Something from Nothing

Scripture: Hebrews 2:14-15, Matthew 10:28, Mark 5:41
Date: 03/22/2008 
Where did we come from? How did we get something from nothing? All the evidence we see indicates there is a designer God. This sermon looks at four resurrections Jesus' performed that demonstrates God can make something out of nothing.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I predict that in the last few years of this world's history a debate that is going to come more and more to the forefront is the debate regarding evolution and creation. It's becoming more intense right now. You can see that there is an increasing effort on the part of some to try to say, “Don’t even question that anymore. Science has proven unequivocally that evolution is true.” And at the same time, you're finding the mounting evidence among the logic of the Christian-science community that you cannot have all the organization and design in the world today without intelligence. And I see it moving more and more towards a fever pitch. I like to sometimes pretend that I can venture into these things and understanding these thoughts. I always come back to asking the question, “Well, assuming that you're not all a figment of my imagination, that means that you're here and I think I'm here, so we're here. Where did we come from?” You don't get something from nothing. That's the title for the message today. How can you get something from nothing? All of the organization and design and things that we see in the world today are evidence that there is an intelligent God. Where did it all come from? How did it appear?

I was reading this week and I learned about something that I had never heard about before. Have you ever heard about the “God particle”? As I was reading this article, it was telling me there is a contraption that is being built in Europe. It's about 300 feet underground, under a French town called Crassier[?] on the border of France and Switzerland. This multibillion-dollar scientific experiment is called the large Hadron Collider [?]. They used to have one in Texas, and I don't remember what the dimensions were, but it was a tunnel over a mile around. Well, this one they're building, I think they must have used the same boring equipment, they used on the Chunnel that they built across the English Channel. France held onto one of those and they built a tunnel 17 miles around. Some parts of it are 300 feet underground. And it's filled with these very sophisticated electronic components, and powerful magnets. Matter of fact, one of the magnets is so powerful that you'd better not have a hammer in your hand when they turn that thing on because if you're in the way it will go right through you on its way to the magnets. It's one of the most powerful magnets in the world that they've built.

And the idea of this contraption with the tunnel, is that they're going to shoot particles approximately the speed of light from opposite directions and collide them. That's where they get the name the Hadron Collider. Believing that when they collide these particles fast enough, they're going to get something called the Higgsbossom[?]. That's the name they gave to this effect, that they believe they can create matter from nothing, new matter. Now that's a lot of money to spend on a theory. They won't even tell you exactly how much they've spent, but it's billions. Fortunately it's not all US money, but some of it came out of your pockets.

The international science community, the biggest, they call this big science. It's the biggest scientific experiment in the world. By the time I read the article, they were saying any time, while we're sitting here, they're going to blast this thing. I don't know, it might blow the world up and end all our problems. They don't know what it's going to do. But they are theorizing that they are going to get matter created from this; well, they call it the God particle. Now the reason they gave it the name that they gave it is because they're trying to find a way to explain how you get something from nothing. And when creationists begin to debate with evolutionists and they talk about all of the organization and design, and the material and the intelligence and systems that are in the creation, where do you get it? They are trying to now say, “There’s this particle, that is going to form.” How come we've not been able to produce one iota of life in a test tube?

Now having said that, I'm really introducing a bigger subject. Most of us [don't] believe that we exist. You probably believe that you exist and I trust you believe I exist. There are some who have a theory that everything around you is just a figment of your imagination. You're living in a reality that you created. But most of us realize that you were just as real to you as I am to me. We exist. There's this world. And when you realize that you should also be wise enough to realize that you weren't always here. If I were to ask you, “How far back can you remember? Any of you have memories of four years old, and earlier?” And the older you get the less you remember of those days. Anyone from three? Do you still remember something for when you were three years old? How about two? That's getting hard, two years old. Anyone one? Some of you imagine you remember something when you were one. And they say that if they hypnotize you they can put you in your natal memories, when you were inside mommy's tummy. I don't know what you'd be remembering. So, you know that you didn't always know anything.

