The resurrection of Jesus is critical to a solid understanding of the gospel. When talking about the doctrine of salvation, what is often emphasized in the contemporary evangelical literature is the death of Jesus and the benefits therein. What’s often missing is the resurrection of Jesus. When we look at the Gospels, though, we see Jesus talking about the resurrection. When we look at the rest of the New Testament, we discover the Apostles talking about the resurrection. Now, the death of Jesus is central to the gospel, make no mistake about it. But the death of Jesus is only one-third of the gospel. The other two-thirds of the gospel are the burial, and resurrection of Jesus. To be clear, I’m not only saying that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is all the gospel is—there is more to the work of Jesus than just the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is just as critical to an accurate gospel message as is the death and burial of our Lord Jesus. Not only is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus essential, so is the ascension of Jesus, His ongoing ministry as our High Priest/ Intercessor/ Mediator, and His soon return at His Second Coming.
In John 11:25-26, Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” These words of Jesus in John 11:25 are among the most precious and important words to ever fall from His lips. J.C. Ryle comments that Jesus “tells Martha that He is not merely a human teacher of the resurrection, but the Divine Author of all resurrection, whether spiritual or physical and the Root and Foundation of all life.”[i]
Jesus reveals Himself as the source of “the resurrection and the life”. We can hope in the resurrection because Jesus Himself has entered into death and risen from the grave. “The whole human race is plunged in death,” writes John Calvin. “Therefore, no man will possess life unless he is first risen from the dead. Hence Christ teaches that He is the beginning of life.”[ii]
“In him was life,” John said in chapter 1 of his Gospel testimony, “and the life was the light of men” (verse 4). Therefore, “All who face the recurrent death situations of life and wrestle with questions of death and life can find an answer only through faith in him.”[iii] To believe in Jesus is to receive the benefit not only of His life and death, but also of His resurrection; from Him through faith, Christians are entered into glory through the light of His open tomb. “Because I live,” Jesus said, “you also will live” (John 14:19).
If the resurrection’s beginning and source rests with Jesus Himself—with His divine person and saving work—then the middle of Christ’s resurrection promise deals with His answer to death: “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Here is the answer—the only real answer—to the problem of death. By trusting in Jesus, we gain the promise of resurrection life.
To believe in Jesus is to start living the resurrection life even now. We do not have to wait until we die to receive new life from Christ; His resurrection begins in us the moment we believe. This was Paul’s point in Ephesians 1:2 and 4-5—namely that the gift of God offers to anyone who will come in faith to Jesus. Those who believe in Jesus are freed from the power of death, even before they die, and they receive His never-ending life even now, to live in this world as those who have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Whether you have questions about the death of Jesus or the resurrection of Jesus, in this issue of Theology for Life Magazine we are exploring these issues to help skeptics understand the heartbeat of the Christian faith. Also, we’re aiming to help Christians grow in knowledge and confidence in the gospel message so they will share it with others all around them.
Wherever you are on the spectrum regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus, all of history revolves around Jesus. Jesus is the only Lord and Savior who can save. All other greats of world history have gone and are buried in the grave. Only Jesus rose again from the grave. Only Jesus can grant eternal life to those who believe in Him. All the philosophies and philosophers, along with the religions of the world, fail to offer what the biblical gospel delivers on—namely eternal life.
We encourage you to dive into this issue of Theology for Life and read it carefully, thoughtfully. No doubt, you’ll have further questions about these issues, which is why—at the end of this issue—we’ve provided recommended reading for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration. Take up and read, and learn about our great God in Jesus Christ, who came as a baby—although under the sentence of death for man’s sin—and lived a sinless life, died in the place and for sinners, was buried, and rose again. This Lord is coming back for His own to judge, rule, and to fully establish His Kingdom for the praise of His name and the joy of His Beloved.
In Christ Alone,
Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine
[i] (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, 3 vols. (Edinburg: Banner of Truth, 1999), 2:297).
[ii] John Calvin, New Testament Commentaries, trans. T.H.L. Parker, 12 Vols (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 5:8).
[iii] Herman Ridderbos, John: A Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 396).
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- To Focus on Jesus and His Resurrection—Spotlight the Bible by David Prince. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Biblical and Historical Arguments for The Triumphant Resurrection of Christ by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- “But Now”—Learning to Live in the Newness of Christ by David Schrock . Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Reigning with Christ on Daily Mission by Jason Garwood. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Book Review – Captivated: Beholding The Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection reviewed by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Three Critical Truths about Redemption by Brian Hedges. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Five Truths About the Resurrection of Jesus by Joseph Scheumann. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Three Critical Historical Evidences For the Resurrection of Christ by Matt Perman. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- The Three Offices of Christ by Matt Adams . Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Jesus The Divine Word by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Three Critical Truths About Propitiation by Chris Poblete. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Understanding the Gospel: Justification by Matt Perman. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- How to Deal with Guilt, Condemnation and Shame with the Gospel by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Christ Our Substitute: The Meaning of the Cross by Thaddeus Williams. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- The Incarnation: Jesus Fully God and Fully Man by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- What is the Doctrine of Justification? by Matt Perman. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Why Justification by Faith Alone is Necessary for Good Works by Matt Perman. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- 6 Things Christ Accomplished by His Death by Matt Perman. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- A Brief Word on the Gospel and the Old Testament by Charlie Handren. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Meeting Jesus At an Old Testament Feast by John Sittema. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- The Whole Bible in One Meal by John Frame. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- How Jesus Would Have Understood the Old Testament to Have Been Written to and About Himself by Nick Batzig. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- The Lamb of God, Worship and the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- The Incarnation and High Priestly Ministry of Jesus by Dave Jenkins. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- What is Jesus’s Evangelism Program? by David Schrock. Read the article in PDF or Web.
- Recommended Books on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Read the article in PDF or Web.