Belief In The Resurrection

This post is part of the the resurrection series (click to view the other posts in this series).

What do Christians believe about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? It's a very simple belief. There isn't much complication to it and there is only one nuance that I can think of (i.e., that it is a bodily resurrection and not just a spiritual one), yet there seems to be a casualness about the event and its importance even among Christians. Why is it that, outside of Passion Week, the resurrection tends to be put on the back burner when compared to the conversation surrounding Jesus' life and death? Why do we take it for granted?  Why do we tend to talk of being at the foot of the cross, but hardly ever continue on to the empty tomb?

I'm really pointing the finger at myself. I am guilty of this just as much as anyone. Why is it that I know the theology of the substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ, but I hesitate when discussing exactly what Christ accomplished in the resurrection? Why has it been difficult for me to articulate exactly why Jesus had to be resurrected? In the past I haven't had much to say beyond “Victory!”, which is a great answer, but is not really complete enough for me. In this series, we'll discuss the belief, theology and apologetics surrounding the resurrection.

Christianity is NOT a Blind Faith

"It seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it's useful and not because you think it's true." - Bertrand Russell

When Bertrand Russell said this, the religious academic institutions that had influence on him denied the resurrection. These academic circles believed that Christianity was primarily about becoming a better person and positively influencing society. They didn't need any “supernatural” event to forward this belief, so they allowed their worldview to be heavily influenced by the naturalistic/materialistic worldview that said that nothing could happen outside of nature. Their belief, therefore, was only in the fact that they felt Christianity was useful and not because they really believed it was true.

Russell saw through this logical inconsistency. How could anything that was not true be the basis for anything really useful? Even more so, these men were promoting a strict moral code, but how could this code be followed when the foundation of it is false?

The truth is that God does not call us to a blind faith. God does not tell us to believe, even if the story that establishes that belief is not true. God calls us to a faith that is based on history, on events that really happened, on events that are grounded in historical truth.

What Do Christians Believe About The Resurrection?

Christians believe that the resurrection is true, that it really happened. We believe that the New Testament documents are reliable and trustworthy, and that the story they tell about Jesus is true history. We believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and he did so bodily.

Our belief about the resurrection is summarized in the Apostles Creed:

“The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty”

and, in more detail, in the Westminster Confession of Faith (8.4 - Of Christ the Mediator):

“This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.”

What we believe is very simple, but believing it is difficult for so many. Today we are being bombarded from all sides that deny Christ and his resurrection, usually reaching it's peak during Holy Week. Hopefully this series will combat that and give you confidence in what you believe and why you believe it; that what you believe is really true and trustworthy; that the faith God gave you in Christ is the only faith worth having. In the next post we will discuss the theology of the resurrection.

This post is part of the the resurrection series (click to view the other posts in this series).