This the 18th installment of 52 reviewing RA Torrey’s 1898 publication What The Bible Teaches, Book 2, Part 6. See all of Lex’s posts here. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded here. You are welcome and encouraged to join the discussion in your comments to these posts.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
After discussion last week the death of Jesus Christ we turn to the Resurrection. The death of any single soul in the Roman Empire, being judged guilty of crimes and crucified, could not have considered to have any effect on society locally much less around the world. The huge numbers of criminals who ended their lives that way is testament to this fact. However, by all historical accounts the death of the man Jesus Christ actually resulted in His resurrection thereby becoming the pivotal moment in human history. This event that even Adam looked forward to after his error in judgement, and which should have been anticipated by the all Jews from the time Moses wrote the Law. It is notable that Jewish politics in Palestine could be divided partly over the belief or disbelief in the resurrection of the dead (the party of the Pharisees and Sadducees), a fact that Paul took advantage of when on trial before the Jewish Counsel (Acts 23:6), a bodily resurrection that would not be possible were it not for the first born from the dead, our Lord Jesus.
That the resurrection factually occurred in history can be verified by the written Gospel accounts and book of Acts using the tools of textual criticism. Torrey examines some of these in this chapter. In spite of the heresies of the first few hundred years of the life of the church and those who wrote against the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the truth prevailed, that Jesus physically died on that cross, and was buried, and did escape that tomb under His own power three days later in bodily glorified form, validated by numerous and uncontradicted witness accounts.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is paramount to Christianity. Redemption, Salvation, Justification, Sanctification all would not be possible without it. As Paul succinctly states, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” And “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:19, 21) Why would so many believers in the early church and throughout history willingly go to their death via persecution if not for a belief in something so certainly and adamantly declared by those who came before? It doesn’t make sense. And of who else can it be stated they rose from the grave, generating millions of converts and impacting the course of history? Not a single soul, except for Jesus.
I like Torrey’s statement concerning living our lives through Christ. “The only living, doing, or accomplishing in the Christian life that is acceptable to God is through union with the risen Christ. Through union with the crucified Christ, we get our pardon, our cleansing from guilt, our justification, our perfect standing before God. Through union with the risen Christ, we get power for life and fruit. One reason why there is so little life and fruit in many professedly Christian lives is that there is so little knowledge of the risen and living Christ.” Just such a churchgoer was I in my formative years, even as an alter-boy in the Roman Catholic Church. I could see so many parishioners coming to church on Sunday but displaying no evidence that the resurrection of our Lord meant anything to them outside of that hour. Again, myself included. If the awesome power that raised Jesus from the dead was the actual power of the living God in regenerating and awakening our souls to that new life in Christ, surely we would show some evidence of that by forsaking such worldliness and our former manner of life and “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (see Eph 4:17-32)
The Resurrection is a seminal moment in history and should be in our own lives. It is the guarantee that, just as He was raised from the dead, we too are promised the same resurrection power to aid us in living now in this world and encourage us with the promise we will live with Him in the next.