The Apostle Paul writes: You are saved by the gospel if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I received: (1) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (2) he was buried; (3) he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; and (4) he appeared to many people. (1 Corinthians 15:2–8)
If we hold fast to one particular truth that was conveyed to us when we made the commitment to follow Jesus, we will live the Christian life well. Yes, it is important, in living a godly life, to imitate Jesus by being a loving person; or as Peter explained to Cornelius, the Centurion of Caesarea, “to fear God and do what is right.” But in order to do this, we must retain our certainty that one unimaginable, game-changing event took place two thousand years ago: God raised Jesus from the dead. We might not have grasped this completely when we first encountered the gospel, but this reality must permeate our hearts now. If it does, we will be able to live as God desires us to live.
God amplifies this promise by weaving the idea of resurrection throughout Scripture. The earth was formless and empty, and God raised it from the dead. Adam and Eve were dead in the garden, but God raised them up and sent them out into the world. God buried the human race under the waves of the flood, but he raised it again through Noah’s family. The bodies of Abraham and Sarah were as good as dead, but God, “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist,” gave them a son to fulfill his promise. He brought Joseph out from the grave of captivity, and after him the whole nation of Israel as well. Throughout Israel’s subsequent history, God brought them back from the brink of extinction. By the time Jesus arrived, most of Israel understood that there would be a resurrection. And Jesus confirmed that this was an essential part of God’s relationship with his people, because God “is not the God of the dead but of the living.” To think otherwise is to be “greatly mistaken.”
So, from this Easter forward, let us heed Paul’s exhortation to hold fast to the truth of the resurrection as we wait expectantly for the salvation that will be revealed when Jesus returns for us.