It is the central message of the New Testament. His resurrection means everything to you.
Here are the states of Christ we have been following in this series:
If you would like an explanation of the entire image, please click on this link:
1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image
This post does not defend or explain the probability of the resurrection. Rather, this post assumes that Scripture is reliable and describes an historical event about four decades before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70.
If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
Here are the biblical passages, which are too long to quote here, so they are linked: Matt. 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-21:25. Click on them.
Now let’s get right to the theology of the resurrection.
Though I do not belong to the Reformed churches, I can still learn something from them on such basic ideas as the resurrection. Reformed theologian Prof. Louis Berkoff lays out three significance points about Christ’s resurrection:
(1) It constituted a declaration of the Father that the last enemy had been vanquished, the penalty paid, and the condition on which life was promised [was] met. (2) It symbolized what was destined to happen to the members of Christ’s mystical body in their justification, spiritual birth and future blessed resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 5, 9, 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14, 15:20-22; 2 Cor. 4:10, 11, 14; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:14. (3) It also connected instrumentally with their justification, regeneration, and final resurrection (Rom. 4:25, 5:10; Eph. 1:20; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:3) (p. 346)
Let’s unpack and expand his formal explanation.
1.. His resurrection means Christ is our Lord.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9)
Confession out loud with our mouths and heart-belief is very important—life-and-death important.
2.. It means our regeneration or new birth.
The born-again experience is new birth:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Pet. 1:3)
He made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Eph. 2:5)
3.. It means our heavenly position is secure.
While we live on earth, we are in the heavenly realm by faith and in part, not in fulness, as we will be when we are resurrected:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)
As written, that promise and truth is remarkable. Let’s accept it into our minds and hearts right now.
The next verse (Col. 3:1) goes with that one, above.
4.. It means we set our hearts on things above.
One very important practice in the Christian life is the renewing of our minds.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col. 3:1)
Those two verses (Eph. 2:6 and Col. 3:1) are remarkable. We are raised up with Christ, and now we set our hearts on him. We do not fight from a weakened position or point of view. We fight from his position in the heavenly realm. Confess and meditate on him and our heavenly position.
5.. The resurrection offers us power to go through tough times, even death, if necessary.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)
This kind of persecution happens around the globe, but it is evil. We should not deliberately seek to be persecuted. But if we are, then God will help us with his resurrection power.
6.. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom. 8:11)
We have the resurrection Spirit and power in us, who gives new life to our mortal bodies.
7.. His resurrection breaks the power of death.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” … The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:54, 56-57; cf. Is. 25:8)
[Grace] has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim. 1:10)
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Heb. 2:14-15)
8.. The resurrection ensures that sin does not dominate us.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. … In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. … Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Rom. 6:4, 11, 13)
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Cor. 15:17)
The latter verse implies that Christ has been raised, our faith is vibrant and useful, and we are no longer in our sins. See the next verse, too (Rom. 4:25).
9.. Our faith in the resurrection ensures our justification.
The faith we have for salvation comes from God working in our hearts before we are saved, so let’s not treat faith as a self-effort.
[T]o whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Rom. 4:24-25)
Justification means we are declared righteous, so we can stand before God in our prayers in this life and survive his judgment when we die.
10.. His resurrection is our hope and guarantees that we will receive perfect resurrection bodies.
Jesus’ resurrection tells us what our bodies will be like when we die and go up to heaven, and our physical bodies get resurrected.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27)
By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. (1 Cor. 6:14)
Jesus is the “first-fruits.” But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Firstfruits implies there will be others after him. Here they us—us:
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42-44)
And this passage reinforces our hope in a new resurrection body:
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:53-54; cf. Is. 25:8)
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep [died] in him. (1 Thess. 4:14)
The latter verse indicates that we will participate in his return.
David L. Turner in his commentary Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2008), pp. 683-84, has a magnificent section in his commentary on “Without the resurrection,” which I modify here:
Without the resurrection…
Jesus’s redemptive act of dying for sinners would not have divine endorsement. The Father would not declare that Jesus’s death was victorious and the blood shed on the cross to initiate the new covenant would be effective (Rom. 4:25).
