25:19
Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
~ Genesis 18:14
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
~ Luke 1:37
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
~ Philippians 3:21
Evidence of Christ’s Resurrection, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 1872. The following contains an excerpt from his sermon, “The Resurrection Credible”.
“Why should it he thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead”?— Acts xxvi. 8.
II. How are we to meet the demands of the case? We said that in the second place we would REMOVE THE DIFFICULTY. We made no empty boast, the matter is simple. Read the text again with due emphasis, and it is done. “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that GOD should raise the dead”? It might seem incredible that the dead should be raised, but why should it seem incredible that GOD, the Almighty, the Infinite, should raise the dead? Grant a God, and no difficulties remain. Grant that God is, and that he is omnipotent: grant that he has said the dead shall be raised, and belief is no longer hard but inevitable. Impossibility and incredulity— both vanish in the presence of God. I believe this is the only way in which the difficulties of faith should be met: it is of no use to run to reason for weapons against unbelief, the Word of God is the true defence of faith. It is foolish to build with wood and hay when solid stones may be had. If my heavenly Father makes a promise, or reveals a truth, am I not to believe him till I have asked the philosophers about it? Is God’s word only true when finite reason approves of it? After all, is man’s judgment the ultimatum, and is God’s word only to be taken when we can see for ourselves, and therefore have no need of revelation at all? Far from us be this spirit. Let God be true, and every man a liar. We are not staggered when the wise men mock at us, but we fall back upon “thus saith the Lord.” One word from God outweighs for us a library of human lore. To the Christian, God’s ipse dixit stands in the stead of all reason. Our logic is, “God has said it,” and this is our rhetoric too. If God declares that the dead shall be raised, it is not a thing incredible to us. Difficulty is not in the dictionary of the Godhead. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Heap up the difficulties, if you like, make the doctrine more and more hard for reason to compass, so long as it contains no self-evident contradiction and inconsistency, we rejoice in the opportunity to believe great things concerning a Great God.
When Paul uttered our text he was speaking to a Jew, he was addressing Agrippa, one to whom he could say, “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest!” It was, therefore, good reasoning to use with Agrippa, to say, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead”? For first, as a Jew, Agrippa had the testimony of Job— “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” He had, also, the testimony of David, who, in the sixteenth Psalm, says, “My flesh also shall rest in hope.” He had the testimony of Isaiah in the twenty-sixth chapter and the nineteenth verse, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” He had the testimony of Daniel in his twelfth chapter, second and third verses, where the prophet says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” And then again, in Hosea xiii. 14, Agrippa had another testimony where the Lord declares “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Thus God had plainly promised resurrection in the Old Testament Scriptures, and that fact should be quite enough for Agrippa. If the Lord has said it, it is no longer doubtful.
To us as Christians there has been granted yet fuller evidence. Remember how our Lord has spoken concerning resurrection: with no bated breath has he declared his intention to raise the dead. Remarkable is that passage in John v. 28, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” And so in chapter vi. 40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Holy Ghost has spoken the same truth by the apostles. In that precious and most blessed eighth chapter of the Romans, we have a testimony in the eleventh verse, “Rut if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” I read you just now the passage from the first of Thessalonians, which is very full indeed, where we are bidden not to sorrow as those that are without hope; and you have in the Phillippians the third chapter and twenty-first verse, another proof, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” I scarcely need remind you of that grand chapter of massive argument, Corinthians the fifteenth. Beyond all doubt the testimony of the Holy Ghost is that the dead shall rise; and granted that there is an Almighty God, we find no difficulty in accepting the doctrine and entertaining the blessed hope.
At the same time it may be well to look around us, and note what helps the Lord has appointed for our faith. I am quite certain, dear friends, that there are many wonders in the world which we should not have believed by mere report, if we had not come across them by experience and observation. The electric telegraph, though it be but an invention of man, would have been as hard to believe in a thousand years ago as the resurrection of the dead is now. Who in the days of packhorses would have believed in flashing a message from England to America? When our missionaries in tropical countries have told the natives of the formation of ice, and that persons could walk across frozen water, and of ships that have been surrounded by mountains of ice in the open sea, the water becoming solid and hard as a rock all around them, the natives have refused to believe such absurd reports. Everything is wonderful till we are used to it, and resurrection owes the incredible portion of its marvel to the fact of our never having come across it in our observation — that is all. After the resurrection we shall regard it as a divine display of power as familiar to us as creation and providence now are. I have no doubt we shall adore and bless God, and wonder at resurrection for ever, but it will be in the same sense in which every devout mind wonders at creation now. We shall grow accustomed to this new work of God when we have entered upon our longer life. We were only born but yesterday, and have seen little as yet. God’s works require far more than our few earthly years of observation, and when we have entered into eternity, are out of our minority, and have come of age, that which astounds us now will have become a familiar theme for praise.
Will resurrection be a greater wonder than creation? You believe that God spoke the world out of nothing. He said, “Let it be,” and the world was. To create out of nothing is quite as marvellous as to call together scattered particles and refashion them into what they were before. Either work requires omnipotence, but if there be any choice between them, the resurrection is the easier work of the two. If it did not happen so often, the birth of every child into the world would astound us; we should consider a birth to be, as indeed it is, a most transcendent manifestation of divine power. It is only because we know it and see it so commonly that we do not behold the wonder-working hand of God in human births and in our continued existence. The thing, I say, only staggers us because we have not become familiar with it as yet: there are other deeds of God which are quite as marvellous.
