Paul makes a fascinating exclamation at the end of this section of scripture as he addresses Agrippa the king. He says,
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Of all the many doctrines and teachings of Christianity, resurrection is the single most important and the one that causes the greatest controversy. It is important because if there was no resurrection there is no Christianity for we Christians worship and praise the RISEN Christ.
And it is controversial because the world cannot accept that it is possible for a man to be resurrected. They consider this question from a scientific perspective and completely disdain the very idea of resurrection as science has not been able to duplicate this event despite years and years of research.
Both of these issues of importance and controversy are resolved only through faith. The only way to see the truth of this matter of resurrection is to approach it through faith by coming to The Lord and seeking His Holy Spirit who will reveal the truth of it to each individual.
It is by faith that we are saved and it is by faith that we believe Jesus Christ was resurrected and appeared to many before His ascension to sit at the right hand of the Father.
Indeed today even more faith is required for unlike the apostles and disciples of that day, we do not see Jesus walking amongst us nor do we have the eyewitness accounts of those who did see the resurrected Christ. And that is why a greater blessing is pronounced on us today than those for we have faith without being able to see. As Jesus said in John 20:29 when He proved His resurrection to Thomas who doubted the word of the rest of the disciples.
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We have the words of those who were eyewitnesses written in the bible and we have other witnesses that testify to the truth of this matter. We have the Holy Spirit to guide and teach and to reveal the truth to us in a manner that we accept and believe, and that may be different for every person.
And we know it is truth for there is no lie in the word of God for God cannot lie. His word in the bible is truth for it never fails. And if He cannot lie and He states the resurrection is real, then it IS real. He sets His seal to the fact of the truth of resurrection through giving us His Holy Spirit.
The offer of the Holy Spirit came through the resurrection as the new covenant was revealed and set into motion. Just as the old covenant was ratified by the death and pouring out of the blood of goats and bulls, so too the new covenant was ratified and set in place by the offering of the blood of Jesus Christ. It is a better way for it opened the way to be set free from sin, set free from the law, set free from the passions of the flesh and to receive the forgiveness, mercy and grace of God.
It was also only possible for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon all mankind after the resurrection for that is the offering and promise of the new covenant. It was prophesied that God would pour out his spirit on all flesh in the latter days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we saw this begin at Pentecost when the disciples first received the gift of the Holy Spirit with the signs of speaking in tongues and prophesy.
Prior to the coming of Jesus and his death and resurrection, a few select prophets had received the Holy Spirit. But now the offer is open to everyone for God established the way by which He would not hold our sins against us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, so that God could give man grace to receive the gifts needed to begin to transform man into the image of God.
All this occurs ONLY because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if there had been no resurrection none of this would be available. We would still be in the pre-Christian processes of living under law and under sin.
Paul points out how important the resurrection is in 1 Corinthians 15:12-29.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
He says here that if there was no resurrection then we are still sinners, our faith is futile and we are even misrepresenting God. Furthermore we are to be pitied if there is no resurrection for we are living in some kind of a delusion. And even more, what it means that if we hold to the faith now and suffer all the sufferings we have and will go through for the sake of our belief in Jesus Christ, then it is pointless because when we die there is nothing more.
But, Paul continues on and we believe also that Jesus WAS resurrected as we see in verses 20-28 and that our faith is NOT in vain but will lead to life in Jesus Christ.
And all of this rests upon faith in the fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.
Resurrection is the most important teaching in Christianity and it is the one doctrine that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. And through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our faith in the God who has done this we receive all the gifts, grace and benefits of the Father to enable us to become perfected in Jesus Christ and to be able to stand with Him at His return.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Chris Wittwer)
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