Saturday, April 23, 2011

Contemplating the Resurrection of Christ


As I write this the evening before Resurrection Sunday (Easter), I can't help but think of how much trouble evangelicalism is in these days. Not so much from attacks by those on the outside, but from a cancer eating away from within, i.e. from those who style themselves as evangelicals, yet waste no effort in casting doubt on core doctrinal truths that the Church universal has held to for 2,000 years.

Right now, the doctrine of Hell (everlasting, conscious punishment for those who reject Christ) is under increasing attack — or renewed attack, depending on your perspective. As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am waiting for some pastor/author to pop up and say something like, "Well, we don't REALLY need to believe every jot and tittle when it comes to Christ's resurrection. Maybe it was spiritual, not physical. Maybe it was a symbol of hope..." You get the idea.

The Apostle Paul had a rather strong warning for those who would toy with dismissing the resurrection of the Lord . . .

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 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. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 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.

There are consequences for unbelief. And if we are still in our sins because Christ was not raised, I'd say we are in a whole world of hurt. Paul emphasizes that truth very powerfully. But thankfully, he doesn't stop there. He reassures us of something seen by many, many witnesses. Christ WAS raised, and for those who place their trust in Him, there is the promise of eternal life.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death (1 Corinthians 15:9-26).

That is a wonderful thought for Resurrection Sunday. Happy Easter!

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