And then it should also be painfully plain to you that you will not always be here, in this body anyway. Life is temporary. We're just here for a little while. We've got to make the most of our time; evaluate what the real priorities are. People are typically afraid of dying. Were tormented through life with fear of death. I'd like to address that. Hebrews 2:14-15, “In as much then as children, having partaken of the flesh and blood,” humans have flesh and blood—we’re mortal, “he,” Jesus, “Himself, likewise shared in the same,” He took a mortal body, “but through death he might destroy him who had the power of death,” that is the devil. Now catch this, “and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Many people live their lives fearing death. They don't enjoy their life because they are always worried about death. Some people have anxiety attacks. They panic, they're afraid to leave their house because something bad might happen. I read last week, I just heard a fleeting report on the news, so I don't have all the details, but some lady was so panicked that she didn't leave her bathroom for two years. People live in fear. And Paul tells us here in Hebrews that the devil keeps people living in fear of death. Well Jesus does not want you to live that kind of way. Jesus, in His death and resurrection provided a way for us to not be in bondage to fear.

Now, normally, when we think about death it pretty ominous because for us, death—you turn into nothing. And if you ask a lot of people on the street (we did this in New York) what they thought happened when you died. And it was kind of disturbing how many people said, “Well, you just turn into nothing. You just turn back into dust. And that's it. You don't know anything anymore.” And in the back of our mind, I think a lot of people worry about that. And we wonder, “Can God make something from nothing again?” Because, really, that’s what a resurrection is.

Well, I’d like to talk about that theme with you a little bit in the Bible. First of all, I want to remind you, you don’t need to be afraid of death. Jesus said in Matt 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.” There’s something to you more than your body that’s growing old and our minds that get feeble. There’s something that can last forever. Jesus said, “Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” hell being the grave. There is eternal life and there is eternal death. And we have a choice to make that will have eternal consequences. Now today we’re going to talk a little bit about the resurrection of Jesus because I think there’s more good theology in the resurrection of Jesus that affects every part of our life than we may consider.

Jesus performed about four resurrections in His ministry. Now there may have been more. There are four that are really cited. Each one is followed by one of greater intensity. Let’s look at them briefly. One of the first resurrections that’s recorded is the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter. You find this in Mark 5:41. This little girl was sick. Jesus was summoned by the father, “Please, come and help my daughter. She’s at the point of death.” While Jesus is on the way his progress is slowed by the crowds. He stops and heals this woman who’s bleeding for 12 years on the way. Messengers come from the house of Jarius and they say, “Don’t trouble the Master anymore. Your little girl has died.” It’s hopeless now because who can make something from nothing? And once you die and the cells begin to deteriorate there’s no way to reanimate them. And Jesus said to the father, “Do not fear. Only believe.” So they went to the house.

The mourners had already been gathered. It must have been quite a journey to get there because it was enough time for them to summon the local mourners. And they’re beginning their mournful tunes on their lutes and instruments, and wailing. And Jesus evicts them all from the house. He takes the father, mother, Peter, James and John. They go into the little room where the little girl is and He takes the child by the hand. This is where the verse picks up, Mark 5:41, “and He said to her, ‘Talitha cumi’; which is translated, ‘Little Girl, I say, arise.’” He uses basically the same words that a parent uses for their daughter when they’re getting up for school. “Little girl, wake up. Time for school.” “And immediately the girl arose and walked; for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.”

When I was studying some of the information this week about this great collider that they’re building there in France underground, something else came out in one of the articles that the big bang—you’ve heard of the big bang—(they’re talking about creation in these things) wasn’t really a bang. It was more, now these are the scientists that are saying this, the evolutionary scientists. They’re saying it was more like a sound, a hum. That creation was caused by sound waves. But they don’t know, where did the sound waves come from? Sound waves that traveled faster than the speed of sound somehow initiated this creation. But I seized on that and I thought, “Well, that’s very interesting. It says in my Bible, ‘And God said.’” They haven’t got a recording of what those sound waves sounded like, but I’m thinking they might have something here and they just don’t know it. Sometimes science gets awful close, but they just hate to admit the Bible.

It’s struck me for years; I thought it was really amazing because I went to public school and they taught dinosaurs and evolution. Of course we believe there were dinosaurs, but they said the dinosaurs slowly died out over millions of years as other creatures evolved and replaced them. Well then I remembered when I started to travel I saw evidence of a flood all over the world. I’ll never forget. I still was not a Christian, but living with my uncle in New Mexico. 7,000 feet up above sea level, there were seashells everywhere. And I said, “Boy, there must have been a lot of water all over the world at some point.” And then I started reading more and more of the scientific evidence was saying, “Well, evidently the dinosaurs didn’t die slowly. They all died suddenly in some great cataclysmic event.” And then they say, “Evidently, an asteroid struck the ocean and caused a massive global flood.” And I went, “Bingo!” They won’t say Noah. That is a dirty word. They’ll say asteroid, but they can’t refute the evidence now that there was some kind of global flood. That’s how you get all these fossils. They won’t say the word of God created. They say sound waves. And then they’re saying light somehow collided and life came from the sound waves and the colliding light beams and the particles in the light, the God particles. The Bible says, “God said, ‘Let there be light.’” “The wisdom of men is foolishness to God,” that’s what the Bible says.

