The Resurrection

The Resurrection as a “Comfortable Sign” of the Believer’s Justification

GoodwinIn his book, Christ Set Forth, Puritan writer Thomas Goodwin (1600-1679) includes a chapter about how the Christian’s faith is supported by the resurrection of Christ. In other words, Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the 3rd day provides us with assurance that the price for our redemption really has been fully paid by Christ on the cross, and has been accepted by God as satisfaction for our sin.  Goodwin writes,

“Although Christ’s obedience in this life and his death past do alone afford the whole matter of our justification, and make up the sum of that price paid for us . . . , so as faith may see a fullness of worth and merit therein, to discharge the debt; yet faith has a comfortable sign and evidence to confirm itself in the belief of this, from Christ’s resurrection after his death. It may fully satisfy our faith, that God himself is satisfied, and that he reckons the debt as paid.” (p.62)

Have you ever thought about the resurrection that way? If you are a believer in Christ, you can look to Christ’s resurrection as a “comfortable sign” (i.e. a sign that gives you comfort and assurance) of the reality of your justification in Christ!

This is just part of what Goodwin understands the Apostle Paul to be saying in Romans 8:34, where we read:

“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

Christ’s resurrection puts God’s exclamation point on the gospel!

The Fundamental Apologetical Fact of Christianity

BB Warfield 2How important is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? In his book, The Person and Work of Christ, B.B. Warfield writes,

“From the empty grave of Jesus the enemies of the cross turn away in unconcealable dismay. Christ has risen from the dead! After two thousand years of the most determined assault upon the evidence which establishes it, that fact stands. And so long as it stands,  Christianity too must stand as the one supernatural religion The resurrection of Christ is the fundamental apologetical fact of Christianity” (p.543).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the “fundamental apologetical fact of Christianity.” It is the evidence and argument for the Christian faith from which the enemies of the cross still turn away in utter dismay. Facts, as the old saying goes, are stubborn things, and the resurrection of Christ is still the ultimate immovable object.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

He is risen!

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Such is the common greeting on Easter Sunday in many Christian churches.

Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In a sense, every Sunday (also called “the Lord’s Day”) is also a commemoration or celebration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Sunday was the day of the week on which Jesus rose triumphantly from the grave.

How important is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ?

The apostle Paul said the the resurrection is one of the most important truths of the Christian faith.  In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 he writes:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . . .

So the resurrection (along with the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ) was in accordance with the Old Testament – it was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

And the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the true Christian faith – it is (to use Paul’s words) “of first importance.”  It is no side issue – it is fundamental and essential to the gospel.

It is so important that, later in the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul goes on to say that if not for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity is utterly meaningless.  Such faith would be useless.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19 ESV)

Think about what he is saying here – if not for the bodily resurrection of Jesus, there would be no forgiveness of sins, no eternal life, not even any truly positive influence or result in this life.  He says that if the gospel only gives us hope “in this life only” – such “hope” is really no hope at all.  Such a “hope” would make us the most pathetic, pitiful people on the face of the earth. (Think about that next time you consider the gospel according to liberalism.)

It was the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ that turned the ancient world on its head and that continues to do so today.  It proves that He is exactly who He claimed to be – the Son of God (Romans 1:4).  It is the one thing that proves that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the behalf of sinners was sufficient.  He was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).  It is the guarantee of the future resurrection and eternal life of believers in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).  And it is the one thing that assures us that our labor in the gospel is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

In his classic book, Christianity & Liberalism, J.Gresham Machen writes,

“What was it that within a few days transformed a band of mourners into the spiritual conquerors of the world? It was not the memory of Jesus’ life; it was not the inspiration which came from past contact with him. But it was the message, “He is risen.” “(p.42)

He is risen.  The truth of that statement makes all the difference in the world . . .and the world to come as well!

He is risen indeed!