In Defense of the Resurrection (Part 2)
In the first part of our Defense of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we answered the question – “How do we prove with certainty that Jesus rose from the dead?” If you have not read that part of the defense, please read it now – then return here to read this second part.
Now, on to questions 2 and 3!
2nd question – What does the Lord’s Resurrection mean to Christians? It means our Savior is alive! Jesus is Alive! We do not follow the traditions and teachings of a dead religious leader – like thousands of human religions in the history of our world. We follow the Teachings of the Living Son of God Who will Rule and Reign forever! It also means we will live and rule and reign with Him forever. If Jesus does not return for His children by the end of this century, most of us who are reading this right now will be dead – but that does not mean the end of our existence. We will “live” for eternity because Jesus Rose from the dead and is Alive in Heaven. Here’s how the Apostle Paul explained it –
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Isn’t that amazing? Our resurrection is tied directly to Christ’s Resurrection. Jesus has become the “firstfruits” of those who have died. The Greek word is aparche and was used for people or things consecrated to God. It was primarily the offering of the first and best of one’s possessions to God. It was also used for people superior in excellence to others of the same class. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead. You and I will be among those who follow Christ in being raised from the dead. Our future depends on our Savior.
You probably think your resurrection from the dead will be physical, but many Christians now, and throughout the centuries, have not believed that. To them, the resurrection is spiritual rather than physical. That’s because many of them believed Christ’s resurrection was spiritual rather than physical. So which is it? Physical or spiritual resurrection?
The New Testament writings are clear that Jesus rose physically from the dead. People talked with Christ, walked with Him, touched Him, ate with Him – what anyone would do with someone who had a physical appearance. The disciples were terrified the first time Jesus appeared to them because they thought they had seen a ghost. Jesus told them – “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39) Jesus made it clear from the beginning of His relationship with His disciples after the Resurrection that He had a physical body (flesh and bones).
Jesus also had supernatural abilities to appear and disappear, walk through walls, ascend into the sky – but that did not change the fact that He had a physical Body. The truth is that the physical body of a resurrected being goes through an amazing change that actually affects it at the cellular level. Even as Christ’s Resurrected Body was physically supercharged, so our bodies will be changed at our resurrection. Here’s how Paul explained it.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
The words “corruptible, incorruption, mortal, immortality” speak to the change our bodies will go through in the twinkling of an eye when Jesus returns for us. The Greek word for “corruptible” is phthartos and is something that is liable to decay and destruction. “Incorruption” is aphthartos and means not liable to decay or destruction. What happens when a body dies? It decays – “dust to dust.” What happens eventually to things? They decay – they rust and break – they are destroyed. People are mortal – thnetos – subject or liable to death. In the resurrection, God will change our bodies from mortal to “immortal” – athanasia – literally to “deathlessness.” We may die once, but never twice. That is the miracle of the resurrection!
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
So, what do Christians do while we’re waiting for Christ to return for us? ” Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” The word “steadfast” – hedraios – means “seated” and speaks to being fixed on a belief. “Immovable” – ametakinetos – means “firm, not moveable.” “Abounding” – perisseuo – means “exceeding measure, above the ordinary, extraordinary.” “Work” – kopos – means “toil resulting in weariness, laborious toil, trouble”. Paul said that in light of the Truth about the Resurrection, Christians should be fixed in our beliefs, firm in our position, and extraordinary in our labor for the Lord.
3rd question – What does the Lord’s Resurrection mean to the world? Well, I have good news and bad news. First, the good news.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” Titus 2:11-15
The good news is that the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. In Romans 4:24-25, Paul wrote – “It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” That’s the Grace of God! Jesus was delivered up because of our “offenses” (paraptomata – obstacle that causes someone to stumble and fall down) and was raised because of our “justification” (dikaiosis – act of pronouncing righteous). This present age is the time God wants us to learn about His Grace. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously and godly, while we’re looking for Christ to take us to Heaven to be with Him forever! That’s the good news.
Now for the bad news. The opportunity for an unsaved person to experience God’s Grace ends at their death. People who die without being saved will be raised from the dead when it’s time for Christ to judge them according to their works. It will not be a pleasant experience for them.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
God gives everyone born into the world a lifetime to decide what they’ll do about Him. However, once their lifetime is past so is the opportunity to receive the Gift of Eternal Life.
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are the most credible and proveable events in ancient history. Everyone’s future depends on what they do with Jesus – and what He does with them.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”