- Sunday, March 31, 2024

The most recent surveys by George Barna, the Gallup organization and the Pew Research Center show that approximately two-thirds of American adults define themselves as Christians. Given this fact, it should be safe to assume that millions of us also still care about what is indisputably the key premise of Christianity: the historical fact of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

The resurrection of Christ is not an allegory. It is not political propaganda. It is not merely a religious metaphor. The Resurrection is an actual event that took place in real time nearly 2,000 years ago. Hundreds of witnesses initially attested to it, and millions of believers have affirmed it for two millenniums. Stated simply, the Resurrection is the core of Christianity. Without it, there is no such thing as a Christian.

Let’s look at a sample of what could fill volumes to prove this point.

Peter told us that because “God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, we now live with great expectation, [and] a priceless inheritance.”

John recorded that Jesus was the “first to rise from the dead.”

Paul added: “If Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile. … If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

The earliest of all creeds, the Corinthian Creed, is clear: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. … He was buried. … He rose again [on] the third day. … He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that, He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once. … [Then] He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all, He was seen by [Paul].”

The Apostles’ Creed affirms, “Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and was buried … and on the third day he rose again from the dead.“

The Nicene Creed tells us that Christ “suffered, died, was buried [and] on the third day He rose again, in fulfillment of the Scriptures.“

Then we have the Athanasian Creed, which adds that Jesus “suffered for our salvation; descended to hell; arose from the dead; ascended to heaven, and is [now] seated at the Father’s right hand.”

From the first days of the church, it has been crystal clear that without the Resurrection, Christianity is a pointless waste of time.

Adrian Rogers once preached, “The Resurrection is not merely important to the historic Christian faith; there would be no Christianity without it.”

D.L. Moody echoed this: “The Resurrection is the keystone of the arch on which our faith is supported. If Christ has not risen, we must impeach all those witnesses for lying. If Christ has not risen, we have no proof that Jesus’s crucifixion differed from that of the two thieves who suffered with him.”

The resurrection of Jesus is an indisputable tenet of the Christian faith. Without it, we have nothing worthy of our devotion.

To quote John MacArthur: “The truth of the Resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The Resurrection is the pivot on which all Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter.”

“Whoever reads the New Testament seriously,” Erling C. Olsen said, “must acknowledge that one outstanding historic event alone spurred that small band of 11 ordinary men to an amazing task of evangelization in their generation. Defying every obstacle, [suffering] loss of home, persecution, even death itself, they evidenced the supreme relevance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

In short, Christians don’t claim Christianity because of Jesus’ exemplary life. Rather, as Lee Strobel writes, we “become Christian because the evidence is so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved his divinity by rising from the dead.”

C.S. Lewis provides one of the best summaries:

“Our Lord’s life and death were in no sense the basis of Christianity. … The miracle of the Resurrection and the theology of that miracle comes first; the biography comes later as a comment on it. Nothing could be more unhistorical than to pick out selected sayings of Christ from the gospels and to regard those as the datum and the rest of the New Testament as a construction upon it. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who [said] they [saw] the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ’gospel,’ no gospels would ever have been written.”

Charles Wesley sang out 250 years ago:

Christ the Lord is risen today;
Sons of men and angels say.
Raise your joys and triumphs high;
Sing, ye heavens and earth reply,

Happy Easter.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed.
Long live the true king!

Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.

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