by BJ Rudge, Ph. D.
photo by Doug Mastrianno
It is extremely important that Jesus rose from the dead because the resurrection is the very foundation of the Christian faith. Paul stressed this point to the church at Corinth where many people were claiming there was no resurrection of the dead. In response, Paul asserts that without the resurrection there would be no Christian faith ––
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)
First, if in fact Jesus had not risen from the dead, He would obviously be a liar or a lunatic. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus predicted He would die and then three days later rise from the dead (Matthew 12:38-40; Mark 9:9-10; Luke 18:31-33; John 10:17-18). If He made these assertions and they did not come to pass, then He was either an insane individual, or else one of the biggest deceivers in history.
Second, if Jesus was not resurrected then the Gospel documents would be false. Each Gospel testifies to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). If He had not, then the Gospel accounts would lose all credibility and be discarded as historically unreliable documents. No longer would the Gospels be seen as primary sources concerning the things that have happened (Luke 1:3-4), but a product of later editing and manipulation on the part of the early church.
Third, without the resurrection the very testimony of the church would have been destroyed. The central theme of the early church was the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:37-43; 13:27-37; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). If the resurrection had not occurred, then it would have been impossible for Paul and others to persist in affirming that it had in fact occurred –– especially in the presence of hostile eyewitnesses.
Fourth, all Christians would still be in sin and under the judgment of God. Paul highlights this point to the Corinthian believers ––
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)
Finally, without the resurrection no one would have the eschatological hope of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates His authority over death. Those who place their faith and trust in Him have the assurance that death has been conquered. As Jesus said to Martha who was grieving the loss of her brother Lazarus –
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)
The resurrection is the crucial point of Christianity whereby it can either validate or discredit the Christian faith. This is why the apostle Paul stressed to the Corinthian believers that their faith would be in vain if Christ did not rise from the dead. The resurrection is part of the foundation of Christianity, without it the Christian faith could not stand.
If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth. (Henry M. Morris and Henry M. Morris III, Many Infallible Proofs –– Evidence for the Christian Faith)