The Relevance of Resurrection

What is the most important belief that you hold as a Christian? Maybe you think, “The authority of Scripture” or “The existence of a personal God.”

These definitely are incredibly important, fundamental beliefs. However, if the apostle Paul were asked this question, I think his immediate response would be “Resurrection.” Mentally, my answer is the same as Paul’s, however, I’m not sure that I always live that way. 

How Important is the Resurrection to You?

In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”[1] This makes sense. If the resurrection were not true, all of Christianity would be a sham. Yet when I share the gospel with an unbeliever, the resurrection doesn’t seem to naturally come up in much more than a passing sentence. 

I don’t think I’m the only one with this problem. Next time you pick up a tract explaining the gospel, read it carefully and look at what it says about the resurrection. I’ve found that most times, if it is mentioned at all, it will just be in passing, with a sentence like, “three days later Jesus rose from the dead and now he lives forevermore!”  We tend to focus on the fact that Jesus died so that we don’t need to have eternal death, but somehow we skip over the fact that He was raised so that we can have eternal life. 

Think back to the last time you shared the gospel with an unbeliever. Even if you mentally know that the resurrection is the most important fact of Christianity, do you convey that when you explain Christianity to others?

I think there’s a reason that we under-emphasize the resurrection. Many of us have never spent the time ourselves pondering its significance and relevance. 

The Resurrection Means New Creation is Coming!

Resurrection was not just a one-time event that happened to Jesus to bring Him back from the dead. The Christian hope is that all of us will one day be resurrected. Jesus’ resurrection is the prototype of this future resurrection. Jesus didn’t only die to cover our sins, He also was resurrected to defeat death not only for Himself but also for us! Jesus’ resurrection points forward to our future resurrection.

Part of the problem is that popular Christianity over the past few hundred years has largely adopted the idea that heaven is a non-physical place that we will one day float off to. However, the biblical hope is not for us to “go to heaven” someday. Our hope is for resurrection and new creation. In Romans 8, Paul notes that creation itself is groaning as it waits to be renewed.[2] (Note, I am not saying that heaven isn’t real, just that the Bible speaks about heaven coming down to a newly created earth rather than souls floating off to a non-physical place. Read Revelation 21 and 22 and compare them to Genesis 1 and 2 if you are interested in digging into this idea more.)

Tim Mackie provides a helpful example of how Jesus’ resurrection relates to new creation. If you have lived in a climate where winter means months of cold and snow, you know that it starts to feel very long and bleak. Eventually, a stretch of warm weather comes and the snow melts, revealing dead grass below. But pretty soon crocus flowers start to pop up and bloom, bringing specks of color to a drab world. Even if it snows again the next day, the world doesn’t seem quite so gray. Why? Because you’ve seen the crocus flower. You know that winter will not last forever. Summer is coming![3] In the same way, we can look differently at the pain around and within us. Jesus is risen! New creation is coming!

The Resurrection Means New Creation has Started Inside Me. 

Resurrection and new creation are not just future events. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says that if we are in Christ, new creation has begun.[4] Romans 6:4 shows that resurrection impacts us today, saying, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”[5]

Jesus wants to start resurrecting what’s dead inside of us now. All of our desires, thoughts, and intentions that have been crippled with death from our fall and rebellion against God can be exchanged for new life from His Spirit. While it is different than what our future physical resurrection will be, spiritual resurrection is something that begins in us now. 

Living in Light of Resurrection

So how do we live with the resurrection in mind? First of all, we need to start thinking about resurrection as an indispensable part of the gospel. In Acts 17, Paul emphasized resurrection so much that it was mistaken to be one of his gods.[6] In my conversations with people, I want them to see resurrection as the victory of God over sin and death, but also as their future and present hope if they choose to follow Jesus. 

Secondly, we need to plan for new creation. As Christians, we should not be seen littering and saying, “Who cares, it’s all going to burn up someday,” or be heard scoffing at initiatives to care for the earth. When we walk around this earth we should remember that it will be recreated one day, and treat it more like an antique awaiting restoration than a broken object destined for the dump. 

Finally, when horrible things happen around us and to us, we remember that winter will not last forever. The crocus flower has bloomed. Resurrection is coming!

Matt Jantzi grew up in rural Ontario, Canada. He is passionate about discipleship, personal evangelism, apologetics, and global missions. Matt loves encouraging other young Christians to radically follow Jesus, regardless of the cost. In his spare time, you can find him watching debates, studying systematic theology, or using sleight of hand magic tricks to share the Gospel with strangers.

  1. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001, 2007, 2011.
  2. Romans 8:18-25
  3. Mackie, Tim. [Tim Mackie Archives]. (2017, August 21). The Crocus Flower and the Empty Tomb [Matthew]
  4. 2 Corinthians 5: 17-18
  5. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001, 2007, 2011.
  6. Acts 17:18

2 thoughts on “The Relevance of Resurrection

  1. Amen brother. I like Christmas but I really love the resurrection. Because Jesus rose, so too shall we have that hope.

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  2. However essential to God’s work the resurrection was, someone pointed out to me that Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, pointed to Christ’s exhaltation to the right hand of God as the culmination of his work.

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