Tag Archives: easter

The Resurrection: Does it matter?

A Christian friend once asked me, “Does it really matter if Jesus was raised from the dead?” Can we still have the Christian faith without the resurrection?

Let’s see what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. There was apparently a group of teachers in Corinth who were teaching against a final resurrection. But, says Paul, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor 12:13). But if Christ has not been raised then “our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor 12:14).

If Christ was not raised:

  • The apostles were “false witnesses of God” (1 Cor 12:15) since they made the resurrection the foundation of their faith. And if they are false witnesses about the resurrection then we cannot trust any of their testimony.
  • “Your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 12:17). Jesus took the penalty for our sins on the cross, but it was His resurrection that proved Christ’s divinity. And His divinity is necessary for his sacrifice to be sufficient to cover the sins of the entire world. If he was not divine, his sacrifice could not cover the sins of the world, nor my sins, nor yours.
  • “Those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (1 Cor 15:18). Without the resurrection we don’t have a foundation for hope after death. Those who die are lost forever.
  • “We are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19). Christians are called to daily take up their cross and follow Jesus. The Christian life is one of sacrifice, which Paul knew first hand: “I face death every day… If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained” (1 Cor 15:31,32). Indeed, if Christ has not been raised then we should be hedonists: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Or, to put in another way: YOLO.

But, since Christ has been raised:

  • Not only has Christ been raised, but his bodily resurrection is available to those who put their faith in him. Why? Because He is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15:20)
  • The reign of death which came through Adam has been overcome by the resurrection, ushered in by Christ. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Christians are not merely children of Adam and inheritors of sin and death, but children of God, living now with his resurrection life (1 Cor 15:22).
  • Christ has defeated every enemy. In his death he disarms Satan by paying for our sins. In his resurrection he proves his power over death itself (1 Cor 15:23-26).
  • Our mortal, perishable, dishonorable, and weak bodies will be clothed with immortality, glory, and power (1 Cor 15:42-44).
  • Our “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:59). What we do on this earth matters because it matters for eternity.

Must it be a bodily resurrection? Can’t we have the same sort of hopes with a mere spiritual resurrection? No. The Christian hope is not only a hope of being rescued from a fallen world (though it is), but of the redemption of the physical world, including the redemption of our physical bodies. Our final hope is not that our spirits will go to heaven to live with God, but that God will dwell with us on a new earth. We don’t have this final hope, though, if we don’t have the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Because He Lives

This past week I felt utterly bombarded by bad news. Part of this is because of my own failure to disconnect from electronic media. But part of it is that we just live in a very dark, hostile, and broken world. It’s scary out there. It can be easy to believe that the world is spiraling out of control.

But today is a day to celebrate the day that Jesus rose from the dead! And that day changed everything. It changed everything for the world. It changes everything for us.

I’m reminded of the words of the old hymn “Because He Lives”. The chorus goes like this:

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives

From here we could go on and on:

Because he lives death is not the end.

Because he lives the powers of evil have been disarmed.

Because he lives I know that not only can God break into history, but He has in a decisive way.

Because he lives no matter who has power for now on earth, Jesus sits on the throne of heaven.

Because he lives I know that since, in what looked to be a moment of utter defeat, God gained the ultimate victory, no situation can be too bleak that God cannot show his power.

Because he lives I know Jesus is the righteous judge who brings perfect justice in the end.

Because he lives I have the power to live a life pleasing to God.

Because he lives I am free from the slavery of sin and the fear of death.

Because he lives one day I will live in a resurrected and incorruptible body.

Because he lives I can trust God when he says that there will be a time of “no more crying, no more tears.”

Because he lives I know that God is able to transform all of creation.

Because he lives I know that history, in all its bleakness and decay, will have a happy ending for those who trust in the one who died and rose again.

Because he lives… because in time and space the God-man Jesus who was really dead, really came to life… because this historical reality is attested to by those who, with nothing to gain, gave up their lives to tell what they had seen and heard… because he lives, I know that he really is the Resurrection and the Life and the right now, in him, we experience the power of the resurrection, and that in the future we will experience it again, and then without the devastation of sin and the sorrow of death!

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

How do the Cross and the Resurrection drive the core values of our church?

Today is Good Friday. This is the day we remember Jesus’ death. In a couple of days we’ll be celebrating His resurrection.

Jesus’ death and resurrection are at the center of Christian thought and practice and, for each Christian, these realities should drive our individual daily lives. But the cross and resurrection are not just the center for individuals, but ought to be the center for churches as well.

I am perhaps especially mindful of this since I serve as a pastor. I was encouraged earlier this week to prepare a 5-10 minute “welcome message” to be presented before the sermon which would draw out some of the key implications of the resurrection and I thought one way to approach would be to draw out some implications for our church. With that in mind I sat down to answer this question: How do the cross and the resurrection drive the core values we hold as a church? Our core values are: Biblical Truth, Loving Relationships, Gospel Mission, and Trusting God.

Biblical Truth:

It’s through the Bible in the first place that we know the details of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s in Scripture that we find the words of life and the way of salvation which continually drives back to the cross and to the resurrection. But Jesus’ resurrection also points Scripture. Since Jesus rose from the dead in time and space He is trustworthy in all He says. Since He has a high view of Scripture, so do we.

Loving Relationships:

Jesus commanded his disciples “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). He spoke this command shortly before going to the cross, the most powerful presentation of His love and this is the kind of love we are called to live out in church life. It’s this kind of love which draws us to “not only look to [our] own interests, but also to the interest of others” (Philippians 2:4).

The resurrection gives us one more reason to sacrifice for others in love. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we should live for ourselves – eat, drink, and be merry. But if this life isn’t all there is then it’s OK for us to give up the temporary for the eternal.

Gospel Mission:

After Jesus rose from the dead He gave His followers this mission: Go and make disciples. This is our mission, too. The news of the resurrection is too good to keep quiet about – it’s the power of God for salvation. It compels us to action. And, we go out on this mission knowing that we go with the power and presence of our resurrected Savior.

Trusting God:

As a church, while we hope for “success” we know that our main objective is obedience to what God has called us to do. It’s fine for us to focus on our obedience because we trust God with the results. We seek first the Kingdom because it’s God that supplies all of our needs. How do we know we can trust God? We can trust God because He kept His promise to win us salvation. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and endured Hell on our behalf. Then He rose from the dead. He proved His faithfulness by following through on His promise and proving His power through the resurrection. He is a trustworthy God. He will accomplish all things according to His purpose. We just get to come along for the ride.