Christianity is a historical religion in the strongest sense. Christianity not only occurred a historical phenomenon in the first century, but also certain historical events form the bases for Christian belief (e.g., the creation week of Genesis, the virgin birth, the execution of Christ, the verbal inspiration of the first-century prophets who wrote the original Bible documents).
For the Christian, there is no more significant historical event than the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The apostle Paul made this very point in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:3-5; emp. added).
Then, Paul gave three reasons why the resurrection is so important:
- If Christ has not been raised, we cannot trust the Old and New Testament prophets (1 Corinthians 15:13-15). If Christ is still dead, then the Bible cannot be relied upon, because it so pervasively teaches about Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. In this case, those of us who are teaching the Bible “are of all people most to be pitied” (15:19). Instead of serving Christ, we should “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (15:32).
- If Christ has not been raised, then we are lost in sin (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). If Jesus is still dead, then He is in no better position to save us from our sins than any other man who died and was buried.
- If Christ has not been raised, we have no hope of being raised from the dead ourselves (1 Corinthians 15:18). Jesus’ resurrection served as our guarantee that death will not be our end, but if he was not raised then our hope for conquering the grave is vain.
Thankfully, the historical and biblical evidence has proven that Jesus really did conquer the grave, and we can rest assured that “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). Are you prepared for that great hour?