In a recent survey conducted by George Barna, more than two-thirds of American adults presently define themselves as “Christians.” With that being the case, it should be safe to assume there are millions of folks who still care about what is indisputably a key premise of Christianity; the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Christ is not a fairytale. It is not political propaganda. It is not merely a religious metaphor. The resurrection is an actual event that took place in real-time nearly 2,000 years ago. Hundreds of witnesses initially attested to it, and millions of believers have consistently affirmed it throughout the millennia. Stated simply, the resurrection is the core of Christianity. Without it, there is no such thing as a Christian.
Let’s look at just a brief sampling of what could fill volumes to prove this point.
Building upon the historical accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (at least three of whom suffered torturous deaths for their belief in a resurrected Christ), Saint Paul writes the following, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. … If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile… If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
This is pretty clear. Without the resurrection, Christianity is a pointless waste of time. Or, as Adrian Rogers says, “The resurrection is not merely important to the historic Christian faith; there would be no Christianity without it.”
D.L. Moody echoed the same. “The resurrection is the keystone of the arch on which our faith is supported,” he said. “If Christ has not risen, we must impeach all those witnesses for lying. If Christ has not risen, we have no proof that the crucifixion of Jesus differed from that of the two thieves who suffered with him. If Christ has not risen, it is impossible to believe his atoning death was accepted.”
The resurrection of Jesus is an indisputable tenet of the Christian faith. Take it out, and we have nothing left worthy of our time. In the words of John MacArthur, “The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter.”
“Whoever reads the New Testament seriously,” said Erling C. Olsen, “must acknowledge that one outstanding historic event alone spurred that small band of 11 ordinary men to an amazing task of evangelization in their generation. Defying every obstacle, [suffering] loss of home, persecution, even death itself, they evidenced the supreme relevance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
In short, Christians don’t claim Christianity because God promises we will live a more pleasant life than the atheist. God makes no such promises. Rather, as Lee Stroble writes, we “become Christian because the evidence is so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved his divinity by rising from the dead.”
Christians understand the difference between temporal ease and eternal hope. “Because of the empty tomb, we have peace.” says Paul Chappell, “Because of His resurrection, we can have [hope] during even the most troubling of times because we know He is in control of all that happens in the world.”
Charles Surgeon proclaimed, “We do not believe that Jesus was the only one that ever rose from the dead. We believe that every death-bed is a resurrection; that from every grave the stone is rolled away …; that God is with us … in our grave; and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, and triumph!”
Charles Swindoll adds: “The benefits [of the resurrection] are innumerable. To list a few: Our illnesses don’t seem nearly so final; Our fears fade and lose their grip; Our grief over those who have gone on is diminished; Our desires to press on in spite of the obstacles are rejuvenated. … Our identity, as Christians, is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: ‘He is risen, indeed!’”
Charles Wesley sang out 250 years ago, “Christ the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say. Raise your joys and triumphs high; Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply. Hallelujah!”
Happy Easter. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Long live the true king!
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, most recently, “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, But It’s Good.”