Romans 6:5 (ESV)
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
One of the weaknesses that I see in modern gospel presentations is a lack of emphasis on the resurrection. Those who are trying to give more than a simplistic presentation will discuss with great clarity the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and our need to repent and believe. But, somehow, in the midst of our theologically rich discussions of faith in the person and finished work of Christ, we gloss over the resurrection. We will tell people who Jesus was, why he died, how that death is a propitiation, how Christ is our substitute, and many other elements of the atonement, and then we follow that up with, “and he was raised from the dead,” as if that is an afterthought.
I understand the desire to focus on the atonement. I love a discussion of propitiation. But, I wonder how much we lose when we fail to remind people of the significance of the resurrection.
The resurrection proves the claims of Christ. The way that we know the gospel is true is that Jesus is alive. The gospel is not about proving a philosophical point. The gospel is not about overcoming scientific opposition to young-earth creationism. The gospel is not about a discussion of popular morality. The gospel is about this simple fact: Jesus is alive! If Jesus is alive, his claims are true. If Jesus is alive, his work is finished. If Jesus is alive, there is no reason at all for any person not to bow down to him and call him Lord.
The resurrection proves the completion of the work of Christ. Death is the wages of sin. Christ paid that debt on our behalf. How do we know it was enough? How can we tell that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the behalf of others? How can we know that we do not have to add to the work of Jesus to get ourselves to heaven? We know, because Jesus finished with death and rose from the grave.
In the verse above, we see that our entire hope for our entire eternity rests on the fact that Jesus is alive. Our unity with Jesus in his sacrificial death guarantees us a unity with Jesus in his resurrection life. We have hope of life after death because Jesus lives after he died. We have an eternity to look forward to that is far better than anything this life has to offer because Jesus is alive in that eternity now. We do not, as Randy Alcorn mentioned in a post the other day, need a “bucket list,” because when our earthly lives end in the here and now, we will enter into a living eternity because Jesus is alive after his crucifixion.
Christians, let’s not forget the resurrection. Resurrection Sunday is approaching. We will soon be singing “Christ the Lord is risen today, hallelujah!” But let us see the significance of this truth. We have life and hope, not only because Jesus died, but because he also returned to life. If Jesus was not raised, we have no hope. Because Jesus is alive, we have infinite hope, peace, and joy.