This is the Village Church Q & A podcast where our goal is to create digital, shareable and helpful content. To make disciples who will go, grow and overcome.
Pastor Michael: Welcome to the Village Church Q & A podcast. Pastor Michael here with you. I am in the studio with Pastor Craig Jarvis.
Pastor Craig: Good to see you.
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Pastor Michael: Here we go. All right, we are answering this week a new question every single day after Easter about the resurrection. Here’s the question for today. Is believing in the resurrection optional for Christians?
Pastor Craig: Oh, that’s my cue.
Pastor Michael: That’s your cue.
Pastor Craig: There you go. Yes, moving right along. It is necessary for several reasons. The biggest one is because it is the climax of the gospel story. It is the climax of history that this death and resurrection of Jesus three days later took place in real time. Paul reiterated that in the New Testament. It was prophesied in the Old Testament. His crucifixion was prophesied numerous times.
Jesus taught about it. He said, if you tear down this temple in three days, I’ll raise it up. Jesus bragged that He was going to raise it in three days. All of these things happened because they were all pointing toward this death and resurrection. Even the feasts and the festivals of the Old Testament had an aspect of the death and resurrection of Jesus attached to them that were fulfilled in his resurrection from the dead. As we’ve already discussed in First Corinthians 15, it talks about if Jesus is not raised, then we’re not raised from the dead either. It is necessary that we believe in that. One of my favorite verses is Romans 10 verse 9, ‘because if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved’.
There’s an aspect that in order for us to really grab a hold of our salvation, we have to believe in this with our heart. That’s all in.
Pastor Michael: Yes. So if somebody comes to you and says listen, I love the morality of Jesus, the altruism. I even believe that I need someone to pay the price for my sins like I’ve done something wrong but this whole resurrection thing, that’s just a little too far for me. What would you say to them?
Pastor Craig: I would say the death of somebody on your behalf is a good thing but it’s not enough. You have to have a perfect person, a perfect sacrifice. In Jesus’ case you had to have THE perfect sacrifice. This holy blood that was shed to cover our sins. The resurrection was really, in a sense, a demonstration to us that that action did what it was meant to do. So the resurrection doesn’t necessarily clinch our salvation. The death on the cross clinches it. The resurrection was more so, so that we would understand that it has been finished. It is completed. He is the victor over death, the grave and our sin. Jesus rose from the dead really to demonstrate to us that He has the authority from God. That He has the admiration of the Father. That He has the approval. That the sacrifice did what it was meant to do.
If you think about it, when Jesus rose from the dead, how many things did He do to show us He was actually human again? He could have just went to heaven and called it good and that’s fine, we would have still been saved from our sins. His resurrection, that was demonstrative of the fact that He beat it. He beats sin in the grave. In fact, that’s why the Bible calls Him the first fruits of those who die. Because when He rose from the dead, His resurrection validates the truth, that if He rose, we will rise someday.
As we said before, Lazarus rose and He died again, poor guy. All the people that were raised in the Old Testament, they rose from the dead, but then they died again. Jesus is the only one who rose and never died again. Because of that He’s called the first fruits of those who die in Jesus Christ. He stuck around for fifty days afterwards. He appeared to over five hundred people at one time and hundreds and hundreds of other people. He had breakfast. He said to His disciples, they couldn’t believe it. They thought He was an apparition. He literally invited them in John 21 verse 13. He gave bread to them and ate with them. He invited them in Luke 24 verse 39 He said, “Behold my hands and my feet. Reach out and touch me and see.” So He has showing us, by handing us objects, by eating, by asking people to touch Him, that He is not an apparition. He has bodily risen from the dead and left us an empty tomb that nobody can explain.
Pastor Michael: For every one of his followers, every gospel writer, the resurrection for them is non-negotiable. For Jesus, what you just highlighted is so valuable it was important to Him if you were going to claim my name, my resurrection is essential. Then all the gospel writers, all the writers in the New Testament, over and over again they mark the resurrection as the essential distinction. You have to believe in it.
Let’s say somebody came up to you and said, listen, I am a Christian, but I don’t believe in the resurrection. Craig, do you think I’m going to go to heaven?
