“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”-Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:12-22
This post is specifically directed to two groups of people: those who are preaching in Jesus’ Church and those who are in earshot of those preaching in Jesus’ Church.
This is my message and my conviction:
We need some ‘Resurrection Day’ reruns from you!
The message of ‘the resurrection of the dead’ is not the message that comes AFTER the gospel. It IS an essential component of the gospel.
And yet, how often is it missing from our ‘evangelistic’ sermons? Think about how many people share the gospel: ‘If you were to die tonight are you sure you would go to heaven?’ or ‘What do you think will happen when you die?’ or ‘Jesus died on the cross for your sins. Believe in Jesus so you may spend eternity with Him in heaven!’
I confess that I myself have used these questions to ‘share the Gospel’. But, I now regret that in many ways I have not been asking the right question. In many ways, I was not sharing the Gospel.
One teacher I have mentioned that he once attended an Easter service at a solidly Christian church and the Pastor spent nearly the entire service on Jesus’ death; he only mentioned the resurrection at the end of the sermon. Many Pastors are tempted to do this because they believe that most unbelievers come on Easter Sunday and that Jesus’ death on the cross is the heart of the gospel. But is this true? I believe the cross is half of the heart of the gospel; the other half is the resurrection. Pastors: don’t preach a ‘half-hearted’ gospel message!!!
Here is the rub: The Gospel without any mention of the Resurrection is really no Gospel at all.
If in our gospel message people are left dead or ‘left behind’ bodiless in heaven, have we truly and fully shared the gospel???
Look at most of the tracks being passed around today. I can pretty much guarantee that most tracks end with the hope of us living an eternal, bodiless existence in heaven with Jesus. This is anti-gospel!!!
The Gosepl is Jesus’ death AND resurrection AND our future resurrection.
So, Pastors preach the resurrection often and with passion. Don’t save your sermon on the resurrection for Easter Sunday.
I have a theory of why the resurrection is not often preached and not often found in our sharing the gospel. I believe that Christians in a very “rational” culture such as America think they can “get away” with sharing ‘heaven’ as the ultimate hope for a Christian because it is a complete unknown. To actually share that Jesus’ has all authority over death and will raise our bodies one day is something that takes faith to believe in because no one in our generation has seen a body rise from the dead. We’ve avoided something that is a tangible part of the reality that everyone knows: that when bodies die they go in the ground and decay. So, our culture deduces that there is no way our bodies will rise. Therefore, we avoid talking about the resurrection of the dead in sharing the gospel because we probably think it is something that people will consider as totally absurd.
But really think about this. If we leave out the resurrection, how much different are we from almost any other religion in the world? The eastern religions don’t believe in the resurrection, the muslims only talk about paradise after death, and even most jews don’t believe in the resurrection.
What should concern you even more is a recent poll of evangelical Christians were asked about a future resurrection and more than sixty percent did not believe in a future resurrection of their bodies. Pastors, you have a lot of work to do!!!
The resurrection really means that Jesus wins over everything. Every religion either tries to portray death as normal, ignore death, or find a way ‘around’ death. But, Jesus is the answer to death. Really think about what we are giving up when we fail to teach and preach the resurrection. (and not just on Easter)
So, Pastors preach the resurrection often and well. Church, urge your pastors to preach the resurrection more. Christians, share the resurrection whenever you share Jesus
If the Corinthian passage I began with does not make a strong enough case for the Resurrection’s importance, then listen to how the apostles saw ‘The Gospel’:
Acts 1:21-22: Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Acts 2:22-32: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:
” ‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”
Acts 4:2: They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 4:33: With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
Acts 17:18: A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
Acts 17:32: When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
Acts 23:6: Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
Acts 24:14-15: However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
Acts 24:20-21: “Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin— unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ “
Acts 25:18-19: When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.
Romans 1:2-4: the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of Godby his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:5: If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4: Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
Philippians 3:10-11: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-16: We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
1 Peter 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
1 Peter 3:18: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit
1 Peter 3:21: and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”
Revelation 1:18: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” –Jesus