Biblical Definition of Resurrection
According to the Baker's Evangelical Biblical Dictionary, the resurrection of Jesus is the principal tenet of the New Testament. Baptism is centered in Jesus' resurrection. Even though Jewish illustrations were present for at least a hundred years before Christ, Paul applies the act symbolically to death, burial, and resurrection. He says, "When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" ( Col 2:12 ; NRSV see also Rom 6:3-5 ; 1 Peter 3:21-22 ).
The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the general resurrection of all humans, which will be followed by the dispensing of God's justice; to the righteous there will be a "resurrection of life" and to the unrighteous a "resurrection of condemnation" ( John 5:28-29 ; cf. Rev 20:4-6 ). Regardless of the complex time sequence involved in the various resurrections recorded in the New Testament, Jesus' bodily resurrection is the basis for the future resurrection of humans ( 1 Cor 15:42-50 ). The Spirit, which was given after his resurrection, is the "guarantee" (or "first installment") that God will raise the righteous from the dead, and that they will not be found "naked, " that is, incorporeal ( 2 Cor 5:1-5 ; cf. Eph 1:13-14 ), but will have a corporeal existence with God. Even though believers "groan" while in their bodies ( 2 Cor 5:2 ), they will be "further clothed" after their resurrection (v. 4). There will be recompense for what was done in the body; therefore, one must seek to please God (vv. 6-10).
Resurrection Meaning for Christians
What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you? What does it mean to me?
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.
Why Doesn't Everyone Believe in the 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.
Taken from “What the Resurrection Means to Us” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).
Photo credit: GettyImages/leolintang