So this girl dies. Jesus speaks. She’s reanimated. She comes back to life. Now you notice in the sequence of miracles before the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, in this sequence of resurrections this girl had only been dead a matter minutes and she’s raised. Next you get to a resurrection that was a matter of hours. It’s the young man of Nain. His mother was a widow. It was her only son. This funeral procession is coming out of the city. This was her only means of support, her only relative. She was going to lose her property now; had no means of sustenance. And it just broke the Lord’s heart. And so as they’re making their way out of the city Jesus stops the funeral procession. Luke 7:14, “Then he came and he touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say to you, arise.” That sounds a little bit like what He said to the girl. “Young man, I say to you, arise. So, he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. And fear came upon all, and they glorified God saying, a great prophet is risen among us, and God has visited His people.” They were right. Jesus was God. He visited their people.

Now, you go from that experience, where he had been dead a few hours because they had already balm to him. And you get to the next resurrection, which is, John 11. What's the story? Lazarus. How long had he been dead? A few days. So you're going from a few minutes to a few hours to a few days. And of course, He comes to the tomb. He tells Martha and Mary to have faith. He says, “Roll away the stone.” They said, “But Lord, by now he smells bad because he's already begun to decompose.” The cells are broken down. How can you reanimate something when it's already beginning to rot?

Every now and then I'll hear stories, and they'll say, “There was a resurrection, modern-day resurrection.” We heard about over in the mission field, this child has died, this person had died. The missionary was there. They prayed. They came back to life. And I say praise the Lord. But in the back of my mind I always think, “I wonder if they were really dead.” Have you ever have those thoughts before? Maybe they just thought they were dead. We've all heard stories about people, who the coroner says they’ve died, and they take them off to the morgue and they're getting ready to do the autopsy, and they sit up. Scare the poor guy half to death. And they find out, no, they weren’t really dead. Do you know, Robert E. Lee's mother died before he was born? She had a terrible fever. She died. They were having the funeral, had her stretched out. She sat up. She lived long enough to give birth to him then. But they thought she was dead. The breathing was so shallow, no motion, lifeless.

It looked like she was blue. So when you hear these stories about resurrections; I do believe God can raise the dead, don't misunderstand. But I think sometimes we don't know. It's like the story of Eutychus in the Bible. The jury's still out. Remember Paul preached too long. Eutychus fell out the window. And Paul said, “Don’t fear, his life’s still in him.” And he took him up and you wonder if he was just knocked out and Paul healed him from a concussion, or if he was raised from the dead. I believe he was raised, the Bible says. What about when Paul was stoned? Sometimes I wonder, “Maybe they were dead, and God raise them.” Nobody knows. Paul was stoned. They thought he was dead, and he got up and went on preaching. You wonder if God just said, “No, they think you’re dead. Maybe you are dead, but I’m not done with you so I’m raising you up.” These things go through my mind.

But when the cells begin to die. You’ve probably heard about suspended animation. They have some creatures, generally reptiles. There are some turtles and frogs, which are amphibians that it appears they totally freeze. The common American garter snake, I’ve seen it before where they’re caught by a frost, they’re out in the open, and their body’s just covered with ice and then it thaws out and they begin to move again. And some have said, “See that. Some reptiles, they are totally frozen and they come back to life.” There are insects and other creatures. It seems like they’re totally frozen. Well, they’ve done some experiments and they find out they’re not really technically, clinically frozen because their blood, their bodies have in their cells the equivalent of antifreeze that really prevents the cell from freezing. They’ve got frost all over their bodies; they seem like they’re as hard as a rock, but they’re not really frozen. The cells haven’t died. They’re just suspended. They’ve got this built-in antifreeze. How many of you know what I’m talking about? So they’ve never really figured out a way to truly freeze because when the cell wall freezes it crystallizes and it kills it.

