Let's do this in three parts, shall we? A, B and C...
A. What the Resurrection proves about the existence and Self-revelation of God
Christ's resurrection was an historical event(!) which vindicates Jesus' pre-easter claims of divinity and provides retrospective confirmation of God's existence and involvement in history. It shows that atheism is bankrupt as a worldview and that there is a God - not just any deity (or a whole bunch of 'em) but the God whom the Judeo-Christian faith speaks of and who has revealed Himself in the Bible. To quote Gary Habermas:
What all this means is that IF the Resurrection occured (an event which comes out VERY HIGH on the historical likelihood chart) there should be no more debate about the identity of the true God, let alone whether or not He exists."It is reasonable to conclude, in light of Jesus' unique claims about himself and the historical likelihood of the resurrection, that he was in the best position to interpret the meaning of this event. His testimony is that, as the chief miracle, his theistic perspective was verified by an act of the God of the universe."
"The only time in history that a resurrection can be ascertained, it happened to the only person who ever made specific claims such as these: that he, personally, was deity, that he was God's chosen messenger and only agent of eternal life, and who taught that his miracles (incl. his resurrection) were accrediting signs of verification.."
"On the Christian thesis, Jesus was raised from the dead and was thereby shown to be correct concerning his theistic perspective (i.e. the Biblical one). The God of the universe raised Jesus, approving both Jesus' personal claims to deity and the central thrust of His mission - to offer the opportunity for eternal life."
History must count. Without it, our beliefs run the risk of being built on solid air. Jesus' resurrection is the Christian faith's ultimate validation, laid out for all to evaluate - I can only beg us to not be indifferent to the great Easter Event, nor cold to the truth-claims of the One to which it occured, this Jew from Nazareth...
- Naturalism (or 'this-universe-is-all-that-exists-ism'!) would be utterly bankrupt;
- Competing religious/metaphysical revelations or ideas other than that contained in the Bible would have to 'factor in' the historicity of Jesus' resurrection;
- Any Scripture-based faith (or any claiming to be such) denying the divinity of Christ would need radical revision.
B. What the Resurrection signifies in the Christian worldview
1. Christ's death and resurrection was a victorious act of war upon the Devil, the decisive blow by which Satan was outsmarted, defeated and driven out.
"Jesus too shared in our humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death - the Devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Heb 2:14-15)
"(Jesus said), 'Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out'." (Jn 12:31)
"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the Devil's work." (1 Jn 3:8)
"For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." (Col 1:19-20)
Gregory Boyd, in God At War, summarizes:
"...in saying all things shall be ultimately reconciled to the lordship of Christ, Paul is simply saying that nothing will ultimately be able to effectively oppose this lordship. There is 'peace' throughout Christ's cosmos because everything is put in its proper place. In the case of the unredeemable hostile powers of darkness, this place is under Christ's feet." (p.248)
"...the central means by which the Creator has regained supremacy in His creation was by dying on the cross and rising from the dead...The cross was a cosmic event that defeated the enemies of God, enthroned the Son of God, and thereby in principle liberated the whole cosmos from its bondage to an illegitimate evil ruler." (p.249)
We should understand the Resurrection first and foremost - and NOT apart from Christ's death on the cross - as a grand victory over the forces of evil. This is its No.1 significance.
It has given us an exalted Christ and a defeated Devil who knows he's running out of time (and so will be working over-time). No doubt evil is still with us and there is much work yet to be done, but we can now manifest Christ's victory here on earth knowing that our Enemy is mortally wounded.
It is only a matter of time before every knee - in heaven, earth and
hell - shall bow and every tongue confess that 'Jesus Christ is Lord' (Phil
"And Christ is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." (Col 1:15)
"...the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body." (Phil 3:21)
Christ's resurrection is the embodiment in advance of a New Creation in which believers are blessed with gloriously new bodies and will share the redemption of the world. Pinnock and Brow, in Unbounded Love, put it beautifully:
"The promise of resurrection is one of human life fulfilled and perfected
in the presence of the triune God...our relationship with God is stronger
than death." (p.36)
We are saved from the power of the Devil and from the condemnation that follows. Christ is our fore-runner; His resurrection precedes and guarantees ours!
Of course there's a lot to more to say on this...but for now
I hope that I've given a sufficient impetus to plunge deeper into the wonder
of life-after-death in the Person (and promises) of Jesus of Nazareth...
Your Fellow Beggar
Inviting You to the Bread of Life,
AL, Dec 2000