Why the resurrection is always an essential theological concept

As a student in a Baptist college I heard in a chapel service that it wasn't important whether Jesus literally and bodily resurrected from the dead. I was told as long as the influence of Jesus lived on in me, that was the important thing.

Denying the miraculous was not uncommon in our Baptist institutions almost a half-century ago. For those who get weary of hearing about battles for the Bible, let me remind you that eternal vigilance is necessary to preserve the truth. The battle for the Bible will never be over until Jesus returns.

The testimony of Jesus Christ is found in every book of the Bible. The Bible is our only reliable witness of the historicity of Jesus and His words. Jesus' resurrection was clearly evident on Easter Sunday to Mary Magdalene and the women at the tomb, Peter, the eleven disciples and the two disciples traveling to the village of Emmaus.

Easter is a good time to reintroduce others to the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus as the foundation of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Without the resurrection, the cross is a sad ending of a good man; with the resurrection, the cross is the sufficient sacrifice of the God-man. The apostle Paul put it plainly that "if Christ is not risen, your faith is in vain; you are yet in your sins!" (1 Corinthians 15:17). Without the resurrection, we have no hope; but with it, we have the assurance of eternal life.

With the resurrection's promise of a glorious future, believers will not live in eternity as disembodied spirits but will receive resurrected bodies like Jesus. "We know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). We have much to celebrate.

Christians observe the resurrection every Sunday when we gather to worship. A life-changing experience is available with the risen Lord. This is what Christianity is all about. To that end, the living Lord Jesus puts within us a desire to tell the Good News like the women on that first Easter morning.

It's easy to find bad news; let's be bearers of the Good News. He's alive!

Jim Richards is executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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