Lazarus was dead. The cells were beginning to disintegrate. And when he was raised Jesus, He may as well have started with a rock. It would have been just as much a miracle if Jesus had taken a log and turned it into Lazarus. He was dead. He completely created new life in those cells. That was a miracle. Now you notice what’s happening. Each miracle is getting to be more profound than the one before. Each resurrection is getting greater than the one before.

Do you know Jesus told us to raise others? He told us to raise the dead. I’ve wondered about this sometimes. I’ve done a lot of funerals. If one of our older saints goes to sleep I say bless their heart, I wouldn’t want to bring them back. Because the next thing they’re aware of is a new body in the resurrection, right? Wouldn’t that be a dirty trick? But sometimes there are these tragedies where a person appears to die premature and their family needs them so much. And my heart breaks. I think, “Lord, are you wanting me to?” How would I know if I’m supposed to say what the apostles said, “Come forth,” or something? And I’ve never done that. That’d be terribly embarrassing. It would be great if you did it and it worked. But if you said, “Come forth!” and nothing happens you just say, “Well, folks, I tried.” I believe the word of God, so I sometimes wonder. Do you think your pastor’s crazy? Have you ever been at a funeral and wondered? I believe what I read the Bible. Jesus said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” “Freely you've received, freely give.” And a lot of scholars sort of spiritualize this, “and raise those who are spiritually dead.” But no, the disciples were raising the dead, weren't they? I think we may see more of this in the last days as God pours out His spirit.

So now we’re going to move on to Jesus’ resurrection. I remember reading where Dwight Moody, when he was a young minister, he was suddenly invited to do a funeral and he had no reparation. He was actually a layman who kind of was called into ministry. And so he began to read through the Bible to try and find where Jesus had a funeral sermon. He wanted to do Jesus’ funeral sermons, but he realized that every funeral Jesus went to He sort of messed it up and He raised them because death could not exist in His presence, including His own funeral. Before I get to that, though, I want to establish something that is difficult.

When Jesus died, was He really dead? Think about this, was Jesus God the Son? Can God die? If Jesus is divine can divinity die? That's so hard for us to comprehend. Let me just read what the Bible says and you I hope trust what the word says. Romans 5:6-8, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It's plain, He died. And there are scores of verses I could read that say the same thing. I Thessalonians 5:9-10, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, for whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”

And some will say, when Jesus died on the cross He didn't really die. There are a couple of theories. One is, He swooned. That's kind of the old word that they use, passed out. He was in some suspended state. When He was on the cross and they gave Him something to drink, it wasn't sour wine or vinegar, or gall; it was actually a narcotic that put Him in a coma/deathlike state. This is a theory that has been around for years. And that when the soldiers took Him down He wasn't really dead. They put Him in the tomb. The disciples snuck in and they revived Him. There's no miracle. It wasn't a resurrection, Jesus never really actually died. How many of you have heard this before?

Have any of you heard Pastor J. Vernon McGee? He's been around for years. He actually passed away a few years ago, but his ministry has been around for years. It's called Through the Bible. I enjoy listening to Pastor McGee. He had a very distinctive deep, Southern drawl, even though he preached in LA for years. He was from the South. And you could always hear Pastor J. Vernon McGee talk with this very deep. But he was a pretty good scholar. Someone wrote J. Vernon McGee one time and said, “Our preacher said on Easter Jesus just passed out on the cross in the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think?” Pastor McGee said, “Dear sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip with 39 heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him head to foot. Put him in an airless tomb for three days and let’s see what happens.” That kind of says it all, doesn’t it? The idea that Jesus just passed out. It says He actually had a napkin around His head. He was in an airless tomb. They pierced his heart. All His blood ran out. He wasn't just fainted.

Then others say He did die, but because He’s God, God can't died. He was always conscious through the whole experience. And you've probably heard this. Matter of fact, it's repeated in the Apostles’ Creed. Jesus actually had an out of body experience when He died on the cross. Most of this comes from one verse I'm about to read. They say that when Jesus died He wasn't really dead, but He just went into another state and He began to preach to lost souls in hell to give them another chance. Have you heard this before? Well first of all, there are serious problems with the idea that after a person dies and they get their punishment that God is going to give them another chance, because the Bible’s clear that “it's appointed unto man once to die, after this the judgment.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say after you die instead of being judged, based upon your works, you're going to be judged or rewarded based upon to Jesus come to you in your afterlife and then you accepted Him. Or by virtue of someone preying on your behalf or doing something in this life that's going to give you merit, to save you. Once you are dead, that is it. You take to your grave your destiny. “Every man will be rewarded according to his works.” Not according to the works of their family. Not according to a second chance.

