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If Christ is not raised


Published: 19 April 2019 (GMT+10)

There have always been people who deny the resurrection. The first to deny the resurrection were the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus as Messiah, who bribed the guards to say that the body had been stolen by the disciples. In Corinth, some in the church, influenced by Platonic ideas about the afterlife, denied the resurrection, instead preferring an ethereal, disembodied existence.

Today, skeptics raise questions about the accuracy of the historical accounts of the Gospels. Some point out the rather basic fact that dead bodies, once dead, tend to stay that way. Some suggest that maybe there is a natural explanation, such as the ‘swoon theory’, or that the disciples hallucinated the resurrection appearances.

However, the Apostle Paul is clear that the Resurrection is at the very foundation of our faith. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. … If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19). In view of its importance, every Christian should be prepared to explain and defend the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.

The trustworthy eyewitness accounts of the resurrection

The very first Christians received the Gospel by word of mouth from eyewitnesses of the resurrection. Today, we only have access to these accounts through Scripture. Can we be confident that these accounts are trustworthy? We certainly can.

First, we know that the Gospels were written by who they’re attributed to. Matthew and John were disciples present at the Resurrection. Mark was recording Peter’s account, and Luke was a historian with ties to the apostles. All of these people were more than capable of writing a reliable account with eyewitness authority.

Second, we know when they were written. Mark probably wrote first in the 50s, perhaps as early as the 40s. Matthew and Luke followed in the 50s-60s. John according to tradition wrote his Gospel close to the end of his life in the 90s. For more, see Gospel dates and reliability.

Finally, we know that the accounts were transmitted reliably. The New Testament is the best-attested collection of documents from the ancient world, and we can say with certainty that they haven’t been changed by copyists over time. For more, see How did we get our Bible?.

The importance of the resurrection

Jesus’ resurrection is important, first of all, because it authenticates everything He said about Himself. Jesus claimed to be God, to be able to save people from their sins, and to teach us how to be reconciled with God. Part of what He claimed about Himself was that He would be killed in Jerusalem and rise on the third day. If Jesus had remained dead, it would have meant that He lied.

Jesus’ resurrection also tells us what we can look forward to, because Jesus experienced the same resurrection that we look forward to. This is because Jesus is truly man, and it was as a man that He died, and as a man that He was raised. He retains His human nature as the resurrected Lord. So we can say that our resurrection will be physical, because Jesus’ resurrection was physical, for example.

Adam and the resurrection

The reason why everyone who trusts in Christ will experience a resurrection like His has to do with how salvation works. And to explain that, Paul goes back to Adam. He says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22).

Paul sees humanity as being under Adam as its federal head. We die because Adam brought sin and thus death to not only himself, but all who came after him. A similar analogy is how when a government declares war, all the citizens of that government are at war, whether or not a particular individual agrees with the government’s decision.

In Christ’s death and resurrection, He has become the ‘last Adam’. Those who trust in Christ are transferred from Adam’s headship to Christ’s, and just as we inherited sin and death from Adam, we inherit the resurrection by virtue of our relationship to Christ.

It is important that all believers in Christ be resurrected, because that is how Christ’s defeat of death will finally be manifested. Paul says, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25–26).

He is risen!

Christianity is unique in that our central belief revolves around an event that happened in history. This means that it is accessible to historical investigation in ways that other religious events are not. And when we do look at the historical evidence, we find there is more than enough evidence to trust the inspired accounts in Scripture.

Helpful Resources

Creation Restored
US $10.00
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
US $17.00
From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
US $12.00

