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

Don Stewart

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central truth of the Christian faith. Without it there is no such thing as the Christian faith.

Long ago man named Job asked the big question, that sooner or later every human being has to face.

If a person dies, will they live again? (Job 14:14).

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 the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The Place Of The Resurrection In The New Testament

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

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:

Jesus Christ, risen from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8).

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.

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.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

The apostles proclaimed Jesus' resurrection.

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

Paul said.

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31).

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.

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 (Deuteronomy 21:33).

Yet there were many Jews who were converted to Him.

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).

This includes a number of priests who believed in Jesus.

And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

The only explanation for so many Jews accepting Jesus as their Messiah was His resurrection.

The Resurrection Is The Cornerstone Of Christianity

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:

Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

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

If Jesus Had Not Been Raised, Then The Following Would Be True

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 who have died believing in Christ have no hope.
  5. If hope in Christ is limited to this life, Christians are to be pitied above all people.
There Is No Meaning For Humanity If Christ Is Not Risen

Without the resurrection, Christianity has no meaning for humanity - 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.

There Are Other Areas Of Importance Of The Resurrection

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.

It Is Important To His Identity

The resurrection is crucial to confirming the identity of Jesus.

And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (Romans 1:4)

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.

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify him, and on the third day he will be raised up (Matthew 20:18,19).

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

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 and give them power to live godly lives.

It Is Important To His Message

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

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and that he appeared to . . . (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

These four pillars are:

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

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

The Resurrection Was Unique To Christianity

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is 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. Mohammed 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.

Summary

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. Those who have died believing in Christ have no hope. If hope in Christ is limited to this life, 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. 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.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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