So there are problems with this theology, but this is the verse that theory comes from. I Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit: by whom he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; who formerly were disobedient, when once the divine long-suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, wherein a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water.” So they say, “Here it is Jesus died and then through the Spirit He went and preached to spirits were in prison.” And so folks thought, “It sounds to me like after Jesus died He didn’t just stay on the cross. He went into some other state and He went down to spirits who were in prison. Evidently, those who were disobedient, back in the days of Noah, folks who died from the flood maybe didn't get to hear the gospel. He went back to give them another chance.” That's not what it means. Let me tell you what this is saying. “By which Spirit He preached to the spirits in prison.” The emphasis here is not that Jesus; it's the Spirit went and preached to those who were in prison, back in the days of Noah.

Now if you take your Bible and you turn to Genesis 6:3. This is exactly what Peter is talking about. “And the Lord said, My spirit will not always strive with man for ever.” In other words, it was through the same spirit, Peter is saying, the raised Christ, that God preached to those whose spirits, meaning people who are in prison by sin back in the days of Noah. That's all he's talking about. He's using that metaphor of people who are in prison by sin. “My spirit will not always strive with man for ever. He is indeed flesh, yet his days will be 120 years.” So from that point and, in a special way through the ministry and witness of Noah God preached. [end side one] Christ preached, through the Holy Spirit, to those people back then. It's a reference to the Spirit. The same spirit that raised Jesus is the same Spirit that preached to those who are in prison by sin back in the days of the flood. And those who didn’t listen then perished and those who don’t listen now perish. That's the emphasis there.

So when it talks about the altered state, did He have an out of body experience? No. What was Jesus thinking while He was on the cross? Where was He? Where did He go? What was He doing? He didn't go anywhere. How do you know that? He said when Mary went to worship Him, “Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father.” If the first place I’d go is I'd go to my father. He hadn't gone anywhere. You and I, we struggle with this, but think about it. What is the penalty for sin? The penalty for sin is death. Did Jesus take our penalty on the cross? He did. If Jesus didn't really die when He was on the cross then did He really take our penalty? Do the wicked know anything; do the righteous know anything when they die? To the dead know something, while they’re in death? The living know they’ll die, but the Bible says the dead know not anything. “In that very day they die their thoughts perish.” “Do not put your trust in princes or in the son of man in whom there is no help.” “His breath goes forth, he dies, and that very day his thoughts perish.” So the dead don’t know anything. So if Christ took the penalty of the lost and He died for our sins He was unconscious while He was in the tomb. He wasn’t there with a reading lamp catching up on His reading. He wasn’t out meandering through the spirit world preaching to people as an itinerant spiritual evangelist. He died. He slept through the Sabbath. Christ rested, even in death, from His work of saving man. That's wonderful when you think about it. Christ even kept the Sabbath in His death.

And then He told them He would rise the third day. He had said this numerous times in the New Testament. Mark 8:31, “ He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” He spoke this word openly. It was no secret that Jesus said He was going to rise again. He told the disciples this on many occasions. So not only do the Old Testament prophecies say this, as Luke mentions, Jesus told the disciples this. That He was going to really die, and He would rise. Could He have faked this? Could He have set it up? Could He have talked to the Romans in to crucifying Him and hope that this whole trick or ruse would pass off? You could never fabricate something like that.

And then of course, the good news. After the three days in the tomb; and it was over the period of really touching on three days. Part of Friday, all of Sabbath, part of Sunday, He rose. And then you read in Mark 16:9 that Jesus rose. “When He rose early in the morning on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” Now how did Jesus rise? Who raised Jesus? Do you know the Bible says that He rose himself? I'm sure the Father cooperated, but read this. John 10:17-18, “Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received of my Father.” And that's another thing that causes a mystery for people. How could Jesus, who was unconscious, have power to raise Himself up? You to think you'd need to at least be standing there outside your body and shaking yourself saying, “Ok, wake up.” How do you lay down your life and raise it up? Here's my theory. There's power in the word. There's creative power in the word. The word of God; “Heaven and earth will pass away, but the word of God does not pass away.” When Jesus told the daughter of Jarius, “Get up,” she got up. When He told the young man of Nain, “Get up,” he got up. When He told Lazarus, “Come forth,” Lazarus came forth. And so whenever the word of God says something is going to happen it happens. When Jesus said, “I will rise the third day,” that was the same word that rose him up. The power of His word. Sure it was suspended, but His word doesn't pass away. It's fulfilled right on time.

