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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: How Important Is the Resurrection to Christianity?

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How Important Is the Resurrection to Christianity?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ – Question 1

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central truth of the Christian faith. Indeed, without it there is no such thing as Christianity.

Long ago, a man named Job asked the big question that sooner or later every human being has to face. It is as follows:

If a man dies, shall he live again? (Job 14:14 NKJV)

This same question remains to this day, “Is this life all that there is? Or is there life beyond the grave? Is it possible for anyone to know the answer to this question?”

The Christian’s answer to Job’s question is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because He has risen we know that there is life after death.

The Place Of The Resurrection In The New Testament

The resurrection of Jesus Christ occupies a central place in the New Testament. Indeed, it is directly mentioned over one hundred times.

A number of observations need to be made about the importance of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

1. It Is the Focal Point of the Christian Faith

The message of the early Christians, and the focal point of the New Testament, was stated in this simple truth by the Apostle Paul:

Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. (2 Timothy 2:8 CSB)

This is the central truth of the Christian faith. The importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be overemphasized. Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.

2. The Resurrection Was the Central Teaching of the Apostles

The resurrection was central to the teaching and preaching in the Apostles. It was the subject of every sermon we find in the Book of Acts. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared the following to the crowd that had gathered:

God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. (Acts 2:36 HCSB)

This was their message; God has brought Jesus back from the dead.

The apostles continued to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection wherever they went. Later, we read the following in the Book of Acts:

They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. (Acts 4:2 NIV)

The preaching of Jesus’ resurrection disturbed the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

The Apostle Paul later told a crowd in the city of Athens about the importance of the resurrection of Christ:

For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31 NLT)

The Man who will judge the world is the Man who has been raised from the dead. Thus, from Jerusalem to Athens, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was proclaimed by His followers. The resurrection demonstrated Jesus’ right to make the claims that He made about Himself.

3. It Was the Substance of Their Teaching

The substance of the preaching of the early church was the resurrection of Christ. However, many of the Jew rejected Jesus because He died on the cross. The Old Testament says,

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23 NIV)

To the Jews, there was a curse associated with anyone who was crucified. Yet there were many Jews who were converted to Him. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand people came to faith in Jesus Christ. We read in the Book of Acts:

So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. (Acts 2:41 HCSB)

Three thousand Jews became believers on this particular day.

There was also number of Jewish priests who believed in Jesus as the risen Lord. We read later in the Book of Acts:

God’s message was preached in ever-widening circles. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. (Acts 6:7 NLT)

The only explanation for so many Jews accepting Jesus as their Messiah, including many priests, was His resurrection from the dead. Indeed, there would be no reason whatsoever to believe in a dead Messiah.

4. The Resurrection Is the Cornerstone of Christianity

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the importance of the resurrection of Jesus. He said,

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 NIV)

Notice how clearly Paul stated the matter; no resurrection, no Christianity.

According to Paul, if Christ has not been raised then the following five things would be true:

  1. Christian preaching is empty and so in anyone’s faith because the object of the faith, Christ, is not whom He said He was.
  2. The apostles are liars for testifying to a resurrection that did not occur.
  3. No forgiveness has been granted for anybody’s sin.
  4. Those that have died believing in Christ have no hope.
  5. If hope in Christ is limited to this life, then Christians are to be pitied above all people.

Without the resurrection, Christianity has no meaning for humanity for its founder would have been a liar and a failure, and its followers would have no hope. Thus the importance of the resurrection to Christian faith cannot be overestimated.

There are those who say that even without the resurrection, Christianity has significance. They hold that Christ’s teachings provide ethical guidelines for humanity. The New Testament, however, testifies that this is not the case. Without the resurrection there is no meaningful Christianity.

We add further areas of importance of Christ’s resurrection. It is important to Jesus’ identity, to His true character to His ministry, and to His message.

5. It Is Important to Jesus’ Identity

The resurrection is crucial to confirming the identity of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote the following to the church at Rome:

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and appointed to spread the Good News of God. (God had already promised this Good News through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. This Good News is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In his human nature he was a descendant of David. In his spiritual, holy nature he was declared the Son of God. This was shown in a powerful way when he came back to life. (Romans 1:1-4 God’s Word)

Paul said the resurrection confirmed the identity of Christ as the Son of God.

6. It Is Important to His True Character

If Christ did not rise then He was a liar, for He predicted He would come back from the dead. He said to His disciples:

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again. (Matthew 20:18, 19 NKJV)

The resurrection authenticates Him as a true prophet. Without His resurrection from the dead everything that Lord Jesus said would be subject to doubt.

7. It Is Important to His Ministry

If Jesus did not rise, then His ministry would have ended in defeat. Believers would not have a High Priest to intercede for them to God the Father. There would be no one to head the church and no one to indwell believers, nobody to give them power to live godly lives. In other words, there is no Christian faith.

8. It Is Important to His Message

According to the Apostle Paul, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the four pillars of the gospel message.

He wrote to the Corinthians the following about what is important for Christians:

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NLT)

These four pillars of the gospel are as follows:

  1. Christ died.
  2. Christ was buried.
  3. Christ was raised.
  4. Christ appeared.

Without the resurrection, there is no gospel message. Again, its importance to the Christian faith cannot be overestimated.

9. The Resurrection Was Unique to Christianity

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is also unique to the Christian faith—no other religious figure has ever predicted his own resurrection, and then accomplished it. All of the other world religions are based on a founder who lived in the past and whose religion is his only legacy. Muhammad died at age 61 on June 8, A.D. 632 in Medina. He is still dead. Confucius died and Buddha also died. They also remain dead. Jesus Christ is alive!

In sum, the resurrection is the central truth of the Christian faith. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that it did occur in the exact manner in which the four gospels tell us.

Summary – Question 1
How Important Is the Resurrection to Christianity?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the Christian faith. It is mentioned over one hundred times in the New Testament. It was the main point for each sermon in the Book of Acts. Without it there is no Christian faith.

Paul said the resurrection is important to the believer for a number of reasons. He said that Christian preaching is empty if Jesus did not come back from the dead. The faith of the believer is worthless if Christ is not risen because He is the object of the faith. In addition, Christ, is not whom He said He was. He would have been a liar. The apostles are also liars for testifying to a resurrection that did not occur.

Furthermore, there is no forgiveness for anybody’s sin without the resurrection. Those who have died believing in Jesus Christ have no hope. If hope in Christ is limited to this life, then Christians are to be pitied above all people.

The resurrection is also important to the identity and mission of Jesus.

First, the resurrection is important to His identity. The resurrection is the demonstration that Jesus indeed is the Son of God.

The resurrection is also important to His character. Jesus would not have been a true prophet had He not come back from the dead as He predicted that He would. Because He rose from the dead, as He predicted, we can trust everything else which He has said.

It is important to Jesus’ ministry. If He did not come back from the dead then His ministry would have ended in defeat.

Finally, it is important to His message. The centrality of the Christian message is that Jesus died and then came back from the dead. If He did not come back from the dead then there is no Christianity.

Consequently, we see that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely crucial to the Christian faith. Therefore, it is essential that we examine the evidence to see if it did indeed take place.

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? (Introduction) ← Prior Section
Did Jesus Predict His Own Resurrection? Next Section →
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