Terry R. Baughman
“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8).
The cornerstone of the Gospel is the absolute certainty of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection, the message of Christianity becomes just another religion, just another volume of philosophy, or an alternate view for the meaning of our existence. Without the validity of the resurrection there is no Gospel and there is no life-giving promise. All that is left are empty words and futility.
Paul went to great lengths to collect the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He devoted a chapter in his letter to the Corinthian believers to establish credibility for the outrageous claims of the early Church, that Jesus rose from the grave and He lives! Paul declared a gospel that saves and continued with a listing of all those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, “He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, .… After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:5–8).
The reason that Paul was so thorough in his defense of the resurrection was the fact of its supreme importance to the gospel message, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” He went on to say, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:13–14, 17).
The redemptive quality inherent in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is realized in the reality of His resurrection. Paul also wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Paul preached a Gospel of power firmly anchored in the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is why he wrote so possessively as he reminded Timothy of the resurrection according to “my gospel.” (See the text above.)
The miracle of the resurrection caused all of the disciples to reflect on the words of Jesus recalling His claims that He would rise again from the dead. Each of the Synoptic gospels record the self-fulfilling prophecy of Jesus, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31, also Matthew 16:21, Luke 9:22). In spite of this, the angels at the empty tomb had to remind the disciples of these words, “Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ And they remembered His words” (Luke 24:6–8).
This was the message the apostles proclaimed everywhere they went.“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). The resurrection is the power of the Gospel. Be renewed in the Spirit as you remember His resurrection!
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).