Why is the Resurrection so Important?
Gary Habermas, transcribed from the video below, explains the importance of the Resurrection of Jesus:
To me the importance of the resurrection, is that it is the center of Christianity, it's the center of the gospel in particular, the wider beliefs of Christians as a whole. In a list of items in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, Paul says, "If Christ has not been raised, then we're of all persons most miserable."
And he just got done giving a list, he says, "Our preaching is vain, our witnessing is vain, we're still in our sins." Twice he says, "Our faith is vain." You think, "Man, how long do I have to look at the New Testament before I see somebody say our faith is vain? I thought it was all about faith." Well, faith in what? If Jesus couldn't rise from the dead, how do you expect to rise from the dead?
And one that's especially close to me there, in verse 18, he says, "Our loved ones who died in Christ have died in vain." Because my wife passed away with cancer in 1995. If the Christian hope is gone, why am I here today? Why am I doing any of this? There's other things I'd rather be doing.
So I think from a very practical viewpoint, the resurrection anchors everything. In fact, I often tell our students if the resurrection is true, we know that Christianity follows. If all we know is that the gospel of the deity, death, resurrection of Jesus on the factual side, if that's true, think about this. We can study other things in scripture for eternity. What view do you take on this? Well I don't know. What view do you take on this? Sovereignty, free will, well let's ask Paul. We'll ave eternity to ask some of those questions.
But the ones that get you in, the ones that get you past the entrance, the ones to which we're required to say, "I do," when we trust Christ. The resurrection is right there at the center of everything. It links in the New Testament over 300 verse, connected to almost every area of theology, and almost every area of practice. So assuming we could get to the resurrection, we have the center of faith together at once.
What difference does the Resurrection make for Christians?
Sam Allberry, transcribed from the video below, answers this question:
[The Resurrection of Jesus] should make all the difference. In the New Testament, we see a number of ways in which the reality of Jesus' resurrection is applied to us as Christians. As we trust in Jesus, we are United to him by faith. Paul says, "Therefore, there's a connection between what has happened to Jesus and what happens to us." Jesus didn't just die and rise, but in him we died with him. We rose with him. That has massive implications. That's not just sort of symbolic. We actually spiritually have been raised with Christ. We've been given new spiritual life in Ephesians 2.
In Colossians 3, we're told, "Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts and minds on things above." We're to have the perspective of people who have been spiritually given life. More than that, we're to have actions as those who have new spiritual life, to clothe ourselves now in this risen life that we've been given in Jesus. It's to affect us in terms of our holiness. We are to to be what we are as those who are raised in Christ. We are to live as risen people.
How do we know the Resurrection of Christ is True?
Gary Habermas, transcribed from the video below, gives his reasoning for how we know the Resurrection of Christ is true:
Ancient history rarely is established on the grounds that we prefer in ancient historiography. We would like early and eyewitness accounts. Everybody likes early eyewitness accounts. Not all eyewitness accounts are early; so, we want an eyewitness account told as close to the data as possible.
Now, we don't have that for a good part of the ancient world. I mean, Livy, to use one example, Roman historian. He talks about things that happened in the founding of Rome hundreds of years before his earliest sources. Our earliest sources for Alexander are 300 years later, and the best sources for Alexander are plus four and a quarter to plus four fifty.
So, when people say the Gospels are hopeless prejudiced and we can't get anything out of them beginning at plus 40, 40 years after Jesus, it's just like, "Let's just apply some principles here and talk about history." Yes, early eyewitness evidence can be wrong. So, what would you rather have? Late non-eyewitness evidence? I mean, you can only take your best evidence, even in court cases today.
Now, here's how we get the early and eyewitness evidence for the appearances of Jesus: Paul is a witness that skeptics allow, and they will allow about half of Paul's books as authentic. Interestingly enough, they will allow the main books that Christians want to use, and two of the ones they will always allow ... First Corinthians and Galatians are two.
In those books, Galatians for example, Paul says he became a Christian, Galatians 1:16, as the book starts. He says, "I didn't go up to Jerusalem right away. I went out to be alone with the Lord for three years, and then I went up to Jerusalem." Now, we can do the math on this, because the skeptics do it, too. That appearance to Jerusalem by Paul takes place about three years after the cross. That's when most New Testament scholars place it. So, if you place the cross at 30 A.D., that trip to Jerusalem's about 33. Paul spends 15 days with two apostles, i.e., eyewitnesses: Peter; James, the brother of Jesus. The three of them are together.
The key to the book of Galatians is the nature of the Gospel. They're discussing, among other things, the Gospel for 15 days. If I were Paul, my first question would be: "Peter, I'll tell you what you saw. I mean, no offense, but you denied him three times. James, I mean, I know you're a spiritual guy and everything, and you're the pastor of this church at Jerusalem. No offense. I was a persecutor. I understand. But I hear you didn't even believe when your brother was walking around. What got you guys here?" You can't imagine them being there for 15 days and not talk about the resurrection. It's the key to the Christian faith.
Now, Bart Ehrman, who's a very well-known skeptic, says that ... He says, "Paul got this material just a very few years after the cross." He says, "Think about this." This is Bart Ehrman, best-known skeptic in America, non-Christian. He says, "Paul got to interview Peter and James. I'd like to interview Peter and James." Then he says, "This is as close to eyewitness testimony as we can get." It's very close to eyewitness testimony three years after the cross from guys who believed they saw the risen Jesus. How do you know? Well, they teach that. Then they were willing to die for it.
Now, you say, "Well, I'm so tired of that. A lot of people are willing to die today. A lot of people ..." Yes, right. But today people are willing to die for those guys' testimony, or Muhammad's testimony, or somebody else's Buddha, what they believe would be Buddhist testimony. It has to only transform your life enough that you're willing to die for their message, but you don't know if it's true or false. The disciples were in a place to know if it was true or false, and they were willing to die for it. So, the key here is, they were willing to die for a message for which they were in a position to know if it were true or false, right or wrong.
Fourteen years later, in Galatians 2, Paul goes up there again. In Galatians 2:2, Paul says, "I set before them the Gospel I was preaching to see if I was running or had run in vain." He's saying, "Guys, are we all on the same page?" and just a few verses later, these five words in English, "They added nothing to me. They added nothing to me." Then just a few verses later, "They lay the right hand of fellowship on Paul and Barnabas."
So, they all agreed on the nature of the Gospel. The resurrection is an indispensable portion of it. Nobody believes that it's not. Paul goes there, checks it out. To me the best way to get early eyewitnesses are these talks that Paul had right after the cross with Peter, with James, the brother of Jesus ... of course, himself ... and in Galatians 2, John is there.
How far would you go to hear these four guys speak? These are the four best-known, most influential persons. They're all there, talking about the nature of the Gospel. That's how we know. First Corinthians 15:11, Paul says, "They're preaching the same message I am. Go ask them if you don't believe me. They'll tell you the same thing." The togetherness of the early eyewitnesses makes the resurrection faith so credible, the appearances.
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