There's a theory that he was buried in a borrowed tomb. We're not sure exactly where it was. And supposedly, the disciples came and stole body and said that He rose. How can you really know that Jesus rose? How do you know anything? What evidence do you have? You have got first-hand evidence of your senses. If you were not there 2000 years ago to see Him rise and you don't have that first-hand evidence, what evidence do you have? You’ve got to have the evidence of others. Does that make sense? Is there evidence of others that Jesus raised? Well let's look at some of the witnesses. First of all, we just read about Mary. What witnesses do we have that Jesus rose? Mary was there, first at the tomb. In that same day, on the road to Emmaus, to disciples were walking with Him. They didn't know that it was Him. Maybe His shroud was covering His head or He shielded them from recognizing Him. Before the meal was over, in the town of Emmaus, they recognized Him and they said, “Lord, it’s you!” They ran back up to the upper room to tell the other disciples. So He appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus. And their testimony is, “The Lord is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon.”

Now that's an important verse, Luke 24:34. Not only did He appear to Mary, He appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus. One of them, their name was Cleopas. But they said; before that day was over He evidently had appeared also to Peter, Simon Peter. That's why they said, “He did appear to Simon. He's not making up stories. It's true because we saw Him, also.” There's no record in the Bible of Jesus appearing to Simon. I have a feeling it was a personal thing, because remember, Peter had denied Him three times. So they said, “The Lord has risen, and He did appear to Simon.” Then you go to the upper room. And in the upper room He appeared to, not only the 12 who were gathered there, but there were others with them. Then you've got the 12 apostles. He appeared to them on numerous occasions. And He said, “I am alive.” And He ate in front of them, ate honeycomb and He ate fish. And you've got the testimony of all of those men. Granted some of them were fishermen, and fishermen sometimes tell stories. But one of them was an accountant, and they’re very precise (Matthew). Matter of fact, their details are more precise than you usually want them. There were shepherds and scribes and all kinds of people. They all bore testimony together that He was alive.

He appeared to them again by the sea. Remember when Peter went fishing with part of the apostles, and He appeared to them, and He talked to them and had conversations with them. Matter of fact, over a period of 40 days He appear to many of them on many occasions before He ascended to heaven. At one point He appeared to 500 of them at one time. Now you might think there's one or two people in history that are a little delusional. They thought they saw Him, but they had a vision. We'll hear you've got 500 seeing Him, I Corinthians 15:6, “After that he was seen by over 500 brethren at once, of whom the greater parts of them remain to the present day, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James.” Now it's mentioned here with a comma meaning that it’s separate. This is James, His brother, was not one of the 12 apostles. He appeared to him. “Then by all of the apostles. Then last of all, He was seen by me, also, as one born out of due time.” You who wrote that? Paul. So not only did He appear to 500 disciples, but then He appears to Saul, who was also known as Paul. He sees Jesus alive. But that’s not the last one.

You go to the book of Revelation, and who appears to John? The last of the apostles, in the waning days of his life Jesus reveals Himself to him. And he ends the book by saying, “I am he that lives. I was dead, but I’m alive for evermore. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” And so if you’re not going to believe this testimony. If you believe in the ancient history. There are a lot of things we take for granted about ancient history like the existence of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Nebuchadnezzar, Hamurabi, the various pharaohs. You go through the different records of history and there are more witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus that all these other famous characters of ancient history, and yet nobody ever questions did Alexander the Great really live. There are not as many write-ins about Alexander as there are about Jesus and His resurrection.

So, what testimony would you accept? You’ve got the testimony of history. Would you be willing to die for something that you? If you made up a story of the resurrection would you be willing to die for a big fabrication that you created? Were the apostles willing to die believing that Jesus had risen? And many of them did. They laid down their lives; they were tortured because they saw it. That’s what Paul says. “We have seen with our eyes. We have handled the word of life. We bear witness what we’ve seen is true.” They’re using the strongest, most emphatic language they can find that Jesus really rose.

