Thursday, April 04, 2013

Why the resurrection is important

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 15:1-19

TO CHEW ON: "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty .... and if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." 1 Corinthians 15:14,17

We have just celebrated Christ's resurrection. The New Testament testimony that it was an event that actually happened is overwhelming. As Wayne Grudem summarizes:
"The Gospels contain abundant testimony to the resurrection of Christ ... the book of Acts is the story of the apostles' proclamation of the resurrection of Christ and of continued prayer to Christ ... The Epistles depend entirely on the assumption that Jesus is a living, reigning Savior .... The book of Revelation repeatedly shows the risen Christ reigning in heaven and predicts his return ..." - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 608.
In our reading today, Paul underlines why it is important that Jesus' resurrection did actually happen. If it didn't, he says, his preaching is empty, believers' faith is empty / futile, and we are still in our sins.

What did/does Christ's resurrection actually accomplish? Grudem names three things Jesus' resurrection ensures for the believer:

1. Regeneration - 1 Peter 1:3
"When Jesus rose from the dead he had a new quality of life, a resurrection life ... perfectly suited for fellowship and obedience to God forever. In his resurrection Jesus earned for us a new life ... We do not receive all of that resurrection life when we become Christians for our bodies remain as they were ... But in our spirits we are made alive with new resurrection power..."

2. Justification - Romans 4:25
"When Christ was raised from the dead, it was God's declaration of approval of Christ's work of redemption .... There was no penalty left to pay for sin, no more wrath of God to bear, no more guilt or liability to punishment—all had been completely paid for, and no guilt remained.'"

3. We will receive resurrection bodies - 1 Corinthans 15
"In calling Christ the 'first fruits' (1 Corinthians 15:20), Paul uses a metaphor from agriculture to indicate that we will be like Christ. Just as the 'first fruits' or the first taste of the ripening crop show what the rest of the harvest will be like for that crop, so Christ as the 'first fruits' shows what our resurrection bodies will be like when in God's final 'harvest,' he raises us from the dead and brings us into his presence" - quotes from Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pages 614-616.

What riches! We are right with God (#2). We become His friends and have a new spirit of obedience (#1). And the best is yet to come (#3).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your amazing plan which included the resurrection of Jesus. Help me to begin to comprehend what this means to me practically. Amen

MORE: Resurrection under attack
About a year ago, the review of a book of children's Bible stories I posted on a secular review website came under attack in the comments section. Not surprisingly the resurrection was soon singled out and mocked.

Such mocking should not surprise us, seeing as how the resurrection is at the core of the gospel. Some books that may be useful to you in establishing the historicity of the resurrection are:
  • Who Moved the Stone by Frank Morrison
  • The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by William Lane Craig.
  • Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell (pages 179-263 of the 1979 edition).  
  • Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace (a former police detective) shows readers how to use crime investigation tools to establish the truth or error of the Bible. 


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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