Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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THE VICTORIOUS RESURRECTION
First this morning, I would like to give you a quick outline of the message which is entitled The Resurrection. Lets open to the great Resurrection chapter in the Word of God, which is found in I Corinthians 15. Here, we see that there are 6 Rs: The First thing is The Revelation of the Resurrection, verses 1-4; Second, The Reality of the Resurrection, verses 5-19; Third, The Reason for the Resurrection, verses 20-34; Fourth, The Reasonableness of the Resurrection, verses 35-49; Fifth, The Reach of the Resurrection, verses 50-53; and Sixth, The Results of the Resurrection, verses 54-58.
Im going to begin at the beginning, because theres some tremendous Truth that I think that has not been sufficiently emphasized in regard to this first point, The Revelation of [the Gospel and concerning] the Resurrection. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel [That means the Good News] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
Now Ive heard people deal with this, especially if they are of Armenian background [that means that you can lose your salvation]. By the way, Armenians do not teach that works save you. Its just that faith saves you, but unless you keep on believing, you lose your salvation. If at any time you fail to believe, then you lose what you had before. And, they like to use something like this, that you can believe in vain, as this says.
Now let me emphasize some very basic Biblical Truth about believing. Believing is both subjective within you and objective in the thing that you believe in. Now let me take the objective one first. The object of your faith maybe wrong. There are many cultists who have a wrong object for their faith. There are many modernists that have a wrong object for their faith. I like to illustrate this by an actual happening. Before my father-in-law died in 1958 at the age of 58 of cancer, his little granddaughter used to come in to see him, and she brought with her, her little toy dog. He was called Mighty Manford. Now it didnt look mighty. In fact, it was just one of these dogs that just hung down all over, a stuffed dog; and she let her Pawpaw play with that.....but after he died, she went into his room and put this Mighty Manford on the very chair where he used to sit; and then she said to her grandmother, Nana, Mighty Manford is going to take care of you now that Pawpaw is gone. Now, is there anything wrong with the strength of her faith? No! She had total faith....in that little Mighty Manford dog. What was wrong? The object of her faith had no life or capability whatsoever. And there are millions and millions of people in the world just like that! The object of their faith has nothing at all to commend itself. It has no life! No life-giving power!
Now on the other hand, I believe that your faith can be defected within you. Im convinced that faith must involve a whole entire involvement of the inner person: Intellect, emotions, and will. And if it involves less than that, it is defective subjectively. See, it can be defective objectively when it has no life or no reality or truth; but it can be defective within you if it does not involve your intellect. I believe that you do have to know what you believe. That is why God has given us the Written Word of God, so that you can intellectually know; and I hear some ministers say, Well, it doesnt matter what you believe, just so long as you believe. No. You have to know what you believe, and it has to be what God has revealed in the Written Word of God.
I believe that there has to be an emotional content. I believe that when you believe, not only do you have to know this, I think that you have to be moved by this....to the very point that sometimes theres tears. Im not saying that it always has to be, but I think just intellectual knowledge is not enough. I think that you have to be moved by this. Ive often used a little illustration of a boy whose mother had rescued him from the fire, and her hands had become burned; and not knowing the story, he looked into his mothers hands and he said, Mommy, your hands look terrible. And then she told him the story of how when he was just a little baby, a fire had occurred in the home, and in rescuing him, she covered him with her hands, and her hands got burned....saving his life. And he said, Mommy, those are the most beautiful hands Ive ever seen! You say, Unless you know why Christ died on the Cross, that He bore all that shame.....I believe that you have to be moved by that! The trouble with people is that they have intellectual knowledge and have never been moved. And thats the emotional aspect.
But then, I think that the third thing is the will. You have to say, I accept that. I receive that. Believing must involve receiving. And I think that you can have one or another of the three, and if you do not have all three in one, you have defective faith...within you! It can be either out there, and be wrong, or to be in here and be wrong. I think that you can believe in vain if the object is wrong or within you, the intellect and emotions and will have not been involved to make the proper decision.