His promise that he would rise from the dead (12:40; 16:21; 17:9; 20:19; 26:32) would be empty, and his death would be scorned or pitied, but not believed or obeyed (1 Cor. 15:16-19)
Jesus could not save people from their sins, just as the angel had promised (1:21), for he would be cursed with infamy because he hanged on a tree or wooden pole (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13).
There would be no apostolic foundation of the church (16:18), since the apostles deserted him at his arrest and death. Yet his resurrection turned them back and restored them and made them into disciples (26:27-29; 28:7, 10, 16-20).
There would be no complete model of sacrificial living. By dying to self, you gain your soul. Genuinely abundant living occurs when one gives up one’s own life, but without the resurrection the new orientation is short-circuited (10:38-39; 16:24-26; 20:26-28; 23:12; cf. Rom. 6:1-11).
There would be no eschatological shalom to rectify all earthly wrongs and renew the world (19:28). Shalom means peace and prosperity and wellbeing, and this will happen at the end of the age. But it would not happen without the resurrection.
The martyrs whose blood cries out from the ground would experience no justice or vindication (23:35; Rev. 6:9-11). Those who commit violence would not be held accountable without an ultimate reckoning (13:37-42; Dan. 12:2). “Satan would win the cosmic battle.”
People could not hope for their own resurrection and reward (13:43; 16:27; 25:31-40; 27:51-52). Jesus’s ethical teaching said that there would be judgment and reward in the coming kingdom (4:17; 5:12; 7:1-2, 21). What would become of the thrones of the twelve apostles and the rewards Jesus promised to all his disciples (6:9-21; 13:43; 19:27-29; cf. Dan. 12:3; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21)?
The kingdom would never come to earth and be implemented fully, as it is in heaven (6:10, 33).
Jesus’s “climatic saving act of dying for sinners by crucifixion would lack interpretation and proof of divine acceptance.” The preaching of the cross (Gal. 6:14; 1 Cor. 18-25; 1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 2:9, 14; 9:12-14; Rev. 5:6-9) would be insignificant and meaningless.
To sum up, the gospel must include the cross and the resurrection, side by side. The gospel must be communicated with the saving power of the cross, and the proof of the saving power of the cross comes through the resurrection. “Any ‘gospel’ that does not place Jesus’s resurrection alongside Jesus’s death is not the authentic message of Jesus and the apostles.”
Scriptures for the resurrection:
Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:18, 31; 23:6; 24:21; 25:19; 26:8, 23
Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:4-5; 8:11; 10:9
1 Cor. 15:3-8, 12-23, 32, 42.
2 Cor. 4:10, 14; 13:4
Eph. 1:20; 2:5; 4:10
Col. 2:12; 3:1-4
1 Thess. 4:14
1 Tim. 3:16
Heb. 1:3; 10:12; 12:1
1 Pet. 1:21; 3:18-22
Rev. 1:5, 18; 2:8; 5:6-10
Thus, the apostolic community, some of whom were infallibly inspired to write the NT, believed that the resurrection was the foundation of their faith. So it should be the foundation of our faith too. Are we better than their generation?
So how do I come to know Jesus more intimately?
The resurrection of Christ is the central message of the New Covenant Scriptures. God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to pay the penalty for sin, but God did not leave him on the cross or in the grave. He has been raised from the dead. Those numbered points, above, the benefits or outflow of the resurrection.
ARTICLES IN “DO I REALLY KNOW JESUS?” SERIES
1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image
2. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was the Preincarnate God
3. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was God Incarnate
4. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Took the Form of a Servant
5. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Came Down from Heaven
6. Do I Really Know Jesus? Why Did He Become a Man?
7. Do I Really Know Jesus? Thirty Truths about His Life
8. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Sinless
9. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Died for You
10. Do I Really Know Jesus? Did He Descend into Hades to Preach?
11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead
12. Do I Really Know Jesus? What Was His Resurrected Body Like?
13. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Resurrection Changes Everything
14. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Appeared to His Disciples
15. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Ascended into Heaven
16. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Ascension Means Everything
17. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Is Seated at Right Hand of Father