If Christ Had Not Been Raised

by Rev. Kevin Vogts

Some theologians, ancient and modern, have suggested that Christ’s resurrection was not physical, but only either symbolic or spiritual. Sadly, in many church bodies today, this view is not only tolerated but, in some cases, even predominant. Already in the New Testament era, there were false teachers at Corinth casting doubt on the resurrection of the body.

Read 1 Cor. 15:12–20. Paul begins by taking this skepticism to its logical conclusion: If there is no resurrection of the dead, who does that mean has not been raised?

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Paul makes clear this cannot be considered an open question on which Christians can agree to disagree. For gutting the Christian faith of Christ’s resurrection also guts it of any real meaning. What are the six sad consequences that Paul lists, devastating for the faith, if Christ has not been raised?

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Many other places in Scripture also testify to Christ’s physical, bodily resurrection. Read Luke 24:33–43. When He appears to the disciples, what does Jesus say to counter the notion that in His resurrection He is merely a spirit? What does He do to emphasize His real, physical nature?

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Go to John 20:19–29. John, who was present on this occasion, gives his own account of this encounter with the risen Lord on Easter evening, as well as a subsequent episode the following week. On the one hand, what in these accounts emphasizes the physical nature of Christ’s resurrected body? On the other, what seemingly incidental note at the beginning of this section makes clear that, while fully human, Christ’s resurrected body also possesses divine qualities?

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Look at Acts 2:22–32 and Acts 13:26–37. Quoting from Psalm 16, what do both Peter and Paul say that Christ’s flesh did not experience?

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Returning to 1 Cor. 15:12–20, reverse each of the six sad conse-quences that Paul lists if Christ has not been raised. List instead the six wonderful blessings we Christians have because of Christ’s resurrection. Also, what is the climactic assertion with which Paul concludes this section?

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What is Paul’s penetrating, two-part judgment in 1 Cor. 15:19 of those who would claim to be Christians but foolishly doubt the Scriptures and deny Christ’s true, physical resurrection?

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Checking the final clauses of both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, how did the Early Church in these confessions of the faith link the reality of physical resurrection with the blessing of eternal life?

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Easter is considered the greatest festival of the Christian year because the Good News of Christ’s resurrection that we confess in the creeds is not just an historical event we are observing. It is the foundation of our forgiveness and our own hope that we and all who die in Christ will, like Him, partake of “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

> Did you know? Seventy-eight percent of  “Christians believe Jesus christ was resurrected from the dead” (Rasmussen Reports).

About the Author: Rev. Kevin Vogts is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Dakota Dunes, S.D.

April 2011

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