I read this just last week. But there’s lots of extra biblical testimony, too, besides what you find in the Bible. And I quoted Flavius Josephus. This is in his book on the antiquities of the Jews. He was a contemporary of Christ. He toured with the Romans. He was spared after the destruction of Jerusalem. He wrote The History of the Jewish People. He was a scholar. “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man if it be lawful to call him a man.” Don’t forget this is written by a Jew who is not a Christian. By the way, you can be a Jew and a Christian. But Josephus made no profession to being a Christian, but it sounds like he believed. “There was about this time Jesus, a wise man if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to himself many of the Jews and many of the gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of principle men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again the third day as the divine prophets had foretold. These and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him, and the tribe of Christians so named for him are not extinct at this day.”

So, what testimony will you believe? I think one reason that it's so hard for us to believe in the resurrection is because in our modern world today. You might say, “I believe in the resurrection, Doug. I don't really have a problem with this.” But I think we're scared of death. And you don't need to be, because Jesus can make something out of nothing. That's a wonderful thing. One of the things that gives me comfort is I can't explain how you can have a seed that is thousands of years old that can germinate after being basically dead in every sense of the word. You've heard some of these stories of ancient seeds. They found these ancient lotus seeds in a bog in Japan. It some extinct lotus flower and they were 3000 years old. And they carefully extracted them and dried them out and wondered, “What if? Do you think they could still be viable? If we plant them, could they live?” How can you get a flower of something dormant? It's not been eating, how can it stay alive? It's not been doing anything for 3000 years. And what do you think? They put it in the ground, and they sprouted.

And you've heard of Howard Carter, who examined the tomb of King Tutankhamun. They found a pot that had some old Egyptian beans in it, over 2000 years old. Pretty close to 3000 there, too. They put them in some fertile ground with some moisture and some sunlight. And they sprouted. What keeps that essence of life in those seeds? I don't know, it's a mystery. But God can make something out of nothing. And He doesn't need a particle collider to do it.

Let me give you a kernel of truth. John 12, this is what Jesus said about this. “Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone. But if it dies it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for life eternal.” What is Jesus saying here? Well, for one thing, we must become nothing and die if we’re going to become something. Martin Luther put it this way, “God creates from nothing, so until we become nothing He can make nothing of us.” The Lord doesn't need to start with material and transform it. Man knows how to manipulate life. We can take cells from one person and inject them into another person and have sort of a symbiotic, or a surrogate earth. We can clone and slice and dice the genes and take what God has already created. We're taking life He’s already got. And try to cross pollinate and crossbreed and do things with that. We can manipulate it, but we can't take nothing and make a cell of life. We can't take nothing and make a man. I don't know how He does it, but I believe He can do it because you look around you and just all that you see in the world today is evidence that God can make something out of nothing.

Again, Paul talking about the seed principle. I Corinthians 15:36, “Foolish ones, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not, sew that body that shall be,” in other words, if I want to get a banana I do not plant a banana. Try it. You're not going to get a banana tree planting a banana. It's sewn as something else, but it grows into a banana. If you want a pine tree, you don't stick the tree in the ground, you've got to take the seed of the tree and put it in the ground. “You don't sow that body that shall be mere grain, perhaps wheat, or some other grain, but God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.” And here he is using these metaphors from nature to try and help us understand that God can take nothing and make something. When you're resurrected, what does God use to resurrect you?

I read that in Japan in the 1600s, there was a great persecution of Christians; thousands were killed. The Japanese then believed; they knew the Christians believed in the resurrection. And they said, “Well, what we'll do is we’re going to bury their bodies in one place and we're going to bury their heads somewhere else so they can't be raised.” As though God is going to come down and go, “Oh, where are all parts? I can't do this.” Is God reassembling the old parts? The wife of the president in South America, Eva Peron, he had her embalmed-- very expensive, best in the world. And they say to this very day, her body looks just like the day they laid her in the grave. And you think the Lord's going to come along, see her, assuming she saved, and say, “Oh, thanks. This a lot easier to do a resurrection like this. I really appreciate that.” And who is it? Is it Lenin that they’ve frozen? They've got him frozen there in Red Square. “Oh, I appreciate the help, guys. If you freeze them it's easier for me.” And others are saying, “I want to be buried cryogenically, frozen, preserve. Just give the Lord a little help.” It doesn't make any difference because none of the body you're wearing now goes to heaven, none of it. Not one brain cell. Who you are He saved somehow. He backs up the hard drive. I don't know how He does it, but He saves who you are. God knows who you are. And He makes a new creature. That's why the Bible says, “All things are new. Old things are passed away. All things are made new.” This is good news.

