This time of year is a time to celebrate. It is the time we remember the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This Resurrection demonstrated that Christ was God in the flesh. This has lead many Christian leaders to heavily emphasize the Resurrection, including claiming it spawned Christianity or that it is all you need to believe to be a Christian. Unfortunately, this is false. It is important to separate facts from false teaching in this regard. Given that we celebrate Resurrection Sunday in a few days, this seems the best time of year to do so.
We, of course, know the Resurrection story. Jesus is falsely accused, brought before Pilate, and, through political machinations, sentenced to death. He was crucified between two thieves then laid in a borrowed tomb. After three days, He rose from the guarded tomb and was seen of hundreds of His followers. This much is universally accepted by orthodox Christians. It is the application of these ideas which is fought over. According to mega-church pastor Andy Stanley, the Resurrection is what launched Christianity, not the Scriptures. His argument is that it is not necessary to believe the whole Bible. You can get rid of parts you don’t like as long as you believe Jesus rose from the dead and, by extension, is God, you’re good.
Of course, this is purely false and as a “pastor” Andy Stanley should know this. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19 tells us. In other words, just believing in God is not enough. The devils believe there is a God. Even believing Christ is God is not good enough. The Catholics believe Christ is God, yet they do not believe Christ alone saves. Thus you cannot simply say, that believing in the Resurrection defines Christianity.
A doctrine that focuses solely on the Resurrection and ignores all the other important pieces of the Bible may be quite popular (Stanley’s church numbers in the thousands), but it is far from a Biblical Gospel. While we have presented the Gospel previously, it bears repeating again as we approach Resurrection Sunday.
We are all sinners. I think most of us know this, even anyone who might be reading this and is unsaved. We have all done things that are against God’s law. Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” This falling short is critical. God requires perfection. Man cannot attain perfection. Therefore he cannot be with God in eternity. Romans 6:23a says “For the wages of sin is death;”. This death is inescapable for man on his own. No work man can do can get us out of this assured destruction.
Fortunately for us, that is not where the story ends. Jesus paid for our sins when He died in the cross. This penal substitutionary atonement removes our sin from us and imputes it to Christ. Romans 5:8 tells us “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God loved us when we were opposed to Him. That right there ought to make you pause. How many of us love people who hate us? This love is offered to us as a free gift. Romans 6:23 I quoted above continues ” but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This gift is freely available. All one must do is believe on Christ, and Him alone for salvation. Titus 3:5a tells us “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” It is not our works that save us, it is the blood of Christ. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10) It’s belief in your heart in Christ and Him alone for salvation.
While the Resurrection is important, and certainly I cannot conceive a scenario where one could reject it and still come to salvation, it is not the Gospel. It certainly impacts the Gospel, but belief in the Resurrection of Christ alone will not save. As we celebrate the Resurrection in a few days, may we remember what it was really about: God giving us a path to Himself.
Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.