The Bible is unique when compared to other “holy” books because it is constituted in history. This means that the Bible is not merely the philosophical thoughts of a human being (like Confucius or Buddha), but it records God’s acts in history as they progress toward a specific goal. In the case of the Bible, those goals are 1. the promise of a Messiah and 2., the second coming of Jesus. This progression is unique to the Judeo-Christian faith, in contrast to the cyclical view of many other world religions from ancient Egypt to modern eastern religions.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 1 Cor. 15:51-55; Romans 8:11; and 1 Thessalonians 4:14. What do these passages teach us about not only the historical truth of Christ’s resurrection but what it means for us personally?
The testimony of the four Gospels and Paul is that Jesus died, was buried, bodily rose from the dead, and appeared to various human beings. This is corroborated by eyewitnesses who laid Him in the tomb and later saw it empty. Witnesses touched Jesus, and He ate with them. Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of Jesus), and other women saw Him as the resurrected Christ. The disciples spoke with Him on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appeared to them for the great Gospel Commission. Paul writes that if the witness of Scripture is rejected, then our preaching and faith are in “vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Other translations say “null and void” (REB) or “useless” (NIV). The disciples state, “It is true! The Lord has risen” (Luke 24:34, NIV). The Greek term ontos refers to something that actually took place. It is translated, “really”, “surely”, or “indeed”. The disciples testify that “The Lord is risen indeed” (NKJV).
Christ is also represented as the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:20) of all those who died. The historical fact that Christ bodily rose from the dead and lives today is the guarantee that they too will be raised as He was raised. All the righteous “will be made alive in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22, NRSV). The term here implies a future act of creation, when those “who belong to Christ”, or remain loyal to Him will be raised “at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:23, NKJV) “at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52, NKJV).
|Why is the promise of the resurrection so central to our faith, especially since we understand that the dead are asleep? Without it, why is our faith indeed in “vain”?|