(Note: for those of you who’ve been lamenting the lack of pictures and embedded media in the last few posts, there’s a video a the very end just for you!)
I’ve been working through the essential beliefs of the Christian faith – those facts that are necessarily true for Christianity to be a worldview based on transcendent truth rather than man-made fantasy (such as Darwinian evolution, hyper-rationalism, or any of a multitude of religious traditions or ‘roll your own’ brands of paganism.
This installment deals with the central, core tenet of Christianity – the death, burial, and resurrection of the Christ and the implications of those historical events upon the eternal destinies of every single human being who has, does, or ever will live.
As usual, let’s start with a list of just what the essential beliefs are:
1. The infallibility of the Bible in the original manuscripts
2. God’s sovereign rule over all creation
3. Human depravity
4. The necessity of God’s grace
5. The virgin birth
6. Christ’s sinlessness
7. The full humanity and deity of Christ
8. The triunity of God
9. The atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Christ
10. The necessity of faith
11. Christ’s second coming, final judgement and reign.
The first thing we come to with #9 is that weird word ‘atoning’. Just what does that mean, anyway?Simply put, it is theologian’s shorthand for ‘to be reconciled, or brought into right relationship with God’.
We know from essentials 2, 3, and 4 that we cannot bring about that reconciliation for ourselves – Romans 3 makes that quite clear. Essentials 4 -8 show Jesus’ qualifications to provide this reconciliation; #9 describes how He did it. Let’s take a quick look and unpack it.
First, let’s review how the death of the Christ provides our atonement with God. Throughout the Bible, we find these foundational truths:
1. God is holy, righteous, and just.
2. The penalty for sin – any disobedience of God’s directives – is death
3. We are ALL guilty of at least one sin
4. The only substitutionary payment must be in kind, meaning the death of someone who is innocent of sin.
5. Jesus the Christ, who was both God and human, is the only sinless human who ever has lived.
Therefore, the death of Christ is the only payment for the penalty of sin that can be acceptable. It is so because it was the voluntary blood sacrifice of the ONLY sinless Being who was fully human. It was also paid for by God himself – Jesus wasn’t just some exceptionally good guy that God killed instead of us, He was God incarnate who died Himself for us!
So what’s the big deal about Christ’s burial? it seems a bit unimportant… and it would be, except that from day three, there were those who sought to convince people that either Jesus didn’t really die, or His body was moved, or Mary and the disciples went to the wrong tomb, or some other such nonsense. Jesus’ three day burial is important because it demonstrates that He was actually dead. If He hadn’t been, there would have been no atonement.
Which brings us to the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus the Christ is the central historical event in human history. Without this definitive proof of the deity of Christ, His power over sin, death and decay, and the fulfillment of multiple prophetic statements throughout the Bible His death and burial has no meaning.
The resurrection is the only way to demonstrate that God indeed has not only the will and desire to provide an means of escape from the death and condemnation we so definitely deserve, but the power to do so.
It is obvious to anyone who seriously thinks about the implications that no one who denies the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus can legitimately call themselves a Christian. It is a sad commentary on the spiritual and intellectual laziness and apathy rampant in the Western countries that not only do many claim the title Christian while denying this core belief of the faith, but many in the church allow them to do so!
Shame on us.
Some online resources for further study:
Randy A. Brown has an article on this topic here that is packed with Scripture references.
Grace to You gives a detailed examination of the “Amazing Burial of Jesus” that looks at the historical, theological, and prophetic implications of the death, burial and resurrection.
Wayne S. Walker looks at the topic through the lens of the book of Hebrews here.
Creation.com has a good article about the Importance of the Resurrection, but be warned: it has an auto-starting video.
And, lastly, as promised, here’s a Chuck Missler video: