Jesus' resurrection essential to Christianity
by The Rev. Larry Young
A beautiful statement about the solid security of the Christian is given in the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, written in Germany in the middle of the 16th century:
"Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?"
"A: That I am not my own, but belong -- body and soul, in life and in death -- to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: In fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me whole-heartedly wiling and ready from now on to live for Him."
The quote above from the Heidelberg Catechism was written in the year 1563.
What strikes me is the thought that the Easter message is the same today as it was back then. In connection with that question and answer, I include the wonderful text of scripture found in I John 5:11-13. God's word says, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
It doesn't get any clearer than that middle verse: He who has, has; he who doesn't have, doesn't have.
With a young man who had just finished a Coke, I once used as an illustration of this his empty Coke can and a pencil I had in my hand. I put the pencil in the can and pushed it over to him. I said, "If you have the Coke can you have the pencil, don't you?" I pulled the can back to myself and said, "Now that you don't have the Coke can, you don't have the pencil. Let's say the pencil represents 'eternal life' and the Coke can represents 'Jesus.' Do you see? If you have Jesus, you have eternal life, if you don't have him, you don't have eternal life." I pushed the can back a forth a time or two as he said, "Yes, I get it!"
The Bible makes it clear that the reason Jesus came was to offer eternal life to all who would turn from sin and trust in him for eternal life.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead in victory over sin, death and the devil demonstrates that he has the power and authority to grant eternal life to those who trust him.
This is why the resurrection is so crucial to historic, Biblical Christianity.
The great missionary of the early church, the apostle Paul, wrote in a letter that, if Christ were not resurrected, our faith would be in vain and we would be "of all men most miserable." (See I Corinthians 15:17-19.)
Jesus is central to the Bible and his resurrection is central to the gospel, the good news of eternal life.There is no way to get around it. Jesus' resurrection is essential to Christianity. It is at the very heart of the message of the Bible. It was what changed the scared-to-death disciple into fearless witnesses to Jesus and his resurrection.
In a marvelous transaction, God explains in his word, in II Corinthians 5:21, that he (God) made Jesus to be sin for us, Jesus who knew no sin, so that we (you and I) might be made the righteousness of God in him. Wow. That's why the Christian can say, "Jesus took my sins away. I'm free. I'm forgiven. I'm cleansed. I'm clean before a righteous and holy God, who created me and all things."
God, who created, is the one who recreates. We who believe are new creatures in Christ.
As the hymn states, "Clothed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. ... My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness." We know we can trust Jesus because of the glory of his resurrection. What a sure and certain hope!"
Amazingly, just as in his days on Earth, people today don't take advantage of this offer of eternal life.The Gospel of John it tells us, "He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not." -- John 1:10,11.
Alas, today, for whatever reasons, many, many folks reject this offer from the risen Christ to receive the gift of eternal life. What about you?
God pours out his love by sending his son, demonstrates his power by the resurrection and freely offers eternal life to all who believe. Yet, perhaps even the majority spurns his love, questions his power to resurrect, and rejects or neglects his offer of eternal life.
What about you?
Because he arose from the dead in victory and power, Jesus has proven he has the power of eternal life -- and he can bestow it on you.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Christ is risen, indeed! Amen.
Larry Young is the pastor of Brookside Presbyterian Church, (Associate Reformed Presbyterian) located at 1122 Old 421 South in Boone. For more information call, (828) 262-5020 or visit http://www.boonebrooksidechurch.org.