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The Resurrection: The Heart Of The Gospel

A young man returned to his hometown after graduating from a very prestigious University and joined his parents at the small country church they had attended his entire life. After the sermon, the pastor shook the young man’s hand and welcomed him back home. “Thanks a lot, pastor, for the welcome. But I just wanted you to know that I will not be attending Sunday services anymore”, he stated.

“Really?”, the pastor asked, “why?”

“Because I learned at college that God is not real and that Christianity is a sham”, the young man declared bluntly.

“You did?”, the pastor asked.

“Why, yes, I did. As a matter of fact, I would be happy to show you some of my textbooks which tell how science has demonstrated that Evolution by means of Natural Selection accounts for the proliferation of all life on Earth, not God. I bet that would convince you that Christianity isn’t real, just like it did me.”

“No, thanks”, the pastor replied, “I have actually seen a great deal of those kinds of books and, no, it didn’t convince me. I still believe in God and am still a Christian.”

A little taken aback, the young man went on, “Well, how about taking a look at some of the books I studied while enrolled in Philosophy and World Religion classes at the University? I can show you how Jesus Christ is no more Divine than any other man who has ever lived and how Christianity is no more valid than any other religion. Why, it’s no more real than Buddhism or Islam.”

“No. I really wouldn’t be very interested in seeing those, either. I probably read some of those same books in Seminary and they didn’t persuade me in the least bit”, the pastor flatly answered.

The young man was getting frustrated. How could this old, unsophisticated, country preacher not be willing to listen to reason? After suggesting a few more enlightening topics, he finally threw up his hands and said: “Surely there is something that I can show you that will make you realize that Christianity is a big lie and the God of the Bible does not exist?!?”

“As a matter of fact there is”, the pastor calmly replied, much to the young man’s astonishment. “Show me the body of Jesus Christ and I will agree with you that Christianity is a big lie and the God of the Bible does not exist. You told me that Jesus Christ is no more Divine than any other man and that Christianity is no more valid than Islam or Buddhism. But you see, there’s a grave in Medina, Saudi Arabia where Muhammed, the founder of Islam lies buried to this day. The Buddha was cremated, with parts of his body saved as religious relics. I am told that I can visit one of his teeth in Sri Lanka. Both of those men died, and they remained dead and in the grave. But if I go to Jerusalem where the Lord Jesus died, all I will find is an empty tomb. He’s not there anymore! If you can show me the body of Jesus Christ, then I will no longer be a Christian, because my entire faith stands or falls on the reality of His resurrection”

There is absolutely no more important doctrine in the Christian faith than the reality of a literal, physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17:

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

For the earliest Christians, there simply was no more crucial point of faith than to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Yet, according to a Barna poll conducted in 2000, as many as 33% of those who claim to be born-again Christians DO NOT believe in a literal, physical resurrection (1). According to a 1998 Jeffrey Hadden poll, the numbers are even bleaker for clergy. Some mainstream Protestant denominations have more than half of those preaching from their pulpits who harbor serious doubts as to the veracity of the resurrection account (2).

This Sunday, the Body of Christ will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, with many who observe the celebration really not understanding the significance of this monumental event.

Raised For Our Justification

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

Jesus took our sin upon Himself and was delivered unto death as a propitiation for those sins. His resurrection demonstrated the Father’s satisfaction with this transaction. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection showed that God’s wrath was satisfied in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and that that wrath no longer rests on us, if our faith is in Him (John 3:36). If Jesus lies in His grave, then the Father did NOT accept the atoning sacrifice of Christ and our sin debt remains upon us.

Credentials Of His Lordship

“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)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the crowning piece of evidence that He is Who He says He is. As we mentioned in the story above: there have been a lot of religious leaders who have said a lot of things, but they all have one thing in common — they are all still dead. Only Jesus Christ demonstrated His authority over death through His resurrection from the dead.

If The Resurrection Did Not Happen, Then The New Testament Was Written By Liars

This might sound like a harsh ultimatum, but it is indisputable. If the resurrection (a literal, physical resurrection) did not happen, then every New Testament writer has lied at this point. And if they lied at this most crucial point, then none of their other testimony is worthy to be considered. They all witnessed and testified to the risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:7). If they got this wrong, how can we believe anything else they have to say?

The Resurrection Proves Jesus’ Authority Over Death Itself

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:18)

Since Jesus was raised from the dead, we can have confidence that He will raise us up in the last day, as well (John 6:40). Since Jesus was resurrected, just as He said He would be (Matthew 17:23), we can be confident that He has the power and ability to raise us up as He promised He would. If the resurrection never happened, what hope is there for us? Incidentally, since Jesus also testified that His resurrection would take place, then we must relegate His Words to the same fate as His apostles’ if He was incorrect about this. If Jesus was not resurrected, then He, too, has lied to us.

“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” (Acts 1:3)

Praise God, we do have certainty that the resurrection did actually occur. The Lord Jesus Christ did not remain dead and in the grave. He is alive today and forevermore. We can trust His own testimony as well as that of those who saw Him alive before He ascended to the Father (Acts 7:56). Jesus Christ is alive; He is risen! May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and yours as you take time this Sunday to commemorate His resurrection. May the reality of His resurrection stay with you every day of the year.

(1) Poll results cited can be found at the following website: Click here

(2) Ibid

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