Remember, too, that there is one thing which, though you have not seen, you have received on credible evidence, which is a part of historic truth, namely, that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. He is to you the cause of your resurrection, the type of it, the foretaste of it, the guarantee of it. As surely as he rose you shall rise. He proved the resurrection possible by rising, nay, he proved it certain because he is the representative man; and, in rising, he rose for all who are represented by him. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The rising of our Lord from the tomb should forever sweep away every doubt as to the rising of his people. “For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised,” but because he lives, we shall live also.
Remember also, my brethren and sisters, that you who are Christians have already experienced within yourselves as great a work as the resurrection, for you have risen from the dead as to your innermost nature. You were dead in trespasses and sins, and you have been quickened into newness of life. Of course the unconverted here will see nothing in this. The unregenerate man will even ask me what this means, and to him it can be no argument, for it is a matter of experience which one man cannot explain to his fellow. To know it ye must yourselves be born again. But, believers, ye have already passed through a resurrection from the grave of sin, and from the rottenness and corruption of evil passions and impure desires, and this resurrection God has wrought in you by a power equal to that which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. To you the quickening of your spiritual nature is an assured proof that the Lord will also quicken your mortal bodies.
The whole matter is this, that our persuasion of the certainty of the general resurrection rests upon faith in God and his word. It is both idle and needless to look elsewhere. If men will not believe the declaration of God, they must be left to give an account to him of their unbelief. My hearer, if thou art one of God’s elect, thou wilt believe thy God, for God gives faith to all his chosen. If thou dost reject the divine testimony, thou givest evidence that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and thou wilt perish in it unless grace prevents. The gospel and the doctrine of the resurrection were opened up to men in all their glory to put a division between the precious and the vile. “He that is of God,” saith the apostle, “heareth God’s words.” True faith in the visible mark of secret election. He that believeth in Christ gives evidence of God’s grace towards him, but he that believes not gives sure proof that he has not received the grace of God. “But ye believe not,” said Christ, “because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Therefore this truth and other Christian truths are to be held up, maintained, and delivered fully to the whole of mankind to put a division between them, to separate the Israelites from the Egyptians, the seed of the woman from the seed of the serpent. Those whom God has chosen are known by their believing in what God has said; while those who remain unbelieving perish in their sin, condemned by the truth which they wilfully reject.
III. Thus much upon these points. Now let us consider, lastly, OUR RELATION TO THIS TRUTH.
Our first relation to this truth is this: Children of God, comfort one another with these words. You have lost those dear to you;— amend the statement — they have passed into a better land, and the body which remains behind is not lost, but put out to blessed interest. Sorrow ye must, but sorrow not as those that are without hope. I do not know why we always sing dirges at the funerals of the saints, and drape ourselves in black. I would desire, if I might have my way, to be drawn to my grave by white horses, or to be carried on the shoulders of men who would express joy as well as sorrow in their habiliments, for why should we sorrow over those who have gone to glory, and inherited immortality? I like the old Puritan plan of carrying the coffin on the shoulders of the saints, and singing a psalm as they walked to the grave. Why not? What is there, after all, to weep about concerning the glorified? Sound the gladsome trumpet! Let the shrill clarion peal out the joyous note of victory! The conqueror has won the battle; the king has climbed to his throne. “Rejoice,” say our brethren from above, “rejoice with us, for we have entered into our rest.” “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them.” If we must keep up the signs of woe, for this is natural, yet let not your hearts be troubled, for that were unspiritual. Bless God evermore that over the pious dead we sing his living promises.
Let us, in the next place, cheer our hearts in prospect of our own departure. We shall soon pass away. My brethren, we too must die; there is no discharge in this war. There is an arrow and there is an archer; the arrow is meant for my heart, and the archer will take deadly aim. There is a place where you shall sleep, perhaps in a lone grave in a foreign land; or, perhaps, in a niche where your bones shall lie side by side with those of your ancestors; but to the dust return you must. Well, let us not repine, it is but for a little, it is but a rest on the way to immortality. Death is a passing incident between this life and the next,— let us meet it not only with equanimity, but with expectation, since it is not death now but resurrection to which we aspire.
Then again: are we expecting a blessed resurrection, let us respect our bodies. Let not our members become instruments of evil, let them not be defiled with sin. The Christian man must neither by gluttony nor drunkenness, nor by acts of uncleanness, in any way whatever defile his body, for our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. “If any man defile that temple of God, him will God destroy.” Be ye pure. In your baptism, your bodies were washed with pure water to teach you that henceforth ye must be clean from all defilement. Put away from you every evil thing. Bodies that are to dwell for ever in heaven, should not be subjected to pollution here below.
Lastly, and this is a very solemn thought, the ungodly are to rise again, but it will be to a resurrection of woe. Their bodies sinned and their bodies will be punished. “Fear him,” says Christ, “who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” He will cast both of them into a suffering which shall cause perpetually enduring destruction to them ; this is terrible indeed. To slumber in the grave would be infinitely preferable to such a resurrection— “the resurrection of damnation,” so the Scripture calls it; arising “to shame and everlasting contempt,” so Daniel styles it. That is a dreadful resurrection, indeed; you might be glad to escape from it. Surely it were dreadful enough for your soul to suffer the wrath of God eternally without the body having to be its companion, but so it must be; if body and soul sin, body and soul must suffer, and that for ever. Jeremy Taylor tells us of a certain Acilius Aviola who was seized with an apoplexy, and his friends conceiving him to be dead carried him to his funeral pile, but, when the heat had warmed his body, he awoke to find himself hopelessly encircled with funeral flames. In vain he called for deliverance, he could not be rescued, but passed from torpor into intolerable torment. Such will be the dreadful awakening of every sinful body when it shall be aroused from its slumber in the grave. The body will start up to be judged, condemned, and driven from God’s presence into everlasting punishment. May God grant that it may never be your case or mine, but may we believe in Christ Jesus now, and so obtain a resurrection to life eternal. Amen.