Then, I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Someone said when Paul said that he would rather speak five words than a vast multitude, that this might have been the five words: Christ died for our sins. But notice this, that this is all according to the scriptures. What scriptures? The only scriptures that they had in those days were the Old Testament scriptures; and youll find all this true, clearly presented in the Old Testament. Christ died for our sins....And that He was buried... One thing that bothers me a little bit is that you seldom hear any gospel preacher that ever referred to burial. Theyll slip right from the death of Christ to the resurrection. But, Ill tell you one thing, burial is important!
My dad was the caretaker of a local cemetery down in Jacobus, and that was my first job. I often told people about that. My first executive position....I had several people under me, and they never caused any great problem; but digging graves in those days didnt bring in the equipment in that day. You dug it by hand. (I was fifteen years old when I first dug a grave all by myself, and I got the fellow down too far. I think that hes going to be a little late at the Resurrection. He died in prayer meeting, so Im sure hell be going up. Hell be a little late.) But, we did a number of burials; but Ill never forget, we only exhumed one body in all the years I worked there with my dad. It was a body of a little child that had just been buried in a rough box and had been there a number of years. So, we had to dig down and get that thing out. The parents had bought a lot elsewhere, and they wanted this removed and relocated. Well, I did OK until we got down to that thing, and it caved in....and the stench of that is a stench that I cant identify. The only thing is....I got so sick just from smelling it, that I left. I said, Dad, youll have to finish this, yourself. I have a strange connection between my nose and my stomach; so, I let him finish the job. Ill tell you one thing, folks. I learned a very, vivid lesson about the necessity of burial!.......Burial! And, I try not to leave it out when I preach the gospel; because all three of those things are right here: Christ died for our sins....and He was buried....and He rose again. Now, I realize that people if they dont refer to the burial are not denying it or anything like that. Im not trying to make too big a thing of it; but I believe that burial is important....and Christ was actually buried.
And then, He actually rose again from the dead, and of course it is the Resurrection thats the capstone and the seal of all the other Truth that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures and then it goes on to indicate the reality of what happened by the fact that those who saw him after His Resurrection.
In my graduate studies in History, we had to write a paper on who fired the first shot at the Battle of Lexington; and we had the accounts of the Colonials and then we had the accounts of the British soldiers. And, the British soldiers, by the way contended that it was an American Colonial that fired the first shot; and on the other side, the Colonials believed that it was a British soldier who fired the first shot. We had to try to determine that, and it was a pretty tough assignment. Now, I think that I came up with the answer, at least my professor said that it was right....the fact is that there was no way to tell who it was, because they were interspersed among each other; and April 19th was when this took place. (They didnt have daylight saving time, and it was dark.) So if you had been there, you couldnt even tell who fired the first shot at the Battle of Lexington.
Now, I say that to say this. Theres better evidence for the resurrection of Christ than there is for who fired the first shot at the Battle of Lexington. In fact, Christ was seen of Cephas [which would be Peter], then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present [in other words, you could go talk with them], but some are fallen asleep [They have died.]. After that, He was seen of James [We believe that was the Lords step-brother who had been born by natural processes from Mary; and we as protestants, believe that Mary had other children than the Lord Jesus; but that He was Virgin-born of course]; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also [That was Paul, on the road to DamascusActs 9], as of one born out of due time. [Then Paul speaks of himself.]
Now lets go down to verse 12, Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: Whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. [You see, hes building logical arguments here.] And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ [that is, those that have died in Christ] are perished. [And] if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men [What?] most miserable [most to be pitied]. All of our Christian experience rests upon and rises out of the Truth of the Resurrection.
And the Reason for all this verse 20, But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. [Hes not talking about physical sleep, but of those who have died.] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. This is why Christ had to become incarnate. This is why He had to come in the flesh; so that He could die and be raised again.
Now, I used to talk to my class in Theology about Christ having to die an eternal death. Did you ever think about that? Im indebted to Dr. Heyt, who was the founder of Lancaster Bible College, for insight on this. He said, Unless Christ were God, He could not have died an eternal death. But being God, God can embrace all of eternity in a moment of time; and Christ being God, could and did embrace all of eternity in that period of time when He died on the Cross, so He died [What?] ...an eternal death for us! If He had only been a man and not the God-Man, He could not have died an eternal death for us, and we could not be saved eternally! Thats a tremendous Truth, isnt it? A lot of people never think about that. The one thing that I appreciate about Dr. Heyt is that he liked to raise questions before you thought about the questions.....and then he had the answer ready for you. And, thats a Truth I want to share with you today.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. We all came into this world to die. Theres only One Who came to die in order to live forever, and He did that...in dying for us on the Cross.
