Friday, April 22, 2011

Significance of the Resurrection

Many people do not understand the significance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Non-Christians just don’t see the relevance in celebrating some guy’s death; in fact, that seems positively morbid. In addition, Christians themselves sometimes do not see what the big deal is. After all, we still believe in God and the teachings of Jesus, so what does it matter?

The truth is that it matters a great deal. Paul said without the reality of the Resurrection, we are “of all men most miserable.” What made him say that? Is it really true?

First, the death of Christ is what pays the penalty for our sin.

God is love. This is undeniable for any orthodox conception of God. However, God is also just. He cannot be just at the expense of loving, and he cannot be loving at the expense of just. Since all of us have sinned against God (that is, all of us have done what is morally wrong at some point), we have offended him. An offense against a holy God must be punished. However, Jesus Christ, who is God, came as a man. He lived among us a perfect life, never sinning. He offered his life willingly. His death was the punishment upon him. As a man, he could be our representative (because he had never done anything wrong). Thus, his death paid the penalty for all of our sins.

Second, the Resurrection was God’s vindication on the message of Jesus.

Had Jesus never been Resurrected, one wonders just why we would believe he was any different than those other Messiahs. Sure, he had good things to say, and he taught as no man ever did. But in the end, he was killed just like anyone else. However, if he were to be raised from the dead, that would show God did indeed approve of his message; this in turn means Jesus was who he said he was (namely, God).

Third, the Resurrection is necessary for us to believe if we are to be saved.

Romans 10:9 states, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” One cannot be a Christian and not believe in the Resurrection (see other articles this week and on this blog relating to why one can trust the Resurrection as the most plausible hypothesis). If one does not believe the Resurrection, he is not really a Christian.

Finally, without the Resurrection Christians have no ultimate hope.

First, if the Resurrection did not happen, then the apostle’s witness of it is false (1 Cor. ). This alone should show that the faith that they started cannot be true. Second, Paul says that without the Resurrection, we are all still dead in our sins (). The reason? God has not vindicated Jesus and his claims. In that case, as alluded to above, we can only rely on Jesus’ life and teachings. But, if all we have is hope in this life, and not in the next, then we don’t really have any hope at all. We still have our sins held against us, and we have no hope of getting to God ().

Jesus Christ is the “firstfruits” of the Resurrection. Just as in Adam all of us have sin imputed, and thus death (cf. Romans ), so all can receive life through Christ. The Resurrection was necessary to show us this life! (1 Cor. 15:20-22). We can all have salvation through the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth! Remember that this Easter, and consider the claims of Jesus.
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