Your View: Guest Column - The Resurrection: Significant or not?
BY TONY WATTS
As I began this column, I was torn by the need to present the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus and the necessity of discussing its significance. That is when I decided to compromise and deal with both, as space allowed.
First, and perhaps most significantly, is the fact that the resurrection is foundational to the Christian faith. If true, then Christianity is, well, true. But if not true, according to Paul, it stands as a horrible and well-played hoax. Hence, the significance of the 12 historical facts presented by evangelical Christian apologist, historian, and philosopher of religion Gary Habermas that individually and collectively confirm the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. He tells us that:
(1) Jesus died due to the rigors of crucifixion;
(2) Jesus was buried;
(3) His disciples doubted and despaired because His death challenged their hopes;
(4) The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered to be empty just a few days later;
(5) The disciples had real experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus;
(6) The disciples were transformed and were even willing to die for the truth of these events;
(7) This gospel message, including the resurrection, was the very center of preaching in the early church;
(8) The gospel was even proclaimed in Jerusalem, the city where Jesus died;
(9) The Christian Church was firmly established by these disciples;
(10) The primary day of worship was Sunday — the day Jesus was reported to have risen;
(11) James, Jesus’ previously skeptical brother, was converted when he believed he saw the resurrected Jesus; and finally,
(12) Paul, a leader in the persecution of the Church, was also converted by a real experience he believed to be the risen Jesus.
The Resurrection, then, verifies the Christian faith and sets it apart from all other belief systems. It alone is true, and that is significant.
Second, not only is the Resurrection foundational to the Christian faith and its truth claims, but it convincingly argues against the godless naturalism that now permeates our academic landscape. It handily militates against the notion that we are the products of mere matter plus time plus chance, and declares human beings infinitely more than the sum of our total parts.
The Resurrection, then, substantiates the very opposite. It verifies our creation in the image of God and reveals the intrinsic value of every human being, be they newly conceived or very old, and as controversial as it may be, it also confirms the creation of male and female as complimentary partners and marriage between them as the only divinely intended and valid marital paradigm.
It confirms the biblical account of the fall, the sinfulness of the human heart, and the human tendency, since that historic rebellion, to suppress and pervert God’s loving self-revelation (Romans 1:18ff). The Resurrection verifies the actual intervention of God throughout human history and that he ultimately spoke to us through his Son (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Finally, it confirms the fact that upon the cross and on the day traditionally known as “Good Friday,” this same Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for sinners, marking, in fact, the Father’s full acceptance of His sin offering. Hence, all who come to God by him will be eternally saved.
Now, that is significant.
Tony Watts of Thomasville is author of “Love Still Wins (...God...Hell, and an answer to Rob Bell).” Tate Publishing release: Summer 2013. He can be reached at Tony@link2eternity.com