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Monday
Jan192009

Theological Term of the Week

resurrection of Jesus
The physical raising to life by divine action of Jesus Christ after his death on the cross. The historical certainty of the resurrection is fundamental to Christianity as a demonstration of who Jesus was, as proof of the truth of his message, as vindication of the effectiveness of his work, and as the basis for the present and future new life of the believer.

  • From scripture:
    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
    …Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that 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 futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
    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. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 12-23 ESV)
  • From The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 52:

    Q52:How was Christ exalted in his resurrection? 

    A52: Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death (of which it was not possible for him to be held), and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life), really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead: all which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.

  • From In Understanding Be Men by T. C. Hammond:

    The resurrection of Christ formed the core of the first apostolic sermons… because it represented the vindication of all that had gone before in the earthly course of our Lord. His teaching and claims, and His ‘obedience unto death’, as well as His disciples’ faith and hopes, were all vindicated by this act of the Father in which Christ was shown victorious over every hostile power, whether man or demons or death itself. 

    1. First of all, then the resurrection is the vindication of God’s faithful Servant, the crucified One. as ‘Lord and Christ’, the promised Messiah of God. As such it provided attestation of His deity, and also confirmed His designation as the final Judge of all men.

    2. As the mark of divine approval of the suffering Servant, the resurrection also stamped God’s imprimatur upon the service of His obedience and death, as a complete atonement for sin and as the fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers. As a result, salvation and forgiveness of sins are now proclaimed in the name of Jesus. The resurrection was thus the motive centre in the evangelization of the ancient world.

    3. The resurrection confirmed believers in their faith in God and His power, and gave assurance of their ultimate full salvation. Not only does it certify the saving value of Christ’s death, it also persuades us that ‘if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life’. Christ’s risen life continues to save us, as the life of the eternal High Priest who has entered into heaven for us, ever to intercede for us and to perfect the work of redemption in us. 

    4. Christ’s resurrection is the sign and pledge of the resurrection of the body for all who are in Christ, and so determines the Christian’s new attitude to death and transforms his hope.

    5. Together with the ascension and exaltation, the resurrection completes the pattern of death-resurrection-exaltation which constitutes the spiritual initiation of believers in their identification with Christ. Like and with Christ, the convert becomes ‘dead to sin’ and ‘alive to God’, a passage from death to life the is sacramentally set forth in baptism. Consequently the appeal for sanctification becomes a summons to those who ‘have been raise with Christ’ to ‘set their minds on things that are above’, and dying to self and living to God form the daily experience of the Christian.

    6. The resurrection will always be foremost among the factors which attest the claim of the Christian revelation to be truly and ‘unveiling of the divine mystery’. It removes the Christian faith from the sphere of philosophical speculation and moralism and establishes it as the action of God for the salvation of the human race.

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: 
  2. J. I. Packer in Concise Theology: The Resurrection 
  3. Alister McGrath: The Resurrection
  4. D. A. Carson: Why Doubt the Resurrection? (audio)
  5. John Piper: Six Gifts of the Resurrection (download mp3)

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. Credit will be given for any of these suggestions I use, too.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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