Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Significance of the Resurrection

by Ron Livesay

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in all of history. Without it, we have no Gospel, no salvation, and no hope.

Scoffers make light of it and call it a myth or a fairy tale. They do this because they actually understand its significance, and the truth of the resurrection must be undermined if Christianity is to be trivialized. Even some who claim the name of “Christian” minimize its importance. Some believe the resurrection was only a “spiritual” resurrection, not a bodily one. In other words, the body of Jesus is still in the grave, but He rose in a figurative sense to give us hope of a better life, or some such nonsense. Others will say that the resurrection is “only a doctrine, and after all, doctrine is divisive and unimportant. We need to emphasize unity, not doctrine.” This idea is very dangerous. Without biblical doctrine, there can be no truth, and Christianity has no foundation. It is reduced to opinion based on feeling. Such foolishness is typical of modern-day false Christianity.

When I was teaching at a Christian school in Temecula, CA, I had a student in my junior Bible class who was a Muslim. Although he was not a Christian, he was a very good and knowledgeable Bible student and got an “A” in my class. The class met the last period of the day, and he stayed after school many times – for a while it was almost daily – to discuss the Bible. Sometimes he would stay five minutes and sometimes he would stay up to half an hour. We had many good discussions of Scripture.

One day he said the following: “Mr. Livesay, I have to give you this – if the resurrection really happened, then Christianity is true.” He understood the significance of the resurrection. Christianity stands or falls based on the truthfulness of the resurrection. If it really happened, Christianity is absolutely true. If it did not happen, Christianity is a hoax.

My student was quick to add his opinion that “of course, the resurrection didn’t really happen, because Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.” He told me he believed in The Gospel of Barnabas, but that he rejected its teaching that Judas died on the cross instead of Jesus. Instead, he believed that the individual who actually died on the cross was one of Jesus’ brothers, but he offered no proof for this other than his own opinion. I pointed out that it didn’t make sense that one of His half-brothers would have taken His place just so Jesus could claim to have been raised from the dead to prove He was the Messiah, especially since His brothers did not believe in Him until after the resurrection. He thought about it for a minute, and said, “I think you got me on that one.”

The real point here is that my Muslim student and friend actually understood the significance of the resurrection far more than it is understood by many professing Christians. The Scriptures make this significance very clear. “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. But now Christ is risen from the dead…" (I Corinthians 15:12-20, NKJV).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead. That is a fact of history, absolutely proven and utterly impervious to criticism. Regardless of all the dishonest skepticism that has been thrown at it, we can be confident that “…now Christ is risen from the dead…” and Christianity is validated.

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