The bodily resurrection of Christ is a fundamental of Christianity. This means it defines the Christian faith. No one can be a Christian without it (1 Cor 15:14).
This may sound severe, but saying anything less neglects what the resurrection of Christ accomplished. Why does Christianity depend on the resurrection of Christ? What does it mean for us?
Here are five accomplishments:
1. To Declare Himself the Son of God
Jesus claimed the ability to raise his own self from the dead (John 2:19). This is the power of God! He told Israel the sign that proved he was the Son of God would be his resurrection (Matt 12:39-40 – Jonah came out of the whale alive!).
Paul also testifies to this resurrection declaration in Romans 1:4. If he did not resurrect, then he was a liar, not the promised Christ, and not God manifest in the flesh.
2. Payment for Sins
You may be thinking that it was through his death and shed blood that he provided the atonement for sins, and you would be right. However, if he did not resurrect, his death would not mean anything (1 Cor 15:17).
The resurrection of Christ not only proved he was the eternal God, the giver of all life, but that his work to pay for sins through his death was sufficient and complete. Without resurrection his death would have been a good effort, but would be like writing a check without money in the bank. It bounces.
His resurrection meant the check was cashed! The work was finished!
The surgery is not over until the doctor walks out of the surgery room. The cooking is not done until the turkey comes out of the oven. Your sins were not paid in full until Christ rose from the dead.
3. Salvation Offered
Jesus Christ is the Saviour. If the Saviour is still dead, then how would you know why he died, or that he died willingly, or that he died for you? Scripture describes Jesus as a mediator (1 Tim 2:5), but if the mediator is dead then future reconciliation is impossible.
Christ revealed the mystery of the gospel after his resurrection.
Christ could only offer free salvation by grace (his work for you) through faith if he had already finished the work, and he was not dead. If Christ is still dead, then our faith is dead, and so is any hope of salvation.
4. Righteousness Imputed
The resurrection of Christ proves his own righteousness. After dying for the sins of the world, if he were not perfectly righteous in so doing, he would not deserve to live again.
It is only by his resurrection that his righteousness can be imputed to us. The gospel does not stop with our sins being put on Christ, it must finish with his righteousness being imputed to us (2 Cor 5:21). Without Christ’s resurrection in righteousness, we could never be justified by faith (Romans 4:22-25).
5. Give Power of Eternal Life
Christ’s bodily resurrection exhibited the power to raise humanity from the dead.
The promise of eternal life would be nonsense if the Saviour ended his life with death never to live again. There is no life found in a dead Saviour.
The Lord Jesus Christ defeated death through his resurrection, alive forevermore, to guarantee life eternal. It is the power of his resurrection that he offers to us through the gospel. Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, we could not live the Christian life. There would be no life in Christ.
Life and immortality was only brought to light at the appearing of Christ after his resurrection (2 Tim 1:10). Without Christ’s resurrection we are all dead.
All of these things depend on the bodily resurrection of Christ. Without these things being accomplished we do not have any reason to worship Christ, preach Christ for salvation, declare righteousness in Christ or eternal life through Christ.
In summary, we would not be Christians unless Christ rose from the dead. It is no coincidence that most of these reasons are found in the epistles where the mystery of Christ is revealed.
It was Paul who said:
“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:” – 2 Tim 2:8
Christianity is not a religion filled with religious followers of a religious figure. The Christian faith rests on the resurrection. It is by that gospel of the resurrected Christ that we are saved.