Whole Counsel Theology

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A brief comment on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

I'm a guest writer of an online religion and news journal; the link has been added to the links bar at the right. This is the first article that I wrote for it.

The Resurrection of Christ is the most important event in the history of the world. Without the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, then Christianity would have absolutely no foundation. Everything depends on it. The Apostle Paul rightly said this (quoting from the ESV):
1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
1 Corinthians 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

Without Christ being raised, a Christian's faith is futile, and we are still in our sins.

So then, how is the Resurrection important? John MacArthur wrote an excellent paper on it a while back, and I am going to quote his main points in this presentation and build on them a little bit, to attempt to explain the critical importance of the Resurrection of Jesus.

MacArthur's first point is The Resurrection Proves the Truthfulness of the Word of God. This is a critical point. It appears to be backwards; that is, people would normally expect the Word of God (The Bible) to prove the Resurrection, but the reverse here is true as well. Allow Dr. MacArthur to explain:
To sum up Peter’s argument [in Acts chapter 2], his logic would go like this. Psalm 16 refers to someone being resurrected. It can’t be David. Messiah was to come as David’s greater son, out of David’s loins. The Psalm refers to Messiah…Messiah will therefore be raised from the dead. And then he concludes in verse 32, “This Jesus God raised up again.”

The Old Testament then in Psalm 16 predicts the resurrection of the Messiah. If the Messiah doesn’t rise. If Jesus Christ doesn’t rise from the grave, the Bible is not telling us the truth. But the resurrection of Christ proves that the Bible speaks truth.

So, in order for the Bible to be reliable, the Messiah (Jesus) had to rise from the dead, and indeed He has!

MacArthur's second point is The Resurrection Proves the Deity of the Son of God. This, of course, is not to say at all that Jesus is another God, but is One with the Father. They are the same God, yet they are different persons (three when you count the Holy Spirit). They are the SAME in essence and EQUAL in power and glory; they form the One God, Who is Three in One. In any case, this isn't meant to be an exposition of the Trinity, so I'll move on with MacArthur's quote:
Romans 1:4 is the testimony of God the Father. He is the supreme witness. In Acts 13:30 it says, “God raised Him from the dead.” And God did it to give testimony to His deity. In Romans 6:4 it tells us as well that Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father. The Father wanted Him raised from the dead so through His glory or His power, His attributes, His essence, He raised Christ from the dead. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 19 talks about the surpassing greatness of God’s power. How great is it? Verse 20, “It is the power with which He brought about the resurrection of Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.”

Again, God is the one who raised Christ. And He did it to give testimony to His deity. He is become in His resurrection both Lord and Christ. The resurrection, Peter says in Acts 2:36, shows Him to be Lord and Christ.

God raised Him to His right hand, that is, the Father raised the Son to His right hand. This is a position of power and authority, indicating that the Father is sharing His power and authority with the Son! Since God so flatly stated that He would not do this with anyone, then the Son must be God.

MacArthur's third point is The Resurrection Proves the Completion of the Salvation of God. I love this one:
Listen to Romans 4, wonderful truth, truth on which we build our lives. “He was delivered up because of our transgressions and was raised because of our justification.” In order for God to justify us, in order for God to declare us righteous, He had to raise Jesus from the dead. When it says His name shall be called Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins, that’s exactly what God wanted. But in order to accomplish it, He had to raise Christ from the dead. That was indispensable evidence of the completion and efficacious value of His death. It was the Father’s way of saying…Your death accomplished its intended purpose. It was God raising Him from the dead to affirm that what He did on the cross satisfied God’s holy justice. If He didn’t rise, then all He is is Jesus Christ Superstar and His death is the death of an ordinary man and has no saving value. But He did rise from the dead and He was raised by the Father for our justification. He was raised in order that in the sight of God we might be made righteous, in order that in the sight of God we might be without sin, in order that our sin might be dismissed and forgiven.

And when He was raised it was as if God said…I accept the sacrifice…I accept it.


That pretty well says it all on that one. :)

MacArthur's next point is The Resurrection Proves the Establishment of the Church of God. MacArthur states:
Fourthly, the resurrection proves the establishment of the church of God…the establishment of the church of God. Our Lord said He would build His church. Do you remember these words in Matthew 16? We preached on them a few weeks ago. “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” What are the gates of Hades? It’s a Jewish expression meaning what? Death. I’ll build My church and death won’t stop it…not your death and not Mine. Jesus was, in effect, saying…I’m going to die but I’m going to rise…death is not going to stop Me from building My church. Ephesians 1:20 says that Christ was raised from the dead, seated at the right hand in heavenly places, far above all rule, all authority, power, dominion, every name that is named not only in this age, in the age to come. And He’s put all things into subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. When He rose He took His seat, He became the head of the church. The resurrection is essential to the establishment of the church. If there’s no resurrection there’s no church. Anybody that says they belong to a church that doesn’t believe the resurrection doesn’t belong to a church. The true church is the church of those who have been given life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Since Jesus was raised from the dead, then we have an authenticated start to the church of Jesus Christ. I agree with MacArthur completely; if someone won't confess the Resurrection of Jesus, then they have no place in the church. Paul, after all, gives it as a requirement for salvation.

Lastly, MacArthur gives his fifth point: The Resurrection is the Guarantee of Heaven. He brings it out with this comment:
Listen to these wonderful and familiar words, Jesus speaking, John 14, “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places, of it were not so I would have told you for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be also.”

Right there Jesus is predicting His resurrection. He’s headed to death but He says, “I’m going right through death into the Father’s house to get a place ready for you and I’ll be back to get you.” If there’s no resurrection, there’s no place prepared for us. If there’s no place prepared for us, there’s no heaven for us. Everything depends on the resurrection.

I can only AMEN that! Since Jesus is alive and in Heaven preparing a home for us, we, as children of God (if we have placed faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior) have a guarantee of Heaven. Were Jesus not raised, then He wouldn't have been in Heaven to prepare any of it, and we'd have no hope.

Indeed, everything depends on the Resurrection.

Soli Deo Gloria!

David Hewitt

3 Comments:

  • I heard MacArthur preach this morning in person. There is NOTHING "brief" about either one of you!

    By Anonymous Patrick, at Friday, April 28, 2006 9:56:00 PM  

  • You mentioned that someone who does not believe in the resurrection has NO place in church. Dave, I know your heart and I have to imagine that someone who does not believe in the resurrection of Christ in church is precisely where they need to be. If not in a local church then I hope they are surrounded by loving Christians who show them the resurrection everyday by the way they love them.

    peace

    By Anonymous Patrick, at Friday, April 28, 2006 10:00:00 PM  

  • Patrick:

    Thanks again for gracing my blog with your comments; they bring humor and insight. :) I guess if I'm not brief like MacArthur, then I'm in good company! :)

    You raise a good point about what I said. I wasn't very clear, and it was easily misunderstood:
    "Since Jesus was raised from the dead, then we have an authenticated start to the church of Jesus Christ. I agree with MacArthur completely; if someone won't confess the Resurrection of Jesus, then they have no place in the church. Paul, after all, gives it as a requirement for salvation."

    What I mean is the membership of a church. Such a person is not truly a Christian, and has no right to claim that he or she is one.

    You are completely right that someone who does not confess the resurrection (or any unbeliever for that matter) is welcome to attend a church's worship meeting or be among Christians. Often it is in those ways that God saves people, for ib those situations, the Gospel will be communicated to them (we hope).

    I hope that clarifies things, and thank you again for pointing this out!

    SDG,
    Dave

    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Saturday, April 29, 2006 9:36:00 AM  

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