Believing that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead is essential for Christians. Merely recognizing that He died for our sins is not enough; we must accept His resurrection in order to receive eternal life. Christ paid our debt, but His sacrifice on the cross means nothing if He possesses no power over the grave. In vanquishing evil and death, the Lord made our salvation possible.
Jesus’ resurrection proved He was able to remove sin and its penalty. Assuming Christ remained dead would mean accepting the opposite - that believers are still in sin. And the inevitable end of a sinful life is death. Consequently, a person who denies Christ’s eternal nature looks toward a void future. Bertrand Russell, a famous atheistic philosopher, offered this sad description of such hopelessness: “Brief and powerless is man’s life. On his and all his race, the slow sure doom falls, pitiless and dark.”
Instead of enjoying Christian liberty and anticipating a home in heaven, those who reject resurrection are slaves to the present, with no real hope or meaning in life. Career, family, and good works can offer brief pleasure but not the kind of joy that comes from knowing we are right with the Lord and working in His will.
Resurrection is not a denominational issue or a point for theological debate. Either we believe Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven or we do not. If we reject His victory over the grave, we deny ourselves a place in eternity. But if we accept the truth, Paul assures that we will be saved. (Taken from "The Resurrection: Does It Matter?" by In Touch Ministries, used by permission).
What Is the Story of Jesus' Resurrection, and Is it a Myth?
How can we know beyond any doubt that Jesus really rose from the dead - that this singular event is not some queer predilection on the part of the Christian but is rather faith founded on irrefutable fact?
As Christians, we must be prepared to demonstrate that Christ's resurrection was an event that occurred in time and space - that it was, in reality, historical and not mythological (cf. 2 Peter 1:16). The importance of this event cannot be minimized, for Jesus Himself proclaimed that His resurrection would prove His power over death, and thus His deity (John 2:18-22). Not only that, but Christ's resurrection is the very heart of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
When I first began examining the evidences for Christianity, I discovered that belief in the Resurrection does not constitute a blind leap into a dark chasm but rather a step into the light. Indeed, the evidence for Christ's resurrection is so overwhelming that no one can examine it with an open mind desiring to know the truth without becoming convinced of its truth.
Of the many evidences available, none is more compelling than the fact that the resurrected Christ appeared to over five hundred individuals at a single time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Christ appeared to numerous other individuals as well, providing "many convincing proofs" of His resurrection (Acts 1:3). Christ in His resurrection body was even touched on two occasions (Matthew 28:9; John 20:17), and challenged the disciples (Luke 24:39) and Thomas (John 20:27) to feel His wounds.
For those who continue to harbor doubts about the veracity of the biblical evidence, one need only point to Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the greatest authority on legal evidences in the 19th century. It is noteworthy that after examining the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Greenleaf suggested that any cross-examination of the eyewitness testimonies recorded in Scripture would result in "an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth." (Taken from "Jesus' Resurrection: Miracle or Myth?" by Christian Research Institute, used by permission).
What Does Jesus' Resurrection Mean for Us?
1. Future Resurrection
First, it assures our future resurrection. Because Jesus both died and rose again, we will be raised like Him. 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The word firstfruits speaks of a sampling, a foretaste, a glimpse. Jesus is the firstfruit.
Jesus has died and has risen, so we know that our resurrected bodies in some way will resemble His resurrection body. To what extent, we cannot be certain. But if they were completely like His, it would mean that we would be clearly recognizable.
2. Future Judgement
Second, the resurrection of Jesus is a proof of future judgment. Now that may not sound all that exciting, but it’s something we need to know. We live in a society, and indeed a world, in which justice is often perverted and neglected. We look at things that happen and say, “How can that be? How could that happen?” The Resurrection means, among other things, that God’s justice will ultimately prevail.
3. Power of the Holy Spirit
Third, the resurrection of Christ gives us power to live the Christian life (see Romans 8:11). Certainly, the Bible does not teach that we will be sinless in this physical body we now live in. On the other hand, we can sin less, not by our own abilities, but by the power of the Spirit.
Christ can make us altogether different kinds of people. We must believe that. “Old things have passed away…all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God can give you the power to live this Christian life. (provided by Greg Laurie, Harvest Ministries)
Why Doesn't Everyone Believe in Jesus' Resurrection?
As transcribed from the video above, Gary Habermas discusses the prove of the resurrection and why more people don't believe it:
You know I think we have this sense that if you show me something is the best answer I'm just going to go, "Dude, you're right," and I'm going to believe, right? I'm jumping on board because you showed me. All right, let me just show a moment here that is so far from true. Let's say you are going to introduce your wife's sister or your wife's best friend to your best buddy who's single. He's going to go on a blind date, and you tell him "You will tell me when this is over she's the best thing you've ever met and you've never met anybody who would make a better wife."
The guy spends some time with her, and he could say this, "Hey, she's a great gal, she really is, and if I were going to get married, I could see this especially if I get to know her and stuff, but see you're under the mistaken allusion I want to get married which I don't. So, I don't mind having a good time with her, but I'm not going to get married, at least not right now. Maybe never. Just not going there." So, even if you've convinced me something's best, here's this job and here's this job. You make more money. It's closer to home. Why don't you just take this one? Well, who knows what reasons people make choices for, but they're not always the best. Maybe I'm nervous. Maybe I don't want to speak publicly even though I'll make more money. I understand those things.
My degree's in this area. Yeah, but I'm more comfortable with this job. I want to be home. I don't want to leave my house, whatever. We make a lot of decisions for other reasons, and in faith, with faith type decisions we choose often times, the knife cuts both ways, we choose often times because we're comfortable with or not comfortable with a conclusion. We choose Jesus sometimes because we want to avoid Hell. We want to reach Heaven. Not the best reasons to come to Christ, but they're given there in scripture too. We do want eternity. But on the other side, many people are angry at God. In a recent survey, 19% of atheists were angry at God. Now think about that. 19% are angry at the being they don't believe in, so we don't want to go there. And another issue, I don't want to admit you might be right.
Here's another one. I don't want somebody telling me what I can do and can't do. We assume that people believe based on logic, reasons, facts when our most important decisions are dare I say generally made for other reasons. We say, "Well, this guy wants a relationship that sort of feels like an old shoe." Sometimes we want those comfortable things way more than we want other obvious things and so we don't believe for those reasons. I don't think it's anything against religion pro or con that some people believe and some don't.
Why is the Resurrection of Jesus Significant?
There are a couple of things. Firstly, Jesus said he would rise. So, just immediately if he didn't, he's wrong. So in terms of vindicating his own words and his own trustworthiness. But more than that, the reason there's an imperative about Jesus' resurrection, that he himself spoke of the Son of Man must suffer and die and must rise again, is because Jesus' death only achieves what it achieves if he rises from that death.
In other words, what the cross achieves, it achieves because Jesus rose again. It is an empty cross by which we are saved. Paul says that Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification. He says that if Jesus has not been raised, we are still dead in our sins. So, if Jesus didn't rise again, we're not saved. The cross only works because Jesus rose again from the dead.
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