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So They Preached and So We Believe

A prosecuting attorney was grilling a witness. "Isn't it true that the defendant talks to himself when alone?" The witness shot back, "Couldn't say. I've never been with him when he was alone." Legal proceedings and the justice system are complicated. But throughout human history in court cases and legal disputes, in every country and place, the testimony of reliable eyewitnesses has been considered as one of the best and most reliable forms of evidence in a court of law. This important principle comes into play in 1 Corinthians 15:1-12 where the apostle Paul is laying out evidence of the reality of Christ's
resurrection from the grave. Incredibly, some in the church at Corinth were denying resurrection from the dead (vs 12). In this awesome and hope-filled chapter of God's word, a fired-up apostle comes out of his corner swinging at those who deny this fundamental Bible truth. First Corinthians 15 is Paul's knock-out punch to would-be materialists in every age who would have us believe Jesus was a great teacher and moral reformer, but not the divine Son of God who was crucified, buried, and raised up from the grave!

After noting in verse 2-3 that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is "first of all" ("of first importance" New International Version), Paul refers to eyewitness testimony. Scan verses 5-8 carefully and you discover a total of at least 513 witnesses who would testify that they saw Jesus Christ after His burial following His crucifixion! The witness list included some of the most respected men in history (Cephas or Peter, Paul, the rest of the apostles, and also James, probably the Lord's half-brother). If we allowed just 10 minutes to examine each of these 513 eyewitnesses, the record would show 85 and a half hours of testimony speaking with one voice: After His death and burial Jesus Christ was repeatedly seen alive and well by large numbers of people whom we have no reason to doubt were credible witnesses! With one voice they all speak— not one of them, not two of them, not twelve or 20 or 200 of them —but 513 of them, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead! After marshaling the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses, including the apostles, Paul lays down challenging words — "Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed." Since almost immediately after the resurrection until this day some have sought to discredit the apostles and to deny that Jesus rose from the dead. But try as they might, Jesus' opponents and the Bible's critics can't keep Him in the the grave! Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, Jim Jones, and David Koresh, etc. — all dead. But for 2,000 years Christianity has staked its claim on an empty tomb and has outlived every attempt to re-bury Jesus and keep Him in the grave. Who will you believe? Nobody now living can testify they were there in the first century to see Jesus after His resurrection. But at least 513 eyewitnesses were! After 2,000 years of stiff opposition, they still testify, "Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph over His foes!" So the apostles and early Christians preached. And until someone can produce solid evidence to the contrary, so we believe!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