Pastor Craig: I would say that heresy was dealt with a long time ago.
Pastor Michael: It’s funny, because sometimes people think “Who are you to say that”? Um, two thousand years of church history. There’s a pretty good track record of validating.
Pastor Craig: There’s no new idea under the sun. People have thought of this before and these church fathers, they gave their lives to debate these things, have dealt with all of these questions before. Docetism was one of the biggest heresies to come up because it said that He rose in spirit, but He didn’t raise in body form. In fact it comes from dÃ³kÄ“sis in the Greek which means to seem. It seemed like He had risen from the dead and that actually bread gnosticism because it said that the flesh is bad, but the spirit is good. So the flesh can’t be resurrected because the flesh is bad, but the spirit is good, so we only rise in spirit. That has been dealt with by the church. You can read church history on that. Saint Ignatius fought about this big time. Later on Irenaeus and Tertullian both took this on. Then a bunch of other different mystical ideas came out to try and explain this because to deal with somebody that raises from the dead and is never going to die again, is a huge differentiation from what we’re used to in this life. But the fact of the matter is this is the miracle Jesus did to demonstrate to us, if He rose from the dead, we physically rise from the dead some day too. That’s what we hang onto as Christians.
Pastor Michael: Yeah. It’s funny, the three biggest versions of Christianity globally is going to be Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant. What do they all share? Absolute, firm, total conviction in the historical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Craig: Even the Sadducees in Jesus day did not believe in a physical resurrection, they only believed in the spiritual. When Paul was on Mars Hill, when He talked to them, they thought, oh, this is an intellectual guy. We can listen to Him. He’s really trained. The Bible says when He got to talking about the resurrection of the dead, they shut down.
Pastor Michael: I also appreciate that Jesus, theologically, lined up with the Pharisees. He was not a Sadducee. He was a theological Pharisee. He would say, listen to what they teach you but just don’t do the things they do, they’re complete hypocrites. But this idea that the Pharisees had a confidence in a resurrection of the dead, that was actually one of their theological distinctives as a group of theologians in the first century. Jesus lined up theologically with the Pharisees in multiple levels. He just thought they were despicable people who were greedy and took advantage of the people, especially the poorest. So we get to, is the resurrection an essential, do I have to believe it, it is optional? You have to believe it. In fact, historically, you cannot use the name Christian if you reject it. Unfortunately, I think there is a notion, a buffet approach to spirituality.
Pastor Craig: Yeah, virgin birth, I’ll take that. Resurrection, I’m not going to take that.
Pastor Michael: Right. Unfortunately culture permits that, but God doesn’t. If the word of God testifies clearly to it, we actually don’t have an option not to believe it. We don’t get to pick and choose. I know that’s hard for a lot of people because when they come to Christ, it’s very hard for them to have this mindset where they say, okay. My world view, what I thought was true, my morality, I am actually going to put it all to the side and I’m going to adopt Jesus’ world view, and Jesus’ morality and Jesus’ ethical code.
Pastor Craig: That’s surrender.
Pastor Michael: It’s gut wrenching, because Jesus lived two thousand years ago in a different context and culture than American culture. The two are actually pretty opposed to each other at their core values. This is why it is so challenging for some to surrender their minds to Christ because Jesus doesn’t think like an American. He has a different value set than the inherent American value set. So when we look at this and I know we’re like, listen, know that the idea of the Miraculous is very hard for the Westerner. I get that. But if God made you, He can raise Jesus from the dead.
Pastor Craig: So true. The problem for us is we want proof. We’ve got to have proof. To be honest with everybody that is listening, if you did an honest search into the evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the harder proof to prove, would be that He did not raise from the dead. There’s way too much evidence. Time Magazine, in December of 1999, declared Jesus to be the man of the millennium. There’s only one thing that gets you to be the man of the millennium two thousand years after your death and that is you’ve got to pull off a miracle that changes the world and doesn’t die.
Pastor Michael: That brings us to our next question, which is, is the resurrection historically verifiable? Pastor Craig and I are going to go after that tomorrow.[/bg_collapse]