One of the more phenomenal claims made in the Bible and by Christians today is that three days after Jesus was crucified and buried, God raised Jesus from the dead. How important is the fact of Jesus’ resurrection to the Christian faith? Do Christians believe Jesus was literally raised from the dead or does Christian doctrine about the resurrection involve some sort of peripheral symbolic belief about having “new life” in Christianity which is celebrated on Easter?
As presented in this article, Jesus’ resurrection is not a peripheral doctrine of the Christian faith; rather, it lies at the very heart of the gospel message. As stated by the apostle Paul, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, the faith of Christians is in vain and Christians are to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:13-19).
“The resurrection is the supreme vindication of Jesus’ divine identity and his inspired teaching. It’s the proof of his triumph over sin and death. It’s the foreshadowing of the resurrection of his followers. It’s the basis of Christian hope.” [Lee Strobel, The Case For Easter, pg. 32 (1998)] Those who put their trust in Jesus’ work of atonement on the cross have a “living hope” (see, 1 Peter 1:3-5) because Jesus’ resurrection proves His atonement was sufficient to conquer death which is the consequence of our sin and rebellion against God. The person who places their trust in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior has right standing before God and can live in eternal relationship with Him, not because of any righteousness the Christian is able to attain on his/her own but because of the righteousness they obtain through their relationship with Christ. (Phil. 3:9) (more>>).
As stated by Christian theologian, Norman Geisler, Jesus’ resurrection is so important to the Christian faith that the New Testament insists no one can be saved without it. [See, Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pg. 651 (1999)]
- If Jesus was not resurrected, the gospel is mere foolishness (1 Cor. 15:14);
- If Jesus was not resurrected, the faith of a Christian is futile because it means their sins are not forgiven (1 Cor. 15:17);
- If Jesus was not resurrected, the profession of Christians is false because they are preaching something that isn’t true (1 Cor. 15:15);
- If Jesus was not resurrected, Christianity’s promise of a future life with God through his son, Jesus, is a fraud (1 Cor. 15:18);
- If Jesus was not resurrected, the prospects of an abundant and fulfilling Christian life on earth is a fantasy (1 Cor. 15:19)
There are many religions and belief systems which embrace a book, a prophet or a set of teachings but the Christian faith uniquely hinges on one historical event – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection verified everything Jesus said and everything he claimed to be. — Andy Stanley
Simply put, the importance of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be understated. The resurrection is so foundational to the Christian faith that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity is false — the faith of Christians is in vain and Christians are to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:13-19).
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: Nov. 22, 2012 / Last Updated: February 27, 2014
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
Norman L. Geisler, The Battle for the Resurrection: Updated Edition(Wipf & Stock Publishers; Updated Edition, 2004)
Gary R. Habermas, The Apologetics Study Bible: Understand Why You Believe, “Can Naturalistic Theories Account for the Resurrection?” pgs. 1621-1622 (Holman Bible Publishers, 2007)
Peter J. Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics(IVP Academic; 1St Edition, 1994)