Now Im not going to go into all the rest of this here. I wish I had time, but I want to look a little bit at The Reasonableness of the Resurrection beginning at verse 35, But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Now God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him.... [Thats at the beginning of verse 38.] Some wonder about the resurrection body. Im looking forward to mine, because I got what was left over from my family....I was the last of thirteen children....and they ran out of a lot of material by the time that they got to me; and the day I was born, my brother Robert, who was five years older than I, came into the room [We were all born at home.] and he looked at me and said, He aint very pretty, is he, Mom? You know, when you start out like that, you keep hoping for something better, later on!
Now Im not going to go into all these comparisons and things. Im convinced that when we die, if we die before Christ comes, that we get what we might call an intermediate body. I dont believe that we get the resurrection body until the resurrection. But, I believe that in heaven were going to have the nucleus of that, the bodies here on the earth, but thats going to be raised and then well have the resurrection body; and thats going to be a glorious body, as scripture teaches.
When Christ comes [beginning at verse 51], Behold, I show you a mystery [A mystery is not something that you cant understand. Its something that you couldnt understand but has now been revealed]; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed [This means that we shall not all remain dead, but we shall all be changed] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. That tremendous change is coming for each and every believer, whether it is someone who has died and then in spirit has gone to heaven and received that temporary clothing upon [which Paul refers to in II Corinthians 5], For this corruptible must put on incorruption [and I like the way Dr. Heyt used to explain that. He said, Corruptible refers to those bodies which are in the state of corruption that refers to the dead], and this mortal must put on immortality. [This refers to those who are changed at the time He comes, because they are subject to death but they dont die.] So, Paul is very clearly delineating both classifications here: those who have died and those who are subject to death, but that is taken away because Christ comes. When that happens, then Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [and Im working my way to verse 57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. How?....through the Resurrection! And, if there had not been a Resurrection, there would not be ultimate victory for the child of God!
When you have a loved one who has been ill or is suffering, you also are aware of the body and the area of healing; and there are four things to keep in mind in regard to healing:
l. God has built healing into the human body. (If you dent your car, it doesnt heal itself. If you cut your finger, keep it clean and so forth, it will heal itself. Why? Because God has built healing into the human body.)
2. God has given wisdom and means to individuals to assist the healing process. (They dont do the healing. They just assist it; and that can include psychological counseling as well as medicine. God has given wisdom and means to individuals to assist the healing process.)
3. God can and sometimes does heal apart from any means that we know anything about. (You can call it Divine Healing or whatever. The man who gave me this outline, said, I dont have any problem with Divine Healing, but its the divine healers that I have problems with.)
Now Ive said all three of those, to say the fourth one, and he said this that Ill never forget:
4. Ultimate healing awaits the child of God, only at the Resurrection!
Isnt that a good Truth to think about...on this Easter Sunday morning? And even in our bodies. And you say, Is healing in the Atonement? Yes, indeed!....but for the future....for that time. Ultimate healing awaits the child of God.......only at the Resurrection!
So this morning, I want to emphasize the last verse here. It was our verse when I graduated as a student from Lancaster School of the Bible, Therefore, my beloved brethren [and that means including the sisters too], be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. Why? Because of The Resurrection! See? Thats the whole Truth of that chapter; and it has a practical implication in your life......The Resurrection! Lets pray.
FATHER In case even one person has come here this morning and either is not saved or is not sure of his or her salvation, I pray that the Holy Spirit will take some of these thoughts that we have shared from Your Word and cause it to bring forth Life and Assurance in the heart of each one who has a need for that this morning. I pray that You will visit them with restlessness, till they rest in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. Confirm to us by His resurrection from the dead which we celebrate today; and thus, for those of us who have named the Name of Christ and claimed the salvation that Hes made available for us, may we be continually being transformed by the Truth of The Resurrection. I pray in Jesus Name. Amen
Dr. Stuart E. Lease
April 19, 1992
Message shared at the GOOD LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. Easter Sunrise Service at Liberty Bible Campground, Keller Rd., York, PA 17406