The Importance of the Resurrectionby Ron Matsen CEO of Koinonia House and Koinonia Institute
While living in Portsmouth, England in 2001 the local newspaper reported a shocking statistic that saddened me to my very core. In the runup to the Easter holiday season 50 members of church clergy were asked about their congregation's beliefs; 48% said they “Did NOT Believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus” and 60% said they “Believed that the spirit of Easter had been lost in favor of bunnies and Easter eggs.” Needless to say, that report revealed a sickening trend of many churches around the world who have left the simplicity of preaching the whole gospel in favor of a man-centered and man-pleasing messages.
The substance of the Gospel was clearly laid out by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. He writes:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Clearly the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is key in the declaration of the Gospel to the world.
No other event in history has undergone such ridiculous historic reconstructionism. It seems that every so-called religious scholar (scoffer) has an alternative narrative for this foundational doctrine of the Christian Church. This is probably because no other event in history of mankind is as important to the Christian faith as the resurrection of Jesus.
Why? Not because we would not be able to appreciate the insight of His teaching without this event. Many teachers have said interesting things and have died for their beliefs. Not so we can simply incorporate into our lives the motto of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Many leaders have given mankind cleaver mottos by which we can live.
The resurrection of Jesus sets Christianity apart from all other world religious systems. The apostle Paul made that quite clear when he explained to the Corinthian Church:
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Throughout the Book of Acts we see that the claim of the resurrection was the central historical fact of the early church evangelistic message. Luke begins his account of the Church by stating:
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
Look at Peter on the birthday of the Church (Day of Pentecost):
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
Paul concludes his defense by saying:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Throughout the Book of Acts you see that the resurrection of Jesus was the center of their evangelistic message:
Truly the message of the resurrection of Jesus is essential in the preaching of the Gospel to the unconverted. But wait, there's more. It is also the undeniable fulfilment of messianic prophecy. Jesus said:
“The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
The resurrection is also a key foundational doctrine upon which our faith as Christians is built:
During this season of remembering the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, may I encourage you to meditate on this wonderful and powerful truth which is God's ultimate declaration of the Love of Jesus:
“who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”