C. S. Lewis said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
On April 21, Resurrection Sunday 2019, people around the world will gather in church buildings in order to celebrate the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. For some people, this will be the only day all year they set foot in a church building. The mindset where someone would attend once a year seems to fall into the “moderately important” category which Lewis detailed above.
If we follow Lewis’s logic, Christianity cannot be moderately important. It is either infinitely important or not important at all. Notice the caveat Lewis uses in his reasoning: whether Christianity is true or if it is false. So Christianity is infinitely important or not important at all. The obvious question that needs to be addressed is this: Is Christianity true? It is indeed true! In the current day, Christian apologists and theologians have given us resource upon resource that establish excellent rational reasons why Christianity is absolutely true, and many of these great thinkers would say that the nail in the coffin for unbelief is the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The insurmountable historical facts and the magnitude of this event cannot be overlooked. In fact, it just might be the most important theological or apologetic doctrine of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul explained the central place that the resurrection holds for the follower of Christ.
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, New American Standard Bible).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the “smoking gun” piece of evidence in the case for Christianity. Without the resurrection there is no Christianity. Of all the events of human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is supremely significant! And since this is so, it is important for the Christian to see the reasons why the resurrection is so incredibly significant.
Let’s take a look at two very important dynamics surrounding this pivotal event of history.
Confirming Jesus’ Identity
Some people maintain that Jesus was simply a good man, a prophet, a moral teacher, a rabbi. But you cannot say he was just a good man. You can’t say he was just a true prophet of God. You can’t say he was just a good moral teacher or rabbi. You just can’t. Why? Because of Jesus’ own words. Listen to some of his own words.
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven” (John 6:51).
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world’” (John 8:12).
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14, 15).
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6).
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
We could cite many other verses. There is no doubt as to who Jesus claimed to be. He claimed to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God, the Savior of the World, the Son of God. There is no getting around it. This is who he claimed to be. So we are left with three options. He was a psychopathic liar. He was a lunatic. Or he is who he said he was and that is Lord of all. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord; these are our only options. And with these three options we see how significant the resurrection of Jesus Christ is in establishing the correct answer to this question.
The resurrection proves that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God, the King of kings, the Savior of the world, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The resurrection seals the deal! It is the final nail in the coffin for arguments that deny that Christ walked the earth fully man and fully God! The resurrection confirms his identity.
The Center of the Christian Worldview
Preacher and author John MacArthur observed, “The most far-reaching, the most comprehensive, the most all-encompassing truth in the universe is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. You cannot have the Christian faith without it. You cannot just eliminate the resurrection as if it were one small part of a whole. If you take the resurrection of Christ away, the entire house falls down; everything comes apart.”
To continue the metaphor, this house which stands with the resurrection of Jesus as part of the foundation has many rooms and aspects. All of these rest upon the resurrection of Jesus in some form or fashion. This reality reaches into every aspect of our existence.
- It is because of the resurrection that we have hope of eternal life.
- It is because of the resurrection that we have meaning in this life.
- It is because of the resurrection that we have purpose and mission in this life.
- It is because of the resurrection that we peace in this life and the next.
As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
You see what Paul said? He said this is the gospel he preached, they received, and upon which they stood. He said it was of first importance. This is where we run up the hill and plant our flag. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ—that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, and that he made many appearances after he arose. This is of first importance. This is where we plant our flag. This is the hill we defend to the death.
It is this hill, crowned with the resurrected Christ, that brings our mission into focus. It brings our hope into focus. It brings our meaning and purpose into focus. It brings everything into focus. The resurrection of Jesus is at the very center of the Christian worldview. We cannot and should not look at the world apart from this most significant truth. Jesus is alive! The grave could not hold him and we have everything we could ever need in him and him alone. By raising Jesus, God has provided all that we need or ever will need, and this truth should reside at the center of how we view everything in this world and the next.
So, when we enter those church buildings on Resurrection Sunday or any given Sunday, know this: The resurrection did happen. Christianity is true. And it is infinitely important—for this life and the next.
Brian Schulz has served Kent Christian Church in Madison, Indiana for more than 13 years as youth minister, associate minister, and now senior minister. He loves learning and teaching about theology and apologetics. He also loves spending time with his wife, Kelli, and his daughter, Cherlanda.