John 11:25, “Jesus said to Martha, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he who believes in me, though he may die, yet he shall live: and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Now wait a second here. If we are living now, and believing in Him, He said we will never die. Do Christians die or do they go to sleep? According to the Bible, they go to sleep. You don't have to worry about dying. You're just wondering when your change will be, when you're going to get the new body. And those who are alive when Christ comes, it says, “In a moment, the twinkling of an eye, they are changed.” I know some of this sounds like a funeral service, but I'm getting into things I never get a chance to get into in a funeral service. We'll be changed when the Lord comes down. What's changed? This mortal puts on in corruption. This body is dying; it's going to die. Just accept it. We're all terminal in that respect. But you don't need to be afraid because the resurrection of Jesus proves; He was dead three days, that God can make something out of nothing. Because Christ went into the grave with a mortal body like you and I have, but He came out with a glorified body. Isn't that what the Bible tells us? And that's the kind of bodies we are going to have.

I still can't prove it to you, scientifically, but I think there's a lot of evidence in the world out there that God does know how to make something out of nothing. And that's hope for you and me because when we come to the Lord, we are nothing. We are poor and wretched and miserable, blind and naked and we’re helpless and we realize our nothingness that's when He can recreate us. The resurrection of Jesus is inexorably linked to living a new life. The victory that you and I have as new creatures with new hearts. The idea of Him giving you a new heart, the resurrection is evidence that He, there's a new birth that happens inside of you, a glorious new heart, a new spirit. The most important thing that you could grasp from the resurrection is God can make something out of nothing. He can take our stony hearts, take them out and recreate a new heart within us. And all of this, it's very real. He really does give you a new heart. And also, we don't need to be afraid of death. It's like that hymn that we sang, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Sir Walter Raleigh is an interesting character from history; he was sort of a favorite of Queen Elizabeth for many years. But eventually, she passed away and he fell out of favor in the next ruler put him in the Tower of London, threatened by his position and influence. They finally consigned him to be executed. Most people don't know, not only was he an explorer and a sailor and a soldier, he was a poet. And while he was waiting there in the Tower of London for his execution he wrote these words. “And even time that takes in trust our youth, our joys, and all we have and pays us with age and dust. Who in the dark and silent grave, when we have wandered all our days, shut up the story of our days. But from the earth, this grave, this dust my God shall raise me up I trust.” He died. He wasn't afraid, believing in the resurrection.

Socrates, 400 years before Christ died, he was told he needed to drink hemlock. Basically he was given a death sentence. And he said, “I'll drink the hemlock rather than have you execute me.” And after he drank it he was waiting for the poison to take affect. His disciples around him were saying, “Will we live again?” He said, “I don't know, maybe.” But how sad to have that kind of an outlook on life. And when the pagans were buried there in the catacombs underneath Rome, you can see some of the pagans graves, and they are etched, “Goodbye for eternity, goodbye for ever.” But in the Christian catacombs that you find around Rome it says, “Good night until the morning.” “Goodbye until tomorrow.” There’s hope. And this is what Jesus offers us. You don't need to be afraid. We don't need to be held in bondage to death because God can make something out of nothing. We're surrounded with evidence of His a power all around us. The resurrection reminds us of that, and that's good news.

I thought it would be good for us, appropriate for us, to just sing an anthem of praise in closing our service today. It’s 166 in your hymnals. Christ the Lord is Risen Today.


How many of you believe the Lord make something out of nothing? That gives you and me hope, right? It can take us and, realizing that we've got these stony hearts, He can give us new hearts, new spirits, new minds. He can recreate us and the resurrection is a memorial of that. Let's pray.

Father in heaven, we are thankful for the good news that Jesus is alive right now, at the right hand of your very presence, there interceding in our behalf in the heavenly temple; that He is there and He hear our prayers; that we can have our petitions answered in His living name. Lord, we pray that each of us can be recreated by faith in this truth, that you can make something from nothing, that your word has creative power, and that it can reanimate new life into that which is dead, and that it can reanimate our hearts and minds. Bless us, Lord, that we might be mobilized by this truth. We also pray that we can all believe that eternal life, this gift is given now, and we can embrace it now and take it on from this point, through eternity. Bless each person. We pray your blessing on this church and the families represented here, and ask you go with us from this place through this Sabbath day and the week before us. In Jesus name, amen.

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