Readers’ comments

Graham P.
Excellent article.
Ian B.
Love your work Lita.
Harry B.
Yes, I have heard the swoon theory - that Jesus merely passed out on the cross and then after waking up in the tomb simply left it - and the idea holds no water. Beaten to a pulp as we would say these days, hung on a cross for several hours, and then speared. How would a man in that kind of physical condition be able to move? And he also got out of the grave clothes by himself? I'm guessing I'm not the only one who remembers after Lazarus being raised he still had to be untied from his grave clothes. And as for Jesus then leaving the tomb, it was guarded. The soldiers would have seen and stopped him. The argument that they were all asleep could also be raised here, but that theory too has flaws. In those days soldiers who slept on duty received the death penalty so it is very unlikely that they would have run that risk. And surely if some had dared to try it they would have left at least one man awake in case of any superiors who might unexpectedly turn up? "No, the disciples stole the body while we were all asleep." Well, if you were asleep then how do you know who took the body? No, the one who "took the body" was Jesus himself when he rose from the dead, and I don't know about you, but I can't wait to fall down at his feet and thank him face to face. True I do thank him anyway, but doing it in front of his throne is going to be good. No it's not it's going to be awesome! And so is he! ☺
Ian B.
Lee Strobbel,a sceptical journalist ,was vehement doubter of Jesus' resurrection and so he set out to disprove it.He not only proved it to his satisfaction,but became a pastor.IB.
Michael F.
Well written!
Colin H.
One of the most convincing witnesses of the resurrection is the apostle Paul.
Saul of Tarsus was like a wild man, intent on demolishing all Christian witness, until the resurrected Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. In that short encounter, Saul (later to be apostle Paul) changed from being a strong adversary to being a strong proclaimer of Jesus. The only credible explanation for this change is that Paul did in fact see the resurrected Jesus. He testifies that: "Last of all, He was seen by me also." (1 Corinthians 15:8)
John L.
Christianity is founded in history. What a wonderfull thruth!
Hugh B.
Jesus defeated sin by taking it to the cross with Him. He then defeated death by rising on the third day. In Him is our hope, our salvation and our life. We worship a risen Lord, who has conquered sin, death and the grave! Hallelujah!
Dennis F.
Hallelujah He is risen indeed! What a wonderful article, and thank you for the encouragement and all you folks do at Creation Ministries International. May God bless and keep you, your work strong and true.
Bill P.
Jesus Christ raised from the dead by The same Holy Spirit that indwells ALL around this world who have put their faith in HIM. The god of this world knows this and sadly he has done a good job of getting many, (even those who profess to be Christians) to doubt, lie about, and twist the "Truth of God". He does this the same way he did it in "The Garden" by getting people to doubt The Word of God and telling them "The Lie" that "they can be their own god".
This is why it is so important to trust that "In the beginning God Created the heavens and the earth". When this Truth is denied then everything else falls apart, makes no difference if it's a believer or not a believer.
There are many proofs that God created everything, that there was a global flood, that from the blood of one man The Lord made all the nations on the earth establishing before hand their boarders and the times they would prosper, that Israel is the nation chosen by God that The Messiah would come from....ETC...ETC.
How do 12 men who ran away when Christ was arrested, and denied Him, suddenly do an about face and give their lives to the utmost by sharing The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let the world lie all they want because in the end their words will pass away, BUT The Word of God will last forever.
Then that same Holy Spirit that hovered above the Face of The Deep, that same Holy Spirit that was used by God to inspire ALL the servants of God to write down His Word, that same Holy Spirit that raised Him from the dead, that same Holy Spirit in this world today that indwells ALL who trust Him, will one day in a twinkling of an eye, transform us and allow us to see Him as He Is because we will then be like Him.
Keep enough oil for your lamps as we wait for "The Bridegroom" to take us home.
Russell N.
He is risen. He is risen indeed!
Terry D P.
Genesis describes the creation and/or resurrection of Adam: Then the LORD God formed a [dead] man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Thus the man became a living creature. — Gn 2:7 Romans describes the very similar resurrection of Jesus: Moreover, if the Spirit of him [LORD God] who raised [the crucified body of] Jesus from the dead dwells within you, then the God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give new life to your mortal bodies through his indwelling Spirit. — Ro 8:11 So the Spirit/Breath of God ‘resurrected’ both the first man Adam and his descendent Jesus from the dead, but no acolyte of the “non-existent evolution god” would ever to admit to that.
Mike D.
Many forget or don't know of one awesome source of one of those atheists out to disprove but due to academic honesty despite overwhelming biased agenda. He came through his research as a dedicated Christian & he too wrote about it. His name was Simon Greenleaf. He was a former law prof at Harvard etc. He wrote the laws for evidence that even today form the basis of how you can use rules of evidence. He was challenged by his law school students to use his own laws & rules of evidence to validate or invalidate the claims of Christ. He took that challenge. Late 1700s & early 1800s. He came out a devoted Christian apologetic & defended Christianity. He wrote about it like in our day Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel & others. What you'll find in this is the norm for those that academic honesty is more important than atheistic biased agenda like Fake news of today. Plus think about this, which I use. James & Jude Jesus 1/2 brothers grew up w/Jesus. Didn't believe until after the resurrection. Yet after resurrection they became avid followers. Think of this. That means growing up they never saw their brother do anything to disqualify Jesus from His claim as God or Gods Son. How many of us or friends with siblings that even if raised from dead could fellow siblings testify to point of willingly die their brother was who He claimed to be!!
My brother or I sure couldn't for each other or any friends I know either. Could you or any of your friends? That's pretty powerful in its own right. Along with the rest discussed above.
Like Mercy Me song "I can only Imagine!"
Looking forward to that once I've finished what Jesus created me to do while here on my temporary home!
Paul R.
Wasn't it one of the spiritual teachers of Israel who said " If this is happening from man,it will soon come to nothing ; but if it's from God then we are powerless to stop it " ( The ministry of Jesus) My loose paraphrasing had its' fulfilment in Jesus appearing to His disciples,and a cloud of other witnesses before His ascent to Heaven to sit at His Fathers' right hand. The brutality of the Roman crucifiction process has been well documented , no one got out of it alive ..!!! In the beginning,the Word was with God ,and the Word was God .." Our Creator,and Saviour Jesus called the Christ from Nazareth.
Adrian M.
Such as succinct summary of the centrality of the Resurrection to our beliefs tied together with thorough logical links to historicity of Jesus Christ's eye witnesses accounts.
Octavian M.
Aleluya, Cristo verdaderamente resucitó. A diferencia de los escépticos, que usan la duda y su propia imaginación para reafirmar sus creencias, nosotros usamos las pruebas que todo el mundo tiene a disposición y la razón pura y analítica (tal como Dios nos la dio).

[Translation: Hallelujah, Christ has truly risen. The difference between skeptics who use doubt and their own imagination to affirm their beliefs and us, we use evidence which is available to everyone, as well as pure and analytic reason (just as God gave it to us).]
Patrick P.
He died for our sins , " It is finished " .
John P.
It was Gamaliel who said if the disciples' teaching was of man it would fizzle but if of God they would not be able to stop it. If I remember rightly this was to do with Peter and John but I stand to be corrected. The account is in the book of Acts.Jesus is indeed risen and I look forward to the day He wipes away my tears and welcomes me into eternity.

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